War hero’s army squadron disbanded
Exclusive photo: The unit in which VC recipient Ben Roberts-Smith served, the Special Air Service Regiment 2 Squadron, will be disbanded in the wake of the damning war crimes report.
Mr Roberts-Smith - who has repeatedly denied any involvement in atrocities while serving in Afghanistan - declined to comment yesterday, with his lawyers saying he would not be making a statement at this stage.
Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell said the SASR had been advised on Thursday morning that 2 Squadron would be "struck off the Army ORBAT (order of battle.)
"Not because it was the only squadron involved in these issues, but because it was at a time one of the squadrons involved in the allegations made,'' General Campbell said.
He said there would be a "permanent record'' of the striking of the squadron title from the order of battle, and a new squadron, with a new name, would replace it.
"The Chief of the Army will work over time to adjust and then re-raise a different squadron, titled differently,'' he said.
News Corp was given a photograph of 2 Squadron taken in 2010 in the Gizab district of Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan, where international forces including the Australians were deployed.
The photograph shows four or five patrol groups, including Mr Roberts-Smith's patrol, resting with Afghani colleagues.
Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr was in Perth on Thursday to advise the squadron of its demise. The group is based at the Campbell Barracks at Swanbourne and was heavily involved in Operation Slipper in Afghanistan.
Mr Roberts-Smith was a deputy patrol commander and a patrol command of 2 Squadron. The Government has not divulged the identities of those at the centre of the report released today.
He has previously confirmed that he is one of those under investigation by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.
Asked about Mr Roberts-Smith yesterday, General Campbell said he would not discuss individuals.
"I realise the individuals have the right to speak for themselves, but as a point of consistency, both in terms of incidents and individuals, and in the integrity of processes that unfold into the future, that is going to be the position into Defence takes,'' he said.
"No incidents, no names, nothing that in any way might undermine or discredit any process or ultimately any court proceeding.''
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Originally published as War hero's army squadron disbanded