Australian Special Air Service Regiment
Overview
The Special Air Service Regiment, officially abbreviated SASR but commonly known as the SAS, is a special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 unit of the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

. While it is modelled on the British SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

, with which it shares the motto "Who Dares Wins
Who Dares Wins
Who Dares, Wins, Latin: "Qui audet adipiscitur" is a motto that originated with the British Special Air Service. It is normally credited to the founder of the SAS, David Stirling. The motto has been used by nine elite special forces units around the world that in some way have historical ties to...

", the regiment also draws on the experience of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Australian special reconnaissance
Services Reconnaissance Department
The Services Reconnaissance Department , also known as Inter-Allied Services Department , Special Operations Australia and Section A, Allied Intelligence Bureau was an Australian military intelligence and special reconnaissance unit, during World War II.Authorised by General Thomas Blamey in March...

 and commando
Australian commandos
The name commando has been applied to a variety of Australian special forces and light infantry units that have been formed since 1941–42. The first Australian "commando" units were formed during the Second World War, where they mainly performed reconnaissance and long-range patrol roles during...

 units, particularly Z Special Unit
Z Special Unit
Z Special Unit was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the Second World War to operate behind Japanese lines in South East Asia...

 (Z Force/SRD). It is based at Campbell Barracks
Campbell Barracks (Australia)
Campbell Barracks is an Australian Army base located in Swanbourne, a coastal suburb of Perth, Western Australia. The Australian Special Air Service Regiment has been based at Campbell Barracks since the Regiment was first established as an independent company in 1957...

, in Swanbourne
Swanbourne, Western Australia
-Facilities:Swanbourne includes the 18-hole Cottesloe Golf Club and Swanbourne Beach. Swanbourne is also well-known for having the only nudist beach in Perth. The beach, situated on army land and thus not subject to local council authority, is immediately north of the officially named Swanbourne...

, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

. The SASR is widely regarded as an elite unit.
The SASR currently has three sabre squadron
Sabre squadron
A sabre squadron in the British Army's Royal Armoured Corps and Household Cavalry is an operational squadron of tanks or other armoured fighting vehicles, as opposed to a headquarters or support squadron....

s, known as 1, 2 and 3 Squadron.
Encyclopedia
The Special Air Service Regiment, officially abbreviated SASR but commonly known as the SAS, is a special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 unit of the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

. While it is modelled on the British SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

, with which it shares the motto "Who Dares Wins
Who Dares Wins
Who Dares, Wins, Latin: "Qui audet adipiscitur" is a motto that originated with the British Special Air Service. It is normally credited to the founder of the SAS, David Stirling. The motto has been used by nine elite special forces units around the world that in some way have historical ties to...

", the regiment also draws on the experience of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Australian special reconnaissance
Services Reconnaissance Department
The Services Reconnaissance Department , also known as Inter-Allied Services Department , Special Operations Australia and Section A, Allied Intelligence Bureau was an Australian military intelligence and special reconnaissance unit, during World War II.Authorised by General Thomas Blamey in March...

 and commando
Australian commandos
The name commando has been applied to a variety of Australian special forces and light infantry units that have been formed since 1941–42. The first Australian "commando" units were formed during the Second World War, where they mainly performed reconnaissance and long-range patrol roles during...

 units, particularly Z Special Unit
Z Special Unit
Z Special Unit was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the Second World War to operate behind Japanese lines in South East Asia...

 (Z Force/SRD). It is based at Campbell Barracks
Campbell Barracks (Australia)
Campbell Barracks is an Australian Army base located in Swanbourne, a coastal suburb of Perth, Western Australia. The Australian Special Air Service Regiment has been based at Campbell Barracks since the Regiment was first established as an independent company in 1957...

, in Swanbourne
Swanbourne, Western Australia
-Facilities:Swanbourne includes the 18-hole Cottesloe Golf Club and Swanbourne Beach. Swanbourne is also well-known for having the only nudist beach in Perth. The beach, situated on army land and thus not subject to local council authority, is immediately north of the officially named Swanbourne...

, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

. The SASR is widely regarded as an elite unit.

