The true story behind the SAS operator in Kenya

The true story behind the SAS operator in Kenya 2020 image
SAS operator is seen speaking with another armed rescuer during hostage crisis in Kenya (Photo: AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A British Special Air Service (SAS) operator who reacted to last Tuesday’s terrorist attack in downtown Nairobi, Kenya became famous overnight. Despite his identity is unknown to the public, he made headlines. World news agencies have speculated about his identity and outfit. At first, he was “identified” as a Navy SEAL from SEAL Team 3 because he wore a Velcro patch that ST3 SEALs have been seen wearing. In fact, after some research, the truth is that he is not a “regular” SAS operator. Instead of that, he is part of the British Territorial Army SAS which is the reserve component of the famed Special Operations unit, according to the NEWSREP.

The 21 SAS and 23 SAS Regiments are garrisoned by civilian volunteers who have undergone rigorous SAS selection and training. They are led by senior officers and non-commissioned officers coming from the active-duty 22 SAS Regiment. Unlike the regular SAS Regiment, it accepts members of the general population without prior military service.

The two special operation units had been part of the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) since its inception in the late 1980s. However, a recent organizational restructure of the British Army brought them under the wing of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Brigade in 2014. Still a SOF unit, they now focus more on SR and Human Environment Reconnaissance and Analysis (HERA) operations. Alongside these skill sets, they also conduct FID and advice and training missions.

The SAS operator who single-handedly stormed the luxury DusitD2 hotel was in Kenya on training and advise mission. They was assigned to the local police and military counter-terrorist units. On a side note, during the terrorist attack, he was off-duty, but despite that, he assisted Kenyan special forces during the rescue operation.

The Territorial SAS Regiments have been mobilized for all the major conflicts in recent British history, including Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

During 1 September 2014, 23 SAS was placed alongside 21 SAS under the command of 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade, a brigade under Force Troops Command which provides combat specialist support to the British Army’s Reaction and Adaptable Forces.

Moreover, the unnamed operator has been nominated for the George’s Cross (GC), the equal standing to the Victoria Cross (VC), which is the British equivalent of the Medal of Honor. It is equal standing hence is the VC and GC Association, the VC comes first in lists as it was instituted first but they are both level one awards.

The aftermath of a deadly attack on the luxury hotel by the Somali militant group al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with notorious al-Qaeda, brings the total toll of 21 people dead, including an American citizen, and dozens wounded.

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