SAS: the chosen few who are a force like no other

Ravage

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journali...chosen-few-who-are-a-force-like-no-other.html

SAS_1880087c.jpg
A hostage jumps across the balcony of the Iranian embassy in 1980, covered by a SAS commando Photo: AFP/Getty


There was a global intake of breath last month, when an SAS mission to make contact with the Libyan rebels unravelled in humiliating fashion. The fact that the world’s most fabled special forces unit was brought low by a group of farmers was, according to one former commander, like Lewis Hamilton going out of the British Grand Prix on the first lap.

Since the pre-eminent skills of the Special Air Service first came to the world’s attention on the balconies of the Iranian embassy 31 years ago, the regiment has been transformed from a little-known ace up the military’s sleeve to the superstar of the special forces world, home to soldiers of supreme guile and ruthlessness.

“Many are called, but few are chosen” is a phrase often quoted during SAS selection – some solace for the 90 per cent who fail to get through. The six-month process is regarded as the most arduous in the world: candidates undertake a month of running over the Welsh mountains with 50lb loads, culminating in the 40-mile Endurance march, then spend weeks in the jungle, suffering dehydration and deprivation, followed by another course in escape and evasion, culminating in tests of resistance to interrogation.

This produces men who do not understand the concept of defeat, who defy taking “no” for an answer, and who have built an enviable reputation for their country. For America, the SAS and their colleagues in the Special Boat Service are one of the two great strategic assets we have to offer, alongside our nuclear deterrent. The first words that come from the mouths of US generals visiting Britain – such as David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, both from special forces backgrounds – are of praise for the SAS.

They saw the effect that a few score troopers had in Baghdad during the darkest days. It was the SAS who took the fight to the enemy, who “neutralised” al-Qaeda operatives, Sunni insurgents and Shia militias with ruthless efficiency. In the past year, the SAS has worked its way through the Taliban high command, taking out its members on an “industrial scale”.


No surprise, then, that there was some choice debate in SAS circles when David Cameron, in his early days at No 10, allowed a US Seal team to rescue Linda Norgrove, a Scottish aid worker kidnapped by the Taliban. It ended disastrously, after she was killed by a hand grenade thrown by one of the US troops. The commando in question had form for such antics – which, had he been in the SAS, would already have led to instant dismissal.
Recently, the Coalition has come to appreciate the SAS’s qualities: the defence review significantly increased special forces funding, to somewhere between
£2 billion and £3 billion – almost a tenth of the MoD budget. Yet at the same time, finding the right personnel is becoming increasingly difficult. As we reported yesterday, a letter from the Director of Infantry has bemoaned a shortfall in the number of recruits coming through.
This recruiting crisis is in part down to the fact that young men eager for combat find their thirst slaked by a tour of Helmand, in which they will engage in far more firefights than their SAS colleagues. “I don’t need to go back,” one told me. “I’ve had my Hemingway moments.” Another asked: “Why do six months of selection hell, when you get all the fighting you want in one tour?”
However, the work of the SAS is of a different order entirely. It produces outstanding leaders: six out of the Army’s 36 infantry battalions are commanded by Hereford men. Yet it is probably the most democratic military unit in existence. Most decisions are taken after a “Chinese parliament”, in which every trooper has his say. Officers have refused orders if they think them unsafe, as one did when told to storm an airfield on the Argentine mainland during the Falklands War.
The service also attracts the eccentric. One squadron invited an artist (and former Para) to Baghdad to paint an assault on a house containing an al-Qaeda operative. The resulting canvas is now said to hang in the officers’ mess in Hereford.
And, in the week of the royal wedding, it’s pertinent to recount how two SAS soldiers changed the fate of a nation. Within hours of Prince William’s mother being married, one unfortunate attendee – Sir Dawda Jawadra, the president of Gambia – found himself out of office after rebels staged a coup in his absence. Two SAS men were sent out, picked up weapons in Senegal, then proceeded, with the help of some Senagalese paratroopers, to retake the airport and the radio station, secure the capital, rescue the president’s wife, and restore order in time for Sir Dawdra’s triumphant arrival.
Light forces that can operate with such gumption behind enemy lines are one of Britain’s most valuable military assets. They are also something we should do everything we can to hold on to.
 

Poccington

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Wow, a bit of speculation in there what.

Too fucking right, according to the article....

1. The SAS lads are single handedly taking down AQ

2. Two of the lads halted the overthrow of a country

3. SEAL's apparently allow people to operate within their teams who have a history of killing journalists with grenades.

Whoever wrote the above article, is a complete fucking moron and takes the definition of journalism, turns it on it's head, pisses on it and makes it go on a 3 day bender with Joey Fritzl.
 

