Australian Special Air Service Regiment
Written by Leroy Thompson.
Images by Australian MOD gunselite1.jpg
Counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist tactical assault groups
The Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) traces its origins to the World War II Z Force Commandos. Australian Special Forces personnel were first designated “SAS” in 1957 when the 1st Special Air Service Company, with an initial strength of 180 men, was formed in the Royal Australian Regiment. In 1964, the Australian SAS became a full-fledged regiment modeled along the lines of the British SAS. The SASR was composed of three “Sabre Squadrons,” a training squadron and a headquarters. Currently, the SASR is based at Campbell Barracks, Swanbourne, in western Australia.
Background & Evolution
The first combat deployment for the SASR came in 1965 when a squadron was sent to Borneo to serve alongside the British and the New Zealand SAS. The Australians have traditionally been good jungle fighters and the campaign in Borneo gave them a chance to hone those skills against Indonesian Special Forces infiltrating across the border.
The Australians proved quite effective at winning the hearts and minds of local tribesmen, who gave them assistance against the Indonesians. Members of the SASR got a chance to apply their jungle warfare skills again in Vietnam, where they served from 1966 until 1971, often working with US Army Special Forces or US Navy SEALs. The Australians were adept at tracking, jungle patrolling, and setting ambushes, all valued skills in Vietnam. An indicator of the skills of the SASR in Vietnam is that their reported kill ratio was 500 to 1.