List of SAS operations
The following is a list of known Special Air Service (SAS) operations.
World War II Operations
The Special Air Service began life in July 1941, the brainchild of Lieutenant David Stirling of 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. The SAS carried out this role until the end of the war serving in a number of theatres and campaigns. By the end of the Second World War on 8 May 1945, the SAS had suffered 330 casualties, but had killed or wounded 7,733 and captured 23,000 of their enemies.
- Operation Crusader, initial unsuccessful raid.
- Operation Squatter, 16/17 November 1941, raid on forward Axis airfields in North Africa.
- Operation Green Room
- Operation Agreement
- Operation Bigamy, September 1942, raid on the Port of Benghazi.
- Operation Palmyra
- Operation Albumen, 7/8 June 1942, 4/5 July 1943, raids on Axis airfields in Crete.
- Operation Husky, July 1943, Allied invasion of Sicily.
- Operation Chestnut, July 1943, raids supporting Sicily invasion.
- Operation Narcissus, July 1943, capture of lighthouse in Sicily.
- Operation Avalanche, Allied invasion of Italy.
- Begonia/Jonquil, October 1943, rescue of POWs in Italy.
- Operation Candytuft, October 1943, raid on railroad targets in Italy.
- Operation Maple Driftwood 1944, raid of railroad targets in Italy.
- Operation Baobab, January 1944, raid on rail targets serving Anzio, Italy.
- Operation Galia, December 1944 - February 1945, 34 men from 3 Squadron, 2 SAS parachuted into northern Italy, conducted operations alongside local resistance fighters.
- Operation Overlord, June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of North-West Europe.
- Operation Titanic, June 6, 1944.
- Operation Nelson, June 1944, operation in the Orleans Gap.
- Operation Samwest, 6 June 1944, 4th SAS Battalion (Free French) dropped in Côtes-du-Nord (Brittany).
- Operation Grog /Grog, 4 SAS in conjunction with Operations Dingson and Samwest June 5, 1944.
- Operation Dingson, 6 June 1944, 4th SAS Battalion (Free French) dropped to Morbihan (Brittany).
- Operation Bulbasket, 2nd SAS failed operation 6 June 1944.
- Operation Cooney, 8 June 1944, 18 teams of the 4th SAS Battalion (58 Free French) dropped to Brittany to break communications ways.
- Operation Houndsworth, June 1944.
- Operation Lost, 23 June - July 1944, British and Free French operation in Brittany
- Operation Swan, 1944.
- Operation Gain, 1944 (Originally issued as Operation Cain but corrupted in transmission and the latter adopted).
- Operation Defoe, July 1944, patrols in Normandy.
- Operation Barker, 1944, (originally issued as Operation Barkers as it is named for a famous London department store, but subsequently truncated).
- Operation Derry, 1944.
- Operation Gaff, July 1944, attempt to kill or capture Erwin Rommel.
- Operation Dunhill, August 1944, raid in support of the breakout from the Normandy beachhead.
- Operation Loyton, August 1944, operations near the Belfort Gap.
- Operation Haggard, (Part of a series of randomly allocated cryptonyms derived from famous writers).
- Operation Newton, August 1944, attacks on German rear areas.
- Operation Noah, August 1944, attack on retreating Germans in Belgium.
- Operation Canuck, January 1945 operation in Northern Italy.
- Operation Cold Comfort, February 1945 failed SAS raid on railroad targets near Verona.
- Operation Brake, (part of a series of operations named after parts of aircraft).
- Operation Tombola, March 1945, major operation around Bologna.
- Operation Archway, March 1945, reconnaissance in support of the crossing of the Rhine.
- Operation Amherst, In the night of 7 April 1945, more than 700 Free French SAS of the 3rd and 4th SAS were dropped in the Netherlands between Hoogeveen and Groningen.
- Operation Keystone, April 1945, operation near IJsselmeer.
