THE commando raiding party approaches the mud-walled qala, or compound, after a long night march from the helicopter insertion point.
As they move in with their infra-red laser sights beaming and their alien-like night vision "eyes" switched on, all hell breaks loose.
Shots ring out from within the qala as the Diggers from the Sydney based 2nd Commando Regiment assault the building. As a soldier pulls back the blanket covering the doorway, a young girl can be seen cowering on the floor.
Other troops move in and one yells a command in the local Pashto language.
For the first time since Australian special-forces troops arrived in Afghanistan in late 2001, video footage of their missions, filmed by the soldiers themselves, has been obtained by The Advertiser.
The extraordinary images, complete with death metal soundtrack, provide a rare insight into the classified operations of these secretive, elite troops whose identities are protected for national security reasons.
The video shows commandos conducting a night raid, breaching a wall and escorting prisoners of war off American helicopters.
The POW scenes possibly contravene the Geneva Conventions that says prisoners must be protected against insults and being made a "public curiosity".
Australian forces have already been the subject of an inquiry into the treatment of prisoners since Dutch forces left Oruzgan last year.
Soldiers from the Perth-based SAS and Commando Regiments fight in the Special Operations Task Group.
They have killed hundreds of enemy fighters and captured dozens more with just 12 of their own killed in action since 2002.
One Commando, Luke Worsley, died after he was shot at close range in 2007 while leading a raiding party - just like the one featured on the video - into a hostile qala.
That raid was part of Operation Peeler and by the end of the mission, according to the commando video, seven Taliban including two so-called MVIs or "medium value individuals" had been killed and several captured.
In 2007 the Defence Chief Angus Houston, visibly angered by a string of troop deaths, warned the Taliban leadership and bomb makers that Australian soldiers would "go after" them.
This video is proof that he wasn't bluffing and provides the first evidence of why the government and the brass do not want reporters and photographers travelling with special forces units in Afghanistan.
Night raids are the preferred technique because night vision technology gives the Diggers a significant edge in the darkness.
Strong ambient light in Afghanistan provides some targeting ability for the enemy, but inside the pitch black compounds the NVG provides a winning edge.
A qala's front door is often covered by a blanket and the most dangerous job for the Diggers is being first through the door. That was Luke Worsley's position when he was killed in action.
"They take a bead on the doorway and as soon as someone appears they open fire," one ex-soldier said.
The Digger's weapon of choice is the American made Colt M4 Carbine fitted with suppressors to absorb muzzle flash and partly silence the weapon.
According to one former SAS soldier things can get very noisy once the shooting starts.
Firing is a last resort for the highly trained soldiers who prefer to sneak in while everyone is asleep, quietly corral the women and children in a room and then wake up and detain the menfolk who often sleep in a separate room.
"They (Afghan men) sleep very heavily and sometimes you have to give them a `sternum rub' (knuckles to the sternum bone) to wake them up," the ex-soldier said.
He said the most dangerous time for the Australians was as they approached the qala when they had no idea whether they had been seen.
"Then when you are about to breach a door or wall you never know what is on the other side," the ex-trooper said.
"The enemy have very good `rat lines' (escape routes) and very effective communication networks.
"Leaving the compound is also dangerous, particularly if there has been noise."
SAS raiding parties deliberately try to avoid fire-fights.
Unlike the commandos, who adopt a more aggressive posture, the SAS men mostly consider it bad form if they get into a gunfight.
The former trooper said if a raid was planned and executed properly there should be no shots and no casualties on either side.
Unfortunately in war that doesn't always happen and three reserve commandos from the Melbourne-based 1st Commando Regiment will soon face serious charges including one for manslaughter, after five children and an adult died from a grenade explosion in 2009 during a night raid very similar to the one featured in the leaked footage.
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