About the Job
A Commando is a Special Forces soldier who is screened, selected, trained and equipped to conduct Special Operations. They are a close combatant with responsibilities that extend across a broad operational spectrum, including participation short notice operations in Australia and overseas. Commando operations are typically offensive and expeditionary in nature and specialise in discriminate and precise targeting.
A Commando is trained to employ a variety of non-standard weapons and equipment, and maintains multiple specialised close combat, insertion and extraction skills. They must be capable of operating in environments characterised by high complexity, isolation from friendly forces, high levels of stress, danger and environmental hardship.
The role of the Commando is to conduct Special Operations across the operating continuum, typically expeditionary in nature; Commando’s operate either as an independent force element or in support of joint manoeuvre for the conduct of advanced force operations or precision strike missions.
Primary tasks you will be required to perform as a Commando are:
- Operate as a member of a Commando team in a multi-team field and urban environment employing Commando tactics, techniques and procedures.
- Operate and maintain a variety of in-service ADF and Special Forces weapons
- Participate in live fire range practices, including those specific to Special Forces training and operations
- Apply advanced close quarter battle, close quarter fighting and urban fighting techniques applicable to Special Operations
- Insert using basic static line parachute techniques onto land or water
- Negotiate vertical obstacles as a member of a Commando team in a multi-team field and urban environment employing Commando tactics, techniques and procedures.
- Insert or extract using Special Forces airborne roping techniques
- Apply first aid in a special operations combat environment.
- Operate secure tactical and operational communications equipment
- Operate as a member of a force element on Special Forces mobility operations using specialist vehicles.
- Operate as a member of a force element on Commando amphibious operations utilising tactical craft and associated Commando tactics, techniques and procedures.
- Employ commando reconnaissance tactics, techniques and procedures specific to special operations.
- Employ mortar systems in support of Commando training and operations.
- Perform advanced sniping tactics, techniques and procedures, in the employment of specialist sniper weapon systems and precision shooting techniques specific to special operations.
- Employ direct fire support weapon systems in support of Commando training and operations.
- Operate as a member of a Special Forces Force Element on operations involving the negotiation of vertical obstacles in both the field and urban operational environments during the conduct of Special Operations, using climbing techniques.
- Perform the coxswain duties on a Special Forces Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB)
- Plan, brief, control and report close air support on the battlefield for ADF and major coalition partners.
- Operate as a member of a Commando Force Element in mountainous, cold weather, or alpine environment involving mountain warfare and Special Operations tactic, techniques and procedures.
- Perform as a team member in an Armed Response Protection Team.
- Perform combat survival tactics, techniques and procedures, specific to special operations.
- Operate commando vehicles during Special Forces training and operations, specific to Special Operations.
- Perform as a team member in the conduct of insertion via military free fall parachute insertion tactics, techniques and procedures, specific to special operations.
- Employ a Special Forces Military Working Dog as a member of a Commando Force Element during the conduct of Special Operations.
Commando attributes are personality traits and values that can be observed through behaviour. The selection process is based around activities that are specifically designed to give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate that they possess the attributes of a Commando.
Naturally, Commando candidates must demonstrate all Army values in both word and action. In addition, candidates must display the specific Commando attributes listed below:
Adaptable – the ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions or to modify and innovate in changing situations where one exercises some, little or no control over the environment.
Mature – a state of one’s development where by an individual’s actions, using ones cognitive judgment, intellect and experience, reflects their ability to aptly understand the surrounding environment and to act in a manner that is responsible, honest and humble.
Tough – the ability to demonstrate the mental capacity and physical power to circumvent resistance that maintains an unyielding effort throughout any episode, despite the interference of other factors.
Self-Discipline – the ability to control and direct ones activities to achieve a required outcome.
Trainable – the ability to assimilate skills and knowledge to the degree and speed necessary, and to apply those skills and knowledge in an appropriate environment.
Teamwork – the ability to operate and contribute effectively in a dynamic and demanding environment.
Employment Category Number (ECN): 079
Employment Category: Combat
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Preparing for Your Recruitment Process
This document provides information that will assist applicants for roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, including details about the recruitment process, how to prepare yourself for assessment, and what to expect if you are successful in joining the Australian Defence Force.
Depending on the courses you undertake, Commando training will provide you with many valuable skills and qualifications which may be recognised by civilian accreditation.
Salary & Allowances
In the Army you'll get paid a good salary from day one regardless of your age, experience or qualifications; and your pay increases as you progress through training.