- Operation Howard, April–May 1945, B and C Squadrons of 1 SAS, provided reconnaissance ahead of the Canadian 4th Armoured Division's drive towards northern Germany.
Known Post-War Operations
Immediately following the conclusion of the Second World War the SAS was disbanded, however the continued necessity for a commando unit was recognised and they were reformed again in 1947. In 1950 an SAS squadron trained to be deployed in the Korean War, however they were eventually transferred to Southeast Asia to serve in the ongoing Malayan Emergency. The SAS continued to serve successfully in a variety of theatres and roles throughout the Cold War, and following the September 11 attacks the SAS deployed in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, it has continued its diverse selection of roles to the present day.
1950s-1970s - the Cold War
- Operation Helsby, February 1952, series of deep penetration operations in Malaya.
- Operation Hive
- In 1958 two squadrons of 22 SAS were deployed to Oman to put down a rebellion. In January 1959 the SAS carried out a successful assault on a large guerrilla force on the Sabrina plateau.
- "Keeni-Meeni Operations", 10 December 1963 – 1967, the search for Yemeni-trained assassins.
- Operation Storm, 1970–1977, deployment of the SAS to support the Sultanate of Oman; operating under the auspices of a British Army Training Team (BATT). Included the well documented attack on the SAS outpost at Mirbat.
- Operation Nimrod, 5 May 1980, successful rescue of hostages from the Iranian embassy in London.
- Operation Corporate, 2 April-14 June 1982, the overall British operation to recover the Falklands Islands. The SAS alongside the SBS carried out numerous reconnaissance missions and diversionary raids in East and West Falkland to support the campaign. SAS forward observers also directed British artillery and aircraft.
- Operation Paraquet, 25 April 1982, successful recapture of the Island of South Georgia.
- Pebble Island Raid, 14–15 May 1982, successful attack on Argentinian-held airbase in West Falkland.
- Operation Sutton, 21–23 May 1982, landings in East Falkland.
- Operation Mikado, May 1982, abortive operation to destroy the three remaining Exocet missiles in Argentine possession.
- Mount Kent, 29–31 May 1982, D Squadron of 22 SAS seized and then held the vital Mount Kent high ground for three nights against repeated Argentine assaults until being reinforced by 42 Commando.
- Operation Banner, 1969-1997, deployment of the British army in Northern Ireland, the official SAS deployment from 1976.
- M60 gang, 1980, eight IRA members arrested, SAS Captain Herbert Westmacott killed.
- Loughgall, 1987, ambush of eight IRA members.
- Flavious, 1988, operation against three IRA members in Gibraltar.
- Coagh, 1991, ambush of three IRA members.
- Clonoe, 1992, ambush of six IRA members.
- Coalisland, 1997, one alleged IRA member shot and wounded after a grenade attack on RUC barracks.
- Operation Granby, January 1991, the deployment British forces during the Gulf War, the SAS component included the well documented Bravo Two Zero patrol. The SAS adopted its classic deep penertration role behind enemy lines, being deployed in numerous reconnaissance missions and raids on Scud launchers and communications sites. They also acted as observers for Coalition artillery and aircraft.
- Operation Victor Two, February 1991, a successful assault on a Scud communications installation.
- Operation Joint Endeavor, 16 July 1992 – 2 December 2004, NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2000s-2010s - the War on Terror
- Operation Palliser, May 2000, deployment of British forces in Sierra Leone.
- Operation Enduring Freedom, 7 October 2001–ongoing, NATO deployment in Afghanistan. The SAS were involved in the initial invasion and remain actively involved in the conflict.
- Operation Trent, November 2001, attack on an Al Qaeda opium plant and command centre.
- Tora Bora, 12–17 December 2001, failed attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden.
- Operation Condor, May 2002.
- Rescue of Stephen Farrell, 9 September 2009, successful SAS-SBS operation to rescue Times journalist Stephen Farrell after he was captured by the Taliban.
