Skip to comments.SAS exploits in Iraq revealed
Posted on 02/22/2004 8:35:29 PM PST by Piefloater
AUSTRALIAN SAS soldiers were the closest Coalition troops to Baghdad for several days early in the Iraq war and had to engage in running firefights with enemy forces who were actively hunting them down.
A report released today reviewing Australia's military performance in Iraq details skirmishes between Iraqi and elite SAS troops in the days before the fall of Baghdad.
SAS soldiers were involved in one of the first ground confrontations of the war, as troops negotiated Iraqi border posts in the first wave of the ground assault on the country.
Later in the war they helped capture leading members of the crumbling Baath Party regime and secured an airbase, capturing 7.9 million kg of explosives at the site.
The report, launched today by Defence Minister Robert Hill, reveals crack Australian troops were dropped deep inside enemy territory by US pilots who flew them 600km from SAS bases.
On the third day of the war, SAS troops were outnumbered and caught in a running firefight with Iraqi forces that lasted several hours. The commandos called air support and responded with an array of weapons, wearing down the Iraqi attack.
Mobile troops began a planned sequence of operations in the country, maintaining surveillance on roads believed to be possible transport routes for Scud missiles.
The report says: "For the first week of the war, the enemy was actively seeking out the Australian force. The SAS met the Iraqi forces head-on with fire power and tenacity that shocked the enemy."
During the war it was known that SAS troops had been deployed deep inside Iraq, but their activities and whereabouts were unknown.
The report praises the professionalism and achievements of the SAS troops, and says it shows the need for continued training with the best available weaponry, communications technology, and logistics systems.
After the fall of Baghdad and confirmation that Iraq's ability to launch ballistic missiles was "neutralised", the report says SAS troops helped patrol enemy escape routes from Baghdad, and were involved in the capture of "a significant number of Fedayeen and Baath Party members as they tried to flee the country".
Senator Hill said the report, drawn from a classified review of Australia's involvement in the Iraq war, highlighted the value of careful planning and the ability to integrate with allied forces.
"While the number of Australian personnel involved in operations was small in proportion to the overall coalition force, our highly-trained and well-equipped forces contributed significantly to the success of the mission," Senator Hill said.
The review does not deal with pre-war intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It noted compulsory anthrax inoculations became contentious because of "procedural factors".
"This issue highlighted competition between individuals' concerns over their personal risks and the collective risk to teams posed by some individuals not having the full range of counter-measures," it said.
"Defence has revised procedures to ensure personnel are fully informed of any potential health risks inoculations could pose, operational requirements for inoculations and health risk counter-measures."
The report details the war planning, both with the Americans and within Australia, that began about eight months before hostilities started.
It also details Australia's air, sea and land operations, which remained under Australian control.
Australian F/A-18 Hornet pilots could, and on occasion did, abort missions to avoid the risk of unintended casualties if their target could not be identified from the air, it said.
No matter what the thread's about - you're always first with the pictures, aren't you? :-) I like that.
Habits of an old newspaper photog, love. But it's a subject I'm quite happy to know a bit about, and where a couple of pics of the sandhat lads from Campbell Barracks at Swanbourne can be found.
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