SAS (Special Air Service Regiment 22 SASR)
The British Special Air Service Regiment (22 SASR) is considered by some to be the toughest and most effective counterterrorism/counterinsurgency command in the world. SAS is highly secretive and operates both domestically and internationally. The SAS operates similar to its German (GSG 9) and American (DELTA, SEAL Team 6) counterparts, fulfilling many of the same functions. The SASR was involved with allied efforts towards the end of WWII and was used heavily by the British during intense IRA conflict in the 1980’s and 1990’s. SAS teams are organized similar to SEAL teams with low numbers of operatives that include command, assault, and sniper personnel. SAS personnel are hailed as the most experienced and successful at resolving hostage and hijacking situations.. SAS members are known to train with live ammo to heighten the effect of exercises. SAS operatives also undergo survivalist training and combat instruction under extreme conditions.
The SASR was created by British military officer David Sterling in 1941. Sterling envisioned a specialized group that could assist with allied stealth operations during the North Africa campaign. The SASR struggled at first, losing dozens of men on its first mission. It soon developed, however, into an expert fighting group that stood on call for the British military. The SASR has undergone renaming and restructuring since its inception, even a disbanding and then a revival as the 21st Battalion, Army Air Corps, SAS in 1947. After its revival in 1947, the unit is referred to as the SAS.
In 1981 Gambian president Jawda Dawara visited England on a diplomatic endeavor. During the president’s absence, leftist rebels mustered a coup and ousted the government. The rebels also captured the president’s wife and children. British military officials were concerned with the situation and especially with British citizens at risk from the violence in Gambia. Four SAS operatives were assigned to enter Gambia, secure the president’s family and at-risk British citizens and then quietly work to put Jawda’s government back in control. The operatives worked closely with local government forces and quickly reinstated the president’s authority. Using well-planned disguises and a series of brilliant negotiations, the British agents successfully rescued the presidential family and endangered British subjects. The Gambian operation is highly regarded as one of the most successful counterinsurgency efforts of the 20th century.
Current action/important events or cases:
The most recent publicized action undertaken by the SAS occurred during the Iraq war and counterterrorism efforts. The SAS worked closely with allied partners to suppress terrorism activities and capture wanted leaders.