In addition to your salary you'll receive a variety of allowances, extra pay for relevant qualifications – plus 16.4% superannuation, a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.
On successful completion of the Commando Reinforcement Training Cycle (CRTC) those undertaking full-time service as Commandos will be posted to 2nd Commando Regiment which is located at Holsworthy, NSW.
Holsworthy is located approximately 50 km west of the Sydney central business district. Holsworthy provides easy access to Canberra, the Blue Mountains and the South Coast of NSW, with convenient freeway and rail links to central Sydney and Sydney Airport.
Those applying for part-time service with 1st Commando Regiment will be posted to the closest Commando Company to their location. 1 Commando Company is at Holsworthy, NSW and 2 Commando Company is at Williamstown, VIC.
Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and able to complete the Initial Minimum Period of Service before reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (60).
Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age.
Education & Experience
Completion of Australian Year 10 (or equivalent) with passes in English and Mathematics.
Medical & Fitness
SF DRS Medical - Your medical fitness will be assessed by a doctor, prior to enlistment. This assessment will require you to complete an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history and it will be followed by a comprehensive physical examination.
SF DRS Physical - You will also be required to successfully pass a Special Forces Pre-entry Fitness Assessment (PFA) before enlistment. This PFA requires you to achieve a higher standard than the general entry fitness level for the Army.
You must be able to complete:
The PFA describes the minimum standard for enlistment as a potential Commando candidate, however, a much higher level of physical fitness will be required to successfully complete the Commando Selection and Training Course. The most suitable candidates for Commando training are those who regularly participate in arduous work, team and individual sports, individual or group fitness activities or outdoors-adventurous pursuits. Further information on fitness can be accessed on the ‘SOFIT’ Application, available on Android and iOS.
Psychological. Prior to enlistment, your psychological suitability will be assessed by a psychologist. This assessment will require you to complete a series of questionnaires and a comprehensive interview.
However, you are not required to accept this until you have completed your Recruit training. At this point you are required to accept an initial period of service of four years to be eligible to commence Infantry Initial Employment Training.
Medical. Your medical fitness will be assessed by a doctor, prior to enlistment. This assessment will require you to complete an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history and it will be followed by a comprehensive physical examination. Applicants must meet medical requirements in accordance with Army requirements or seek a waiver.
Physical. You will also be required to successfully pass a Special Forces Pre-Fitness Assessment (PFA) before enlistment. This PFA requires you to achieve a higher standard than the general entry fitness level for the Army. You must be able to complete:
- Beep test (shuttle run) to level 10.1
- 40 push ups
- 60 sit-ups
- 6 over-grasp heaves (pull-ups)
The above PFA describes the minimum standard for enlistment as a potential Commando candidate, however, a much higher level of physical fitness will be required to successfully complete the Commando Selection and Training Course. The most suitable candidates for Commando training are those who regularly participate in arduous work, team and individual sports, individual or group fitness activities or outdoors-adventurous pursuits. Further information on fitness can be accessed on the 'SOFIT' application, available on Android and iOS.
Psychological. There are specific psychological requirements for the Commando job role. In general, applicants must be capable of operating effectively at height, within dark and confined spaces, in the ocean over or under deep water and in a surf zone without signs of undue stress, panic or excessive fear.
Maturity - Perceive, comprehend and respond to environmental and social cues in a manner appropriate to the situation. A candidate displays the capacity to regulate, perceive and manage emotional and physical responses of themselves and others in order to achieve mission outcomes.
Toughness - The capacity to remain operationally effective and engaged with their environment under conditions of hardship, and implements effective coping strategies under adverse conditions. Under conditions of deprivation and high physical and mental challenge, a candidate is able to maintain emotional stability and effectively interact with others to achieve the mission.
Self-discipline - Control and direct actions and activity to achieve a required outcome without external motivators or detailed direction. Candidates are able to maintain a stable emotional state and focus on achieving required outcomes.
Trainability - The capacity to assimilate knowledge and skills and then recall and demonstrate that knowledge or skills in an operational environment.
Teamwork - Effective information management, communication and emotional perception and regulation, in order to facilitate team processes while achieving SO outcomes. A candidate is able to adapt their responses to take into account the actions of other team members whilst maintaining a mission focus.
Initiative - The ability to assess a situation and to take affirmative action without direction.
Integrity - Behaviour aligned with strong moral principles and Defence values.
