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History of A-7 - History

History of A-7 - History


(Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 8: dp. 107, 1. 63'10", b. 11'11" dr. 10'7"; s. 8 k. (surf), 7 k. (subm.); cpl. 7; a. 1 18" tt.; cl. Plunger)

The submarine torpedo boat A-7 was originally laid down as Shark (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 8) on 11 January 1901 at Elizabethport, N.J., by the Crescent Shipyard of Lewis Nixon, a subcontractor for the John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Co. of New York; launched on 19 October 1901, and sponsored by Mrs. Walter Stevens Turpin, wife of Lt. Comdr. Walter S. Turpin, an of ficer on duty at Crescent Shipyard. Built with a hull of manganese bronze, Shark was equipped and outfitted at the Holland yard at New Suffolk, N.Y., and was commissioned there on 19 September 1903, Lt. Charles P. Nelson in command.

Over the next three and a half years, Shark operated locally at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, conducting firing tests with torpedoes, and participating in early research and development efforts in the field of undersea warfare. Assigned to the First Submarine Flotilla in March 1907, Shark was stationed at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., in the spring of 1907.

Taken to the New York Navy Yard in April 1908, the submarine torpedo boat was decommissioned there on the 21st of that month. Loaded on board the collier, Caesar, Shark and her sistership, Porpoise (Submarine Torpedo Boat No. 7), comprised the auxiliary's deck cargo as she proceeded, via Suez, for the Philippine Islands. Shark was launched soon after her arrival at Cavite in July and was recommissioned on 14 August 1908.

Over the next several years, the submarine torpedo boat operated out of Cavite, interspersing training with periodic upkeep and repair work. On 17 November 1911, Shark was renamed.

During World War I, A-7 and her sister ships based at Cavite and carried out patrols of the entrance to Manila Bay. In the early spring of 1917, Lt. (j.g.) Arnold Marcus assumed command of A-7. On 24 July 1917, shortly after the submarine torpedo boat's engine had been overhauled, gasoline fumes ignited and caused an explosion and fire while in the course of a patrol in Manila Bav.

After Marcus and his men had battled the blaze, he ordered the crew topside and into the boats that had been summoned alongside. The last man to emerge from the interior of the crippled submersible, Marcus sent up distress signals to the nearby monitor Monadnock, and then took the helm himself in an attempt to beach the ship. He refused medical treatment until all his men had been attended to (six later died) and had to be ordered to leave his post. The gallant Marcus died the next day 25 July 1917, of the effects of the explosion and fire that had ravaged his command. The Navy recognized this young officer's eelfless heroism in naming a ship, Marcus (Destroyer No. 321), in his honor.

Placed in ordinary at Cavite on 1 April 1918, A-7 was decommissioned as of 12 December 1919. Given the alphanumeric hull number SS-8 on 17 July 1920, A-7—initially advertised for sale in the 16th Naval District—was subsequently authorized for use as a target in 1921. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 16 January 1922.

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1. The shroud first surfaced in medieval France.

The earliest historical records of the Shroud of Turin place it in Lirey, France during the 1350s. A French knight named Geoffroi de Charny allegedly presented it to the dean of the church in Lirey as Jesus’ authentic burial shroud. There’s no record of how de Charny got his hands on the shroud, nor where it was during the 1300 intervening years since Christ’s burial outside Jerusalem.

WATCH: Jesus: His Life on HISTORY Vault

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Ultimate Bomb-Truck: Vought's A-7 Corsair II

Vought's A-7 is one of the world's most cost/effective and capable attack aircraft ever flown. Although derived from Vought's legendary F-8 Crusader, the A-7 is a completely different aircraft. Limiting speed to below Mach 1 and eliminating other features of the F-8 dramatically reduced structural weight and cost, allowing the A-7 to carry three times the Crusader's weapon load and deliver it extremely efficiently and with unprecedented accuracy. The A-7 has seen service in numerous conflicts and performed very well in the attack role - in US service in Vietnam it achieved one of the lowest aircraft loss rates. Today A-7s are still in service with two countries.

The A-7 went through a very quick development programme before entering production and service. The conception of the A-7 began in 1962 when the United States Navy (USN) began looking for a new single seat close support aircraft that could carry a very heavy weapon load over a long range. On 17 May 1963 the Navy announced the VA(L) competition (standing for Navy Attack Bomber, Light, or Light Attack Aircraft) for an aircraft to replace the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Its mission was to carry as much as 6 800 kg (15 000 lb) of conventional weaponry at long ranges and be very cost-effective. This was to be achieved by modifying an existing airframe and limiting performance to subsonic speeds. The aircraft would also have to be in service by no later than 1967.

Towards the end of June 1963, a Request For Proposals (RFP) was sent out to the aviation industry with just four competitors responding. These were Douglas with its proposed TF-30 turbofan-powered and enlarged A-4D-6 Skyhawk, Grumman with its single-seat A-6 Intruder (Model 128G-12), North American Aviation with a TF-30-powered version of the AF-1E Fury and Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV, into which Vought had merged in 1961) with the Model V-463, a modified version of the Crusader.

On 11 February 1964 the USN named LTV the winner of the competition as the A-7 would be available soonest and would be the cheapest since it used a tried and tested airframe and engine. LTV was contracted to develop and build one prototype, six flight test machines and 35 production aircraft under the designation A-7A. Another 140 aircraft were ordered on 10 November 1965.

Wary from previous experiences with contractors incurring huge cost escalations and delays in aircraft development, the Navy imposed strict penalties on any conditions that could not be met. As a result, the contract was the only true fixed-price contract ever issued for a major weapon system. Each A-7A cost a little over one million dollars, which was an impressive bargain even in the 1960s.

Some of the penalties that might be paid to the Navy if the targets were not met were $50 000 per day per aircraft for each day inspection trials were delayed, $750 000 if the weight target was missed and another $750 000 if the maintenance requirements were not met. The only requirement LTV missed was the weight limit, by 270 kg (600 lb). LTV had to pay the fine, but the design team, headed by Sol Love, decided that the extra weight was essential in order to strengthen the wing, allowing the A-7 to carry more weaponry. This turned out to be cheaper in the long run as later modifications to the wing were not needed.

Progress with the project was very rapid, with the first YA-7A prototype being rolled out of the factory on 13 August 1965. It made its maiden flight on 27 September 1965, flown by LTV test pilot John Konrad. It was christened Corsair II on 10 November 1965 in honour of Vought's famous World War II piston engine fighter. By mid-1966 the other six aircraft were flying.

The Aircraft

As it did not need to fly at supersonic speeds, the A-7 had a different wing to the F-8 and was powered by a more efficient turbofan without afterburner, making the airframe shorter. The area-ruling of the F-8 was eliminated and the fuselage was made larger and fatter. By decreasing structural strength for subsonic flight, much weight was saved. The F-8's variable wing incidence mechanism was eliminated, saving even more weight weight. Of all-metal semi-monocoque construction, the A-7's airframe was a multi-spar structure with integrally stiffened aluminium alloy upper and lower skins.

The high-mounted wing, with an anhedral of five degrees, had an outer leading edge dogtooth extension, (similar to the F-8's) but less swept back, with a sweep of only 35 degrees at quarter chord. The outer wing section folded upward for carrier stowage, the hinge being located at the edge of the dogtooth. Flying controls consisted of full-span leading edge flaps, large single-slotted trailing edge flaps on the inner wing trailing edge, conventional aluminium ailerons on the outer wing trailing edge and spoilers above each wing forward of the trailing edge flap hinges. The vertical tail, with integral rudder, was very large and was swept back 44.3 degrees at quarter-chord. Both tailplanes were one-piece all-moving units and were swept back 45 degrees and had a dihedral angle of five degrees.

There were eight external stores stations on the A-7, capable of carrying an impressive load of more than 6 805 kg (15 000 lb), but the A-7 had also proved able to carry 9 070 kg (20 000 lb) of ordnance. There were two stations on the fuselage sides just ahead of the wing leading edge, each capable of carrying 227 kg (500 lb), including AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (AAM). There were six stations on the wings two outboard pylons on each wing that could each carry 1 587 kg (3 500 lb) and the inboard pylon on each wing could carry 1 134 kg (2 500 lb). Virtually every single type of weapon in the Navy's armoury could be carried by the A-7A. Weapons included air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, (including anti-tank and anti-radar missiles), electro-optical and laser guided weapons, general purpose ('iron') bombs, bomblet dispensers, rockets, gun pods and fuel tanks. The A-7A also had fixed weaponry - a pair of 20 mm Colt Mk 12 cannon with 600 rounds per gun. One gun was mounted on each side of the chin-mounted air intake.

In order to improve efficiency and range, a new engine was needed in place of the F-8's afterburning turbojet. The chosen engine for the A-7A was the non-afterburning Pratt & Whitney (P&W) TF30-P-6 turbofan delivering 5 148 kg (11 350 lb) of thrust. As the new engine required a larger mass flow of air, the intake was enlarged and made blunt. Fuel was carried in the wings and fuselage, giving a maximum internal capacity of 5 678 litres (1 249 gallons), with a weight of around 4 620 kg (10 200 lb). In addition, 4 542 litres (999 gallons) of fuel could be carried externally, and the A-7A could be refuelled in midair by a retractable in flight refuelling probe mounted on the starboard side of the fuselage adjacent to the cockpit.

Landing gear was a hydraulically retractable tricycle type with a single wheel on each main unit and two wheels on the nose unit. The mainwheels retracted forward into the fuselage while the nose unit retracted rearwards. An anti-skid braking system was fitted to the landing gear. A nose gear launch bar was fitted for carrier catapault launching and a sting-type arrestor hook under the rear fuselage was used for carrier landings, emergency landings or aborted takeoffs. A large door-type speed brake was mounted under the centre of the fuselage, with the hinge attached towards the front of the fuselage. It could be extended downward to a maximum of 60°.

The A-7A was equipped with an AN/APN-153 Doppler radar, AN/APQ-116 attitude reference set, an AN/APN-141 radar altimeter and AN/ASN-41 air navigation computer.

Deliveries of the A-7A proceeded rapidly, with the first aircraft being delivered only 12 months after the Corsair II's first flight and well before the 1967 deadline. Two fleet readiness squadrons (VA-174 and VA-122) received their first A-7As in September and October 1996 respectively. Initial carrier qualifications had been performed by 15 November 1966 aboard the USS America and the first operational A-7A squadron, VA-147, was commissioned on the first of February 1967. Although beating the deadline by several months, the A-7 was not yet cleared for combat. After satisfactorily completing testing on the first of June 1967, the first combat-ready A-7As were delivered to VA-147 in the last quarter of 1967.

In service the A-7A performed very well. Compared to the A-4 Skyhawk, it was much more likely to survive combat damage as it had duplicated hydraulics systems and the pilot's McDonnell Douglas Escapac rocket-powered ejection seat was protected with boron carbide cockpit armour. Compared to the A-4 the A-7 was also much easier to maintain. Maintenance man-hours per flight hour (MMH/FH) were an impressive nine to 11 hours when the norm was around 40 to 50 man-hours per flight hour. The A-7 also had a considerably longer range than the A-4, allowing it to fly missions the smaller A-4 could not. However, there were problems with steam ingestion into the air intake during catapult launching which caused a loss of thrust, and the CP-781 weapons release system was not very reliable. The steam problem was solved by modifying the 12th engine compressor stage, but the CP-781 problem was more difficult to solve.

A total of 199 A-7As were built before production switched to the A-7B model with a variety of minor improvements. The aircraft was fitted with an upgraded TF30-P-8 engine rated at 5 530 kg (12 200 lb) of thrust, giving an 8% improvement in performance over the A-7A. A-7Bs also had improved flaps, were 593 kg (1 308 lb) heavier than the A-7A and had upgraded TACAN systems and radar altimeters. The A-7B first flew on 6 February 1968 with test pilot Joe Engle at the controls. A total of 196 A-7Bs were manufactured in just one batch in FY (Fiscal Year or Financial Year) 1967. The fist operational A-7Bs went to VA-146 and VA-125 in late 1968. They deployed on the USS Enterprise on 6 January 1969, bound for Vietnam.

The A-7C designation was originally reserved for a proposed two-seat training version of the A-7B, but it never materialized - the TA-4J Skyhawk was ordered instead. But the A-7C designation was applied. The Corsair II performed so well that in 1966 the United States Air Force (USAF) ordered the A-7D powered by an Allison TF41-A-1 turbofan. The Navy also liked the idea of the upgraded Air Force variant and decided to buy it as well, under the designation A-7E. However, delays in producing the new engine for the A-7E resulted in the first 67 A-7Es ordered being delivered with TF30-P-8 engines and getting the designation A-7C after delivery. These aircraft also had the improvements of the A-7E, including a head-up display, new avionics and an M61 rotary cannon. However, they also had A-7B features such as dual instead of triple hydraulic systems and Escapac IG ejection seats.

On 25 November 1968 the first A-7C made its maiden flight, piloted by Robert Rostine. Deliveries began in July 1969 to the training squadron VA-122 at NAS Lemoore, California. Only two operational squadrons received the A-7C and these were VA-82 and VA-86. All A-7Cs were later converted to A-7E standard, but retained the A-7C designation.

Although the US Army was not allowed to operate fixed-wing combat aircraft, it required close air support for its troops on the battlefield, especially with the United States' increasing involvement in Vietnam. The Army wanted a single-purpose, specialized and effective subsonic attack aircraft that would be many times more cost-effective than the high-performance fighter-bombers equipped to drop bombs which the USAF preferred. They wanted a replacement for the ageing North American F-100 Super Sabre with a much better payload. A quick and inexpensive way to achieve this was to buy the A-7, and so on 5 November 1965 the USAF announced a decision to order the Corsair II for the Tactical Air Command (TAC) arm of the Air Force with Congress approving the funds in 1966. Two YA-7D prototypes were built, with TF30-P-6 engines, the first making its maiden flight on 6 April 1968. Both aircraft were later retrofitted with TF41-A-1 engines.

As the Air Force began issuing requirements for their version of the Corsair II, it became obvious that a new designation was needed to reflect the 20-plus changes made to the airframe. The designation A-7D was thus assigned. Most significant among the new changes was the fitting of a new, more powerful engine. More thrust was wanted for the A-7D, but the TF-30 couldn't deliver. As an afterburning variant of the TF-30 would take too long to develop, the Air Force selected the British Rolls-Royce RB162-256 Spey turbofan instead. It was licence-built in the US by Allison as the TF41-A-1 and developed 6 460 kg (14 250 lb) of thrust, which was 1 300 kg (2 900 lb) more than the TF30. A-7Ds also had a revised avionics suite and their two Mk 12 cannons deleted. These were replaced by a M61A-1 Vulcan 20 mm six-barrel cannon firing at a selectable rate of 4 000 or 6 000 rounds per minute with a maximum rate of fire of 6 600 rounds per minute. It was mounted in the port side of the fuselage and provided with 1 000 rounds of ammunition. A KB-18A strike camera in the lower forward fuselage engine compartment was used for strike damage assessment.

Avionics were radically upgraded, the main changes going into the sophisticated new navigation and weapon delivery system that allowed all-weather operation. The AN/ASN-91 navigation/weapon delivery computer was the primary element of the system and continuously computed weapons delivery and navigation data for greatly increased weapons delivery accuracy. An AN/ASN-90 inertial measurement set provided basic three-axis navigation and an AN/APN-190 Doppler radar measured speed and drift angle. The new AN/APG-126 forward-looking radar provided nine modes of operation for air-to-ground ranging, terrain-following, terrain-avoidance, ground mapping, and other functions. An AN/AVQ-7 head-up display received and displayed computed attack, navigation and landing data from the tactical computer, and a projected map display showed navigation data.

The pilot's accommodation was modified, with the McDonnell Douglas Escapac IC ejection seat adapted to utilise the USAF survival kit and restraint system and low-pressure oxygen system. A few other changes were made, including higher energy-rated wheels, tyres and brakes, and the fitting of a boom receptacle in place of the probe. This receptacle, mounted on the top of the fuselage behind the cockpit and offset to port, was only introduced from the 17th production aircraft onwards.

