Bob Shepherd is an SAS veteran and co-author of three books with journalist Patricia Sabga.  Their first collaboration,  The Circuit, was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. They’ve also written two critically acclaimed novels; The Infidel and The Good Jihadist

During his nearly twenty years of service with 22 SAS Regiment, Bob participated in the Oman campaign, the Iranian Embassy siege in London, The Falklands War, the first Gulf War and Bosnia.  He left the Regiment in 1994 as a Warrant Officer and went to work on the international security circuit as an advisor to media, diplomats and VIPs. 

Bob’s work in the private sector has taken him to some of the most volatile places on earth including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  He is a regular media commentator on security issues and geopolitics, and has appeared on CNN International, BBC One, BBC World, BBC Radio and SKY News.

 

58 thoughts on “

  1. I find your views refreshing and informative. I know you play down your role as ‘just the man on the ground’ but it would be a large step forward if some UK politicians heeded your views.

    As an aside I think you write a second book and publish your photographs and some of the stories behind them. I make this point having heard your talk at the National Army Museum, and (for example)found the photos of the young kids and the warlords fascinating.

    For the sake of the lads and lasses on the ground, keep airing your views.

  2. I find it refreshing that a man with Bobs experience, (20 years in the SAS, and many years on “the circuit”). Has decided to publish a book, to draw attention to the need for regulation, in the expanding, multi million dollar, security industry. Instead of publishing books for his own agrandisment, like other ex-special forces soldiers.
    It must be difficult, to be a lone voice, raised against an industry, which is carrying out para-military security duties, with no government control, for profit.

    I.B.Boyce

    1. I have now read Bobs book , i find it open and honest and gives to me joe public , “visual Clarity “to this world as he staes ” The Circuit”.

      Sometime when people are greddy and making lots of money this can make people very deaf and very blind .

      Bob may be a lone voise , but he is a lone voise who is being heard .

  3. Nice to see Bob passing on his experience to the world during his Interview on CNN, it’s about time people got to hear it from guys who have spent the time understanding what is really happening on the ground.

    I have not read your book yet but it is next on my list of reading material.

    Baz D

    Ex AG (south)

  4. The book is certainly thought provoking, Even the most basic of research on the subject reveals disturbing issues in terms of professional conduct, involving a number of security companies.

    What concerns me most is that, as an ex-infantry soldier I almost committed myself to a career in the industry, However, I quickly became atuned to the fact UK CSC’s were advertising and promoting CP courses lasting less than a month. My first inital thought was, “I have no CP exprience, here is a course allowing me to practice as an operator” I had enough forsight to see that I would be potentially be placed in a hostile envirnoment with 5-6 other blokes in exactly the same situation, that is only ever going to lead to the safety of the principle and security officers being compromised, A lethal blend I thought.

    However, I was just curious, Is anyone aware of initiatives that Bob has put in place to practically improve the industry. For example his numerous references to CP operators and their lack of experience, has he for example used his reuptation and influence to set of a training school to set the standards in the industry, and the private CP sphere.

    I will look forward to the replies

  5. Hi Bob,

    Finally I traced your blog. I read The Circuit twice already and still reading snippets from time to time. The things you wrote there helps me better understand the profession we have chosen. Thank you for writing it I admire the a frankness, objectivity, and realism of how security advisers work in the field. At any rate, I would like to know if you’re doing security courses? I hope to attend as part of my continous improvement goals.

    cheers and good luck!

    Jack

  6. From reading Bob’s book and about him elsewhere he comes across as an incredible guy; honest, concise, very thorough in his work and totally dedicated to doing the best job possible for his clients. If I ever find myself in a situation requiring a security advice or support he’d be the first guy I’d contact.

    Bob I wish you all the best for the future if you read this and I’m looking forward to your next book.

    Stay safe.

    MS

  7. I picked up Bobs book “the circuit” at Cardiff airport and could not put it down, as soon as I opened the cover it was enthralling, what a life experience, We are off again in October so will certainly look out for another good read by Bob Sheppard, It gives a true insight into what actually went on in different parts of the world

  8. met bob in brunei…..a genuine, nice approachable guy, gave us a talk on beasties !!! Had a great conversation about the time he was welding under water !!!
    Can”t wait to read his book .

