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From the Shadows: Australia's special forces
      #306553 - 17/10/17 09:40 PM

Special forces exhibition at Australian War Memorial reveals stories of secret soldiers

By Siobhan Heanue
Updated about 7 hours ago

VIDEO: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-17/from-the-shadows-australias-special-forces/9054008

When special forces soldier Dave Farrell was hemmed in by enemy fire in Afghanistan, he was worried he would die without saying goodbye to his family.

"We got down behind some rocks and the rounds were coming in all around us," the retired Special Air Service Regiment corporal said.

"I actually thought, 'this is it, I'm going to die'.
Afghan Files expose deadly secrets

This is one of the stories in a seven-part series based on leaked documents exposing Australian special forces troops' role in the Afghanistan war.

"'I'm gonna die in the desert of Afghanistan, I've only been here a couple of weeks, this is no good'. I'm not gonna get to say goodbye to anyone'.

"I had all these thoughts go through my head very, very quickly.

"To be completely honest, I was petrified."

He recounts firing a rocket in retaliation.

"It sailed straight over and went right above the top of their compound and just exploded and just dropped all six of the blokes there," he said.


Photo: Special forces soldier Dave Farrell said he thought he was going to die. (Supplied)

His is one of several confronting war stories told by special forces veterans as part of an exhibition opened at the Australian War Memorial (AWM).

It canvasses the history of Australia's special forces from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Elite units go through 20 years of continuous deployment

Special forces soldiers were at the forefront of Australia's war in Afghanistan for 16 years, and yet little is publicly known about the work they did there.

Most of the media coverage was about the mentoring and reconstruction.


Photo: A special forces soldier gives sweets to Afghan children in a small village outside Tarin Kowt. (Supplied: Defence Force)

But this exhibition shows the kind of work that people more readily associate with war fighting and killing the enemy.

The memorial's new show is a bid to tell parts of that story to the public before it becomes distant memory.

Appropriately titled From the Shadows, it includes interviews with special forces soldiers who have never spoken publicly before.


Photo: Special forces soldiers driving in Oruzgan Province after a counter insurgency operation in southern Afghanistan. (Supplied: Defence Force)

Unprecedented access to secretive world
Special Air Service Regiment troops board the bulk carrier.
Photo: Special Air Service Regiment troops board the bulk carrier Double Providence during counter-terrorism training in maritime interdiction and recovery operations. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

AWM director Brendan Nelson said while it was hard to tell the special forces story because of the secrecy surrounding their work, it was important.

"Their own families have no idea of the danger they face," Dr Nelson said.

Australian special forces include the Special Air Service Regiment, the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments and the Special Operations Engineer Regiment.

The perspective of family members left behind when their loved ones were deployed on classified missions is also included in the show.

The memorial worked with Special Operations chiefs in making the exhibition, and every story and image was cleared by Defence before being allowed into the show.

The groundbreaking exhibition comes amid a wave of negative press about special forces actions in Afghanistan.

A private Defence inquiry is currently investigating the conduct of special forces in Afghanistan, and Defence documents leaked to the ABC have pointed to problems within the culture of the elite units.


Special Air Service Regiment troops board the bulk carrier Double Providence during counter-terrorism training in maritime interdiction and recovery operations.



Photo: A soldier from 2nd Commando Regiment in the early morning light in Afghanistan, his night vision goggles giving off a green glow. (Supplied: Defence Force)

Never-before-seen footage recorded by soldiers
A Special Operations Task Group soldier searches a cave system for drugs.
Photo: A Special Operations Task Group soldier searches a cave system for drugs and hidden insurgent caches in Kajaki. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

There is now a growing desire in senior Defence ranks to clear the air around the storied special operations units, and to promote an understanding of their work among the Australian public.

Defence cites "operational security" as the reason why much of the special forces story cannot be told, and if you look closely at the footage in the show you can see pieces of equipment that have been blurred out so as not to give away any tactics or techniques.

But the exhibition does include never-before-seen footage, recorded by soldiers in battle.

There is confronting helmet camera footage from a medic who rendered first aid to special forces soldiers who had been shot, and interviews with soldiers whose lives were saved.

There are more than 600 objects in the exhibition, including weapons used in combat.

The show features dozens of interviews with special forces operators by award-winning journalists Chris Masters and Max Uechtritz.

AWM senior historian and exhibition curator Karl James said it was a privilege to be able to work on the show.

"This exhibition allows the Australian public to get a unique insight into the skilled and enigmatic world of these highly-trained operators," Dr James said.


A Special Operations Task Group soldier searches a cave system for drugs and hidden insurgent caches in Kajaki.



Vehicle in a desert - Special Operations Task Groups Long Range Patrol Vehicles drive in convoy across one of Afghanistan's desert, or 'dasht' regions.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-17/ex...oldiers/9054706

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Daryl_S
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Re: From the Shadows: Australia's special forces [Re: NitroX]
      #306567 - 18/10/17 04:49 AM

Intense!

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lapua
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Reged: 15/05/05
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Re: From the Shadows: Australia's special forces [Re: NitroX]
      #306571 - 18/10/17 09:30 AM

It will be a excellent event to see I trained withe SASR with my unit back in the 90's saw some cool stuff !!!!


cheers

lapua


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NitroXAdministrator
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Re: From the Shadows: Australia's special forces [Re: lapua]
      #306832 - 26/10/17 07:23 AM

I have been reading a book where the first few chapters are accounts of the Z Special Units of the Australian Army during WW2. The Z forces later became the SAS in the Australian military.

The Z Special Units of the Australian Army in WW2 are probably unheard of or unknown elsewhere in the world.

Some of the chapters deal with eg 200 "Z" soldiers being sent to Timor to "fight behind the lines" after Japanese occupation for a year to tie up a division of Jap soldieres. Non challantly as if fighting as guerillas for a year was just a normal thing.

Many other exploits such as attacks on Singapore Harbour, one successful and one not.

Other chapters deal with Aussie Z forces going into Borneo to recruit native headhunters as forces to oppose the Japanese. A bounty was paid for each Jap head taken, and so head hunting again became normal duroing WW2 among these tribes.

A movie I enjoy "Farewell to the King" is based (badly) on these exploits, using a Yankee deserter as the King of the Tribes, and a Pom and Pommies as the forces sent into Borneo. An English movie I believe. The Aussies in this movie are bastards beating them up on the coast at the end, when 'law and order' is reimposed. The actual inland units were almost totally AussieZ forces. (PS Yep and the Rats of Tobruk were also Aussies. Funny how history is rewritten later to include others or expand the nomenclature. )

One thing I could not do, which was normal issue for these guys, was the issue of cyanide pills in case of capture.

Will write up on the book later, the title, etc.

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