Special Air Service ‘shrinkage’ security threat?

“The SAS – which has played a key role in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in anti-terrorist operations – reportedly has a one third shortage of manpower in its front-line strength.”

SAS ‘facing recruitment crisis as Army is over-stretched’

Daily Mail: April 25th, 2011

The SAS is facing a recruitment crisis because the best soldiers are too over-stretched to apply, a senior officer has warned.

Head of the infantry Brigadier Richard Dennis also says in a leaked internal letter that the elite force’s standing in the Army is slipping because the most interesting operations such as those in Afghanistan ‘are no longer seen as the preserve of the Special Forces’.

The SAS – which has played a key role in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in anti-terrorist operations – reportedly has a one third shortage of manpower in its front-line strength.

Although details of SAS wounded statistics are secret, it is said to have suffered similarly high casualty rates to some other Army units – including an incident last year in Afghanistan when eight soldiers were badly injured in a single attack.

Writing to the head of the Army General Sir Peter Wall, Brigadier Dennis said in a letter seen by the Daily Telegraph that he had deep concerns over the ‘challenge of fully manning the SAS’ and that urgent action was needed to improve the ‘depth and quality’ of potential recruits.

He quoted the commander of 22 Special Air Service Regiment as saying that there was an ‘understandable need for more youthful, quality volunteers’.

Brig Dennis added: ‘I am content, notwithstanding the need to avoid any complacency, that the infantry community delivers sufficient officer and soldier volunteers to Selection.

‘I am less confident about how we guarantee better depth of quality to increase selection pass rates.

‘Indeed, for any measure to be successful you might consider that Army action is essential if we are to increase selection success and the enduring quality of our SF (Special Forces) community.’

Brig Dennis added that many soldiers were apprehensive about applying to join the SAS as ‘fear of failure remains acute’ and suggested commanders should ‘talent spot and nurture’ potential recruits.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We do not normally comment on SF matters and we can see no reason to change that policy on this occasion.’

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