The SAS fought in Malaya, Borneo, Muscat and Oman, largely as a counter-insurgency force but also as jacks of all trade ready for various delicate and dangerous tasks. The British government kept their activities secret, hoping to use them as a discreet, non-publicized intervention force. Ironically, the curtain of secrecy surrounding the SAS made it an intriguing topic for speculation. Its reputation grew in inverse proportion to what was known about it, to the point that the government could use it effectively as a symbol because of the mystery surrounding it.
While today there is a great deal more information available about such elite formations – particularly due to the rapidity with which information is gathered and disseminated in the information age and their place in popular culture due to films and video games – there still remains a great deal of mystery and secrecy surrounding such units. Some of this shroud is completely appropriate and understandable in order to provide legitimate operational security for such unit members and their missions, but others argue that this sometimes goes too far.
Read the rest at U.S. News and World Report.