It’s hard to read the details of the Brereton report and not reach the conclusion that there are psychopaths in the Australian military. As one soldier put it: “Psychos. Absolute psychos. And we bred them.”
None of the killings took place in the heat of battle, and they all occurred in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would constitute the war crime of murder.
All the victims were either non-combatants or were no longer combatants.Evidence suggests junior soldiers were instructed by their superiors to execute prisoners in cold blood as part of a “blooding” process to give them their first kill.
“Typically, the patrol commander would take a person under control and the junior member … would then be directed to kill the person under control,” the report found. “‘Throwdowns’ would be placed with the body and a ‘cover story’ was created for the purposes of operational reporting and to deflect scrutiny.”
Unsurprisingly, the report “absolves senior command of blame or knowledge that war crimes were being committed”. However I think it’s fair to argue that the culture of an organisation is the responsibility of its leadership. To say “we didn’t know what was going on in our own military” should be completely unacceptable.