The Defence response to the Afghanistan Inquiry will be transparent, subject to security, legal and privacy requirements.

The Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Plan (the Reform Plan) sets out the Defence strategy for responding to the Inquiry and establishes the Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Program (PDF, 727 KB) (the Reform Program) to coordinate and drive this work. The Reform Program has two objectives: address the past and prevent recurrence.

Criminal investigations and any potential prosecutions are being conducted independently of Defence.

Defence continues to support the work of the Office of the Special Investigator and the Australian Federal Police.

Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Plan

The Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Plan (the Reform Plan) was publicly released on 30 July 2021.

The Reform Plan (PDF, 6.5MB) is available to download.

The Afghanistan Inquiry made a broad range of findings and 143 recommendations. Defence has accepted the Inspector-General’s findings and is addressing all recommendations.

At this time, Defence has implemented the required action to close 124 of the 143 recommendations.

The Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Plan sets out the Defence strategy for responding to the Afghanistan Inquiry and establishes the Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Program (PDF, 727 KB) (the Reform Program) to coordinate and drive this work.

The Reform Program has two objectives:

Objective 1: Address the past: Consider and take appropriate action to address organisational, collective and individual responsibility for past failures and wrong doing.

Objective 2: Prevent recurrence: Build the best possible organisation for the future, comprehensively understanding and addressing the root causes of the failures and wrongdoing; and developing the systems, culture and accountability that will prevent, and promptly detect and respond to, departures from required standards.

Visit Defence Response for more information.

Defence Response

Defence is comprehensively responding to the Afghanistan Inquiry through the work of the Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Program (the Reform Program).

At this time, Defence has implemented the required action to close 124 of the 143 recommendations.

The work being delivered through the Reform Program is not limited to and goes beyond addressing Inquiry recommendations, considering and responding to the complex issues raised by the Inquiry.

Visit Defence Response for more information.

As part of the Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Program, a number of initiatives are focused on strengthening command accountability into the future, including modernising doctrine, training and assurance mechanisms to better prepare commanders and strengthen the culture of accountability.

Defence is committed to the delivery of our response to the Afghanistan Inquiry and is taking the necessary action to address the Inspector-General’s findings and recommendations.

The delivery of Defence’s response remains a high priority and we will deliver on the remaining activities in a timely, thorough and considered manner.

In June 2021, the then-Minister for Defence wrote to the Chief of the Defence Force directing him to suspend any consideration of action in relation to personnel who held command positions in the period within the scope of the Afghanistan Inquiry (2005 to 2016).

Consequently, the CDF suspended his consideration of command accountability at that time.

The current Government confirmed Defence could recommence action for command accountability. Accordingly, the CDF recommenced his consideration of command accountability related to the Afghanistan Inquiry.

The Chief of the Defence Force has considered the command accountability of current and former serving ADF members who held command positions during the periods in which the Inspector-General found credible information of multiple incidents of alleged unlawful conduct as identified in the Afghanistan Inquiry report.

Persons who held command positions during the periods where there was credible information of alleged unlawful conduct, irrespective of rank, have been considered in a consistent manner. These considerations applied to a small group only. All were given the opportunity to respond during the process.

The CDF has provided the relevant materials to the Deputy Prime Minister (in his capacity as Minister for Defence) for his consideration. This concludes the CDF's involvement in the process.

Should the Deputy Prime Minister decide that an honour or award be cancelled, he will make a recommendation as such to the Governor-General for his determination.

As the process is ongoing, and to protect the privacy and support the welfare of our people, Defence will not comment on the circumstances of individuals.

The Afghanistan Inquiry makes seven recommendations in relation to honours and awards:

  • One of the seven Inquiry recommendations relates to revoking the award of the Meritorious Unit Citation (MUC) to the Special Operations Task Group (Task Force 66). On 19 April 2021, the then-Minister for Defence announced that the Special Operations Task Group (Task Force 66) will retain the MUC.
  • Six of the seven Inquiry recommendations relate to individual honours and awards. Defence is addressing these recommendations in accordance with existing processes for the review of honours and awards. Defence may review other honours and awards if the circumstances warrant this course of action.

This work will be undertaken in accordance with existing processes. Ensuring this work does not compromise any relevant criminal processes is a key consideration and may require deferral of actions in some circumstances.
 

The issue of compensation is highly complex and comes with a number of significant practical and logistic issues.

The Afghanistan Inquiry report made 15 recommendations to pay compensation to alleged victims and their families where there is credible evidence involving allegations of property damage, assault and unlawful killing, without awaiting the establishment of criminal liability.

The Australian Government has agreed to a pathway forward to establish a compensation scheme within Defence, under regulation. Work is ongoing to finalise the detail of the scheme.

The Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, was the Commander of Joint Task Force 633 (CJTF 633) from 14 January 2011 until 17 January 2012 inclusive. 

The CDF was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as CJTF 633 for service on Operation SLIPPER from January 2011 to January 2012. 

Oversight of Defence Response

The Government, through the Deputy Prime Minister (in his capacity as the Minister for Defence), will oversee the Defence response to the Afghanistan Inquiry. The Deputy Prime Minister will be informed by advice from the Afghanistan Inquiry Implementation Oversight Panel.

Defence’s peak decision-making body – the Defence Committee – is the final internal authority overseeing Afghanistan Inquiry related reform and implementation. 

The Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Program Board (the Program Board) has been established to guide, direct and oversee the delivery of the Afghanistan Inquiry Reform Program.

The Program Board is accountable to the Chief of the Defence Force, as the Senior Officer responsible for the overall delivery of the Reform Program.

The Government established the Afghanistan Inquiry Implementation Oversight Panel to provide independent oversight and assurance of Defence’s response to the Inquiry.

The Afghanistan Inquiry Implementation Oversight Panel includes individuals recognised for their expertise and experience in complex legal matters, forensic review, organisational scrutiny and reform, and will report directly to the Minister for Defence.

The Panel is comprised of:

  • Dr Vivienne Thom, AM, a former Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security;
  • Robert Cornall, AO, a former Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department; and
  • Professor Rufus Black, noted ethicist and Vice Chancellor of the University of Tasmania.

Office of the Special Investigator

The Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) in the Attorney-General's portfolio will address the potential criminal matters raised in the Afghanistan Inquiry report.

The OSI is working with the Australian Federal Police to investigate allegations of criminal offences under Australian law arising from the Afghanistan Inquiry. Where appropriate, the OSI will develop briefs of evidence to refer to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

Criminal investigations and any potential prosecutions are being conducted independently of Defence.

The OSI commenced operations on 4 January 2021.

Visit OSI for more information.

The Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) is working with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to investigate allegations of criminal conduct related to any breach of the Law of Armed Conflict by members of the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016.

The OSI and AFP can investigate matters which are beyond those addressed by the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry, but within the OSI’s mandate.

All allegations of unlawful killings have been referred to the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI). 

Investigations are ongoing and anyone connected to the Afghanistan Inquiry may still be contacted by the OSI as part of their investigations.

Criminal investigations and any potential prosecutions are being conducted independently of Defence.
 

An individual has been charged following the joint criminal investigations conducted by the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) and Australian Federal Police. Visit OSI news page for more information.  

Criminal investigations and any potential prosecutions are being conducted independently of Defence.
 

On 24 May 2021, the Afghanistan Inquiry report was provided to the Office of the Special Investigator by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.

The report was provided in accordance with section 28L of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Regulation 2016.