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The Selous Scouts were undoubtedly the most effective of the many Special
Forces, which have been used in Africa. Raised by Reid-Daly, an ex-Rhodesian
SAS officer, the ideals of that regiment were the basis upon which he developed
a unit specially tailored for the terrain and type of action it encountered and
endowed it with special skills such as tracking. It was multi-racial so its members
were able to pose as ZIPLA or ZANLA guerrillas on both sides of its borders and
thus identify the guerrilla's structure, composition and supply systems. Guerrilla
squads were then maneuvered into contact with conventional troops. Because of
the entangled nature of their operations with, at times, each side posing as the
other, there were cases of atrocities being perpetrated by both sides, although
the Scouts certainly did not deserve the infamous reputation they got as a result
of enemy propaganda.
The 17-day selection of the Scouts was similar to that of the SAS with recruits
being watched for 'the real individual' who would emerge after starvation,
hardship and exhaustion, the latter being ensured by speed-marches of 32 km
(20 miles), of which the last 12 km (7.5 miles) had to be done in two and a half
hours while carrying a sand bag. The dedicated few that passed this test were
then examined for a blend of gregariousness and self-sufficiency. Their emblem
was a silver-winged Osprey badge worn on a brown beret.
The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental
Assocation of Australasia