Special forces groups want the government to direct Australia's defence chief to hold off on stripping the nation's elite troops of their medals until Afghanistan war crimes allegations are proven.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the Australian Special Air Services Association, Commando Association and the RSL said no one should face action until the legal proceedings are complete, citing the right of the accused to the presumption of innocence.
The damning Brereton report - released in 2020 - investigated alleged war crimes by Australia's special forces and found 39 civilians and prisoners were unlawfully killed in Afghanistan.
A former SAS senior non-commissioned officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a review of military honours and awards should only take place once war crime allegations have been proven in court.
"It's an absolute disgrace that Angus Campbell is stripping medals from better leaders below him who were actually in a combat area on operations," he said.
The veteran, who deployed several times to the Middle East during his three decades of military service, said current and former personnel had been painted guilty without having had the chance to defend their service and test the accusations made.
Australian SAS Association national chairman Martin Hamilton-Smith said the way the Chief of the Defence Force Angus Campbell had handled the allegations had created an inference of guilt.
"Any punitive administrative action taken to remove awards or to sanction veterans must be fair and considerate and individuals must be afforded due process," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
Former junior and senior officers have reportedly been told to hand back their service medals.
RSL national president Greg Melick said the way the allegations had been managed had caused "significant distress" to serving soldiers, veterans and their families.
Defence Minister Richard Marles told parliament on Monday he backed General Campbell's decision to contact a small group of people to ask them to justify why they should be allowed to keep their honours and awards.
Last year, under the former coalition government, the then defence minister Peter Dutton overturned General Campbell's decision to strip a meritorious unit citation from about 3000 personnel who had served with the Special Operations Task Group between 2007 and 2013.
Mr Marles gave General Campbell permission to restart that process, labelling the war crimes allegations a "national shame".
Australian Associated Press