- Operation Moshtarak, March 2010, a part of a U.S.-led operation in Helmand Province, operating with Navy SEALs striking against and capturing Taliban leaders.
- Rescue of Helen Johnston, July 2012, SAS conducted and led a joint operation with American Delta Force in a night time raid in the Shahr-e-Bozorg district, in a large forested area near the Tajikistan border called Koh-e-Laran. SAS and Delta Force arrived by helicopter and undertook a "long march" to a cave system where 4 aid workers (1 British, 1 Kenyan, 2 Afghan) were being held. There was a moment of alarm when the US troops reported that the cave they assaulted did not contain any hostages. The tension was broken when the SAS commander on the ground reported that his team had successfully rescued all four hostages and killed 11 kidnappers within minutes. There were no SAS fatalities or injuries.
- Operation Telic, 19 March 2003 – 30 April 2009, the British deployment in Iraq. It is not clear whether the SAS were involved in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, however they were involved in later operations during the occupation.
- Operation Row, 18 March 2003, the Daily Mail alleged in February 2013 that the SAS were deployed in Iraq two days before the Coalition invasion, in an operation named "Row" to destroy scud launchers. B & D Squadrons of 22 SAS were tasked to assault the town of Al Qa’im in Northwest Iraq where it was believed chemical weapons were ready to be deployed.
- Basra prison incident, 2005, two undercover Special Air Service soldiers were captured by Iraqi police after it was alleged they opened fire on a police check point. The British army used tanks to encircle the building they were being held and after nightfall the SAS stormed the prison and rescued the captured operatives. According to the governor of Basra province, Mohammed al-Waili, the British had used "more than ten tanks backed by helicopters" to carry out the raid. After the British army left, around 150 other prisoners fled the prison. On 25 December 2006, the SAS again raided the Al Jameat station, killing seven gunmen and freeing 127 prisoners being held by Shia militias there. They then blew up the building. A British Army spokesperson stated that the 127 prisoners freed had been tortured and that there were fears that they were about to be executed.
- Task Force Black, 2005-2008, an SAS team worked jointly with American Delta Force as a unit known as "Task Force Black" in a secret war against Al Qaeda and other insurgents based in Iraq. The "Black Ops" operation claimed to have cleared 3,500 insurgents off the streets with "several hundred" of them believed to have been killed. 6 SAS soldiers had also been killed and 30 injured in the Operation. General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander of NATO forces in Iraq, has commented on A Squadron 22 SAS Regiment; that when part of Task Force Black and Task Force Knight, carried out 175 combat missions during a six-month tour of duty.
- Operation Marlborough, July 2005, SAS sniper teams of Task Force Black killed 3 insurgents.
- Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis, 23 March 2006, SAS-led operation as part of Task Force Black to free British and Canadian peace activists.
- On 6 September 2007, a 30-man SAS team of Task Force Black assaulted a house that intel had pinpointed as the location of a senior Al-Qaeda figure. The mission was a success but it cost the life of one of the SAS servicemen.
- 2011 military intervention in Libya, an early operation was conducted by E-Squadron of UK special forces; consisting of elements from the SAS, SBS and MI6. This was to contact the Libyan rebel and opposition leaders, however the mission was a failure after the team was captured and held prisoner for 72 hours by Libyan rebels.
- Operation Ellamy, a BBC news broadcast on 19th Jan 2012 revealed that the SAS had, in fact been redeployed to Libya as part of the larger British deployment, in a joint operation with French and Qatari special forces. The programme explained that 22 SAS were in the East of Libya, operating in small groups in places like Misrata and Brega by August. They assisted in training, coordinating and commanding opposition groups on and off the front line, and they were very active directing NATO airstrikes. It was also alleged that 22 SAS were leading the hunt for Gaddafi after the Battle of Tripoli.
