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Category: Air support

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1 Airfield Defence Squadron RAAF

1AFDS Crest

'First to Defend'

No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron is responsible for the ground defence, protection and security of RAAF installations, assets, facilities and personnel.



Unit History

The origins of No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron (1AFDS) lie in the Second World War with the Security Guard Unit (SGU) formed at Livingston Airfield, Northern Territory on 1 October 1942. On 5 October 1942 all guards at operational bases, advanced operational bases, radio stations and non-operational units were posted to this Unit.

old unit crest
(1945 RAAF Airfield Defence Identification Patch)

The Unit's role was to centralise the administration and standardise the training of security guards and to provide a mobile body of guards that would be available in any emergency.

 The Unit was responsible for providing the operational air bases in Australia and in the South Pacific with trained and competent guards that could defend the bases against Japanese attacks.

SGU was relocated to Nightcliff on 13 June 1943 and saw operational service during World War 2 in support of units throughout the South Pacific. Of particular note is services rendered by Special Task Force that served under command Z Force, two members of which 1AFDS were later awarded MBEs.

The unit in August 1943 had a strength of 5 officers and 1021 airmen. SGU was renamed No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron on 1 April 1945 but was disbanded on 19 November 1945 following the cessation of hostilities. The musterings that served in the Squadron were Airfield Defence Officers (ADO), Aerodrome Defence Instructors (ADI), and Guards.

In 1950 the RAAF Air Board proposed that No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron should be reformed at RAAF Mallala, in South Australia, to provide training to National Service personnel in airfield defence duties. No. 1 Aerodrome Defence Squadron was subsequently raised at Mallala on 25 June 1951. 

The term 'Airfield' was replaced with 'Aerodrome' by the Air Board in May 1951. 

SQN photo 1950's
The Unit conducted National Service training until its disbandment in March 1953. The reason for the name change from Airfield to Aerodrome is unclear, however it may be related to the Aerodrome Defence Instructor mustering at the core of the Unit.
No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron was reformed on 01 July 1992 at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory. The Unit was formed to provide the third phase of Full Time Service (FTS) training to 180 airmen and officers recruited into the Air Force under the Ready Reserve Scheme (RRES). 

The Unit's role on formation was 'to assist with the protection of the northern bases in contingencies', however, on 30 June 1992 the Unit's role was amended to the 'ground defence, protection and security of RAAF installations, assets, facilities and personnel'.

Unit reformation
NBCD Training In the period 1992 to 1996 1AFDS assumed responsibility for the Part Time Service (PTS) training of RRES personnel as well as Full Time Service training.

 In 1996 a change in government policy saw the termination of the RRES scheme and the introduction of the Ground Defence Reserve Group (GRDefRG), but represented little change in either the role or organisation of 1AFDS. 

In 1998-1999 1AFDS renewed its relationship with South Australia when it relocated to RAAF Base Edinburgh, coincidentally only 25km from the site of the now disestablished RAAF Mallala. 

1AFDS officially stood to in the Unit's new facilities on 1 January 1999. In 1999, with the government decision to send Australian Military Forces to East Timor (EM), 1AFDS received an increase in establishment enabling the raising of two permanent Flights (Rifle and QRF) and a resultant change in unit structure. The Unit now consists of a Headquarters, two permanent Flights, two Cadre Flights, a Support Flight and four GRDefRG PTS Flights one each in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania. The unit establishment has increased to 248 airmen and officers including support staff.
In 1999, 16 Reserve Airfield Defence Guards from 1AFDS deployed on Operation Warden/Stabilise (East Timor) under the command of No 2 Airfield Defence Squadron (2AFDS). 

These Airmen have been awarded the Australian Active Service Medal and wear the Meritorious Unit Citation with Federation Star as recognition of their service with 2AFDS in East Timor.

Timor acclimatisation

1AFDS in 2002....

1AFDS is a composite Squadron consisting of approximately 100 airmen and officers from the Permanent Air Force and 148 airmen and officers from the Ground Defence Reserve Group. The Squadron permanent elements are: the Headquarters, Rifle Flight, Quick Reaction Force Flight, the Support Flight, and two Cadre Flights. The Reserve elements are four Rifle Flights located in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
The Squadron provides its parent Headquarters with a number of flexible response options involving PAF personnel only, or a mix of PAF and GRDefRG personnel. 

Operations in East Timor showed that ADG Reservists have the training and the temperament to operated professionally and seamlessly with their PAF counterparts. In fact, 1AFDS Reserve personnel are on the highest degree of readiness within the ADF after those serving in Reserve Special Forces Units.

fire position
Patrolling No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron and its sister squadron, No 3 Airfield Defence Squadron are unique in that they are the only Air Force units that are truly composite in nature, combining Permanent Air Force personnel and Reservists into a single combat-focussed team.

Today, 1AFDS trains with the aim of being the best at what it does by ensuring that all members of the Unit have pride in what they do and a clear focus on the task ahead. All members of 1AFDS, both PAF and Reservist, are key to the future success of the Unit, and all are an integral part of the RAAF's ability to project and sustain Air Power in defence of Australia and her interests.

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces