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Too Successful?

I wonder if anyone else feels that Britain’s Special Air Service may have been a victim of its own success. In the old days, it was made up of enthusiasts, both the officers and men. Officers who did a tour of duty with the unit were often jeopardizing their career prospects by taking a two year break from service with their parent regiments. But these days it seems like service with the SAS is almost compulsory if an officer wants to reach the front rank of Britain’s generals. Maybe too many careerists with little understanding of the work are there to get the T-shirt before moving on to bigger and better things.

Perhaps, in the old days, the men were more likely to stand up to the officers, within the confines of good military discipline. And perhaps the older breed of officer was more inclined to listen to good advice from men with far more experience under their belts than they had. I’m told that the regiment is becoming known as the bitchiest in the British Army. The financial rewards associated with toe-ing the line and receiving promotion are far greater than they have ever been. A job application from Troop Sergeant Major for a lucrative contract with the XYG private security corporation is more likely to be successful than one from a humble trooper. Hardly an atmosphere conducive to forging a band of brothers. And for those who opt to remain in Her Majesty’s service, promotion from the ranks with an officer’s pension on retirement is not to be sneezed at. Crossing the Ruperts and Rodericks of the present-day officer corps carries a potentially heavy financial penalty.

Or maybe I’m just a poorly informed old romantic. As we used to say, "There's no fool like an old fool".


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