- Shortt & Mcbride (1981), The Special Air Service, Osprey Publishing, p. 15, retrieved 9 October 2013
- Shortt & Mcbride (1981), The Special Air Service, Osprey Publishing, p. 18, retrieved 9 October 2013
- "SAS in Malaya". britains-smallwars. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Mike Ryan (15 Aug 2003), Secret Operations of the SAS, Motorbooks International, retrieved 8 October 2013
- de B. Taillon, p.30
- "Borneo 1964-65". britains-smallwars. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Leroy Thompson (5 December 1994), SAS: Great Britain's Elite Special Air Service, Motorbooks International, retrieved 8 October 2013
- Lord Ashcroft (25 November 2008). "Special forces heroes: A unique type of valour, a rare kind of courage". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
- The Falklands 1982, britains-smallwars, retrieved 8 October 2013
- Falklands War: SAS role in the conflict, BBC, retrieved 8 October 2013
- "The SAS raid on the airfield at Pebble Island - 14 May 1982 at the RAF website". Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- "Mount Kent". Retrieved 2013-10-08.
- Bowyer Bell, J. (1997). The Secret Army: The IRA. Transaction Publishers, pp. 487–488. ISBN 1-56000-901-2
- Ten cases of special forces in action - BBC News, 5 May 2011.
- Three IRA members shot dead in Gibraltar - BBC.
- 'The SAS broke the rules of war' - BBC, 28 January 2009.
- Community ‘demands truth’ about Clonoe SAS ambush - Molloy - tyronetimes, 3 February 2012.
- "How Elite Squad Pounced" by Conor Hanna. Daily Mirror, 28 March 1997
- Special Air Service (SAS) - VICTOR TWO, eliteukforces.info, retrieved 8 October 2013
- Operation Tango - The SAS Arrest War Criminals, eliteukforces.info, retrieved 8 October 2013
- Operation Ensue - The SAS Arrest Stevan Todorovic, eliteukforces.info, retrieved 8 October 2013
- Kiley, Sam (6 December 2001). "SAS in battle at Tora Bora". London: London Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Pierce, Andrew (9 Sep 2009). "Army anger as soldier killed saving journalist who ignored Taliban warning". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Palvadori, Matty. "How SAS rescued hostages from Taliban caves".
- MARK NICOL (23 February 2013). "Revealed:The SAS secret mission to kill in Iraq BEFORE MPs voted to invade". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- "SAS Gulf War 2 Raid Revealed". eliteukforces. 2013-02-25. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- "British soldiers free two from Basra jail". USA Today. 19 September 2005. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "British tanks storm Basra jail to free undercover soldiers" (20 September 2005). The Guardian.
- "British troops attack Iraqi police station in Basra" (25 December 2006). International Herald Tribune.
- "Discussions to follow Basra raid" (26 December 2006). BBC News.
- Rayment, Sean (30 August 2008). "Gen Stanley McChrystal pays tribute to courage of British special forces". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Meo, Nick; Evans, Michael; McGrory, Daniel (25 March 2006). "Army's top general attacks Kember for failing to thank SAS rescue team". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 March 2010.
- "SAS member killed in undercover raid". The Guardian (London). 7 September 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- TASK FORCE BLACK, eliteukforces.info, retrieved 8 October 2013
- Urban, Mark (19 January 2012). "SAS on ground during Libya crisis". BBC (London). Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Rayment, Sean (6 Mar 2011). "Libya: SAS mission that began and ended in error". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Harding, Thomas (19 January 2012). "Libya: SAS leads hunt for Gaddafi". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- de B. Taillon, J. Paul (2000). The evolution of special forces in counter-terrorism,The British and American Experiences. Greenwood. ISBN 02-7596-9-223.
- Ryan, Mike (2003). Secret Operations of the SAS. Motorbooks International. ISBN 07-60-31414-4.
- Shortt, James; McBride, Angus (1981). The Special Air Service. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-396-8.
- Thompson, Leroy (1994). SAS: Great Britain's Elite Special Air Service. Motorbooks International. ISBN 08-79-3894-00.