    Keep safe bob.

  9. Hello, M. Shepherd.

    I’m an English teacher in France (Normandy, quite near the D Day landings beaches) and I’ve just finished reading your book The Circuit.
    It’s been a revelation. Thank you so much for your insight and personal writing style.
    I was educated at “Sciences-Po” (one of our biggest colleges for law and economics), which I’m very proud of, but never have I read such a powerful story.
    I’m going to try and teach my students from excerpts of your book. They may feel the revelation in their turn. Or so I hope.
    Lots and lots of thanks again.

    Lénaïk Perié

  10. The Circuit was an excellent insight into the workings of the private security business and the politics surrounding them.
    Very informative and educational.
    I have just finished reading The Infidel, and I have to say that this was the best novel I have read for many years.
    It has to made into a movie, it is a blockbuster epic just waiting to be made.
    Excellent work Bob.

    1. Hi Steve,This is me at my best ! I find all the good stuff whenit’s nearly too late !!

      I am reading The Infidel just now, and i agree–Great Read. You should try and get a hold of, The Man Who Would Be King,a Movie starring-Sir Sean Connery & Sir Michael Caine,it’s based on the book by Rudyard Kipling.

  11. Hey Bob,

    I dug your book ‘The Circuit’. The direction of your contents and writing style was very refreshing.

    Just picked up ‘The Infidel’.

    Would love to read your thoughts on the Wikileaks situation.

    Cheers
    Chris G
    Australia

  12. Nice to see someone trying to let the British public know how we work out here (Iraq/Afghan/other). We are no thugs, we protect our clients and our people as best we can, we undergo aduos training to get out here, the guys are vetted heavily, put our lives secondary to theirs.
    I love your work Bob,, the Squadron are proud

    Rockmonkey
    Iraq

  13. Dear Mr. Shepherd,

    as a PhD student at the War&Defence Studies Department at King’s College London I am conducting my doctoral research focusing on changing civil military relations in the era of security and military privatization and the extent to which these changing civil military relations impact the behaviour of contractors on the ground in the combat theatre.

    At the moment I am predominantely looking at former SOFs working for PMCs and to what degree they take over their SOF identity, skills and ethos to the private sector. I am particularly interested to see how being a part of a military special forces subculture influences SOFs (SAS, Navy Seals, Marines etc) when contracting with private military companies. Due to the fact that the literature presents only a very limited account on these issues, I require some first-hand information from someone who knows the industry not only as a theoretical concept but as a practitioner and has served both in state forces as well as worked for private military companies.

    Since you have experienced being on the ground in a conflict zone both in an SOF capacity and as a private contractor I would highly appreciate it if I got the chance to talk to you in person. Please contact me via email.

    Best regards,
    Andreas Krieg

  14. Bob, Just finished your book “The Circuit”. A brilliant insight into war, politics and your perspective of both when combined. I must admit that I whole heartedly agree with your approach to the “Spin Doctors” and the fact that reality seems to be lost or misplaced within Bureaucracy and all it seems to encompass. Cant wait for your next book. Cheers. Tim

  15. G’Day Bob
    I came across your book by accident the other day. At first I thought it about the yanks, but to my surprise it was about an ex-SAS soldier post his Regiment Days. Mate what a powerful and clear picture you have described of what happened in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Very fortunate for you to meet powerful individueals that effect people lives and dealing with bureaucracy and Spin doctors. Been an Ex-Regular Aussie soldier I agree in what in what you have written, even had a chuckle on some of what you wrote (only soldiers would undertand the dry sense of humour). Nothing has change with the way the US soldier fight since I have left for civvy street. I only came across a few of them that knew what they were doing, the rest well…mmmm. War is war, unfortunately. Anyway in a nutshell I enjoyed reading the book and I have every repect to you for fighting for change with the private security companies to get rid of the cowboy companies and making them more accountable for the actions and ensuring the people doing the job have the backup and relaible equipment to complete there tasks, plus come home to family and friends alive. All the best for the future. Look forward to reading The Infidels.

