2010
06.05

Ah sigh, thought we were done with politics, but politics is not done with us it seems. Today the Daily Mail digs up stuff from 2005 to make their point against labour:

“SAS defied MoD to rescue two of its men held hostage in Iraq as top commanders ‘prepared to quit’ over ban on mission”:
The SAS launched a daring mission to rescue two of its own men held hostage in Iraq against the orders of the Ministry of Defence, the Daily Mail can reveal. The elite unit was pushed to the brink of mutiny after it was banned from saving the SAS soldiers captured by militants because to do so would embarrass the Government. The astonishing edict drove SAS officers close to mass resignation, according to a hardhitting report by the Tory MP Adam Holloway, a former Guards officer.

Details of the incident in 2005 expose the shameful way the Armed Forces have become politicised under Labour – with political spin put before soldiers’ lives.

And here comes the good part:

Mr Holloway’s explosive account is supported by General Sir Mike Jackson, who was head of the Army at the time but only learned of the scandal later. General Jackson last night made clear his disgust at the way soldiers were asked to sacrifice their men for political reasons, shattering the sacred military covenant that no man is left behind on the battlefield. He told the Mail: ‘The story as you relate it chimes with my memory of the events. It was not only a brave but a very necessary operation to release those two captured soldiers. The British Army looks after its own. Underline that three times.’

Read the full article in the Daily Mail here

Three years prior to these events, in 2002,  members of Bravo Two Zero stated in a BBC Panorama documentary:

SAS patrol ‘left to die’

Eight SAS soldiers in the Gulf War were abandoned by their commanders after their mission went wrong, a BBC investigation suggests.
Requests for rescue made by the Bravo Two Zero patrol – operating behind enemy lines, with patrol leader Andy McNab – were ignored until it was too late, the BBC Panorama programme says.

Three of the patrol were killed, four were captured and tortured and one escaped during the ill-fated mission to destroy Iraqi Scud missiles in 1991.
The official inquiry into what went wrong has always maintained that no comprehensible messages for help were ever received.

But Panorama has seen an SAS log recording calls for assistance from the patrol, which it says shows emergency requests were received, ignored and covered up.

You can read the full transcript of the Panorama documentary here

THE SECRET SAS LOG ENTRIES

THURSDAY 24TH JANUARY 1991: B Sqn Northern MSR gp reported that they had been compromised and requested exfil asp. Exfil did not take place as it was unclear whether they had had a contact or if it was a chance compromise.

FRIDAY 25TH: B20 made TACBE contact again, it was reasonable to assume that…they were moving South. A CH 47 crew were on standby for B20 and as from now >there will be 1 crew on permanent standby.

SATURDAY 26TH: Poss further communication from B20 using TACBE to a passing F15, this contact came from a location on the main E&E route. Op mounted tonight to pull them out. (CH 47 returned to Al Jouf without completing the mission due to bad weather.)

So..if the Daily Mail can dig up old cows.. so can we 😉

2010
27.03

March 9, 2010

The Bookwitch: “My alert readers will immediately deduce who that sleeve belongs to, and that the asterisks above indicate that after blogging about Scandinavian Airlines and the Scattered Authors, I have finally met the real SAS. I mean, the real SAS for me is the airline, but it’s the ‘cool and dangerous’ SAS this time.

I met Andy McNab in Birmingham yesterday. At least I hope I did. I went into this bar and started chatting to the first balaclava-ed man I saw. It was him, wasn’t it? With all other writers, if I don’t know them, I google them to make sure I can recognise them. Doesn’t work with Andy. Not that he’s called Andy, anyway. This one tried to suggest he’d be Terry Pratchett today, but you know me. I know my Terry Pratchetts well, and it wasn’t him. He tried it with the wrong witch.

Andy’s lovely publicist Sally had suggested that I might want to interview him. And I did, seeing as I missed him at the local bookshop three years ago, due to someone’s unfortunate lack of understanding my likes and dislikes. The Daughter got to meet him then, so she didn’t need to come this time. Especially since the services of a photographer wasn’t top of my list for Monday’s outing.

The witch had tea and this man in the bar had coke. Whoever he was, we had a nice conversation. He looked rather like a Guardian reader, now that I come to think of it. That doesn’t mean we actually read the same newspaper. In case he wants to sue.

As some of you will want to know what Andy had to say, I’ll now work diligently at transcribing our conversation, and I will strive to make up a really good misquote, because he seemed to quite fancy being quoted wrongly, as long as it’s a good one.

