Crisis as SAS men quit for lucrative Iraq jobs

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Capt Cheeky, Feb 14, 2005.

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  1. By Thomas Harding of The Telegraph
    (Filed: 14/02/2005)

    The number of SAS troopers leaving for lucrative jobs in the security industry has prompted the regiment to write to all soldiers urging them to stay.

    A letter from the regiment's headquarters has told all the SAS's 300 front-line soldiers that "it would be in everyone's best interests" if they remained in service.

    An estimated 120 former Special Air Service and Special Boat Service troops have left, swapping a junior NCO's wage of about £2,000 a month for as much as £14,000 a month working as security co-ordinators in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    The letter is said to have told soldiers to consider their loyalty to the regiment and the kudos of being in the SAS.

    "This has always been an issue," an SAS soldier said yesterday. "It is not the young ones that they are worried about but the senior NCOs who are so important.

    "If they lose middle management they lose all that experience for the future and they are desperate to keep that experience there."

    One former 22 SAS soldier now working in security estimated that 120 former Special Forces men are working for security firms in Iraq.

    Some are earning £450 a day, or £14,000 a month, working for firms such as Kroll, Controlled Risks and Armour Security.

    The former soldier, who had just one week off in his last two years in the SAS, said: "They cannot stop people from leaving. The SAS lifestyle is extremely demanding and not really conducive to family life or long-term relationships. On the security circuit you have the potential to earn very high wages combined with an attractive working rotation, invariably one month on, one month off."

    While wages, pensions and life insurance have been addressed in recent years, the SAS still has substantial commitments around the world. Workload cannot be addressed, said the former soldier, "because the men are deployed all over the place".

    The United States Defence Department has offered its most experienced special forces a bonus of $150,000 (£80,000) to sign on for six years to stem an exodus to security jobs, it was announced last week.

    The two SAS Territorial Army regiments are also experiencing manning problems and weekend training has been threatened due to lack of numbers. Some TA have been granted permission for up to a year's leave of absence but others have left for the private sector.

    TA SAS soldiers, who have a similar selection process to their regular colleagues, are obliged to undertake a certain number of days' training a year. With about 120 front-line "sabre" trained troops each, the TA regiments cannot afford to lose many more.

    "The TA are struggling with manning, especially 21 SAS," said an SAS insider. "Drill nights and weekend training are especially suffering."

    A former TA SAS soldier said: "The regiment is going to find it difficult because sums just don't add up to replace those who have buggered off."

    The troop losses are also affecting the northern-based 23 SAS, which does not have the large number of well-paid doctors, lawyers and city workers found in the southern-based 21 SAS.

    A senior SAS source said there had been a loss of TA soldiers. He said: "It has not been astronomical or a massive haemorrhaging of talent because a lot of blokes have been deployed operationally anyway," he said. "It has not had a detrimental effect as yet."

    An MoD source did not deny that a number of soldiers had left for security jobs.

    While it is not MoD policy to comment on Special Forces, a spokesman said the appeal of "operating in elite units of the British Armed forces remains a very strong draw for our most exceptional people".

    He added: "Members of all TA regiments are entitled to full-time employment of their choice, this is the same for the TA SAS regiments."
     
  2. These security jobs are short term in my opinion. Anyone trading their career for a year in Iraq for $150,000 is short sighted. As we have seen contractor's dont have the back up that the military has. I suspect that when
    the military drawdown occur's these security jobs will go away too.
     
  3. I believe you're right. The skills in demand at the moment are those which the trained trooper has in abundance, but the long term is for those with more substantial security risk management knowledge and experience. That isn't to say that the trooper can't acquire those skills, by any means, but he shouldn't think that he can get by on being able to point an MP5 accurately for the rest of his working life. Assuming that the Iraqi scenario is a one-off, of course....
     
  4. We'll be in Iraq for years and the 'security consultants' for even longer. And if you spams keep on with this 'axis of evil' crap there will always be somewhere else to go!!

