2nd Commando Regiment (Australia)
|2nd Commando Regiment|
Badge of the 2nd Commando Regiment
|Active||19 June 2009 – Present|
|Type||Special Operations Forces|
|Part of||Special Operations Command|
|Motto||Foras admonitio (Without warning)|
|Decorations||Unit Citation for Gallantry
Meritorious Unit Citation
|Abbreviation||2 CDO REGT|
The 2nd Commando Regiment is an elite special operations force of the Australian Army, one of three combat-capable units within Special Operations Command. The regiment was established on 19 June 2009 when it was renamed from the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). The 2nd Commando Regiment often trains and deploys with the Special Air Service Regiment and is highly regarded by coalition special operation forces abroad and has been involved in operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The predominant role of the 2nd Commando Regiment is "war fighting", with the unit being raised to assume the offensive special operations tasks that were previously conducted by the Special Air Service Regiment. This role focuses on many aspects of shock action against a large concentration of enemies. The unit may be tasked with, but is not limited to: counter-insurgency, reconnaissance, direct action and recovery.
The 2nd Commando Regiment is the domestic counter terrorism (CT) and recovery force relied upon by the Australian government in the event of a hostage situation. All members are qualified to be employed as a counter terrorism operator/assaulter within the Tactical Assault Group (East). The primary task of TAG (East) is the recovery and rescue of hostages from enemy contested situations. The company on CT duties is tasked in domestic direct action and hostage rescue missions by sea, air and land. The TAG (East) role is filled by a commando company at all times and augmented by a team of clearance divers from the Royal Australian Navy.
In 1995, a decision was made to unlink the 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, then operating as a standard light infantry battalion, into separate battalions that would resume their original identities as the 2nd and 4th Battalions. The decision was then taken that the 4th Battalion would become the Australian Regular Army's commando trained unit and on 1 February 1997 the unit was renamed to 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). Regular serving members were given the opportunity to undertake special forces training provided mainly by 1st Commando Regiment or elect a posting to a conventional forces unit. No General Reserve positions existed in the new structure and reserve members discharged or posted to GRes units. The initial years were busy with the unit creating a structure and recruiting members suitable for commando training, while conducting sub-unit and unit training activities. Bravo Company was raised in 1998, followed by Charlie Company in 1999, both of which took 24 months to reach full maturity. The pace of battalion life during this time was hectic with capability development, equipment acquisition and training focussing every member's attention. The unit that was developed as a result is highly regarded within the special operations force, and conducted operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. It has also been awarded citations for bravery and meritorious service.
On 19 June 2009 the battalion was renamed the 2nd Commando Regiment. Regardless, the name 4 RAR remains on the Army's order of battle and its history, colours and traditions have been preserved, ready to be re-raised as a regular infantry battalion in the future if required. All awards and battle honours received during the time as 4 RAR (Cdo) were passed onto the 2nd Commando Regiment, while those awarded before the transformation to a commando battalion were retained by 4 RAR. Along with the renaming, a new badge was chosen to reflect the history and traditions of the Australian Independent Companies that served during the Second World War by including the distinctive "double diamond" unit colour patch shape in the regimental badge along with the traditional commando knife.
The 2nd Commando Regiment, then known as 4 RAR (Cdo), was deployed to East Timor as a part of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). When notified to replace 1 RAR in East Timor in 2001, 4 RAR had not long previously been raised as a commando battalion, developing special forces capabilities to supplement those of the SASR. With the commitment to East Timor continuing, however, 4 RAR was re-roled as a light infantry battalion for deployment to East Timor as AUSBATT IV. This involved reorganising from the existing two commando-companies structure to a light infantry battalion with four companies and a growth in the unit from 220 to 670 personnel. This saw B and C Company remain commando-qualified and 'A' and 'D' Companies filled with Regular infantry soldiers posted in to the unit, with its strength growing to 1,100 men. The unit arrived in East Timor in April under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Sengelman, taking over AO Matilda.
During its time deployed as a part of INTERFET, the battalion established a security partnership with the East Timorese, focusing strongly on languages and maintaining the relationships previous Australian battalions had established, as well as transferring new technologies to the local security forces. This "intelligence-led" but "people-focused" approach saw the battalion group conduct the majority of its operations in close proximity to the Tactical Coordination Line (TCL) on the border with Indonesian West Timor. The battalion saw few contacts while in East Timor. These included a TCL violation on 5 May 2001 which was intercepted by a section from 'D' Company, an outbreak of violence involving a grenade attack by militia members at the Maubasa markets on 29 May (with several fatalities and about 50 people wounded) and shallow cross-border militia raids in June, including an attack on a section patrol from A Company. The Battalion was withdrawn and replaced in October 2001.
Following the battalion's return from East Timor it was again restructured to resume its role as a commando battalion. Later, in May 2006, a commando company was deployed to Timor Leste as part of Operation Astute, under Operation Tanger, after relations between the East Timorese government and military forces broke down. The commandos were tasked with Advanced Force Operations for follow-on forces, focusing on Dili Airport. In March 2007, the commandos, along with elements of the SASR, took part in the Battle of Same. After the battle, the commandos and SASR elements were withdrawn at the request of the East Timorese government in order to start negotiations with the rebels.
