Read part 2 here
“For all their limitations, I don’t believe we could’ve won the war without the firqats,” says Ian Gardiner, a former Royal Marines officer with extensive service to include deployments in Oman, Northern Ireland, and the Falklands.
Before we delve into what the firqats, literally meaning a company, were and their operations with the SAS, we must first understand the Dhofaris and why they rebelled. The seminal reasons for the revolt, before it turned international, had been Dhofar’s perennial ill-treatment and negligence by the Sultans. They had been considered a second-class bunch. The fact that they’re ethnically different from the northern Omanis, and speak their own language and little Arabic, only isolated them even more.
They’re divided into tribes that work under a pure democratic principle. Leaders are chosen on merit, and pedigree is shunned upon. Everyone has a say on the tribe’s decisions. They’re inherently ungrateful, forthright, shrewd, and extremely avaricious—the true sons of their camel-riding raider ancestors. They’re also fiercely individualists—a trait, combined with their other characteristics, that made the SAS’ task of instilling military discipline to them an utter nightmare. They’re extremely agile and prefer to fight barefoot, only carrying a few spare magazines and the odd ration.