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Special Air Service

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As part of U.K. Special Forces Special Air Service (SAS) are British Army personnel who have undergone extensive selection, training, and are most commonly used in operations deep in denied territory.

History

Their lineage goes back to an organization formed during the North African campaign of the Second World War, under David Stirling. The name refers to attacking German airfields, which they did using ground vehicles; they were not a paratroop formation.

Current organization

They have long been based at Hereford, although they are reported to have moved the headquarters to Credenhill. 22 Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) is the active army component, and 21 and 23 SAS Regiments in the Territorial reserves; "L" detachment is made up of Territorials on active duty with 22 SAS.

A SAS regiment has a headquarters and four "Sabre squadrons" of approximately sixty men each; the squadrons are further divided into 4 troops. While the troops are cross-trained, there are four specializations within a squadron:

  • Air Troop: parachuting, including specialized techniques such as HALO and HAHO
  • Boat Troop: amphibious operations, overlapping Special Boat Service
  • Mobility Troop: using all-terrain vehicles that can carry heavier weapons than individuals, these are closest to the WWII original mission of raiding airfields, destroying aircraft, and getting away in the confusion
  • Mountain Troop: technical rock climbing and cold-weather operations, overlap with Arctic and Mountain Warfare Cadre

Alliances

SAS was the model for U.S. Delta Force; COL Charlie Beckwith and others served exchange tours at Hereford.