The first five A-7Ds built were delivered to the USAF for testing purposes and given the temporary designation YA-7D. Unusually, these retained the in-flight refuelling probe. The first production aircraft was delivered on 23 December 1968 and the first delivery to the Tactical Air Command was in August 1969.

A total of 459 A-7Ds were built between FY1967 and FY1975, each with a unit cost of $2 860 000. The first aircraft entered service in 1970 with the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) and 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB in South Carolina.

In 1973 the USAF began sending A-7Ds to the Air National Guard (ANG), and by 1987 they were being flown by ANG units in ten states in the US as well as in Puerto Rico, eventually equipping a total of 14 ANG squadrons. Many of these ANG machines were new from the factory. They were later upgraded with Pave Penny laser target seeker pods, which were mounted just below the engine air intake. Another upgrade was the addition of manoeuvring flaps in 1976 to increase agility at low level and low speeds.

In 1988 40 A-7Ds and eight A-7Ks were upgraded with the Low Altitude Night Attack (LANA) system which allowed automatic low-altitude flight at night. These aircraft received a forward-looking infrared system, wide-angle head-up display, CP-1117/A mission computer, night vision cockpit lighting, an improved autopilot and a programmable NavWeap Computer.

During the early 1980s most A-7Ds were replaced by A-10s in USAF front-line service, but remained in ANG service for a while longer before being retired in the late 1980s and early 1990s. By 1993 all had been retired.

The US Navy observed the Air Force's progress with the A-7D and was impressed by the new aircraft, especially by the increased power offered by the Spey engine. The Navy then decided to use this engine for its own variant of the Corsair II, which would succeed the A-7A in production. It was designated A-7E and had virtually all the modifications of the A-7D, except a more powerful engine and retractable in-flight refuelling probe. The upgraded engine was the TF41-A-2 developing 6 800 kg (15 000 lb) of thrust. However, because of delays in delivering this uprated engine, the first 67 were delivered with the TF30-P-5 engine and designated A-7C (see details above).

The first Spey-powered A-7E made its maiden flight on 9 March 1969 and between FY1968 and FY1979 a total of 529 A-7Es (not including A-7Cs) were built. A total of 22 Navy squadrons were equipped with the type. To ensure continued effectiveness, a number of A-7Es were upgraded with improved avionics. 222 aircraft were equipped to carry the Texas Instruments AN/AAR-45 forward-looking infrared (FLIR) pod on the inboard starboard stores pylon for night and bad-weather operations. The pod was also linked to a new Marconi raster-type head-up display for improved night attack capability. On 15 September 1978 the first FLIR-modified aircraft took off on its maiden flight and in July 1979 VA-81 became the first squadron to receive the upgraded aircraft.

The A-7E began to be replaced by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornets in 1987 with the last two squadrons transitioning to the Hornet in FY1992. By replacing the A-7s with Hornets allowed the same aircraft to carry out both attack and fighter missions and also allowed a smaller number of aircraft (85) to equip a carrier air wing instead of the 94 required for an A-7E wing.

In early 1972 Vought decided to develop a privately funded two-seat trainer version of the Corsair II that would be offered to the Navy. The first TF-41-powered A-7E was transferred to LTV from the US Navy and modified as the V-519 two-seat combat trainer demonstrator. It first flew on 19 August 1972, piloted by John Konrad. It was initially designated YA-7H with the expectation that a production version would be designated A-7H, but this designation had been reserved for Greece's A-7Hs (the H standing for Hellenic). The two-seater was then re-designated YA-7E.

The fully combat capable YA-7 prototype featured two seats in tandem with the student in front and the instructor in the rear, both under a clamshell canopy. To accommodate the extra seat, the aircraft was stretched 86 cm (34 in) forward of the wing. The instructor's seat was raised over that of the pupil's to give the instructor a better view, which resulted in a humpbacked appearance to the airframe. Vought later used the YA-7E prototype as a demonstrator to test various Corsair II modifications and systems. After 13 years of service, it was put up for sale as scrap, but was bought by an ex-military pilot turned businessman and rebuilt to airworthy condition.

The YA-7E demonstrator was successful in that it attracted an order for the trainer variant, designated TA-7C. Vought was awarded a Navy contract to convert 24 A-7Bs and 36 A-7Cs (all powered by TF-30 engines) into the two-seat TA-7C configuration. A contract for the first three was issued in 1975. The first converted aircraft made its maiden flight on 17 December 1976 and was delivered to the Navy on 31 January 1977.

In 1982, eight TA-7Cs were modified as electronic 'aggressor' aircraft and gained the designation EA-7L. They could carry electronic jamming pods and missile simulators on their underwing pylons to simulate Soviet weapons and tactics. They were operated by VAQ-34 at NAS (Naval Air Station) Point Mugu, California.

In 1984 Vought upgraded 49 two-seat Navy aircraft, including the eight EA-7Ls, in order to bring them up to a standard similar to that of the single-seat A-7E. This upgrade consisted of adding the new TF41-A-402 engine and replacing the Escapac seats with Stencel ejector seats and adding manoeuvring flaps. All upgraded aircraft retained their original designations.

The USAF planned to transfer all of it's A-7Ds to the Air National Guard in the 1980s, but unlike the Air Force, the ANG wanted a two-seat combat trainer to keep its pilots up to standard. Negotiations began for such a trainer and in 1979 LTV received a contract to convert an A-7D to the two-seat TA-7D configuration. The aircraft emerged as a fully combat capable A-7D but with two seats in tandem, a one-piece canopy, raised rear seat and an in flight refuelling receptacle on the fuselage centreline. To accommodate the second crew position, the fuselage was lengthened by 46 cm (18 in) in front of the wing and 40.6 cm (16 in) aft of the wing.

Flying controls on the A-7K, as it was later designated, were slightly altered with the aircraft having automatic manoeuvring flaps added. These improved low-speed handling and gave greater stability at all speeds. In addition, a dual-channel, three-axis, stick-steering autopilot was provided.

The A-7K could deliver TV-guided missiles and carry Pave Penny laser target seeker pods, which allowed laser-guided weapons to be carried. But even with conventional 'iron' bombs, the bombs fell with an accuracy of under 3 metres (10 ft). Excluding the prototype that was converted from an A-7D, Vought built 30 new A-7Ks. The first flew in October 1980 and the first were delivered to the ANG in April 1981 with production spanning from FY79 to FY81. In 1993 the A-7K fleet was retired and sent to AMARC.

In June 1985 the USAF issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the study of a Close Air Support/Battlefield Interdiction (CAS/BAI) aircraft. The Army and Air Force were at odds over the issue of CAS for infantry troops. The Army wanted the Air Force to deploy the Fairchild A-10 CAS aircraft, but the USAF was reluctant as it was, in their view, too slow and vulnerable and they preferred a supersonic aircraft. The Request For Information was intended to look at potential replacements for the A-10. In response, LTV proposed an upgraded and supersonic version of the A-7, able to reach about Mach 1.2. The new aircraft was originally called the A-7 Strikefighter, but was later renamed A-7F "A-7 Plus".

Following a very successful marketing campaign, the USAF accepted the new aircraft, and on 7 May 1987 awarded LTV a contract to modify a pair of A-7Ds to YA-7F standard. This new aircraft was to be powered by a General Electric F110 engine or an afterburning Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 engine developing 11 790 kg (26 000 lb) of thrust. In the end the F100 was installed. In order to accommodate the new engine, the fuselage was redesigned and lengthened. It had a 75 cm (29.5 inch) extension ahead of and a 46 cm (18 inch) extension behind the wings and the rear section of the fuselage was angled up by three degrees to maintain ground clearance.

The YA-7F had a number of aerodynamic changes, including a roughly 25 cm (10 in) taller fin and rudder. The wing was strengthened and fitted with automatic manoeuvring flaps, augmented flaps and wing leading-edge root extensions. An enhanced cockpit was added, equipped with hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) controls and a head-up display. Other new equipment, amongst other things, consisted of a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system, a 60-KVA electrical generator and an onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS). Armament was to have been a single M61A1 cannon and up to 7 880 kg (17 380 lb) of mixed ordnance carried on eight externals stores stations.

The first YA-7F, converted from an A-7D, made its maiden flight on 29 November 1989, flown by chief LTV test pilot Jim Read. On its second flight it went supersonic. The second YA-7F took off for the first time on 3 April 1990 and, together with the first prototype, completed a successful flight test programme at Edwards Air Force Base. At one stage it was proposed that 396 ANG A-7D/Ks and 96 USN A-7Es be upgraded to A-7F standard, but when A-7s were withdrawn from the Navy and ANG in the early 1990s, the project was cancelled and no further A-7Fs were built. Instead, the Air Force decided to use F-16s for CAS/ground attack missions. It is quite ironic that the YA-7F looked like and would perform like the original F-8 from which the A-7 had been derived - it seems that the airframe was going around in a development circle, from F-8 to A-7 to F-8 again!

The Corsair II's first foreign sale was to Greece, when the Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia (Hellenic, or Greek Air Force) ordered 60 new A-7Hs (the H standing for Hellenic). These aircraft are basically equivalent to A-7E standard, except that they lack means of refuelling in flight and may be equipped with AIM-9L Sidewinders. In addition, their engines have a self-start capability which is achieved by a battery-powered electric motor that actuates a small gas turbine engine that in turn starts the engine through its gearbox.

The first A-7H flew on 6 May 1975 with deliveries to Greece following on for another two years during which the Corsair IIs replaced Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks in service. The first Greek Corsair IIs were delivered to 115 Pterix Mahis (Wing) based at Souda Bay in Crete where they are operated by two squadrons, 340 and 345 Mire Kiesos. (345 Mira is the A-7 conversion unit.) In July 1992, A-7s were also issued to 347 Mira Dioseos based at Larissa as part of 110 Pterix. 347 Mira later moved to Souda Bay in July 1993 and then to Araxos.

The Greek government observed the development of the two-seat TA-7C in the US and decided to buy it. An order was then placed for five two-seater trainers, designated TA-7H. These are similar to the A-7K, but lack the ability to refuel in flight. Deliveries of these aircraft, built in FY1978, took place between July and December 1980.

Corsair IIs were extremely popular in Greek service, as evidenced by the fact that they are still in service today. In the early 1990s the Greek air force decided to buy even more A-7s and so 36 surplus USN A-7Es and TA-7Cs were transferred to Greece. They were issued to 116 Pterix Mahis based at Araxos, where they equipped 335 Mira and 336 Mira. The A-7s replaced F-104G Starfighters, which had already been withdrawn from service and placed in storage.

The Forca Aerea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force) was looking to buy more effective combat aircraft in late 1970s, but was strapped for cash. It overcame this problem by buying 20 second-hand A-7As formerly used by the US Navy, which it got at a very good bargain. In May 1980 Vought received a contract to refurbish 20 spare airframes sitting in storage at the Aircraft Maintenance And Regeneration Centre (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. The aircraft were upgraded with A-7E standard avionics and gained the new designation A-7P (the P for Portuguesa). Although they retained TF30 engines, they were to the more powerful TF30-P408 standard. However, they also retained the two 20 mm Mk 12 cannon of the A-7A.

Deliveries of the 20 aircraft, including three spare airframes, began in December 1981. They were issued to Escuadra (squadron) 302 and 304 based at Monte Real, where they replaced North American F-86 Sabres. To provide training, a single TA-7C was loaned to the Portuguese Air Force for three years. A second batch of A-7Ps was ordered in May 1983, consisting of 24 more A-7Ps and six new TA-7P trainers. Deliveries to the newly established 303 Escuadra began in October 1984 with the TA-7Ps following in May 1985. All aircraft were delivered by May 1986. A further 20 non-flyable ex-US Navy A-7As were also provided as spare parts sources.

In Portuguese Air Force service the Corsair IIs served in the strike and interceptor role, in which they carried AIM-9P Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The Corsair IIs were also equipped for maritime and defensive air support missions where they were equipped to carry AGM-65A Maverick air-to-surface missiles. They were also provided with radar warning receivers, chaff and flare dispensers and AN/ALQ-131 jamming pods.

In the early 1990s Portugal ordered 20 Lockheed Martin F-16s (17 F-16As and 3 F-16Bs, the first of which was delivered in July 1994. With the introduction of the much more capable F-16, the Portuguese A-7s were all retired.

Thailand became the third export customer for the Corsair II when the Royal Thai Naval Air Division ordered 14 A-7Es and four TA-7Cs for coastal defence and sea patrol duties. These Corsair IIs were surplus aircraft and were subjected to inspection and substantial repairs at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida, before delivery to Thailand in 1995. They equip 104 Squadron of 1 Wing at U-Tapao, which was formerly a Vietnam-era Boeing B-52 base and is now a Royal Thai Navy Station. Two extra A-7Es were acquired as spare parts sources. The Thai Corsair IIs were the Royal Thai Navy's first combat jets, and, although the Navy does have a carrier which operates two squadrons of ex-Spanish BAE Systems AV-8S Harriers, the A-7Es are strictly land-based. On paper these aircraft are still in service but are not operational, although with a little maintenanc Thailand could easily get them back in the air.

A-7s in Service

By the time the A-7 was retired it had seen an enormous amount of combat, especially in Vietnam. The aircraft's first combat action came only two years and three months after the Corsair II's first flight - an achievement that puts most other aircraft manufacturers to shame! The first operational A-7A fleet squadron was VA-147, which was commissioned on 1 February 1967 and embarked on its first combat cruise aboard the USS Ranger on 4 November 1967. A-7As flew their first combat mission in Vietnam on 4 December when they attacked communication lines near Vinh in North Vietnam.

The USS Ranger was diverted to the Sea of Japan in response to the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo, but after tensions between North Korea and the United States cooled off, the ship returned to Vietnam where VA-147's A-7s participated in CAS missions during the Khe Sanh operation. During the Vietnam War, A-7A squadrons made a total of 17 cruises to Southeast Asia. In total, 22 A-7As were lost in combat, of which 13 were lost over Vietnam and nine over Laos. 15 were lost to anti-aircraft artillery (AAA), four to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and three to unidentified causes. Another 20 were lost in various accidents in the Gulf of Tonkin.

A-7Bs were first delivered to VA-146 and VA-125 in late 1968 and deployed aboard the USS Enterprise on 6 January 1969 bound for the Gulf of Tonkin. They entered combat in Vietnam with VA-146 and VA-125 on 4 March 1969. No aircraft were lost in combat, but one was lost in an accident. VA-25 and VA-87 also received A-7Bs and deployed aboard the USS Ticonderoga in March 1969. In total, A-7Bs went through 15 war cruises to the Gulf of Tonkin, with 11 aircraft lost in combat and another 12 due to accidents. AAA claimed seven aircraft, a SAM claimed one and another three were lost to unknown causes. A-7B squadrons made 45 war cruises, the last being in 1977 aboard the USS John F Kennedy. After that they were assigned to Naval reserve units until January 1987 when they began to be retired.

Only two operational squadrons, VA-82 and VA-86, were equipped with the A-7C and they each made only one combat deployment to Vietnam aboard the USS America. Two peacetime deployments were made before these two squadrons converted to A-7Es.

The much more capable A-7E entered service in Southeast Asia in May 1970 with VA-146 and VA-147 aboard the USS America. Most air wings operating A-4 Skyhawks and early A-7 variants were re-equipped with the superior A-7E. A-7Es flew many CAS missions over North and South Vietnam where their very reliable and accurate bombing and navigation systems served them well. Nevertheless, 17 A-7Es were lost in combat. The A-7Es aircraft participated in a number of important operations, including the mining of Haiphong harbour in 1972 and in the Linebacker I and II operations that led to the formal end of the Vietnam War in January 1973.

After the war many Navy squadrons operated the A-7E up to the mid 1980s. However, F/A-18 Hornets slowly replaced A-7Es - transition to the Hornet began in 1987 and the last A-7Es were retired in the mid 1990s. The last A-7Es were withdrawn in November 1994.

The US Air Force first deployed their A-7Ds to Southeast Asia in mid-October and November 1972, when the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) sent 72 A-7Ds to Korat Royal Thai AFB in Thailand under the codename Constant Guard VI. For the next 10 weeks, the 354th TFW's 72 A-7Ds averaged 62 missions per day, amassing a total of 6 568 sorties in 16 819 combat flying hours. By the end of October the A-7D had taken over the close air support mission from the Douglas A-1E Skyraider. A-7Ds flew close air support, search and rescue and bombing missions over North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The aircraft were respected for their long range and endurance, weapons delivery accuracy and ability to fly at varying speeds. Pilots also favoured them for their reliability and low rate of attrition.

