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SBS Skills & Techniques - Part 2
Men of the Special Boat Service are always training, constantly adding to their skills. This section of the site looks at the various skills and techniques that the SBS acquire.
Whilst developing techniques for their Maritime Counter Terrorism role, the SBS needed a method for rapidly getting a large number of operators from helicopters onto ships or oil platforms. The rational way was to abseil down, but this method requires a stable surface to allow the abseiler to stop the tension on his line, and unhook. The SBS took inspiration from the fireman's pole and developed 'fast-roping', in which men slide down a rope, using their hands, protected by special gloves, to act as brakes. When mastered, this skill allows large teams of SBS assaulters to get their boots down on the target within seconds.
As seen (or not, actually) in the barren landscape of the Falklands and the rolling hills of Northern Ireland, the technique of digging expertly camouflaged hides into the ground allows an SBS recon team to disappear from view whilst keeping a furtive eye on the enemy.
The turf is carefully removed and a hole big enough to hold 2- 4 men and their equipment is excavated. The slabs of turf are then attached to a chicken wire roof which covers and conceals the SBS men beneath. An expertly built hide can keep a recon team hidden for weeks, right under the nose of the enemy. During the Falklands conflict, Argentinean patrols sometime passed within meters of SBS and SAS hides.
The SBS developed their arctic warfare skills partly to meet their cold war role of helping to protect NATO's northern flank against Russian attack. To that end, the SBS deployed alongside other Royal Marine Commando units to Norway. In the event of attack, the SBS would put in covert watch teams behind enemy lines to report on troop movements and call in artillery and air strikes. SBS men are skilled in skiing and building hides in the snow. Simply surviving in the harsh conditions of a Norwegian winter is a challenge itself and the SBS are highly-skilled in arctic survival techniques.
End of part 2.
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