Find, Fix, Finish
By Ben McKelvey
Published by Harper Collins
RRP $34.99 in paperback | ISBN 9781460760765
Australia’s involvement in the Afghanistan war unexpectedly morphed into Australia’s longest war, a war that McKelvey says was recognised a decade earlier than its eventual ignominious end in 2021 as unwinnable.
It was not only Australia’s longest war but its most secretive too.
In all it is estimated that Australia’s special forces (SASR) killed 11,000 Afghans, mostly via the large kill/capture program initiated by US forces.
McKelvey does a good job of explaining the intricacies of Australia’s special forces involvement, how targets were identified and either captured or killed. But then of course, in the aftermath of war, we are left with its terrible legacy.
Former operators who would find it profoundly difficult to reintegrate into normal civilian life also faced the rumours of war crimes and the findings of the Brereton Report.
Not surprisingly, McKelvey found his opportunities to ask questions of special forces commanders about their failed mental-health obligations were limited as most were still serving and could not be approached, except through the ‘near impenetrable iron curtain of Defence media.’
The war may have ended but the questions remain, many of them unanswered.