Australian soldiers told to "reaffirm" public faith amid war crime allegations

CANBERRA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) — Australian Governor-General David Hurley has told new members of the defense force that it is their duty to rebuild public trust following the Afghan war crimes inquiry.

Hurley, who served as Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) between 2011 and 2014 and as governor-general since 2019, told graduates of the ADF Academy on Sunday evening that they will need to “reassure and reaffirm” the relationship with the Australian public.

Hurley’s speech came following the findings of Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton’s war crimes inquiry, which uncovered “credible evidence” that Australian soldiers committed 39 murders in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

“(The ADF has) an enormous task of protecting our country while reassuring and reaffirming its relationship with the Australian people following the findings of the Brereton inquiry,” he said.

“Bringing the Australian people along with the ADF will be an enormous part of your work in the future.”

Brereton’s four-year inquiry, the findings from which were released in November, recommended criminal proceedings against 19 soldiers for the alleged killings, but veterans have expressed frustration that no action has been taken against senior officers.

Hurley told graduate officers on Sunday that they were “extremely well equipped to make an important contribution to your country,” but as military leaders, they also needed to ensure “they listened to their troops.”

“Leadership is not easy, I think you’ve learnt that by now, you’ll have to make decisions that have consequences for people and often make those decisions under pressure,” he said.

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