Australian special forces in Iraq

Australian special forces in Iraq

**needs revision to include pre-Catalyst deployment info



According to the Australian government, there are currently no official Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) forces operating in Iraq.  However, there have been British media reports in 2007 that SASR troops are in fact operating in Iraq along the southern Iraq border with Iran.  Many former-SAS soldiers are working in Iraq as security contractors. During the invasion of Iraq and initial occupation period (Operation Falconer) the Special Forces Task Group (comprising around 500 personnel) played an important role; in both combat operations and proving security in early May 2003 for the Australian diplomatic representative office in Baghdad.


Government sources

Inside enemy minds, Defence Magazine, Corporal Sean Burton, April 2006

“SASR is a clandestine unit, which has as its primary role surveillance and reconnaissance, usually behind enemy lines or in high-threat areas, operating in very small groups independently for long periods. It is a highly versatile unit that can turn its hands to most things, ranging from humanitarian assistance, ‘hearts and minds’ activities, through to harassment and general offensive operations as seen in the Western Desert of Iraq in 2003.”


Commentary and Analysis

UK in talks to hand Iraq role to Australia, The Sunday Times, Michael Smith, 10 July 2005. 

“Australian SAS soldiers are already taking over from their British counterparts in southern Iraq to allow up to two British special forces squadrons to Afghanistan, senior defence sources said.”

SAS raiders enter Iran to kill gunrunners, The Sunday Times. Michael Smith, 21 October 2007.

“An SAS squadron is carrying out operations along the Iranian border in Maysan and Basra provinces with other special forces, the Australian SAS and American special-operations troops.

They are patrolling the border, ambushing arms smugglers bringing in surface-to-air missiles and components for roadside bombs. “Last month, they were involved in six significant contacts, which killed 17 smugglers and recovered weapons, explosives and missiles,” a source said. It was not clear if any of the dead were Iranian.”


British special forces cross into Iran in secret border war, The Australian October 22, 2007.

“Defence spokesman Andrew Nikolic said yesterday Australian forces were not involved in cross-border operations of the sort described.”