Phantoms of the Mountains

But in Afghanistan, Australian special forces were something of a novelty to their US commanders. On one map in the main US command center in Afghanistan, they were denoted by a cut-out picture of Australian celebrity crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin. "It was pretty disheartening, says one trooper. "The way they did use us was very inappropriate.''

From interviews with former soldiers and one of the taskforce's senior intelligence officers, Time can reveal how US commanders underestimated - and underutilized - the SAS's core ability to go deep behind enemy lines and gather key intelligence....