New DVD History Offers Rare Insight into Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment

New DVD History Offers Rare Insight into

Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment


For the first time the history of Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) has been captured on film, offering rare insights into the Regiment’s war-fighting and peace-making activities around the world.


The Australian SAS: the Untold History follows the Perth-based Regiment’s formation as a company after the Korean War through to the close of Operation Slipper in Afghanistan last year.


Launched by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove at Government House today, the commercially available DVD examines in word and picture the Regiment’s major campaigns from Konfrontasi in Borneo through South Vietnam to Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan.


Included are SASR’s winning hearts and minds strategy, the key role SASR members played in the MV Tampa and MV South Tomi affairs, the pressures faced by wives, partners and families of SASR soldiers who must spend long periods away from home on rigorous training programs and overseas deployments, and the impact of PTSD on SASR veterans and their loved ones.


“The 11-part DVD series gives an insight into the SASR, its history, its role and its place in Australia’s military,” Sir Peter told more than 120 VIPs, journalists and SAS veterans including one of the Regiment’s two Victoria Cross winners, Cpl Mark Donaldson VC.


“This is a unique and thoughtful view into the world of the SASR from those closest to it.”


The Australian SAS: the Untold History is the work of retired University of Southern Queensland Professor Bruce Horsfield, a former Special Forces soldier with Sydney’s 1 Commando Company and producer of the classic Australian Forces Vietnam battle saga, Long Tan: the True Story.


Series patron is former Governor-General, Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Ret’d), who commanded the Regiment before becoming Australia’s first Special Forces commander. Funding came from the Department of Defence, United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, University of Southern Queensland and private donors.


Dr Horsfield spent 18 years gathering imagery and interviews with past and serving SASR members to piece together an anecdotal history that not only forms a valuable video catalogue of one of Australia’s most mysterious military units but does so in a way that has gained the blessing of the tightly-knit SAS “family”.


“For the first time there is an officially-sanctioned but independent history of the Australian SAS that details how a group of dedicated men overcame bureaucratic obstacles and official uncertainty to transform themselves from a fringe unit into one of Australia’s most effective operational forces,” Dr Horsfield said.


“Theirs is a remarkable, inspiring history told by former and serving members of SASR with rare archival and amateur vision that reveals the real people, the unorthodox culture and the strategic war and peace-time flair that have catapulted the Regiment into the very front ranks of elite soldiering.”


Part 1 introduces the Regiment and Special Forces world, showing the supportive role played by Australia’s part-time Commando units and the development of the notorious Selection and Recondo Courses.


Part 2 sees the Regiment confronted with its first test during Konfrontasi with Indonesian killer patrols in the wilds of Borneo, developing its important jungle fighting and Hearts and Minds skills.


Part 3 sends the Regiment on to Vietnam where its troops take the Viet Cong terrorists at their own game, becoming known by a frustrated enemy as “Ma rung”, Ghosts of the Jungle.


Part 4 marks the end of the Vietnam War and the close-run battle the Regiment wages to ensure its survival as part of the Order of Battle during the “Fortress Australia” wind-down period.


Part 5 sees SAS responding to an explosion in international terrorism by using its lateral thinking skills to develop a “Black” Counter Terrorism role while honing traditional “Green War” skills in bush survival, free falling, diving and long range motorised patrol activities.


Part 6 presents yet another paradigm shift, with SASR sending training teams to The Philippines and providing peace keeping assistance in Somalia, Rwanda, Bougainville, Cambodia and the Solomon Islands.


Part 7 covers the Regiment’s growth into a truly versatile strategic/political tool, interrupted by its biggest tragedy to date – the loss of 15 men when two Blackhawk helicopters collide on a CT training exercise near Townsville on June 12, 1996.


Part 8 sees the Regiment finally earn its Force of Choice status by deploying teams against murderous East Timorese militia in East Timor as part of General Peter Cosgrove’s multinational INTERFET force of peace makers and the controversial boarding of the MV Tampa refugee ship.


Part 9 examines how the Regiment responds to the world-changing effects of 9/11 by joining the Coalition of the Willing in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan.


Part 10 pits the SAS in deadly action against the Taliban in Operation Anaconda, where the lateral thinking of a five man SAS team saves American and Afghan forces from certain disaster in a fierce attrition battle in the notorious Shah-i-kot Valley near the Pakistan border.


Part 11 SASR captures two ships at sea before spearheading the invasion of Iraq, returning to Afghanistan to devastate the a resurgent Taliban leadership.  Included are extended interviews with the Regiment’s two Victoria Cross winners Cpl Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG (Retd) and Cpl Mark Donaldson VC. The series concludes with perspectives on future threats, possible pre-emptive strikes, the growing PTSD problem and a challenge to government to fully exploit the unit’s astonishing capability.


In an introduction to the series, former Special Operations Commander Australia, Major General Mike Hindmarsh AO, DSC, CSC writes:


“The material is powerful. Bruce Horsfield’s incisive and meticulously accurate and balanced expose provides a rare and unfettered insight into an organisation which has traditionally been out of bounds to the public. This is a series of unquestionable historical importance because it captures, largely through the words of the soldiers themselves, the essence of this unique unit stretching across the fifty years of its existence. Essential viewing for anyone who truly wishes to understand the Australian SAS, its evolution and what makes it tick.”


The full series is available in boxset form for immediate sale, full details available at


Images are available via dropbox at For TV overlay footage contact [email protected]All images and footage are subject to copyright and must only be used in relation to coverage of The Australian SAS: the Untold History.  Forward Scout Films must be credited.

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