Special forces of Australia

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An Australian Special Operations Task Group patrol in Afghanistan during October 2009

Since 1941, the Australian military has raised a range of special forces and special operations units, including:[1][2]

  1. Commando units such as the Independent and Commando Companies raised during World War II, and the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments which were raised post-war.[Note 1]
  2. Reconnaissance and intelligence gathering units such as M and Z Special Units of the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) and the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) during World War II,[4][5] and later the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) and Regional Force Surveillance Units (RFSU)s.[6]
  3. Counter-terrorism units such as the Tactical Assault Groups (formed from elements of the SASR and 2nd Commando Regiment).[7]
  4. Non-special forces support units such as the Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOER),[Note 2] Special Operations Logistics Squadron (SOLS),[8] No. 4 Squadron RAAF,[9][10] 171st Aviation Squadron[11] and No. 200 Flight RAAF.[12]

All of Australia's special forces units have been grouped together under the Special Operations Command since December 2002.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 2nd Command Regiment was previously called the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando).[3]
  2. ^ SOER was previously called the Incident Response Regiment (IRR).[8]
  1. ^ Horner 2002, pp. 19–35.
  2. ^ Kuring 2004, pp. 259–260 & 432–435.
  3. ^ "New Name for Sydney Commandos" (Press release). Department of Defence. 19 June 2009. 
  4. ^ Kuring 2004, p. 259.
  5. ^ Horner 2002, p. 25.
  6. ^ Lord & Tennant 2000, p. 27.
  7. ^ Hill, Robert (25 May 2004). "Australia's Response to Terrorism". Department of Defence (Australia). Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Blaxland 2014, p. 328.
  9. ^ Allard, Tom (17 March 2008). "New squadron will aim to cut civilian deaths". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 September 2008. 
  10. ^ Air Power Development Centre (June 2014). "Combat Control in the RAAF". Pathfinder: Air Power Development Centre Bulletin (Royal Australian Air Force) (Issue 224). Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "6th Aviation Regiment". Department of Defence. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  12. ^ RAAF Historical Section 1995, pp. 174–175.


  • Blaxland, John (2014). The Australian Army from Whitlam to Howard. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107043657. 
  • Horner, David (2002). SAS: Phantoms of War. A History of the Australian Special Air Service (Second ed.). Sydney, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-647-9. 
  • Kuring, Ian (2004). Redcoats to Cams: A History of Australian Infantry 1788–2001. Loftus, New South Wales: Australian Military Historical Publications. ISBN 1876439998. 
  • Lord, Cliff; Tennant, Julian (2000). ANZAC Elite: The Airborne and Special Forces Insignia of Australia and New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: IPL Books. ISBN 0-908876-10-6. 
  • RAAF Historical Section (1995). Units of the Royal Australian Air Force. A Concise History. Volume 4 Maritime and Transport Units. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 0-644-42796-5. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Macklin, Robert (2015). Warrior Elite: Australia's Special Forces - From Z Force and the SAS to the Wars of the Future. Sydney, New South Wales: Hachette Australia. ISBN 9780733632914.