One of the finest experiences in combat is undoubtedly conducting joint operations with partner nations. There is something both ancient and instinctually primitive behind the notion of kinspeople joining forces to battle a common enemy. It adds to the already electric and unmistakable dynamic of war through a mutual respect and reciprocal admiration of each other’s willingness to sacrifice for the same cause.

Whether formal armies or informal militias, history is littered with examples of people from all over the world coming together in order to fight for and defend something they believe is worth dying for. As Edmund Burke said: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” War has been a part of the human race for thousands of years, and the 19th and 20th centuries have certainly lived up to history’s expectation. Even the 300 years preceding the 19th only saw a staggering 30 years of peace between the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries combined. As Michael Neiberg so prudently states, “Man in his natural state was rarely, if ever, peaceful.”

Having completed three Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) rotations to Afghanistan, working with and being around foreign militaries became a commonplace occurrence. Whether it was eating in the DFAC at Camp Doha in Kuwait, utilizing the air assets of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) out of Tarin Kot, or conducting partnered operations with whichever United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) was based out of FOB Ripley, the integration and utilization of coalition forces became integral to our task group’s effectiveness and mission success.

Australian SOF and Helicopters in Afghanistan: Joint Operations

One of the most enduring and successful partnerships that I had the privilege of being a part of began during my third SOTG deployment to Afghanistan. It was when the 2nd Commando Regiment officially partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Team (DEA FAST) to conduct joint counter-narcotics operations throughout southern Afghanistan. This relationship was developed in 2011 and was sustained until our unit’s last SOTG rotation at the end of 2013. It drove us to a level of maturation that was inextricably linked to both their level of expertise as well as the dedicated air assets that the Department of State (DoS) contractors and the DEA brought to the table.