    Cheers mate.

  16. Bob

    I have enjoyed reading both the ‘Circuit’ and ‘The Infidel’. Although not military myself, I have published a couple of articles in RUSI regarding the current work being carried out of developing a standard for the PMSC Market.

    I would very much like to have your views on the current articel which I am writing re the infrastructre required within the PMSC Market Place to support and develop this new standard.

    As I realise that you are very busy, would you be interested in reviewing and commenting on this new article.

    May thanks
    Wills

    1. Hi Wills,

      Thanks very much for your comments.

      It’s great writing the novels. Most of my experience going towards the writing comes from my last 16yrs post military. Obviously the 23yrs in the military gave me great skills. I was then able to put those skills to use in places like Afghanistan, Iraq etc. It’s good to add weapons and small tactics that I know would have helped the characters in the novels should their situations have been real time
      Very best.
      B.S..

  17. I have reviewed the comments regrading the circuit, which I have found intuitive and cuts through the crap in the security industry. But the responses reflect a horrible voyouistc vision of the security industry. I know many wannabees who have paid their 3k and become supaheroes. When will the UK security industry become professional, think clearly what you get from the SIA, lot of money for a piece of plastic. As far as CP is concerned its a licence to be killed.

  18. Thanks for the novels and stories you written Bob, I admire the work and job that you and other professionals just like yourself do for us. You men are the greatest warriors breed in this world. I can never live the life you guys have; To endure the sufferings, pain but gained the greatest experience and life long journey. I am always looking for elite warriors like yourself to read about the missions and tactics upon achieving your missions. I wish to find the history of these elite warriors and what made them the elites of the elites. You men are the real heroes. You do your job may it be conventional or unconventional, in the shadows knowing us civvies can sleep well at home. Thank you Bob

  19. Bob

    Good to see the very positive comments to your book. You have always been a good man with words and what you state makes very good sense – just hope those that could do a difference would listen.
    Hope the fitness levels are still what they were

    Al

  20. Hi Bob,

    I met you many years ago (1992 I think) when you were in Brunei. I was on a Jungle Warfare Section Commanders course and you were one of the training team. Have to admit that the 4 weeks or so that I was on that course was the best diet I have ever been on – could do with it now as mid life buldge has started to hit (-:

    I am in the middle of reading the Circuit and I am finding it really interesting in its details and your perspective of this industry. Anyway , I just wanted to say hi , congratulations on your writing career and glad to hear that life is treating you well.

    All the best,

    Cheers,
    Ian

    1. Hi Ian,

      Brunei still seems like yesterday, I could do with the jungle warfare diet right now too.

      Hope you enjoy and get something from the remainder of The Circuit.
      Very best regards, and thank you for getting in touch on my blog.
      B.S.

  21. Got “The Circuit” for Christmas – couldn’t put it down – excellent read – very revealing – I’m an ex Kiwi TF grunt & your views on the yanks, Kiwis & the TF are pretty much what I learnt over the years. Heard so many stories abt the yanks from Vietnam days onwards – cant believe they are still so ignorant – also loved how you cleared up the B2.0 matter – enjoyed all their books but found the Kiwi’s version the more honorable (soldier five) because of the way he respected Vince.
    I had mates work the circuit & even thought of it myself for a while but the killing stories I heard about & looking at my kids put me off it – Kia Kaha Bro!!

  22. Hi Bob,

    My Dad showed me his 8mm films from the 70s, but unfortunatley some of those films are lost now but I do remeber you on it, doing a somersault at the end of a race in the desert, very Impressive!. Just wondered can you still do this today?? Ha Ha.

    I think my Dad was on operations with you in places like Zambia ect.

    I think you two should get in touch.

    Matt

    1. Hi Matt,

      Terrific to hear from you, thank you for getting in touch.

      Firstly, I have to confess that it wasn’t me doing the somersault. Over the many years since that desert race in the early 70s, I have told your father more than once that it wasn’t me. Although I won the race, I came trickling across the line at the end. I couldn’t speak let alone attempt a gymnastics manaeuvre, ha ha. I’m afraid that accolade belongs to someone else.

