Special Operations: August 1, 2004

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Members of Britains Special Boat Squadron (SBS) are rumored to be going back to school to learn more about infantry combat. The SBS are the British equivalent of the American SEALs. But the SBS, unlike the SEALs, spend more time practicing  moving ashore, be it across beaches or onto ships at sea or offshore oil platforms. When SBS went to Iraq last year, and got involved with operating far inland, they did not perform as well as expected. The SBS is a small organization, with only about 250 operators, and until about ten years ago, were part of the Royal Marines. Now, SAS and SBS are both part of the British Special Forces. One reason for the SBS becoming overspecialized in maritime operations, was the perceived vulnerability of Britains offshore oil rigs to terrorist attack. There was also fear that terrorists might take over a large ship, perhaps even an oil tanker, in the crowded English Channel shipping lanes, and cause a lot of damage. In both these cases, the SBS was seen as the cure for the problem. 

The Director of Special Forces ordered an investigation into the source of this SBS story, believing that it was more a continuation of a long term competition between the SAS and SBS, a situation which has sometimes turned ugly. The Director of Special Forces denied that there was any problem SBS ground combat skills. Not everyone in the SAS agrees. 

 


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