In total, A-7Ds flew 12 928 combat sorties including 5 796 strike missions, 542 search and rescue missions and 230 Linebacker II missions. Only four A-7Ds were lost in combat, including two during the Linebacker II operation. The last US air strike over Cambodia was made by an A-7D on 15 August 1973. After the end of the War, most A-7Ds were replaced in the early 1980s by A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in USAF front-line service, but continued to serve with the Air National Guard.

At the end of the war, Navy A-7s had been flown by 20 different squadrons from 10 different aircraft carriers and flew 52 combat deployments. The Navy flew a total of 49 200 combat sorties with A-7As and Cs, logging 208 795 combat flight hours and delivering 186 000 tons of ordnance against the enemy. Navy and Air Force Corsair IIs flew 90 180 sorties and lost only 54 A-7s to enemy action, resulting in one loss for every 1 670 sorties - a remarkable achievement. A-7Es, with their upgraded avionics and engines, achieved a loss rate reduction of almost 25% over that of earlier A-7s and achieved one of the lowest aircraft loss rates in Vietnam. Corsair IIs were popular with their pilots and this factor undoubtedly contributed to it.

The next time the Corsair II saw combat was in 1983 when the United States invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada to depose a Marxist government. On 13 March 1979 the New Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education and Liberation (New Jewel) movement, headed by Maurice Bishop, ousted Prime Minister Eric M Gairy in an almost bloodless coup. Bishop then began to establish a Marxist-Leninist socialist government and forged close ties with Cuba, the Soviet Union and other communist countries.

When Ronald Reagan became President of the United States in January 1981, he took a strong dislike to Marxist, socialist and communist governments across the world. He disapproved of Prime Minister Bishop and was unable to act against him - but he didn't have to. On 13 October 1983 Bernard Coard, with the backing of the Grenadian Army, seized power in a bloody coup. Bishop was murdered on 19 October, together with a number of cabinet members.

Ronald Reagan was even more alarmed by Coard because he promoted a much more hard-line and brutal version of Marxism. With the backing of a number of nations belonging to the Organisation of East Caribbean States (Jamaica, Barbados and Venezuela), the US invaded Grenada on 25 October 1983 under Operation Urgent Fury.

Reagan justified his actions by saying that US forces found "a complete base of weapons and communication equipment which makes it clear a Cuban occupation of the island had been planned." Grenada was, said Reagan, "a Soviet-Cuban colony being readied as a major military bastion to export terror and undermine democracy, but we got there just in time". Reagan also used the fact that there were a few hundred Americans on the island as a pretext for the invasion. There were close to a thousand American students at St George's Medical College who were claimed to be in jeopardy as a result of the coup.

The invasion consisted of around 1 200 troops who were met with stiff resistance from the Grenadian and Cuban military units on the island. The first combat aircraft over Grenada were four A-7Es from VA-15 and VA-87 flying from the USS Independence. The A-7Es provided close air support for ground troops. As the invasion force grew to 7 000 troops, the defenders soon surrendered. Around 400 Grenadian, 84 Cuban and 135 American casualties were recorded.

During the operation, A-7s flew nearly 300 sorties during which they dropped 40 Mk 82 bombs and 20 Mk 20 Rockeye cluster bombs. The A-7E's 20 mm cannon was also extensively used to give covering fire. Vice Admiral Metcalf, Commander of the 2nd Fleet was quoted as saying "The A-7 provided the turning point in the battle of St George [capital of Grenada], allowing the multinational force to quickly gain the upper hand."

By the end of the year US troops had withdrawn, but US and Caribbean technical and security advisers remained. Grenada was then governed by the Interim Advisory Council until December 1984, when parliamentary elections established Herbert A Blaize, head of the New National Party (NNP), as prime minister. After the invasion Blaize said to the US: "We say thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

After the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975, the country was plunged into conflict and turmoil. Christian and Arab factions fought each other, Palestinian terrorists fought the Israeli army and Syria fought most of the various factions at one time or another. A Multinational Force (MNF) was deployed to the Lebanese capital Beirut in order to keep the peace, especially between the Israeli Defence Force and the Lebanese population. The MNF was also to help with reconstruction, rebuilding Lebanon's economy and restoring authority. In support of the MNF the United States dispatched 1 400 personnel, Italy 1 400 and France 1 500. In January 1983 Italy sent another 800 personnel and Britain sent 100 men.

On 23 October 1983 a suicide truck bomb exploded outside the US Marine billet at Beirut airport, killing 241 US troops. Seconds later, another vehicle hit the headquarters of the French troops in Beirut, killing 58 personnel. In response, President Reagan decided to launch a retaliatory strike against the Iran-backed Hezbollah (Party of God) and Syrian facilities in Lebanon. The strike was delayed, but when Syrian missiles fired on Grumman F-14 Tomcats, Reagan had a target and a good reason for striking back.

The first time Syrian SAMs fired at the Tomcats was on 10 November 1983. On this day a French Etendard IVP managed to avoid being hit by a SA-7 surface to air missile, but on the same afternoon, two F-14As from VF-143 were fired at while underway over Beirut. However, a more serious event took place on 3 December 1983 involving two F-14As from VF-32 or VA-31, based on the USS John F Kennedy. They were flying a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon, the one Tomcat equipped with a TARPS (Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Podded System) pod. At roughly the same time as they were performing their reconnaissance flight, Israeli F-4E Phantom IIs and Kfirs attacked Syrian SAM sites. Not knowing, or caring, which aircraft belonged to which air force, the Syrians fired at least ten SAMs at the F-14s flying at 1 000 metres (3 500 ft) and over 960 km/h (600 mph). At that altitude and speed they could not be hit, but they were forced to abort their mission after a volley of SA-7s headed their way.

The US Navy saw this incident as another provocation and, having a definite target, decided to retaliate. On 4 December, a group of 28 aircraft was launched from the aircraft carriers USS Independence and USS John F Kennedy. Six A-7Es from VA-15 'Valions' and another six from VA-87 'Golden Warriors' were launched from the Independence. From the USS John F Kennedy three A-6E Intruders from VA-75 and seven Intruders from VA-85 were launched, together with six Intruders from VA-176 aboard the USS Independence.

The formation grouped and headed for the Syrian ammunition depots near Falouga and Hamman, around 16 km (10 miles) north of the Beirut-Damascus highway. As it passed along the coast, Syrian AAA and batteries of SA-7 and SA-9 missiles attacked the formation. The first aircraft hit was A-7E AE305 from VA-15. Covered by his wingman, the pilot ejected over Beirut harbour and was later safely picked up by USN helicopters. A SAM also hit another A-7E from VA-15, but the pilot landed safely on the Independence, although the aircraft was a write-off.

Not so lucky to get away was an A-6E from VA-85, which was shot down by a Syrian SAM. Lt Mark Lange and Lt Robert Goodman, Jr, both ejected from their damaged aircraft, but only Goodman survived. He was captured by the Syrians and held for 30 days before he was released.

The A-7E formation attacked their targets roughly 30 km (18 miles) from Beirut. Cdr Ed Andrews, flying one of the A-7Es, heard about the downed Intruder and decided to search for the crew. When he reached the crash site, he circled around until Syrian AAA opened fire on his aircraft. Andrews attacked some of the AAA with his 20 mm cannon (he had already dropped all his other ordnance), but on his last pass he was hit by an SA-7 that destroyed his engine. He managed to reach the sea and eject, where two helicopters were to pick him up. However, he was reached by a local fisherman first and then handed over to the US Marines.

After the attacks, Lebanese Muslims became suspicious of the Western forces supporting the Christian-led government and began attacking US citizens, MNF personnel and the US embassy building. As a result, the MNF forces began pulling out and had completely withdrawn by February 1984. After they left, Hezbollah and the South Lebanese Army renewed fighting and began kidnapping Westerners in Beirut. The Israelis continued to raid Palestinian installations in the south of Lebanon and Syrian forces occupied parts of Beirut in 1987.

Ever since colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi became the head of state of Libya in 1969, he was at odds with the US. He closed US and British military bases in Libya and used his country's oil wealth to support the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and other revolutionary groups, including the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Muslim separatists in Thailand and the Philippines. By the mid-1980s he was regarded as a supporter of terrorism by the West, and an ardent communist/socialist, which was, in America's view, just as bad.

When Ronald Reagan became President he decided to take action against Qaddafi, who he described as the "mad dog of the Middle East". On 6 May 1981 ordered the closing of the Libyan People's Bureau in Washington, expelling twenty-seven Libyan diplomats from the United States on charges of supporting international terrorism. Tensions between the US and Libya later resulted in direct conflict over the Gulf of Sidra in 1981.

Qaddafi had long considered the Gulf of Sidra as his own territory and also claimed another 12 nm (22 km or 13 miles) of territorial waters. The US and most other nations ignored the claim, but until Reagan came to power, they did nothing to oppose it. Reagan decided that he would challenge Libya by exercising his right to pass through international waters unhindered and sent an aircraft carrier task force there on naval manoeuvres. As the task force approached, in August 1981 Qaddafi declared a 'line of death' across the Gulf, over which the US fleet was forbidden to pass. On 19 August 1981 US Navy F-14s crossed the 'line of death' and shot down two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 fighters that were sent up to challenge them.

But Reagan was far from finished with Libya. In December 1981 he called for the American citizens living in Libya to leave the country or face legal action, and in March 1982 embargoed Libyan oil imports and banned any technology transfer between the US and Libya. In addition, Libyan assets in the US were frozen in January 1986. Some U.S. citizens living in Libya thought President Reagan's order was unconstitutional and considered challenging it in court. Considering it was a Presidential order, there might not have been any Columbus criminal defense attorney who would want to bring the case to court.

More action took place in March 1986 when three carrier task forces with 225 aircraft assembled off the Libyan coast for manoeuvres under Operation Prairie Fire. On 24 March, six SA-5 surface-to-air missiles were launched from a new missile base at Surt against patrolling F-14s. However, no Tomcats were hit, but later that day more missiles were fired. In retaliation a series of strikes took place. Two A-7Es from VA-81 served as decoys to the Libyan defences while two more A-7Es from VA-83 (all A-7Es were launched from the USS Saratoga) attacked a radar site near Surt with AGM-88A HARMs (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles). In the night a repeat sortie with the same aircraft from the same squadrons was flown. Simultaneously, A-6Es from VA-34 and VA-86 attacked and crippled a Libyan corvette with Harpoon missiles. A-6 Intruders also knocked out a missile site that had earlier fired on the Tomcats. Intruders from VA-85 also sunk another Libyan vessel with Harpoons on 25 March. During these attacks, EA-6B Prowlers from VAQ-135 flew cover and jammed Libyan air defences.

This was only a taste of things to come. On 5 April 1986 a bomb exploded in a Berlin nightclub frequented by US personnel, killing two people, including an American serviceman and injuring 204 others. After US intelligence sources suggested Libyan involvement, especially by the Abu Nidal organisation, another series of strikes was planned as retaliation, under Operation El Dorado Canyon.

On the night of 14/15 April 1986, the El Dorado Canyon air strikes were carried out. 18 General Dynamics F-111 bombers and four EF-111A electronic countermeasures/jamming aircraft left England and, after refuelling several times, bombed the Tripoli airport, a frogman training centre at the Libyan naval academy and the nearby al Aziziyah barracks where Qaddafi often stayed. As these strikes were taking place, A-6Es, A-7Es and F/A-18s from the USS America and USS Coral Sea hit the Ls Jumahiriya barracks and the airport at Bengazi. The six A-7Es involved came from VA-46 and VA-82 while the A-6Es came from VA-55 and VA-34. EA-6 Prowler electronic warfare aircraft from VAQ-135 and VMAQ-2 provided additional support.

As a result of these air strikes, several transport aircraft, some MiG-23s and a few helicopters were destroyed on the ground at the two airports. The French Embassy, located in a residential area, was also destroyed. Around 40 to 100 people were killed, including Qaddafi's adopted infant daughter and a teenage girl visiting from London. Although the strike was intended to kill Qaddafi, he was sleeping outside his barracks that night and was not harmed.

After the raid the US was severely criticised for attacking Libya, but it's not clear if it directly affected Qaddafi. In late 1988 and early 1989 he stopped his funding of terrorist groups, freed up civil liberties, reduced restrictions on international travel and improved relationships with other African leaders. It's unlikely that Qaddafi would have bowed to US pressure, but in any case, he did start to reform and today he has managed to drop most sanctions against his country.

By August 1983, Manuel Antonio Noriega had promoted himself to general and gained effective control over the government of Panama. Ever since the 1960s he had worked as an informer for various US intelligence agencies. From the mid-1970s up until 1986 Noriega had been receiving funds from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pentagon for his informant duties. At the same time he was acting as a double agent for both the CIA and Cuba's intelligence agency and was deeply involved in drug trafficking - as early as 1971 the US Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs had sufficient evidence to indict Noriega, but legal and diplomatic obstacles, as well as CIA pressure, prevented this from happening.

Although Noriega was valuable to the CIA, his popularity began to decline in June 1986 when evidence of his drug trafficking, money laundering and double agent activities came to light. He was also suspected of murdering one of his opponents, Hugo Spadafora. When Noriega cracked down on civil liberties in 1987, the US Senate urged the Panamanian government to remove Noriega from office. In February 1988 he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida on drug charges and for money laundering, but he remained in power.

In May 1989 elections were held in Panama with Noriega's opposition candidate, Guillermo Endara, being elected President. However, the Noriega government nullified the vote. Noriega continued to cling to power and suppressed a military coup by the Panamanian Defence Forces in October 1989. But on 20 December 1989, 24 000 US troops invaded Panama and installed Endara as president. Noriega was captured and flown to the US in January 1990 and was convicted on drug and racketeering charges in April 1992.

In this offensive, (the seventh time the United States had invaded Panama since 1903) A-7Ds from the 180th Tactical Fighter Group of Ohio National Guard participated in the invasion. They were among the Air National Guard units that rotated in Panama to provide a force presence in an exercise called 'Coronet Cove'. The A-7D detachment was based at Howard Air Force Base just 45 minutes from Panama City.

The Persian Gulf Tanker War

On 22 September 1980, Iraq invaded Iran over border violations and disagreement over who should control the Shatt al Arab waterway between the two countries. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein believed that Iran was very weak as a result of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and thought he would quickly conquer Iran if he attack soon. Border violations and interference in each country's internal affairs further provoked Saddam Hussein into attacking the country.

As the war continued for another eight years, Iraq's defences grew increasingly desperate. Iraq began to attack Iranian shipping in the Persian Gulf and in response the Iranians attacked Iraqi shipping and shipping of Iraq's supporters like Kuwait. The USSR and US were drawn into the growing 'tanker war' in order to protect their shipments of oil and consequently lost a few vessels in the process.

On 14 April 1988 the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Samuel B Roberts was damaged when it struck an Iranian mine. The Navy, who's USS Stark had been attacked by the Iraqis on 17 May 1987, decided it had had enough and was going to retaliate. On 18 April 1988 Operation Praying Mantis was carried out. Two squadrons of A-7Es (VA-22 and VA-94) based on the USS Enterprise participated in strikes against Iranian oil platforms and naval vessels. They were some of the last A-7E squadrons that hadn't been replaced by the F/A-18 Hornet, but in 1990 Hornets did finally succeed them.

The Iran-Iraq War ended on 20 August 1988 after between 300 000 and one million people had been killed and around two million injured. The war achieved almost nothing as the border stood virtually exactly where it was when conflict began. It was extremely destructive to both side's economies, with each country ending up with more than $500 billion worth of damages. Both Iran and Iraq sacrificed their considerable oil wealth to the war for nearly a decade, and Iraq was forced to borrow heavily, especially from its allies on the Arabian Peninsula. The war was a massive human tragedy but received little coverage in the press, especially in the indifferent West, which had little sympathy for Iran or Iraq. A further consequence was Iraq's disastrous invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Desert Storm

On 2 August 1990 Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in order to settle yet another border dispute and capture Kuwait's vast oil reserves. Kuwait was annexed on 8 August as Iraq's 19th province. Between August and November 1990 the United Nations passed a series of resolutions demanding that Iraqi forces withdraw from Kuwait by 15 January 1991. A multinational coalition force numbering around 500 000 personnel (mainly from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Syria, and France) was assembled against the Iraqi army. This build-up, called Operation Desert Shield, was originally intended to protect Saudi Arabia from further attack.