      When I came to our tiny unit your father was a living legend already. He was the man to beat, needless to say no one ever did. I hope he’s well and still telling great stories and full of the enthusiasm that always got passed onto whoever he worked with, a great man.

      If he’s keen to get in touch, please ask him to do it through the contact on my blog, I promise I’ll answer straight away!

      You must be very proud of your dad.

      Thanks once again Matt.
      Very best regards.
      B.S.

      1. Hi Bob,

        Thanks for writing back, to me he is just my dad,still very animated !

        When he talks about his experiences in thr RAF, in our family your name is a legacy too!!

        I’ve just handed in some of his films to be transfered over to dvd, if your are intereted in having a look at some of that desert race again ( its the one where you run around the barrels ), there a few clips on it, not sure if you are in it though?But more likely people you recognise and living quarters , that would probably bring back the old memorys again.
        I’ll let you know when they are transfered , and if you wish to have a copy I’ll send you one.

        I told my dad he contact you, but he said he might have to be carefull of security ect? But I said its probably ok through your blog.So he will soon.

        All the best

        Matt

  23. Hi Matt,

    If you get the films transferred OK, give me a shout, I took part in that race too, Saw your dad at the Colerne reunion last year, a real blast from the past.
    Boycey.

  24. Hi Bob
    Read your books. After having them recommended by a mate Ron ex nzsas.
    They were brilliant,The circuit was also very thought provking. Keep writing
    All the best

  25. Mr Shepherd,

    You came to give a talk for Col. Layton to BUOTC last night, I was the one who spoke with you afterwards about your views on resignation and 3 points of leadership (green trousers!).

    I’m writing a piece for my degree course about UN Peacekeeping and the use of Private Military Companies, for example in Sierra Leone.

    I was wondering if I would be able to ask you a few questions about your experiences, or indeed simply opinions of PMCs? If you were okay with that maybe i could get your contact details off Col. Layton? If not I could give you my own email address so you don’t have to give yours out openly.

    Once again, it was a riveting talk last night, thank you for the time.

    Alan

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for getting in touch, I’m glad that you enjoyed the talk.

      Please get in touch very briefly on my contact page to this blog. I’ll then get back to you.

      Very happy to answer any of your questions.
      Very best regards.
      B.S.

  26. Hi Bob,

    In the cp role at the moment I found your book The Circuit in the glove box in my vehicle and couldn’t put it down after that, ( whilst of duty of course)
    Excellent read a real insight of the cp game people who wish to pursue a carrier in cp should read it, a true recollection of companies operating in Hostile Environments where there only interest is profits. I have worked with Meany companies and they are all the same competing against each other trying to outbid the next man, it’s hard to find a decent company who you would be comfortable to stay with for a long carrier in cp. When I take on a new contract I think about your book and the accounts you give, and it is part of my decision making process to take the job. In my view I feel you have set the standard in the cp industry for Meany people to follow, I know I have. Love reading your books look forward to reading moor.

    Many Thanks Again

    Andy H

  27. Hi Bob,

    Sorry its taken my Dad so long to reply, hes been vey busy as he has been preparing to upgrade his PPL ( Private Pilot Licence )

    However he enjoyed your book, Circuit.As he isn’t so computer literate. I simply copied and pasted what he typed in word,
    So here it is…

    All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience – Bob Shepherd did not follow paths he made “Trails” Accolades to him and his book. The “Circuit” And talking about a “Circuit” a race around the circuit of an airfield namely RAF Salalah Oman (approx 10 miles) where Bob served with us on 2 Sqn at the tail end of 1973 & beginning of the New Year 1974. The incentive — first 10 go to Cyprus I was the only SNCO and the oldest at the start line (not one Rupert or NCO took part) And as I recall — it did take a Rupert to cajoled me to wait 5 mins. Talk about being perplexed!! Hell! I was still determined to go to Cyprus. The point I am making here Bob finished first by a wide margin. Awesome. And what was my position 10th much to the disgust of a certain Rupert.