And no, he didn’t really wear a balaclava. It would have attracted attention.”

Source: Bookwitch

Bookwitch posted the interview this week and it’s awesome. We’ll post a snippit but really you have to go read the entire interview!

Andy McNab: “I say “look, if you wanna be in the X-Files, you’ve got to be talented. Get on with it. However, if you can’t read, you can’t read your contract. Contracts are like that (he holds up his finger and thumb to show how thick) and you’ve got to be able to read.”

The Andy McNab interview
March 23, 2010
 
Whether or not the man I interviewed in Birmingham the other week was an impostor, at least it was the same impostor as turned up in G2 a few days later. I’d recognise the man behind those cucumber slices anywhere! Also gather that my way of taking photos of Andy’s sleeve must have caught on, since it seems that some television channel or other did precisely that when Andy talked to the opposition leader. Please note that he met with me first. Everybody needs a sense of priority when they have a busy week.
So, read the interview, and see what sort of man and writer this former soldier is. His interest in getting boys educated is heartening. Enticing reluctant readers to open a book is another thing to admire Andy for. I remain to be convinced of the necessity for his anonymity, but it does make for a different kind of meeting. And he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is nice.

Andy McNab – ‘I’ve met myself, you know’

He’s well preserved for fifty, this man who claims to be Andy McNab. Good looking and with very few grey hairs. He’s waiting for me in the bar at the top of the red-carpeted stairs at the Birmingham Malmaison. We appear to be in Birmingham’s former mail sorting office, which is quite appropriate for me, at least. Andy leads us to two black sofas by the window, where we can see the entrance to the upmarket shopping mall housed in the Mailbox, as it’s called.

Go here to read the Bookwitch interview with Andy McNab

Photos by Bookwitch’ Ann Giles on Flickr

2009
27.11

November 2009

From a 16 year-old juvenile delinquent languishing at Her Majesty’s pleasure in a north London borstal to becoming the writer of the highest-selling war book the country has ever seen is, to put it mildly, an eventful journey.  And for one night in Screen Two at the Broadway Cinema, Andy McNab, Britain’s most famous soldier-turned-writer took us through it as part of a promotional tour for his two new books.

Inaccurate expectations of Andy McNab aren’t hard to develop.  Photos of him are strictly forbidden on promotional tours due to the sensitive nature of some of his past work, which makes it tricky if you’re organising the event and waiting for McNab to turn up.  Since the publishers won’t send out photos, Ross Bradshaw (whose Lowdham Book Festival on Tour event this was) spoke in the introduction of his giving a number of people significant looks before McNab finally came forth and revealed himself.  Personally, I was hoping for a cross between Sean Bean (who played McNab in the BBC adaptation of Bravo Two Zero) and a scary brick wall, with perhaps a bristling moustache that carried with it an unmistakeably military air.  Inevitably, McNab is nothing of the kind, looking like a particularly well-groomed PE teacher and talking like the very epitome of a Sarf Landahn wideboy.

Keeping a close eye on the watch he kept in the palm of his hand, McNab talked for almost an hour, taking us from his recruitment into the Royal Greenjackets at 16 to his present career as a writer, consultant on military matters for films such as Heat and Pearl Harbour and member of several committees that care for soldiers in and returning from war.  In between these two points the audience were treated to tales of applying for the SAS, his training in the Air Assault Troop, missions in West Africa, Colombia, Northern Ireland and of course the ill-fated mission in the first Gulf War that led to his 1.8 million-selling first book.  Loving mentions of whatever he was driving at the time (Peugeot Turbo, Red Lancia, etc) served as amusing punctuation to stories of gunfights and creeping through jungles.

Most interesting were his insights into the practical realities of soldiering and the effects of stress on those in war, including the most succinct and clear explanation of the condition we know as ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ I’ve ever heard.  The consequences of PTSD have obviously been bought home to him over the years: of the fellow soldiers in his SAS troop only he and one other have avoided prison or death on active service or by their own hand.  His own strategy for coping with the ordeals his army career has put him through was rather less complicated than most: “Not giving a shit, really”.  Tales of obvious bravery were leavened with flashes of humour (raids on drug fields in Colombia were usually scheduled for Thursdays, as the whole team liked to be in Bogota for the weekend nightlife) and delivered with the patter of a natural talker.

