In 2001 Australian policy was that Australian forces were in Afghanistan for the "War on Terror", not for "Afghanistan", meaning Australia was not there for nation building. As a consequence Australia sent the very tip of its land based spear. The very effective Special Air Services Regiment (SASR). The SASR is trained to be highly independent and conduct extended operations, behind enemy lines, and without resupply for a week or longer.
John Howard recently announced that the SASR will be heading back to Afghanistan for a twelve month tour. This was met by many in Australia with a sigh of relief that we would be sending "more troops" to help out. But the SASR isn't for civil order, or police work. They are not infantry, they are for discovering and destruction of enemy forces. From what I can glean from different news reports, it seems the US may be winding down its special forces operations in Afghanistan. The British are also preparing to send five thousand of their infantry to Afghanistan, with the British SAS and Australian SAS preparing the way for them. The final reason is that there has been a resurgence of Al Queda and Taliban fighters, especially in, near, or on the Pakistan border.
The SASR were first deployed in Brunei during
. Indonesia maintained pressure against Malaya throughout the early 1960s, with Indonesian special forces constantly breaking the border in Borneo. This was a platoon level conflict of jungle patrols - an ideal environment for highly trained and independent special forces. In Borneo one of the main opponents was the forerunner to Suharto's KOPASSUS. SASR later fought in Vietnam, working with US Special Forces. It was a similar environment to Konfrontasi, dominated by platoon level leadership and operations in a jungle environment. The SASR was deployed in East Timor in 1999 where they came up against KOPASSUS again. The SASR has also been used in numerous United Nations operations as security, training or as medical assets.
The Australian SAS Regiment were heavily involved in the Afghanistan conflict, from December 2001 onwards. This included operations such as Slipper, ANACONDA and Mountain Lion. The latter which was along the Pakistani border. Initially US commanders did not understand the capability of the SASR. Australian SAS are trained to go deep behind enemy lines on protracted missions, often as long as a week without resupply, whereas many US Special Forces are more insertion and extraction. The US has far more hardware and back-end to support such operations. Australia does not, as a consequence stamina, independence operations and sustained tempo are valued qualities of the SASR.
Once the US Commanders discovered this aspect of the SASR,
they were happy to use them to their full capability
Initially US intelligence thought the SAS[R] had found Bin Laden, says Adam [a SASR soldier]. A jet was called and dropped a 500kg bomb but it exploded over 100 meters away in a creek bed. Follow up air-raids by A-10 warthog aircraft killed a number of suspected Al Qaeda fighters but opinions are still divided about the success of the raid.
Adam says the bomb missed, resulting in the escape of the high value target, who he suspects was Tur Yuldashev, the head of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and a highly experienced commander. But a recently published book about the operation, written by respected US Army Times journalist Sean Naylor, has suggested the target was Al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden's personal physician and al-Qaeda's second in command.
The independent streak of the SASR extended to their being denoted by long hair and beards. In November 2002 they returned to Australia.
The SASR were used in the
invasion of Iraq as the tip of the coalition spear
, entering the country a full two days before formal hostilities started. The SASR entered Iraq by ground and air; the ground forces hitting Iraqi resistance thirty kilometres in. This was one of the first ground engagements of the invasion. The SASR groups that were dropped in by US air assets were the closest coalition forces to Baghdad for several days. Within a week in the SASR's area of operations, Iraqi military resistance had been neutralised. The SASR later captured Al Asad airbase which contained over fifty Iraqi Mig aircraft and nearly eight million kilograms of explosives.
Between the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, the SASR have earnt the Australian forces international recognition for their effectiveness. Even being mentioned in the US Security White Paper. American military commanders are no idiots, they know good troops when they see them. Since the SASR proved their worth in Afghanistan they have become an integral part of coalition operations.
SASR back to Afghanistan
The SASR will be
sent back to Afghanistan for another tour
. This will most likely involve one hundred and fifty SASR troops. The twelve month deployment will incur a cost of approximately one hundred million AUD. John Howard did not make plainly clear why in his announcements, but it appears it is due to multiple reasons. There has been a resurgence of Taliban and Al Queda insurgents and operatives in Afghanistan which have been operating on, in, or nearby the Pakistan border. This is ideal territory and terrain for the SASR's capability.
