Does the code phrase, ‘p45,’ mean anything to you? We thought it might. As a result of what you considered to be a minor transgression and what your employee handbook clearly states is gross misconduct, you have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. You’ll need to consider your next career move carefully to ensure you don’t spend the rest of your life in and out of job centre, ‘back to work,’ schemes.
Have you thought about joining the SAS? It’s an exciting career that involves lots of physical activity and the occasional trip abroad.
If rescuing hostages from foreign embassies under a hail of bullets sounds like your bag, here’s what you’ll need to do to join the world’s most fearsome fighting unit:
1. Be young, healthy and male
Women play an active role in the British armed forces but at present are not allowed to join the SAS. There are rumours that this may change in due course, but for the time being only young men between the age of 18 and 32 are considered. That said however, a lethal old granny that can kill a person in 26 different ways without leaving a single mark may prove useful for covert operations behind enemy lines.
2. Be a member of the UK armed forces
You’ll need to be a member of the British armed forces to be eligible to apply for the SAS. Civilians can be recruited in rare cases for the SAS reserves, but you’ll need to be at a professional athlete’s level of fitness to even begin to be considered. The SAS also accepts applicants from the British Commonwealth eg. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc. but you’ll need to have lived in the UK for at least 5 years.
3. Have plenty of service remaining
You won’t be much use on a covert military operation if you’ve already left the armed forces for obvious reasons, so those that are successful in completing the selection process will have to commit at least 3 years to the regiment. You’ll therefore need to have at least 39 months of service time left to serve and you’ll need at least 3 months experience with your own regiment – after all, you can’t expect to be jumping out of helicopters if you haven’t learned how to make your own bed yet.
4. File an AGAI
This is a form that states you are ready and willing to endure the demanding challenges that lie ahead. The SAS selection process takes place twice a year in the winter and summer and goes ahead whatever the weather. As you can well imagine, world war 3 won’t necessarily be called off simply because the sky is looking a bit cloudy.
5. Pass the battle fitness test
You’ll have to undergo a basic medical test as well as the basic fitness test to ensure you’re healthy and free of disease (germ warfare is apparently banned under the Geneva Convention). The basic fitness test will require you to undertake a squadded run for 1.5 miles (2.5km) in 15 minutes followed by another individual run for the same distance in under 10 minutes. If you fail this you won’t be considered fit enough to do the fun stuff like throwing stun grenades into rooms full of terrorists.
6. Complete the briefing course
Over your first weekend of training you can expect to receive detailed information on what it will be like to undergo the selection process for the SAS and subsequently to be employed as a full time member. You’ll also be required to undergo some general suitability testing like: Swimming tests, hill runs, a first aid test, combat fitness and compass/map reading. Does this all sound a bit easy so far? Just wait, because it gets a damn sight tougher than this!
7. Fitness and navigation
Now that all the induction nonsense is out of the way, it’s time for the selection process proper to begin. Your first four weeks will focus on your ability to navigate the wilderness and your endurance. The major events over this stage will include, ‘The Fan Dance,’ which is a 15 mile hike across the Brecon Beacons in Wales and, ‘The Long Drag,’ which is a 40 mile hike that has to be completed in under 20 hours carrying a 25kg backpack with a rifle and provisions – that’s right, you’ll have to carry more weight up a welsh mountain regardless of the weather than most people bench press at the gym over 10 reps.
8. Combat skills
The next phase of your training will involve firearms handling, patrol tactics, demolition and other battlefield skills. If you’re not qualified as a parachutist by this point, you’ll have to undertake training in this skill area as well. Be warned however that you won’t get more than one opportunity to fail the parachute jumps as you probably won’t be alive anymore…
9. Jungle training
No – unfortunately this doesn’t involve listening to a genre of electronic dance music that is derived from old school hardcore and was developed in England in the 1990s. You’ll actually be shipped off to Borneo or Brunei to undergo 6 weeks of intense training in sweltering, humid jungle conditions. First aid will also play a significant role during this part of the course as you don’t want to single-handedly defeat an entire enemy battalion only to perish from a couple of insect bites.
10. Escape and evasion
Next up, you’ll be taught how to move stealth-like through enemy territory and how to survive off the fat of the land. You’ll also learn how to avoid being captured by hostile forces. This phase of the process will culminate in an exercise where you’ll have to evade capture by a capture regiment of opposing soldiers. It’ll basically be a bit like a very grown up game of hide and seek involving heavy weapons and severe interrogation if you’re captured.
11. Resistance to interrogation
This is the part that separates the men from the boys. The tactical questioning phase places candidates in a selection of physically and mentally uncomfortable situations for 24 hours. Recruits may be blindfolded, deprived of food and water, forced into ‘stress positions’ and sexually humiliated. It’ll be just like going back to your old job but without the subsidised gym membership and BUPA cover.
12. Get your beige beret
Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far you’re one of the roughly 10% that succeed. You are now officially as hard as nails and your career going forward will involve undertaking various special operations in some of the most intense combat zones across the world on behalf of Her Majesty’s Special Air Service.