Special Air Service Regiment (SASR)

Special Air Service Regiment (SASR)
Home NationAustralia
MottoWho Dares Wins
Date FoundedFounded on 25 July, 1957 as the 1st Special Air Service Company of the Royal Australian Infantry. On 4 September, 1964, the Company was reconstituted as a Regiment and renamed the Special Air Service Regiment.
Key StatisticsSize: SASR is composed of three rotating SASR squadrons, each with three Troops – a boat Troop specialised in submarine operations, an airborne Troop specialised in parachuting, and a ground Troop specialised in jungle and desert reconnaissance. A fourth troop, said to specialise in clandestine military intelligence, has never been publicly acknowledged.

Funding: SASR funding falls under the budget of Australia’s Special Operations Command (SOCOMD). Under Project GREYFIN, the country’s special operations forces will receive $3 billion in investment over 20 years.

Diversity: Combat roles in the Australian Defence Force are currently closed to women, etc.
Regimental RemitSpecialism: Sensitive strategic operations, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency,  advisory and training assistance, special reconnaissance, precision strike, and direct action. The SASR is designed for covert, long-range reconnaissance and surveillance behind enemy lines and raids. 

Where are they based: The regiment based at Campbell Barracks, Perth. 

Operating location(s): Domestic and international. The SASR has a history of operating both domestically and abroad. Since Vietnam, however, its international deployments have largely been in support of peacekeeping missions.
Noteworthy OperationsThe Indonesian Confrontation, Borneo, 1965-1966 – The SASR’s first overseas operation was in Borneo, where it was deployed primarily on ‘hearts-and-minds’ operations with the British Commonwealth force during the Indonesian Confrontation. 

The Vietnam War, South Vietnam, 1966-1967 – SASR squadrons served on one year rotations throughout the Vietnam War, tasked with intelligence-gathering for the 1st Australian Task Force and US forces.

Operation Cenderawasih, Irian Jaya, Indonesia, 01 January, 1976-31 December, 1981 – The SASR was deployed to North Irian Jaya following the crash of an RAAD Iroquois helicopter. They were tasked with assisting the survivors and recovering the wreckage.

Operation Habitat, Turkey and Northern Iraq, May-June, 1991 – Peacekeeping operation to assist Kurdish refugees.

UNOSOM/UNITAF, Somalia, April-November 1994 – 10 SASR operatives were deployed to Mogadishu towards the end of UNOSOM II to protect the Australian peacekeeping force stationed there. 

Operation Desert Thunder, Kuwait, February-June 1998 – An SASR squadron was sent to Kuwait as part of Australia’s commitment to the US-led Operation Desert Thunder. The squadron was deployed as part of the ANZAC Special Operations Force, integrated with the New Zealand SAS. 

INTERFET, East Timor, September 1999-February 2000 – Three SASR squadrons played a key role in the Australian-led peacekeeping force in East Timor.

Operation Slipper (2001-2014) and Operation Highroad (2015-2021), Afghanistan – All SASR squadrons were deployed as part of Australia’s participation in the War in Afghanistan. 

Operation Falconer (2003) and Operation Catalyst (2005-2009) – Australia’s commitment to the US-led Invasion of Iraq and subsequent reconstruction mission. 

Operation Astute, Timor Leste, 2006-2007 – An SASR troop was sent to Timor Leste in the wake of the East Timorese Crisis.

Operation Quickstep, Tonga, October-December 2006 – SASR troops deployed to Tonga following a military coup.
Any Scandals2013: An ABC report alleges that an SASR soldier serving in Afghanistan in April 2013 cut off the hands of two suspected Taliban fighters during a joint operation with the Afghan national security service. Details of the incident emerged after a leak of classified Defence documents. The soldier was cleared of war crimes by a Federal Police investigation.

2020: The Brereton report, commissioned after a series of war crimes allegations against Australian troops serving in the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2016, was published in November 2020. The report found that “rumours, allegations, or suspicions of a breach of Law of Armed Conflict are not substantiated”. However, it concluded that “there is credible information of 23 incidents in which one or more non-combatants or persons hors-de-combat were unlawfully killed by or at the direction of members of the Special Operations Task Force”. 39 Afghan civilians were murdered in what constitutes as the war crime of murder, with one incident described as “possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia’s military history”. According to the report, the force would encourage young soldiers to execute detainees in initiations known as ‘blooding’. Moreover, it described a culture of secrecy and cover-up and a sense of entitlement amongst the troops, as well as a practice of routinely looking the other way amongst higher-ups. 
SASR’s 2 squadron was disbanded after the revelations. However, the Australian government has been heavily criticised over its inaction. It has failed to enact reforms recommended by the Brereton Report and missed a promised deadline to compensate the victims.
Noteworthy Distinctions/ extra informationKnown as ‘chicken stranglers’ or ‘snake eaters’ within military circles, a reference to some of the survival techniques candidates must learn.