Howard was quoted as saying
The decision to send the troops was made after requests at a military level from the US, Afghanistan and other countries to help deal with resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, Mr Howard said.
It also appears that the SASR will be used in conjunction with the British SAS to clear the way for the
deployment of five thousand British regular infantry to Afghanistan
Up to two squadrons of British special forces are preparing to go to Afghanistan within weeks to provide the reconnaissance for an expected British deployment of more than 5,000 troops. ...
The British and Australian special forces will fan out across the territory to be covered by the British battle group. They will identify the most serious threats in the region and gather intelligence on any Taliban activity.
The troops face a hostile environment, with Taliban fighters regrouping in southern Afghanistan backed up by members of Al-Qaeda, including specially trained suicide bombers.
It also appears that there is a possibility that either US Special Forces are being moved to Iraq, from Afghanistan, or US Special Forces are being over-whelmed in Afghanistan.
Bob Brown was quoted as saying
Particularly with increasing reports now coming from Europe that the US wants to reduce and withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, Australia shouldn't be a convenient substitute for George Bush's domestic foreign policy
Since Afghanistan got some NATO and European approval, which Iraq did not, it is possible that the US is focusing on Iraq, and leaving Afghanistan to Europe and other nations who are politically incapable of committing forces to Iraq.
The Australian policy of going to Afghanistan for the War on Terror and not Afghanistan itself is being broken. John Howard is also sending a Provincial Reconstruction Team. This will comprise about two hundred people. Richard Woolcott's comment on Iraq, that no matter how effective the Australian assets there are, Australia is not committing enough manpower, nor money, to make Iraq a stable and reconstructed democratic nation, stands true for Afghanistan as well.
Two hundred members of a Provincial Reconstruction Team will not change the security relationship outside of Kandahar, nor will one hundred and fifty members of the SASR. The latter being for the tracking down of Taliban and Al Queda fighters in the mountainous country along the Pakistani border. As a consequence, Australian policy toward both Iraq and Afghanistan is ad-hoc, and unfocused. This is in part a result of the Prime Minister not having to pass overseas deployments of troops through parliament. There is no accountability on the deployments mission, nor the policy that informs the mission of our military deployments.
We do the Australian Defence Force a dis-service by allowing this situation to persist.
The recent announcement of Australia sending the SASR to Afghanistan along with a Provincial Reconstruction Team points to the unfocused nature of Australia's involvement in the American led "War on Terror". The Howard government chose to join the United States pursuit of terrorism as a military issue. This is in part due to the "Great and Powerful Friends" (GAPF) doctrine of foreign policy that the Liberal Party adheres to. But equally influential on our policy toward Afghanistan has been the weak manner in which Australia has contributed. We are not in control of the outcome, and consequentially the Howard government is just floating along with no focus, and no possible means to take the expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq to any conclusion. Australia needs to return to the policy of December 2001, pull out of Iraq, and focus its full energies on defeating Al Queda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In December of 2001, Australia sent the SASR over to Afghanistan to contribute in the over-throw of the Taliban. Australia's policy then was that our military were there for the "War on Terror"
, not for "Afghanistan"
. Recently explaining the recent resending of the SASR back to Afghanistan John Howard said;
When Australia withdrew those forces [SASR from Afghanistan in 2002], they were withdrawn against a background that it has always been the Australian position that we would provide some support of an elite kind at the sharp end, and that we were never disposed at the beginning to have that long-term - what I might loosely call - peacekeeping role ...
Between the deployments of the SASR in Afghanistan, Australian maintained a personnel of one in the country - a mine clearance officer. This was fitting with the original Australian policy. Our commitment was minimal, and contributed to the over-throw of the Taliban, unfortunately, in the US, the political climate changed and Afghanistan was quickly cast aside, and Iraq focused on. Australia's GAPF foreign policy meant that John Howard found himself joining the American and British governments in selling a war to an often cynical and unbelieving public.
Afghanistan was never followed through entirely to ensure that the Taliban and Al Queda would not resurge in the mountain ranges of the Pakistani border. Australia did not commit sufficient troops to pursue that goal without American and British support. As a consequence, when the SASR, along with American forces, were moved to the Iraqi border, the Taliban and Al Queda were able to regroup in the harsh eastern Afghan country.
