Australian special forces secretly operating in Africa, says newspaper

Special Air Service RegimentBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| |
One of Australia’s most prominent newspapers suggested in a leading article yesterday that a secret Australian special forces squadron has been illegally conducting espionage operations in several African countries during the past year. According to Melbourne-based The Age, the 4 Squadron of Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) has been deployed in “dozens of secret operations” during the past 12 months, in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Members of 4 Squadron have been operating dressed in civilian clothing, carrying forged identity papers, and with strict instructions to deny any connection with SASR if captured, said The Age. Although the existence of 4 Squadron has never been officially acknowledged, the unit is believed to have been established in 2004 or 2005, and is currently thought to be based at Swan Island in Victoria, north of the town of Queenscliff. Its initial mission was to provide armed protection to officers of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) whenever the latter are deployed in warzones or other exceptionally dangerous overseas environments. But 4 Squadron’s missions in Africa, which The Age says were authorized in 2010 by then Prime Minster Kevin Rudd, do not include ASIS officers, and instead require SASR members to act both in a military and civilian capacity in espionage assignments. According to the paper’s allegations, 4 Squadron missions have involved regular assessment and evaluation of inter-African border control standards, developing scenarios for evacuating Australians, mapping out landing sites for possible military interventions, and gathering first-hand intelligence on local politics and the activities of insurgents. The paper claims that the scope and breadth of 4 Squardon’s African assignments have raised concerns within the SASR, with some senior officials viewing the unit’s actions as “a possibly dangerous expansion of Australia’s foreign military engagement”. The article quotes an anonymous “government source” as saying that 4 Squadron members are hazardously exposed, as “they have all the espionage skills but without [ASIS’s] legal cover”. The allegations by The Age prompted a response by Australia’s Minster of Defence, Stephen Smith, who told ABC News 24 that “[t]he suggestion […] that somehow we’ve got Australian Defence Force personnel or SAS personnel operating at large in Africa, rubbing up against the boundaries of the law is just wrong, it’s just wrong”.

7 Responses to Australian special forces secretly operating in Africa, says newspaper

  1. Kidd says:

    i fail to see what business it is of the aussies to be in africa to conduct such escapades .

  2. Mud Guts says:

    I would read to much into what the Age has to say about what is going on in Africa.
    It may well be just another points scoring exercise that has been going on in the last few weeks, over the derogatory comments made by a couple of morning show hosts, about an SAS Trooper who happens to be a recipient of the Victoria Cross (equivalent of the US Medal Of Honour).

    Quite frankly The Age is somewhat “Left leaning” in the Australian Political scene and has a somewhat negative view of the Australian armed services at times

  3. Mud Guts says:

    Oops typo in first line. What I meant to say was – “I wouldn’t read too much into what the Age has to say about what is going on in Africa”

  4. Mike says:

    So What!
    All countries make plans for war and operations, they even do surveilance and work ups to critical parts of plans.
    Good for the Aussies for thinking ahead of time for their citizens.
    I hope NZ has some of our guys working with the OZSAS so that we too can be able to use the plans for our citizens,

  5. pelliparius says:

    One of those SASR guys is a contact of mine. This is accurate information.

  6. Steve says:

    Another reason I despise the media.
    IF ( and a big if) they ARE in fact there, you’ve just put lives at risk in the name of ratings. As for the commenter above me, I would think you full of it, champ. If ” one of those SASRs guys” IS infact a contact of yours ( another big IF) .. youve just done the same. You’re either a liar or an idiot.

  7. Stewart Brown says:

    I read the article in the paper too and was initally concerned about our Aussies abroard. I then went on to download and read the I-Book that was recommended at the bottom of the article ( The Command, written by Marc Ambinder and B.d.Grady ) The book is only 160 pgs long but focuses on the US defence force and CIA over the past decade or so. Reading this book gave me a clear understanding of why the US has positioned itself in Africa, using small groups of special forces to collect intel, under the legal framework of the CIA. It seems to me that our Aussies are over there doing the same thing, but of course we don’t have Article 50 which the CIA uses for wording aboard. It’s good to hear that our defence minister says that there is a solid legal framework for our boys and gals to work under.

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