On 17 January 1991, 24 hours after the deadline expired, the coalition force attacked Iraqi targets in Kuwait under Operation Desert Storm. There were six American carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf with two squadrons of A-7Es. These were VA-46 and VA-72 aboard the USS John F Kennedy and were the last A-7E squadrons in front-line service. They saw action from the very beginning of the conflict. Before dawn on 17 January, 16 A-7Es from these two squadrons carrying AGM-88 HARMs attacked radar sites in and around Baghdad. The next day, A-7Es fired AGM-62 Walleye II missiles at various targets, and the day after that they launched a number of AGM-84E SLAMs at Iraqi targets. The next two weeks saw attacks by these two squadrons on targets in both Iraq and Kuwait, which included airfields, railroads, ammunition depots, Iraqi Republican Guard positions and suspected Scud surface-to-surface missile positions. A-7Es also served as air-to-air refuelling tankers.

By the time the war ended, A-7Es had flown 725 sorties that averaged 4.3 hours each, logging around 3 100 combat flight hours. No A-7s were lost to enemy action, but one was damaged beyond repair after its nose gear collapsed during a carrier deck launch. A-7Es had a very high operational rate during the conflict, with only one sortie being cancelled and achieved a very impressive mission completion rate of 99.7 percent. VA-46 and VA-72 returned to Cecil Field, Florida, and were decommissioned on 23 May 1991.

After the end of the first Gulf War the remaining A-7Es were rapidly retired. The last A-7E carrier launch took place on 27 March 1991 and the last squadrons to operate the type (VA-46 and VA-72) were formally disbanded on 30 May 1991. After that the only American Corsair IIs still flying were mostly two-seaters serving with VAQ-33 at NAS Key West, VAQ-34 at NAS Patuxent River, as well as those with the Naval Strike Warfare Centre at NAS Fallon. They were withdrawn on 1 April 1992 and by November 1994 all had been taken out of service. Most of the Navy A-7s were stored at AMARC, from where some were transferred to Greece, Portugal and Thailand. There are still a few hundred A-7s at AMARC available for foreign military sales. Around 36 A-7Bs, three A-7Ds, 167 A-7Es and 20 A-7Ks were delivered to the Centre. The aircraft are supported by Northrop Grumman, which took over Vought in 1994.

In more than 23 years of front line service between 1968 and 1991 with the US Air Force and Navy, A-7s logged over five million flight hours. The Corsair II proved to be one of the most cost-effective aircraft in their inventories and one of their most capable, efficient and accurate attack aircraft. The A-7 also had a very low combat loss rate and a low accident rate. It was also easy to fly and well liked by its pilots. Although the A-7 has been retired from US service, it is still flying - nearly fifty years after its maiden flight.

Jerusalem was destroyed (for the first time)

Although the Kingdom of Judah escaped the fate of the northern kingdom when the Assyrians came through, they weren't so lucky when the next big, bad empire came to town. One of the greatest disasters in Jewish history came in 587 BCE, when Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, laid waste to the city of Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon's temple, and drove the people of Judah into exile.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the first Babylonian siege of Jerusalem happened a decade earlier and saw the Judahite king Jehoiachin removed from the throne and replaced with a puppet monarch controlled by the Babylonians, Jehoiachin's uncle Zedekiah. However, after Zedekiah revolted against the Babylonians with the help of the Egyptians, Nebuchadnezzar returned and razed the city after a months-long siege in which the people of Jerusalem suffered greatly from starvation and thirst, as described in the Book of Lamentations.

Once the city and the temple were destroyed, most of the Jews in Palestine were forcibly deported to Babylon, where they were detained for about 50 to 70 years, depending on the source. According to the prophet Jeremiah, only a few of the poorest people of Jerusalem were left in the city to tend to the land. The Jewish citizens who remained in Babylon after the exile formed the first permanent communities of what would become known as the Jewish Diaspora.

History of A-7 - History

A&W celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

A&W Root Beer became available in bottles and cans.

A&W Root Beer became available in bottles and cans.

Rooty the Great Root Bear™ was born.

The 100th International Restaurant was opened in Thailand.

The 100th International Restaurant was opened in Thailand.

In conjunction with A&W’s 80th Anniversary, the world’s largest Root Beer Float was created. 2,562.5 gallons of Root Beer were used to break the world record.

100% Real Wisconsin White Cheddar Cheese Curds were introduced.

100% Real Wisconsin White Cheddar Cheese Curds were introduced.


A&W was purchased by a group of domestic and international A&W Franchise Partners.

2019 & Beyond – THE FUTURE IS NOW

A&W celebrates its 100th anniversary. There are approximately 1,000 restaurants (& counting) in the U.S. and international markets.

2019 & Beyond – THE FUTURE IS NOW

A&W celebrates its 100th anniversary. There are approximately 1,000 restaurants (& counting) in the U.S. and international markets.


The earliest certain ancestor of "A" is aleph (also written 'aleph), the first letter of the Phoenician alphabet, [4] which consisted entirely of consonants (for that reason, it is also called an abjad to distinguish it from a true alphabet). In turn, the ancestor of aleph may have been a pictogram of an ox head in proto-Sinaitic script [5] influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs, styled as a triangular head with two horns extended.

Blackletter A

Uncial A

Another Blackletter A

Modern Roman A

Modern Italic A

Modern script A

When the ancient Greeks adopted the alphabet, they had no use for a letter to represent the glottal stop—the consonant sound that the letter denoted in Phoenician and other Semitic languages, and that was the first phoneme of the Phoenician pronunciation of the letter—so they used their version of the sign to represent the vowel /a/ , and called it by the similar name of alpha. In the earliest Greek inscriptions after the Greek Dark Ages, dating to the 8th century BC, the letter rests upon its side, but in the Greek alphabet of later times it generally resembles the modern capital letter, although many local varieties can be distinguished by the shortening of one leg, or by the angle at which the cross line is set.

The Etruscans brought the Greek alphabet to their civilization in the Italian Peninsula and left the letter unchanged. The Romans later adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write the Latin language, and the resulting letter was preserved in the Latin alphabet that would come to be used to write many languages, including English.

Typographic variants

During Roman times, there were many variant forms of the letter "A". First was the monumental or lapidary style, which was used when inscribing on stone or other "permanent" media. There was also a cursive style used for everyday or utilitarian writing, which was done on more perishable surfaces. Due to the "perishable" nature of these surfaces, there are not as many examples of this style as there are of the monumental, but there are still many surviving examples of different types of cursive, such as majuscule cursive, minuscule cursive, and semicursive minuscule. Variants also existed that were intermediate between the monumental and cursive styles. The known variants include the early semi-uncial, the uncial, and the later semi-uncial. [6]

At the end of the Roman Empire (5th century AD), several variants of the cursive minuscule developed through Western Europe. Among these were the semicursive minuscule of Italy, the Merovingian script in France, the Visigothic script in Spain, and the Insular or Anglo-Irish semi-uncial or Anglo-Saxon majuscule of Great Britain. By the 9th century, the Caroline script, which was very similar to the present-day form, was the principal form used in book-making, before the advent of the printing press. This form was derived through a combining of prior forms. [6]

15th-century Italy saw the formation of the two main variants that are known today. These variants, the Italic and Roman forms, were derived from the Caroline Script version. The Italic form, also called script a, is used in most current handwriting and consists of a circle and vertical stroke. This slowly developed from the fifth-century form resembling the Greek letter tau in the hands of medieval Irish and English writers. [4] The Roman form is used in most printed material it consists of a small loop with an arc over it ("a"). [6] Both derive from the majuscule (capital) form. In Greek handwriting, it was common to join the left leg and horizontal stroke into a single loop, as demonstrated by the uncial version shown. Many fonts then made the right leg vertical. In some of these, the serif that began the right leg stroke developed into an arc, resulting in the printed form, while in others it was dropped, resulting in the modern handwritten form. Graphic designers refer to the Italic and Roman forms as "single decker a" and "double decker a" respectively.

Italic type is commonly used to mark emphasis or more generally to distinguish one part of a text from the rest (set in Roman type). There are some other cases aside from italic type where script a ("ɑ"), also called Latin alpha, is used in contrast with Latin "a" (such as in the International Phonetic Alphabet).


The Special Air Service began life in July 1941, during the Second World War, from an unorthodox idea and plan by Lieutenant David Stirling (of the Scots Guards) who was serving with No. 8 (Guards) Commando. His idea was for small teams of parachute-trained soldiers to operate behind enemy lines to gain intelligence, destroy enemy aircraft, and attack their supply and reinforcement routes. Following a meeting with Major-General Neil Ritchie, the Deputy Chief of Staff, he was granted an appointment with the new Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck liked the plan and it was endorsed by the Army High Command. At that time, there was already a deception organisation in the Middle East area, which wished to create a phantom airborne brigade to act as a threat to enemy planning. This deception unit was named K Detachment Special Air Service Brigade, and thus Stirling's unit was designated L Detachment Special Air Service Brigade.

The force initially consisted of five officers and 60 other ranks. [2] Following extensive training at Kabrit camp, by the River Nile, L Detachment undertook its first operation, Operation Squatter. This parachute drop behind Axis lines was launched in support of Operation Crusader. During the night of 16/17 November 1941, L Detachment attacked airfields at Gazala and Timimi. Due to Axis resistance and adverse weather conditions, the mission was a disaster with 22 men killed or captured (one-third of the men). [3] Given a second opportunity L Detachment recruited men from Layforce Commando, which was in the process of disbanding. Their second mission was more successful transported by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), they attacked three airfields in Libya, destroying 60 aircraft without loss. [3]

In October 1941, David Stirling had asked the men to come up with ideas for insignia designs for the new unit. Bob Tait, who had accompanied Stirling on the first raid, produced the winning entry: the flaming sword of Excalibur, the legendary weapon of King Arthur. This motif would later be misinterpreted as a winged dagger. In regard to mottoes, "Strike and Destroy" was rejected as being too blunt. "Descend to Ascend" seemed inappropriate since parachuting was no longer the primary method of transport. Finally, Stirling settled on "Who Dares Wins," which seemed to strike the right balance of valour and confidence. SAS pattern parachute wings, designed by Lieutenant Jock Lewes and depicted the wings of a scarab beetle with a parachute. The wings were to be worn the right shoulder upon completion of parachute training. After three missions, they were worn on the left breast above medal ribbons. The wings, Stirling noted, "Were treated as medals in their own right." [4]

1942 Edit

Their first mission in 1942 was an attack on Bouerat. Transported by the LRDG, they caused severe damage to the harbour, petrol tanks and storage facilities. [5] This was followed up in March by a raid on Benghazi harbour with limited success although the raiding party did damage 15 aircraft at Al-Berka. [5] The June 1942 Crete airfield raids at Heraklion, Kasteli, Tympaki and Maleme significant damage was caused but of the attacking force at Heraklion only Major George Jellicoe returned. [6] In July 1942, Stirling commanded a joint SAS/LRDG patrol that carried out raids at Fuka and Mersa Matruh airfields destroying 30 aircraft. [7]

September 1942 was a busy month for the SAS. They were renamed 1st SAS Regiment and consisted of four British squadrons, one Free French Squadron, one Greek Squadron, and the Special Boat Section (SBS). [8]

Operations they took part in included Operation Agreement and the diversionary raid Operation Bigamy. Bigamy, which was led by Stirling and supported by the LRDG, was an attempt at a large-scale raid on Benghazi to destroy the harbour and storage facilities and to attack the airfields at Benina and Barce. [9] However, they were discovered after a clash at a roadblock. With the element of surprise lost, Stirling decided not to go ahead with the attack and ordered a withdrawal. [9] Agreement was a joint operation by the SAS and the LRDG who had to seize an inlet at Mersa Sciausc for the main force to land by sea. The SAS successfully evaded enemy defences assisted by German-speaking members of the Special Interrogation Group and captured Mersa Sciausc. The main landing failed, being met by heavy machine gun fire forcing the landing force and the SAS/LRDG force to surrender. [10] Operation Anglo, a raid on two airfields on the island of Rhodes, from which only two men returned. Destroying three aircraft, a fuel dump and numerous buildings, the surviving SBS men had to hide in the countryside for four days before they could reach the waiting submarine. [11] [Note 1]

1943 Edit

David Stirling, who was by that time sometimes referred to as the "Phantom Major" by the Germans, [ citation needed ] was captured in January 1943 in the Gabès area by a special anti-SAS unit set up by the Germans. [13] He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war, escaping numerous times before being moved to the supposedly 'escape proof' Colditz Castle. [13] He was replaced as commander 1st SAS by Paddy Mayne. [14] In April 1943, the 1st SAS was reorganised into the Special Raiding Squadron under the command of Mayne and the Special Boat Squadron under the command of George Jellico. [15] The Special Boat Squadron operated in the Aegean and the Balkans for the remainder of the war and was disbanded in 1945.

The Special Raiding Squadron spearheaded the invasion of Sicily Operation Husky and played more of a commando role raiding the Italian coastline, from which they suffered heavy losses at Termoli. [13] After Sicily they went on to serve in Italy with the newly formed 2nd SAS, a unit which had been formed in Algeria in May 1943 by Stirling's older brother Lieutenant Colonel Bill Stirling. [13]

The 2nd SAS had already taken part in operations in support of the Allied landings in Sicily. Operation Narcissus was a raid by 40 members of 2nd SAS on a lighthouse on the southeast coast of Sicily. The team landed on 10 July with the mission of capturing the lighthouse and the surrounding high ground. Operation Chestnut involved two teams of ten men each, parachuted into northern Sicily on the night of 12 July, to disrupt communications, transport and the enemy in general.

On mainland Italy they were involved in Operation Begonia which was the airborne counterpart to the amphibious Operation Jonquil. From 2 to 6 October 1943, 61 men were parachuted between Ancona and Pescara. The object was to locate escaped prisoners of war in the interior and muster them on beach locations for extraction. Begonia involved the interior parachute drop by 2nd SAS. Jonquil entailed four seaborne beach parties from 2nd SAS with the Free French SAS Squadron as protection. Operation Candytuft was a raid by 2nd SAS on 27 October. Inserted by boat on Italy's east coast between Ancona and Pescara, they were to destroy railroad bridges and disrupt rear areas.

Near the end of the year the Special Raiding Squadron reverted to their former title 1st SAS and together with 2nd SAS were withdrawn from Italy and placed under command of the 1st Airborne Division. [16]

1944 Edit

In March 1944, the 1st and 2nd SAS Regiments returned to the United Kingdom and joined a newly formed the SAS Brigade of the Army Air Corps. The other units in the Brigade were the French 3rd and 4th SAS, the Belgian 5th SAS and F Squadron which was responsible for signals and communications, the brigade commander was Brigadier Roderick McLeod. [16] The brigade was ordered to swap their beige SAS berets for the maroon parachute beret and given shoulder titles for 1, 2, 3 and 4 SAS in the Airborne colours. The French and Belgian regiments also wore the Airborne Pegasus arm badge. [17] The brigade now entered a period of training for their participation in the Normandy Invasion. They were prevented from conducting operations until after the start of the invasion by 21st Army Group. Their task was then to stop German reinforcements reaching the front line, [18] by being parachuted behind the lines to assist the French Resistance. [19]

In support of the invasion 144 men of 1st SAS took part in Operation Houndsworth between June and September, in the area of Lyon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Dijon, Le Creusot and Paris. [18] At the same time, 56 men of 1st SAS also took part in Operation Bulbasket in the Poitiers area. They did have some success before being betrayed. Surrounded by a large German force, they were forced to disperse later, it was discovered that 36 men were missing and that 32 of them had been captured and executed by the Germans. [18]

In mid-June, 178 men of the French SAS and 3,000 members of the French resistance took part in Operation Dingson. However, they were forced to disperse after their camp was attacked by the Germans. [18] The French SAS were also involved in Operation Cooney, Operation Samwest and Operation Lost during the same period. [20]

In August, 91 men from the 1st SAS were involved in Operation Loyton. The team had the misfortune to land in the Vosges Mountains at a time when the Germans were preparing to defend the Belfort Gap. As a result, the Germans harried the team. The team also suffered from poor weather that prevented aerial resupply. Eventually, they broke into smaller groups to return to their own lines. During the escape, 31 men were captured and executed by the Germans.

