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Historic glimpse inside Australia's secretive and elite Special Air Service -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: An official documentary on Australia's elite special air service regiment will be launched today, offering a rare glimpse inside the secretive military unit.

The DVD history features interviews with former and serving SAS members giving new insights into their dangerous and clandestine operations.

Here's the ABC's defence and national security reporter Andrew Greene.

(Excerpt from documentary)

VOICEOVER: For over fifty years, the Australian SAS has put their lives at risk deep in enemy territory.

(End of excerpt)

ANDREW GREENE: Since 1957 Australia's Special Air Service soldiers have deployed to the world's most dangerous conflicts.

Serving under the motto "Who Dares Wins" they usually shun publicity.

Now, for the first time, they've sanctioned an official documentary of their fighting and peacekeeping activities - covering the elite unit's gruelling training techniques:

(Excerpt from documentary)

SAS SERVICEMAN: I made a few mistakes during my interrogation process and was thrown into a pool with your pillow case over your head and a noose tied around my waist.

SAS SERVICEMAN 2: We were taken to 10,000 feet and just thrown out and to sort ourselves out quick smart. The sky, the ground, the sky, the ground, the sky, the ground, the sky, the ground and you just tumbled.

ANDREW GREENE: Unusual dining practices.

SAS SERVICEMAN 3: You eat rat, you get to eat boiled animal blood... umm, anything that's got any nutrition, you'll eat it!

ANDREW GREENE: And the confronting experiences of war zones:

SAS SERVICEMAN 4: And she was just sitting there with blood dripping and not saying a word. We had no idea where to start, everybody had horrific injuries like this and there were hundreds.

(End of excerpt)

ANDREW GREENE: The 11 part series is the work of documentary maker Dr Bruce Horsfield.

BRUCE HORSFIELD: I started 20 years ago, lost a few years here and there, like after 9-11 it was shelved, and various other interruptions. It doesn't take long to roll the years up, that's for sure.

ANDREW GREENE: Dr Horsfield, a former special operations soldier himself, has also documented the post traumatic stress suffered by SAS veterans, and the toll it takes on families.

BRUCE HORSFIELD: People who have been very frank to camera talking about their symptoms, about the effect on the family, how they suddenly lose it with the children and the children are puzzled as to why they've lost it and why their parent's so bad tempered. It's quite a story.

ANDREW GREENE: Australia's former Special Operations Commander, Major General Mike Hindmarsh says the project is of unquestionable historical importance

MIKE HINDMARSH: We have an obligation to the public to let them know a little about this quite outstanding unit and also I have an obligation to my soldiers and all those soldiers that proceeded the current generation over the last 50 years to give them the recognition that they deserve.

ANDREW GREENE: Governor General and former Defence Force Chief Peter Cosgrove will officially launch the documentary series today.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And that's Andrew Greene with that report.