Director Special Forces

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Director Special Forces (DSF) is the senior British Armed Forces officer responsible for Special Forces. The post is a senior role within the Ministry of Defence (MoD).[1] As Director, the incumbent is responsible for the provision of United Kingdom Special Forces UKSF capability to MoD, and holds Operational Command for discrete Special Forces operations.


The post of Colonel SAS was created in 1964; this post evolved into Director SAS with the post holder commanding the Special Air Service corps from 1969.[2]

In March 1987, the post of Director SAS became Director Special Forces; it consisted of the Army Special Air Service, Royal Marines Special Boat Service and Army 14 Intelligence Company under the command of the DSF, who held the rank of brigadier, and with a Deputy, who held the rank of colonel.[2][3][4]

During the 2000s, the size of the directorate increased substantially with the inclusion of the Special Forces Support Group, Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (formerly 14th Intelligence Company). This was to meet a demand for a special reconnaissance capability identified in the Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter published in 2002 in response to the 2001 September 11 attacks.[5] However there was a reduction in the scope of UK Special forces when, following a review, it was found that the SAS Reserve lacked a clearly defined role, and also stated that the reservists lacked the capability, equipment, and skills to serve alongside the regular special forces.[6] As an outcome of this review, on 1 September 2014, 21 and 23 SAS were removed from the UKSF order of battle and placed [7] with the HAC under the command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.[8][9] This change was partly reverted in 2019 with 21 and 23 SAS returning as an integrated part of the UKSF group.[10]

In 2008, the rank of the DSF was upgraded from brigadier to major-general with the directorate becoming an independent, operational-level component command, alongside Land, Navy and Air elements in the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) and in the deployable Joint Task Force Headquarters.[11][4]


Commanders of special forces have been:[11]

Colonel SAS[edit]

Director SAS[edit]

Director Special Forces[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Defence Works" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. 7 April 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Urban, Mark (1992). Big Boys' Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 9780571161126.
  3. ^ Cucu, Dan (December 2004). Romanian Special Forces: Identifying appropriate missions and organizational structure (PDF) (Master's thesis). U.S. Navy Postgraduate School. OCLC 834274749. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b Davies, Andrew; Jennings, Peter; Scheer, Benjamin (2014). A Versatile Force: The Future of Australia's Special Operations Capability (PDF). Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Australian Strategic Policy Institute. ISBN 9781921302978. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  5. ^ The Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter (PDF). London: The Stationery Office. 18 July 2002. ISBN 0101556624. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  6. ^ Rayment, Sean (11 Apr 2010). "SAS reservists withdrawn from Afghan front line". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 Jan 2018.
  7. ^ Army Reserve Quarterly
  8. ^ Janes International Defence Review, May 2014, page 4
  9. ^ Army Briefing Note 120/14, Newly formed Force Troops Command Specialist Brigades, Quote "It commands all of the Army's Intelligence, Surveillance and Electronic Warfare assets, and is made up of units specifically from the former 1 Military Intelligence Brigade and 1 Artillery Brigade, as well as 14 Signal Regiment, 21 and 23 SAS(R)."
  10. ^ "21 & 23 SAS (Reserve)". Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  11. ^ a b "Army Commands" (PDF). 26 July 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  12. ^ *Kemp, Anthony (1994). The SAS: Savage Wars of Peace – 1947 to the Present. Penguin. p. 112. ISBN 0-14-139081-6.
  13. ^ "Jordan, UK discuss military cooperation". the Jordan Times. Retrieved 2016-12-22.