Commandos have no case to answer.


Verified SOF
Jan 15, 2008

Commandos also the victims of war
Chris Masters From: The Daily Telegraph May 23, 2011 12:00AM

IT would be wrong to think Friday's pre-trial ruling to drop manslaughter charges against Australian commandos means there has been no trial.

The blazing gunfire, punctuated by shouting and yelling and the thump of two exploding hand grenades on February 12, 2009 had lasted barely 30 seconds. When the dust cleared, through the green tinged night vision equipment it became clear that alongside the man who had been shooting at them, and now lay dying, a teenage girl and four children were also fatally injured.

For the two indicted commandos, Sergeant J and Lance Corporal D, the intervening 26 months has been an unholy ordeal. They have suffered this brutal outcome tormented by an additional perception their country and the army had turned against them.

There is strong rationale for a court martial which satisfies the principles of open justice. Australia and its coalition partners see cause to draw the best line possible on modern battlefields where there is no neutral space. When an invisible line is crossed and civilians become indiscriminate victims we show ourselves as on the wrong side.

That is not the case in Afghanistan where children are common victims of road-side mines and are used as suicide bombers.

The young girl featured on the cover of Time magazine who had her nose cut off at the direction of the Taliban comes from Oruzgan, the Australian area of operations, and was mutilated in the same year as this incident.

On that February night soldiers from the Reservist One Commando Regiment, accompanied by an Afghan National Army unit, approached a compound at Sorkh Morghab in Oruzgan, an area denied to coalition forces that had seen a lot of action in the preceding month.

The soldiers in search of a Taliban leader were fired upon. They saw one of their comrades drop, presuming he had been killed, when in fact he was only slightly injured.

Sergeant J ordered the section leader, Lance Corporal D to throw a hand grenade.

Accompanying the battle noise was yelling as Afghan National Army soldiers called to the man in his language telling him: "We are the security forces, come out, we are conducting a search."

But the shooting persisted and the sergeant ordered another grenade thrown. The gunfire stopped and for a moment all that was heard was the chatter of radio communications and crying.

When the soldiers returned to base that night they carried with them some of the misery inflicted on that grieving family. But they had not thought for a moment there had been errors in their procedures.

The judgment to charge them 17 months later for a decision that took seconds came as a brutal shock.

There was media speculation the man they killed, Amrullah Khan, was not Taliban but a farmer protecting his family. The soldiers' common retort to this is no one in that place ever admits to being Taliban, and Khan was shooting at them, they had no safe way to withdraw, so what were they to do? These questions were effectively pursued by defence counsel, Majors David McLure and John Hyde. At the pre-trial hearings they asked the prosecutor to identify what alternative option was available, what negligence was demonstrated and to whom do soldiers in combat owe a duty of care?

The prosecutor had no answer and the case was thrown out by Judge Advocate Brigadier Ian Westwood.

We wonder why the Director of Military Prosecutions Brigadier Lyn McDade did not adequately ponder those questions two years ago.

Like many a combat operation, the new process of independent judicial scrutiny descended into chaos.

The principles of open justice are not satisfied, and at pre-trial hearings it became obvious that much of the secretive nature of these operations would not have been revealed anyway. The men concerned have not had their day in court.

Regarding the impact on future operations, David McLure said soldiers confronting split-second decisions will be unlikely to hesitate, adhering to the age-old maxim that it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by six. But he is concerned this tortured process might establish a deterrent in discouraging others from honest co-operation.

The commandos involved could reasonably wonder if they had their time over would they be so candid?

When asked for an immediate response to the verdict McLure said that although pleased with last week's success, none of these soldiers are celebrating their involvement in this incident. "It remains a terrible tragedy," he said.
It's all the rage amongst a certain political class to blame the cop, soldier, good guys and champion the criminals, enemy and bad guys. Jane Fonda perfected the technique - others of her ilk around the world have piled on the good guys ever since.
Good to see. Hopefully Uncle Pedro calls in some favours and has that cunt of a prosecutor discharged.
I could see if pistol fire or rifle fire but how do you hold accountable persons for a grenade? My heart goes out to the commandos and their families. How do you go through this and still feel that special feeling for your country?
Police are a different thing all together. Police are atwill employees that can quit if they don't like the rules.
At least sanity prevailed. The charge was negligence but it was pointed out there is no duty of care in warfare so therefore no negligence to prove. As the article points out, better to be tried by 12 than buried by 6.
It's all the rage amongst a certain political class to blame the cop, soldier, good guys and champion the criminals, enemy and bad guys. Jane Fonda perfected the technique - others of her ilk around the world have piled on the good guys ever since.
At least our State police commissioner tells it like it is here. He's very practical when it comes to armed robberies and self defense.