In 1990 – in the first Gulf War – Sadaam Hussain invaded Kuwait. He threatened that when attacks occurred against him he would fire scud missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia. He didn’t lie.
Bosses tasked the SAS and SBS with going deep behind enemy lines. They were to hunt down scuds and destroy them before they caused too much damage to neighbouring countries. They were given set sectors to work in to avoid blue on blue incidents. Each group undertook missions in their respective sectors.
One mission the special forces undertook was to recce Main Supply Routes (MSR). They would gather intelligence of troops movements and information on the Iraqi’s moving the scuds to their firing locations.
The SBS Mission
The SBS had a mission that would massively disrupt Sadaam’s ability to organise his army. The mission was to destroy a large, complex communications network. They could have just plugged his modem into a BT connection and it would have been game over.
US satellite intelligence discovered a well-hidden mass of fibre-optic cable, buried deep in the ground. This communications network was what kept Sadaam in touch with his forward positions of military units.
The desert is a tough place to hide. This mission was made more difficult with it being just 32 miles west of Baghdad.
On the night of 22 January, thirty-six SBS operators picked up their kit and headed towards two Chinook helicopters that were waiting to put them deep behind enemy lines. The site – on a road – was so close to Baghdad that there was a real possibility of the enemy launching a short notice counter attack.
The Iraqis would have had spies all around the area watching for possible enemy movement so the men had to be in and out as quick as they could.
The SBS Pack a Punch
The team had 180 kg of explosives, a cracking amount to destroy enemy equipment. After loading up, the Chinooks flew them directly to the site where they jumped out and ran to the road where their target lay.
To keep the noise to a minimum the helicopter pilots disengaged the rotors. This would reduce the sound enough so they could keep the engines running. If they came under attack and had to move fast it would help.
The Coalition bombardment of Baghdad had started by the time they arrived. The explosions and rumbles of the barrage filled the night air. Sadaam’s military establishments, one by one, were reduced to rubble by the bombs.
The SBS team started to dig down after they had located the communications cables. They nicked some of it so that experts could examine it back at home. Under the cover of darkness, the men planted explosives all around the area exposed by their digging.
After planting it they cleared the area – they didn’t want to go up with it – and detonated the charges. The explosives blew up and destroyed a 36-metre section of the cables. It was back to two tin cans and a piece of string for the enemy in the area after this mission.
They fucked off in the Chinooks enjoying the fireworks display going on below them. The men completed the whole mission from start to finish inside 90 mins. That’s a hoofin’ achievement. It was a total success, destroying the comms cables and getting out without a single casualty. The SBS had come a long way since their creation.
The Americans sent their congratulations, which was a nice change of heart. General Normal Schwarzkopf wasn’t too keen on using the UK Special Forces at first. Stormin’ Norman was chuffed to bits after this mission, along with General Colin Powell who sent congratulations to London.