0705

BOOK OF THE MONTH - JULY 2005

SAS Secret War: Operation Storm in the Middle East by Major General Tony Jeapes. Published by Greenhill Books, London and Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, 2005. ISBN 1-85367-567-9. Paperback, 253 pp, 22 b & w photos and maps, 16 x 23 cm. UK price 11.99 plus post and pack, but best to see your local friendly bookseller.

The earlier version of this hook was published 25 years ago and, commendably, Greenhill has seen fit to keep alive the history of this quite large and strategically important campaign that saw the defeat of Yemini insurgents trying to impose a Marxist regime on the neighbouring state of Oman.

The British involvement, from 1966 to 1976, was the largest commitment of British forces to a campaign since the Korean War. The book concentrates mainly on the activities of the 22nd SAS Regiment from 1970, although an insightful background briefing is provided.

The eventual triumph of the British and Omani Sultan's forces was a psychological boost to military strategists of the Free World who, understandably, were depressed by the North Vietnamese victory in 1975.

The highly decorated and highly regarded author, who oversaw the nuts and bolts of this successful unconventional warfare, regards the affair as "the best conducted counter-insurgency campaign ever fought." A reading of this book will persuade the reader likewise.

The role of the SAS in patrolling, information gathering, civilian aid and subtle persuasion to lead the rebels to join the Government side is herein well documented. Although not committed to obliterating the enemy by overwhelming military offensives, in the battle of Mirbat, where heroism against vastly superior numbers prevailed, the SAS proved indubitably that they were primarily soldiers.

Besides history, the book provides an insight into how the SAS operated as a team of experienced, self-motivated elite personnel, and thus why they were so successful. A commendable narrative that needs retelling for a new generation and highly recommended for the military practitioner or lounge-chair general.

 

 
 


 

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