April 18, 2007: Australia is sending 300 of its SAS
commandos back to Afghanistan. They are needed to gather intelligence on
Taliban and al Qaeda leadership in the region. The Australian SAS has been
particularly successful in Afghanistan, so much so that they are constantly
being asked back. The Australians first got to Afghanistan in December 2001,
and stayed through most of 2002. They then went to Iraq, and didn't get back to
Afghanistan until 2005. In 2006, the Australians were in East Timor and the Philippines.
But now most of the Australian SAS is headed for
Afghanistan, where the Taliban is trying to recover from the beating they took
last year. The Afghan and foreign troops had no trouble defeating the Taliban
last year, but now the Taliban are having problems back in Pakistan, and are
off to a slow start in Afghanistan. The Taliban are vulnerable.
The Australians, and other commandos, are
particularly good at sending small teams (often just two or three men) to
follow up on information obtained from air reconnaissance, electronic
eavesdropping or just a tip from someone in the area. What the commandos are
looking to do is spot some senior Taliban or al Qaeda people sneaking around.
The enemy leadership tend to travel inconspicuously, and not with a lot of
bodyguards. The more senior they are, the less they use cell phones, or any
form of electronic communication. These guys are hard to catch, because they
are careful how they move. It takes highly trained people to track them down.
This often involves staking out a village, or isolated compound, until Mister
Big shows himself. Getting a smart bomb on the target is the easy part,
identifying the target takes a lot more effort.
Commandos are also essential when you want to raid
an isolated location, to capture important people, and grab valuable documents
(often in the form of an intact laptop.) The Australians are particularly good
at the stakeouts, and the snatching of important people and laptops.