Preparing the inflatable craft to “float off” of the casing of an old “O” Class submarine. 1980s.
During the Falklands War in 1982 I was part of an 8 man team from B Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment, put together with the sole purpose of moving covertly onto the Argentine mainland in Patagonia, and taking out the aircraft responsible for sinking our ships.
In my career in the SAS almost spanning 20 years it was hands down the toughest assignment that I would ever undertake operationally.
Eight men to invade Argentina, take out their aircraft, and get away to fight another day!
To be handed that task as the war was close to turning very sour for the Brits…too many ships sinking or crippled, it was time for the mental game to kick in immediately for all 8 of us. We jelled under a great sergeant who lead from the front in every way. We all had our tasks, and all of the “what if’s” were covered…we think!
I’ve blogged about this patrol in the past, but what I haven’t covered is the sheer fact that our best weapon for this operation was our mindset.
Once off of the submarine, and once off of the inflatable craft and onto the coastal land, we would have Argentinian patrols and helicopters looking for us constantly. They would be second guessing an SF operation and putting in ambushes accordingly. Why? Because their senior officers were trained in the UK (as well as other partner countries), and therefore they have a good idea of what our options would be.
From the onset, to having spent time on operations on the Falkland Islands with D Squadron, then marrying up with HMS Onyx, an older diesel submarine, to spending days working up with her crew (who were awesome), the two SBS coxswains (who would eventually return to the submarine with the inflatable craft), and then finally lying subsurface just off the Argentine coastline waiting for the Prime Minister to give the go ahead, we never wavered from the fact that we WILL achieve success! There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind from the 8 man patrol.
That single factor is undisputedly the best weapon that our patrol carried into and through the operation’s timeline.
So, how did it all end?
Well, given the fact that we never doubted that we would be unloaded onto the Argentine mainland, we were given the go from London…and for the few miles coasting in from the subsurface lying up position to the coastline…the Argentinians on the Falkland Islands surrendered. As we were not officially at war at any stage of the conflict, we were immediately pulled back. Games on…games off, no breaking of International law!
The adrenalin flowed, and flowed, and flowed…
That was it, all the training, all the planning, all the thinking, all the mindset games with oneself…would we have been successful? Of course we would.
Years later we find that 3000 Argentine Marines and other forces were out permanently looking for us. If we had put one foot onto the Argentine mainland it would have been the smallest military invasion in history.
For me, the mindset alone was huge. It got us combined to think positively about conducting a successful operation that seemed absolutely crazy at the point of giving it out to us back on the Falkland Islands.
In my time in the SAS, I would see that if the mindset of the individuals wasn’t right, then there was every chance of failure.
The big lesson learnt for me also however, is that we STOP training foreign forces…as one day it will come back to bite us when we eventually go to war with them.
One thought on “AN SAS PATROL’S BEST WEAPON”
Totally agree with what you said, we need to keep somethings to ourselves.