    But a damn sight better off than if they'd satyed in the forces. Few years at that salary (if they survive) and you can retire.
     
  5. Hev the powers that be considered allowing them to do up to two years as a 'career break'. So many at a time could do this and return - anyone else that goes would not be readmitted.

    The quote about very limited leave suggests they are as over-worked, so isn't having another squadron one answer?. But is the Army as a whole large enough to get sufficient numbers to man it ?.
     
  6. Whiffler,
    If you lower standards to increase numbers, it defeats the object of the exercise. Even US special forces(Delta, Green Berets and Devgru, formerly navy Seals)have trouble filling their ranks. And that's from forces five or six times larger than ours.
     
  7. I didn't suggest lowering the standards, that's asked whether the army as a whole is large enough to sustain an extra squadron.

    Comparison with Spams for pool of available men does not reflect (my personal view) the higher standard of recruit in UKLF.

    Recent FAS can only make it harder. One wonders whether this issue cropped up, and whether it is what lies behind PoD's comment (sorry, can't find source) that "100,000 is the minimum size for the army - ever". probably a horrible paraphrase on my part.

    [/quote]
     
  8. I agree on the higher standard of UK recruit. But the pass - and failure rate - on the course for Hereford remains fairly constant. I think POD's comment referred to the law of diminishing returns for the army as a whole. It would lose momentum with any fewer than 100,000 men and begin to implode.

    The FAS reference to one of the Para btns being earmarked for support of special forces(something which happens anyway when required)is a reflection of the reality that it's the next-best-thing to raising a new squadron. It could probably be done, but it would be a push.
     
  9. I'd bet that thier Regt posts will still be open if indeed the well does run dry. I have a feeling however, that they'll have a least a couple of years work left over there, before being faced with the dole queue.
     
  10. I think there might be some kind of crossover at some stage when the number of commercial expat contractors in Iraq starts to rise. There could then be a transitional period during which these expats still need some level of protection.

    This is not to suggest that professional and commercial work cannot be done by Iraqis, including expatriates who choose to return. However, there was substantial Western involvement in construction in Iraq in the 1980s and before. Not just in Saddam's grandiose and military projects. Hard to say when that more 'normal' situation will return.
     
  11. From an interested bystander's perspective, this is probably not all bad news, either for UKSF or for the green Army - there has been real mission creep in UKSF tasking (again, from entirely unclassified observational data) lately and they have often found themselves being used in roles where a well-trained company of infantry could have done the same, or even (heresy) a better job.

    This might well motivate MoD to restrict their use to those roles where their unique skills and aptitudes are essential, rather than desirable.

    All, feel free to knock as many holes in this as you like!
     
  12. A mate of mine who was with one of the Units Is now Enjoying running a lucrative business doing CP work etc in Iraq.
    He just got sick of all the operational commitments he was Expected to do. So much so that his Civvy job (that paid around £28,000) went . So did his marriage. So when it came time for him to sign for re engagement he just said Stuff It. He`s now earning a good sum and within twelve months will be set for life. He regrets it a bit but says that when he did selection and all the other bits and bobs he thought it was to get out of the Infantry and int something a little more specialised.
     
  13. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Whatever way you cut it a guy in Iraq can earn almost the equivalent of 5 years salary in a year! I’m afraid it would take something spectacular for most people to turn that down.

    Imagine a Sgt in the Regt with 4 or 5 years to serve…..see ya…..

    3 years on the job and you can buy a nice pension and retire.
     
  14. napier

    napier LE Moderator Reviewer

    Due to the limited 'gene pool' of proper SF you do get plenty of UF types out there too. Some of them set such bad patterns that they were routinely taken on and of course had no backup. On one convoy which was taken on the only KIA was...the security specialist :lol:
     
  15. Shades of Bosnia, Napier. There were more guys out there at one point claiming to be ex-Sf than Hereford had to start with. A lot of them paid the penalty for being Walts n a very unforgiving environment. But if they couldn't take a joke........