Special Forces Support Group
|Special Forces Support Group|
|Active||3 April 2006 – Present|
|Role||Special Forces Support/Counter-Terrorism|
|Size||One battalion group|
|Part of||United Kingdom Special Forces|
|Director Special Forces|
The Special Forces Support Group or SFSG is a special operations unit of the British Armed Forces. The SFSG is the newest addition to the United Kingdom Special Forces. It was formed officially on 3 April 2006 to support the Special Air Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Boat Service on operations. This could include diversionary tactics, protective cordons and extra firepower. The SFSG was initially composed of personnel from the British Army's Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment, but is now open to all personnel in the United Kingdom's Armed Forces that have passed either P company run by the Parachute Regiment, Pre-Para Course of the RAF Regiment or the Royal Marines Commando Course.
The unit's creation stems from the need to provide infantry support to the United Kingdom Special Forces, which became evident after the Battle of Tora Bora during which two Special Air Service (SAS) squadrons assaulted the al-Qaeda cave complex. Previously, this support was carried out on an ad hoc basis, with infantry units assisting special forces teams when needed.
During Operation Barras in Sierra Leone, soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment were deployed alongside troops from the Special Boat Service (SBS) and D Squadron SAS. This was successful, as the SAS soldiers attacked the encampment containing the hostages while the soldiers from The Parachute Regiment attacked a second encampment.
In December 2004, it was announced that a unit would be formalised for this role as part of the wider future army structure. It was initially conceived as a battalion of "Rangers", similar to the United States Army Rangers.
The SFSG's formation was announced officially by the then Secretary of State for Defence John Reid in Parliament on 20 April 2006. Following the announcement, it was reported that a company of SFSG soldiers was operating in Iraq as part of the US-led Task Force 145.
As of late 2008 SFSG personnel have received two Military Crosses, one Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service, two Mentions in Despatches and 12 Joint Commander's Commendations. In August 2009, three soldiers from the SFSG were killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol near Lashkar Gar, Southern Afghanistan. A fourth soldier from the same patrol was injured in the explosion. In December 2009, an SFSG soldier was killed as a result of a suspected improvised explosive device in Sangin, Afghanistan.
Formation and selection
The SFSG was established to support British special forces units in battle overseas and on domestic "counter-terrorist" operations. For this, it may encompass such roles as providing diversionary attacks, cordons, fire support, force protection, and supporting training tasks.[dead link]
Most unit personnel are Parachute Regiment soldiers, Royal Marine commandos or RAF Regiment gunners. All those selected for the SFSG have passed either the P Company selection course run by the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines Commando course or the RAF Regiment Pre-Parachute selection course. Army personnel can apply to join straight from the Pre-Parachute selection course irrespective of regimental affiliation; prospective recruits from the Royal Marines undergo a selection process run by the 43 Commando Royal Marines.
- Special Forces Support Group
- HQ Company
- Regimental Administration Office
- Regiment Aid Post
- Catering Platoon
- Motor Transport Platoon
- Operational Readiness Wing
- General Training Cell
- Counter Terrorism Cell
- Campaigns Training Cell
- Contingency Cell
- A Company,
- B Company,
- C Company,
- F Company,
- G Company
- Fire Support Group 1
- Fire Support Group 2
- Fire Support Group 3
- Fire Support Group 4
- Sniper Platoon
- Support Company
- Signals Platoon
- Mortar Platoon
- Patrol platoon
- Joint Tactical Air Controllers (from RAF)
The Royal Marines mainly form F Company which specializes in supporting amphibious operations. The RAF Regiment also provide a platoon in one of these companies and Forward Air Controllers to direct close air support, these Forward Air Controllers are drawn from No. II Squadron RAF Regiment. The Support company comprises mortar, sniper and patrol platoons. The Patrol platoon operates vehicles including the Jackal.
There is also a RAF Regiment CBRN unit assigned to the SFSG to provide specialised knowledge and capability to military and civilian agencies in detection and handling of chemical, biological and radiological/nuclear weapons and materials.
- Canada - Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR)
- United States - 75th Ranger Regiment, ("Army Rangers")
- Ireland - Army Ranger Wing (ARW)
- "Special Forces Support Group". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
- Norton-Taylor, Richard (5 July 2002). "Scores killed by SAS in Afghanistan". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2002.
- "Special Forces Support Group forms in Wales". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 20 April 2006.[dead link]
- "Britain to double commitment to the war on terror with 'SAS Lite". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 April 2005.
- "The Men in the Shadows - Hunting al-Zarqawi". ABC News. Retrieved 24 April 2006.
- Tim Ripley (25 February 2009). "Special Effects:UK SF unit comes into its own". Janes Defence Weekly, Vol. 46, Issue 8: 24.
- Kennedy, Maev (7 August 2009). "Three British soldiers killed". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- "Soldier killed in Afghan blast named by MoD". BBC. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- "Special forces quitting to cash in on Iraq". The Scotsman. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
- Ryan, p.218