Also in August, men from 2nd SAS operated from forest bases in the Rennes area in conjunction with the resistance. Air resupply was plentiful and the resistance cooperated, which resulted in carnage. The 2nd SAS operated from the Loire through to the forests of Darney to Belfort in just under six weeks. [21]

Near the end of the year, men from 2nd SAS were parachuted into Italy to work with the Italian resistance in Operation Tombola, where they remained until Italy was liberated. [22] At one point, four groups were active deep behind enemy lines laying waste to airfields, attacking convoys and derailing trains. Towards the end of the campaign, Italian guerrillas and escaped Russian prisoners were enlisted into an 'Allied SAS Battalion' which struck at the German main lines of communications. [23]

1945 Edit

In March the former Chindit commander, Brigadier Mike Calvert took over command of the brigade. [22] The 3rd and 4th SAS were involved in Operation Amherst in April. The operation began with the drop of 700 men on the night of 7 April. The teams spread out to capture and protect key facilities from the Germans. They encountered Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945. [24]

Still in Italy in Operation Tombola, Major Roy Farran and 2nd SAS carried out a raid on a German Corps headquarters in the Po Valley, which succeeded in killing the corps chief of staff. [21]

The Second World War in Europe ended on 8 May and by that time the SAS brigade had suffered 330 casualties, but it had killed or wounded 7,733 and captured 23,000 of their enemies. [22] Later the same month 1st and 2nd SAS were sent to Norway to disarm the 300,000-strong German garrison and 5th SAS were in Denmark and Germany on counter-intelligence operations. [22] The brigade was dismantled soon afterwards. In September, the Belgian 5th SAS were handed over to the reformed Belgian Army. On 1 October the 3rd and 4th French SAS were handed over to the French Army and on 8 October the British 1st and 2nd SAS regiments were disbanded. [19]

At the end of the war, the British Government could see no need for a SAS-type regiment, but in 1946 it was decided that there was a need for a long-term deep penetration commando or SAS unit. A new SAS regiment was raised as part of the Territorial Army. [25] The regiment chosen to take on the SAS mantle was the Artists Rifles. [25] The new 21 SAS Regiment came into existence on 1 January 1947 and took over the Artists Rifles headquarters at Dukes Road, Euston. [26]

In 1950 the SAS raised a squadron to fight in the Korean War. After three months of training, they were informed that the squadron would not, after all, be needed in Korea, and instead were sent to serve in the Malayan Emergency. On arrival in Malaya the squadron came under the command of the wartime SAS Brigade commander, Mike Calvert. They became B Squadron, Malayan Scouts (SAS), [27] the other units were A Squadron, which had been formed from 100 local volunteers mostly ex Second World War SAS and Chindits and C Squadron formed from volunteers from Rhodesia, the so-called 'Happy Hundred'. By 1956 the Regiment had been enlarged to five squadrons with the addition of D Squadron and the Parachute Regiment Squadron. [28] [29] After three years service the Rhodesians returned home and were replaced by a New Zealand squadron. [30]

A Squadron were based at Ipoh while B and C Squadrons were at Johore. During training, they pioneered techniques of resupply by helicopter and also set up the "Hearts and Minds" campaign to win over the locals with medical teams going from village to village treating the sick. With the aid of Iban trackers from Borneo they became experts at surviving in the jungle. [31] In 1951 the Malayan Scouts (SAS) had successfully recruited enough men to form a regimental headquarters, a headquarters squadron and four operational squadrons with over 900 men. [32] The regiment was tasked to seek, find, fix and then destroy the terrorists and prevent their infiltration into protected areas. Their tactics would be long-range patrols, ambush and tracking of the terrorists to their bases. [32] The SAS troops trained and acquired skills in treejumping, which involved parachuting into the thick jungle canopy and letting the parachute catch on the branches brought to a halt, the parachutist then cut himself free and lowered himself to the ground by rope. [31] Using inflatable boats for river patrolling, jungle fighting techniques, psychological warfare and booby trapping terrorist supplies. [32] Calvert was invalided back to the United Kingdom in 1951 and replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel John Sloane. [31]

In February 1951, 54 men from B Squadron carried out the first parachute drop in the campaign in Operation Helsby, which was a major offensive in the River Perak–Belum valley, just south of the Thai border. [33]

The need for a regular army SAS regiment had been recognised, and so the Malayan Scouts (SAS) were renamed 22 SAS Regiment and formally added to the Army List in 1952. [34] However B Squadron was disbanded, leaving just A and D Squadrons in service. [35] [36]

In 1958 the SAS got a new commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Deane-Drummond. [37] The Malayan Emergency was winding down, so the SAS dispatched two squadrons from Malaya to assist in Oman. In January 1959, A Squadron defeated a large Guerrilla force on the Sabrina plateau. This was a victory that was kept from the public due to political and military sensitivities. [38]

After Oman, 22 SAS Regiment were recalled to the United Kingdom, the first time the regiment had served there since its formation. The SAS were initially barracked in Malvern Worcestershire before moving to Hereford in 1960. [37] Just prior to this, the third SAS regiment was formed and like 21 SAS was part of the Territorial Army. 23 SAS Regiment was formed by the renaming of the Joint Reserve Reconnaissance Unit, which itself had succeeded M.I.9 via a series of units (POW Rescue, Recovery and Interrogation Unit, Intelligence School 9 and the Joint Reserve POW Intelligence Organisation). Behind this change was the understanding that passive networks of escape lines had little place in the Cold War world and henceforth personnel behind the lines would be rescued by specially trained units. [39]

The regiment was sent to Borneo for the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, where they adopted the tactics of patrolling up to 20 kilometres (12 mi) over the Indonesian border and used local tribesman for intelligence gathering. [38] The troops at times lived in the indigenous tribes' villages for five months thereby gaining their trust. This involved showing respect for the Headman, giving gifts and providing medical treatment for the sick. [40]

In December 1963, the SAS went onto the offensive, now under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Woodhouse, adopting a "shoot and scoot" policy to keep SAS casualties to a minimum. [41] They were augmented by the adding to their strength of the Guards Independent Parachute Company and later the Gurkha Independent Parachute Company. [42] In 1964 Operation Claret was initiated, with soldiers selected from the infantry regiments in-theatre, placed under SAS command and known as "Killer Groups". These groups would cross the border and penetrate up to 18 kilometres (11 mi) disrupting the Indonesian Army build-up, forcing the Indonesians to move away from the border. [41] Reconnaissance patrols were used to enter enemy territory to identify supply routes, enemy locations and enemy boat traffic. Captain Robin Letts was awarded the Military Cross for his role in leading a reconnaissance patrol which successfully ambushed the enemy near Babang Baba in April 1965. [43] The Borneo campaign cost the British 59 killed 123 wounded compared to the Indonesian 600 dead. [41] In 1964 B Squadron was re-formed from a combination of former members still with the Regiment and new recruits. [44]

The SAS returned to Oman in 1970. The Marxist-controlled South Yemen government were supporting an insurgency in the Dhofar region that became known as the Dhofar Rebellion. [41] Operating under the umbrella of a British Army Training Team (BATT), the SAS recruited, trained and commanded the local Firquts. Firquts were local tribesmen and recently surrendered enemy soldiers. This new campaign ended shortly after the Battle of Mirbat in 1972, when a small SAS force and Firquts defeated 250 Adoo guerrillas. [ citation needed ]

In 1969 D Squadron, 22 SAS deployed to Northern Ireland for just over a month. The SAS returned in 1972 when small numbers of men were involved in intelligence gathering. The first squadron fully committed to the province was in 1976 and by 1977 two squadrons were operating in Northern Ireland. [45] These squadrons used well-armed covert patrols in unmarked civilian cars. Within a year four terrorists had been killed or captured and another six forced to move south into the Republic. [45] Members of the SAS are also believed to have served in the 14 Intelligence Company based in Northern Ireland. [46]

The first operation attributed to the SAS was the arrest of Sean McKenna on 12 March 1975. McKenna claims he was sleeping in a house just south of the Irish border when he was woken in the night by two armed men and forced across the border, while the SAS claimed he was found wandering in a field drunk. [47] Their second operation was on 15 April 1976 with the arrest and killing of Peter Cleary. Cleary, an IRA staff officer, was detained by five soldiers in a field while waiting for a helicopter to land. While four men guided the aircraft in, Cleary started to struggle with his guard, attempted to seize his rifle and was shot. [48]

The SAS returned to Northern Ireland in force in 1976, operating throughout the province. In January 1977 Seamus Harvey, armed with a shotgun, was killed during a SAS ambush. [49] On 21 June, six men from G Squadron ambushed four IRA men planting a bomb at a government building three IRA members were shot and killed but their driver managed to escape. [50] On 10 July 1978, John Boyle, a sixteen-year-old Catholic, was exploring an old graveyard near his family's farm in County Antrim when he discovered an arms cache. He told his father, who passed on the information to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The next morning Boyle decided to see if the guns had been removed and was shot dead by two SAS soldiers who had been waiting undercover. [51] In 1976 Newsweek also reported that eight SAS men had been arrested in the Republic of Ireland supposedly as a result of a navigational error. It was later revealed that they had been in pursuit of a Provisional Irish Republican Army unit. [45]

The SAS's early successes led to increasing paranoia within Republican circles, as the PIRA hunted for informers they felt certain were in their midst. [52] On 2 May 1980 Captain Herbert Westmacott became the highest-ranking member of the SAS to be killed in Northern Ireland. [53] He was in command of an eight-man plain clothes SAS patrol that had been alerted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary that an IRA gun team had taken over a house in Belfast. [54] A car carrying three SAS men went to the rear of the house, and another car carrying five SAS men went to the front of the house. [55] As the SAS arrived at the front of the house the IRA unit opened fire with an M60 machine gun, hitting Captain Westmacott in the head and shoulder, killing him instantly. [55] The remaining SAS men at the front returned fire, but were forced to withdraw. [54] [55] One member of the IRA team was apprehended by the SAS at the rear of the house, preparing the unit's escape in a transit van, while the other three IRA members remained inside the house. [56] More members of the security forces were deployed to the scene, and after a brief siege, the remaining members of the IRA unit surrendered. [54] After his death, Westmacott was posthumously awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in Northern Ireland during the period 1 February 1980 to 30 April 1980. [57] Some sources say that the terrorists waved a white flag before the siege in an attempt to trick the SAS patrol into thinking they were surrendering. [58]

The SAS Regiment increased their operational focus on Northern Ireland, with a small element known as the Ulster Troop that were permanently stationed in Northern Ireland to provide specialist support to the British Army and RUC. The troop consisted of around 20 operators and associated support personnel, serving on a rotational basis. For larger pre-planned operations, Ulster Troop was reinforced by SAS personnel, often in small 2- or 3-man teams from the Special Projects Team. From 1980, the Troop served twelve-month tours instead of six-month tours, as it was felt that longer deployments allowed the operators to develop and maintain a better understanding of the key factions and senior PIRA terrorists. Surveillance became an important aspect of the Troop, with 14 Intelligence & Security Company (commonly known as "The Det") often carrying out surveillance missions that led to SAS ambushes. [52]

On 4 December 1983, a SAS patrol found two IRA gunmen who were both armed, one with an Armalite rifle and the other a shotgun. These two men did not respond when challenged so the patrol opened fire, killing the two men. A third man who escaped in a car was believed to have been wounded. [59]

The SAS conducted a large number of operations officially called "OP/React": acting on information provided by a range of sources, including informers and technical intelligence. The Det, MI5 and the RUC's E4a surveillance unit would target and track ASU terrorists until a terrorist operation was thought to be imminent at that point, the SAS were handed control and would plan an arrest operation, and if the terrorists were armed and did not comply they would be engaged. In December 1984, a SAS team killed two ASU terrorists who were attempting to assassinate a reserve soldier outside a hospital he worked at. In February 1985, three SAS operators killed three ASU terrorists in Strabane. The terrorists were tasked with attacking a RUC Land Rover with anti-tank grenades, but having failed to find a suitable target they were visiting a weapons cache to store their weapons. There was considerable media speculation during 'the Troubles' and allegations of so-called "shoot-to-kill" policy by the SAS the allegations mainly focus on whether a terrorist could have been captured alive rather than killed. The PIRA never took prisoners except for the worst intentions and after the 1980 death of Captain Westmacott and the death of a SAS member in December 1984, the Regiment appeared to adopt an unofficial policy of what Mark Urban quoted SAS sources as calling "Big boys' games- big boys' rules": if you're an armed terrorist you can expect no quarter to be given. [60]

On 8 May 1987, the SAS conducted Operation Judy which resulted in the IRA/ASU [61] suffering its worst single loss of men, when eight men were killed by the SAS while attempting to attack the Loughgall police station. The SAS had been informed of the attack and 24 men waited in ambush positions around and inside the police station. They opened fire when the armed IRA unit approached the station with a 200 pounds (91 kg) bomb, its fuse lit, in the bucket of a hijacked JCB digger. A civilian passing the incident was also killed by SAS fire. [62]

In the late 1980s the IRA started to move operations to the European mainland. Operation Flavius in March 1988 was a SAS operation in Gibraltar in which three PIRA volunteers, Seán Savage, Daniel McCann and Mairéad Farrell, were killed. All three had conspired to detonate a car bomb where a military band assembled for the weekly changing of the guard at the Governor's residence. [63] In Germany, in 1989 the German security forces discovered a SAS unit operating there without the permission of the German government. [64]

In 1991 three IRA men were killed by the SAS. The IRA men were on their way to kill an Ulster Defence Regiment soldier who lived in Coagh, when they were ambushed. [65] These three and another seven brought the total number of IRA men killed by the SAS in the 1990s to 11. [66]

In the early 1970s, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Edward Heath asked the Ministry of Defence to prepare for any possible terrorist attack similar to the 1972 Munich massacre at the Munich Olympic Games and ordered that the SAS Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) wing be established. [67] In a little over a month the first 20-man SAS Counter Terrorist (CT) unit was ready to respond to any potential incident within the UK or abroad. Originally, it was known as the Pagoda Team (named after Operation Pagoda, the codename for the development of the SAS CT capability) and was initially composed of members from all squadrons, particularly members who had experience in the Regiment's Bodyguarding Cell, but was soon placed under the control of the CRW. [68] Once the wing had been established each squadron would in turn rotate through counter-terrorist training. The training included live firing exercises, hostage rescue and siege breaking. It was reported that during CRW training each soldier would expend 100,000 pistol rounds and would return to the CRW role on average every 16 months. [67] The CRW initially consisted of a single SAS officer tasked with monitoring terrorism developments, but which was soon expanded and trimmed in size to a single troop strength British technical experts developed a number of innovations for the team, including the first "flashbang" or "stun" grenade and the earliest examples of Frangible ammunition. [68]

Home operations Edit

Their first home deployment came on 7 January 1975, when an Iranian armed with a replica pistol hijacked a British Airways BAC One-Eleven that landed at Stansted Airport. The hijacker was captured alive with no shots fired, the only casualty being a SAS soldier who was bitten by a police dog as he left the airliner. [68] The SAS was also deployed during the Balcombe Street Siege, where the Metropolitan Police had trapped a PIRA unit. Hearing on the BBC that the SAS were being deployed the PIRA men surrendered. [67]

Iranian Embassy siege Edit

The Iranian Embassy Siege started at 11:30 on 30 April 1980 when a six-man team calling itself the 'Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan' (DRMLA) captured the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Prince's Gate, South Kensington in central London. When the group first stormed the building, 26 hostages were taken, but five were released over the following few days. On the sixth day of the siege, the kidnappers killed a hostage. This marked an escalation of the situation and prompted Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's decision to proceed with the rescue operation. The order to deploy the SAS was given, and B Squadron, the duty CRW squadron, were alerted. When the first hostage was shot, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, David McNee, passed a note signed by Thatcher to the Ministry of Defence, stating this was now a "military operation". [69] It was known as Operation Nimrod. [70]

