Identification of a Bogus Special Forces Operator
Who is a RECCE?
In the history of the South African Special Forces there were comparatively few
operators. Of the total number that ever qualified, around 20% are still
serving with about 20% deceased. These individuals were called the Recces. A
term derived from the 1st Unit when it was established in Oudshoorn in 1972,
then called 1 Reconnaissance Commando (the Recces).
This then refers
specifically to the qualified Special Forces OPERATOR that completed the selection and the full
training cycle and was deployed in Special Forces operations. Although the operator's
proficiency badge was not issued in the early years, it later became the only
distinctive visible insignia that is today worn by all operators who have ever
qualified. In theory no badge - no operator, no recce. Also note that each
badge is uniquely numbered and can only be issued once to a specific individual. Operator's badges are not transferable. It is
therefore possible to identify each operator or recce by this personal
Who then is not a RECCE?
- Those who served only in a supporting capacity in the South African Special
Forces (this could include many different base functions)
- Those who served in the Reconnaissance wings of other elite units (Examples could be 32 Bn or 31 Bn)
- Those who served in the South African Airborne units including the Pathfinders (Examples are 44 Para Bde and 1 Para Bn)
- Those who served under Chief of Staff Intelligence (CSI) in intelligence units (sometimes referred to as "operators" amongst themselves, but not Special Forces Operators)
- Those who served in the Special Forces of the (then) South West Africa Territorial Force and did NOT later join the South African Special Forces as operators.
- Those who became members of the South African Special Forces League
(this entity is now defunct and is replaced by the SA Special Forces Association) and were NOT qualified as Special Forces operators.
NONE of the above are issued with an operator's badge and NONE of them are entitled to be called Recce's.
This webpage is dedicated to the South African Special Forces Operators
(Recces) and its direct support structures that exist to serve the Special
Forces in South Africa.
Video message about Bogus Operators and Wannabe'sAfrikaans version
More detailed information on Wannabe's, their stories and how to identify them are given below
Bogus Operators, or "wannabes" are the greatest source of
disinformation, misinformation and skewed perceptions of Special Forces.
individuals are a disgrace to their country. They steal the honour of
real Operators, who have literally sweated blood to Qualify as Special
Forces Operators and they dishonour all members of Special Forces and
their families - especially the Operators and Support Personnel who
made the Supreme Sacrifice - and their families.
They prey off the good nature and good intentions of honest and caring
people with their dishonest stories, premeditatedly abusing other
people's integrity or desire to help those in need. Through this, they
effectively block or circumvent the provision of assistance to real
former Operators - some of who really are in need of one form of
assistance or another.
Finally, they also bring dishonour to our country, which has in its
Special Forces one of the greatest sources of potential pride - in that
not only is it one of the best Special Forces in the world, it was also
- through even the most difficult times in our country's history - a
non-racial entity, which gave expression to the true meaning of
equality for all. However, contrary to this reality, the wannabes bogus
stories, (which are increasingly reported or commented on by
international organisations), almost always seek to present a negative
image of Special Forces - usually as a means through which the wannabe
hopes to garner sympathy, attention or some other form of personal gain. In following effective international trends as pioneered by the US Navy SEALs and US
Special Forces - which trends are currently being taken up by the
Australian SAS and other Top Echelon Special Forces internationally -
the South African Special Forces Association is beginning to address the
unacceptable behaviour of these individuals in a professional manner.
Our "Wall of Shame" is where we publish - for all to see - the names and details of bogus
Operators and wannabes who make these false,
scurrilous and dishonest claims to have been Operators. Other
than this, and in an effort to assist the general public to be able to
spot a bogus Operator / wannabe who is posing as an Operator, we will
list here some of the more common fallacies in the stories, which
fallacies will immediately indicate that the purveyor is a wannabe.
Before beginning, with describing these fallacies, we would like to
point out that almost all wannabe's stories are usually tales of wail
and woe, about "horrific" experiences and "trauma" which have affected
them, and which experiences are generally the root cause of their
current (often deviant) behaviour or circumstances - which usually
include the occurrence of psychological problems, so-called " flashbacks" or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As a general rule of thumb, it should be noted that anyone seeking not
to take responsibility for his own actions and circumstances, or openly
and indiscreetly looking for attention or sympathy - especially from
people who he may not know - would almost certainly not be a retired
Operator. Similarly, in a recent professional study done on retired
Operators - all of whom were war veterans with up to 10 and 15 years
constant combat experience - precisely 0% of respondents indicated the
occurrence of any psychological problems, so-called "flashbacks" , or
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (or anything remotely related to this).
