The Special Air Service (SAS) operator who responded to and stopped a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya, in January will receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC). The CGC is Britain’s second-highest military award for valor in combat and second only to the Victoria Cross.
The four jihadists killed 21 innocent people.
The intervention of the lone SAS operator, however, saved the day. He killed two terrorists and directly contributed to the evacuation of approximately 700 civilians.
Back in January, SOFREP was the first media outlet to accurately report the origin of the lone SAS operator. While others were opining that the operator was a Navy SEAL because of a patch he was wearing (a patch that comes from SEAL Team 3), we spoke with people in the know and found out that the Pipe Hitter was a Territorial Army SAS operator (the British equivalent of the Reserves).
Most people know about the 22 SAS Regiment, which is the regular army’s tier 1 SOF unit. But there are also the 21 and 23 SAS Regiments, which are manned by civilians who have successfully passed the same SAS selection and training as their active-duty brethren. Both units, however, do contain active duty SAS operators that are mostly placed in senior officer and non-commissioned officer slots. Individual territorial SAS operators have been known to augment their active-duty counterparts. These operators are part of L Detachment SAS, previously known as R Squadron, which is directly attached to 22 SAS.
The 21 and 23 SAS don’t fall under the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) — they used to — but rather under the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Brigade. This unit specializes in Special Reconnaissance (SR), Foreign Internal Defence (FID) and Human Environment Reconnaissance and Analysis (HERA) operations.
The SAS operator, who responded to the hotel attack, was in Kenya conducting FID — essentially training and advising the Kenyan Special Operations units.