Ethical leadership - The ability to effectively influence other members of their team to willingly achieve the desired operational outcome while adhering to Defence Values.
Communicate effectively - clearly conveys intent utilising verbal and non-verbal skills in a coherent and logical manner in operational situations.
Period of Service
Applicants enlisting through the Special Forces Direct Recruitment Scheme as a Commando are required to serve for an initial minimum period of service of four years.
For in-service applicants, training in this Employment Category does not attract a Return of Service Obligation, which is called a ROSO. If a candidate has an existing ROSO from previous training, the ROSO may be served concurrently. However, this is to be determined by the applicant’s Career Management Agency during the application process before the applicant commences Commando training.
If you are unsuccessful in completing your recruit training, you can seek 'discharge at own request' and are not required to complete the initial minimum period of service.
However, if you are unsuccessful at Infantry Initial Employment Training or any subsequent training after that, and choose to withdraw from the Scheme, or if you are found to be unsuitable for service in Special Forces, you will be required to complete your initial minimum period of service within the general Army.
In this case, you will also be given the opportunity to be employed as an infantry soldier or in another trade within the general Army. This will be negotiated on a case by case basis. This is designed to ensure the ADF recovers reasonable value from its investment in your training and development.
Applications to resign or transfer to the Reserves from personnel who have not completed their initial minimum period of service will not normally be approved unless compassionate or otherwise compelling personal reasons exist.
Due to the Commando’s role on operations, Commandos are potentially exposed to very high levels of enemy force activities. They are required to perform for extended periods in a high-risk outdoor environment in arduous and unpredictable situations using a range of high-risk specialist technical skills and activities conducted in high stress and potentially dangerous environments where there is real risk and consequence from poor judgement or error. During operations the level of concentration required of a Commando will invariably increase as contributing factors coincide and develop simultaneously. A night assault in cold, wet weather at the end of a long, difficult approach over difficult terrain amounts to very challenging employment conditions. Commando employment conditions consistently require personnel to overcome and control fear and anxiety while under constant high levels of stress, while maintaining a high standard of performance. Other demanding factors are the requirement to treat and remove casualties; military and civilian, friendly and enemy, from the battlefield while under bombardment. These conditions make this employment very mentally and physically demanding.
The Commando will regularly be required to:
- Operate by day and night, in rural and urban environments
- Operate while exposed, often for long periods, in a range of seasons, to the elements and associated extremes of climatic conditions with limited access to protective clothing, equipment and shelter. Weather conditions include extremes of temperature, high winds, rain, storms, blizzards and limited visibility. Personnel are often exposed to intensified solar ultra-violet radiation for long periods
- Operate in remote areas away from command and leadership support, supervision, advice and assistance
- Operate, for long periods of time, with limited access to emergency medical treatment, hygiene and sanitation, and the re-supply of rations and water
- Operate for long periods of time with high levels of physical labour, carrying heavy loads for long distances and time over difficult terrain.
- Typically stand, bend, crouch and crawl, in addition to frequently lifting heavy objects weighing over 25 kg, climbing and clambering over vehicles, boats, stores and other obstacles, without rest and or when deprived of sleep
- Be exposed to high levels of noise for extended periods because of the use of explosives, bombardment and shooting
- Operate with limited food and water intake due to operational and geographic/climatic conditions
- Operate wearing nuclear/biological and chemical suits and gas mask throughout training and when a danger exists
- Operate on exposed vertical rock-faces and buildings sides and at considerable heights (100 metres and greater)
- Operate below ground, in the dark, and in tight confined spaces that are often uncomfortable, wet and dirty. This may also expose personnel to vertical entries and exits and to considerable heights
- Operate in a marine environment including large expanses of the ocean, over deep water, in tides, rips and waves, at a considerable distance from the shore, and in surf zones
- Operate in alpine conditions including steep terrain, varying snow conditions, ice, blizzards, poor visibility and in extremely low temperatures. It may require personnel to live in the snow
- Be deployed to any part of the world at short notice on operational duties
- Become exposed to a variety of medications for the prevention of diseases and illnesses from third world countries as well as for the prevention of diseases and illnesses from including radiological, biological and chemical weapons.
Commandos are recruited from:
- Direct entry through the Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme (SFDRS).
- All Corps within Army
- Other ADF Services (RAN and RAAF)
- Permanent and Part time forces
- Overseas lateral transfers
- Male and female
Online Aptitude Testing (OAT) is completed as part of the application process to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.
