Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Marine Corps and the SAS


Your comments are so short and cryptic I can never be quite sure what you have in mind or mean; so I’ll just say this: members of the elite fighting forces of the world are largely the same. They have similar training and they think in the same patterns about war and fighting. There are exceptions, but what I have said is by and large true – true in regard to most of the members of these forces.

Also, what I said was that in boot camp we were told that civilians had no idea of what it was to be a Marine. They had a lot of dumb ideas of what that meant and what it meant to fight a war. We were instructed not to pay any attention to them. But that was boot camp. Later on we went into the world and dealt with civilians. Did we sit down to tea with maiden aunts and brandish knives and guns? Of course not. Were we uncouth in social settings. Not at all.

Am I convinced that your having met a few SAS members gives you insight into their nature as fighting men? Or that Lefty’s having a nephew in the Marines does that for him? No. I don’t think either of you can understand these men from that sort of exposure.

If you want a better understanding of what being in the SAS is all about then read Andy McNab’s autobiographical Immediate Action. This book was described as disclosing for the first time what being in the SAS was like. They were, and still are, a semi-secret fighting organization. Their name was originally intended to hide what they did. They weren’t supposed to talk about what they did. Andy McNab was considered by some to have crossed the line with his book. He describes things he wasn’t supposed to describe. If you were in the SAS you weren’t supposed to talk about what you did. That is still the case. Thus, for someone to say they met some SAS soldiers and learned what they were all about doesn’t seem convincing to me.

In the Marines we were told it would be a waste of time to talk to civilians about fighting and war, about what it meant to be a Marine. In the SAS they were simply told don’t talk about it.

Lawrence Helm

No comments: