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Brown sparks anger by revealing SAS role in Afghanistan

Gordon Brown sparks anger by revealing SAS role in Afghanistan

Gordon Brown surprised MPs and caused consternation among senior military figures yesterday by revealing there were 500 special forces troops in Afghanistan.

By Andrew Porter, Thomas Harding and Alex Spillius
Published: 10:00PM GMT 30 Nov 2009

It came as the Prime Minister announced the deployment of another 500 British soldiers to the war-torn country. They will leave for Helmand province within days.

Mr Brown said the latest deployment meant Britain’s military presence in Afghanistan was now officially 10,000 - when the 500 special forces in the region were taken into account. It is the first time that Mr Brown has publicly acknowledged their presence.

Anything for a bit of reflected glory, eh Gordon?

Maybe he's got another courage book planned; "How I spoke about them, publicly!".

Ally fecker.
He refused to talk about airframes in Afghanistan when he was being questioned by a select committee in Parliament on grounds of "National Security", despite the deployed airframes available being openly discussed on various MOD websites. Now he is facing annihalation at the polls in less than 6 months he breaches national security in an effort to get better numbers to discuss when increasing available manpower, on a day when he re-announces an old announcement in Parliament (having leaked it to the press 24 hours before).

He really stoops low to score political points using our servicemen fighting in Afghanistan.

The man really is a total Cnut.
I think the question here is. Are these 500 new ninjas? Are these 500 old ninjas that havent been counted before? Are these 500 imaginary ninjas that no one can check if they are there or not until after im dead?



Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
It's a bit of a none story, PM reveals we have Special Forces in Afghanistan. I believe there's been mention of it before.
The fact that British Special Forces were deployed was undeniable, after all enough have been repatriated through RAF Lyneham to evidence that fact. The thing that has annoyed senior officers is that he has given confirmation of the extent of Special Forces deployment.

He plays the National Security card when it suits his purposes, he is prepared to play politics with the security of this nation, something that he is not supposed to be doing.
the_boy_syrup said:
Fang_Farrier said:
It's a bit of a none story, PM reveals we have Special Forces in Afghanistan. I believe there's been mention of it before.
Theres even been footage on Youtube and the news

Is it really that much of a shock?

There you are

No one's suggesting special forces being in theatre is a secret - but that's not the point here - it's just not the norm to specify how many are there - especially when DSF has "politely and formally requested that you refrain from doing so, Prime Minister...".

And that old footage is from the Boat Squadron work out at Qala-e-Jhangi fort near Mazar-e-Sharif... in November 2001, so it's hardly current.


Book Reviewer
Tommy said:
And that old footage is from the Boat Squadron work out at Qala-e-Jhangi fort near Mazar-e-Sharif... in November 2001, so it's hardly current.
That was my Point it's old news

P.s. didn't Harold Wilson do the same in the Seventies with the SAS in N.I.

Maybe it's Labour Policy?


Book Reviewer
I'd be surprised if the troops themselves would not favour a little recognition of whatever it is they are doing: teams in Baghdad some years back were very unhappy about the gag order that does not allow them to write up their experiences. On the official level, the units themselves are commissioning military paintings of their exploits in the GWOT, so obviously they are keen to be memorialized in some shape or form.

I trust British media quotes from "SF sources" as much as I trust a politician's promise. If, OTOH, those quotes ARE legit, it strikes me as amost comically hypocritical for them to publicly (ie to the media) criticize a government announcement, when the government announcement in question was simply acknowledging that they are in theater (duh!) and their rough numbers therein. Exactly how that information could be of any use to the enemy, I have no idea.
Despite strong protests from the Director of Special Forces, a major general who cannot be named, Downing Street forced through the issue and decided to go ahead with the announcement.

SAS commanders privately described the move a “crass decision” that was taken for “political expediency” to allow Mr Brown to say the total British force stood at 10,000 troops.

There had been angry debate between the Ministry of Defence and Downing Street over the issue as there has previously been a strict protocol in place of not revealing special forces numbers.

Until Mr Brown gave away the numbers operating in Afghanistan the D Notice Committee, that advises the press on national security matters, said that no mention of the elite force total was to be made.
Time and time again, that one eyed scottish ****** proves he doesn't give a flying shit about our Armed Forces effectiveness, and only his image.

Since the SAS began, their operations have been kept secret. Now all of a sudden Brown knows he's in the shit, on the verge of getting voted out, and decides it's as good reason as any to push past all the people who actually know what they're talking about - and disclose the information.

I think it's time for one of these 'black bag' ops the walts go on about - a raid on No. 10 to get rid of him, for the benefit of everyone.


Book Reviewer
Since the SAS began, their operations have been kept secret.

Not so.

According to his biographer, Paddy Mayne of WWII fame was angry that his men were not getting the press attention he thought they deserved.

Let's go back to the birth of UKSF. During WWII, Churchill was keen for the commandos and their activities to be publicized as it was good for the morale of the public and the forces. This continued past the war. For eg, the very risky RM commando raids on the North Korean coast were covered by an MP/journalist who actually joined the unit and wrote up the raids for a newspaper

More? The government of the day publicly announced the SAS commitment to Northern Ireland. Why, I even seem to recall some chaps in black kit going into action in central London on live TV: The government did not keep that op secret, the world's press was all over it.

Arguably, if the Princes Gate operation had not been televized worldwide, the wider world beyond the Army would never even have heard of the SAS.

More recently, the SBS/USSF action in the early days of Afghan (it is all-over YouTube) was covered by a press corps, including TV cameras and TIME magazine (which wrote a cover story on it).

Some armies - the Israeli Army after Entebbe, for eg and USSF and SEAL forces in Vietnam, for eg (SEALs held press conferences, and reporters were invited to cover SF border camps) - recognize the value of publicity of elite units, as it increases morale and builds a formidable reputation.

The ultra-secret mystique surrounding all aspects of UKSF is a relatively modern phenomenum. As late as the 1980s, the SAS held regimental open days.
Gordon Brown could spark outrage if he stepped on a crack in the pavement

The flip side of the 'secrecy' coin is that special forces put the sh1tter up the enemy so why not advertise the fact, the Taleban and AQ have proven time and time again they can use open source technology and the media to gain the advantage, making our efforts look lumpy and ineffective.

Of course if we rely on the MoD PR/Spin/Denial machine then we are in trouble but a creative media and information campaign should be central to any modern operation, pity we are stuck in the seventies.

Still if we stick our heads in the sand deep enough perhaps the internet will go away

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