David Collenette, who served as Canada’s defence minister in the 1990s, believes the wide-ranging allegations against Australian troops in Afghanistan are reminiscent of the Somalia crisis his nation faced at the time he assumed office.
Former Canadian Defence Minister David Collenette, who disbanded his nation’s special forces regiment in the wake of a war crimes row similar to the one now implicating Australia, has told The Guardian that the extreme step was the only way to “turn the ship around” and resolve systemic cultural issues in the country’s military once and for all.
The politician referred to the so-called Somalia affair, in which soldiers from Canada’s elite Airborne Regiment were revealed to have tortured and killed a 16-year-old Somali boy, Shidane Arone in 1993, during the UN peacekeeping mission in the embattled African country.
The soldiers posed for horrific “war trophy” pictures alongside Arone, drawing ire among the public and prompting a comprehensive inquiry. The latter also shed light on recurrent instances of soldiers dropping racist comments and taking part in ruthless hazing rituals.
Much akin to the Brereton inquiry, Canada’s own probe revealed systemic cultural and organisational woes among the Airborne Regiment’s ranks, which David Collenette, who became Canada’s defence minister in 1993, moved to disband to deal with the issues. In particular, he transferred its three parachute…