Author(s): Steve Heaney, MC
For three decades one of the most secretive units in the British military has not been the SAS or SBS: it has been a mystery force known variously as the Shadow Wing, the Black Unit or X Platoon. Officially there was no X Platoon. The sixty men in its elite number were culled from units across the Armed Forces, at which point they simply ceased to exist. X Platoon had no budget, no weaponry, no vehicles and no kit - apart from what its men could beg, borrow or steal from other military units. For the first time ever a highly decorated veteran of this shadow force - who served as its Platoon Sergeant - reveals its history. From anti-narcotics operations in the Guatemalan jungles, to hunting war criminals in the war-torn hills of the Balkans, from being sent to war against the Russian military to calling in the largest parachute-borne force since the Second World War, Steve Heaney was at the cutting edge of X Platoon operations. The first non-officer in the British Army ever to win the Military Cross, he reveals the extraordinary missions undertaken by this tiny force of elite operators.
The untold story of one of the most secretive units in the British military.
Steve Heaney joined the Parachute Regiment Juniors at sixteen, then passed Parachute Regiment selection and joined 3 PARA in 1987. Two years later he successfully undertook selection into X Platoon - more formally know as the Pathfinders. He went on to serve with that unit for over a decade, working with almost every Special Forces unit with which the British military has links. In 1999 he was promoted to Platoon Sergeant. The following year, he was the first non-officer in the unit's history to be awarded the Military Cross for his leadership and courage during Operation Mayhem. He was also awarded the Commanding Officer's Commendation for finding arms caches in Northern Ireland. Sergeant Heaney left the British military in 2001. He has spent the last decade working as a senior military advisor to one of Britain's key allies. Damien Lewis worked as a war and conflict reporter for major broadcasters, reporting from across Africa, South America, the Middle and Far East, and has won numerous awards for his journalism. His first book was an international bestseller, translated into over thirty languages, and adapted into a film and stage play. His books OPERATION CERTAIN DEATH, APACHE DAWN, WAR DOG and ZERO SIX BRAVO were all SUNDAY TIMES bestsellers, as were his previous co-authored military books, FIRE STRIKE 7/9, co-wriitten with Sergeant Paul 'Bommer' Grahame, and IT'S ALL ABOUT TREO, co-authored with Dave Heyhoe. Several of his elite forces books are in the process of being made into movies or TV dramas.