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Australian Defence Response to Time article

CPA 150/05 Tuesday, 31 May 2005

Response to Time Magazine article

Time Magazine has today published an article regarding SAS operations in Afghanistan in 2002.

Our Special Forces in Afghanistan operated under strict Rules of Engagement, and these included the specific and discriminatory use of force in order to achieve their missions. These rules include and always retain the inherent right of our soldiers to defend themselves and their fellow soldiers if threatened.

It is Defence's policy to not disclose the detail of classified operational activities, in order to preserve operational security and the safety of ADF members and their families, as well as to protect Defence capabilities and procedures.

However, in light of the Time Magazine article and having regard to the fact that the action in question was completed over three years ago, Defence can confirm the following:

* As briefed at the time, a SAS patrol was engaged in a contact in May 2002. A larger SAS force coming to its assistance was also involved in the broader action, after being fired upon.

* These tactical actions were reviewed after the incident and were determined by Army to be in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. Each Australian element that opened fire, or called in fire, did so in response to direct threats to their safety.

* Some internal aspects of Patrol K3 were investigated fully at the time and appropriate disciplinary action initiated.


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