Special forces win the right to take their secrets to the grave

Ravage

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Special forces win the right to take their secrets to the grave




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Michael Evans, Defence Editor



All members of the special forces are to be guaranteed anonymity in death as well as throughout their lives as part of a new move to raise morale in the country’s most elite military units, The Times has learnt.
Defence sources said that the head of the special forces had intervened to demand a new no-identity policy because of concerns that morale was being damaged.

Coroners at inquests into the deaths of special forces’ members are to be told only to refer to them as Soldier A or Soldier B.

Families of members of the SAS and Special Boat Service (SBS) killed on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan or elsewhere had expressed anger that the Ministry of Defence appeared to have sanctioned the publishing of their names. They made it clear that having been obliged to maintain absolute secrecy about the role of their husbands, fathers or other relatives, it was unacceptable for names to be published after their deaths, making them vulnerable to unwelcome media attention.

Defence sources said that the SAS (motto "Who Dares Wins") and SBS ("By Strength and Guile") felt that it was wrong for their members to be treated like any other ordinary regiment when someone was killed.



The MoD seems to have been taken by surprise by the vehemence of the demands for anonymity in perpetuity. With the SAS and SBS playing crucial undercover roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, any suggestion of damaged morale has had to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

The surprise resignation last year of the commanding officer of 22 SAS, the Special Air Service’s regular army regiment, had been another cause of dismay. He had been a popular commander but defence sources said that he had a brush with the army hierarchy over his habit of going out on secret missions with his men when he visited Iraq, something that was frowned upon.

Highly attractive salaries offered by private security companies, particularly in Iraq, had also lured a number of key personnel away from the special forces. Although defence sources insisted this was not as a result of poor morale in the SAS and SBS, the offers of up to £800 a day to serve as private bodyguards in Iraq caused concerns at a time when the demand for Britain’s special forces’ expertise has never been greater.
Now a new policy keeping the names of SAS and SBS men secret for ever is expected to be announced by the Government later this month. The MoD and the Ministry of Justice have been involved in the secret discussions.

The intervention of the new Director Special Forces who is, for the first time, a major-general – the appointment in the past has been held by a lower-ranked brigadier – seems to have been the crucial factor.
He is understood to have pointed out that all the members of the elite units have to sign a strict confidentiality agreement which bans them from ever writing or speaking about their clandestine missions. In return, he felt that the MoD owed it to them to keep their names secret, even after their deaths.

The confidentiality contracts were introduced after several books were written by former special forces soldiers about their careers. The most notable one was Bravo Two Zero, the blockbuster by Andy McNab about a failed SAS mission in the 1991 Gulf War.

The MoD has always maintained an official policy of never commenting about special forces operations. However, whenever the SAS or SBS have been engaged in a particular incident, with subsequent fatalities, the involvement of special forces troops has often leaked out. As a consequence, the MoD has allowed the names of individual members of the special forces to be published posthumously, although the traditional policy has been to give a serviceman’s original unit, such as The Parachute Regiment or Royal Marines.

The last incident in which members of the SAS were killed was on November 20 when two soldiers from the regiment died in an RAF Puma helicopter crash near Baghdad. Normally, like any other Service personnel killed on operational duty, they would have been identified. However, for the first time, neither of the two SAS men was named, indicating that the new policy has effectively already started.

The decision to promote the Director Special Forces from brigadier to major-general followed the significant expansion of the organisation under his command. The SAS and SBS have been joined in the past 20 months by the newly formed Special Forces Support Group, which is based around the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment, and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), expert in covert surveillance.

However, the only other special forces unit that is expected to be covered by the proposed anonymity-in-perpetuity policy is the SRR, whose members picked up their surveillance skills during undercover missions against terrorists in Northern Ireland.
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Covert missions in Iraq and Afghanistan

— The SAS has responsibility for covert missions in Iraq, hunting al-Qaeda fighters, alongside its American counterparts
— The most important SAS mission in Iraq was its part in uncovering the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein’s two sons, Uday and Qusay, in Mosul in 2003
— It is claimed that up to seven SAS men have been killed in Iraq. One of those was a signals expert who was on the RAF Hercules shot down by ground fire while flying from Baghdad to Balad, a US base, in January 2005, with the loss of ten British servicemen
— The SBS is mostly operating in Afghanistan
— The most important SBS mission in Afghanistan was in 2001, when al-Qaeda and Taleban detainees held in an old fort at Qala-i-Jangi seized weapons and went on the rampage. A small unit played a key role in fighting back and saving the life of a captured CIA man. The NCO who commanded the unit was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour
— Both the SAS and SBS were involved in flushing out hundreds of al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters from their cave hideouts in eastern Afghanistan in late 2001
— The SAS and SBS were also involved in the search for Osama bin Laden during the same period



http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3134322.ece
 

eroo

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Ya that is great.Now deceased soldiers can get the recognition of being SAS/SBS and at the same time remain anonymous
 

275ANGER!

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The surprise resignation last year of the commanding officer of 22 SAS, the Special Air Service’s regular army regiment, had been another cause of dismay. He had been a popular commander but defence sources said that he had a brush with the army hierarchy over his habit of going out on secret missions with his men when he visited Iraq, something that was frowned upon.

Now that is a Commander, actually getting dirty with his boys. Regular Army commanders will never understand, they just need to butt out.
 

JBS

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Great article.

I've often thought the same thing, quietly to myself, when reading casualty reports that mentioned elite units.
 
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