OAT is used by Defence to establish suitability for ADF entry, and then identify jobs that best match your abilities.
Further information about OAT can be found in the Guide to Online Aptitude Testing for the ADF.
To get a feel for the types of questions that are used in an Online Aptitude Test and how they will look on your screen some examples can be found in the Online Aptitude Testing Example Questions.
To serve in the ADF you must be an Australian Citizen.
If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary deferral of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.
Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.
The Department of Defence requires ADF employees to have security clearances appropriate to their employment.
A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and, as required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency to make an informed assessment of an applicant's suitability for a security clearance.
The minimum security clearance level required is Negative Vetting Level 1
NOTE: The security clearance is critical to an applicant’s successful progression through the Army training system. If an applicant is unable to obtain the required security clearance in time, they will not be allowed to continue their training and may need to be re-allocated to another employment category. As such, it is strongly recommended that all applicants obtain the required documentation as soon as possible to provide the best opportunity to be employed in their preferred employment category.
Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.
Army Recruit Training: 80 Days
You will be required to complete the standard basic recruit course at the Army Recruit Training Centre, Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW.
This is your basic military training and all personnel who enlist in the Australian Army are required to successfully complete it. This training will develop in you the necessary skills and qualities to become an Australian Army soldier. It will also provide you with the knowledge and skills you require in order to be able to undertake your initial employment training.
On successful completion of Recruit training, and before commencing Infantry initial employment training, you will be required to commit to a four year initial minimum period of service.
If during training, you are assessed as unsuitable to continue, or are temporarily unsuitable, you will not be permitted to continue with the scheme. In this case you will be encouraged to undertake training for one of the critical support trades within the Special Forces or in the general Army. If you accept either of these options, you will be given another offer. Alternatively, you may elect to 'discharge at own request'.
If you do accept an offer to serve in a critical support trade in Special Forces or the general Army, you can apply again for Commando (ECN 079) selection and training after you have completed 24 months of general Army service.
When you have completed basic recruit training you will have reached the standard of a basic soldier. You will have developed the qualities and acquired the knowledge, skills have a checkable background for the previous 10 years.
During Military (Initial Recruit) Training and (Initial) Employment Training, members may be required to pay a contribution towards meals, accommodation and utilities.
Employment Training: 74 days.
74 Days. Those of who successfully complete recruit training will attend the standard 74 day Infantry Soldier Initial Employment Training (IET). The 74 days does not include weekends. Note: Course duration may vary depending on public holidays and other Army requirements.
The IET "Infantry Operations - Basic Course" is conducted at the School of Infantry, Singleton NSW. At the School of Infantry you will be trained and qualified in basic infantry tactics and a range of specialist infantry weapons and equipment.
Candidates who are unable to successfully complete their Infantry training will not be permitted to continue with the scheme. In this case you will be encouraged to undertake training for one of the critical support trades within the Special Forces or in the general Army. You can apply again for Commando (ECN 079) selection and training after you have completed 24 months of general Army service.
Special Forces Selection Preparation Course (SFSPC):
The SFSPC is an 8 week residential course that develops and enhances the basic soldier skills and intellectual, physical and psychological attributes of selected ARA candidates, either directly recruited through the Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme or other suitable applicants on occurrence, in readiness to undertake Special Forces selection.
During the SFSPC you will also commence the Commando Physical Training Package undertaken by Commando candidates already serving in the ADF. This training aims to increase your chance of success during Commando selection and training.
Special Forces Training
Before commencing the Commando Selection and Training Course you will be required to show that you are committed, motivated and capable of withstanding the severe physical and environmental stresses associated with the Commando Selection and Training Course. These will be assessed during the Special Forces EntryTest.
The Special Forces Entry Test
The Special Forces Entry Test aim is to identify ADF personnel who display the potential for service in a Special Forces unit. Applicants will have their suitability for service with Australian Special Forces assessed by the SF panelling board. The board will take into account results from the SFET and the member’s paperboard. The result of the SFET alone does not automatically result in an applicant being panelled on a SF selection course.
Assessment on the SFET is aimed at grading applicants. The collection of physical and psychological data through the use of aerobic, anaerobic and cognitive assessments is IOT predict the likelihood of successful completion of SF selection and service within a SF unit. The minimum standards for these assessments have shown to predict the likelihood of failure during the SF selection courses and therefore have formed the basis of suitability during the selection panel board. Assessment of applicants is to be against two selection outcomes:
- Physical assessment
- Cognitive assessment
The physical assessment comprises:
- Push ups - This is a maximum effort assessment. Applicants are required to achieve a minimum of 40 cadence push-ups whilst wearing combat uniform and boots.
