Melbourne: The men of Australian special forces may face unprecedented charges and a court martial for an incident in Afghanistan last year, in which five children were killed.
An operational investigation into the incident was referred to the The Director of Military Prosecutions Brigadier Lyn McDade who can recommend charges against some of
the special forces soldiers involved in the raid. McDade is yet to take the final decision but made her views clear to top official, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The prospect of charges has infuriated senior officers, with the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General Ken Gillespie, and other commanders expressing concern over the
Some in the Defence hierarchy are concerned it will further erode public support for the war and undermine the way soldiers operate in Afghanistan.
Early last year six Afghans were killed during an Australian Special Operations Task Group raid targeting an insurgent leader in Uruzgan province.
Of about 30 personnel involved in the raid, only a few appear certain to face a court martial, including two soldiers who engaged in the attack, one of whom is alleged to have
thrown a grenade. Both are reservists in the 1st Commando Regiment.
The officers, who were on a "capture or kill" mission in charge on the night of the raid, who are full-time ADF members, face possible charges over their preparation and supervision, and would also face a court martial. None of the military historians contacted for this report could recall Australian soldiers being charged over the deaths of civilians in the confusion of battle, the newspaper said.
A senior member of the regiment, who served on the rotation, defended those involved and said, "If the ADF bothers to describe the events in the compound in detail, it will be clear to any person that the troops, faced with a terrible situation, had no choice," the soldier said.
"That they all came out alive is actually an indication of their skill and courage."
But those close to the investigation say the Australians had overwhelming force and the evidence gathered is sufficient to warrant charges.