Army special forces chief cleared over ‘unacceptable’ comments to fellow soldiers

The commander of Australia’s special forces was the subject of an independent investigation after making “unacceptable” remarks that offended two fellow soldiers, the Australian Army has confirmed.
Nanjing Night Net

Special Operations Commander Jeff Sengelman was investigated by the Defence watchdog last year after two soldiers complained about his “tone and language” during a series of conversations, the Chief of Army Angus Campbell said in a statement.

Major-General Sengelman, who heads the nation’s elite SAS and Commando regiments, was cleared by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force. Lieutenant-General Campbell said the special forces commander “retains my confidence”.

Lieutenant-General Campbell said emphatically that “there was no sexual harassment, and no proposition was made”.

He did not detail whether the complainants were male or female, nor what the commander actually said.

But his statement followed a report by The West Australian newspaper that said the probe had been launched after a female officer said Major-General Sengelman had made inappropriate remarks towards her.

Lieutenant-General Campbell said the investigation found that Major-General Sengelman was probably joking and had not meant to cause offence.

“The investigation found that although it is likely that the remarks were made in jest, they were remarks that were unacceptable under Defence policy, in that those personnel who heard the comments perceived them as offensive,” he said.

“Importantly, the investigation further found that Major-General Sengelman did not intend the comments to upset or cause offence to the two members.”

Major-General Sengelman has apologised to one complainant and is in the process of apologising to the other “for any perception of offence”.

The complaints came at a time of ongoing sensitivity within the military over the internal culture and behaviour of personnel. The actual incidents happened in May 2015 just as the time of former chief of Army and Australian of the Year David Morrison, who has been recognised for his work in promoting the role of women in the military, was coming to an end.

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