This isn't Sparta — it's Australia's special forces
June 9, 2018 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Fairfax goes deep on disturbing allegations about the actions of Australian special forces soldiers in Afghanistan — where one patrol developed a sick "warrior culture" involving "a devotion to the Hollywood movie 300" and a "kill board," then allegedly "reacted the climactic 'kick' scene" from 300 on a local shepherd.

Special forces soldiers have previously been accused of killing children and planting guns on the bodies of slain Afghans "to create the false impression that they had been armed when killed."

A newly leaked confidential Australian Defence Force report found the elite soldiers allegedly committed war crimes, with an inquiry uncovering accounts of "abuse of drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, unsanctioned and illegal application of violence on operations … and the perception of a complete lack of accountability at times.”
posted by retrograde (19 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Just for additional flavour, the Pharos blog has several articles documenting the use of Spartan imagery by white nationalists.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:25 AM on June 9, 2018 [10 favorites]

These units were generally organized under the premise of being hostage rescue or counterterrorist units but are now glorified death squads.
posted by grobstein at 11:53 AM on June 9, 2018 [9 favorites]

It's almost as though elite combat units aren't compatible with aid, state-building, or peacekeeping roles.

In fact, it might even be that characterizing participation in a conflict in these terms is merely a fig-leaf to cover some other agenda.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:38 PM on June 9, 2018 [36 favorites]

Can we please just skip to the part where we start re-enacting the Nuremburg trials?
posted by loquacious at 1:00 PM on June 9, 2018 [24 favorites]

Life, be careful what kinda art you imitate.
wait...Vonnegut said it better:
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
posted by es_de_bah at 1:24 PM on June 9, 2018 [17 favorites]

It's almost as if putting together groups of emotionally immature, overly violent, ultra-macho young men and giving them lots of guns and not much accountability was a bad idea.
posted by signal at 2:49 PM on June 9, 2018 [14 favorites]

Oh, you idolize the small band of heroes fighting off a superpower? Wait....
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:58 PM on June 9, 2018 [6 favorites]

Relevantly, a couple of days ago The Guɹɐdian helpfully told us Why we may never know if British troops committed war crimes in Iraq.

If? Know if?! The article itself describes a number of war crimes. The invasion of Iraq was arguably a war crime in itself. There has never been an occupation without war crimes; the fact that substantial prosecutions haven't taken place is part of the crime.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:06 PM on June 9, 2018 [10 favorites]

Oh, FFS: Special forces rookie 'blooded' by executing an unarmed man
A Special Air Service Regiment trooper on his first deployment to Afghanistan was pressured to execute an elderly, unarmed detainee by fellow higher-ranking soldiers as part of a "blooding" ritual, according to defence insiders who were witnesses at the scene.

And on the same mission, another man with a prosthetic leg was killed by machine-gun fire. His plastic leg was souvenired and later taken back to SAS headquarters in Perth to be used as a novelty beer drinking vessel.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:49 PM on June 9, 2018 [9 favorites]

ALso, in 300, the kicking scene involved a diplomat, NOT a soldier.
posted by Samizdata at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

The ABC must've been working on the same story and got scooped by Fairfax. Doesn't have the details about what was going on with that SAS patrol, but offers more on the shepherd who was killed and what happened to other members of his family.
posted by retrograde at 7:44 PM on June 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Memories of the dissolution of the Cdn Parachute Regiment; along much the same lines.
posted by GhostRider at 11:28 AM on June 10, 2018

When I was young I wanted to go into the military and went to the respective summer camps for people aspiring to attend the US Air Force and Naval Academies. At one of them I divulged to a fellow camper my desire to be a Navy SEAL (I didn't see my gender as a problem--I adored GI Jane). He said his grandfather was a Navy SEAL, and when he was a little kid he told his grandpa he wanted to become a Navy SEAL, too. His grandfather told him if that was the case then they should start his training by finding a litter of puppies and slitting their throats.

The more I learn about the special forces of nearly any country the more I appreciate Grandpa's honesty.
posted by schroedinger at 11:51 AM on June 10, 2018 [9 favorites]

This doesn't surprise me at all: every AJ I have ever met (and, having been born and grown up in a military town, it has been a lot) has been an absolute scumbag. They are bullies and louts, and the only reason they aren't playing rugby league is because they haven't the skill or hand-eye coordination.

The only one who still exists in my greater sphere of familial familiarity is the husband of one of my nieces, and in the two conversations I've ever had the displeasure of having with him over the past two decades, I discovered that he has no knowledge of or interest in anything at all outside of "army stuff". Ask about his kit and he'll bang on about it like there's no tomorrow. Ask about how his kids are doing in school and he hasn't a fucking clue. Two nephews who were in the Army for a few years are stupid, drunken, drug-addled thugs who can't hold down jobs (they were never deployed, so that's not why). One other niece got out of the navy as quickly as she could when she realised how staggeringly shitty it was.

(I'm sure there are plenty of good decent folk serving in the ADF, but my personal experience is overwhelmingly negative.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:26 PM on June 10, 2018

posted by Joe in Australia at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2018

AJ = army jerk (or whatever other descriptor you want to add)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:03 PM on June 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oof, that has definitely not been my experience with the military/ex-military people I know. In my experience there don't seem to be any less or more jerks than you'd expect in the larger population of humans. Just normal people.
posted by schroedinger at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2018

I get the impression that opinion of the military has gone down so hard that the decent people have pretty much self selected out, so the core is jerks or relentlessly defensive enablers. The defence force jobs, especially border, have been sweetening and sweetening the pot in their job ads all over Seek, but I doubt there's many takers. Who wants to be a babykiller?

I hope these dudes get some trial for their bullshit, it's inexcusable to treat civilians this way.
posted by E. Whitehall at 8:50 PM on June 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Latest revelation a goddamn bloody Swastika.

I've got a lot of family in the military or recently retired, and I don't know how I can ever trust that they don't know about these sorts of goings-on. Let alone the base crime of joining the ADF in the first place.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 12:44 PM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

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