Commendation for Distinguished Service: Corporal B Roberts-Smith, Special Air Service Regiment, Australian Army

Place Asia: Afghanistan
Accession Number OL00615.013
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: Afghanistan
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made 2014
Conflict Afghanistan, 2001-2021

Commendation for Distinguished Service. Unnamed as issued.

Order a copy
History / Summary

Benjamin 'Ben' Roberts-Smith was born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1978. He joined the Australian Regular Army in 1996 and was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, with whom he took part in two tours of East Timor. In 2003 he was posted to the Special Air Service Regiment. He was on his first tour of Afghanistan in 2006 when he was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his conduct as a patrol scout and sniper. His actions on 11 June 2010, in an operation to hunt for a senior Taliban commander, were recognised with the awarding of the Victoria Cross.

Roberts-Smith was further recognised when he was awarded the Commendation for Distinguished Service for his leadership and courage as a patrol commander in 2012. The citation for the award reads:

'For distinguished performance of duty in warlike operations as a patrol commander with the Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER from June to November 2012.

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith distinguished himself as an outstanding junior leader on more than 50 high risk counter-leadership operations against a determined enemy. He invested heavily in training and mentoring the members of his patrol and less experienced members in the wider Task Group. In planning operations, he drew on a detailed understanding of enemy networks and the human and physical terrain in which they operate to develop lateral tactical concepts. In execution, he consistently demonstrated great courage, resourcefulness and endurance.

As a veteran of several previous tours, Corporal Roberts-Smith took responsibility for mentoring and developing both his own patrol and the personnel of the wider Special Operations Task Group. He readily offered advice on planning, equipment, and tactical techniques, contributing directly to individual and collective capability. His efforts ensured the effective transfer of his professional knowledge and experience to a new generation of special forces soldiers.

Corporal Roberts-Smith led from the front in even the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, maintaining the highest levels of motivation and readiness in his patrol. His performance in leading five special reconnaissance missions exemplified his professional approach and technical skill. These high-threat missions required superior situational awareness, patience, and preparedness. Corporal Roberts-Smith planned meticulously and executed skilfully, ensuring the security of his patrol and enabling mission success.

On 21 October 2012, Corporal Robert-Smith led a lone special reconnaissance patrol deep into the insurgent stronghold of Char-Chineh, Afghanistan, to gain intelligence for future operations. The patrol remained clandestine through the night but was contacted during the day, coming under intense enemy small arms and rocket fire. Corporal Roberts-Smith ordered the establishment of a defensive position and coordinated ground and aerial fire support to break contact and marry up with the extraction agency. Through his courage and resourcefulness, the patrol gained intelligence on enemy defences and command and control, which were critical to subsequent operations within this insurgent safe-haven.

Corporal Roberts-Smith's performance in command of a Special Air Service patrol reflected his dedication to duty and martial skill, and epitomised the regimental motto "Who Dares Wins". His efforts are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.'

Robert Smith’s Commendation for Distinguished Service is preceded by the Victoria Cross and the Medal for Gallantry. The commendation is also accompanied by the the Australian Active Service Medal, service medals for East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Australian Service Medal, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Defence Long Service Medal, the Australian Defence Medal, and UN and NATO medals.