Role

The SASR currently has three sabre squadron
Sabre squadron
A sabre squadron in the British Army's Royal Armoured Corps and Household Cavalry is an operational squadron of tanks or other armoured fighting vehicles, as opposed to a headquarters or support squadron....

s, known as 1, 2 and 3 Squadron. These squadrons rotate in turn through the two roles performed by the SASR. One squadron maintains the counter terrorism role, and the remaining two squadrons maintain the surveillance and reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 role.
On operations each squadron is supported by a troop
Troop
A troop is a military unit, originally a small force of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron and headed by the troop leader. In many armies a troop is the equivalent unit to the infantry section or platoon...

 from 152 Signal Squadron.

Reconnaissance

In the reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 role the SASR typically operates in small patrol
Patrol
A patrol is commonly a group of personnel, such as police officers or soldiers, that are assigned to monitor a specific geographic area.- Military :...

s which has the task of infiltrating enemy-held territory and providing intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

 on troop movements. In this role the SASR generally seeks to avoid directly engaging enemy units, though SASR soldiers will call in air
Air Support
Air Support is a 1992 computer game for the Amiga and Atari ST. It is a top-down strategy game, with a first-person mode available for special missions. The game takes place during a retrofuturistic 21st century where all wars are fought in virtual reality. The game was given mostly positive...

 and other support to destroy enemy units whenever possible. SASR reconnaissance patrols can be inserted by air, land or sea (including by submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

) and have proven capable of covering large distances in jungle and desert terrain.

Counter terrorism and Special Recovery

In the counter terrorism and special recovery roles the SASR specialises in tasks such as direct action and hostage rescue, including boarding
Boarding (attack)
Boarding, in its simplest sense, refers to the insertion on to a ship's deck of individuals. However, when it is classified as an attack, in most contexts, it refers to the forcible insertion of personnel that are not members of the crew by another party without the consent of the captain or crew...

 moving ships (ship underway). In contrast with the SASR's reconnaissance role, when operating in the counter terrorism role SASR units are only tasked with the mission statement "to rescue the hostages". The SASR provides Tactical Assault Group (West), while the 2nd Commando Regiment
2nd Commando Regiment (Australia)
The 2nd Commando Regiment is an Australian Army Special Forces unit, it is one of three combat-capable units within the Australian Special Operations Command. The regiment was established on 19 June 2009 when it was renamed from the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment...

 provides Tactical Assault Group (East).

History

Early years

The Australian Special Air Service was established on 25 July 1957 as the 1st Special Air Service Company. Then in 1960 the company became part of the Royal Australian Regiment
Royal Australian Regiment
The Royal Australian Regiment is the parent regiment for regular infantry battalions of the Australian Army and is the senior infantry regiment of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps...

 and was given the responsibility for commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

 and special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 operations in the Australian Army
Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of Defence commands the Australian Defence Force , the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army...

. The SASR was expanded to three sabre squadron
Sabre squadron
A sabre squadron in the British Army's Royal Armoured Corps and Household Cavalry is an operational squadron of tanks or other armoured fighting vehicles, as opposed to a headquarters or support squadron....

s and gained Regimental status on 20 August 1964 when the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) was established.

The SASR first saw action in 1965 as part of the British Commonwealth force stationed in north Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 during the Indonesian Confrontation. The Australian SASR troopers operated alongside their British
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 and New Zealand
Special Air Service of New Zealand
The New Zealand Special Air Service was formed on 7 July 1955 and is a special forces unit of the New Zealand Army modelled on the British Special Air Service . The New Zealand Government states that NZ SAS is the "premier combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force". Its key roles are to...

 counterparts in operations aimed at stopping Indonesian infiltration into Malaysia, taking part in Operation Claret
Operation Claret
Claret was the code name given to operations conducted from about July 1964 until July 1966 from East Malaysia across the border in Indonesian Kalimantan during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation. They were instigated by the Director of Borneo Operations Major General Walter Walker with the...

. Despite often being deployed in the reconnaissance role, SASR units inflicted at least 20 kills on Indonesian forces in a series of ambushes and contacts, on both sides of the border. Three SASR soldiers were killed during these operations, one gored by an elephant and the other two drowned during a river crossing.

Vietnam

The SASR's participation in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 began when 3 Squadron deployed as part of the 1st Australian Task Force
1st Australian Task Force
The 1st Australian Task Force commanded the Australian and New Zealand Army units deployed to South Vietnam between 1966 and 1972. 1 ATF was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province...

