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Soldier-turned-MP lauds Peter Dutton’s ‘tough, bold’ decision to override ADF chief on unit citations

A former soldier in federal politics has lauded the decision to allow special forces troops who served in Afghanistan to keep their unit citations.

Liberal MP Phillip Thompson congratulated Defence Minister Peter Dutton for overturning a decision made by his most senior military adviser, Chief of Defence Angus Campbell.

“It was not a small gesture. It was a callous and bold move,” Mr. Thompson told Sky News on Tuesday.

“We’ve had over 3000 people be awarded the meritorious unit citation. There should not be a collective punishment on allegations of a few.”

General Campbell vowed to cancel the unit citations last year in response to the Brereton inquiry into alleged misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, which detailed “credible” evidence of 39 unlawful killings of Afghan civilians or prisoners.

The report identified 25 current or former ADF personnel accused of perpetrating one or more war crimes.

Removing the group awards was one of the report’s key recommendations.

But the government scrapped the idea within days after copping some backlash from veteran groups.

Mr. Dutton formalized the decision ahead of Anzac Day, saying 99 percent of ADF personnel had done nothing wrong, and it was important for families of the fallen.

The minister claimed he still had complete faith in General Campbell, despite overriding his decision.

The Brereton report laid out specific recommendations for removing meritorious unit citations from Special Operations Task Group troops who served in Afghanistan.

It emphasized the difference between group and individual awards, saying the latter could not be revoked on a broad-brush or collective basis.

“Although many members of the Special Operations Task Group demonstrated great courage and commitment and although it had considerable achievements, what is now known must disentitle the unit as a whole to eligibility for recognition for sustained outstanding service,” the report said.

“It has to be said that what this report discloses is disgraceful and a profound betrayal of the Australian Defence Force’s professional standards and expectations. It is not meritorious. “The inquiry has recommended the revocation of the award of the meritorious unit citation, as an effective demonstration of the collective responsibility and accountability of the Special Operations Group as a whole for those events.”

Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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