Note: This is part five of a multi-part series exploring the various units within the U.K. Special Forces (UKSF).

The Special Air Service (SAS) is the British Army’s most distinguished and renowned special forces unit. From the moment operators of the 22 SAS emerged on the balconies of the Iranian embassy in London in 1980, the SAS became famous both at home and overseas. Their motto, “Who Dares Wins,” has become an influential and recognizable quotation the world over.

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Over the years, the regiment has conducted every type of warfare: counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, high-profile raids, covert operations, training foreign nations’ militaries, and, at times, serving as straight-up guns for hire. The SAS is widely considered among the finest SF regiments in the world today. Many countries around the world have modeled their own special forces on the SAS or have had the regiment develop theirs for them.

Special Air Service Organization

The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment includes four active ‘sabre’ squadrons, A, B, D, and G, each of which is made up of around 60 men. Each squadron contains up to four troops, with each troop specializing in specific areas of expertise.

Two reserve regiments, 21 and 23, are staffed by civilians. One of the more famous writers and a member of the infamous Bravo Two Zero patrol, Chris Ryan, began his army career in the territorial regiment before passing selection for 22 SAS. A small group of regular 22 veterans and civilian volunteers make up L-Detachment, a reserves element assigned to 22 SAS. The mystery operator from the Nairobi mall attack belonged to this unit and is most likely a former 22 operator.

Roles of the Special Air Service

The regiment has a wide range of responsibilities, each requiring specific training. Maintaining a team on a constant state of alert at all times, squadrons rotate through this role on a six-month basis.