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Special Operations Command


 Australian Special Operations Command

In late 2002, the Australian Government directed the establishment of Special Operations Command (SOCOM). JP 199 is the project set up to conduct this task, which includes provision of:

  • additional personnel to a joint Special Operations Headquarters (SOHQ);
  • an additional Commando Company Group in 4th Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR) (Cdo);
  • a Special Operations Combat Services Support Company (SO CSSC);
  • a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) Section in the Tactical Assault Group (East); and
  • additional positions in Special Air Service Regiment (SASR)

In addition to this, two other concurrent projects were run to create SOCOM. These projects were LAND 132 (Raising the Full Time Commando Capability) and JP 2088 (Establishment of Tactical Assault Group – East). Together, these projects have been established to consolidate, coordinate and manage the delivery of a number of Special Forces capabilities.

These projects, all of which are either well under way or near completion, willl deliver an additional 310 highly trained combat personnel along with associated support personnel to supplement Australia’s existing Special Forces.

The initiative will involve the raising of an additional commando company with its logistics, heavy weapons and communication support along with the raising of a Special Forces Combat Service Support Team. Coupled with the Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme this aspect of the program is near completion.

The Government will also accelerate the purchase of the Additional Troop Lift Helicopters to enable a squadron of helicopters to be based in Sydney. This would provide a potent addition to Australia’s East Coast Special Forces capabilities.

SOCOM is designed to garruantee that the command of our Special Forces ensures the maximum effectiveness of our response to any terrorist threat or incident, and to maximise the utility of our Special operations forces in overseas deloyments.

To that end a new Special Operations Command will be established as a Joint command with a command status equivalent to Maritime, Land and Air Commands. The new Command will provide better joint, inter agency and alliance co-operation to defeat terrorism in any form.

To date, Brigadier Duncan Lewis has been promoted to Major General and will command the new organisation. Major General Lewis brings a wealth of experience from his former role as Commander Special Forces.

The Special Operations Command will comprise a joint Headquarters, the Special Air Service Regiment, 4th Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment (Commando), Tactical Assault Groups (West) and (East), 1 Commando Regiment and the Incident Response Regiment.

Order of Battle

Special Operations Command Headquarters (Canberra and Sydney)

  • Units under direct control of SOCHQ:
    • Special Operations Combat Service Support Company (Sydney)
    • 171 Squadron (S-70 Blackhawk)
  • Special Air Service (Swanbourne, WA)
    Incorporates the role of TAG (West)
    • 1 Squadron
    • 2 Squadron
    • 3 Squadron
    • 152 Signals Squadron
    • Base Squadron
    • Training Squadron
  • 1st Commando Regiment (Army Reserve) (Sydney)
    • 1 Commando Company (Sydney)
    • 2 Commando Company (Williamstown, Vic)
    • 301 Signals Squadron (elements in both Sydney and Melbourne with the commando companies)
  • 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) (Sydney, NSW)
    • A Company
    • B Company
    • C Company
    • TAG (East)
    • 126 Signals Squadron
    • Operations Support Company
    • Logistics Support Company
  • Incident Response Regiment (Sydney, NSW)
    • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Response Squadron
    • Emergency Response Squadron
    • Scientific and Technical Organisation

Commanding Officers

  • Major General Mike Hindmarsh (October 2004 - )
  • Major General Duncan Lewis (May 2003 - October 2004)


The Technology

SOCOM has a wide range of tools, kit and technologies at its disposals. Heavily funded, it draws form a number of sources to ensure our forces are well supplied (in theory) with the latest equipment necessary for cutting edge warfare. In addition to the M4 weapons system and associated attachment and a host of ancillary weapons, it has made extensive use of ADI's ability to create an indigenous defence solution for the ADF. As such, ADI has once again provided Australia with an endemic capability that is both cutting edge and industry leading. SOCOM is well and truly ensconsed in the "hardened and networked" ethos of the modern ADF.

Special Operations activities throughout the world place unique challenges on military and paramilitary forces. Easy access to timely information is the key to the rapid resolution of crisis situations. ADI's Special Operations Command Support System (SOCSS) is specifically designed to meet these challenges.

SOCSS allows special operations commanders to understand situations rapidly, formulate strategies, preview operations and execute missions. The system ultimately provides commanders with the intelligence and visibility necessary to control resources in dynamic situations.

SOCSS is built using existing ADI technology, and exploits the very latest in web, Java, groupware and database products to provide special operations personnel with a system that is portable and rapidly deployable. Flexibility in configuration is supported by a diverse communications capability in both local and wide area networks.

System Capabilities

SOCSS enables users to assess a situation quickly and to maximise their decision making abilities by delivering the following capabilities:

Common Tactical Picture

A common data source is shared using efficient data replication and messaging features over high and low bandwidth environments.

Enhanced Situation Awareness

  • Intuitive drawing/planning tools with a user-friendly task based interface and image import capability
  • Able to develop floor plans, allocate areas of responsibility and plan routes
  • Able to view automatically positional reports concerning assets and areas of interest and intelligence reports against a geographical map, including terrain features and Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED)
  • Able to import images, text, and video for visualisation, rehearsals and planning
  • Planning, reporting and simulation tools
  • A configurable symbol set that enables users to develop graphical orders rapidly

Command Decision Tools

  • NATO role support standard
  • Specialist tools including Line of Sight and Visibility Fans
  • Collaborative 2D shared plans and drawings
  • Military message and Lotus Notes groupware templates
  • Videoconferencing
  • Recognised picture
  • Event and intelligence logs

Diverse Communications

SOCSS removes information transfer bottlenecks by providing the ability to share information on Local Area (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs). The systems can also be connected directly to other secure networks using a wide variety of communications systems including PSTN, ISDN, HF, VHF, microwave links and satellite.

ADI Delivers Solutions for Special Operations

In 1997, ADI was awarded the contract to develop a planning and mission support system, now known as SOCSS, for special operations and emergency services to Australia's Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). The system has now been expanded to include the entire Special Forces Group. The success of Phase one led to ADI also being awarded subsequent phases of the contract. These phases continue today as an Evolutionary Acquisition (EA) task.


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