Australian soldiers flew Nazi swastika flag in Afghanistan
Government confirms authenticity of photo showing Third Reich flag over army jeep
Defence officials in Australia have condemned a leaked photo of an army vehicle flying a Nazi flag.
The image, taken in Afghanistan in 2007, shows an Australian Army jeep flying a large red and white banner with a black swastika at its centre, a flag synonymous with the Third Reich and Nazi atrocities.
The Australian broadcaster ABC published the previously-unseen photo today, alongside expert analysis asserting that it had not been digitally altered.
The Australian defence ministry confirmed the authenticity of the photo, which has been met with outrage in the country and beyond.
“The flag was briefly raised above an Australian Army vehicle in Afghanistan in 2007,” a spokesperson said, adding that the commanding officer on the scene “took immediate action to have the offensive flag taken down”.
“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.”
In a statement, defence minister Marise Payne said the actions of the soldiers involved were “completely at odds with the values of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the tens of thousands of ADF personnel who have served with distinction in Afghanistan”.
A source familiar with the incident told the ABC it had been intended as a "twisted joke” rather than a show of support for fascism.
The scandal comes as Australian forces’ conduct during their time as a member of the US-led coalition battling the Taliban in Afghanistan is under intense public and official scrutiny.
“Their behaviour between 2005 and 2016, including accusations that they used illegal force and showed a disregard for human life during missions, is being investigated by defense authorities,” Reuters.