The battalion provided a commando company force element as part of the Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, known as Operation Falconer. The commando company formed an element of the Australian Special Forces Task Group, which included 1 Squadron, Special Air Service Regiment, a troop from the Incident Response Regiment, a commando company and three CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the 5th Aviation Regiment. The commando company formed the "quick reaction" element for the task group. The SFTG operated in western Iraq where it was successful in securing its area of operations, including the huge Al Asad Air Base. After the invasion was complete, the commando company provided close protection for Australian government officials. The media have claimed that elements from the SASR and 4 RAR subsequently performed counter-insurgency operations inside Iraq, along with other units as a part of Task Force 145, although this has been denied by Australian government. The last commando element was withdrawn in 2006.
In August 2005 an Australian Special Forces Task Group was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper. The SFTG, based on the same structure deployed during Operation Falconer, was made up of elements from the SASR, a Commando Company and a troop from the Incident Response Regiment. Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the 5th Aviation Regiment were deployed to Afghanistan in March 2006 to support the SFTG. During this deployment the Commandos were involved with Operation Perth which resulted in the death of over 150 Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in nine days of fierce fighting in the Chora district of Orūzgān Province. The Australian Special Forces Task Group was withdrawn from Afghanistan in September 2006 and replaced by a Reconstruction Taskforce made up of engineers and conventional infantry.
A 300-strong Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) was subsequently deployed to support the Reconstruction Taskforce in April 2007, including a Commando Company Group, elements of the SASR, and an integral combat service support team. In March and April 2009 SOTG killed 80 Taliban fighters in a major four-week operation in Helmand province, without suffering any casualties. The unit has also been involved in many other operations, including the Battle of Gizab in April 2010, and more recently the Shah Wali Kot Offensive in June 2010, resulting in heavy insurgent casualties. As of June 2013, elements from the 2nd Commando Regiment continue to operate in Afghanistan as part of SOTG.
The 2nd Commando Regiment has been awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry and the Meritorious Unit Citation for its actions in Afghanistan. Six Distinguished Service Crosses, eleven Distinguished Service Medals, seven Medals for Gallantry and three Stars of Gallantry been awarded to personnel from the 2nd Commando Regiment for their actions in Afghanistan. As of 1 February 2012, the unit had lost eight personnel while deployed to Afghanistan along with one killed during a pre-deployment exercise. On 26 March 2013, it was announced that the Australian Army's Special Operations Command will receive the first Army Battle Honour since the end of the Vietnam War for outstanding performance during the Shah Wali Kot Offensive in Afghanistan from May to June 2010. The Battle Honour, titled "Eastern Shah Wali Kot", has been awarded in recognition of the operational actions of the SASR and 2nd Commando Regiment from Australian Special Operations Task Group Rotation XII.
The regiment is currently organised as follows:
- Regimental HQ
- A Company
- B Company
- C Company
- D Company
- 126 Signal Squadron
- Operations Support Company
- Logistics Support Company
(Tactical Assault Group based on rotation)
To apply for entry into 2 Commando Regiment, an applicant must be fully and currently qualified up to 343–2 rifleman standard – (unless entering through "Special Forces Direct Entry" – then the 80-day infantry training is provided prior to SF testing). Applicants will not be allowed to undertake the Commando Selection Training Course until they are qualified Infantrymen. Once the candidate has begun to undertake training, if they fail any part of the selection course they will be returned to their unit, or if from outside of RAInf, transferred to one of the battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment (provided Infantry Initial Employment Training has been completed). Reservists will return to their Reserve Units.
Special Forces Entry Test: SFET is usually conducted twice a year, during which candidates have to complete the following minimum standards over a 24 hour period (usually compacted into 6 hours): Run, Dodge, Jump (RDJ) test with webbing (7 kg) and weapon in 50 secs; 60 push ups in battle PT kit, less webbing and weapon; 100 sit ups (dressed as above); 10 chin ups (dressed as above); 2.4-kilometre (1.5 mi) run in 11:00 minutes (dressed as per the RDJ); 2 minutes of treading water and a 400-metre (440 yd) swim in 18:00 minutes (in full Disruptive Pattern Combat Uniform); and a pack march, which the candidates must walk 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Once this has been completed candidates must endure a six-week Selection Course.
Commando Selection Training Course: On successful completion of the SFET, the Selection course and a 10-week Special Forces Accelerated Infantry Program, candidates are panelled on the Commando Selection Training Course (CSTC), usually six weeks in length, conducted at Special Forces Training Centre (SFTC), Singleton. On successful completion the candidate will complete the following courses before being awarded their Green Beret. Candidates must pass each separate course to advance onto the next course.
- Special Forces Roping;
- SF Helicopter Insertion and Extraction Techniques (HIET);
- SF Signals/Combat Medics Course;
- SF Amphibious Operations;
- SF Sniper;
- SF Water Operator;
- SF Weapons Course;
- Commando Vehicle Operator;
- Advanced Demolitions;
- Special Forces Parachute Operations (HALO and HAHO);
- Close Quarter Fighting;
- Advanced Close Quarter Battle (ACQB);
- Urban Operations;
- Special Forces Heavy Weapons;
- SF/Foreign Weapons;
- SF Breaching;
- Armed Response Protection Team Course;
- Mountain Operator; and
- Demolitions Specialist.
Upon successful completion of all courses soldiers are then posted into one of the Commando Companies. Further training is conducted at team and platoon level dependent on operations, which could include language, sniper, SF indirect fire support, advanced vehicle training, climbing and mountain warfare, and Arctic warfare.
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- For examples of these, see: Unit Colour Patches of the Australian Military Forces
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- Farrell 2006, p. 34.
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