ROGUE WARRIOR, by Richard Marcinko with John Weisman (Arrow, $60). WHEN the British SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980, it not only let the cat out of the bag with regard to its clandestine existence, but also unleashed a monster. Suddenly, counter-terrorism was the in-thing. Special forces around the world began to ring with such gung-ho catch-cries as bash and dash, hit and split, sneak and peak, shoot and loot and a dozen other poetic variations. ''Chargin' '' Charlie Beckwith, an American officer who did a tour with 22 SAS, went back to the US and started up the American Army's Delta Force, whose public debut during the aborted attempt to rescue the US Embassy hostages from Teheran was a horror story. The US Navy set up its version of Delta Force, a unit known as SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Team Six, whose unofficial motto is: W.G.M.A.T.A.T.S: ''We get more A** Than a Toilet Seat.'' Its inaugural commanding officer was equally unconventional - a cussing, bristling, biting, ornery anti-authority commander named Richard Marcinko, but nicknamed ''Demo Dick'', ''Geek'' and ''Sharkman'', who once flummoxed the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong by patrolling the Mekong Delta in bare feet, thus deliberately leaving confounding ''Yeti-like'' footprints. This unconventional warrior's catch-cry is: ''The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat,'' which is roughly similar to another famous old military saying: ''Don't die for your country, let the enemy die for it.'' The good commander had other unorthodox career highlights as well. He endeared himself to the Cambodian Navy when, as the military attache to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, he obliged the whims of his Cambodian hosts by swallowing the poison sac of a highly venomous cobra at a cobra feast. The after-effects, those that he can remember, were rather pyrotechnic. He also commanded Red Cell, a US Navy-sanctioned, guerilla-type unit which tested the security of US Navy bases by trying to infiltrate them. They planted ''bombs'' on nuclear submarines, and managed to side-step several layers of security to compromise the security of the President's private plane, Air Force One. Ultimately, Richard Marcinko ended up in jail for 21 months on charges of conspiracy, which arose from the unorthodox way in which he ran Seal Team Six. There is no doubt Richard Marcinko is a complex man and somebody who was a great asset to the nation's bludgeoning and counter-punching capabilities. ''I have been accused of arrogance and I admit to it,'' he said. ''Yes, I am often abrasive and obnoxious . . . I like the feeling of living life on the edge, of pushing myself to the absolute limit, of feeling immortal.'' But whether he was the world's most feared and fearless fighter? Well, not all the time. For instance, in Vietnam, he ran into contact ''with no more than one or two VC''. He could have mopped them up easily with his band of merry men, but instead he chose to call in a ''Spooky'', a C-47 ''Puff the Magic Dragon'' aircraft, which has four Vulcan machine guns on each side that each pour out 6,300 rounds a minute. The effect is rather like cutting a swathe through the landscape - a gross case of overkill if ever there was one. Richard Marcinko gives one of the best insights ever into the psychology and the workings of the special forces. ''Never assume just by looking that someone is suited for anything,'' he says. For example, there's no physical prototype for a Seal, although the stereotype is probably a big, heavy muscled guy in the Arnold Schwarzenegger mould. For instance, one German-speaking Seal was inserted into Teheran as a businessman ahead of the Delta Force operation to rescue the embassy hostages. When the operation was aborted, he was left behind and walked 1,000 km from Teheran to Turkey. ''You don't give second chances in elite units. You don't coddle your men . . . that's why they're elite units in the first place,'' Marcinko writes. ''Men volunteer for the Delta Force or Seal Team Six because they want to do things no-one else has done before. They do not volunteer for medals or glory. ''Seals do all the wonderful, deadly things that Seals are supposed to do. [Most of my men] could look another human being in the eyes, then pull the trigger and kill that person without hesitating for an instant.''