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Book Task Force Black

Discussion in 'All other military discussion' started by John A Silkstone, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. John A Silkstone United Kingdom

    John A Silkstone Mi General MI.Net Member

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    Though this book is not on the shelf at the moment, It should make good reading when it come out.


    Special Forces chief battles to stop book revealing details of operations in Iraq

    The head of Britain’s special forces has been trying to stop the publication of a book by a senior BBC journalist which describes in “tactical detail” operations carried out by the SAS in Iraq from 2003 to 2009.

    The major-general, who cannot be identified for security reasons, is concerned about the impact of Task Force Black on the elite regiment’s operational effectiveness because of the contents, which are understood to be based on interviews with members and former members of the SAS.

    Negotiations with lawyers representing the book’s author, Mark Urban, Newsnight’s diplomatic and defence editor, and the Ministry of Defence, have been going on for months, and a compromise had been reached.

    However, the Director Special Forces (DSF) remains unhappy with the publication. The DSF is in command of all the special forces: the SAS, the Special Boat Service, the Special Forces Support Group (formerly the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment), and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.

    The book describes missions in Baghdad, Basra and along the border with Iran in the south, and is to be published this week by Little Brown, despite the concerns of the most senior personnel in the special forces.

    The defence source said that after lengthy negotiations with the publisher, the MoD was satisfied that the book would not compromise the operational effectiveness of the SAS.

    “It has not been approved, because that implies that the MoD and special forces are happy with the publication, which they are not,” he added.

    The first time an account was written about SAS operations in Iraq, it caused such a storm in Whitehall that all members of the special forces were ordered to sign a confidentiality agreement which barred them from divulging any operational details without permission from the MoD.

    The author was General Sir Peter de la Billière, commander of British forces in the Gulf War in 1991. Earlier in his career he was Director Special Forces and he included a chapter on the SAS in his memoir, written after he left the Army.

    General de la Billière’s book was submitted, as required, to the MoD, but he was treated for some time as persona non grata and was banned from attending SAS functions. A flood of SAS books followed, the most famous, Bravo Two Zero, by Andy McNab, a former sergeant in the elite regiment.

    Although much has already been written about SAS operations in the 2003-2009 British campaign in Iraq, most of the focus has been on the regiment’s covert missions in Baghdad, where it served alongside the American Delta Force and other US special forces.

    The forces worked together hunting down al-Qaeda operatives and Sunni insurgents, and were involved in negotiations to persuade militants to give up and to support the Government in Baghdad. Far less is known about SAS operations in Basra, where a squadron from the SAS carried out covert missions alongside US Navy Seals.

    One key aspect of SAS operations in Iraq was the close working relationship with MI6. The SAS and MI6 worked together in some of the most dangerous environments.

    When British forces crossed the Kuwaiti border into Iraq in March 2003, and advanced to Basra to liberate it from Saddam Hussein’s troops, MI6 officers and SAS troopers were the first to enter the city to try to discover where the bulk of the enemy units were positioned.

    In March 2006, the SAS, along with other forces, rescued three Westerners from captivity in Iraq. The three men, Norman Kember, a Briton, and James Loney and Harmeet Sooden from Canada, were members of a group of four peace activists who had been kidnapped in November 2005 by an Iraqi organisation known as the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.

    Following the kidnap and killing of British workers Ken Bigley and Margaret Hassan in 2005, a multinational unit, which included the SAS, was formed, called Task Force Black.

    Apart from hunting prominent Saddam Hussein loyalists and alQaeda leaders, the task force was involved in establishing an intelligence network to counter the threat from kidnappers.

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