 (1 ATF) in April 1966. The SASR's role in Vietnam was to act as the 'eyes and the ears' of the Australian Task Force through conducting reconnaissance patrols throughout 1 ATF's area of responsibility. As in Borneo the SASR operated closely with the New Zealand SAS, with a New Zealand SAS troop being attached to each Australian Squadron.

SASR Squadrons rotated through Vietnam on one year long deployments until the last Squadron was withdrawn in October 1971. During its time in Vietnam the Regiment was extremely successful in the reconnaissance role. To their enemies, members of the regiment were known as the 'phantoms of the jungle' due to their fieldcraft.

The Australian and New Zealand SAS killed at least 492 and as many as 598 and losing only two men killed in action and three fatalities from friendly fire. The remains of the last Australian soldier who went missing in action
Missing in action
Missing in action is a casualty Category assigned under the Status of Missing to armed services personnel who are reported missing during active service. They may have been killed, wounded, become a prisoner of war, or deserted. If deceased, neither their remains nor grave can be positively...

 in 1969 after falling into the jungle during a suspended rope extraction were found in August 2008.

Australia's SASR also worked with U.S. Navy SEAL Teams
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

 and U.S. Army Special Forces, and provided instructors to the LRRP School. Some members also served with the highly secret MACV-SOG units.

Post-Vietnam

The Australian withdrawal from Vietnam brought to an end the doctrine of 'forward defence' through involvement in South East Asian wars. Instead, the Australian military's new focus was on the defence of continental Australia
Defence of Australia Policy
The Defence of Australia Policy was Australia's dominant defence policy between 1972 and 1997. The policy was focused on the defence of continental Australia against external attack...

 against external attack. In line with this change, the SASR took the lead in developing the Australian Army's capability to conduct patrol operations in Northern Australia
Northern Australia
The term northern Australia is generally known to include two State and Territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory . The part of Western Australia north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included...

. This role is now filled by the Army's three Regional Force Surveillance Units
Regional Force Surveillance Units
"RFSU" redirects here. For the Swedish organization, see Swedish Association for Sexuality EducationThe Regional Force Surveillance Units are specialised infantry units of the Australian Army Reserve responsible for patrolling northern Australia...

.

Following the Sydney Hilton bombing
Sydney Hilton bombing
The Sydney Hilton bombing occurred on 13 February 1978, when a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. At the time the hotel was the site of the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting , a regional off-shoot of the biennial meetings of the heads...

 in February 1978 the SASR was given responsibility for providing Australia's military counter-terrorism response force. In addition to being able to respond to terrorist attacks in Australian cities, the SASR counter-terrorism unit was also required to be capable of boarding ships and oil platforms.

Peacekeeping

The SASR has been at the forefront of numerous peacekeeping missions in recent years. The first SASR units to deploy on active service after the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 did so as part of Australian peacekeeping
Peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 deployments. The first major deployment of SASR troops occurred when a squadron sized group deployed as part of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force in Rhodesia during the 1980 changeover to Zimbabwe. Small SASR units were attached to Australian forces in Somalia
Operation Solace
Operation Solace was the Australian Defence Force's main contribution to the Unified Task Force which was a United States led, United Nations sanctioned, multinational force which operated in the Republic of Somalia from 9 December 1992 to 4 May 1993...

 to provide an elite response and VIP protection and security. Contrary to some reports, SASR did not provide a security team for service in Cambodia although a number of SAS qualified signallers from 152 Signal Squadron were deployed as part of the Australian military contribution to the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC) and FCU UNTAC
FCU UNTAC
FCU - UNTAC, the Force Communications Unit UNTAC , was the Australian component of the UNTAC mission in Cambodia.-United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia:...

. SASR Patrol Medics were also deployed as part of the contribution to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda
United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda
The United Nations Assistance Mission In Rwanda was a mission instituted by the United Nations to aid the implementation of the Arusha Accords, signed August 4, 1993, which were meant to end the Rwandan Civil War. The mission lasted from October 1993 to March 1996...

, some of whom were present during the Kibeho Massacre. The current SOCOM RSM earned a Medal for Gallantry
Medal for Gallantry
The Medal for Gallantry is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Australian Defence Force. It recognises acts of gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances. The MG was introduced on 15 January 1991, replacing the Imperial equivalent. It is ranked third in the Gallantry Decorations...

 in Rwanda. There is a dedicated Security Sergeant's position within the Multinational Force and Observers
Multinational Force and Observers
The Multinational Force and Observers is an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.-Background:...

