Spoiled Commandos get luxury food perks
Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan were allowed to order up big deliveries of luxury foods including prawns, duck breasts, rump steaks and New York - style cheesecakes while conventional soldiers had just standard army rations.
The commandos at Camp Russell, at a time when a string of alleged war crimes took place, were spoiled for choice with their own shopping lists for food - which also included alcohol being brought in from foreign agencies.
Documents obtained under Freedom of information laws by News Corp Australia reveal extra rations delivered to the commandos via Kandahar Air Base from March 2010 to March 2013 included large weekly deliveries of Tim Tams, doughnuts, ice cream, pavlovas, pizza, pancakes, barramundi, and salmon.
Army sources have slammed the preferential treatment saying it helped foster an image of an elitism culture among the Special Forces and claims they were spoiled. The SOTG was made up of a mix of commandos and SAS soldiers.
Scroll down to the the list of foods.
The internal defence documents show when the "favouritism" was questioned by Defence staff, it was argued maintaining the shopping lists "is paramount for Special Forces members conducting arduous operations.
" … extra rations are necessary to facilitate the nature and rigours (sic) Special Operations Task Group's (SOTG) operational commitments. If the ability to procure these types of rations … is not replicated, the conduct of SOTG members outside the wire may be degraded," the FOI document reveal.
Former commando Heston Russell said there was friction over the different supplies Special Forces were allowed, including alcohol, but it was the choice of the individual unit commanders.
But Mr Russell said "we did not dine like kings".
"We were allocated a budget with supplementary allocations and after the first rotations (of commandos) came back from Afghanistan losing weight, they designed a new diet working in consultation with the Australian Institute of Sport.
Mr Russell said it should not be forgotten the Special Forces were "outside the wire" every day for five months at a time.
He acknowledged there had been cultural issues but the army and the special forces but pointed out that the army had facilities in their camp the Special Forces didn't, such as Starbucks restaurant, volleyball courts, karaoke machines.
"We also didn't have free Wi-Fi, or social media and there were no phone lines. We had to hand in all our mobiles," he said.
An explanation from the Department of Defence about the "non-core" rations was that "SOTG are entitled to draw supplementary rations to meet the requirements of physically and mentally arduous training and operations".
"These rations are designed to be easier to carry and able to be consumed while on the move or during short halts in operations. This includes items consumed in the field or immediately before or after short duration, high-intensity combat operations."
Defence also said "seafood" is categorised as a standard food item within ADF ration scales.
The documents show "special meal requests were sent once sometimes twice a week during 2012.
Special Forces have been under pressure after the Brereton report found evidence of 39 murders of civilians and prisoners by members of the Australian Special Forces with most killings occurring in 2012 and 2013
Neil James from the Australian Defence Association, said the conventional army had a combined mess with other forces such as The Dutch, while the Special Forces had their own cooks and bar (alcohol) in their own compound within a compound.
"It has been a lesson learned … not having the SOTG under separate control, and instead culturally and physically integrating them all like were in Vietnam."
Originally published as Spoiled Commandos get luxury food perks