The rescue mission started at 19:23, 5 May when the SAS assault troops at the front gained access to the embassy's first floor balcony via the roof. Another team assembled on the ground floor terrace entered via the rear of the embassy. After forcing entry, five of the six terrorists were killed. Unfortunately, one of the hostages was also killed by the terrorists during the assault which lasted 11 minutes. The events were broadcast live on national television and soon rebroadcast around the world, gaining fame and a reputation for the SAS. [69] Prior to the assault, few outside of the military special operations community even knew of the regiment's existence. [71]

Peterhead prison Edit

On 28 September 1987 a riot in D Wing of Peterhead Prison resulted in prisoners taking over the building and taking a prison officer, 56-year-old Jackie Stuart, hostage. The rioters were serving life in prison for violent crimes. It was thought that they had nothing to lose and would not hesitate to make good on their threats to kill their hostage, who they had now taken up to the rafters of the Scottish prison. When negotiations broke down, the then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd dispatched the SAS to bring the riot to an end on 3 October. The CRW troops arrived by helicopter, landed on the roof and then abseiled into the prison proper. Armed only with pistols, batons and stun grenades they brought the riot to a swift closure. [ citation needed ]

Hijacking of Ariana Afghan Airlines flight 805 Edit

On 6 February 2000, a Boeing 727 operated by Ariana Afghan Airlines was hijacked by a number of Afghan nationals who wished to escape the country and to obtain the release of a Mujahedeen warlord imprisoned by the Taliban. The flight landed at Stansted Airport and the on-call SAS CT team arrived, linked up with armed police and began developing Immediate Action (IA) and Direct Action (DA) plans. Neither were required as the hijackers eventually surrendered. [72]

War on Terror in the UK Edit

In 2005 London was the target of two attacks on 7 July and 21 July. It was reported in Times that the SAS CRW played a role in the capture of three men suspected of taking part in the failed 21 July bomb attacks. The SAS CRW also provided expertise in explosive entry techniques to back up raids by police firearms officers. It was also reported that plain clothes SAS teams were monitoring airports and main railway stations to identify any security weaknesses and that they were using civilian helicopters and two small executive jets to move around the country. [73]

Following the bombings, a small forward element of the CRW was permanently deployed to the capital to provide immediate assistance to the Metropolitan Police Service in the event of a terrorist incident. This unit is supported by its own attached Ammunition technical officer trained in high-risk search and making safe car bombs and improvised explosive devices, along with a technical intelligence cell capable of sophisticated interception of all forms of communication. In particular, after 21 July bombings, several SAS elements trained in explosive methods of entry were dispatched to support the Metropolitan Police firearms unit, and were used to explosively breach two flats where would-be suicide bombers had taken refuge, the police fired CS gas into both premises and negotiated the surrender of all suspects. [74]

The police retain primacy and are the lead in the event of a terrorist attack on British soil, but the military will provide support if requested. If a situation is deemed to be outside the capabilities of police firearms units (such as a requirement for specialist breaching capabilities), the SAS will be called in under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities legislation. Additionally, some categories of operation-such as the recapture of hijacked airlines or cruise ships, or the recovery of nuclear or radioactive IEDs remain a military responsibility. [75]

The Telegraph reported on 4 June 2017 that following the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017, small numbers of SAS soldiers supported police and accompanied officers on raids around the city. Following the London Bridge attack, a SAS unit nicknamed 'Blue Thunder' arrived after the attack had been ended by armed police. A Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin helicopter landed on London Bridge carrying what a Whitehall source confirmed were carrying SAS troops. [76]

Overseas operations Edit

Nations around the world particularly wanted a counter-terrorism capability like the SAS. The Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office often loan out training teams from the Regiment, particularly to the Gulf States to train bodyguard teams now focused on CT. The Regiment has also had a long-standing association with the US Army's Delta Force, with the two units often having swapped techniques and tactics, as well as conducting joint training exercises in North America and Europe. Other nations' CT units developed close ties with the Regiment, including the Australian SAS, New Zealand SAS, GSG 9 and GIGN. [77]

The first documented action by the CRW Wing was assisting the West German counter-terrorism group GSG 9 at Mogadishu. [78] Eventually the CRW grew into full squadron strength and included its own support elements-Explosive Ordnance Disposal, search and combat dogs, medics and attached intelligence and targeting cell. [68]

Along with overseas training missions, the Regiment also sends small teams to act as observers and to provide advice or technical input if required at the scenes of terrorist and similar incidents worldwide. [79]

The Gambia Edit

In August 1981 a 2-man SAS team was covertly deployed to The Gambia to help put down a coup. [80] [81]

Colombian conflict Edit

During the late 1980s members of the Regiment were dispatched to Colombia to train Colombian special operations forces in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations. As of 2017, the training teams missions remain classified rumours that SAS operators, with their US counterparts, accompanied Colombian forces on jungle operations, but this hasn't been confirmed. [68]

Waco siege Edit

In 1993, SAS and Delta Force operators were deployed as observers in the Waco siege in Texas. [79]

Air France Flight 8969 Edit

In December 1994, the SAS were deployed as observers when Air France Flight 8969 was hijacked by GIA terrorists, the crisis was eventually resolved by GIGN. [79]

Japanese embassy hostage crisis Edit

In early 1997, six members of the SAS were sent to Peru during the Japanese embassy hostage crisis due to diplomatic personnel being among the hostages and also to observe and advise Peruvian commandos in Operation Chavín de Huántar- the release of hostages by force. [82] [83]

The Falklands War started after Argentina's occupation of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982. Brigadier Peter de la Billière the Director Special Forces and Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Rose, the Commander of 22 SAS Regiment, petitioned for the regiment to be included in the task force. Without waiting for official approval D Squadron, which was on standby for worldwide operations, departed on 5 April for Ascension Island. [84] They were followed by G Squadron on 20 April. As both squadrons sailed south the plans were for D Squadron to support operations to retake South Georgia while G Squadron would be responsible for the Falkland Islands. [84] By virtue of a 1981 transfer from A Squadron to G Squadron, John Thompson was the only one of the 55 SAS soldiers involved in the Iranian siege to also see action in the Falklands. [85]

South Georgia Edit

Operation Paraquet was the code name for the first land to be liberated in the conflict. South Georgia is an island to the southeast of the Falkland Islands and one of the Falkland Islands Dependencies. In atrocious weather the SAS, SBS and Royal Marines forced the Argentinian garrison to surrender. On 22 April Westland Wessex helicopters landed a SAS unit on the Fortuna Glacier. This resulted in the loss of two of the helicopters, one on takeoff and one crashed into the glacier in almost zero visibility. [86] The SAS unit were defeated by the weather and terrain and had to be evacuated after only managing to cover 500 metres (1,600 ft) in five hours. [87]

The following night, a SBS section succeeded in landing by helicopter while Boat Troop and D Squadron SAS set out in five Gemini inflatable boats for the island. Two boats suffered engine failure with one crew being picked up by helicopter and the other crew got to shore. The next day, 24 April, a force of 75 SAS, SBS and Royal Marines, advancing with naval gunfire support, reached Grytviken and forced the occupying Argentinians to surrender. The following day the garrison at Leith also surrendered. [86]

Main landings Edit

Prior to the landing eight reconnaissance patrols from G Squadron had been landed on East Falkland between 30 April and 2 May. [88] The main landings were at San Carlos on 21 May. To cover the landings, D Squadron mounted a major diversionary raid at Goose Green and Darwin with fire support from HMS Ardent. While D Squadron was returning from their raid they used a shoulder-launched Stinger missile to shoot down a FMA IA 58 Pucará that had overflown their location. [89] While the main landings were taking place, a four-man patrol from G Squadron had been carrying out a reconnaissance near Stanley. They located an Argentinian helicopter dispersal area between Mount Kent and Mount Estancia. Advising to attack at first light, the resulting attack by RAF Harrier GR3's from No. 1 Squadron RAF destroyed one CH-47 Chinook and the two Aérospatiale Puma helicopters. [90]

Pebble Island Edit

Over the night 14/15 May, D Squadron SAS carried out the raid on Pebble Island airstrip on West Falkland. The force of 20 men from Mountain Troop, D Squadron, led by Captain John Hamilton, destroyed six FMA IA 58 Pucarás, four T-34 Mentors and a Short SC.7 Skyvan transport. The attack was supported by fire from HMS Glamorgan. Under cover of mortar and small arms fire the SAS moved onto the airstrip and fixed explosive charges to the aircraft. Casualties were light, with one Argentinian killed and two of the Squadron wounded by shrapnel when a mine exploded. [91]

Sea King Crash Edit

On 19 May, the SAS suffered its worst loss since the Second World War. A Westland Sea King helicopter crashed while cross-decking troops from HMS Hermes to HMS Intrepid, killing 22 men. Approaching HMS Hermes, it appeared to have an engine failure and crashed into the sea. Only nine men managed to scramble out of a side door before the helicopter sank. Rescuers found bird feathers floating on the surface where the helicopter had hit the water. It is thought that the Sea King was the victim of a bird strike. Of the 22 killed, 18 were from the SAS. [92]

Operation Mikado Edit

Operation Mikado was the code name for the planned landing of B Squadron SAS at the Argentinian airbase at Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego. The initial plan was to crash land two C-130 Hercules carrying B Squadron onto the runway at Port Stanley to bring the conflict to a rapid conclusion. [93] B Squadron arrived at Ascension Island on 20 May, the day after the fatal Sea King crash. They were just boarding the C-130s when word came that the operation had been cancelled. [94]

After Mikado had been cancelled B Squadron were called upon to parachute into the South Atlantic to reinforce D Squadron. They were transported south by the two C-130s equipped with long-range fuel tanks. Only one of the aircraft reached the jump point the other had to turn back with fuel problems. The parachutists were then transported to the Falkland Islands by HMS Andromeda. [95]

West Falkland Edit

Mountain Troop, D Squadron SAS deployed onto West Falkland to observe the two Argentine garrisons. One of the patrols was commanded by Captain John Hamilton who had commanded the raid on Pebble Island. On 10 June, Hamilton and patrol were in an observation point near Port Howard when they were attacked by Argentine forces. Two of the patrol managed to get away but Hamilton and his signaller, Sergeant Fosenka, were pinned down. Hamilton was hit in the back by enemy fire and told Fosenka "you carry on, I'll cover your back". Moments later Hamilton was killed. Sergeant Fosenka was later captured when he ran out of ammunition. The senior Argentine officer praised the heroism of Hamilton who was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. [96]

Wireless Ridge Edit

The last major action for the SAS was a raid on East Falkland on the night of 14 June. This involved a diversionary raid by D and G Squadrons against Argentinian positions north of Stanley, while 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment assaulted Wireless Ridge. Their objective was to set up a mortar and machine gun fire base to provide fire support, while the D Squadron Boat Troop and six SBS men crossed Port William in Rigid Raiders to destroy the fuel tanks at Cortley Hill. After firing Milan and GPMG onto the target areas the ground assault team came under anti-aircraft machine gun fire the water assault group were also hit by a hail of small arms fire, with all their boats hit and three men wounded, forcing them to withdraw. At the same time, the fire base came under an Argentinian artillery and infantry attack. The Argentinian unit had not been seen from the long-range surveillance of the area as they were dug in on the reverse slope. The SAS then had to call upon their own artillery to silence the Argentinian guns to enable G Squadron to withdraw. The raid was to harass the Argentinian ground forces and was a success, but Argentinian artillery continued to land on the SAS assault position and the route the squadron took on its exfiltration for an hour after they had withdrawn and not on the attacking parachute battalion. [97]

Between 1985 and 1989, members of the SAS were dispatched to Southeast Asia to train a number of Cambodian insurgent groups to fight against the People's Army of Vietnam who were occupying Cambodia after ousting the Khmer Rouge regime. The SAS did not directly train any members of the Khmer Rouge, but questions were raised amidst the "murky" factional politics as to the relationship between some of the insurgent groups and the Khmer Rouge. [98]

The Gulf War started after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on 2 August 1990. The British military response to the invasion was Operation Granby. General Norman Schwarzkopf was adamant that the use of special operations forces in Operation Desert Storm would be limited. This was due to his experiences in the Vietnam War, where he had seen special operations forces missions go badly wrong, requiring conventional forces to rescue them. Lieutenant-General Peter de la Billière, Schwarzkopf's deputy and former member of the SAS, requested the deployment of the Regiment, despite not having a formal role. [99] The SAS deployed about 300 members with A, B and D Squadrons as well as fifteen members from R Squadron the territorial 22 SAS squadron. [100] This was the largest SAS mobilisation since the Second World War. [100] There was conflict in the Regiment over whether to deploy A or G Squadron to the Gulf. In August 1990, A squadron had just returned from a deployment to Colombia, whereas G Squadron were the logical choice to deploy because they were on SP rotation and had just returned from desert training exercises. However, since A Squadron were not involved in the Falklands War, they were deployed. [101] [79]

De la Billière and the commander of UKSF for Operation Granby planned to convince Schwarzkopf of the need for special operations forces with the rescue of a large number of Western and Kuwaiti civilian workers being held by Iraqi forces as human shields, but in December 1990, Saddam Hussein released the majority of the hostages, however the situation brought the SAS to Schwarzkopf's attention. Having already allowed US Army Special Forces and Marine Force Recon to conduct long-range reconnaissance missions, he was eventually convinced to allow the SAS to also deploy a handful of reconnaissance teams to monitor the Main Supply Routes (MSRs). [102]

Initial plans were for the SAS to carry out their traditional raiding role behind the Iraqi lines, and operate ahead of the allied invasion, disrupting lines of communications. [101] The SAS operated from Al Jawf, on 17 January, 128 members of A and D squadron moved to the frontline [103] there they inserted three road-watch teams into western Iraq to establish observation of the MSR traffic on 18 January 1991, the first eight SCUD-B ballistic missiles with conventional explosive warheads fell on Tel Aviv and Haifa, Israel, it was this attempt to bring Israel into the war to undermine the coalition by shattering the coalition of Arab nations arrayed against Iraq, that was directly responsible for a dramatic increase in operations for the Regiment. On that day they were tasked with hunting Scuds. An operational area, known as "SCUD Box," covered a huge swathe of western Iraq south of main Highway 10 MSR, was allocated to the SAS and nicknamed "SCUD Alley", Delta Force deployed north of Highway 10 in "SCUD Boulevard," two flights of USAF F-15Es on "SCUD Watch" would be their main air support component. Both SAS and Delta operations were initially hampered by delays in bringing strike aircraft onto the often time sensitive targets-a problem only partially alleviated by the placing of special forces liaisons with the US Air Force in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [104] On 20 January, they were working behind Iraqi lines hunting for Scud missile launchers in the area south of the Amman — Baghdad highway. [105] The patrols working on foot and in landrovers would at times carry out their own attacks, with MILAN missiles on Scud launchers and also set up ambushes for Iraqi convoys, [106]

The half of B squadron in al-Jauf, Saudi Arabia, were given the task of establishing covert observation posts along the MSR in three-eight-man patrols inserted by helicopter. [107] On 22 January three eight-man patrols from B Squadron were inserted behind the lines by a Chinook helicopter. Their mission was to locate Scud launchers and monitor the main supply route. One of the patrols, Bravo Two Zero, had decided to patrol on foot. The patrol was found by an Iraqi unit and, unable to call for help because they had been issued the wrong radio frequencies, had to try to evade capture by themselves. The team under command of Andy McNab suffered three dead and four captured only one man, Chris Ryan, managed to escape to Syria. Ryan made SAS history with the "longest escape and evasion by an SAS trooper or any other soldier", covering 100 miles (160 km) more than SAS trooper John 'Jack' William Sillito, had in the Sahara Desert in 1942. The other patrols, Bravo One Zero and Bravo Three Zero, had opted to use landrovers and take in more equipment returned intact to Saudi Arabia. [108]

