July 25th, 2005
US troops nearly kill SAS info
US troops nearly kill SAS |
By Luke McIlveen
July 24, 2005
From: Sydney Morning Herald
TWO patrols of elite Australian SAS soldiers were almost killed by friendly fire during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Only luck and quick thinking prevented tragedies that could have changed the Australian public's support for the war on terror at critical political times for the Howard government.
In the first incident, during 2002, US forces were about to fire more than 100 mortar shells in Afghanistan when they learnt SAS soldiers were in the line of fire.
A year later, during the invasion of Iraq, SAS troops almost killed one another in a firefight on the second day of the war.
The revelations are contained in a new book, The Amazing SAS, by The Sunday Telegraph's defence writer, Ian McPhedran.
In a series of exclusive interviews, SAS soldiers revealed how US forces were ready to fire nearly 150 mortar rounds on to a hillside, to avoid having to lug them back to base.
An Australian SAS officer working alongside the Americans overheard the grid co-ordinates and realised it was the location of an SAS patrol.
Warrant Officer Steve (SAS surnames are kept secret) had been working as a liaison officer with US forces when he overheard a radio conversation between an American officer and a Ranger patrol.
After he checked the map co-ordinates, he realised the SAS was in the line of fire.
"I said: 'No! Stop, drop! No rounds are to be fired - I've got a patrol on that hill," Steve said.
According to Steve, the US officer had seen five of his men killed and 33 wounded 10 days earlier.
"So he was probably thinking: 'I hope there's a s***load of Taliban up there."'
A detachment of 150 SAS troops will return to Iraq in September.
The Amazing SAS, the first book of its kind about the nation's special-forces unit, is based on interviews with dozens of SAS soldiers and officers.
It includes previously secret details about military campaigns, the Sydney Olympic Games and the SAS raid on the freighter Tampa just before the 2001 federal election.