Australia, like the United States, found itself having a hard time keeping it's Special Forces up to strength since the war on terror began. More troops were needed, and civilian demand for commando class security experts enticed many men to leave the service for higher paying jobs. So, like the United States, Australia is trying direct recruitment of civilian volunteers. Normally, only men already in the military are recruited. The Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme (SFDRS) has, so far, attracted some 800 applicants (physically fit men 19-30 years old). Last month, 48 applicants were accepted and sent off to twelve weeks of basic training, followed by eight weeks of the Special Forces Accelerated Training Continuum. This prepares the recruits for the 54 hour Special Forces Entry Test. This is a rugged physical and mental evaluation that determines if you are suitable for commando training.
More than half of the applicants are expected to quit or fail before completing their commando training. If that happens, the applicants can either be discharged from the army, or apply for another position (infantryman, Special Forces support or anything else they have an aptitude for.)
Two more platoons of applicants will be sent through the training before June. The Australian army is confident that they will get a least a few dozen commandos out of the program. The reserve commando unit has long taken some recruits directly from civilian life and many of these men have made it through the training and selection process.
Australian Special Forces consists of a number of units, including 1st SAS Regiment (500-600 active duty and reserve troops), 1st Commando Group (about 250 troops) and the 4th Royal Australian Regiment (several hundred commandos) and several companies of LRRPs (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol). The successful SFDRS recruits are headed for the 4th Royal Australian Regiment as commandos, roughly similar to the U.S. Army Rangers. After two years with the commandos, troops can apply for SAS (which is similar to American Special Forces and Delta Force).
Australian commandos are trained for a wide variety of duties. The official job description is;
Main Job Functions
As a Commando your main function will be to participate in large-scale offensive operations. Using your advanced infantry tactics and specialist weapons and equipment, you will use stealth, surprise and the precise application of hard-hitting shock action in a range of operations.
Some of the tasks you will be required to perform as a Commando are:
# Accurately employ a range of advanced weapon systems (including night aiming devices);
# Fight at close quarters with weapons;
# Participate in a Commando fighting patrol in both urban and rural operations;
# Destroy targets using explosives;
# Parachute onto land or into water;
# Participate in Tactical Air Land Operations from both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft;
# Embark and disembark from Commando amphibious insertion craft in surf (beach and rocky landings) and from parent craft;
# Ascend and descend vertical obstacles using military roping and caving ladder climbing techniques;
# Operate intra-platoon communications equipment;
# Conduct manual entry to urban structures;
# Comply with the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC), Rules of Engagement (ROE) and adhere to Orders for Opening Fire (OFOF);
# Conduct airborne rappelling and fast roping (including suspended extraction); and
# Operate Commando amphibious boats as coxswain / bowman as part of a flotilla.
As a Commando you must also be capable of transitioning from special operations to conventional infantry operations where required.