Meanwhile, A and D squadron mobile patrols were tracking down SCUDs and destroying them if possible, or vector-in strike aircraft. Both squadrons were equipped with six to eight Desert Patrol Vehicles (DPVs) in four mobile patrols/fighting columns. The mobile patrols used the "mothership" concept to resupply their mounted patrols, along with the DPVs, a number of cut-down Unimog and ACMAT VLRA trucks were infiltrated into the area of operations and served as mobile resupply points, themselves being stocked with fuel, ammunition and water by RAF Chinook drops, this meant that the SAS mobility patrols could effectively stay in the area of operations indefinitely. During one mission an operator reportedly destroyed a SCUD launcher with a vehicle-mounted Milan anti-tank guided missile. An Iraqi Army command-and-control site known as "Victor Two" was attacked by the SAS: SAS operators crept in to the facility and set a batch of demolition charges which were counting down to detonation when they were compromised, the SAS destroyed Iraqi bunkers with Milans and LAW rockets, operators engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Iraqi soldiers. The operators broke cover and braved enemy fire to reach their vehicles and escape before the demolition exploded. Another mounted patrol from D squadron was bedding down for the night in a desert wadi, later they discovered they were camped next to an Iraqi communications facility, they were quickly compromised by an Iraqi soldier walking to their position. A firefight erupted between the SAS and at least two regular Iraqi Army infantry platoons. The patrol managed to break contact after disabling two Iraqi technicals (pick-up trucks) that attempted to pursue them, during the chaos of the firefight a supply Unimog had been immobilised by enemy fire and left behind with no sign of the seven missing crew members. The seven SAS operators (one of whom was severely wounded) had captured a damaged Iraqi technical and drove toward the Saudi Arabian border, eventually the vehicle ground to a halt and the men were forced to travel on foot, after 5 days they reached the border. [109]

The desert units were resupplied by a temporary formation known as E squadron, this were made up of Bedford 4-ton trucks and heavily armed SAS Land Rovers. They drove from Saudi Arabia on 10 February, rendezvousing with SAS units some 86 miles inside Iraq on 12 February, returning to Saudi Arabia on 17 February. [110]

Days before the cessation of hostilities, an SAS operator was shot in the chest and killed in an ambush. The Regiment had operated in Iraq for some 43 days, despite the poor state of mapping, reconnaissance imagery, intelligence and weather additional problems such as the lack of essential kit such as night-vision goggles, TACBE radios and GPS units, they appear to have been instrumental in stopping the SCUDs. There were no further launches after only two days of SAS operations in their assigned "box," despite this, significant questions remain over how many SCUDs were actually destroyed either from the air or on the ground, the Iraqis had deployed large numbers of East German-manufactured decoy vehicles and apparently several oil tankers were erroneously targeted from the air. Despite a US Air Force study arguing that no actual SCUDs were destroyed, the SAS maintain that what they destroyed, often at relative close range, were not decoys and oil tankers. Undoubtedly, the Regiment succeeded in forcing SCUDs to move out of the "SCUD Box" and into north-west Iraq and the increased distances, for an inaccurate and unreliable missile system effectively eliminated the SCUD threat. General Schwarzkopf sent a personal message thanking the Regiment and Delta Force saying "You guys kept Israel out of the war." [111] By the end of the war, four SAS men had been killed and five captured. [112]

The SAS perfected desert mobility techniques during Operation Granby it would influence US Army Special Forces during initial operations in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade later. [113]

Bosnian War Edit

In 1994–95, Lieutenant-General Michael Rose, who had been the CO of 22 SAS and Director Special Forces (DSF) during the 1980s, commanded the United Nations Protection Force mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Needing a realistic appreciation of the situation in a number of UN-mandated "safe areas" that were surrounded by Bosnian-Serb forces, he requested and received elements from both A and D squadrons. The operators deployed with standard British Army uniforms, UN blue berets and SA80 assault rifles to "hide in plain sight" under the official cover as UK Liaison Officers. They established the "ground truth" in the besieged enclaves. As these men were trained as forward air controllers, they were also equipped with laser target designators to guide NATO aircraft should the decision be made to engage Bosnian-Serb forces. [113]

During the Siege of Goražde, an SAS operator in UN dress, was shot and killed as a patrol attempted to survey Bosnian-Serb positions. On 16 April 1994, as part of Operation Deny Flight, a Royal Navy Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 801 NAS flying from HMS Ark Royal was shot down by a Serbian SA-7 SAM but its pilot was rescued by a four-man SAS team operating within Goražde. The same team called in a number of airstrikes on armoured columns entering the city, until they were forced to escape through the lines of encircling Serbian paramilitaries to avoid capture and possible execution. [114]

A two-man SAS reconnaissance team was covertly inserted into the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica where a Dutch UN battalion was supposedly protecting the population and thousands of Bosniak refugees from threatening Bosnian Serb forces. The SAS team attempted to call in airstrikes as Serbian forces attacked but were frustrated by UN bureaucracy and ineptitude, they were finally ordered to withdraw and the city fell to the Bosnian-Serb army led by General Ratko Mladić in July 1995, resulting in the genocidal execution of some 8,000 cilivans. The SAS patrol commander wrote a series of newspaper articles about the tragedy, but was successfully taken to court by the MoD in 2002 to stop the publication. [115]

In the aftermath of the Dayton Agreement in December 1995, the SAS remained active in the region, alongside JSOC units in the hunt for war criminals on behalf of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. One such operation in July 1997 resulted in the capture of one fugitive and the death of another when he opened fired on a plain clothed SAS team. [115] [116] Another wanted war criminal was captured by the Regiment in November 1998 from a remote safehouse in Serbia, he was driven to the Drina river separating Serbia from Bosnia before being transported across in an SAS Zodiac inflatable boat and helicoptered out the country. [115] [117] On 2 December 1998, General Radislav Krstić was travelling in a convoy near the village of Vrsari in the Republika Srpska in northern Bosnia when members of 22 SAS, backed-up by a Navy SEAL unit, blocked off the convoy, disabled Krstić's vehicle with spikes and arrested him. [118]

Reservists were deployed into the Balkans in the mid-1990s as a composite unit known as "V" Squadron where they took part in peace support operations, which allowed regular members of the SAS to be used for other tasks. [119] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

Kosovo War Edit

The SAS deployed D squadron to Kosovo in 1999 to guide airstrikes by NATO aircraft and reconnoitre potential avenues of approach should a NATO ground force be committed. Members of G squadron were later dispatched into Kosovo from Macedonia to conduct advanced-force operations and assist in securing a number of bridgeheads in preparation for the larger NATO incursion. [115]

Following the Kosovo war, KFOR, the NATO-led international peacekeeping force which was responsible for establishing a secure environment in Kosovo. [120]

On 16 February 2001, a large explosive device blew up a coach travelling through Podujevo from Serbia carrying 57 Kosovo Serbs, killing 11 with a further 45 wounded and missing. The coach had been part of a convoy of 5 coaches, escorted by the Swedish military armoured vehicles under British command, the attack took place in a British Brigade Area within hours within hours Serbs within Kosovo formed crowds and began attacking Albanians. On 19 March 2001, 3,000 British and Norwegian troops arrested 22 Albanians suspected in the involvement of the bus attack, G squadron 22 SAS spearheaded the operation, the SAS were specifically requested because it was believed the suspects were armed, the SAS carried out the operation early in the morning, when most of the suspects were asleep. [121]

2001 insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia Edit

In the spring of 2001, fighting between the NLA and Macedonia was intensifying since at least March 2001, SAS teams observed the Kosovo-Macedonian border. Between July and August the violence escalated, the EU set up a peace deal to grant the 600,000 Albanian minority in Macedonia greater political and constitutional rights a multinational NATO mission would also deploy to collect the weapons from the 2,500 NLA rebels. In mid August Several four-man SAS patrols accompanied 35 members of Pathfinder Platoon, 16 Air Assault Brigade, into rebel held areas in northern Macedonia, on 21 August, the paratroopers guided in two British army Lynx helicopters into the village of Šipkovica, who were carrying 3 British NATO leaders that met with rebel leaders to the negotiation of the disarmament. Following the negotiations, Ali Ahmeti, the leader of the NLA remarked that "perhaps discrimination against Albanians has come to an end" the next day the NATO multinational force deployed to Macedonia under Operation Essential Harvest, between 27 August and 27 September they collected 3,000 weapons-successfully disarmed the rebels. [121]

The SAS and the SBS were deployed Sierra Leone in support of Operation Palliser against the Revolutionary United Front. They had been on stand-by to effect the relief of a British Army Major and his team of UN observers from a besieged camp in the jungle additionally, they conducted covert reconnaissance, discovering strengths and dispositions of the rebel forces. [122]

Operation Barras Edit

In 2000, a combined force of D squadron 22 SAS, SBS and men from 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment carried out a hostage rescue operation, code named Operation Barras. The objective was to rescue five members of 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment and a Sierra Leone liaison officer who were being held by a militia group known as the West Side Boys (there was a total of 11 hostages taken but six were released in preceding negotiations). [78] [122] The rescue team transported in three Chinook and one Lynx helicopter mounted a simultaneous two-pronged attack after reaching the militia positions. After a heavy fire fight, the hostages were released and flown back to the capital Freetown. [123] One member of the SAS rescue team was killed during the operation. [124]

Following the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda in 2001, the U.S. and its allies began the "War on Terror" an international campaign to defeat Islamist terrorism.

War in Afghanistan (2001–present) Edit

Operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups in Afghanistan began in October 2001. In mid-October 2001, A and G squadron of 22 SAS (at the time D squadron was SP duty, while B squadron was overseas on a long-term training exercise), reinforced by members of the 21 and 23 SAS, deployed to northwestern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan under the command of CENTCOM. They conducted largely uneventful reconnaissance tasks under the codename Operation Determine, none of these tasks resulted in enemy contact they travelled in Land Rover Desert Patrol Vehicles (known as Pinkies) and modified ATVs. After a fortnight and with missions drying up, both squadrons returned to their barracks in the UK. After political intersession with Prime minister Tony Blair, the SAS were given a direct-action task – the destruction of an al-Qaeda-linked opium plant in southern Afghanistan, their mission was codenamed Operation Trent. Both A and G squadron successfully completed the mission in 4 hours with only 4 soldiers wounded, it marked the regiments first wartime HALO parachute jump and the operation was the largest British SAS operation in history. Following Operation Trent, the SAS were deployed on uneventful reconnaissance tasks in the Dasht-e Margo desert, returning to Hereford in mid-December 2001 however, small numbers of Territorial SAS from both regiments remained in the country to provide close protection for members of MI6. One newspaper fuelled myth was that a British SAS squadron was at the Battle of Tora Bora, in fact, the only UKSF involved in the Battle was the SBS. [125] [126] In mid-December, the SAS escorted a reconnaissance and liaison team on a four-day visit to Kabul. The team was led by Brigadier Barney White-Spunner (commander of 16th Air Assault Brigade), who would assess the logistical challenges, and advise the composition of a UN-mandated force to 'assist in the maintenance of security for Kabul and its surrounding area', also in command of the team was Brigadier Peter Wall (from PJHQ) who would negotiate with the Northern Alliance. [127]

On 7 January 2002, an SAS close-protection team escorted Prime minister Tony Blair and his wife whilst they met with Afghan President Karzai at Bagram Airfield. [128] In 2002 the SAS was involved in operations in the Kwaja Amran mountain range in Ghazni Province and the Hada Hills near Spin Boldak, inserting by helicopter at night, storming villages and grabbing suspects for interrogation. [110] During the period of Operation Jacana, a large proportion of the SAS contingent in Afghanistan fell victim to illness that affected hundreds of other British troops at Bagram Airfield, many had to be quarantined. [129] For his conduct whilst leading the SAS in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Butler was awarded the DSO. [130] Over the next three years, the SAS, operating with an Afghan counternarcotics force (which they trained and mentored) conducted frequent raids into Helmand province, closely coordinated with the ISAF-led PRT (Provisional Reconstruction Effort), which aimed to assist in creating the conditions for the building of a non-narco-based economy, while improving the political link between the province and the new government in Kabul. These efforts were later reinforced in 2004 by the New Zealand SAS, which patrolled northern Helmand in support of the US PRT efforts. During this period, the SAS teams and the US PRT gained a close familiarity with the province and its people, via a combination of 'hearts and minds'-focused patrolling and precise counternarcotics raiding, which focused on the traders/businessmen rather than poor farmers. They supported their missions with a field hospital, complete with specialist staff (as well as the occasional intelligence specialist), who offered medical assistance to Afghans-a programmed known as MEDCAP. This approach was said to have won over many Helmandis. [131]

In May 2003, G squadron deployed to Iraq to replace B and D squadron at the same time they deployed around a dozen of its soldiers to Afghanistan, every 22nd SAS squadron had this deployment establishment until 2005. [132] Also that year, it was revealed that reserve soldiers from 21 and 23 SAS Regiments were deployed, where they helped to establish a communications network across Afghanistan and also acted as liaison teams between the various political groups, NATO and the Afghan government. [133] SAS reservists supported the British PRT in Mazar-e-Sharif that was established in July 2003 and staffed by 100 members of the Royal Anglian Regiment. [134]

After it was decided to deploy British troops to Helmand Province, PJHQ tasked A Squadron 22 SAS to conduct a reconnaissance of the province between April and May 2005. The review was led by Mark Carleton-Smith, who found the province largely at peace due to the brutal rule of Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, and a booming opium-fuelled economy that benefited the pro-government warlords. In June he reported back to the MoD warning them not to remove Akhundzada and against the deployment of a large British force which would likely cause conflict where none existed. [135] [136] In spring 2005, as part of a deployment re-balance, the Director of Special Forces decided to only deploy the 22nd SAS regiment to Iraq until at least the end of operations there, whilst British special forces deployments to Afghanistan would be the responsibility of the SBS before this, a troop from an SAS squadron deployed to Iraq would be detached and deployed to Afghanistan. [137]

In June 2008 a Land Rover transporting Corporal Sarah Bryant and 23 SAS territorial soldiers Corporal Sean Reeve and Lance Corporals Richard Larkin and Paul Stout hit a mine in Helmand province, killing all four. [138] In October Major Sebastian Morley, their commander in Afghanistan D Squadron 23 SAS, resigned over what he described as "gross negligence" on the part of the Ministry of Defence that contributed to the deaths of four British troops under his command. Morley stated that the MoD's failure to properly equip his troops with adequate equipment forced them to use lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers to travel around Afghanistan. [139] SAS reservists were withdrawn from frontline duty in 2010. [133] In December 2016, ABC news reported that the DEA's FAST (Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Teams) teams initially operated in Afghanistan alongside the SAS to destroy small opium processing labs in remote areas of southern Afghanistan. [140]

Following the end of Operation Crichton in Iraq in 2009, two SAS squadrons were deployed to Afghanistan, where the Regiment would focus its operations. [141] The main objective of the SAS and other British special forces units with Afghan forces embedded was targeting Taliban leaders and drug barons using "Carrot and stick" tactics. [142] In 2010, the SAS also took part in Operation Moshtarak, four-man SAS teams and U.S. Army Special Forces team ODA 1231 would perform "find, fix, strike" raids. These resulted in the deaths of 50 Taliban leaders in the area according to NATO, but did not seem to have any real adverse effect on the Taliban's operations. [ citation needed ] According to the London Sunday Times, as of March 2010 the United Kingdom Special Forces have suffered 12 killed and 70 seriously injured in Afghanistan and seven killed and 30 seriously injured in Iraq. [143] [Note 2]

In 2011, a senior British officer in Afghanistan confirmed that the SAS were "taking out 130–140 mid-level Taliban commanders every month." [144] On 12 July 2011, soldiers from the SAS captured two British-Afghans in a hotel in Herat they were trying to join either the Taliban or al-Qaeda and are believed to be the first Britons to be captured alive in Afghanistan since 2001. [145] [146] British newspapers that drew on WikiLeaks data revealed the existence of a joint SBS/SAS task force based in Kandahar that was dedicated to conducting operations against targets on the JPEL British Apache helicopters were frequently assigned to support this task force. [147]

On 28 May 2012, two teams: one from the SAS and another from DEVGRU carried out Operation Jubilee: the rescue of a British aid worked and 3 other hostages after they were captured by bandits and held in two separate caves in the Koh-e-Laram forest, Badakhshan Province, the assault force killed 11 gunmen and rescued all 4 hostages. [148]

