|US Marines zeroing their M16 assault rifles|
It is said that eyes can express more than words. The late Brigadier Andrew Massey was one of those SAS men whose look in his eyes spoke loudly. Brig Massey was the Commanding Officer of 22 SAS from 1984 to 1987, and during the first Gulf War, he was Deputy Director, Special Forces. Even Major Ratcliffe acknowledges in his memoir 'Eye of the Storm' that the Deputy Director was not the man to mess with. When he was the CO, he apparently sacked all four Squadron Sergeant-Majors.**
As a senior commander, he hardly ever needed to raise his voice as his icy gaze could send chills down the spines of the rough and tough SAS soldiers. One SAS is said to have convinced himself that Brig Massey put his eyeballs in the fridge every night.† He was more than just an intimidating figure, though: long before the Iranian Embassy Siege, he was tasked to define the SAS's strategic role. He formed the concept of the SAS as a self-contained assault force ready to be deployed for a counter-terrorism operation promptly.
|SAS counter-terrorism team in action during the Iranian Embassy Siege|
Across the pond, the people who are supposed to be in charge of counter-terrorism have been in trouble at home recently. To the surprise of many, the former chief of ISAF in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, suddenly resigned from his post as Director of the CIA. If Gen Petraeus were French, people mightn't have batted an eyelid, but a possible compromise of security may have been made into an issue. Even his successor in ISAF, General John Allen, appears to have been dragged into the 'scandal' although the latter firmly denies any improper conduct.
I don't want to start the argument of "Who makes a better soldier, an American or a British?" because I have no idea. I don't even know if it's a myth that American soldiers are more trigger-happy than their British counterparts. I suppose neither Gen Petraeus, nor Gen Allen got to where they are as officers by being utterly useless. Their CVs are impressive, and Gen Petraeus has been praised for his leadership in dealing with the chaotic aftermath of the second Gulf War.
What I observe, however, is that something seems to be missing from the two American Generals. I dare say that that something is the kind of eyeballs possessed by the SAS officers like Brig Massey and Gen Sir Mike Rose (bottom left - but the bottom right is not Brig Massey as you may have guessed).
Have a look at the two American Generals -