Prime Minister Scott Morrison says this week's report finding evidence that special forces murdered at least 39 Afghan civilians or prisoners was "disturbing" but has insisted war crime allegations must be dealt with by the Australian justice system.
The Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) has recommended 19 current and former personnel be prosecuted for war crimes, and compensation be paid to Afghan victims and families.
In his first comments since the handing down of the long-awaited findings, Mr Morrison said the behaviour of a "small number" of soldiers was "disturbing and distressing", but the Government remains concerned for the mental welfare of many other veterans of the Afghanistan conflict.
"Of course, like all other Australians, [I found] the contents of that report disturbing and distressing," Mr Morrison said.
"We need to ensure that the seriousness of the contents of this report are dealt with under the Australian justice system by Australians in accordance with our laws."
Mr Morrison insisted any prosecutions must adhere to the presumption of innocence and warned that veterans unconnected to the allegations must be looked after.
"The other element that I have been most anxious about is ensuring that all our serving men and women who pull on a uniform, all those who have served, in no way feel reflected upon by the actions alleged of a number, a small number, within our Defence Force," he said.
"It's important that we provide all our men and women in our services, and our veterans, with absolute support.
"They have earned the respect which we rightly provide to them and should. And our support for veterans is incredibly important at this time."
Mr Morrison said he was confident Defence would improve the culture within special forces highlighted by Justice Paul Brereton.
More to come.