April 10, 2014


Pick two golfers, both have to make the cut, low combined score wins.

We've got some books to give away, including this one (thanks to the publisher: Quercus):

Zero Six Bravo proves that too much secrecy over Special Forces is a bad thing (Damien Lewis, 3 April 2013 , Spectator)

Zero Six Bravo tells of 60 Special Forces operators forced to remain silent in the face of accusations of 'cowardice' and 'running away from the Iraqis' in the 2003 war. In the face of such savage media criticism, and being branded as 'incompetent cowards' who ran an 'operation cluster f___' in Iraq, the men who served in this epic mission had no way to tell their own side of the story and clear their names.

Why? For two main reasons. First, because the MOD operates a policy of 'neither confirm nor deny' anything regarding UK Special Forces. This extends to neither confirming nor denying the very existence of such elite units, let alone giving any details of operations. In addition to this the Special Forces operators themselves are expected to remain silent for life about their time in UK Special Forces, including any operations they undertook.

Imagine how that rankles, and especially in the case of the Iraq mission. In March 2003, days before the war proper began, M Squadron - sixty SBS and SAS operators - was ordered to penetrate 1,000 kilometres behind enemy lines to take the surrender of the 100,000-strong Iraqi 5th Corps. Unsurprisingly, they questioned whether this wasn't some kind of a suicide mission.

What reliance could they put upon British intelligence reports that the 5th Corps were 'poised to surrender' and that the area was 'relatively benign'?  When it proved to be wholly otherwise, M Squadron were sixty elite operators riding in a handful of light-skinned Land Rovers, facing a massive hunter force boasting all weaponry up to main battle tanks.

As they fought and evaded the enemy, it became clear that there was no dedicated air cover to provide air support, and not even enough airframes - Chinook helicopters - available to lift the scattered force out of the desert. By the time US warplanes were scrambled from the race-track pattern they were flying over Baghdad, M Squadron were so closely surrounded by the enemy that the aircrew found it impossible to 'deconflict' the battle space, so as to identify friendly from hostile forces. As a result they were unable to do any airstrikes, to aid a force of elite British operators surrounded, outgunned and facing death or capture.

It was left to M Squadron to escape the Iraqi forces, or die trying.

Incredibly, the M Squadron operators managed to get every man out alive. 


Posted by at April 10, 2014 6:10 PM

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