 (MFO) allocated to SASR and several SAS qualified Signals Sergeants have also been deployed to MFO in Sinai. In addition, individual members of the SASR have been attached to a wide range of Australian peacekeeping deployments where their high levels of technical skills have proven invaluable.

Blackhawk tragedy

Deaths during training accidents make up the majority of the SASR's fatalities.
The worst accident in the Regiment's history occurred on 12 June 1996 when two S-70-A9 Blackhawk
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System competition in 1972...

s from the 5th Aviation Regiment carrying SASR troopers collided during a live fire counter-terrorism/special recovery operation exercise at Fire Support Base Barbara in the High Range Training Area at Townsville, Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

.

This activity was part of Exercise DAY ROTOR 96 and took place on the second day of the exercise sometime after 6:30pm requiring the pilots to use night vision goggles
Night vision goggles
A night vision device is an optical instrument that allows images to be produced in levels of light approaching total darkness. They are most often used by the military and law enforcement agencies, but are available to civilian users...

. Thirty seconds from the Landing Zone (LZ) one of the helicopters veered to the right, clipping the tail rotor of a second aircraft. Both aircraft caught fire, with one Black Hawk crashing immediately while the other was able to make a crash landing. The moments that followed were marked by outstanding heroism as crash survivors and soldiers from the other helicopters risked the flames and exploding ammunition to rescue their comrades and retrieve the bodies of the dead.

Fifteen members of the SASR and three members of the 5th Aviation Regiment lost their lives in the accident while 14 personnel were given official recognition for their part in the rescue and evacuation operations.

Broader horizons

In 1998 the SASR's made its first squadron strength deployment since Vietnam when 1 Squadron, with an attached New Zealand SAS troop, was deployed to Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 as part of the American-led Operation Desert Thunder
Operation Desert Thunder
Operation Desert Thunder was a response to threats by Iraq's president Saddam Hussein to shoot down U-2 spy planes, and violate the no-fly zone set up over his country. The operation was designed to bring stability to the region by bringing in a military presence during the negotiations between...

. While this crisis was resolved peacefully, if military action had been taken the SASR's role would have been that of rescuing the crews of aircraft shot down by Iraqi air defences (CSAR
Combat search and rescue
Combat search and rescue are search and rescue operations that are carried out during war that are within or near combat zones.A CSAR mission may be carried out by a task force of helicopters, ground-attack aircraft, tankers and an airborne command post...

).

The SASR played a key role in the Australian-led international peacekeeping force
INTERFET
The International Force for East Timor was a multinational peacekeeping taskforce, mandated by the United Nations to address the humanitarian and security crisis which took place in East Timor from 1999–2000 until the arrival of United Nations peacekeepers...

 in East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

 between September 1999 and February 2000. 3 Squadron spearheaded most operations conducted by the international force during the early days of the intervention in East Timor and, as in Vietnam, served as the eyes and ears of the force. 1 Squadron replaced 3 Squadron in December 1999 and was subsequently replaced by 2 Squadron. During operations in East Timor the SASR was involved in a number of significant contacts with pro-Indonesian militia, including at Aidabasalala
Battle of Aidabasalala
The Battle of Aidabasalala was a small but hard fought action during the 1999 East Timorese crisis between pro-Indonesian militia, and a small six-man Australian covert reconnaissance patrol from the Special Air Service Regiment operating as part of the United Nations-mandated International Force...

 on 16 October 1999.

Domestic security and controversy

The SASR formed a key element of the security force in place for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. During the Games two SASR squadrons were available for Counter-Terrorist operations. The SASR's Counter-Terrorist role has increased in prominence since the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, and the SASR has since formed part of the security force for events such as the 2003 Rugby World Cup
2003 Rugby World Cup
The 2003 Rugby World Cup was the fifth Rugby World Cup and was won by England. Originally planned to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, all games were shifted to Australia following a contractual dispute over ground signage rights between the New Zealand Rugby Football Union and Rugby World...

. The SASR currently provides one of Australia's two elite Tactical Assault Groups (designated TAG (West)), with the other TAG being provided by the 2nd Commando Regiment (formerly the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment).

