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Tunnel Rats vs the Taliban

The year 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the original Australian Tunnel Rats arrival in Vietnam, one year after Australian troops were withdrawn from active duty in Afghanistan. Although on the face of it these two conflicts, separated by half a century, could scarcely be more different, for Sappers - army engineers - it has been very familiar territory. For a start, as in Vietnam, Sappers in Afghanistan have suffered a proportionately greater death toll than any other Army unit, with 20 per cent of the fatalities coming from engineer ranks. And, just as Australian troops as a whole in Vietnam suffered greatly from recycled landmines and other booby traps, in Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for almost one third of all deaths. Dig a little deeper and the connections are stronger. The soldiering methods pioneered in Vietnam, such as using small teams of engineers attached to infantry patrols, are used to great effect in Afghanistan. And, yes, the Taliban have tunnels and caves too, just as the Viet Cong did, and the same skills are required to investigate and neutralise them. Tunnel Rats vs the Taliban employs the personal recollections of serving and recently returned Sappers to show how, in this most modern of wars, the skills acquired and developed in Vietnam have stood Australian troops in good stead. Using extensive and detailed interviews with a number of Sappers who served there, we follow the progress of the engineers, from why they became Sappers in the first place to how it felt pulling out for the last time.
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Table of Contents

Maps of Afghanistan and Uruzgan provinceList of abbreviations and acronymsForeword by Major General John Cantwell AO, DSC (Ret'd)Prologue: The Tunnel Rat legacyIntroduction: Sappers in Afghanistan1: Operation Salaam2: The rise of the Taliban3: Hunting bin Laden4: Follow the sapper5: Live . . . move . . . fight6: Backyard Blitz7: Moving on8: Special ops and local cops9: On patrol with special forces10: Under fire11: Holding ground12: Taking on a tech killer13: The horror of war14: Clear, hold, build15: All change16: Front-line females17: Heavy duties18: The dogs of war19: The 'good' war20: Hard yards and Hescos21: Life and death with special forces22: Moving targets23: Into Helmand24: Building relationships25: The Day of the Well26: 21st-century Tunnel Rats27: Fatal attraction28: Trainers and turncoats29: Wounded warriors30: Was it worth it?Afterword: Beating the retreatGlossaryAcknowledgementsFurther reading

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The extraordinary story of Australian sappers on the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan.

About the Author

JIMMY THOMSON is a journalist, author and screenwriter. He is the author of Snitch, Watto and Wendell Sailor: Crossing the line, and co- wrote Tunnel Rats and A Sappers' War with Sandy MacGregor. As a young captain SANDY MACGREGOR, a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, commanded the original Tunnel Rats of 3 Field Troop in Vietnam and was awarded the Military Cross. He served in the Army for 30 years, finishing as a colonel in the Reserves.


Colonel Sandy McGregor knows his stuff. * Herald Sun * Extraordinary... Inspiring and action packed. * Queensland Times *

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