Army-Police Cooperation in Australia’s Anti-Terrorist Response


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Australia’s Federal Government has been bolstering its anti-terrorist capabilities. Among the reforms – South Australia’s elite police squad will be trained by the military and the State’s Defence Force officers.

The Defence Act will be overhauled to make it easier for states to request military help and allow the crack ADF officers to lead the assault on militant strikes.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said state authorities would be given extra support to prepare for terrorist incidents and comprehensive military help would be made available if an attack occurred. “The state and territory police forces remain the best first response to terrorist incidents, immediately after an attack starts,’’ he said.

According to the plan, South Australian STAR group police would be able to undertake training with Army Special Forces teams and Defence would offer to station liaison and engagement officers with state police.

According to, an overhaul of Defence “call-out” powers would remove a provision that currently prevents state police from asking for specialist military help until they believe their capacity to respond to an attack has been exceeded. Soldiers called out to help during a terrorist incident would be given additional police-type powers, including the authority to prevent suspected terrorists from leaving the scene of an incident.

If a terrorist attack occurred in Southern Australia, it could take several hours for specialist military forces to arrive from interstate to assist police. The Prime Minister said that proposed reforms would make it easier for Defence to work together with federal, state and territory police in the event of a terrorist incident.

“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,” he said.

During the 2014 Martin Place siege, tactical assault troops at the Holsworthy Army barracks in Sydney built a replica of the Lindt Cafe and spent several hours practicing a hostage rescue mission. The army also sent a liaison officer to the NSW Police forward command post.

The Federal Government last year announced a review of Defence’s support for national counter-terrorism arrangements in response to the Lindt siege and several attacks overseas, including the 2016 co-ordinated attacks in central Paris.

Last week, the Federal Government announced it would introduce laws forcing tech companies to help authorities access encrypted messages sent by terror suspects and other criminals.