Questions from the audience covered the bizarre experiments such as those currently on show in the recent film release The Men Who Stare At Goats (McNab’s entirely practical take on using amphetamines is that you’d better not be using them on a mission that lasts over 72 hours) to his thoughts on the media uproar on the MOD charging for parcels delivered to the frontlines after years of paying for it themselves (the money usually used for this was channelled into free wifi for the troops, swapping, in McNab’s words “parcels of sweaty mars bars and socks” for the infinitely preferable option for most soldiers of “email and porn”).  Warm applause at the end made it plain McNab’s talk had gone down well, and it’s hard not to warm to a man who can put brutal torture behind him and make jokes about it without batting an eye.

After the talk a long queue of happy customers formed in the Mezzanine Bar upstairs for a session of signing his two new books: Exit Wounds continues the adventures of McNab’s hero Nick Stone, while Spoken From the Front is a McNab-edited collection of first-hand accounts from the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: LeftLion

2009
09.11

Times Online

The former soldier and author of Bravo Two Zero will be here on Tuesday, November 17 at 12pm to discuss his new Nick Stone thriller, Exit Wounds.

Andy McNab joined the infantry as a boy soldier. In 1984 he was ‘badged’ as a member of 22 SAS Regiment and was involved in both covert and overt special operations worldwide. During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, “will remain in regimental history for ever”.

Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS in February 1993. He wrote about his experiences in three books: the bestseller Bravo Two Zero, Immediate Action and Seven Troop. He is also the author of twelve bestselling Nick Stone thrillers.

Source : Times Online

2009
25.08

20 August 2009 – By Chris Visser

He survived torture in Iraq, worked undercover in Northern Ireland and is believed to be wanted dead by a string of terrorist groups. Yet former SAS officer-turned-author Andy McNab could be set for his toughest challenge yet – surviving a trip to the mean streets of Preston.

McNab, who penned Bravo Two Zero, is to give a talk about his new books… but the Lancashire Evening Post cannot reveal where. A publicist issued a list of security demands to keep the 49-year-old safe on his visit.

These included not revealing the location of his visit, banning photographs and having his every move shadowed by burly guards. And it seems the security threat to Mr McNab’s life is greater than the head of state – Queen Elizabeth II.

The Lancashire Evening Post reported on May 20 last year that the Queen was to visit Fulwood barracks to present the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment with its new colours on June 26 – a FULL month before the event – after it was announced on a list of Mayoral engagements.

Organiser Elaine Silverwood, of the SilverDell book store in Kirkham, said: “They have got their driver but I have got to have a security presence and it will be a closed event.”

“I have got to have all the names and addresses of ticket holders on a spreadsheet. No photographs will be allowed at all. I have heard when he does these events there’s strict criteria that you have to fulfil.”

But Ms Silverwood is thrilled to have secured an event with the author of Bravo Two Zero and Immediate Action. She added: “It’s just a great opportunity; he does very little promotion.”

“He will be talking then will do a question and answer session and sign his books. It’s dead exciting and I’m chuffed to bits.”

Andy McNab, which is a pseudonym, came to public prominence in 1993 following his account of the failed SAS patrol Bravo Two Zero in Iraq, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The book, later turned into a film starring Sean Bean, features the story of an eight-man SAS patrol tasked with destroying communication links between Baghdad and north-west Iraq and with tracking Scud missile movements in the region during in the first Gulf War. It details how three of the team were killed, four were captured – including McNab himself – and one escaped. But the book has been controversial with alleged inconsistencies – the strength of enemy combat they encountered was disputed in Michael Asher’s The Real Bravo Two Zero.

The ex-soldier, who has also awarded the Military Medal for his service in Northern Ireland, has gone on to write various novels. But his life is deemed to be at risk and his identity and image remains a mystery.

He is due to discuss his new novel Exit Wound and non-fiction title Spoken From The Front – Real Voices from the Battlefield of Afghanistan.

Further details about the event will be released nearer the time.

Source: Lancashire Evening Post

2008
22.12

There’s even big fan clubs where every single word is analysed!

An interview in the Irish Sunday Business Post by Gavin Daly.

Soldier of Fortune

The man behind the pseudonym of Andy McNab has seen his life transformed beyond belief, from battling through enemy territory with Britain’s special forces regiment, to writing best-selling books and documentaries – and occasionally even hobnobbing with Robert De Niro.

