Special Operations Command (Australia)

The Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) is a command within the Australian Defence Force and was established on 5 May 2003 to unite all of the Australian Army's special forces units and by 2008 was fully operational.[2][3][4] Australia's Special Operations Command is of equivalent status to Australia's Fleet, Forces and Air Commands.[2] It is modelled on the equivalent commands in the United States and British military forces, and is led by a major general as Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST).

The origins of SOCOMD began in 1979 with the army creating a small Directorate Special Action Forces—Army. On 13 February 1990, Headquarters Special Forces was established, which was renamed in 1997 to Headquarters Special Operations and in 2003 to Special Operations Headquarters or SOCOMD.[5][6][4]

Special Operations Command
RoleSpecial operations
Size2,050 (Active)[1]
750 (Reserve)
Part ofAustralian Defence Force
Headquarters locationPotts Point, New South Wales
Motto(s)Acies Acuta
(The Cutting Edge)
Major General Adam Findlay


Australian SOTG patrol Oct 2009
A Special Operations Task Group patrol in Afghanistan in October 2009

While Special Operations Command had not formally commenced operations at the time, it appears that the headquarters may have overseen the boarding of the North Korean freighter MV Pong Su in April 2003, which involved elements of both the Special Air Service Regiment and 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) Tactical Assault Groups.[8]

In 2007, the APEC Summit hosted in Sydney had Special Operations Command involvement regarding security as world leaders, including John Howard, George W. Bush and other government and economic leaders were in attendance.


Order of battle

Aust SOC
Soldiers from Special Operations Command during a media demonstration in May 2003

Special Operations Headquarters or SOHQ (Canberra and Sydney)

Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST)

The Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST) is responsible for the peacetime 'raise, train and sustain' functions of Special Operations Command reporting to the Chief of Army whilst the Chief of Joint Operations is responsible for the operational functions of Special Operations Command deployments.[6] The SOCAUST is responsible for the domestic counter-terrorism deployments of Special Operations Command reporting directly to the Chief of the Defence Force.[6]

The following have held the position of Special Operations Commander Australia, with the ranks and honours as at the completion of their tenure:

Rank Name Post-nominals Term began Term ended Notes
Major General Duncan Lewis DSC, CSC May 2002 October 2004
Major General Mike Hindmarsh AO, CSC October 2004 February 2008
Major General Tim McOwan DSC, CSM February 2008 January 2011
Major General Gus Gilmore AO, DSC January 2011 September 2013
Brigadier Daniel McDaniel DSC, DSM September 2013 December 2014
Major General Jeff Sengelman DSC, AM, CSC December 2014 June 2017
Major General Adam Findlay AM June 2017 Incumbent [11]

See also


  1. ^ The Australian Army – Modernisation from Beersheba and Beyond (PDF) (Report). Australian Army. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b Senator Robert Hill, Minister for Defence (5 May 2003). "New Special Operations Command" (Press release). Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  3. ^ Prime Minister John Howard (19 December 2002). "Expansion of Special Forces Counter Terrorist Capability and new Special Operations Command" (Press release). Prime Minister of Australia. Archived from the original on 23 February 2003.
  4. ^ a b Goh, Puay Hock (Francis) (June 2011). How should SOF be organized? (PDF) (Master's thesis). U.S. Navy Postgraduate School. OCLC 743235192. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  5. ^ Grant (Ret.), Brigadier William 'Mac'. "Reserve Commandos inherit a remarkable legacy" (PDF). Defence Reserves Yearbook 2004–2005. Executive Media Pty Ltd. Australian Defence Force. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Davies, Andrew; Jennings, Peter; Scheer, Benjamin (2014). A Versatile Force: The Future of Australia's Special Operations Capability (PDF). Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Strategic Policy Institute. ISBN 9781921302978. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  7. ^ Boer, Cpl Corinne (19 April 2007). "Back into fray". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1164 ed.). Canberra, Australia: Department of Defence. ISSN 0729-5685. Archived from the original on 21 March 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Logue, Jason (8 May 2003). "Tartan TAG". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1073 ed.). Canberra: Department of Defence. ISSN 0729-5685. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Special Operations Logistics Squadron". Australia Army. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  10. ^ Burton, Cpl Sean (4 November 2004). "Top people top job – Special ops support company raised". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1109 ed.). Canberra, Australia: Department of Defence. ISSN 0729-5685. Archived from the original on 4 April 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. ^ "Special Operations Commander Australia". Australian Army: Our leaders. Department of Defence. Retrieved 9 August 2017.

