14 Jun 2018

Nazi flag flown on Australian military vehicle in Afghanistan

3:44 pm on 14 June 2018

Australian soldiers have been photographed flying a Nazi swastika flag from their vehicle while on operations in Afghanistan.

Army soldier on a moving heavily armored personnel carrier.

Photo: 123rf

The photo, obtained exclusively by the ABC, was taken in August 2007.

The photograph shows the large swastika emblem hoisted over an Australian military vehicle.

Two separate Defence sources have identified a particular soldier as the individual who took the flag to Afghanistan.

The ABC has seen a second photograph of the flag, and it is understood that further images of the flag in Afghanistan have also been circulated among Australian soldiers.

One Defence source who was aware of the flag being flown in Afghanistan in 2007 said it was a "twisted joke", rather than evidence or an expression of genuine neo-Nazism.

The source claimed the flag was up for a "prolonged period".

In response to questions from the ABC, a Defence spokesperson said: "Defence and the ADF reject as abhorrent everything this flag represents. Neither the flag nor its use are in line with Defence values.

"The flag was briefly raised above an Australian Army vehicle in Afghanistan in 2007.

"The commander took immediate action to have the offensive flag taken down.

"It is totally inappropriate for any ADF vehicle or company to have a flag of this nature.

"The personnel involved were immediately cautioned at the time and subsequently received further counselling.

"Additionally, steps were taken to reinforce education and training for all personnel who witnessed the flag."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed the conduct of the soldiers who raised the flag, saying it was "completely and utterly unacceptable".

"It was wrong, it was absolutely wrong and the commanders took action at the time," Mr Turnbull said.

The photograph has emerged as the actions of Australia's special forces in Afghanistan come under unprecedented scrutiny.

The ABC recently published claims in relation to the alleged killing of unarmed Afghan men by a different group of Australian special forces personnel during an operation in the village of Darwan, five years later in September 2012.

-ABC

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