Tech

Fancy joining the SAS’s secret hacker squad in Hereford as an electronics engineer for £33k?

A job ad blunder by the UK’s Ministry of Defence has accidentally revealed the existence of a secret SAS mobile hacker squad.

The secretive Computer Network Operations (CNO) Exploitation Unit had its cover blown on the MoD’s external job ad website, as spotted by the ever eagle-eyed Alan Turnbull of Secret Bases.

Based in Hereford, the £33k-per-year post was to be filled by an “extraordinary talented electronics engineer” [sic] to “work alongside some of the best scientists and engineers within defence and will be tasked with delivering prototype solutions directly to the soldiers and officers of a unique and specialised military unit.”

What unique and specialised military unit is famously based in Hereford? Why, it’s the Special Air Service, whose legendary warfare skills sees them doing all kinds of covertly nasty things to Her Majesty’s enemies all around the world.

Yet it seems the SAS want somebody whose skills are better on the lab bench than in sneaking up on a sentry, fighting knife in hand; somebody to design and build custom electronics used for CNO.

The job ad went into more detail, saying MAB5 is “a small military unit that specialises in the provision of novel and ground-breaking science and technology prototypes for operational requirements.”

For a gross salary of thirty-three thousand beer tokens a year (count ’em!), MAB5 expects the lucky applicant to:

  • “be a consultant (to the user who has the operational problem)”
  • “an inventor (if no quick ‘off the shelf’ solution exists)”
  • “a designer (bringing components and system together and fully integrating them physically as well as within simulation software)”
  • “a production engineer (physically connecting components with hands on foundations skills such as soldering, crimping etc)”
  • “a fabricator (using CAD software tools to deliver Additive manufactured parts to house electrical solutions in)”
  • “a testing engineer (understanding the capability of the solutions and testing them to their limits)”
  • “a report writer (so your tests can be peer reviewed and followed by other engineers for further production or repair and analysis)”
  • “an analyst (if there is no immediate solution to a problem, you will find one or suggest alternatives)”

The successful candidate also need “Ofqual level 6 qualification in electronics engineering,” which seems to mean a graduate diploma, though the ad goes on to say “Ofqual 5 engineering” and then specify a BSc or BEng. Some kind of academic piece of paper beyond GCSE PE from the local community college, we think. British nationals will have to write a 1,000-word essay about their experience and technical skills to apply.

As a military unit it is irregular and unrecognisable. Most of the workforce consist of civil servants who are Defence’s most talented scientists and engineers.

What does MAB stand for? Secret Bases said “it is simply a coy reference to ‘MoD A Block’ which in turn is a codename for use by those ‘in the know’ when wishing to refer to UK Special Forces (UKSF) operations. The actual physical MoD A Block is at the SAS Regents Park Barracks in Albany Street, Central London and is UKSF HQ.”

The unit appears to be commanded by a Royal Signals lieutenant colonel, and judging by Secret Bases’ findings, his personal security (persec, in the MoD jargon) online is somewhat lacking for a UKSF officer.

You can read more, and view a PDF copy of the job advertisement, on their website, the original having mysteriously disappeared. ®


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