Director Special Forces

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UK Special Forces were formed in 1987 to draw together the Army's Special Air Service (SAS) and the Special Boat Squadron Royal Marines (SBS), which was renamed the Special Boat Service at the same time, into a unified command, based around the former Director SAS who was given the additional title of Director Special Forces. The Directorate has been expanded by the creation of the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group.

Secret Forces

Now a new policy keeping the names of SAS and SBS men secret for ever is expected to be announced by the Government later this month. The MoD and the Ministry of Justice have been involved in the secret discussions. The intervention of the new Director Special Forces who is, for the first time, a major-general – the appointment in the past has been held by a lower-ranked brigadier – seems to have been the crucial factor.
He is understood to have pointed out that all the members of the elite units have to sign a strict confidentiality agreement which bans them from ever writing or speaking about their clandestine missions. In return, he felt that the MoD owed it to them to keep their names secret, even after their deaths. The confidentiality contracts were introduced after several books were written by former special forces soldiers about their careers. The most notable one was Bravo Two Zero, the blockbuster by Andy McNab about a failed SAS mission in the 1991 Gulf War.
The MoD has always maintained an official policy of never commenting about special forces operations. However, whenever the SAS or SBS have been engaged in a particular incident, with subsequent fatalities, the involvement of special forces troops has often leaked out. As a consequence, the MoD has allowed the names of individual members of the special forces to be published posthumously, although the traditional policy has been to give a serviceman’s original unit, such as The Parachute Regiment or Royal Marines.[1]



  1. Michael Evans, Defence Editor Special forces win the right to take their secrets to the grave From The Times January 5, 2008
  2. Michael Wilkes, Intelligence Online, 23 September 1992.
  3. Erinys, Management, Formerly hosted at <> retrieved from the Internet Archive dated 6 April 2008 on 1 October 2009
  4. Mark Urban, Task Force Black, Little, Brown, 2010, p.7.