This phenomenon is actually the presentation of something known as "Pseudologia Phantastica", a (reasonable) description of which can be seen here:
Here follows a description of typical bogus "stories":-
1. THE FAMOUS LOST / MISSING / DESTROYED / MISPLACED FILES
Very often, wannabes will either preface or end their
stories" with a dramatic or conspiratorial description of how their
files were lost / are missing / were destroyed / were misplaced / or
some other exotic reason for why these files relating to his activities
while, (the famous phrase), he was "in Special Forces" cannot be found
or do not exist.
the reasons for the disappearance of such files are said to have been
due to some illegal / political / top secret / covert / other act or
activity which the wannabe or Special Forces undertook, which
necessitated or resulted in the disappearance of said files.
In providing this creative snippet, the wannabe hopes to negate the
possibility of someone asking further probing questions which could
potentially unmask his dishonesty, or otherwise to provide an
explanation as to why there would "not be records of him or his
activities at Special Forces".
Well, it is said that ignorance is bliss. However, in such cases,
ignorance is merely a precursor to a wannabe's appearance on our "Wall
All files from the South African Army - of each and every individual,
from the 1800's onwards - are in fact very well preserved. This is
especially so in the cases of highly professional entities like the
Special Forces units. Not only were all files very well preserved by
the Special Forces Support Staff who saw and see to Administrative
functions, no Operator, (or for that matter any other person), was ever
allowed access to his own personal file. Furthermore, other than the
personal files of each and every person ever serving in Special Forces
that were kept at the Special Forces units, there were still more,
(numerous), administrative files kept at Special Forces Headquarters.
than this, a complete exact duplicate set of all personal and
administrative files of each and every individual was kept at Army
Headquarters - and no one from Special Forces ever had access to these
duplicate files. These
complete duplicate files of each and every person who ever served in
the South African military are now, in fact, open for public review
under the Freedom of Information Act. Other
than the fact that the extremely close-knit Special Forces community in
South Africa knows everyone who was an Operator, we all know that not
one file has ever been, (or ever needed to be), destroyed. We also know
that all of our files are quite well preserved. Therefore, either every
known Special Forces Operator who has ever existed in South Africa is
wrong, and the person who makes such claims, (but who no other
Operators know of), is right - or the person making such a statement is
If a person makes such a claim, all that needs to be done is to obtain
his full names and either his date of Birth or Force Number. A request
can then be made at the INA Building in Schoeman Street, Pretoria, (where
everyone's duplicate files are kept), to review the person's military
file under the Freedom of Information Act. We guarantee that the
"missing" file will miraculously and rapidly be found - reflecting the
claimant's real military record, which will definitely have nothing to
do with Special Forces.
the Association or Brigade can be contacted, as we can verify the claims of
any so-called Operator. We have the full details of anyone who ever
qualified as a Special Forces Operator.
2. "I CAN'T TELL YOU, OR I'LL BE KILLED / BECAUSE I SWORE AN OATH OF SECRECY"
Another great favourite of the wannabes - especially when they find
themselves a bit stuck in the detail of the storyline of their
imaginary and exotic stories, or when someone asks a probing question
to clear up a point in some of their ramblings - is for them to say
"I'd like to tell you, but I'd be killed / I swore an oath to secrecy"
or, with a slight variation, "I can't tell you because I would be
killed / I swore an oath to secrecy". Well,
this is to some extent true insofar as the dying bit is concerned, as
any real Operator hearing this would potentially die - from laughing.
Any real Operator will not reveal any details that require secrecy, but
this will be so as not to compromise details or operating procedures
that would potentially endanger a serving fellow Operator in future or
existing operations. In fact, a real Operator will not even begin to
tell such "war stories", as it is considered extremely bad taste
amongst us to do so. This is not a dinner party subject, as life and
death issues are dealt with - all too often including the deaths of our
Similarly, the "Official Secrets Act" and the "Military Disciplinary
Code" actually determine what persons who were in the military may or
may not disclose, and anyone breaking the rules under these laws will
attract whatever penalty is applicable from the Military Police - not
anyone else. The
thought that there are bands of people roving around to dispose of
people who regale all and sundry with silly stories is just too
ludicrous to comment on. However, should anyone indeed come across an
individual who presents such a tall tale in respect of his activities
while he was, (that famous phrase again), "in Special Forces", we would
suggest that such persons be redirected to their local Member of
Parliament or the South African Police Services for protection while he
tells his tale if he feels that his life is threatened by telling it -
unless he thinks that the whole world wants to dispose of him.
