Special Forces Support Group

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Coordinates: 51°24.331′N 3°27.123′W / 51.405517°N 3.452050°W / 51.405517; -3.452050

Special Forces Support Group
Active 3 April 2006 – present[1]
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Tri-service
Type Infantry
Role Special forces support/counter-terrorism
Size One battalion group
Part of United Kingdom Special Forces

War on Terror

Director Special Forces

The Special Forces Support Group (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. The 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), The RAF Regiment, and The Royal Marines form the UK's Special Forces Support Group (SFSG). The SFSG may provide extra firepower from land or air to fulfill their mission.


The Special Forces Support Group Inaugural Parade at RAF St Athan on 11 May 2006

On June 9 2006, it was reported that a company of SFSG soldiers was operating in Iraq as part of the US-led Task Force 145.[2] In particular, paratroopers from the SFSG supported SAS operations around Baghdad usually cordoning off areas where the SAS were carrying out their missions.[3]

On September 9, 2009, a Special Boat Service and Afghan forces unit, supported by the SFSG, conducted a mission to rescue Stephen Farrell; a journalist captured in Kunduz province by Taliban insurgents. The mission was successful, Farrell was rescued and a number of Taliban were killed however one member of the SFSG was killed as well as Farrell's Afghan interpreter and two civilians were killed in the crossfire.[4][5]

In August 2013, the Daily Telegraph reported that the SFSG, worked hand-in-hand with an elite unit of Afghan commandos, known as Task Force 444, throughout Helmand province. The unit's A Company arrived in Afghanistan in January for a six-month tour and went on to mount relentless raids against the Taliban. The Ministry of Defence sources confirmed that the SFSG and Afghan strike forces led a series of raids on suspected Taliban bomb-makers in May after three British soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb at the end of April; the raids continued for two or three times a week afterwards. Also the unit targeted insurgent supply lines in the desert near the border with Pakistan, and Taliban bases in the centre of the province.[6]

Formation and selection[edit]

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 Boat Service (SBS) squadrons assaulted the al-Qaeda cave complex.[7] Previously, this support was carried out on an ad hoc basis, with infantry units assisting special forces teams when needed.

The Ministry of Defence does not comment on special forces matters, therefore little verifiable information exists in the public domain.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

The SFSG's formation was announced officially by the then Secretary of State for Defence John Reid in Parliament on 20 April 2006.[1]

The SFSG was established to support British special forces units in battle overseas and on domestic "counter-terrorist" operations.[9][dead link]

Most unit personnel are Parachute Regiment soldiers, Royal Marine or Army commandos, or RAF Regiment gunners. All infantrymen 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.[11] Royal Marines and RAF Regiment gunners are sourced from across their respective Corps.[11]


  • Special Forces Support Group[12][not in citation given]
    • HQ
    • D (HQ) Company
      • Regimental Administration Office
      • Quartermasters
      • 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[11]
      • Joint Tactical Air Controllers (from RAF)

The Royal Marines comprise approximately one platoon strength within each of A, B, and C Companies. The RAF Regiment also provide a platoon in B company and forward air controllers to direct close air support. The Support company comprises mortar, sniper, and patrol platoons.[11] 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.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Special Forces Support Group". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Men in the Shadows - Hunting al-Zarqawi". ABC News. Retrieved 24 April 2006. 
  3. ^ Urban, Mark, Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the Secret Special Forces War in Iraq , St. Martin's Griffin , 2012 ISBN 1250006961 ISBN 978-1250006967 p.190
  4. ^ "British soldier killed during rescue of kidnapped journalist in Afghanistan". The Guardian. 9 September 2009. 
  5. ^ Pierce, Andrew (9 Sep 2009). "Army anger as soldier killed saving journalist who ignored Taliban warning". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "Elite forces in secret raids against Taliban bomb-makers". Daily Telegraph. London. 18 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (5 July 2002). "Scores killed by SAS in Afghanistan". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2002. 
  8. ^ "Special forces quitting to cash in on Iraq". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 9 March 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Special Forces Support Group forms in Wales". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Archived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2006. 
  10. ^ "Britain to double commitment to the war on terror with 'SAS Lite". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 April 2005. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Tim Ripley (25 February 2009). "Special Effects:UK SF unit comes into its own". Jane's Defence Weekly. 46 (8): 24. 
  12. ^ "Special Forces Support Group - SFSG". eliteukforces.info. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]