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The exploits of the British Army's elite 22nd Special Air Service Regiment - the regiment of the SAS that forms part of the Regular army - are shrouded in mystery and myths abound about its members. But what is the truth behind the public facade of clinical professionalism? How has such a small regiment attracted so many weighty legends? And what is the purpose of the SAS in the 21st century? "Special Force" provides an original and unusually critical overview of the activities of the SAS from the Malayan Emergency of 1950 to the present day. In the context of a detailed and often controversial analysis of the post-war activities of the Regiment, MacKenzie establishes that the Regiment's almost legendary professional competence is often not backed up by reality. Far from being part of a structured deployment of strategic military assets, MacKenzie argues that the use of the SAS in recent years has been primarily driven by the 'entrepreneurial' actions of a few SAS commanding officers. "Special Force" not only offers a revelatory history of the SAS in the modern period, it is also a disturbing expose of the truth behind the myth.
It will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the British military - past, present and future.
Alastair MacKenzie comes from a military family of long standing and he served as an officer with the New Zealand infantry in South Vietnam and in the special forces of South Africa, Oman and the UK, where for four years he was troop commander in the 22nd Special Air Services Regiment. After his retirement as a full-time Army officer he enjoyed a successful commercial career with Royal Ordnance and British Aerospace before setting up his own consultancy firm. In civilian life he retained an involvement with the Territorial Army as an SAS officer and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2001. He obtained his PhD in Politics in 2005 and is the author of a number of articles for military journals.