The British Special Air Service (SAS) is one of the premier military units in the world. Their motto “Who dares wins” is usually accurate, but they took a bit of bruising about an attempt to link up with some of the rebels in Libya.
The contingent of seven SAS officers and one MI6 official landed about 20 miles from Benghazi, where local witnesses said warning shots were fired as they arrived. As the soldiers tried to get to a nearby compound, they were quickly surrounded by the local militia who demanded to know who they were and what they were doing.
They have since returned to the HMS Cumberland after being held by the rebels for several days. There seems to be a fair amount of Monday morning quarterbacking going on, so let’s clear a few things up. First of all we don’t know what the heck the mission was about and why they went in the way they did. The SAS are professionals and the idea that they just nonchalantly landed in a field and expected to walk up to the locals “I say old chap, would you know where the head of your riff raff might be found?” is ridiculous. It’s possible that they were trying to sneak in and do some recon of the area, but landing in a populated area doesn’t fit that mission profile at all.
If there has been prior contact they would likely have been given a location to land with the expectation of someone meeting them to guide them to a meeting. It is possible they were double-crossed, or that the contact chickened out. Infiltrating a conflict zone and attempting to link up with possible allies is one of the diciest missions and this incident shows why. It is nice to see that someone is at least attempting to make friends with those fighting Gaddafi.