The early 1970s. With the help of the British, the Sultan of Oman is in the final stages of winning a communist insurgency in the southern part of his country (Dhofar). British contribution was limited to a few Royal Air Force (RAF) squadrons, seconded officers and enlisted men to lead the local troops, and — crucially — Special Air Service (SAS) troopers. Spearheading a hearts-and-minds strategy, the SAS managed to convince the local population to fight against the communist influence and side with the Sultan.

With the war almost won, SAS troopers were being redeployed elsewhere. But the communist threat from the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), persisted. The Sultan and his British advisers pondered their strategy. The Sultan craved revenge. But the British excluded an all-out invasion of the PDRY, both because of geopolitical and military considerations.

Why not try proxy war?

Proxy war means paying and training someone else to harm your enemy.