By Kay Danes
The current proposed action to strip all 3000+ Special Operation Task Group (SOTG) members of the Meritorious Unit Citation (MUC) will become one of this nation’s most significant examples of a failure in leadership should the Governor-General, David Hurley Note 1), give his support to the Chief of Defence Force’s request.
The collective group are being slandered for the alleged offences of a mere few, those who have yet to have their day in court.
The Australian PM, Scott Morrison, and others in senior leadership roles cannot wrongly condemn good people who served honourably, or propose to punish them when they have absolutely nothing to do with the recently-released inquiry report.
Those SOTG members sacrificed so much, as did their loved ones who waited for their return. Many came home traumatised, physically and mentally harmed, some didn’t come home at all, and many others have suicided since, or self harmed.
They served with honour and with integrity and we must not forget that, or allow those sacrifices they made to be denigrated.
This is extremely distressing for us as a Defence family. My husband and I are providing advocacy and support to serving members and veterans impacted by this report.
Call to action
We urge all our friends to write to the Governor-General, or send a message to your Federal MP and demand they do not remove the MUC from the SOTG.
Or, SIGN THE PETITION: https://tinyurl.com/yx8ztjjr
The Meritorious Unit Citation is a “collective group decoration” awarded to members of Australian military “units.” It is not an individual award, and so the alleged actions of a few individuals cannot be, in any way, representative of the majority collective.
The citation reads; “For sustained and outstanding warlike operational service in Afghanistan from 30 April 2007 to 31 December 2013, through the conduct of counter insurgence operations in support of the International Security Assistance Force.”
This service covers approximately 16 SOTG Rotations during which about 3000 people served with distinction.
So, about 0.83% of people who served have been identified as having possibly been involved in some kind of misconduct. Let’s not forget that these people are still to be afforded a legal process which includes the presumption of innocence and procedural fairness.
If anything, the CDF should single out which SOTG rotation/s out of these 16 contain allegations of alleged incidents. If, after due process, and members of those SOTG/s are found guilty, then and only then should consideration be given to next steps.
Perhaps had the leadership any foresight, they should have awarded the MUC to individual SOTGs rather than a block of deployments over a set period. Perhaps they did not do this at the time, as it would have created more work to do so?
It would be wrong to remove a citation from about 99.17% of those who did render meritorious service. It would not only be premature, but tantamount to victimisation via an arbitrary and summary judgment, based on the allegations that have not been proven, concerning the very few.
Not least of all, it was those courageous members from respective affected SOTG rotations who spoke out at varying times, with their concerns to the leadership.
To remove the MUC at this point, from all those who have served and those killed-in-service, is not appropriate. Such a reaction only serves to create unnecessary anxiety among our ADF/veterans.
For those SOTG members who bravely served and did not violate any Rules of Engagement, it is their right to have their lawful service respected and to continue to be reflected in our nation’s history and honourably recorded.
Kay Danes recently received her doctorate degree from Southern Cross University in the Graduate School of Law and Justice. She is the spouse of a 42-year ADF/Special Air Service Regiment veteran and is passionate about fighting for the rights of ADF members. Kay is a long-standing member of Civil Liberties Australia, working on joint projects.
Note 1: Hurley was Chief of the ADF from July 2011 to June 2014 – Ed.
Governor General contact.: https://www.gg.gov.au/contact
Also, you may be interested in the anti-suicide campaign for veterans: http://www.defencelivesmatter.com/
This article appeared first on Michael Smith News: https://tinyurl.com/yxbslgqz