United Kingdom

SAS needs more posh officers amid influx of working-class recruits, soldiers say

When your job involves abseiling out of helicopters, kicking down doors and taking out the bad guys, you might be forgiven for thinking that it doesn't really matter what school you went to.

But the SAS is getting worried that not enough posh officers are applying to command its high-stakes operations.

The elite regiment has typically been led by former public schoolboys whose privileged education is said to instil the leadership skills and poise required.

But increasingly working-class officers are applying to command the crack troops, to the chagrin of some soldiers.

Former officers of the SAS include General Mark Carleton-Smith (pictured), the head of the Army

'The typical SAS officer is confident, relaxed, bright and unflappable,' said one of the regiment's warrant officers.

'Many of the most successful officers have been to the top public schools, but recently we have seen a number of guys coming forward who just don't cut it. It's a shame, but they are just not posh enough.

'The bottom line is that the officers shouldn't be speaking like soldiers. We don't want officers who are shouters or know-it-alls.'

His comments might invite accusations of snobbery, but The Mail on Sunday understands that one officer recently failed the SAS selection process because it was felt he 'lacked the sophistication' to be able to brief Cabinet Ministers on operations.

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former Private Secretary to Princes William and Harry, was also a former officer

Those applying to be SAS officers must brief a room of special forces soldiers on a potential mission and are challenged about their planning and leadership skills by invigilators.

Former officers of the SAS include General Mark Carleton-Smith, the head of the Army, and Major Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former Private Secretary to Princes William and Harry, who one source described as 'the archetypal SAS officer'.

Both were educated at Eton, while other recent commanding officers attended Winchester and Harrow.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on special forces recruitment, but said they sought the 'best talent from the broadest diversity of thought, skills and background'.

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