Further reading

2014 Queen's Birthday Honours (Australia)

The Queen's Birthday Honours 2014 were announced on 9 June 2014 by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

The Birthday Honours were appointments by some of the 16 Commonwealth realms of Queen Elizabeth II to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries. The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the Queen's Official Birthday celebrations during the month of June. The 2014 Birthday Honours will be announced on 14 June 2014 in the United Kingdom, on 9 June 2014 in Australia, on 2 June 2014 in New Zealand, and on 14 June 2014 in Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia and Belize.

† indicates an award given posthumously.

Australian commandos

The name commando has been applied to a variety of Australian special forces and light infantry units that have been formed since 1941–42. The first Australian "commando" units were formed during the Second World War, where they mainly performed reconnaissance and long-range patrol roles during Australia's campaigns in New Guinea and Borneo, although other units such as M and Z Special Units performed more clandestine roles. These units were disbanded following the end of the war; however, in the 1950s it was realised that there was a need for such units again in the Australian forces. Today, the Australian Army possesses a number of units that perform more conventional direct-action type commando roles, as well as counter-terrorism response, long-range patrolling, and clandestine deep-penetration operations.

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM; French: Commandement des Forces d'opérations spéciales du Canada; COMFOSCAN) is a command of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is responsible for all special forces operations that are capable of responding to terrorism and threats to Canadians and Canadian interests around the world..

National Counter-Terrorism Exercise

National Counter-Terrorism Exercises are an exercise program involving the Australian Federal Government and all States and Territories designed to test Australia’s counter-terrorism response arrangements. Australia’s national counter-terrorism arrangements are well practised with major exercises held annually. The Department of Home Affairs manages the Counter-Terrorism Capability Branch in the Centre for Counter-Terrorism Coordination which supports the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) who run the exercise program. The exercise was formerly named National Anti-Terrorism Exercise (NATEX).

The program includes discussion exercises, tactical response exercises, investigation and consequence management exercises and multi-jurisdictional exercises. Such incidents practised include recapturing buildings, freeing hostages, cordoning off areas or responding to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive attack.

Exercises of various types are run and tested several times per year testing various elements of the Australian Defence Force such as the Tactical Assault Group (West & East) and the Special Operations Engineer Regiment within the Special Operations Command.

Exercises involve various elements of State/Territory Police Forces such as their respective Police Tactical Group and various intelligence agencies and units such as ASIO. As well as involving various elements of the Federal Government exercises also test the capability, co-ordination and response of the State/Territory Government, State Emergency Services, the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police and other Commonwealth agencies.

Exercises are tailored to prepare for specific events such as the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the 2007 Sydney APEC forum.

Special Operations Command

Special Operations Command may refer to any of these military or police organizations:

Special Operations Command (Australia)

Special Operations Command (Denmark)

Special Operations Command (Germany), see Kommando Spezialkräfte

13th Special Operations Command of the Hellenic Army

Special Operations Command (Indonesia), also known as Komando Operasi Khusus Tentara Nasional Indonesia.

Special Operations Command (Maldives)

Special Operations Command (Malaysia)

Special Operations Command (New Zealand)

Special Operations Command (Philippines)

Special Operations Command (Singapore)

United States Special Operations CommandUnited States Army Special Operations Command

United States Air Force Special Operations Command

United States Naval Special Warfare Command

United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

Joint Special Operations CommandCommandement des Opérations Spéciales of the French Armed Forces

Special Operations Command (Spain)

Colombian National Police Special Operations Command

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

Special Operations Command (New Zealand)

Special Operations Command provides command and oversight of the New Zealand Defence Force's special forces unit, the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment, and reports to the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand for operations. Led by a Colonel (Special Operations Component Commander, SOCC). It was initially established in 2008 as the Directorate of Special Operations, and had its role expanded when it was re designated Special Operations Command on 1 July 2015.

Tactical assault group

A Tactical Assault Group (TAG) is an Australian Defence Force special forces unit tasked with responding to counter-terrorism incidents in Australia on land and maritime environments and also with conducting overseas special recovery operations.At present there are two tactical assault groups based on opposite sides of the country. As such they are individually identified as being either TAG East, based in Sydney or TAG West, based in Perth. Both groups are structured to conduct offensive domestic counter-terrorist operations focusing on direct action and hostage recovery.Each assault group maintains a short notice capability to conduct military operations beyond the scope of State and Federal Police Tactical Groups. These aims are achieved through various highly specialised skill sets, niche capabilities and supporting Australian Defence Force (ADF) units such as those from the Special Operations Engineer Regiment and 171st Aviation Squadron.

Tim McOwan

Major General Timothy Joseph McOwan, is a retired senior officer of the Australian Army. He served as Special Operations Commander Australia from February 2008 until January 2011, and the Australian Defence Attaché and Head Australian Defence Staff in Washington, D.C. He retired from the army in 2014.

Australian Army
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