The Special Air Service (SAS) is the British Army’s most renowned United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) unit. Its motto is ‘Who Dares Wins’ and has become well known all over the world. The SAS was created by David Stirling in 1941 as a desert raiding regiment mainly for carrying out sabotage missions. During 1950 the unit was changed from a regiment to a corps.
The SAS’ roles include counter terrorism, hostage rescue and covert reconnaissance. Currently the corps is made up of the 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the 21 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and the 23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve).
In order to become part of the Regiment, soldiers have to pass a number of exercises and tests during a five-week-long selection process. Although there are around 200 applicants each time, only 30 usually make it through.
The first SAS mission was in 1941 and involved a parachute drop in support of the Operation Crusader offensive. This mission, due to German resistance and the weather conditions, made the mission a disaster. 22 men were killed or captured.
Their most well-known operation, however, was Operation Nimrod which was carried out during the Iranian Embassy Siege in London in 1980. In 17 minutes the soldiers of the SAS Regiments rescued 24 out of 25 hostages and killed 5 out of 6 terrorists.
Currently the SAS has around 400 to 600 members and each regiment consists of four operation squadrons with approximately 65 men in each.