Australia's Governor-General David Hurley was the chief of the defence force when alleged war crimes revealed in the Brereton report were committed and has described them as "horrific and reprehensible."
"There are not enough adjectives to describe how we feel about it, but it's now occurred, and we just have to take on resolving the issues," the Governor-General said in Devonport, Tasmania, on Tuesday.
He was speaking after visiting the Devonport RSL Club's Jack Mason Memorial Military Museum.
When the Governor-General was asked why people higher in command didn't know what allegedly happened, he referred to his statement on the report.
"The alleged atrocities referred to in the IGADF report are horrific, reprehensible, and run counter to the ADF's and Australia's values. I cannot comment on individual cases, however, I hope and believe that the legal process now underway will ensure individual accountability," his statement said.
"As the Inspector General's report makes clear, unforgivable atrocities are alleged to have been committed by a small number of individuals and deliberately concealed from immediate chains of command. Having served in the ADF for 42 years, I share the pain and anger that must be felt by current and former ADF members. As chief of defence force between July 2011 and June 2014, I am deeply disappointed that the ADF inquiry and investigative processes I commissioned into civilian casualties did not reveal the existence of the alleged offences, a large number of which were hidden as combat casualties in operational reports. The IGADF Report speaks to this issue."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Governor-General and his wife Linda were on their first visit to Tasmania's North-West.
Their Excellencies met with the family of Latrobe war hero Teddy Sheean on Monday and attended a civic reception in Devonport. On Tuesday, they visited the COVID-19 testing centre at East Devonport to say thank you before going to Home Hill, the residence of former Prime Minister Joe Lyons and Dame Enid Lyons and attending a lunch at the Devonport RSL Club.
"I primarily wanted to come down to see the Sheean family and get to meet some of the people who will be in Canberra for the (Victoria Cross) Investiture. To take away a bit of apprehension if there is any there and so we've got some familiar faces," he said.
He said he had thanked tireless Teddy Sheean VC campaigner Garry Ivory for his persistence over many years.
Concerning Home Hill, the Governor-General said he found it to be a fascinating place containing Commonwealth history and the memories of "two very important people in our nation."
He said it's a matter for governments to determine how to manage it.
At the Devonport RSL Club, army-trained chef veteran Shannon Wainwright said he prepared a menu featuring North-West Coast Cape Grim beef and Nichols chicken from Sassafras for the Governor-General's lunch.