NA­TION Re­form to un­leash SAS on ter­ror­ists

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - RE­NEE VIELLARIS

AUS­TRALIA’S elite troops will be able to kill ter­ror­ists sooner un­der a Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment plan to sharpen its re­sponse to do­mes­tic at­tacks.

Laws will be strength­ened to make it eas­ier for the Aus­tralian De­fence Force’s Spe­cial Air Ser­vice Reg­i­ment ( SAS) to take over un­fold­ing at­tacks from state counter- ter­ror­ism po­lice.

Cur­rently, SAS re­sponse to a pos­si­ble ter­ror­ist at­tack on Aus­tralian soil is con­strained un­der the De­fence Act. State po­lice have to say an at­tack has ex­ceeded their ca­pa­bil­ity.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and De­fence Min­is­ter Marise Payne will re­veal the pro­vi­sion that lim­its state po­lice from ask­ing the ADF for sup­port sooner will be re­moved. The Act will also be changed to make it eas­ier for the ADF to lock down a city dur­ing an un­fold­ing at­tack or shoot a ter­ror­ist.

The re­forms will also al­low the ADF to take con­trol of an at­tack from the be­gin­ning.

The Aus­tralian SAS, which is de­ployed to war zones to kick down doors and kill com­bat­ants, have bet­ter weapons, bet­ter tech­nol­ogy and ex­per­tise. There were re­ports in May of a Bri­tish SAS sniper shoot­ing dead an ISIS mil­i­tant in Iraq from 2.4km away us­ing a CheyTac M200, a man­u­ally op­er­ated, ro­tat­ing bolt sniper ri­fle.

In Aus­tralia, the range for state po­lice is about 400m, but when it comes to ac­cu­racy, it is gen­er­ally a range of about 100m.

The Gov­ern­ment over­haul has been sparked by a 2016 re­view of De­fence’s sup­port to na­tional counter- ter­ror­ism ar­range­ments but also mir­rors rec­om­men­da­tions made by NSW Coro­ner Michael Barnes’s coro­nial in­quest into the Lindt cafe siege.

“It’s the first time De­fence’s con­tri­bu­tion to do­mes­tic counter- ter­ror­ism has been re- viewed since Turn­bull said.

“It is es­sen­tial that Aus­tralia evolves its re­sponses and coun­ter­mea­sures in re­sponse to the chang­ing threat.

“De­fence must be able to con­trib­ute ef­fec­tively to do­mes­tic counter- ter­ror­ism ef­forts, in ad­di­tion to its off­shore counter- ter­ror­ism mis­sions and re­gional ca­pac­ity- build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

“State and Ter­ri­tory po­lice forces re­main the best first re­sponse to ter­ror­ist in­ci­dents im­me­di­ately af­ter an at­tack starts.

“But De­fence can of­fer more sup­port to states and ter­ri­to­ries to en­hance their capa- 2005,” Mr bil­i­ties and in­crease their un­der­stand­ing of De­fence’s unique ca­pa­bil­i­ties to en­sure a com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse to po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist at­tacks.”

The changes still mean state po­lice will be in charge of the ma­jor­ity of ter­ror in­ci­dents, es­pe­cially when there is an ac­tive shooter who has started killing peo­ple.

The ADF has never been called to re­spond to a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent, and dur­ing the deadly Lindt siege, ADF per­son­nel said they were at­tend­ing in an in­for­mal con­text. The army has two tac­ti­cal as­sault groups in Syd­ney and Perth to rapidly de­ploy to do­mes­tic coun­tert­er­ror­ism at­tacks.

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