In August 2001, the SASR was involved in the Tampa affair
Tampa affair
In August 2001, the Howard Government of Australia refused permission for the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa, carrying 438 rescued Afghans from a distressed fishing vessel in international waters, to enter Australian waters...

 when the then Counter-Terrorist squadron was ordered to Christmas Island and to board the MV Tampa
MV Tampa
MV Tampa is a roll-on/roll-off container ship completed in 1984 by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. in South Korea for the Norway based firm, Wilhelmsen Lines Shipowning.-Tampa affair:...

 once it illegally entered Australian waters. While the members of the SASR involved did what they could to improve conditions on the Tampa, the use of an elite military unit to prevent asylum seekers landing in Australia was not supported by all members of the Regiment and remains controversial. Less controversial, however, was the SASR's involvement in the boarding of the North Korean freighter MV Pong Su in 2003.

Afghanistan and Iraq

In October 2001 the Australian government announced that it was sending a Special Forces Task Group built around a SASR Squadron to participate in the campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan (designated Operation Slipper
Operation Slipper
Operation Slipper is the Australian Defence Force contribution to the war in Afghanistan. The operation commenced in late 2001 and is ongoing...

). After staging through Kuwait, 1 Squadron arrived in Afghanistan in November 2001 with the other SASR squadrons rotating in at approximately six monthly intervals. The SASR's main role in Afghanistan was to conduct surveillance of al Qaeda and Taliban positions, though SASR Troopers also conducted a number of offensive operations. The SASR initially operated in southern Afghanistan with the US Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 before moving to eastern Afghanistan where it played an important role in Operation Anaconda
Operation Anaconda
Operation Anaconda took place in early March 2002 in which the United States military and CIA Paramilitary Officers, working with allied Afghan military forces, and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization and non NATO forces attempted to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shahi-Kot...

. The SASR withdrew from Afghanistan in November 2002 after all three SASR squadrons had served in the country. One member of the SASR, Sergeant Andrew Russell, was killed during this deployment when the vehicle he was travelling in hit a land mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

.

The SASR provided the majority of the ground force element of the Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq
Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq
The Howard Government supported the disarmament of Iraq during the Iraq disarmament crisis. Australia later provided one of the four most substantial combat force contingents during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under the operational codename Operation Falconer. Part of its contingent were among the...

, moving in quickly and successfully, thus enhancing Australia's standing amongst its allies. The Australian Special Forces Task Group was built around 1 Squadron, with a platoon from the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
The 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was an Australian Army infantry battalion and part of the Royal Australian Regiment. The battalion was formed on 1 February 1964 and was renamed the 2nd Commando Regiment on 19 June 2009....

 and a troop from the Incident Response Regiment available to support the SASR. 1 Squadron operated in western Iraq where it was successful in securing its area of operations, including the huge Al Asad air base
Al Asad
Al Asad Airbase is the second largest US military airbase in Iraq and is located in the largely Sunni western Province of Iraq Al Anbar. It was formerly the home of the II Marine Expeditionary Force until January 2010...

. 1 Squadron was withdrawn from Iraq without replacement shortly after the end of the war, though media reports have claimed that elements of the SASR have subsequently conducted counter-insurgency and training operations in Iraq.

The SASR was re-deployed to Afghanistan in August or September 2005. The Australian Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan consisted of elements from the SASR, 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando)
4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
The 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was an Australian Army infantry battalion and part of the Royal Australian Regiment. The battalion was formed on 1 February 1964 and was renamed the 2nd Commando Regiment on 19 June 2009....

, the Incident Response Regiment and logistic support personnel. This task group was withdrawn in September 2006. A Special Operations Task Group, including SASR, was redeployed to Afghanistan in April 2007. On 16 January 2009, it was announced that Trooper Mark Donaldson
Mark Donaldson
Mark Gregor Strang Donaldson VC is the first recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia, awarded for gallantry, the highest award in the Australian honours system. He is the first Australian recipient of a Victoria Cross since Keith Payne in 1969...

 was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia
Victoria Cross for Australia
The Victoria Cross for Australia is the highest award in the Australian Honours System, superseding the Victoria Cross for issue to Australians...

, the highest award for gallantry in the Australian Honours system, for gallant acts performed whilst serving with the SAS in Afghanistan.
On 23 January 2011 Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith
Ben Roberts-Smith
Benjamin "Ben" Roberts-Smith VC, MG is an Australian soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia, the highest award in the Australian honours system....

 was awarded the Victoria Cross for single handedly neutralising two machine gun positions during an operation in Afghanistan.

