British SAS – a famous special operation forces
The Special Air Service or SAS is a special forces regiment of the British Army that has served as a model for the special forces of other countries. This unit is one of most famous in world of special operation forces. The Special Air Service together with the Special Boat Service (SBS), Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) form the United Kingdom Special Forces under the command of the Director Special Forces.
While the Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War, they gained fame and recognition worldwide after successfully assaulting the Iranian Embassy and rescuing hostages during the 1980 Iranian Embassy Siege, lifting the regiment from obscurity outside the military establishment.
The Special Air Service comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment of the Regular Army, 21 Special Air Service Regiment and 23 Special Air Service Regiment provided by the Territorial Army. The three regiments’ tasks are special operations in wartime and primarily counter-terrorism in peacetime.
Since serving in Malaya, men from the regular army 22 SAS Regiment have taken part in covert reconnaissance and surveillance by patrols and some larger scale raiding missions in Borneo. A operation against communist guerillas included the Battle of Mirbat in the Oman. They have also taken part in operations in the Aden Emergency, Northern Ireland, and Gambia. Their Special projects team assisted the West German counter-terrorism group GSG 9 at Mogadishu. During the Falklands War D and G squadrons were deployed and participated in the raid on Pebble Island. Operation Flavius was an anti–terrorist operation in Gibraltar against the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). The SAS counter terrorist wing famously took part in a hostage rescue operation during the Iranian Embassy Siege in London. They directed NATO aircraft onto Serb positions and hunted war criminals in Bosnia.
The Gulf War, in which A, B and D squadrons deployed, was the largest SAS mobilisation since the Second World War, also notable for the failure of the Bravo Two Zero mission. In Sierra Leone they took part in Operation Barras, a hostage rescue operation, to extract members of the Royal Irish Regiment. In the Iraq War, they formed part of Task Force Black and Task Force Knight, with A Squadron 22 SAS being singled out for exceptional service by General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander of NATO forces: during a six month tour they carried out 175 combat missions. In 2006 members of the SAS were involved in the rescue of peace activists Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden. The three men had been held hostage in Iraq for 118 days during the Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis. Operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan involved soldiers from 21 and 23 SAS Regiments.
Following the post-war reconstitution of the Special Air Service, other countries in the Commonwealth recognised a need for a Special Forces type unit. Australia formed the 1st SAS Company in July 1957, which became a full regiment the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in August 1964. The New Zealand Special Air Service squadron was formed in 1954 to serve with the British SAS in Malaya. On their return from Malaya, the C (Rhodesian) Squadron formed the basis for creation of the Rhodesian Special Air Service in 1961.
Non-commonwealth countries have also formed units based on the SAS. Impressed by the Australian SASR methods in Vietnam, American General William Westmoreland ordered the formation of a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) unit in each infantry brigade, modeled on the SASR. Another American unit, Delta Force, owes its formation to the SAS, its founder Charles Alvin Beckwith having served with 22 SAS as an exchange officer from the United States Army. It is claimed the Israeli Sayeret Matkal was also modelled on the SAS and even shares the same “who dares wins” motto. The French 1st Airborne Marine Infantry Regiment can trace its origins to the Second World War 3rd and 4th SAS, also adopting their “Who dares wins” motto.
They have a huge amount of missions around the globe, and today they are a first pick in british counter terrorism policy.