SAS failures in GW1

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by REMEbrat, Jan 6, 2009.

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  1. During Gulf War 1 Norman Schwarzkopf had spoken very highly of the SAS, they were his 'great white hope'. Three weeks later one of the four convoys sent into Iraq was 'scattered to the four winds' and two foot patrols had been compromised. Did this cause the SAS major problems with the Americans for the rest of the Gulf War and beyond or was it swept under the carpet by Politicians and Commanders?
  2. I seem to recall reading the opposite, that Schwarzkopf wasn't enthused about SAS or other SpecOps mucking about cluttering up his theater, and that he assented to special operations only reluctantly?
  3. I have no first hand knowledge, but my understanding was that Stormin' Norman did'nt like ANY Special Forces units. IIRC, this went back to an incident he had witnessed in Viet Nam, when American SF soldiers fcuked up and had to be rescued by conventunal forces.

    Standing by to be corrected...
  4. Command_doh

    Command_doh LE Book Reviewer

    Well the version I recall was that the only way Schwarzkopf could Keep Israel from attacking Iraq was Norm's personal assurance that British Special Forces were amongst those tasked to hunt down and destroy the mobile scud launchers and cut the lines of communication on the MSR.

    I can understand that blurb being on the dustjacket of Andy McLiar's book(it was), but less so from the BBC GW1 documentary. On the other hand, McLiar was involved in that too...

    And lets not forget the Schwarzkopf - signed Iraq map, and personal thanks he gave THEM. Also in the book.
  5. IIRC, Schwarzkopf had no need of British SF and it was only untill Billiere managed to convince him otherwise. But by the end of Op D.S, Schwarzkopf was saying Brit SF was second to none.
  6. I'm currently reading Sabre Squadron by Cameron Spence and in it he says about how Schwartzkopf had been convinced by de la Billiere that the SAS were his only real choice for Scud busting inside Iraq.
    However only three weeks into the war 30% of the SAS missions to find and destroy Scuds had failed completely leaving troops dead, missing and on the run deep inside Iraq.
    With his previous experience of US SF fcuk ups in Vietnam surely he would have been non too pleased with how a significant number of the SAS also fcuked up in GW1?
  7. Errrrr Special forces missions are not a walk in the park.
    They are high risk affairs thats why they get the extra pay gucci kit because the odds of getting away with it are slim.
    Some of the patrols got hammered others did the hammering small units big risk . But if they get away with it they can inflict massive damage on the enemy compared to there size and actually took out scuds as compared to decoys.
  8. I would be careful how much you take from Sabre Squadron as an authority on what happened, after all CS was on the ground not in the Headquarters.
  9. Stormin Norman did indeed have a deep miss-trust of SF, borne from Vietnam, Delta force etc.
    De la Billiere did have to talk him into using the SAS for scud busting, the point of which was to keep Israel out of the war, by showing them that something was being done therefore it was largely a PR exercise, which suceeded.
    Schwartzkopf (by his own admission) certainly had warmed to (uk)SF by the end of GW1 and stated that he would use them again.
  10. How far were they f*ck-ups and how far were they simply results of ops where not everything goes perfectly?

    In the case of B20 that was a f*ck-up, they shouldn't have been there, should have been motorised (though I understand they didn't have enough long wheel-based rovers to go round), or should have aborted on arrival as did another patrol.

    The way I read it PDB was on the look-out for ways to get his blue-eyed boys into the action and was the real active proponent of SF in GW1. In his book he says as much and also devotes, in my view, a disproportionate amount of time to them, thereby showing how much he regards them.
    As luck would have it the scuds gave the SF their opportunity otherwise he would have been harder-pressed to find a meaningful role for them.
    One book said that when the problem to the scuds was discussed Swarzkopf asked the US SF rep what they could do.
    He relied that they would need time to plan and deploy, and that after a few days would need extraction.
    The same question was addressed to PDP who had a quick whissy, whissy with his SF rep and then said that they could be on the ground within 36(?)hours and stay there provided they received resupply by helio.
    Swarzkopf immediately gave them the task.

    But they were effective in that the scuds were largely suppressed over time and Israel did not come in, so I don't think we can say they f*cked-up. But they did have things that, shall we say, didn't go exactly to plan.
  11. I used the term fcuk up to describe the missions that failed because that is the impression I get from Cammys book. To be honest I would have thought just sending a couple of patrols into Iraq with the sole aim of killing a few Iraqis and blowing up a couple of buildings would have done a good job of freaking out the Iraqi conscripts. I'm pretty sure that what the SAS did in 1990/1991 would have played hell with the moral of the conscripts expecting an easy victory as Saddam had no doubt told them.
  12. Before taking spence`s book as gospel, give Peter Ratcliffes book a read.
    I cant recall the name of it but he was the RSM at the time and eventually lead spences patrol, he discounts a lot of what spence says as outright lies.

    You say "failures" but after finding the patrols in his own back yard, how many of Saddams troops were diverted from the frontline to search for them?

    Knowledge gained by SAS men was vital in the preparations made by the US special forces for their missions.

    The end goal of Israel not joining the war was achieved.

    Its just a shame that good men were lost due to the arrogance of a few, the fact that those same people are now raking money in telling lies about it it boils my piss.
  13. Although your average SAS Tpr or NCO is generally slightly more experienced than the average non-SF bloke, it's also surely the case that your tom-on-the-ground, even an SF patrol member, doesn't necessarily have the birds-eye view of events in the grand scheme of things. Just like Pte Smith from 3 MERCIANS is unlikely to judge whether the Kajaki Dam operation force protection plan had faults, you have to take the opinion of guys like "Cameron Spence" from the perspective of a participant, not as an operational-level or strategic commander and his overall judgement of the Regt's success on OP GRANBY success is only the opinion of one small cog in a larger machine.
  14. The name of the book is: "Eye of the Storm" and is a bostin' read. Ratcliffe puts the failure of B20 squarely on McNob's shoulders.

  15. It may well ahve done, however as I others have already stated this was not the aim of the SAS missions into Iraq; It was to be actively seen to be seeking out and destroying scuds, which were being fired into Israel. Had Israel attacked Iraq (and it has been implied that GBsr had to talk the israelis into recalling an Israeli air force squadron armed with nukes , heading bagdhad, when the first scuds hit), then the coalition would have fallen apart.

    It has also been widely asserted that scud launches had completely stopped in the original area of operations within 9 days. Job well and truly done.