Go to desktop


Formed in 1957, the Australian Special Air Service Regiment is the first Australian special operations unit. Although it is not very well-known outside Australia, this unit has a long and distinguished record of operations, which first saw action during the Indonesia Confrontation (1963-1966). However it was during the Vietnam War that it showed its lethal capabilities, known as “phantoms of the jungle” by the Viet Cong.

After the Vietnam War, the SASR began to take on the role of primary counterterrorism unit in Australia, as well as take part in peacekeeping operations such as those in Somalia, Rwanda and East Timor in the 1990s.

With the turn of the new century, the SASR, as well as the other Australian special operations units (1st & 2nd Commando Regiment, Special Operations Engineer Regiment) started to appear at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, having been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The SASR in Afghanistan

The troops of the Regiment were deployed in Afghanistan back in 2001. In December of that year a detachment of the SASR was deployed in Afghanistan to participate in the military campaign aimed at ousting the Taliban regime and capturing Osama Bin Laden. The diggers conducted numerous patrols to capture elements fleeing the Taliban and Al Qaeda, participating in several of the major offensives launched at that time, such as Operation Anaconda, during which it was confirmed that air strikes led by the Australians gave rise to hundreds of Taliban casualties. After three rotations in Afghanistan, the SASR was withdrawn to prepare it for its intervention in Iraq. 

In 2005, in line with the increase in Australian troops in Afghanistan, members of the SASR were again deployed in the Central Asian country, together with members of the Commandos in the Special Operations Task Group.

The Australian special operations forces, referred to as Task Force 66, continued participating in the major military operations conducted in the area of their deployment, the province of Uruzgan, in addition to training the Afghan armed forces. This involvement meant that the majority of Australian casualties suffered in Afghanistan were among members of the TF66 and they also received the highest number of decorations awarded to Australian soldiers, including two Victoria Crosses.


The equipment in the photos is relevant to the period between 2008 and 2010, when the diggers deployed in Afghanistan started to use Multicam uniforms. The uniform is the desert version of the characteristic Australian Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPDU), and both this and the DPCU (camouflage) uniforms were used by the diggers based on the needs of the mission. The headwear used with these uniforms varied over time. In the photos we can see what is known as a Frillneck cap, which is a cap similar to the Kepis of the Foreign Legion that was very popular at the start of the deployment but was gradually cast aside in favour of typical low-profile baseball caps. When ballistic protection was needed, the cap was replaced with the RBH303AU helmet (similar to the MICH 2000) or the RBH Attack. Eye protection was provided by the ESS Ice II or Oakley M-Frame goggles.

In terms of body armour, three models were mainly used. On the one hand, the CIRAS Maritime by Eagle Industries and on the other hand, the VAC and ERAC models by SORD Australia, all in khaki colour. It was also common for the holster to be assembled on the vest, normally a Safariland, although other holster models such as Serpas and Platatac FFE are also seen. The latter are mainly worn on the Blackhawk! rigger’s belt and tend to appear in the photos.

The footwear of the special forces was very diverse, from ADF regulation boots (Terra Mk.III by Red Back) to hiking boots, including Altama, Lowa and Meindl boots. One very popular manufacturer was Bates, and we can see M8, M9 and 85501 model boots in the photos from that time. In terms of gloves, we can also see a wide range of choice, from the MSD model by Platatac to Oakley gloves, including classic Nomex gloves in green.

The accessories that we can see in the images from that time are varied: GPS Foretrex, combat tourniquets, ADF bandage packages, wrist map holders, IR chemlights, IFF IR lights, etc. Communications were resolved using AN/PRC 148 radios, with which Comtac I headsets were used, although it was more common to see Selex CT1 microphones. One accessory that is not often seen in photos are knee pads. The few that were used tended to be LAND125 knee pads by ADF or classic knee pads by manufacturers such as Platatac or Blackhawk!.