Created by David Stirling in July 1941 to engage the enemy with unorthodox tactics behind enemy lines in North Africa, the SAS was disbanded at the end of World War II but reformed in 1952 as the 22nd SAS to undertake operations in the Malayan jungle against Chinese insurgents. In November 1958, following considerable success in the Malaya Emergency, D Squadron was deployed to assist the Sultan of Oman, then besieged by rebels. Later the regiment, expanded to three saber squadrons and based at Hereford, would see action in Dhofar, Borneo, Aden, and from 1974, in Northern Ireland. Skills acquired while operating against the Provisional Irish Republican Army led the regiment to develop its counterterrorist techniques, which were first manifest during an airliner hijacking at Mogadishu in 1977 and were then refined in April 1980 when B Squadron stormed the Iranian embassy in London, which had been seized by terrorists. All but one of the terrorists were killed in the rescue that followed, establishing the SAS’s reputation worldwide as a highly efficient, well-trained, and superbly disciplined group of Special Forces.
Subsequently the 22nd SAS, reinforced by the Territorial Army units of the 21st SAS and 23rd SAS were deployed in the Falklands, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, both Iraq wars, and Afghanistan. In addition, SAS training cadres undertook missions to Kenya, Colombia, and other countries where the host government had requested specialist support. During the first Iraq War, one patrol, dropped deep into Iraqi territory to pinpoint Scud missile launchers and sabotage enemy communications, achieved considerable notoriety as the survivors wrote accounts of their experience. The patrol leader, writing under the alias “Andy McNabb,” published Bravo Two Zero, creating further interest in the regiment’s operations.