Special Air Service Regiment

In April 1957 the Australian government announced that it would form a Special Air Service (SAS) company. It had an establishment of 16 officers and 144 other ranks. In the early 1960s the SAS became part of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) and its principle task during wartime was to act in an infantry reconnaissance role. During the Indonesian Confrontation in the 1960s there was growing pressure to send the SAS to Borneo to assist in operations. 1 Squadron was dispatched for active service in 1965. In preparation for this deployment the SAS was separated from the RAR and the SAS was reorganised into a regiment - the SASR.

The SASR consisted of a headquarters and two squadrons. Each squadron had an establishment of 15 officers and 209 other ranks. Both SASR squadrons saw action during the confrontation: 1 Squadron between March and August 1965 and 2 Squadron between February and July 1966. A third squadron was raised at the end of 1965. All three squadrons served in Vietnam, each completing two tours, and they acted in a reconnaissance role for the 1st Australian Task Force.

In the late 1970s the SASR began to develop its major counter-terrorist capability, which remains one of its primary functions.

Since the late 1990s the SASR has been heavily employed. Its three squadrons served in East Timor between September 1999 and February 2000. In October 2001 the Australian government announced that it was sending a Special Forces Task Group built around a SASR squadron to participate in the campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The SASR was withdrawn from Afghanistan in November 2002, after all three SASR squadrons had served in the country. The SASR was redeployed to Afghanistan between August to September 2005. In 2003 the SASR participated in the invasion of Iraq as the army’s offensive contribution to the Second Gulf War.