Andy McNab DCM MM (born 28 December 1959) is the pseudonym of an English novelist and former SAS soldier.
McNab came into public prominence in 1993, when he published his account of the failed Special Air Service (SAS) patrol, Bravo Two Zero for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1991. He had previously received the Military Medal in 1980, awarded for an action whilst serving with the Royal Green Jackets in Northern Ireland during 1979.
In addition to Bravo Two Zero he has written two other autobiographies and a number of fiction books.
McNab was born on 28 December 1959. Found abandoned on the steps of Guy's Hospital in Southwark, he was brought up in Peckham, with his adoptive family. He did not do well in school and started just doing odd jobs, usually for friends and relatives, and was partly inspired to join the British Army because of his brother's time in the army.
He was involved in petty criminality until being arrested for burglary. In 1976, shortly after his arrest, he aspired to a career as an army pilot, but failed the entry test. In the same year, he enlisted with the Royal Green Jackets at the age of sixteen. Biography | Andy McNab Official Website
After McNab enlisted in the Royal Green Jackets he was posted to Kent for his basic training, and boxed for his regimental team. After his basic training, he was posted to the Rifle Depot, in Winchester. In 1977, McNab spent time in Gibraltar as part of his first operational posting, while with 2RGJ.
From December 1977 to June 1978, he was posted to South Armagh, Northern Ireland, as part of the British Army's 'Operation Banner'. In 1978 and 1979, he returned to Armagh as a newly promoted Lance Corporal, and claimed to have killed for the first time during a firefight with the Provisional Irish Republican Army. McNab wrote of the incident: "I remember vividly the first time I had to kill someone to stay alive. I was a 19-year-old soldier in Keady, south Armagh, and my patrol stumbled across six IRA terrorists preparing for an ambush. When the shooting started they were just 20 metres away from my patrol. I was scared, very scared." McNab was awarded the Military Medal for this incident. However, security sources later claimed that the person McNab shot was only wounded and died as a result of injuries from a separate shootout later that day.
In 1982, after spending eight years with the Royal Green Jackets, he decided to attempt SAS selection. Having failed his first attempt he finally passed in 1984, and transferred to the SAS. While serving with Air Troop, B Squadron, 22 SAS for ten years, McNab worked on both covert and overt operations worldwide., which included counter terrorism and drug operations in the Middle East and Far East, South and Central America and Northern Ireland. McNab trained as a specialist in counter terrorism, prime target elimination, demolitions, weapons, tactics, covert surveillance roles and information gathering in hostile environments, and VIP protection. He worked on cooperative operations with police forces, prison services, anti-drug forces and Western backed guerrilla movements as well as on conventional special operations. In Northern Ireland, he spent two years working as an undercover operator with 14 Intelligence Company, going on to become an instructor.
During the First Gulf War, McNab commanded Bravo Two Zero, an eight man SAS patrol that was given the task of destroying underground communication links between Baghdad and north-west Iraq and with tracking Scud missile movements in the region. The patrol was dropped into Iraq on 22 January 1991, but was soon compromised, escaping on foot towards Syria, the closest coalition country.
Three of the eight men were killed; four were captured (including McNab) after three days on the run and one member, 'Chris Ryan', escaped. The four captured men were held for six weeks before being released on 5 March. By the time he was released McNab was suffering from nerve damage to both hands, a dislocated shoulder, kidney and liver damage and hepatitis B. After six months of medical treatment he was back on active service. In the words of the SAS's commanding officer, the story of the patrol "will remain in Regimental history forever".
Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab claims to have been the British Army's most highly decorated serving soldier when he left the SAS in February 1993. Biography | Andy McNab Official Website
While writing Bravo Two Zero, McNab assumed his pseudonym. When he appears on television to promote his books or to act as a special services expert, his face is shadowed to prevent identification. As Larry King put it when McNab appeared on the Larry King Live show on CNN: "We have Andy in shadows. He's wanted by terrorist groups." According to the book The Big Breach, by Richard Tomlinson, a renegade MI6 spy, McNab was part of a special training team after the Iraq war, training MI6 recruits in sabotage and guerrilla warfare techniques.
Due to the extremely sensitive nature of his work while serving with the SAS, McNab has a legally binding contract obliging him to submit his writings to the British Ministry of Defence for review. He is still believed to be wanted by a number of the world's terrorist organisations; he therefore chooses not to reveal either his face or his current location.
After leaving the Army, McNab developed and maintained a specialist training course for news crews, journalists and members of non-governmental organisations working in hostile environments. He spent time in Hollywood as technical weapons advisor, and trainer on the Michael Mann film Heat, helping to engineer how the master-thief played by Robert De Niro would go about pulling off robberies on an armoured car and a bank, and how policeman Al Pacino would go about tracking him down and stopping him. He was also the technical advisor on the 2005 crime film Dirty. Biography | Andy McNab Official Website
In February 2007, McNab returned to Iraq for seven days as The Sun newspaper's security advisor with his old regiment the Royal Green Jackets. Here he researched the background for his new book, Crossfire.
McNab has written about his experiences in the SAS in three bestselling books, Bravo Two Zero (1993), Immediate Action (1995) and Seven Troop (2008). Bravo Two Zero is the highest selling war book of all time, and sold over 1.7 million copies, with Immediate Action selling 1.4 million in the UK. To date it has been published in 17 countries and translated into 16 languages. The CD spoken word version of Bravo Two Zero, narrated by McNab, sold over 60,000 copies and earned a silver disc. A BBC film of Bravo Two Zero, starring Sean Bean, was shown on prime time BBC One television in 1999 and released on DVD in 2000. Immediate Action, McNab's autobiography, spent 18 weeks at the top of the best-seller lists following the lifting of an ex-parte injunction granted to the Ministry of Defence in September 1995.
McNab is the author of a number of action thrillers.
A series of twelve successful books are based on the Nick Stone - an ex-SAS soldier working on deniable operations for British intelligence. The series draws extensively on McNabs experiences and knowledge of Special Forces soldiering. He has been officially registered by Nielsen BookScan as a bestselling British thriller writer.The Boy Soldier Series was written with the cooperation of Robert Rigby and follows a boy named Danny Watts and his grandfather Fergus, apparently a rogue ex-SAS soldier.
Andy McNab has also written two books for Quick Reads, a charity that supports World Book day, "The Grey Man" and "Last Night Another Soldier". BBC raw words offers exclusive audio versions of the latest Quick Reads by Andy McNab Last Night Another Soldier read by Rupert Degas.
After working on the Miramax film, Heat, Miramax has acquired the film rights to the first four of McNab's novels, and Echelon is currently in production, based on the book Firewall and co-produced by McNab himself. He was also a director of a Hereford-based security company. In conjunction with Spoken Group Ltd, Andy McNab is pioneering spoken drama for download from the Internet and to mobile phones. These stories include real battle field sound effects. 'McNab' took part in E4's Celebrity Hijack on 13 January 2008.