East Timor

A SASR Troop was deployed to Timor Leste in May 2006 as part of Operation Astute
Operation Astute
Operation Astute is an Australian-led military deployment to East Timor to quell unrest and return stability in the 2006 East Timor crisis. It is currently headed by Brigadier Bill Sowry, and commenced on 25 May 2006 under the command of Brigadier Michael Slater...

. In March 2007 SASR personnel took part in the Battle of Same
Battle of Same
The Battle of Same was fought in the village of Same in Timor Leste, south of the capital Dili, between Australian Special Forces and Petitioner rebels under the command of Alfredo Reinado...

. It was reported in October 2006 that a force of 20 SASR soldiers was operating in the southern Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 supporting Filipino operations against the Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya is one of several military Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern Philippines, in Bangsamoro where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for an independent province in the country...

 and Jemaah Islamiah terrorist groups but this was denied by the Department of Defence.

Current organisation

The regiment is currently organised as follows:
  • 1 Squadron
  • 2 Squadron
  • 3 Squadron
  • 152 Signal Squadron

Uniform and equipment

The general uniform of the regiment was the Australian issue camouflage (Disruptive Pattern Combat Uniform, or DPCU), however the new Multicam design camouflage is used in Afghanistan by all Special Forces troops, and is now being introduced to all other Australian Army personnel in Afghanistan as well. Qualified SASR members wear a sand-coloured beret
Beret
A beret is a soft, round, flat-crowned hat, designated a "cap", usually of woven, hand-knitted wool, crocheted cotton, or wool felt, or acrylic fiber....

 with metal gold and silver winged dagger badge on a black shield. This differs from the British 22 SAS, who have a woven cap badge of the same design. SAS 'Ibis' style parachute wings (rounded at the bottom and straight on top) are worn on the right shoulder only on formal Summer, Winter or Mess dress. SASR qualified Parachute Jump Instructors (PJI) on posting to the Parachute Training School wear the SAS hat badge on an airborne maroon beret and may wear a locally purchased DPCU parachute badge on their Para Smock. In Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, SASR operators were generally distinguished by their long hair and beards, as shaving is not usually carried out whilst on patrol.

Basic patrol weapons are the M4 Carbine
M4 carbine
The M4 carbine is a family of firearms tracing its lineage back to earlier carbine versions of the M16, all based on the original AR-15 designed by Eugene Stoner and made by ArmaLite. It is a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle, with 80% parts commonality.It is a gas-operated,...

 (designated M4A5 in Australia) with M203A1
M203 grenade launcher
The M203 is a single shot 40 mm grenade launcher designed to attach to a rifle. It uses the same rounds as the older M79 break-action grenade launcher, which utilize the High-Low Propulsion System to keep recoil forces low. Though versatile, and compatible with many rifle models, the M203 was...

 40mm grenade launcher and F89 Minimi Para
FN Minimi
The Minimi is a Belgian 5.56mm light machine gun developed by Fabrique Nationale in Herstal by Ernest Vervier. First introduced in 1974, it has entered service with the armed forces of over thirty countries...

 light machine gun. Another popular patrol weapon is the 7.62mm SR-25
SR-25
The SR-25 is a semi-automatic sniper rifle designed by Eugene Stoner and manufactured by Knight's Armament Company. The SR-25 uses a rotating bolt and a direct impingement gas system. It is loosely based on Stoner's AR-10, rebuilt in its original 7.62×51mm NATO caliber...

 rifle. The standard issue sidearm is the Heckler & Koch USP
Heckler & Koch USP
The USP is a semi-automatic pistol developed in Germany by Heckler & Koch GmbH of Oberndorf am Neckar as a replacement for the P7 series of handguns.-History:...

 Tactical (in 9mm). Many other weapon systems are used as the mission dictates. Operators are multi-skilled and all are parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

-qualified, but they specialise in either Air, Water or Vehicle-mounted insertion methods.

The Regiment is organised into three 'sabre' squadrons
Squadron (cavalry)
A squadron was historically a cavalry sub unit. It is still used to refer to modern cavalry units but can also be used as a designation for other arms and services.-United States:...

