Sergeant ‘Chris Ryan’ MM (born 1961, Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear) is the pseudonym of a former British Special Forces operative and soldier turned novelist. Ryan came to public prominence for being the only member of the eight-man SAS mission, Bravo Two Zero to escape, during the First Gulf War, 1991.
He has subsequently written a number of books, including The One That Got Away, and "One Good Turn", a specially commissioned story for the Quick Reads Initiative, aimed at improving adult literacy. 'The One that Got Away' has since been heavily criticised by Trooper Mike Coburn and Sergeant Andy McNab, two of the surviving members of the patrol, particularly in relation to its negative portrayal of Sergeant Vince Phillips, who died of hypothermia during the patrol's attempted escape.
Ryan was born in Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear, North East England in 1961. After attending Hookergate secondary school he enrolled into the army as a boy soldier at 16. His Cousin, Billy, was in the 23rd SAS Reserves, and he invited Ryan to come up and "see what it's like to be in the army". Ryan ended up doing this nearly every weekend, almost passing selection several times, but he was too young to continue selection and do 'test week'. Eventually he became old enough and passed selection into the 23rd SAS. Shortly afterwards he began selection for the Regular 22 Regiment, and after passing he joined 'B' squadron and trained as a medic. Needing a parent regiment, he, along with another soldier who had joined the SAS from the Royal Navy, spent eight weeks with the Parachute Regiment before returning to 'B' Squadron. He then spent seven years carrying out both covert and overt operations with the SAS in various theatres of the world.
Ryan's travels included southeast Asia in 1984, training Khmer Rouge troops to attack Vietnamese forces that had pushed them out of Cambodia. As journalist John Pilger wrote in October 2009, "Incredibly, the Thatcher government had continued to support the defunct Pol Pot regime in the United Nations and even sent the SAS to train his exiled troops in camps in Thailand and Malaysia." In March 2009 Ryan stated: "John Pilger, the foreign correspondent, discovered we were training the Khmer Rouge in the Far East. We were sent home and I had to return the £10,000 we'd been given to pay for food and accommodation."
Bravo Two Zero
Main article: Bravo Two Zero
Bravo Two Zero patrol members. From left to right: Ryan, Consiglio, MacGown (obscured), Lane, Coburn (obscured), McNab (obscured), Phillips, Pring (obscured).
Ryan was a team member of the ill-fated Bravo Two Zero patrol in Iraq, during the First Gulf War. The patrol was to "gather intelligence;... find a good LUP (lying up position) and set up an OP" on the main supply route (MSR) between Baghdad and North-Western Iraq, and eventually take out the Scud Missile Launchers, but they were compromised and subsequently headed towards Syria on foot.
Ryan made SAS history with the "longest escape and evasion by an SAS trooper or any other soldier", covering 100 miles (160 km) more than SAS trooper, Jack Sillito, had in the Sahara Desert in 1942. Ryan completed a 300 kilometres (190 mi) tab from an Observation point in the Iraq Main Supply Route (MSR) between Baghdad and North-Western Iraq to the Syrian Border.
During his escape, Ryan received injuries from drinking water that was contaminated with nuclear waste. Along with suffering severe muscle atrophy he lost a potentially fatal 16 kg (35 lb) and subsequently did not return to front line operational duties. Instead, he selected and trained potential recruits, eventually being honourably discharged from the SAS in 1994.
Chris Ryan was also a member of a small SAS team sent to protect the British Embassy in the troubled African nation of Zaire. Whilst there, the SAS were tasked with ensuring that all British diplomatic staff were safely evacuated from the country during the troubling period before the First Congo War. This operation was meant to last three days, but ended up lasting a month.
Since leaving the SAS in 1994, Ryan has written several books. Such as; The One That Got Away, his non-fiction account of the Bravo Two Zero mission, including fictional best-sellers such as Strike Back (2007), which was adapted into a TV show, and Firefight (September 2008). He has also written fictional books for teenage readers, such as the Alpha Force Series, and "Code Red". Chris combines successfully writing his best-selling books, along with security lectures and presenting television documentaries including Hunting Chris Ryan.
In 2005, Ryan presented a Sky One show called How Not to Die, detailing how not to die in various life-threatening situations, including violent burglary, mugging, and violent attacks. It was described as "One of the most thought provoking programs of its time", by Chris Thompson in 2006. He acted as the military advisor on the video game I.G.I.-2: Covert Strike, helping to make the game more accurate to real-life military operations, tactics, weapons and equipment. Ryan both co-created, and starred in the TV show Ultimate Force, was a military, technical advisor and played the role of Blue Troop leader Johnny Bell in series 1. He trained and managed a six-man team to represent Team GB at Sure for Men's Extreme Pamplona Chase in Spain, and starred in Hunting Chris Ryan with the BBC which later aired on the Military Channel as 'Special Forces Manhunt'. Ryan produced several programmes titled Terror Alert: Could You Survive, in each programme he demonstrated how to survive disasters including, flooding, nuclear terrorist attack, mass blackouts, and plane hi-jacking.
He was featured in the Derren Brown Series, Mind Control episode 3 in which Ryan had to booby-trap a course for Derren to follow whilst blind folded.
He lectures in business motivation, and is currently a bodyguard in the USA. In 2009 Ryan starred in "Elite World Cops" aired on Bravo. In the show, Ryan spends time with various law enforcement agencies around the world, giving him an insight to the war on terrorism and drug trade but from a law enforcement perspective.
Ryan has a new program currently showing on Bravo called Armed and Dangerous.
He has written a romantic novel, The Fisherman's Daughter, under the pseudonym Molly Jackson.
Ryan has written the following books:
- The One That Got Away (1995)
- Chris Ryan's SAS Fitness Book
- Chris Ryan's Ultimate Survival Guide
- Chris Ryan fight to win (2009)
Geordie Sharp (character)
- Stand By, Stand By (1996)
- Zero Option (1997)
- The Kremlin Device (1998)
- Tenth Man Down (1999)
Matt Browning (character)
- Greed (2003)
- The Increment (2004)
- The Hit List (2000)
- The Watchman (2001)
- Land Of Fire (2002)
- Blackout (2005)
- Ultimate Weapon (2006)
- Strike Back (2007)
- Firefight (2008)
- Who Dares Wins (2009)
- The Kill Zone' (2010)
- Agent 21 (2011)
- Medal of Honor (2011)
- Killing for the Company (2011)
- Flash Flood (2006)
- Wildfire (2007)
- Outbreak (2007)
- Vortex (2008)
- Twister (2008)
- Battleground (2009)
- Alpha Force 1: Survival (2002)
- Alpha Force 2: Rat-catcher (2002)
- Alpha Force 3: Desert Pursuit (2003)
- Alpha Force 4: Hostage (2003)
- Alpha Force 5: Red Centre (2004)
- Alpha Force 6: Hunted (2004)
- Alpha Force 7: Blood Money (2005)
- Alpha Force 8: Fault Line (2005)
- Alpha Force 9: Black Gold (2005)
- Alpha Force 10: Untouchable (2005)