In December 2014, the NATO officially ended combat operations in Afghanistan, however NATO personnel are remaining in the country to support Afghan forces in the new phase of the War in Afghanistan. The Telegraph reported that around 100 British Special Forces members including members of the SAS would remain in Afghanistan, along with US Special Forces in a counter-terrorist task force continuing to hunt down senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. They are also assigned their to protect British officials and troops remaining in the country. [149] In December 2015, it was reported that 30 members of the SAS alongside 60 US special forces operators joined the Afghan Army in the Battle to retake parts of Sangin from Taliban insurgents. [150]

Kashmir conflict Edit

In 2002, a team comprising Special Air Service and Delta Force personnel was sent into Indian-administered Kashmir to hunt for Osama bin Laden after reports that he was being sheltered by the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. US officials believed that Al-Qaeda was helping organize a campaign of terror in Kashmir to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. [151]

Iraq War Edit

The SAS took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the codename: Operation Row, which was part of CJSOTF-West (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – West) [152] B and D Squadrons carried out operations in Western Iraq [153] and Southern Iraq towards the end of the invasion, they escorted MI6 officers into Baghdad from Baghdad International Airport so they could carry out their missions, both Squadrons were replaced by G Squadron in early May. The US military designated the SAS element in Iraq during the invasion as Task Force 14 [154] in the months following the invasion, the SAS moved from Baghdad International Airport to MSS Fernandez in Baghdad, setting up and linking its "property" next to Delta Force, in summer 2003, following a request for a new mission, the SAS began Operation Paradoxical: The broadly drawn operation was for the SAS to hunt down threats to the coalition, SAS were 'joined at the hip' with Delta Force and JSOC, it also gave them greater latitude to work with US "classified" forces – prosecuting the best available intelligence. However, in winter 2003, they were placed under the command of the Chief of Joint Operations in Northwood, due to scepticism of Whitehall members about the UK mission in Iraq – making it more difficult for the SAS to work with JSOC. [155]

By 2004, The various 22nd SAS regiment squadrons would be part of Task Fore Black to fight against the Iraqi Insurgency, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Iraq, has commented on A Squadron 22 SAS Regiment when part of Task Force Black/Knight (subcomponents of Task Force 145), carried out 175 combat missions during a six-month tour of duty. [156] In January 2004, Major James Stenner and Sergeant Norman Patterson were killed when their vehicle hit a concrete roadblock whilst driving through the Green Zone at night the SAS's targets during this period (before it was integrated into JSOC in late 2005 to early 2006) were former Ba'athist party regime elements. By early 2005, the SAS supplemented their land rover and Snatch vehicles with M1114 Humvee's for better protection in southern Iraq, the SAS maintained a detachment in called Operation Hathor: consisting of a handful of soldiers based with British forces in Basra. Their primary role was to protect SIS (MI6) officers and to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance for the British Battle Group. In June 2005, after Delta Force took a number of casualties during Operation Snake Eyes, McChrystal asked the UK's DSF whether UK Special Forces would be able to assist, but he declined, citing ongoing British concerns about JSOCs detention facilities and other operational issues such as rules of engagement. This caused conflict between the DSF and the then-new commander of 22 SAS, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Williams, who believed the SAS were wasting their time targeting Ba'athist regime elements and advocated for a closer relationship with JSOC, tensions between them escalated throughout the summer of 2005. Williams met with McChrystal, whom he had a good relationship with, to discuss how he could get the SAS to work more closely with Delta Force and JSOC McChrystal met with the DSF and explained to him what JSOC was trying to do in Iraq, but the DSF questioned the tactics and in summary, strained relations further. The DSF tried to have Williams transferred, he took the case to General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, citing a long list of grievances, but his request did not command widespread support at the end of 2005, the DSF was replaced. Many of issues preventing the SAS and TF (Task Force) Black's integration with JSOC had been resolved by the end of 2005 and TF Black began working more closely with JSOC. By late 2005, British commanders decided that the SAS would do six-month tours of duty, instead of the previous 4-month tours, it was officially confirmed in March 2006. Due to the Basra prison incident, in which the name of the UKSF forces in Iraq 'Task force Black' was leaked to the press, the force was renamed 'Task force Knight' also in 2005, the regiment began using specially trained dogs, specifically during raids on houses in Baghdad. [157] [158]

In mid-January 2006, Operation Paradoxical was replaced by Operation Traction: the SAS update/integration into JSOC, they deployed TGHG (Task Group Headquarters Group): this included senior officers and other senior members of 22 SAS – to JSOCs base at Balad. This was the first deployment of TGHG to Iraq since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the upgrade now meant that the SAS were "joined at the hip" with JSOC and it gave the SAS a pivatol role against Sunni militant groups, particularly AQI [159] In March 2006, members of B squadron SAS were involved in the release of peace activists Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden. The three men had been held hostage in Iraq for 118 days during the Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis. [160] in April 2006 B squadron, launched Operation Larchwood 4 which was an intelligence coup which led to the death of AQI's leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In November 2006, Sergeant Jon Hollingsworth was killed in Basra whilst assaulting a house containing a senior al-Qaeda member he was decorated for his service in this unit. [161] On 20 March 2007 G squadron raided a house in Basra and captured Qais Khazali a senior Shia militant and an Iranian proxy, his brother and Ali Mussa Daqduq, without casualties. The raid turned out to be most significant raid conducted by British forces in Iraq, gaining valuable intelligence on Iranian involvement in the Shia insurgency. During the Spring and summer of 2007, the SAS suffered several men seriously wounded as it extended its operations into Sadr City. [162] From 2007 to early 2008, A squadron achieved "extraordinary" success impact in destroying al-Qaeda's VIBED network in Iraq, ultimately saving lives. [163] In early 2008, B squadron carried out the regiments first HAHO parachute assault in Iraq. [164] In May 2008, the SAS replaced their Humvee's for new Bushmaster armoured vehicles. [165] On 30 May 2009, Operation Crichton the UKSF deployment to Iraq ended, [166] over the course of the war, 6 SAS soldiers were killed and a further 30 injured. [167]

Somalia and Yemen Edit

In 2009, members of the SAS and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment were deployed to Djibouti as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa to carry out operations against Islamist terrorists in Yemen and Somalia amid concerns that the countries were becoming alternative bases for the extremists. In Yemen they operate as part of a counter-terrorism training unit and assisting in missions to kill or capture AQAP leaders, in particular they were hunting down for the terrorists behind the Cargo planes bomb plot. The SAS was carrying out surveillance missions of British citizens believed to be travelling to Yemen and Somalia for terrorist training and they are also working with US counterparts observing and "targeting" local terror suspects. [168] [169] Also in Yemen, the SAS was also liaising with local commandos and provided protection to embassy personnel. [170]

Members of the British SAS and US Army Special Forces trained members of the Yemeni Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU). Following the collapse of the Hadi regime in 2015, all coalition special operations personnel were officially withdrawn. [171]

International military intervention against ISIL Edit

In August 2014, the SAS were reported to be part of Operation Shader – the British participation in the ongoing military intervention against ISIL. They were reported to be on the ground gathering intelligence and helping with the evacuation of Yazidi refugees from the Sinjar mountains. [172] Also they have reportedly been helping Kurdish forces in northern Iraq [173] [174] as well as carrying out operations in Syria. In particular on 15 May, the SAS confirmed the presence in al-Amr of a senior leader, Abu Sayyaf, who was then killed in an assault by US Special Forces. [175] In October 2016, the Guardian reported that the SAS along with the Australian SASR are active in northern Iraq with US forces, where they have been calling in airstrikes in support of both Kurdish and Iraqi advances against ISIL. [176] In November 2016, the Independent reported that the SAS and other British special forces, as part of a multinational special forces operation, were given a list of 200 British jihadist to kill or capture before they attempt to return to the UK. The 200 jihadist are senior members of ISIL that pose a direct threat to the UK, the list of British men and women has been compiled from intelligence supplied by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ Sources said SAS soldiers have been told that the mission could be the most important in the regiment's 75-year history. [177] SAS snipers targeted ISIL insurgents, employing sniper rifles such as the IWI DAN .338 [178] and Barrett M82A1 .50 BMG.

Libya (2014–present) Edit

Since the beginning of 2016, the SAS was deployed to Libya during Libyan Civil War (2014–present), along with other UK Special forces, they have been escorting teams of MI6 agents to meet with Libyan officials and organise the supplying weapons and training to the Libyan army and to militias fighting against ISIL. [179] [180]

In March 2011, a joint SAS-MI6 team (E Squadron [181] were captured and detained by Libyan rebels, during the 2011 Libyan civil war. The team were stripped of their weapons. They were moved between at least two locations near Benghazi. They were later released. [182] The BBC reported that a troop of 20 soldiers of D Squadron 22 SAS deployed to Eastern Libya, where they operated in small groups in places like Misrata and Brega they assisted in training, coordinating and commanding opposition groups on and off the front line, and they were very active directing NATO airstrikes. [183] [184]

A Brief History of the 7-S ("McKinsey 7-S") Model

I was asked to write a roughly 1K-word précis of the 7-S/McKinsey 7-S Model, of which I was a co-inventor. As far as I can tell, this is the first such history of the well-known organization effectiveness diagnostic.

Herewith (and my apologies for the wordiness):

Gupta's rather strong comment came 28 years after Business Horizons, in its June 1980 issue, formally birthed the 7-Ss in an article by Bob Waterman, myself, and Julien Phillips titled: "Structure Is Not Organization."

And the Business Horizons article, in turn, came three years after I, fresh from receiving my Ph.D. in Organization Behavior at the Stanford business school (completed while on leave from McKinsey), was summoned to the firm's New York office and handed a fascinating assignment.

Relatively new McKinsey Managing Director Ron Daniel was launching a priority effort to renew McKinsey's intellectual capital&mdashthough that term did not exist at the time. (It was more or less called "R&D.") McKinsey's fabled advisors to top management were under an assault of ideas from Bruce Henderson's upstart Boston Consulting Group. And Daniel was determined to respond with vigor.

A major project on business strategy (the hottest of topics in 1977) had its home port in New York. But Daniel, from his own client work, was bedeviled by the frequency with which clever strategies failed to be implemented effectively. Though not a partner, I was asked to look at "organization effectiveness" and "implementation issues" in an inconsequential offshoot project nested in McKinsey's rather offbeat San Francisco office.(There was a third project, on "operations," run out of the Cleveland office.)

I should note that McKinsey's arsenal mostly consisted of "strategy" and, secondarily, "structure." All that was not to be cured with a scintillating strategic plan was to be dealt with by re-arranging the boxes on the formal organization chart. I exaggerate, of course&mdashbut not by much.

I finished a tour in the U.S. Navy in 1970 and went off to Stanford to pursue an MBA and eventually Ph.D. In neither of those pursuits was a page of Peter Drucker assigned. Instead I fell under the sway of the likes of Jim March (at Stanford), Herb Simon (March's partner and subsequent Nobel laureate in economics), and Karl Weick (then at the University of Michigan). Simon's Nobel stemmed from work on "bounded rationality" and its close kin, "satisficing"&mdashthe characteristic organizational pursuit of "satisfactory" rather than "optimal" decisions. March went much further, giving us such formulations as the "technology of foolishness" and "garbage can" models of organization, featuring, for example, solutions (pre-dispositions) wandering about organizations in random pursuit of problems to solve.

All of which is to say that I was attuned to an examination of organization effectiveness and implementation that went far beyond the mechanical manipulation of "charts and boxes."

I began my work with a grand tour of McKinsey offices world wide and business schools from inside and outside the USA. At home I visited with the likes of Professor Simon at Carnegie Mellon and, in Norway and Sweden, various researchers examining work group effectiveness&mdashe.g., the Volvo crowd in Sweden and Einar Thorsrud in Oslo, running work group/self-management experiments on supertankers!

Upon returning, I pondered my findings and began tentative presentations around McKinsey. In a 1978 article in Organization Dynamics, "Symbols, Patterns and Settings," the first public expression of these ideas, I discussed unconventional change levers, influenced mightily by Jim March, such as the leader's allocation of time per se as a principal "power tool."

Progress of sorts followed, but it was a slow crawl until Bob Waterman was assigned as my putative boss. Bob, whose principal avocation was and is painting, had broad tastes and an inquiring mind&mdashe.g., he became mesmerized by Karl Weick's work in a flash. More important, he was a damn good consultant&mdashand wanted our work to be constructed in a way that would help the average McKinsey-ite take a shine to issues of organization effectiveness. (Which was, after all, the point of the exercise.)

Bob was great friends with Tony Athos, a professor at the Harvard Business School&mdashand known worldwide as a master teacher. He enlisted Tony to help us turn our ramblings into something "crisp" (a favored McKinsey term) and memorable and "user friendly," as we say these days.

At a two-day séance in San Francisco, Bob and Tony and I, and Tony's cohort Richard Pascale, arrived, more or less full-blown, at the "7-S framework." (See immediately below.) The only, though significant, alteration became Tony's beloved "superordinate goals" morphing into "shared values." Tony was insistent that, corny as it appeared to be, we develop an alliterative model&mdashfind stuff that began with "Ss" in this case. In retrospect, it was a move of near genius. In my opinion, without the alliteration, which I initially found juvenile, the concept would not have been the sort being touted by Mr. Gupta almost 30 years later.

The shape of the "model" was also of monumental importance. It suggested that all seven forces needed to somehow be aligned if the organization was going to move forward vigorously&mdashthis was the "breakthrough" (a word I normally despise) that directly addressed Ron Daniel's initial concerns that had motivated the project. As we put it in the 1980 Business Horizons article, "At its most powerful and complex, the framework forces us to concentrate on interactions and fit. The real energy required to re-direct an institution comes when all the variables in the model are aligned."

Whether or not it was at the aforementioned séance, the other seminal idea&mdashthat there were "Soft Ss" as well as "Hard Ss"&mdashemerged as well and lasts to this day. I continue to say, over 30 years later, that the power of the 7-Ss and In Search of Excellence (1982) and my subsequent work can best be captured in six words: "Hard is soft. Soft is hard." That is, it's the plans and the numbers that are often "soft" (e.g., the sky-high soundness scores that the ratings agencies gave packages of dubious mortgages). And the people ("staff") and shared values ("corporate culture") and skills ("core competencies" these days) which are truly "hard"&mdashthat is, the bedrock upon which the adaptive and enduring enterprise is built. To state the obvious, we very much included the "Hard Ss" (Strategy, Structure, Systems) in our framework, then added the "Soft Ss" (Style, Staff, Skills, Shared values&mdashor Superordinate goal) and insisted that there was no precedence among them. Deal with all seven or accept the consequences&mdashlikely less than effective implementation of any project or program or increase in overall organization performance.

As mentioned at the outset, the coming out party was the June 1980 Business Horizons article. Then Athos and Pascale subsequently used the model in their popular The Art of Japanese Management (1981), and Bob and I included it in In Search of Excellence (1982).

At one point there was a movement to oust me from my humble office when an Op ed I wrote appeared in the Wall Street Journal in June 1980, emphasizing the primacy (yes, I dared use "primacy") of the "Soft Ss." (Bob W saved me, as he seemed so often to have to do.) On the other hand, my favorite certification of our approach came almost 20 years later from the ultimate "Hard S guy," McKinsey alum Lou Gerstner, in Who Says Elephants Can't Dance, summarizing his IBM turnaround effort: "If I could have chosen not to tackle the IBM culture head-on, I probably wouldn't have. My bias coming in was toward strategy, analysis and measurement. In comparison, changing the attitude and behaviors of hundreds of thousands of people is very, very hard. [Yet] I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn't just one aspect of the game&mdashit is the game [my emphasis]."

While the "Soft S" emphasis has been my life's work, I admit to astonishment when coming across a quote like the one from Rajat Gupta that opened this paper&mdashsuggesting three decades of staying power for our little model. I guess Tony Athos was right about the power of alliteration!

Tom Peters
Golden Bay
New Zealand
09 January 2011

Note to readers: For the best explication of the 7-Ss, the 1980 Business Horizons article remains a peerless source.

Watch the video: ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΕΝΟΣ ΗΡΩΑ του ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗ ΚΑΤΗ, με τον ΑΛΕΞΗ ΓΕΩΡΓΟΥΛΗ (January 2022).