General Angus Campbell has committed to arresting the ethics decline that allowed war crimes to occur on special operations. If the accountability he promised in his words are to mean anything, there must be regular, visible follow-through.
The first steps have been taken. The disbanding of the 2nd SASR squadron is a brutal response, and follows in the precedent set by the Canadian Force, which disbanded its Canadian Airborne Regiment in the wake of the 1993 Somalia affair.
It sends a message: what happened in that command was unforgivable, and no one alive will want to be associated with it ever again.
The revocation of meritorious unit citations to those serving in special operations in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013 is another brutal blow. Campbell noted that collective responsibility must be taken and the circumstances that led to these actions would not be forgotten.
Individuals alleged to be responsible for unlawful conduct will be referred to the office of the special investigator. Those who could have stopped the behaviour and didn't, or allowed themselves to remain ignorant, will face internal discipline. Each case will be looked at individually and they will be treated fairly.
Protection for the whistleblowers and those who supported the inquiry is looked at by army. Reprisal will not be tolerated.
It was clear that higher command was aware of cultural problems within special forces and a capacity problem within Special Operations Command but took inadequate action. Campbell specifically highlighted the misplaced focus on prestige, status and power, and the rejection of humility of service. He described a culture that was distorted, embraced and amplified by charismatic junior leaders who sought to equate military excellence with ego, elitism and entitlement.
A toxic competitiveness between the Special Air Service Regiment and the special commando regiments was "a disgrace to both," Campbell said, and not correcting this culture was a failure of all involved in the chain of leadership.
This is where the follow-through will be most critical. Ethical leadership education will be ramped up across the ADF, not just the special forces. "I want the entire Defence Force to look, to learn, to reflect and say I will not go there," Campbell insisted.
Many in Canberra know members of Defence, or are current or former members themselves. They know that the criminal actions revealed on Thursday are abhorrent to ADF members. When General Campbell says that members of special forces did extraordinary work in Afghanistan he's not trying to sanitise the ADF of what happened.
"The actions of some do not represent the integrity and value of your service," Campbell said to those who served on operations. "You should be rightly proud of your contribution to our nation's history. Today marks an important and difficult step forward for our defence force and our people. Thank you for your continued service."