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Aussie troops criticised for flying Nazi flag in Afghanistan

AP  |  Canberra 

Australia's today joined critics of elite troops who were photographed more than a decade ago flying a Nazi flag from a vehicle while on patrol in

published the photograph of the red flag with a black swastika inside a white circle flying from a Land Rover Long Range Patrol Vehicle somewhere in in 2007.

The secretive culture of the Special Forces, which comprise the and Commandos, is being examined by the defense forces general, who is finalising a two-year investigation of allegations of misconduct that include illegal killings in

described the flag incident as "completely and utterly unacceptable," and said the soldiers involved had been disciplined.

"It was absolutely wrong, and their commanders took action at the time," Turnbull told reporters.

The said the flag was "briefly raised" above an army vehicle and a acted immediately to have the flag taken down. The troops involved were cautioned and subsequently counselled.

Defense "rejects as abhorrent everything that this flag represents. Neither the flag nor its use are in line with Defense values," the department's statement said.

of the Australian Defense Force, Vice Adm. Ray Griggs, said the flag was destroyed when the patrol returned to base and appropriate action had been taken in response.

Peter Wertheim, of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said he was revolted by the photograph.

Neil James, of the Australian Defense Association, a security policy think tank, said the flag was more likely a joke than a demonstration of ideology.

Flying a red flag above a camouflaged vehicle "doesn't make any sense from a tactical or professional point of view," James said.

But Ben Wadham, a expert on militarism and a former military investigator, said the had had to deal with soldiers who were "Nazi sympathizers" in the past.

"Flying that flag in Afghanistan dishonors the ADF and those soldiers who fought in World War II," Wadham said, referring to the

was the third largest source of special forces after the and Britain for more than a decade during the Afghanistan war, before Australian elite combat troops were withdrawn in 2013. lost 41 troops in Afghanistan since 2002.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 14 2018. 12:05 IST