SpitfireV

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The British press LOVE the SAS though- like, "the Press and the SAS up a tree..." kind of loving.

Someone from the SAS could tell them that they lift 6000kg weights and run 500 miles before killing 10 terrorists (and this is only before breakfast) and they'll believe it.
 

DasBoot

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The commando in question had form for such antics – which, had he been in the SAS, would already have led to instant dismissal.

Shit talking much? We hear a lot about the SAS, and not a whole lot about the SBS and the role they played in Afghanistan before most everyone else was there.
PS This is wannabe civilian talk- I know none of this from first hand knowledge! Nor am I talking shit about the SAS- but the guy who wrote this.
 

AWP

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Sometimes I wonder why we're even worked up over "news" like this. Journalists rarely report about SOF in a truthful manner. Part of that is due to the nature of SOF and part of it is the love of gossip and rumor in a tabloid. "If it bleeds, it leads" and some version "OMG, did you hear about LiLo?" apply to any topic.

The people who want to know about SOF will sort out the wheat from the chaff (except for the eternal wannabes and l33t airsofters who bicker and fight over the details on websites I won't name) and those who only view it in passing will forget most of the story in the time it takes to make toast in the morning. Sure, they may wind up repeating the nonsense, but to who? Another person who hasn't a clue about SOF and never will?

The public will always have a Guns of Navarrone/ Rambo/ Navy SEALs with Charlie Sheen view of SOF and no article will change that, especially for someone who has never worn a uniform.
 

DasBoot

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Sometimes I wonder why we're even worked up over "news" like this. Journalists rarely report about SOF in a truthful manner. Part of that is due to the nature of SOF and part of it is the love of gossip and rumor in a tabloid. "If it bleeds, it leads" and some version "OMG, did you hear about LiLo?" apply to any topic.

The people who want to know about SOF will sort out the wheat from the chaff (except for the eternal wannabes and l33t airsofters who bicker and fight over the details on websites I won't name) and those who only view it in passing will forget most of the story in the time it takes to make toast in the morning. Sure, they may wind up repeating the nonsense, but to who? Another person who hasn't a clue about SOF and never will?

The public will always have a Guns of Navarrone/ Rambo/ Navy SEALs with Charlie Sheen view of SOF and no article will change that, especially for someone who has never worn a uniform.

Good points
 

pbkenne

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Most of what the press write about the SAS is crap! I know firsthand. For example, when Ran Fiennes, my old squadron commander wrote the Feathermen, the Press took it as gospel. I read an account in Private Eye of SAS torture techniques where we could extract somebody's intestines! Crap! All crap and exaggeration. As those who served know, most ops have Mr. Cockup very close behind. All this supermen stuff is bollocks!
 

Marauder06

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They saw the effect that a few score troopers had in Baghdad during the darkest days. It was the SAS who took the fight to the enemy, who “neutralised” al-Qaeda operatives, Sunni insurgents and Shia militias with ruthless efficiency. In the past year, the SAS has worked its way through the Taliban high command, taking out its members on an “industrial scale”.

This is complete bullshit. The SAS was an important, but VERY small part of the overall SOF footprint in Iraq. It would have been more accurate, and would have done the SAS no disservice, to have stated, "The SAS helped take the fight to the enemy, working as part of the American-led SOF Task Force to neutralize... etc."

And by the way, everyone in Afghanistan is working their way through the Taliban on "an industrial scale," the problem is they keep coming. And besides, the strategic-level enemy, upon which national SOF should be focused, are the Haqqani Network and foreign fighters (and the ISI, but they're synonymous with the first two groups I mentioned).

All in all, I give this article a big :rolleyes::thumbsdown:
 

Konan

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Most of what the press write about the SAS is crap! I know firsthand. For example, when Ran Fiennes, my old squadron commander wrote the Feathermen, the Press took it as gospel. I read an account in Private Eye of SAS torture techniques where we could extract somebody's intestines! Crap! All crap and exaggeration. As those who served know, most ops have Mr. Cockup very close behind. All this supermen stuff is bollocks!

The Press took it as gospel because his publisher made statements to the fact that the book was based on real events.
And in all the years since old Ranulph has remained coy and cagey when asked directly if the story is true or not.
When the recent movie: The Killer Elite (Title nicked from Robert Rostand's novel and Sam Peckinpah's movie) based on Ranulph's book The Feathermen was released it started the 'fact or fiction' questions again, and again Ranulph was very cagey with his answers.

Don't get me wrong, I think Ranulph is one tough dude, and like the SAS men of old, a bit of an eccentric in some respects.
It would just be nice if he finally admitted The Feathermen was a complete work of fiction.
 
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