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Defence chief was told of infamous Afghanistan soldiers' bar years ago, documents reveal


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The Chief of the Australian Defence Force was told almost six years ago about SAS soldiers drinking alcohol, often to excess, in an unauthorised bar known as "The Fat Ladies Arms" on their Afghanistan base.

In March, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell was asked in Senate Estimates if he had ever visited the unauthorised bar.

"I was unaware of it. I never visited it and have not sighted it. I don't even know if it was a physical location or if it was a concept around which drinking occurred," he said.

But in a document sent to him in August 2015 by the then Special Operations Commander, Major General Jeff Sengelman, General Campbell was told of "a drinking facility called the 'Fat Ladies Arms' which allowed for easy access to quantities of alcohol".

ABC Investigations understands General Campbell was told again about the Fat Ladies Arms at a high-level meeting he chaired the following year.

The bar operated at the Special Operations base at Camp Russell in Tarin Kowt in southern Afghanistan for several years until special forces withdrew in late 2013.

ABC Investigations has been told some SAS soldiers drank home-brew spirits at The Fat Ladies Arms, and that in one incident a pistol was discharged into the ceiling by a drunken SAS soldier.

A former SAS operator who was there has told ABC Investigations that the pistol was snatched from the holster of a female US Black Hawk pilot before it was fired into the ceiling in what was called a "roof pop".

Two female soldiers from the ADF Reconstruction Task Force based in Tarin Kowt were charged and sent home in 2010 after being caught drinking at the Fat Ladies Arms.

A Special Operations officer has told ABC Investigations that SAS soldiers had earlier driven around the Reconstruction Task Force base inviting female personnel to a party at the bar.

While the two regular soldiers were sent home, no member of the SAS was disciplined over the incident.

In another incident, a female Special Operations Task Group soldier has told ABC Investigations she woke up semi-naked in an SAS operator's bed at Tarin Kowt after being plied with home-brew spirits at the Fat Ladies Arms in 2012.

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