B Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment…were we the best of the Regiment?
B Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment and our attachments. Taken between the Iranian Embassy Siege, London, and the Falklands War.
Back in my day (mid 70s to mid 90s) the Regiment was tiny in numbers…it may well still be the case? My 16 man troop at times was just around half and often with no troop officer. We could never get enough fuel to feed the fire, and the Regiment was never going to water down selection just for the numbers game, and I’m sure it never has.
In 1992 I went to the jungle warfare school for two years in Brunei as the SMI WO1 Senior Military Instructor. While I was there, and for years afterwards as a civilian, I’d be asked by other members and ex members of the armed forces if the squadrons were all the same, or is one better than another?
Well, just maybe I’m one of the few right people to ask. As I spent time in training and in conflict with every squadron over my SAS career. So in my view I found them all to be the same…the lads are the lads, no matter the troop and no matter the squadron.
Life no matter where we are at the time is all about individuals though. If they’re all good individuals around you then life’s great…but it only takes one to change that!
Of course we all think that we’re the best…at everything. Pride and passion…no different from the rest of the armed forces.
So if we’re all the same then what makes the Regiment tick? Well, as mentioned, in this photo above are members of B and their attachments. Without the attachments we wouldn’t be ticking at all.
When we were training or getting ready for an operation, or even post op, the attachments were alongside, there to give their expertise and great advice. Some at times would even come onto the ground with us. Because with them included, that particular operation will be enhanced.
I look at this photo often these days. Many, too many have left us already, including some from those great attachments. I remember every officer and lad. Today after all we went through, I’d be chuffed to stand next to any one of them in a bar, and drink together.
Also as I study the faces I’m well aware that there’s a weak link in there…but who is it? Is it me?
Well that depends on what we’re doing at the time. No matter if we’re a buddy pair, a four man patrol, a troop or a squadron…there is always a weak link…someone has to be it. Just as someone has to be the natural leader who comes to the fore automatically in times of real on the ground stress. It’s a human thing…no matter the unit, no matter the industry in fact. Of course that doesn’t mean that the weak link gets booted, or indeed the natural leader stays for ever. The human side of the SAS and it’s attachments are just that…human. The weak link may not be failing the troop, he’s just the weak link at that time…if he poses a danger then that’s something quite different and he must go…immediately.
I’ve seen lads go after an extremely short career, great lads…just because of a character clash with a senior rank or/and an officer. That’s always sad when that happens, we should all have been bigger than that, that’s the Regiment’s loss at the end of the day. But I’ve also seen the odd lad remain who definitely should have gone.
There should be no second chances in the SAS…that can get lads killed or lead to failed operations.
I know that those of you reading this who served in other units in the military will have seen this within your own careers.
As I say, we may have a selection to get into our unit, but that selection doesn’t 100% guarantee that those who pass deserve to remain for ever.
But going back to the photo, there’s not one face on there that I wasn’t happy to work with…during training or operations.
A special time with extremely hard working individuals…totally humbled to be a young face on what is now a very old photograph.