The Vietnam War was unique in the lack of a multinational coalition. Australia and New Zealand were two of the few American allies who assisted during the Vietnam War. Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment and New Zealand’s Special Air Service, the countries’ top special operations units, both saw action and earned a reputation for fierce fighting. Both units can trace their origin to the battles of North Africa during World War II. Lt. David Stirling, a British officer, is credited with founding the British SAS during that time, suggesting the formation of a unit to go after German and Italian supply lines and airfields. After the members of the SAS who were recruited from across the commonwealth returned to their home armies they argued for the creation of their own special ranks.
The Australian SASR deployed to Vietnam in 1966 as part of the brigade-sized Australian Task Force. New Zealand committed troops two years later and the NZSAS joined the Australians. Their missions were mainly reconnaissance at first but their assignments expanded to include offensive missions.
When the war concluded the Australians had completed over 1000 operations and the Kiwis had participated in almost 170 patrols. Their operations accounted for more than 500 enemies killed or captured.