Australian SAS - News from the frontlines

The Australian - Australian special forces operating deep inside Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan have inflicted critical damage to the insurgent's senior leadership severely restricting their ability to launch offensive action, the army's head of special operations said today. In a rare briefing to the media summarising 524 days of combat action since the special forces returned to fight in Oruzgan, Major-General Tim McOwan, pledged no let-up in the brutal counter-insurgency despite the onset of a harsh Afghan winter. And he had this Christmas Message for the Taliban: “We will find you. We will hunt you down. Your time is limited.”

Elite Special Air Service operatives and Commandos operating in some of the most gruelling conditions ever encountered had killed four senior Taliban leaders, captured seven others including one, Ahmad Shah, in his bed. Another 180 lower ranking insurgents had been captured and handed over to Afghan authorities, Maj-Gen McOwan said. “These are all key middle- to high-level Taliban leaders or IED (bomb makers) facilitators operating in or around Oruzgan province. “These are individuals who are or have been involved in killing innocents and actively trying to kill coalition troops.

The Australian - AN Australian soldier dashed 80 metres across ground raked by Taliban machine-gun fire to rescue a severely wounded Afghan interpreter. In the same clash in Afghanistan's dangerous Oruzgan province, another soldier used his own body to shield a wounded comrade from enemy fire. Presenting a briefing on Thursday on the usually secret activities of Australian special forces in Afghanistan, Major General McOwan said early in their tour in late 2007, Australian troops encountered significant numbers of Taliban prepared to take them on in large groups.

“That is no longer the case,” he said. “Certainly within Oruzgan it is an unusual occurrence to have a substantial fight.” The one recent exception occurred on September 2 when an Australian, US and Afghan convoy was ambushed by a superior and well-prepared Taliban force while returning to base. That clash resulted in nine Australian soldiers being wounded, the largest casualty toll of any single action since Vietnam. The previous day, the Australian soldiers killed 13 Taliban.

As the convoy withdrew, the Taliban opened fire. Major General McOwan said soldiers reacted without concern for their own safety. One, identified only as Trooper F, deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire on several occasions to draw attention away from the wounded. He then saw that a severely wounded Afghan interpreter had fallen from a vehicle and was lying on open ground raked by machine gun fire. “Without prompting, and without regard to his own safety, Trooper F ran back to recover the wounded Afghan,” the major general said.

“He ran across about 80 metres of fire-swept and exposed ground, drawing intense and accurate machine-gun fire from the entrenched enemy positions.” Still under fire, he lifted the wounded man onto his shoulders and carried him back to the convoy's vehicles. He administered first aid and then returned to the fight. Another soldier, identified as Trooper G, covered a wounded comrade with his body on a vehicle's exposed rear tray. On several occasions, enemy bullets and rocket fragments struck his clothing and equipment.

“At an opportune moment, he provided medical attention which ultimately saved his mate's life,” Major General McOwan said. He said another soldier, identified as Sergeant H, manned the heavy weapon on his vehicle when the gunner was shot. “Finally after he had been shot in the leg and then unable to remain standing, Sergeant H continued to assist the wounded and provided ammunition to the replacement vehicle gunner,” he said. Hat tip American Interests.

Read the actual press release, I don't think we will ever learn the full extent of their bravery and that battles these fine warriors have fought. We should remember the enemy they fight is fighting on his own home soil, this enemy is battle-hardened and saw off the communists not so long ago and we know the communists don't exactly have the same rules of engagement that we impose on our soldiers. We should also remember that even though our forces have technology and superior firepower on their side, the ground they fight on is such that those advantages can only go so far.

The Taliban don't play by the rules, whilst we bray about the treatment they would receive if they were held by our forces, they don't run camps for prisoners of war or anything. There is no room for error when dealing with them, any mistake can be fatal. And it is in those conditions that these fine warriors operate and succeed.

Australian Special Air Service, thank God they're on our side.

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