Special Reconnaissance Regiment

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Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Special Reconnaissance Regiment (crest).jpg
Cap badge of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Active 6 April 2005 – present[1]
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Special forces
Role Special reconnaissance
Size One regiment
Part of United Kingdom Special Forces
Garrison/HQ Hereford
March "Argus"
Engagements

War on Terror

Dissident Irish Republican campaign
Commanders
Current
commander
Director Special Forces
Abbreviation SRR

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment, or SRR, is a special reconnaissance unit of the British Army. It was established on 6 April 2005 and is part of the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) under the command of Director Special Forces, alongside the Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG).[1]

The regiment conducts a wide range of classified activities related to covert surveillance and reconnaissance. The SRR draws its personnel from existing units and can recruit volunteers from any serving male or female member of the British Armed Forces.[3][4]

Formation[edit]

The Special Reconnaissance Regiment conducts surveillance operations mainly concerning, but not limited to, "counter-terrorism" activities.[5] It was formed to relieve the Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service of that role and is believed to contain around 500–700 personnel.[6][7] Media reports state they are based alongside the Special Air Service in Hereford.[3]

The SRR was formed 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.[8]

The regiment was formed around a core of the already established 14 Intelligence Company, which played a similar role against the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.[9]

Operational history[edit]

Iraq War[edit]

The regiment was active during the Iraq War as part of Task Force Black/knight, although members of other British Special forces units were sceptical of the value of the regiment, by mid-2006 a handful of SRR operators were operating in Baghdad. They formed Special Reconnaissance detachments that were commanded by SRR officers the force was made up of Task Force Black/knight operators who carried out difficult surveillance missions throughout the city.[10]

Shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes[edit]

On 22 July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by armed police officers on a London Underground train at Stockwell tube station. Three media reports carry unconfirmed assertions by unattributed UK government sources that SRR personnel were involved in the intelligence collection effort leading to the shooting and on the tube train whilst the offensive action occurred. A partial Ministry of Defence response was reported by The Sunday Times.[11][12][13]

Northern Ireland[edit]

In March 2009, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde informed the Northern Ireland Policing Board that he had asked for the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to be deployed in Northern Ireland to help the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) gather intelligence on dissident republicans. He claimed that they would have no operational role and would be fully accountable, as required by the St Andrews Agreement. Deputy First Minister and Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams condemned the move, whilst Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Ian Paisley, Jr. said the SRR "poses absolutely no threat to any community in Northern Ireland".[14][15] The SRR troops were reportedly withdrawn in 2011, but were sent back to Northern Ireland in 2015 to help detect and prevent attempted attacks by the Real Irish Republican Army and Continuity Irish Republican Army.[16]

In late 2015, it was reported there were approximately 60 Special Reconnaissance Regiment plain-clothed and unarmed surveillance troops operating in Northern Ireland, including in unmarked vehicles.[16][17]

Yemen and Somalia[edit]

In April 2016, it was revealed that members of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment were seconded to MI6 teams in Yemen to train Yemeni forces fighting AQAP, as well as identifying targets for drone strikes, along with the SAS, they have been carrying out a similar role in Somalia.[18][19][20]

Uniform distinctions[edit]

Personnel retain the uniforms of their parent organisations with the addition of an "emerald grey" coloured beret and the SRR cap badge. The cap badge shares Excalibur in common with the other UKSF units, in the case of the SRR being placed behind a Corinthian helmet, surmounting a scroll inscribed RECONNAISSANCE.[9] The stable belt of the SRR is similar in style to that of the SAS, however, being midnight blue, it is darker.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Geoff HoonSecretary of State for Defence (5 April 2005). "Special Reconnaissance Regiment". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 131WS. 
  2. ^ "Special Forces cuts: once gone they cannot be quickly replaced". the telegraph. 3 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Special forces regiment created". BBC News. 5 April 2005. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Rayment, Sean (4 September 2005). "Army reveals secret elite unit that puts women on front line". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Ryan, Chris (2009). Fight to Win: Deadly Skills of the Elite Forces. Century. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-84605-666-6. 
  6. ^ Heyman, Charles (5 April 2005). "'New regiment will support SAS'". BBC News. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Giannangeli, Marco (22 July 2012). "A secret army of 'Amazons' guards Olympic Games". Daily Express. London. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  8. ^ The Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter (PDF). London: The Stationery Office. 18 July 2002. ISBN 0101556624. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Harding, Thomas (6 April 2005). "New Special Forces unit will spy on the terrorists". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  10. ^ 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.167-168
  11. ^ Smith, Michael (31 July 2005). "Could this 'police officer' be a soldier?". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 14 October 2007. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard (4 August 2005). "New special forces unit tailed Brazilian". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  13. ^ Cusick, James (21 August 2005). "An innocent man shot dead on the London Tube by police... since then everything we've been told has been wrong. A cover-up? And if so... why?". Sunday Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 14 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "Forces are a threat – McGuinness". BBC News. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  15. ^ Kirkup, James (17 March 2009). "Gerry Adams: British Army Special Forces in Northern Ireland threaten peace process". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Hinton, Joe (8 March 2015). "UK troops back in N Ireland: Crack troops launch secret counter-terror mission". Daily Star. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "Special Forces going to Ulster in IRA crisis". Daily Express. 13 September 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "UK special forces and MI6 involved in Yemen bombing, report reveals". The Guardian. 11 April 2016. 
  19. ^ "Cargo bomb plot: SAS hunting al-Qaeda in Yemen". Daily Telegraph. 2 November 2010. 
  20. ^ "UK and US spend millions to counter Yemeni threat". The Independent. 30 October 2010. 
  21. ^ "Special Reconnaissance Regiment". Who dares wins. Retrieved 2 October 2016.