Members of the SAS have landed themselves in some hot water this week as pictures from their most daunting missions have been posted online. The troops, who are unnamed at the moment, have posted more than 2,000 photos on social media, and are now in trouble with their seniors who are looking to track down the culprits.
The images, which were uploaded onto the Facebook group that describes itself as “a page dedicated to one of the finest special forces in the world – The SAS or Special Air Service”, feature shots of weaponry, vehicles, equipment and military dogs, as well as front-line operations. The majority of them are believed to have been taking during military operations in Iraq.
The posts are seen as a major breach of SAS and SBS Group Policy, which stipulate that when a soldier joins the service, they are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement which bans them from talking about any operational information, as well as any leaking anything regarding tactics, training and procedures (TTP).
The controversy comes at a bad time for the SAS, due to the fact that there is currently an investigation into claims that British forces murdered innocent civilians in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. The investigation, which is ongoing, is also looking into allegations that the forces went on to falsify their mission documents in order to cover their tracks.
During an operation in 2011, the rogue SAS unit is alleged to have killed suspected insurgents when the missions requirements were simply to detain them. Such is the severity of the accusations, the Royal Military Police are now looking to interview witnesses who claim that the soldiers planted weapons on the victims to make them appear to be insurgents. The case is part of the ongoing investigation Operation Northmoor, which looks into the deaths in Afghanistan, but has only found one example of unlawful killing so far.
The images have began a discussion about the professionalism of the soldiers, and whether they are taking their roles as seriously as they should be. Speaking to the Daily Star, a former SAS source says that the images are genuine, but also expects the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to shut down the page pretty quickly.
“The images on this site are current and genuine, sometimes younger blokes want to see the profile of the regiment raised, but these guys have gone off-grid. The MoD have been looking at this and I predict it will be closed down.
An MoD spokesperson has also addressed the incident, saying that they are treating the pictures “very seriously” and will use the most severe sanctions they can.
“We are aware of an incident involving soldiers sharing images online. We expect the highest standards of behaviour from our personnel at all times, whether on or off duty. If any action by service personnel are deemed to breach values and standards, they are treated very seriously and there are a number of sanctions available to the chain of command up to or including discharge
It’s yet to be seen what sanctions will be imposed on the soldiers, but it’s safe to say that given the severity of the situation and the negative attention the SAS is currently receiving, the photos, or their distribution online, will not be taken lightly.