In view of the extensive and, in many cases, inaccurate reporting of this incident in the media over the last 18 months, we have been advised to take the unusual step of making a public statement. We have cleared this statement with Special Operations Headquarters.
We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the Director of Military Prosecutions to charge us with offences arising from the incident in Afghanistan on the night of 12 February 2009. We will strenuously defend the charges and we look forward to the opportunity of publicly clearing our reputations, as well as the reputation of the ADF.
Words will never adequately express our regret that women and children were killed and injured during the incident on 12 February 2009. These were people we were risking our lives to protect. However, it should not be forgotten that the casualties were ultimately caused by the callous and reckless act of an insurgent who chose to repeatedly fire upon us at extreme close range from within a room he knew contained women and children. This forced us to make split-second decisions, under fire, which almost certainly saved the lives of our fellow Australian and Afghan soldiers. We believe that when all the facts of this incident are made known to the public, it will be clear to everyone that we made the correct decision under truly awful circumstances.
We would like to express our gratitude for the strong support we have received throughout this process from the CDF, Chief of Army, Special Operations Commander Australia, our commanding officer and the members of the Special Operations Command, who along with many other members of the ADF, continue to serve under demanding and dangerous conditions in Afghanistan.
Soldier A and Soldier B
1st Commando Regiment