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ConfusedKid's avatar

SAS importance in recent and past conflicts?

Asked by ConfusedKid (153points) May 20th, 2010

So basically – im behind (3 weeks on my history project) and need opinions and links to other sites that could help me with my question…
So, do you think the SAS have been very important in conflicts such as WW2, The Falklands, First Gulf War, War on Terror (Afghanistan) and the invasion of Iraq (2003 – I think?).
So if you come across anything to do with these – please send me the link but if you know anything then just post a comment! Thanks.

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9 Answers

Bugabear's avatar

Well the problem with all those clandestine, black ops types is that you aren’t supposed to know what they’re up to. Although in my opinion they’ve been extremely useful. In WW2 they supported Allied forces. They also did the whole Iranian embassy siege thing and with out them all the other worlds special forces wouldn’t be as well trained. And it should be noted that their specialty is in counter guerrilla tactics and long term reconnaissance. They also do a lot of body guarding for the British Government and handle any CT stuff. More info here. I’m assuming you’ve looked at Wikipedia. You should also look at this TV show.

majorrich's avatar

Worked with them pretty close in Desert Storm (Gulf 1). Great bunch of guys. VERY well trained, Great conditioning, work and play well with others. Not allowed to tell you any more.

TexasDude's avatar

They kicked the shit out of Awn Ali Mohammed’s guys during the Iranian Embassy Siege. They are pretty famous for that incident.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Bugabear The SAS isn’t Black Ops, they are elite troops. They are attached to the military, not intelligence agencies.

mammal's avatar

The SAS are a highly motivated elite group, peerless, adaptable and unorthodox, no other country has such an effective force. They are are carefully selected on the basis of mental aptitude rather than physical prowess, the selection process is arduous physically but challenging mentally. They come in and out of prominence depending upon political circumstances often in the past having to justify their existence and funding to the British Government, having to fight for survival as a regiment in peacetime let alone in actual operations in the field.

The SAS culture is unique, the complete antithesis of conventional, regimental military life, they are self disciplined, realistic, democratic, pragmatic, adventurous, independent, eccentric and refreshingly bullshit free. The SAS were particularly effective in covert operations in Malaya and Borneo where they countered the influence of insurgency by winning the hearts and minds of local inhabitants, offering medical treatment, listening to their concerns and responding sympathetically to their basic requirements. The reality of the SAS is most of their time is spent tediously gathering intelligence, in hostile uncomfortable environments or training, despite the glamorising of the legendary skirmishes and battles they have fought over the years. So on that basis they were and are effective, no missile can distinguish friend from foe, technology and sophistication will only get you so far, no country bar Japan has ever been bombed into submission. So yes, special forces have been effective to varying degrees depending upon the nature of the conflict.

All in all, for a group of soldiers that are not ideologically driven and not overly paid they are surprisingly resolute. Having said all that the mystique of the SAS, the derring-do and the ventures, often eclipse the dubious ethical nature of their deployment, which is frequently to brutally suppressed militant activity of an ideological nature, wheresoever it should adversely affect British Post Colonial interests.

Ultimately they are bad ass in ways Americans could only dream of, they are to Soldiering and gun play what Brazil is to soccer.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

While I appreciate @mammal s patriotism, the US Special Operations Command is no slouch either. They operate on different cultural principles; the US being more reliant on high technology and massive logistical support, the SAS due to budgetary constraints being more “grassroots” and improvisational. I remember almost 20 years ago in the Gulf there was a shortage of Claymore mines for perimeter defense; the SAS, unable to get any, improvised their own out of C4 and ice cream cartons.

The SAS wrote the book on long range reconnaissance and counterterrorism ops. The US SOG (Vietnam era) and Delta Group (1979-present) are directly based on the SAS model. Col. Beckwith, founder of Delta, served with the SAS in the early 60s.

Post-Vietnam, the US Special Forces were forced to become “super conventional” in order to survive politically, they are now slowly returning to the SAS culture of low key and minimal bullshit, garrison life is still thoroughly spit and polish though; the SAS have never been subject to conventional inspections and formations.

Both groups select candidates based on intelligence, resourcefulness, determination and physical toughness. They both tend to have a minimum number of commissioned officers, making much more use of NCOs than conventional units (the minimum rank for a candidate to US Army Special Forces selection is E-5).

Mat74UK's avatar

I think I remember something about them being born out of the LRDG (Long Range desert Group) by Lt Col David Stirling during WWII.
So I searched for that and found these:

Bugabear's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh My bad. Although I thought they also got bossed around by MI5 through GCHQ.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@Mat74UK the story goes like this: as its acronym suggested, the SAS at it’s birth in North Africa intended to paradrop near it’s objectives. Night drops in the desert were beyond the techniques of the time, and the first raids were disasters. But they soon discovered the capabilities the LRDG had and began to use them as transport and logistical support.

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