Citation: Special Operations Task Group – Rotation XII
The Australian Special Operations Task Group Rotation XII, which included combat elements from the 2nd Special Air Service Squadron of the Special Air Service Regiment, Alpha Company Commando Group from the 2nd Commando Regiment, and supported by the Incident Response Regiment and the United States 101st Airborne Division, Task Force No Mercy, is awarded the Battle Honour Eastern Shah Wali Kot in due recognition of extraordinary heroism, exemplary combat performance and the relentless destruction of a highly trained and fanatical Taliban enemy of numerical superiority within the extremely inhospitable region of Eastern Shah Wali Kot, Afghanistan, during the period May to June 2010.
Tasked with a mission of vital operational importance within Regional Command – South, and of strategic significance for the International Security Assistance Force, from May 2010 the Task Group conducted a series of daring daylight helicopter-borne raids, deep into enemy territory, to destabilise local insurgent networks and to identify key Taliban leaders. Often resulting in fierce engagements with the enemy, these deadly shaping raids created fractures throughout the command and control architecture of the Taliban.
During the early hours of 10 June 2010, immediately realising a tactical opportunity, Alpha Company Commando Group audaciously established an attack by fire position inside the insurgents’ strong hold of Chenartu. Shortly after first light, the enemy surrounded the commandos and employed sophisticated tactics in an attempt to overrun the commando positions throughout the day. Holding their exposed positions doggedly under heavy and sustained attack, the commandos, determined to regain the initiative, launched several aggressive counter attacks against the assaulting enemy. Surprised by the ferocity of the commando response, combined with having lost significant numbers of fighters, the enemy withdrew to the village of Tizak to conduct deliberate planning for the destruction of the isolated commando company.
Receiving intelligence that a high level Taliban commander had now been drawn to the village of Tizak, a troop from the 2nd Special Air Service Squadron deployed by helicopter to conduct a kill or capture mission on the morning of 11 June 2010. Upon landing in Tizak, the troop was immediately engaged by a maelstrom of small arms fire and a stream of rocket-propelled grenades from insurgents in the village and the surrounding high ground, resulting in two friendlies being wounded in action and four helicopters sustaining battle damage. Despite being outnumbered four to one and suppressed under a hail of machine gun fire, the troop inched forward until they were again checked and fixed by the interlocking fire of three machine guns. Drawing on the deepest reserves of collective courage, combined with notable acts of individual valour and gallantry, the initiative was regained, allowing a subsequent break-in of the enemy’s defensive position. Exploiting a tenuous tactical foothold, the troop unflinchingly cleared the remaining depth positions in close-quarter combat throughout the remainder of the day while being relentlessly supported by U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters from Task Force No Mercy. At the conclusion of the battle, late on the evening of 14 June 2010, a significant number of high-level Taliban commanders, a significant and disproportionate number of enemy fighters were killed, and the remaining enemy were routed and fled from the region.
The extraordinary heroism and exemplary combat performance displayed during the Shah Wali Kot Offensive resulted in a major enemy supply line from Pakistan into Kandahar being destroyed and the Taliban in eastern Shah Wali Kot being rendered ineffective. The battlefield orchestration, courage, gallantry and determination displayed by the combat elements of the Special Operations Task Group Rotation XII, under extremely adverse and hazardous conditions has set them apart, and by their achievements they have brought distinguished credit on themselves and the Australian Defence Force.