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Australian SAS under the microscope.

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  • Australian SAS under the microscope.

    In the barracks of Australia’s most elite fighting unit, the incident is discussed in hushed tones.

    But by the end of 2016, all three were acutely aware that one SASR soldier was being whispered about more than most. He had deployed repeatedly to Afghanistan and formed impeccable connections up the chain of command.
    One SASR officer, to himself, called this man "Leonidas", after a fearsome warrior of ancient Sparta. Leonidas was part of the sweep through Darwan on September 11, 2012. And it was Leonidas who had allegedly led Ali Jan to the edge.
    Questions inside the regiment about Leonidas, who Fairfax Media unsuccessfully sought to interview and who cannot be named for legal reasons, began to be asked in 2009. At the time, he was part of an SASR patrol that was increasingly dividing the regiment. A warrior culture was being embraced by some special forces troops but loathed by others. It involved tattoos and a devotion to the Hollywood movie 300, which glorifies the fighting prowess of the ancient Spartans, and whose climactic moment involves an enemy soldier being kicked off a precipice.
    The patrol Leonidas belonged to appeared unburdened by such introspection. In this group, sources say, junior members were pushed to kill rather than detain.In time, members of this patrol tacked a “kill board” to the wall of their patrol room. Members of another patrol heard Leonidas urging his fellow patrol members on – “only two more to go, boys” – a suspected reference to reaching a desired kill count to record on the board.
    By 2010, there were disparate rumblings about incidents involving Leonidas’ patrol on the battlefield. A prisoner of war was found dead in suspicious circumstances by a member of another patrol; an SASR soldier discovered the bodies of two farmers in a field without weapons; one of Leonidas’ patrol colleagues was quietly complaining about another shooting on patrol.In each case, Leonidas’ patrol had failed to conduct a proper “site sensitive exploration”, according to sources at the scenes.
    Investigative article on possible war crimes by an Australian SASR operator. Feel free to discuss.