- Heaves - This is a maximum effort assessment. Applicants are required to achieve a minimum of seven (7) cadence over-grasp heaves whilst wearing combat uniform and boots.
- 3.2 km basic webbing run - This is a maximum effort assessment. Applicants are required to achieve a time of 16 minutes or less whilst wearing combat uniform, boots and 8 kg Load Carrying Equipment (LCE) with assault rifle.
- Speed march - This is a maximum effort assessment. Applicants can shuffle or walk during the assessment and are required to speed march for 90 minutes whilst wearing combat uniform, boots and 28 kg (basic load carrying equipment and field back-pack) with assault rifle. It is expected that applicants achieve a minimum distance of 10 kilometres.
- Special Forces Swim test - This is a maximum effort assessment. Applicants are required to tread water for 2 min and then swim 400m in 16 minutes or less using free-style, breaststroke or side-stroke swimming techniques whilst wearing combat uniform with runners.
The cognitive diagnostic assessment comprises:
- Land Warfare Doctrine Theory Assessment - 30 min assessment covering knowledge of SOCOMD and All Corps Soldier Skills.
- Land Warfare Doctrine Practical Assessment (Soldiers and Non-commissioned Officers only) - 2 min assessment per applicant, covering a field craft component that can be assessed in the time allocated with minimal resources (e.g. Target Indication).
- Quick Decision Exercise (Officer only) - 40 min assessment.
- Cognitive testing - This assessment is focused on scoping the applicants ability to learn and comprehend problem solving. This is to be supervised by a psychologist and should incorporate the following cognitive areas for assessment:
- Working memory
- Visual/learning and learning and memory
- Cognitive flexibility
- Problem solving
10 min applicant interview covering:
- Physical performance
- Theory and practical assessment performance
- Address/question any concerns that SFTC staff have about the applicants
- Background or personal circumstances (character, personal, offense history, family life, etc.)
- Feedback to applicant on preparation requirements for selection.
Additional information on physical requirements can be accessed on the SOFIT App, available on Android and iOS.
Candidates who do not pass the SFET and are not recommended by the Selection Advisory Committee will be encouraged to serve as a RAINF ECN 343 or undertake training for critical support trades within Special Forces (or within the general Army).
In summary, this phase of your training aims to get you to a point where you are assessed as suitable to commence the Commando Selection. It will take you at least 27 weeks to reach this point, depending on the length of your recruit training.
Commando Selection Course
The Commando Selection occurs over a period of 19 days and assesses selected ADF personnel who display potential to undertake initial Commando training and for future employment as a Commando within SOCOMD.
The Commando Selection course has been designed to be of sufficient duration, difficulty and intensity to replicate the mental and physical demands of operational environments in order for Commando Selection to provide a reasonable predictive metric of future performance in training and on operations. All Selection assessments are based on operational tasks and guided by an overarching tactical concept of operations, relevant to the conduct of Special Operations.
Throughout this training you will be assessed at the same standard as the other in-service members wishing to serve as a Commando.
Commando Reinforcement Training Cycle
On successful completion of the Commando Selection Course you will commence the Commando Reinforcement Training Cycle.
The Commando Reinforcement Training Cycle consists of the following:
- Human Performance Optimisation training
- Special Forces Military Roping Course
- Special Forces Airborne Roping Course
- Special Forces Weapons Course
- Commando Team Tactics Course
- Special Forces Advanced Close Quarter Battle Course
- Commando Urban Operations Course
- Special Forces Close Quarter Fighting Course
- Commando Demolitions and Breaching Course
- Special Forces Basic Parachute Course (including water insertion training)
- Commando Amphibious Operators Course
- Combat First Aiders Course/Commando Signaller Course
- Special Forces Combat Survival
This training is only the start. On the successful completion of your Commando Reinforcement Training Cycle and becoming a Commando, you will be expected to undertake a range of further Commando specialist courses. Below are just a sample of courses that you may be exposed to during subsequent Commando specialist training:
- Advanced Driving skills
- Mortar Operator
- Language training
- Special Forces Military Working Dog Handler
- Mountain and Cold Weather Operations
- Special Forces Sniper
- Armed Response Protection Team
- Joint Terminal Attack Control