The Australian Special Air Service Regiment has been around for 55 years, but back when the unit was originally raised on July 25th 1957, it was known as 1st Special Air Service Company of the Royal Australian Infantry. Then in the early 60’s it became part of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR), which allowed the unit to expand and be redesignated to the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR).

SAS Motto- ‘Who dares wins’

Based in Perth, Western Australia, ranks wore maroon berets that are issued to airborne forces and the cap badge of the Royal Australian Infantry. When the unit’s designation changed so did the cap badge to that of the Royal Australian Regiment. It wasn’t until the mid 60’s that the unit was given permission for its qualified personnel to wear the sandy beret with a metal “Winged Dagger” cap badge on a black background.

The unit is modeled from a similar structure to that of Britain’s 22 SAS with a primary role of special reconnaissance and secondly being a harassment force. Training in the early days was developed on the traditions of the Australian World War 2 Commandos from ‘Z’ Force and the Independent Companies.

These units had worked extensively in Papua New Guinea, Timor and other areas of the South Pacific where they were almost totally self sufficient whilst winning Hearts & Minds with the local inhabitants and fighting the Japanese.

In February 1965 the unit was deployed to Borneo to work alongside the British SAS and SBS, and also New Zealand and Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) SAS to conduct covert operations against Indonesian communists. 22 SAS had been there since 1963 living for long durations with limited resupply in small jungle Forward Operating Base’s (FOB’s) that they had developed themselves.

These extended stays were on average three months in duration, so their jungle combat and survival skills became impeccable. This knowledge and experience stood the operators of SASR in good stead for their next deployment which was to be Vietnam in June 1966.

Pre-deployment training for Vietnam was conducted in Papua New Guinea with the aim to hone jungle skills, acclimatize to a tropical environment but more so for each patrol member to bond. Operators had to become acutely familiar with one another’s skills and idiosyncrasies to the point where they almost knew what each member was thinking.

The role of the SAS in Vietnam started similar to that of their deployment to Borneo which was intelligence gathering and deep reconnaissance. But this quickly morphed in to a more offensive style of operations and ambushing became the bread and butter of the Regiment.