SAS Secret War

SAS Secret War

Operation Storm in the Middle East

reviewed by Travis Weinger, Small Wars Journal

SAS Secret War (Full PDF Article)

SAS Secret War: Operation Storm in the Middle East. By Major General Tony Jeapes. London: Greenhill Books, first published 1980, this edition published 2005. 253 pages. $22.95. Reviewed by Travis Weinger.

A fanatical group, playing upon political and economic grievances in an isolated province, develops a base of support among the local tribes and launches a full-blown insurgency against the government and foreign power supporting it. The group violently attempts to break the traditional power structures and elites of the tribes and imposes a brutal and foreign ideology in their place. Realizing their mistake, the tribes begin, fitfully, to fight back against the outsiders, slowly reconciling with the counterinsurgents. The counterinsurgents partner with these tribal fighters to great effect, and the back of the insurgency is largely broken.

This could be a description of the course of the modern insurgency in Anbar province. Instead, it is the picture we get of the Dhofar insurgency in Oman in SAS Secret War, written by Major General Tony Jeapes, commander of the first full Special Air Service (SAS) squadron in Oman and SAS Commanding Officer from 1974 until the end of the war in 1975. Republished in 2005 (originally written in 1977), doubtless to cash in on the interest in counterinsurgency generated by the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, General Jeapes' first-hand account of the successful British campaign in Oman during the 1970s is a fascinating read, both on its own merits as a story of war and in light of present-day discussions and debates about the nature and best practices of COIN.

SAS Secret War (Full PDF Article)

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Having first read this book in 1996, I re-read it at the beginning of this year and, from a military perspective, got a lot more out of it. It is worth reading in conjunction with 'We Won A War' by Brigadier John Akehurst, who was the last Dhofar Brigade commander. Together, these books provide a unique insight into a little known campaign that resonates with much that is going on today.