Star of Gallantry
(Security restrictions in place as at 18 August 2007 allow that only an edited version of this citation be made public.)
For conspicuous gallantry in action and leadership as a Commando Section Commander in the Special Forces Task Group, whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan, 2006.
During the conduct of an operation in Southern Afghanistan in 2006, a combined Coalition Force conducted a Direct Action mission against a target in the Oruzgan Province. Upon insertion, the assault force, provided by another Coalition partner, was soon surrounded and suffered two soldiers wounded and one soldier killed in action.
A Commando Reaction Force was deployed and tasked to assist the extraction of the assault force by securing the helicopter landing zone and covering their withdrawal. As Sergeant As section was the lead element of the Commando Reaction Force, he received the most intense weight of fire from the Anti-Coalition Militia.
Upon arrival at the landing zone the Commando Reaction Force immediately came under a heavy weight of rocket and small arms fire from multiple flanks. Due to the requirement to secure the extraction site, the Commando Reaction Force held the position for over an hour. Sergeant A was responsible for securing the northern flank, repelling a number of assaults whilst being engaged from ranges as close as 50 metres.
Once the extraction was complete, the Commando Reaction Force began its return to base. The Anti-Coalition Militia had anticipated the Commando Reaction Forces extraction route and had prepared a series of ambushes to prevent their safe return. As the lead vehicle commander, Sergeant A led his section with distinction and courage. Critically, he was the first to be engaged at each of the ambush locations. In each instance, Sergeant A led his section to assault and clear opposition from the route in a rapid and aggressive manner, despite the frequent heavy and effective fire. On one occasion, with absolute disregard for his own safety, Sergeant A personally conducted an assault on a machinegun position not more than 30 metres to his front. This action resulted in the neutralising of the threat from the Anti-Coalition Militia allowing the Commando Reaction Force to continue their manoeuvre.
On at least two other occasions, whilst being engaged from positions as close as five metres and receiving multiple bullet strikes on his vehicles, Sergeant A was forced to fight his way through ambushes by driving directly through the killing ground, which he did without hesitation. These positions were neutralised through the use of small arms fire and fragmentation grenades. Through his outstanding leadership and composure under fire, he successfully manoeuvred his section and led the Commando Reaction Force through several ambush locations, returning them to base without injury.
During the operation, Sergeant A led his section with distinction, displaying multiple acts of conspicuous gallantry whilst in combat with the Anti-Coalition Militia over a protracted period of time. His actions directly contributed to the success of the mission and ultimately the safe return of the Commando Reaction Force. His conspicuous gallantry in action was of the highest order and is in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command-Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
Star of Gallantry