Drawing linage from the 2nd AIF Independent Companies (later Commando Squadrons) of World War II and Special Operations Australia otherwise known as the Special Reconnaissance Department (M and Z Special Units), the 2nd Commando Regiment (previously known as the 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment (4RAR (Cdo)) was the first Regular Army Commando unit to be raised in Australia. The genesis for a regular Commando capability was the requirement to provide the Government of Australia greater flexibility in special forces options. In accordance with Government strategic guidance, a second commando regiment was formed to address shortfalls in Australian Defence Force's (ADF) ability to conduct special recovery and strike operations and was created ‘to conduct offensive and recovery operations beyond the range and capability of other ADF elements’.
The unit is now the largest combat unit within the Australian Special Operations Command (SOCOMD), where it is under command of the Special Operations Commander Australia (SOCAUST).
History of 4 RAR (Cdo)
In 1996, a decision was made to convert 4 RAR into a Commando Regiment and placed under command of Commander Special Forces. On 1 February 1997 this transition commenced with the renaming of the unit 4 RAR (Cdo). Regular serving members of 4 RAR were given the opportunity to undertake special forces selection and training provided mainly by the 1st Commando Regiment (1 Cdo Regt) or elect to be posted. The initial years saw the restructure of the unit and significant effort into the recruiting, selection and training of suitable commando candidates. Bravo Commando Company was the first raised in 1997, followed by Charlie Commando Company in 1999.
Concurrently the unit was tasked with individual deployments to East Timor - Op WARDEN; in the lead up and conduct of the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games - Op GOLD; and in support of the ADF’s evacuation of Australians and approved foreign nationals from the Solomon Islands – Op PLUMBOB, June 2000.
Counter Terrorism training. From 1979, the Australian Defence Force'sDomestic Counter Terrorism (DCT) capability resided solely within the SASR. In the mid to late 1990s, it was becoming increasingly evident that having one military option for both domestic and offshore special recovery operations required review. Consequently, the following directive was issued:
By 30 June 1997, Commander Special Forces is to develop a plan for the transfer of the DCT capability from SASR to 4 RAR (Cdo). A special recovery capability will be developed post 2001.
The original rationale for two domestic responses was born through threat assessments in the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games and again for the 2002 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Queensland. The second and most decisive event leading to the establishment of a second permanent TAG was in response to the terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. In October 2001, a Cabinet submission was developed to meet the Government’s directive for improved domestic security – in particular Counter Terrorism. The result was the formal direction to establish a permanent second TAG on the East coast of Australia within 4 RAR (Cdo) to compliment the current SASR capability. This is now known as "TAG-East".
Another event, of significant to the unit, that would forever alter the security environment within our own region was the bombing of the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on 12 October 2002.
Over the next several years the unit continued to evolve and mature, whilst assuming further operational responsibilities and taskings - both domestically and internationally.
History of 2 Cdo Regt
On 19 June 2009, the unit was renamed to its current name - the "2nd Commando Regiment" (abbreviated to "2 Cdo Regt"). The period between 1997 – 2009 saw dynamic restructuring, development and operational deployment, none of which would have been possible without the skills transfer, mentoring and assistance of other Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) units, such as SASR, 1 Cdo Regt and the Special Force Training Centre (SFTC).