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Up until the 80s they were a secret unit. Op Nimrod allowed the world to see them for the first time as “the men in black”. Nowadays they are surrounded by secretiveness like many other of the most effective special forces units around the globe, and their fame has meant their depiction in various books, games and films.

Today we break through the barrier of inaccessibility which surrounds the soldiers at Hereford. Today we speak to a member of the SAS who nowadays works in private security and also helps with games and events for Stirling Airsoft. We shall refer to him as “Marcus Fenix” for obvious safety reasons.

Instructor Fenix, welcome!

We know you've exchanged BBs with a few players now, both in the UK and in Spain, whilst working with Stirling Airsoft. How do players react when they realise they're playing with a SAS operative?

The guys are really good and get on with the training. They work hard and listen and learn from my own and others’ experiences. You have different levels of players and likes, so guys with an interest in milsim tend to like my skill set for a more realistic play. Everyone is great and they respect what myself and others have achieved and been through. This then adds to their gameplay, by adding in certain aspects to training evolutions.

The differences between real combat and airsoft are clear but, do you find your past experiences can be useful to airsofters?  Are we good students?

Yes I think past experiences are useful to airsofters if they want realistic game play and learning. There is a lot to learn from military training that can add to the milsim experience. And yes, you have a variety of students, some keener than others and some far more receptive to my own and other colleagues’ depth of knowledge from being at war for so many years. In general the guys are great and relaxed and we have always had good training and game weekends.

What is Stirling Airsoft?

Are you ready to take part in a truly special Airsoft event? Assaulting a ship in high seas, an airplane that's been taken by terrorists and is full of hostages or patrolling a FIBUA training facility are only some of the things you might find once you book up to a Stirling Airsoft game. This company, apart from having access to a large pool of vehicles, works with advisors who have served in different British SF units. All of this so that their players can have an experience that is “as real as it gets”. Do you dare give it a go?

You are no longer active but we understand many ex-SAS go on to perform security on for example ships, and the film “Captain Phillips” springs to mind. Do you believe this to be an accurate Hollywood depiction of the realities these men have to deal with?

Many ex-forces from across the world tend to turn to private security when they leave the military, but this area is now getting flooded by ex-service men and work is tight. Even for ex-SF work is tight. As for the film Captain Philips,

I do believe it’s a fair representation of what can happen at sea with the pirate threat, and also how it should be dealt with and stopped.

CaptaIn Phillips

Richard Phillips was the captain of the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama which was boarded by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The story behind the kidnapping and then rescue by Navy SEAL snipers was first released by novel (A captain's duty, 2010) and then on the big screen, with the captain being portrayed by Tom Hanks (captain Phillips, 2013)

Having spoken to other special forces operators from different countries in previous editions, they've all admitted to having had some contact with Airsoft while they were still active in their units. Has this also been the case for you as part of UKSF? How did you come to hear about Airsoft?

Within UKSF we didn’t experience Airsoft play. We trained with paint rounds and sim-munition. This is great for force on force training and is very clear when you have been hit and thus have to be treated as a real-time casualty. This tests the teams and forces them to train hard and be very tactical and aware when progressing through any assault evolution. It’s good to make mistakes and learn from them.

We've  known Stirling Airsoft for some time now, and they're not ones to spare expenses when it comes to kit. With your knowledge as a SAS operator and having also played Airsoft, what would you say the best load-out for a game would be?

That’s like asking how long a piece of string is? It’s down to personal preferences of the player. Type of weapon, rounds, frags, kit, body armour or light kit, its totally up to the individual and should be selected by trial and error, what works for them and what they personally want to achieve.

Nowadays the main SF units in allied countries sometimes need to work together on certain missions, from what you've seen what level would you say SAS is at in comparison to say SEALs, KSK or other similar units?

The SAS is a tier one unit and one of the best in the world. The tier one units are on the same level, “ SAS, Delta, SEALs, SASR, NZ SAS” to name a few, each unit has its own specialists in many key areas. Many units are on the same level, and always happy to work with other SF units to learn and grow and continue the unrelenting pursuit of excellence as a SF operator.

The SAS are known for being very adaptive and forward thinking and able to work with anyone, and over the years we have proven to be skilled operators. Many SF units have been based on UKSF since the early days. UKSF carries out all training for a number of environments and for UK mainland security operations.

A lot of players who are now reading this article feel real admiration towards the unit in which you have served, to the extent that many players try and recreate the kit these operators have been seen to be wearing in photos, what do you feel when you see this "homage" or respect from all these people who don't know you but appreciate what you've done?

I’ve always been into my kit and equipment and why I have chosen it for the mission or work at hand, so if guys understand why they are choosing kit and why it is used as it is, then it’s cool and I can respect it. It’s good to understand why guys have different load outs, and learn from trial and error when using them. If the players use realistic kit weights, then they can realise how hard it is for real time operators on ops. So learning that and respecting operators by feeling how hard it is to work and operate for months on end, in high threat, life and death situations, day and night in exhausting conditions is good. I’ve helped guys with kit choices and answered many questions in this respect, for example a lot of the Stirling team.

Video games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, have tried to depict the SAS and bring them nearer to the general public with characters such as Captain Price. Do you think this is something that helps people understand what you do and win them over or do you think it just distorts reality?

A video game is not reality, and a game can’t recreate how testing conditions are, when you’re drained and exhausted but can’t let the team down and you have to get the job done, no matter what. Milsim is the closest you can come to it, when done over a long training event and adding in as many testing scenarios and in various environments. Try out Stirling Airsoft and you will come close to that realism, and you can enjoy the adrenaline whilst being safe and having fun.


This is "Marcus" and this is the only photograph of him that has allowed 0’20 to publish for security reasons. The rest pictures shown on this article are from Stirling Airsoft, as he works with them closely.

And something a little more difficult before ending, taking into account recent events and how conflicts seem to be evolving, would you ever consider returning to active service?

YES I would return to active service in a heartbeat, I’m still involved with special projects on the private circuit, and I believe we have many tough years ahead across the globe with the present growing threat. So YES, in a heartbeat I would be back and doing what I’m very skilled at, dealing with badness and ending it.

Thank you for taking the time and giving us the opportunity to get to know one of the most recognised elite units in the world. We certainly have enjoyed it, more so knowing that you've taken part in games as an airsofter! We hope to see you again soon at another Stirling Airsoft event