Alternatively, he could just provide his full names and Force Number or Date of Birth to whoever is listening, and his
personal files can then be reviewed at leisure in Pretoria to discover
what it is that is of such importance that he "cannot tell".
Guaranteed, he will most definitely never have been an Operator, and
will almost certainly never have been "in Special Forces". Unfortunately, it will also almost certainly reveal that he "cannot tell" because he actually has nothing to tell.
course, the easiest procedure is to contact the Association or Brigade, as
we can verify whether the person making these claims was ever an
Operator. We have the full details of anyone who ever qualified as a
Special Forces Operator - and with us, (unlike such claimants), we
actually can tell you whether he was an Operator or not - without fear of being killed.
3. "I WAS IN SPECIAL FORCES UNDER A FALSE NAME / COVER NAME"
Another favourite, also used by wannabes to try to explain why there
would "not be records of him or his activities at Special Forces", or
why "no-one at Special Forces knows him or his real name" .
Well, such persons must have real staying power and ingenuity, as if
they were, (that phrase again), "in Special Forces" under a False or
"Cover" Name, it is difficult to see how they would have been able to
open bank accounts at commercial banks for monthly salary payments
(made by the army, not Special Forces), get medical cover for them and
their families (from the SA Medical Services, not Special Forces), have
life-insurance policies to be paid out if they were Killed in Action,
(from private companies, not Special Forces) obtained their Secret or
Top Secret Security Clearances, (from Intelligence, not Special
Forces), etc, etc. This is just the beginning. In such cases, interested persons can just contact the Brigade or the Association to check such exotic stories.
4. "I AM A SPECIAL FORCES OPERATOR, BUT WAS NEVER ISSUED MY OPERATORS BADGE / AM NOT ALLOWED TO WEAR MY OPERATORS BADGE / CANNOT WEAR MY OPERATORS BADGE BECAUSE....." (AN EXOTIC " CONFIDENTIAL" REASON IS GIVEN)
again guys. Every person who Qualified as a Special Forces Operator was
issued with an Operators Certificate and an Operators Badge - each with
its own unique number. Each and every Operators Badge ever issued is
carefully recorded against the full names of the Operator to whom it
was issued. The
only exception to this is a small number of persons who Qualified
before the Operators Badge was instituted. However, the details and
records of all these people exist, and attempts are being made to
contact all of them and issue them with their Operators Badges.
Every Operator who ever Qualified and was ever issued with an Operators Badge wears it proudly whenever wearing it is required. Anyone
who makes this particular statement has picked a very weak storyline,
which is one of the easiest and most rapid to disprove. The Brigade or
Association can check such silly claims immediately.
5. GENERAL ATROCITY OR SYMPATHY / ATTENTION-SEEKING STORIES
are too numerous to recount, as they comprise anything that a restless
mind could imagine, or any of the story lines of numerous cinema and TV
war movies. However, listed here are some of those that appear to occur most frequently:-
our training, we were given a puppy/kitten/baby animal of some
description, which we had to raise, and then we had to drown it/cut its
throat/bludgeon it to death/suffocate it/kill it in some or other
gruesome or cruel manner before we Qualified.
- The same story as above, except that the baby animal is replaced with a human baby of varying demographic background.
- We were tasked to kill one of our parents before Qualifying.
- We were tasked to kill a person (of varying demographic background) before Qualifying.
- We killed all our wounded colleagues on operations, if they were wounded and could not be brought out.
- A great favourite - we used to bayonet women and children on operations.
there are the atrocity stories. These are too numerous to recount, but
you can take your pick of any horrific or deviant act which mentally
troubled people could possibly conceive, (or sick movies could show)
and it has been done by one of the many wannabes.
the above story lines are indicators that a person making such claims
is almost certainly not a real Special Forces Operator.
All claims by persons that they were Special Forces Operators can be
confirmed by contacting the Special Forces Association on the link below.