Special Operations Command (Australia)

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Special Operations Command
Active 2003–present
Country Australia
Role Special operations
Size 2,050 (Active)[1]
750 (Reserve)
Part of Australian Defence Force
Headquarters location Potts Point, New South Wales
Motto(s) Acies Acuta
(The Cutting Edge)
Major General Adam Findlay

The Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) is a command within the Australian Defence Force. Special Operations Command was established on 5 May 2003 to unite all of the Australian Army Special forces units and by 2008 was fully operational.[2][3][4] Australia's Special Operations Command is of equivalent status to Australia's Fleet, Forces and Air Commands.[2] It is modelled on the equivalent commands in the United States and British militaries, and is led by a major general as Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST).

SOCOMD's origins begin in 1979 with the army creating a small Directorate Special Action Forces—Army. On 13 February 1990 Headquarters Special Forces was established, which was renamed in 1997 to Headquarters Special Operations and in 2003 to Special Operations Headquarters in SOCOMD.[5][6][4]


A Special Operations Task Group patrol in Afghanistan in October 2009

While Special Operations Command had not formally commenced operations at the time, it appears that the headquarters may have overseen the boarding of the North Korean freighter MV Pong Su in April 2003, which involved elements of both the Special Air Service Regiment and 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) Tactical Assault Groups.[8]

In 2007, the APEC Summit hosted in Sydney had Special Operations Command involvement regarding security as world leaders, including John Howard, George W. Bush and other government and economic leaders were in attendance.


Order of battle[edit]

Soldiers from Special Operations Command during a media demonstration in May 2003

Special Operations Headquarters or SOHQ (Canberra and Sydney)

Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST)[edit]

The Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST) is responsible for the peacetime 'raise, train and sustain' functions of Special Operations Command reporting to the Chief of Army whilst the Chief of Joint Operations is responsible for the operational functions of Special Operations Command deployments.[6] The SOCAUST is responsible for the domestic counter-terrorism deployments of Special Operations Command reporting directly to the Chief of the Defence Force.[6]

The following have held the position of Special Operations Commander Australia, with the ranks and honours as at the completion of their tenure:

Rank Name Post-nominals Term began Term ended Notes
Major General Lewis, DuncanDuncan Lewis DSC, CSC May 2002 October 2004
Major General Hindmarsh, MikeMike Hindmarsh AO, CSC October 2004 February 2008
Major General McOwan, TimTim McOwan DSC, CSM February 2008 January 2011
Major General Gilmore, GusGus Gilmore AO, DSC January 2011 September 2013
Brigadier McDaniel, DanielDaniel McDaniel DSC, DSM September 2013 December 2014
Major General Sengelman, JeffJeff Sengelman DSC, AM, CSC December 2014 June 2017
Major General Findlay, AdamAdam Findlay AM June 2017 Incumbent [13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Australian Army – Modernisation from Beersheba and Beyond (PDF) (Report). Australian Army. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Senator Robert Hill, Minister for Defence (5 May 2003). "New Special Operations Command" (Press release). Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Prime Minister John Howard (19 December 2002). "Expansion of Special Forces Counter Terrorist Capability and new Special Operations Command" (Press release). Prime Minister of Australia. 
  4. ^ a b Goh, Puay Hock (Francis) (June 2011). How should SOF be organized? (PDF) (Master's thesis). U.S. Navy Postgraduate School. OCLC 743235192. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Grant (Ret.), Brigadier William 'Mac'. "Reserve Commandos inherit a remarkable legacy" (PDF). Defence Reserves Yearbook 2004–2005. Executive Media Pty Ltd. Australian Defence Force. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Davies, Andrew; Jennings, Peter; Scheer, Benjamin (2014). A Versatile Force: The Future of Australia's Special Operations Capability (PDF). Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Strategic Policy Institute. ISBN 9781921302978. Retrieved 7 September 2017. 
  7. ^ Boer, Cpl Corinne (19 April 2007). "Back into fray". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1164 ed.). Canberra, Australia: Department of Defence. ISSN 0729-5685. 
  8. ^ Logue, Jason (8 May 2003). "Tartan TAG". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1073 ed.). Canberra: Department of Defence. ISSN 0729-5685. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "Special Operations Logistics Squadron". Australia Army. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Burton, Cpl Sean (4 November 2004). "Top people top job – Special ops support company raised". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1109 ed.). Canberra, Australia: Department of Defence. ISSN 0729-5685. 
  11. ^ Kuring 2004, p. 435.
  12. ^ Blaxland 2014, p. 328.
  13. ^ "Special Operations Commander Australia". Australian Army: Our leaders. Department of Defence. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 


  • Blaxland, John (2014). The Australian Army from Whitlam to Howard. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107043657. 
  • Kuring, Ian (2004). Redcoats to Cams: A History of Australian Infantry 1788–2001. Loftus, New South Wales: Australian Military Historical Publications. ISBN 1876439998. 

Further reading[edit]