In the lobby of a plush Dublin hotel, a man who cannot reveal his full identity is talking about things that don’t usually get discussed in such surroundings. ‘‘The new body armour is stunning,” he says. ‘‘When I was in Afghanistan in September, a parachute regiment lad took a 50 cal round – you know, a big thing designed to hit tanks – into his chest. It knocked him over, broke his ribs and all that – but he staggered up, he was all right. Without doubt, it’s the best gear anybody has got.”

Welcome to the world of AndyMcNab. Or rather, welcome to the world of the man known as Andy McNab – a former delinquent who became a boy soldier at 16 and went on to become a decorated SAS (Special Air Service) officer and bestselling author. A broad-shouldered 48-year-old of average height, McNab doesn’t look out of place in the hotel surroundings, and there is nothing to betray his background. But his face can’t be photographed and, when asked for his real name, McNab demurs. ‘‘My mates know,’’ McNab says, pausing for some deadpan military humour: ‘‘Well, normally, it’s just ‘dickhead’.”

McNab has been out of the British army for 15 years, but he never cut his ties with the organisation that made him a household name after the first Gulf War. In 1991, McNab led an eight-man patrol, Bravo Two Zero, into Iraq to locate and destroy Scud missile launchers and disrupt the country’s communications systems. But after a series of ‘‘cock-ups’’, just one member of the patrol made it out. Three were killed and four – including McNab – were captured and ‘‘went through an interrogation process’’. McNab spent four weeks in an Iraqi interrogation centre and three weeks in Abu Ghraib prison. ‘‘Obviously,” he says, ‘‘it’s quite well-known now.” One day, he was lined up with other captives facing a wall. Behind them, their Iraqi captors cocked their weapons. ‘‘We all thought we was going to get dropped,” says McNab, mixing his native London dialect with decades of Army-speak. ‘‘I’m like, ‘well fuck it, here we go’.” But it was actually a parting ploy from the Iraqis – when one of the captives started to break down, they laughed, secured their weapons and released the prisoners to the Red Cross. McNab went back to soldiering, content that his training had worked. ‘‘Of course, fuck that, I don’t want that to happen again,” is how he describes the episode. ‘‘But actually, it’s all right, I’m here, I’m getting sorted out. I like being in the army, it’s alright.” When he did leave two years later, he was Britain’s most highly-decorated soldier.

McNab was working in private security in Colombia a short time later when the army came looking for him. Keen to end – or at least influence – conjecture about what had happened in Iraq, the army establishment effectively commissioned McNab to tell his story. Bravo Two Zero, his account of the disastrous operation, has since sold over 1.7million copies in Britain and been translated into 16 languages. Using the real identity of a former SAS officer who had been in the North, south-east Asia, Africa, South America and ‘‘lots in the Middle East’’ wasn’t an option, so Andy McNab was born.

‘‘It took five seconds [to come up with],” he says of his alter-ego. ‘‘There was a PacMan game years ago called Munchin’ McNab and that was it. It’s short and sharp and it fit on the cover. That’s all, like a trade name. It was just going to be the one book.”

That’s not how it worked out. McNab has since put his name to two other non-fiction books, including his autobiography, Immediate Action, which has sold more than 1.4million copies in Britain. He has written a ‘Boy Soldier’ series of books for children and 11 thrillers featuring the character of Nick Stone – the latest of which, Brute Force, has just been published. There are McNab watches, beer and ‘‘all sorts of shit’’ available globally. Heady times, you’d think, but McNab is matter-of-fact both about his army career and about what has happened him since.

By his own admission, he was poor at reading and writing as a child, and was in juvenile detention for breaking and entering when he was recruited to the army at the age of 16.Now, he is a wealthy writer (‘‘not so much an author, because author sounds quite establishment,” he says) with film and television projects to his name. Was it a huge transition? ‘‘Actually, I was quite cocky,” he says. ‘‘I wrote Bravo Two Zero in four months. I knew the story; it’s what I now know is a linear story – that’s where it starts, that’s where it ends. Then I had another two months messing about with it, giving it a sense of place, environment, all that.” He took some inspiration from Joe Simpson, the mountaineer who turned to writing after he almost died on an expedition in Chile in 1985. Simpson wrote his classic, Touching the Void, to clear up controversy over the fact that his climbing partner had cut the rope they were sharing. ‘‘It’s such a good book – that sense of place and feel and environment,’’ McNab says of Touching the Void. ‘‘I spent those two months [with Bravo Two Zero] basically putting in the sense of place and all that stuff. Then it went public  and it went ballistic.”

