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The Special Air Service
The SBS's sister unit, the Special Air Service (SAS) has a much higher public profile in the UK, mostly due to several operations taking place in the public arena. This page takes a look at the Special Air Service, and examines the differences and similarities between the SBS and their SAS colleagues/rivals.
A Brief History Of The SAS
Formed during World War 2, the 22nd Special Air Service regiment was the brainchild of David Stirling, who envisioned a role for small well trained groups of men, operating deep behind enemy lines. Stirling's fledging unit cut its teeth in the deserts of Northern Africa, raiding Rommel's airfields, ammo dumps and supply lines. The Special Air Service was so successful that Rommel diverted large amounts of time and manpower to hunting them down. Special Air Service teams also saw action in the European theater, carrying out operations in Italy and France.
Post war - the Special Air Service found work in various trouble spots around the world. They thought guerrillas in Borneo, Oman and Aden.
Organisation of The SAS
The Special Air Service comprises 1 regular regiment (22 SAS) and 2 reserves regiments (21 SAS & 23 SAS). The 22nd Special Air Service is divided into 4 squadrons : A,B,D & G with around 64 fighting men plus an HQ element in each.
SAS vs SBS
When considering the SAS and SBS, the question naturally springs to mind : which one is the better unit? A juvenile concern perhaps, but that hasn't stopped ex-members of both units slagging their opposite numbers off in a series of books. In ex-SAS operator, Ken Conner's Ghost Force, the author decries the SBS as an under-funded, unprofessional unit. In two books by ex-SBS men, First into Action by Duncan Falconer and Black Water by Don Camsel, the Special Air Service are portrayed as arrogant, gung-ho cowboys who's attitude leads to several operations in Northern Ireland going awry. This antagonism stems from tight defense budgets and the constant jockeying for a piece of the action - both in terms of funding and operations. Both units also have considerable pride in their own abilities and there's a natural resentment of the other 'special' forces.Commonly stated pro-SAS arguments include:
Such arguments are becoming more and more academic as the two units are becoming less and less distinguishable. They are now part of the same organisation (UKSF) and are often sent on joint missions together. The main difference between them remains in their separate specialties in the counter terrorism role. Some speculate that an eventual merger of the SAS & SBS is inevitable.
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