In September 2000, a group of British soldiers serving with the UN peacekeeping force in war-torn Sierra Leone took a wrong turn and were captured by a rebel militia called the West Side Boys. It was a full-scale crisis that became the number-one priority for Prime Minister Tony Blair. His solution: Send in the SAS.
The SAS, or “The Regiment” is comprised of four separate units, A, B, D and G. I was in D Squadron, and we were the ones who got the shout to deploy to West Africa from our headquarters in Hereford. Ironically, we had only just arrived back from Africa where we had been on mountain and jungle training exercise on the east coast.
A few days earlier I had been relaxing in a beautiful tourist lodge on a game reserve, preparing for a full-out assault on Mt. Kenya. My only concern was whether I was going to make it up the mountain in all the heat carrying well over 100 pounds of kit. My Bergen, weighed down with all the climbing ropes, weighed about the same as a medium-sized SUV. I was at the peak of my physical fitness, but still….
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Phil Campion is a veteran of military operations in just about every conflict-prone corner of the world. He served with the Royal Hampshires, passed through Commando and Parachute Regiment selection, before being badged with 22 SAS. He left the British Army in his early thirties, with the rank of Staff Sergeant, and started working on the private military circuit. He lives in Southampton with his partner, Wendy, and three children. He is a fluent Spanish speaker and continues to work as an operator on the private military circuit.
Phil’s first book, Born Fearless: From SAS to Mercenary to Pirate Hunter – My Life as a Shadow Warrior, was published by Quercus in September 2011. His first novel, Desert Fire, following the exploits of ex-SAS operative Steve Range, was published by Quercus in September 2012, and the second in the Blackstone Six series, Killing Range, followed in May 2013. Phil’s most recent book, Big Phil Campion’s Real World SAS Survival Guide, was published by Quercus in May 2014.