, each of up to 100 'beret qualified' operators, and an embedded signal squadron (152 Signal squadron), logistic support squadron, and Operational Support Squadron, which conducts the selection and training courses. Only a small percentage of the Regiment are 'beret qualified' operators. The majority of the regiment personnel are highly trained specialist staff who are posted to the unit to provide support for all operations. These include signallers, mechanics and technicians, medical staff, storemen, and various specialists.

'Beret qualified' SASR members are known as 'Operators' and support staff are affectionately known as 'Blackhats', due to the dark blue berets they wear. Infantry soldiers who are posted to the unit as storemen, drivers, clerks etc. wear the dark 'rifle' green infantry beret. There are also a number of support personnel who are qualified to wear the sandy beret but have chosen or been directed to remain serving in their particular specialist field. There are also beret qualified members who have been injured and subsequently moved into a support related area.

Signals Corps personnel undertake the same selection and reinforcement cycle training as the rest of the Army, but are rarely released for Corps transfer to Infantry due to the requirement to provide SAS qualified Corps signallers to the Regiment. Personnel from 152 Signal Squadron are encouraged to attempt selection, but as a rule, if successful they remain in the signal squadron and do not transfer into a 'Sabre' squadron. However, in being 'Beret' qualified, they receive a significant pay rise and increased posting longevity to SASR. Members of 152 Signal Squadron are affectionately known as 'Chooks' and are often fully integrated into the 5 man SASR patrols. One member of 152 Signal Squadron was awarded an Infantry Combat Badge during service with the "Gerbils" in Somalia. This was made on the basis that he held an Infantry Employment Code Number (ECN 353 SASR Trooper) and was deployed as part of an SASR team.

Selection and training

Selection is open to all serving Australian military personnel and involves a 3 week selection course which assesses both individual attributes and the ability to work effectively in a small team. Prior to selection SASR candidates will face a paper board convened by the Special Forces Training Centre (SFTC) to check records and see which part of the service they are vying for. Candidates then have to pass the SFTC Special Forces Psych Test and a Special Forces Medical Board to assess their psychological and medical suitability for the SASR.

80% will meet the standard and continue to the Special Forces Entry Test that tests their physical fitness and includes push-ups, endurance marches and swimming; 64% of applicants will pass the Special Forces Entry Test and continue on to the three week SASR selection course, and 16% of applicants will pass the SASR selection course. Following selection candidates must complete up to 18 months of further courses before they join a squadron as a junior trooper
Trooper (rank)
Trooper from the French "troupier" is the equivalent rank to private in a regiment with a cavalry tradition in the British Army and many other Commonwealth armies, including those of Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. Today, most cavalry units operate in the armoured role, equipped...

 or troop
Troop
A troop is a military unit, originally a small force of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron and headed by the troop leader. In many armies a troop is the equivalent unit to the infantry section or platoon...

 commander (Captain). A wide array of training and courses are also conducted throughout a SASR soldier's career to allow the regiment to have the most highly-qualified soldiers in the Australian Defence Force. Officers only complete the necessary basic courses to qualify them for service in the unit, as their expertise is in planning and administration. In general, they do not get the opportunity to complete all the specialist courses required of the ORs
Other Ranks
Other Ranks in the British Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force are those personnel who are not commissioned officers. In the Royal Navy, these personnel are called ratings...

.

A new troop commander is carefully mentored by both troop sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 and patrol commanders. Generally, a troop commander will only serve in the unit for two or three years but may come back as a Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 if they have performed well. Soldiers may serve in the Regiment for their entire career, but this will usually include one or more two year external postings to instructional positions on the east coast. Promotion for soldiers is quite slow in the unit. On receiving their coveted sand-coloured SAS beret, all soldiers are given the rank of Trooper, which may involve a reduction from their previous rank. They usually also change corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

 if they are not already members of the Infantry Corps. Despite a possible reduction in rank
Reduction in rank
Reduction in rank may refer to two separate concepts:*In military law, a reduction in rank is a demotion in military rank as punishment for a crime or wrongdoing, imposed by a court-martial or other authority...

, SASR soldiers receive significant allowances, which make them among the highest paid soldiers in the Australian Defence Force. With specialist allowances an SASR Trooper earns about $100,000 per annum.

Since their beginnings in 1964, the SASR has lost more men in training than in combat due to the nature of their training regime.

External links

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