Australia followed the United States into Iraq, with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) committing aircraft, special forces, naval vessels and logistical support to the operation. This was quickly wound down after the initial success of the American march on Baghdad. After hostilities ceased the largest numbers of ADF members in the Gulf were an ANZAC Frigate and a Surface to Air Weapon System - totalling approximately 1600 troops. With the recent deployment of 450 additional troops this brings Australia's current commitment to approximately 2000 troops.
John Howard did not make any policy commitment on Iraq, preferring to balance the reticence of a public still not behind the conflict, and the pressure from the United States, Britain and other nations to commit greater forces. Like Afghanistan, it has meant that Australia can have no effect on the outcome, we are dependant upon American success for Australian success. Richard Woolcott commented
The reality is that Australia's presence, however capable and efficient our forces, can make no meaningful contribution to the two major objectives: the reconstruction of that country [Iraq] and the establishment of a viable democratic government there.
Iraq is an American project that requires an American response - lots of troops, lots of money and lots of patience for an ongoing medium intensity conflict. Only the United States can handle that. Australia is best playing to its strengths, and focusing on Afghanistan.
The SASR are the very tip of the spear in the ADF's land capability, but the spear gets fat pretty quickly with the Australian Army - 1st RAR and 4th RAR both maintain commando battalions. These forces are ideally suited to the Afghanistan conflict which is a low intensity, low tempo, land based conflict requiring a high level of skill and training at the individual and platoon level. The Australian Army has always over-excelled in these situations, and presently has existing assets that fulfil that role perfectly.
Clarity of Policy
Australia's response in 2002 toward Afghanistan should have been an escalation of our commitment there with the purpose of eradicating Al Queda and the Taliban. Iraq was a diversion, a distraction that has defrayed Australian policy; leaving it unfocused. Australia needs the clarity of policy again that was present in December of 2001.
Australia needs to remove its forces from Iraq and make a commitment to the United States and Afghanistan that it will see the "War on Terror" in Afghanistan through to its natural conclusion - which is the eradication of Al Queda and Taliban operatives from the country.
We should deploy the commando battalions as well as another Regiment to Afghanistan along with the necessary Army and Air Force airlift capability. The SASR and Commando Battalions will be able to range independently while the RAR will have the capability to do insertion and extraction with Australian rotating and fixed blade air assets.
More importantly, Australia should establish a command and control structure in Afghanistan where Australian commanders are entirely in control of Australian forces. We have not seen the rise of a Monash
in the recent campaigns because Australian forces have been deployed piecemeal under other nation's forces. Australian solutions to Australian problems are superior, and with Australia taking responsibility and ownership of the destruction of Al Queda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, it will allow Australian commanders to pursue that goal by managing the Australian forces at their most efficient and full capability.
The Australian troops would not be in Afghanistan for nation-building, manning checkpoints, or doing police work. They would be focused on a military goal, and an achievable outcome. This would not be politically untenable with the Australian public and would most likely enjoy greater popularity than the current piecemeal and ad-hoc deployment of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The deployment of the SASR, Commando Battalions and a RAR to Afghanistan along with the support infrastructure, including command and control as well as air assets, would allow Australia to pursue a focused policy that would have genuine value in the conflict with organized Wahabi Extremism. It would give Australia a national and political purpose beyond following whatever the great and powerful friend does. Australia would have ownership over a very important component of this conflict, one that is quantifiable, and one that has an publicly knowable ending.
TheAustralian has a couple of
interviews with SASR veteran Peter Tinley
The Government had broken a "moral contract" with the defence force in sending it to an "immoral" war. "The Government has failed to be honest with the Australian people and you can't separate the defence force from the people. The reality is that it is made up of men and women from all over this country.
That is very interesting, especially from a SASR officer. I cannot recall where I read it, but it was in relation to the USN trying to find a mission statement after the cold war that would resonate with the US public and hence politicians. In other words trying to define a valid, popular and representative moral role as an arm of the United States.
Tinley is stating something similar that the ADF is a moral Australian force and cannot be disconnected from the morality of the Australian people.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;