McNab was back in Colombia when the idea of a second book was floated. ‘‘I was on this job and I got this call from the publisher: ‘Do you fancy doing another?’.And it was pissing down rain and I have six weeks’ [beard] growth and it was, ‘well, what the fuck do you think?’. That’s how it all started. It was good.”

‘‘Good’’ is probably an understatement. When Robert DeNiro read Bravo Two Zero, McNab was asked to be the technical weapons adviser on Heat, the Michael Mann film that also starred Al Pacino. He also did ‘‘a bit on Black Hawk Down’’ and films by Jason Statham. ‘‘It was from one extreme to the other,’’ McNab says. ‘‘I was in the regiment, got out and did this whole Bravo Two Zero thing. Within a year, I’m in LA fucking about with DeNiro and all the other lads. It was automatic weapons, Los Angeles and banks. It was fantastic.” Working with Mann also propelled McNab’s fiction-writing career. McNab hadn’t read much as a child, so Mann suggested he think more like a film-maker, ‘seeing’ chapters in his books as scenes, rather than as a daunting volume of work. ‘‘It’s all pictures anyway – you’re trying to create a picture, aren’t you?” he says. ‘‘I just think of it that way.’’

Even 15 years on, however, he cannot say that he enjoys writing. ‘‘No,” he says emphatically, in answer to that question. Does it get easier with each book? ‘‘No.” ‘‘It started as an invitation to write a book, but it’s a business now,” he says. He takes a businesslike approach, starting each book in January, with a deadline of Easter for a ‘‘decent’’ first draft. (‘‘Which this year was a pain in the arse, because Easter was early,” he says.) ‘‘Once I’ve got that first draft, then I start to enjoy it. Then I just keep on ripping it apart and work on layering and layering.”

His relationship with the army means he has plenty of primary material – his last thriller, Crossfire, included fictionalised versions of real operations he accompanied recently in Iraq. Last September, he was in Afghanistan with British units.
McNab’s new thriller Brute Force has an IRA theme and scenes set in Ireland, but McNab gives nothing away about the three years he spent in the North – both as an infantry soldier and a member of the SAS. ‘‘Once you get involved in the covert stuff, you start to understand, you get it,” he says. ‘‘If I lived in the Bogside, I’d probably have joined the IRA. But I didn’t, I lived in south London, so I joined the army.” He believes that the North was ‘‘propelled’’ towards peace after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 brought international pressure to bear on all terrorist groups. Unsurprisingly, he has clear-cut views about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan – the former is about oil, he says, while the latter is about tackling terrorism. Both need to be seen through with a combination of military action and reconstruction, according to McNab. ‘‘Afghanistan affects our daily life; and Iraq will affect our daily life if we don’t get the oil wells working,” he says.

McNab remains close to the defence establishment, helping to train soldiers and working on education and veterans’ projects. ‘‘I do as much as I can with infantry recruits, because the average literacy age of an infantry soldier is about 11,” he says. ‘‘That’s because, well, the education system is shit.”

His fame opens doors – he has met the British defence minister (‘‘he’s all right’’) and is due to have tea with Prince Charles next month. However, he doesn’t get too caught up in his own hype. ‘‘I don’t even know how many [copies] the last book sold; I can’t be arsed, there’s not enough time,” he says. ‘‘Ultimately, if people like them, they buy them. It increases 5-15 per cent every year depending on what territory you take. Places like Japan, there’s a frenzy.” He claims to be equally unconcerned about his audience, although his publishers and marketing people have probably done considerable market research. ‘‘I’m writing for me, not for anyone else,” he says. ‘‘My nine-year-old godson reads these. And the readership is 45 per cent female. There’s even big fan clubs where every single word is analysed!”

McNab will start his next book in January, but he has plenty to keep him busy until then. A documentary series, McNab’s Tour of Duty, has just been released on DVD, while a film version of one of his thrillers and an eight-part BBC drama – called Warrior Nation – are in the pipeline, with release dates in 2010.

‘‘It’s that weird thing where a little bit of success brings another little bit,” he says. ‘‘You’ve been given the opportunity and you gotta have a go. And yeah, I’m rich. But it’s always been a punt, and it still is really. It’s great, it’s lovely, but it’s not forever; as quick as it comes, it goes.”

Source: Sunday Business Post Online