    There should be an Army of Bob Shepherds running this country. His book is written innately and candidly utilizing his training gained whilst in the military in a very constructive and intelligent way. Sure it wasn’t all plain sailing and sure there was areas of conflict. (Here I’d like to mention if one has had a Military career/mentality – research indicates that “Every day Civilian Reasoning CANNOT be Mastered). However – he mitigated and superbly managed most of these harrowing experiences by his situational awareness – in my view is well beyond the average human being. Hence he survived. Granted he placed himself in these circumstances (hostile environment) but above all he learnt the “Truth” And as Churchill once quoted: “If you tell the truth you don’t have to have a Good Memory” He also added (Churchill) “Never underestimate anyone it is the most dangerous form of Arrogance” And to cap it all – It is discipline and not brilliance that preserves life. Indeed it is discipline that creates more room for Brilliance. These awareness ingredients blended instinctively with Bob Shepherd’s personality. As Neil Armstrong expressed ‘That’s one small step by man – etc etc.

    The trouble with the world today – Those who have NOT been tested pass judgment on those who have been tested. I myself gained a Pass plus at ‘P’ Coy. Airborne Forces Depot Aldershot. Of course there’s no comparison with the Hereford Selection.
    The “CIRCUIT” Xcellent account from a damn good Inspirational Patriotic British SAS Soldier. I salute him.

    John d’Rozario – Former RAF Regt. (1957-81)

    1. Hi mate,

      Please thank your dad for these wonderful comments, I’m well and truely humbled. To hear this from a man of your dad’s stature is awesome.

      Please let your dad know that he was the inspiration for me to firstly get into 2 Sqn RAF Regt, then go on to do SAS selection.
      A big thank you once again.
      B.S.

  28. hi bob,
    i am just in the middle of reading “the circuit”and came across the pages about”bravo two zero” and how you voiced your concerns about the whole operation.
    thankfully somebody else seen it that way,i have been arguing with everybody that the patrol leader was out to make himself a name with in the regiment,and he did that…….at the cost of three of the patrol members life’s.
    some of the basics of mounting a patrol were missed out an example the wrong radio fills(what was all that about)expecting guys to hump 140lb packs in desert Teriann,you could go on and on about the mistakes,the basic mistakes that were made it was always going to end in disaster and it did.
    the leader was decorated for leading a disaster. well done for trying to point out the flaws,but as usual once the head shed make up their minds about something nothing is going to change it,at least you tried to show them the short falls in their plans.
    jock forsyth
    ex 23sqn(t.a)

  29. You’re a true inspiration to future British soldiers and represent the SAS brilliantly. Just wish our Government listened to your words and make this world a better place.

  30. Hi Bob met you breifly at Regt Depot Catterick 1979, (Jimmy Waldron) I do not do much now and did not realise you were an accomplished author. I will find your novels and read them with enthusiasm as I like to keep abreast of differing situations around the globe. I have only recently got a tablet and an e:mail address so I am a bit slow on the technology side of computers. I picked up your blog on this site and it was very interesting reading the comments and seeing the very interesting photos from various countries and cultures. I wish you well and will keep my eyes open for any more comments and stories as it is always good to hear about what is happening.
    Best Wishes
    J W ex rock

    1. Hi John,
      I have no doubt that these pictures when taken weren’t expected to be beamed around the world. I’ve seen way worse also through the media from US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the age of smart phones this is what conflict is! I’m in no position to judge these young laddies and neither is the scum ball journalist who put this out to the world. British military personell have done an amazing job just to simply survive in Helmand thanks to our politicians and generals who threw them down there without understanding the implications. How about our media looking at holding them accountable for their actions instead of these 2 young lads!
      Very best regards to all serving and past members of the RAF Regiment.
      B.S.

  31. Hi Bob Juts finished watching your ‘interview’ re securing Afghanistan. I spent a great deal of time there in the mid to late 80’s (home was Kunar Province) and my reason for writing is to let you know that China supported the Mujahideen with all types and quantities of weapons from the Ak 47 through to the RPG and Dashakas among other aid. Just thought that you would like to know Best Anthony ex Rupert

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