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The exploits of the British Army’s elite 22nd Special Air Service Regiment - the regiment of the SAS that forms part of the Regular army - are shrouded in mystery and myths abound about its members. But what is the truth behind the public façade of clinical professionalism? How has such a small regiment attracted so many weighty legends? And what is the purpose of the SAS in the 21st century? Special Force provides an original and unusually critical overview of the activities of the SAS from the Malayan Emergency of 1950 to the present day. After its disbandment as a regular unit of the British Army after the Second World War, the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment was re-established in the jungles of Malaya in 1950 to assist in the counter-insurgency campaign against the Chinese Communist Terrorists. More than half a century later the SAS has become the ‘weapon of first choice’ in UK military deployments. In this powerful and provocative book, Alastair MacKenzie analyses the reasons behind this development and questions what it reveals about for the relationship between the armed forces, the public and politicians in the present day. In the context of a detailed and often controversial analysis of the post-war activities of the Regiment, MacKenzie establishes that the Regiment's almost legendary professional competence is often not backed up by reality. Far from being part of a structured deployment of strategic military assets, MacKenzie argues that the use of the SAS in recent years has been primarily driven by the ‘entrepreneurial’ actions of a few SAS commanding officers. Special Force not only offers a revelatory history of the SAS in the modern period, it is also a disturbing exposé of the truth behind the myth. Mackenzie passionately stresses the need for a greater understanding of the strategic relevance of this unique military force to the UK’s foreign and defence policy, arguing that the failure to understand the SAS’s strengths and weaknesses could be fatal. Special Force will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the British military - past, present and future.