For gallantry and leadership in action as a Commando Team Commander, of the Special Operations Task Group – Task Force 637, whilst deployed on Operation SLIPPER Rotation Three Afghanistan, May – September 2006.
Corporal Brett Mathew Wood enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on the 13th of February 1996 and was allocated to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. He later successfully completed Commando training and was posted to the 4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) in 1998. Corporal Wood’s operational experience includes deployments on Operations BEL ISI, TANAGER, FALCONER and SLIPPER.
On the 17th of July 2006 during Operation PERTH, the Commando Platoon was tasked to conduct the clearance of an Anti Coalition Militia sanctuary in the Chora Valley, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. The Platoon was partnered in support of an Infantry Company of the United States Army 10th Mountain Division. At approximately 1 pm the Infantry Company came under heavy rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire on multiple flanks resulting in six wounded and one soldier killed in action, effectively halting their advance. Through thick vegetation, facing large numbers of dispersed Anti Coalition Militia and under heavy fire, the Commando Platoon commenced manoeuvring to provide assistance to the element which was pinned down. During this move the Commando Platoon received a volley of four rockets which impacted in the centre of the platoon’s position resulting in six Australian soldiers wounded in action, a loss to the platoon by one third of its force. Unknown to the Commander at the time, Corporal Wood had also been wounded in the foot by fragmentation from the rocket propelled grenade barrage.
In order to regain the initiative, Corporal Wood’s team was tasked by the Commando Platoon Commander to assault forward and clear a group of compounds from which they were receiving Anti Coalition Militia fire. Under these daunting conditions Corporal Wood commenced this task without hesitation, completing a rapid and aggressive clearance of numerous threat compounds. Once achieved, both the United States and Australian elements were free to continue with the battle providing the necessary time to effect the back loading of the wounded by helicopter to the Forward Operating Base.
Throughout the afternoon, numerous and relentless probing attacks by a determined opponent followed. Corporal Wood displayed extraordinary leadership and courage, inspiring his team and the remainder of the Commando platoon to repel the continued attacks. He then successfully led a marksmanship team to infiltrate the Anti Coalition Militia held territory killing seven Anti Coalition Militia. Only after the engagement had been completed and the threat to the platoon subsided did Corporal Wood inform his Commander of the fragmentation wound that he had sustained during the original contact earlier that day. Corporal Wood was then evacuated to the Casualty Collection Point where he was provided with medical treatment and later extracted.
Corporal Wood’s actions on the 17th of July 2006, as a Commando Team Commander during Operation PERTH, were testament to his leadership, fortitude and sense of duty to his team and the platoon. His determination to continue to lead his team during the battle in extremely hazardous circumstances despite being wounded ensured that the Commando Platoon regained the initiative and contributed significantly to a decisive victory. His gallantry and leadership in the face of the enemy has been of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of Special Operations Command Australia, the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.