Australian Special Forces soldiers drank beer from the prosthetic leg of a dead Taliban soldier at an unauthorized bar in Afghanistan – with a photo of the act first revealed by Guardian Australia.
A number of photographs obtained by the Guardian show an elderly soldier – who is still on duty – leg rowing at an unofficial bar known as the Fat Lady’s Arms, which has been set up inside the Australian Special Forces base in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan. province, in 2009.
Another appears to show two soldiers performing a leg dance.
The scull photo is the first to be published which confirms previous reports of the practice of using the leg as a drinking vessel.
Some soldiers say the practice was widely tolerated by high-level officers and even involved some of them. This was despite the fact that the limb was potentially a war trophy – an item Australian soldiers were not allowed to remove from the battlefield, let alone keep it.
The situation angered base soldiers who say they were unfairly criticized in the Brereton Report for adopting such a culture and practices when officers were aware of it for years. The Brereton Report found that a “warrior culture” contributed to an environment in which war crimes were allegedly committed.
The leg is believed to have belonged to a Taliban fighter allegedly killed in an assault by SASR 2 squadron on two complexes and a tunnel complex at Kakarak in Uruzgan in April 2009.
It was then allegedly removed from the battlefield and kept in the fat lady’s arms, where visitors sometimes used it for drinking.
It was later mounted on a wooden plaque under the title Das Boot, next to an iron cross – a military decoration used in Nazi Germany. The leg traveled with the squadron at all times, a former soldier told The Guardian.
“Wherever the fat lady’s arms were installed, this is where the leg was kept and used occasionally for drinking,” he said.
The soldier said senior commanders visited the bar occasionally, particularly on Anzac Day, and reportedly saw the leg and potentially the practice of drinking.
Rumors that images of senior officers drinking in their legs have long been circulating in the Australian Special Forces community. ABC and other media have reported on the existence of the leg and the act of picking up beers, although a photo of the act has not been released so far.
The unredacted sections of the Brereton report do not mention the leg or whether soldiers were under investigation for taking war trophies, but the report does refer to the Fat Lady’s weapons as an example of how whose ethical leadership has been compromised.
The report said of the unlicensed bar that it involved “tolerance, acceptance, and participation in a widespread disregard for norms of behavior: such as alcohol consumption during operations, fat lady’s weapons, and lax standards of dress, personal hygiene and behavior – and not just on operations – that would not have been tolerated elsewhere in the military ”.
Under section 268.81 of the Commonwealth Penal Code, taking property without the owner’s consent can qualify as a war crime of looting, punishable by 20 years in prison, the former military lawyer said Glenn Kolomeitz.
Justice Brereton’s report recommended that 19 soldiers be investigated by police in connection with the alleged murder of 39 prisoners and civilians and the alleged cruel treatment of two others.
He also found “credible information” that 25 serving or former ADF members were involved in or at least complicit in serious crimes.
The report says it was less likely that the Special Operations Working Group headquarters and SOTG commanders were aware of war crimes because they were not on the ground.
After the report was released, Defense Chief General Angus Campbell announced that he would accept his recommendations, including the removal of the “Group Meritorious Citation” for soldiers who served in the Task Force on Civilians. special operations between 2007 and 2013.
The recommendation sparked anger in some ranks, with relatives of task force members who died on the battlefield complaining that it was a blanket punishment and affecting many innocent people.
On Monday, apparently after the intervention of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defense Secretary Senator Linda Reynolds, the deletion of the quote appears to be reversed.
Campbell released a statement saying he had made no final decision on the report’s recommendations.
The Ministry of Defense was asked by the Guardian if it was aware of the existence of the photos of the prosthesis and what action had been taken, if any.
A spokesperson referred to the Brereton report in his response.
“The report has been redacted to remove names and details that could identify individuals against whom the Inquiry has found credible information to support allegations of criminal acts or other wrongdoing,” the spokesperson said.
“When information provided to the Defense is not addressed in the Afghanistan investigation, these matters will be fully investigated and action taken.
The spokesperson added: “It is essential that all issues are carefully considered and that all actions be taken according to the long-standing and well-established ADF processes, ensuring the protection of individuals’ due process rights and to a fair trial.
” Due to Personal Information Protection Act, The defense is unable to provide information on current or former military personnel without their written consent. ”
The emergence of the image of the Australian Armed Forces drinking beer on the prosthetic leg of a dead man comes at a particularly tense time for the Australian government.
On Monday, the Chinese government’s foreign affairs spokesperson tweeted a doctored image of an Australian soldier with a knife held at the throat of an Afghan child with the words: “Have no fear, we are here to bring you the peace ”below.
Morrison said the tweet was “utterly outrageous” and “disgusting” and called on China to apologize.
• Anyone affected by the Brereton Report should call Hayat Line on 1300 993 398, a free and confidential line for those going through difficulty. In Australia, support and advice for veterans and their families is available 24 hours a day from Open Arms at 1 800 011 046 or www.openarms.gov.au and Safe Zone Support at 1 800 142 072 or https : //www.openarms.gov .au / safe area support