Special Operations forces in Australia have been at the forefront of the wars in the Middle East in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now there are reports surfacing that the Special Operations Forces of Australia are bitterly feuding.
The disputes between the SASR (Special Air Service Regiment) and the 2nd Commando Regiment are engaging in their own conflict amid reports of war crimes and other issues plaguing the two units.
The report makes note of a belief by 2nd Commando that the SASR held 2nd Commando “in contempt” and was inferior. It noted that as a result of the tensions, there was dysfunctional fallout and duplication of effort and wasted resources.
The rivalry was given a brief public airing last year when it featured in the war novel The Fighting Season by former commando and experienced Afghan veteran Bram Connelly. While much of the plot is clearly fiction, some scenarios appear close to the truth, including a Taliban spy in Oruzgan and the codename of Rapier being used to describe a Taliban bomb maker.
Rapier was mid-level bomb maker who was the target of a raid during which Australian lieutenant Michael Fussell died in November 2008 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device.
Allegations of the war crimes have prompted Angus Campbell, Chief of the Army into referring the matter to the Inspector General of the Australian Defense Force. That office has since appointed an independent investigation led by Judge Paul Brereton to look into the allegations.
Both units have been heavily involved in the conflict with one Commando and two SASR members being awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism, the highest award in the Australian military. Both units have suffered heavy casualties as well.
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Photo courtesy Australian Defense Force