Secretary of State for Defence Dr. John Reid (how can a former card carrying member of the Communist party be trusted in this position ?) has officially announced:
Written Ministerial Statements Thursday 20 April 2006
Special Forces Support Unit
The Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid): On 16 December 2004, Official Report, column 1798, as part of the wider programme to modernise the UK's defence capabilities, the then Secretary of State for Defence announced to the House the Government's intention to create two new units that would significantly improve the specialist support to the Special Forces and enhance our global capacity to fight terrorism.
The first of these new units, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, became operational in April 2005 and is already delivering a globally deployable special reconnaissance capability to the UK Special Forces.
The second new unit is the "Special Forces Support Group". SFSG is an enhanced capability that will directly support UK Special Forces intervention operations around the world and will provide the UK with an additional counter-terrorist capability.
I am pleased to be able to inform the House today that the SFSG has now stood up in St. Athan, near Cardiff, and achieved Initial Operating Capability as planned on 3 April.
Personnel for the new unit have been drawn from the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines, and the Royal Air Force Regiment. The unit will be part of the UK Special Forces Group.
The principal role of the SFSG is to provide direct support to UKSF intervention operations, as well as reinforcing UKSF in other key capability areas such as provision of specialist training and support to domestic CT operations. It will have a specific specialist infantry role and personnel will be equipped and trained accordingly.
Just what sort of Domestic Counter Terrorist situations will require this sort of military firepower to be deployed in the United Kingdom ?
The story had been briefed / leaked / spun to earlier to last weekend's Sunday Times:
Defence sources said the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), which became operational last week, would also support the police in dealing with terrorist attacks. The unit, believed to be about 1,200 strong, will carry out diversionary attacks, provide force protection, set up defensive cordons around SAS and SBS operations and give them supporting firepower.
In addition to its wartime functions, the unit, based at St Athan near Cardiff, will have a standing role to support the police in domestic terrorism incidents.
“They will be trained for a specialised counter-terrorist role and will be called in whenever the police believe a situation is so physically dangerous that they need assistance from the army,” a source said.
A small company-size unit of less than 200 paratroopers became operational last November to support the SAS and SBS in Afghanistan, but the full unit has taken nearly two years to assemble and includes a wide range of skills.
The unit is believed to have the latest high-tech special forces equipment, including computerised satellite communications that will allow it to download intelligence from national agencies such as GCHQ and MI6 as well as the Soflam laser marking system that allows it to designate targets for RAF aircraft. The unit will train alongside the SAS or the SBS and come under the direct control of the director special forces, who is based in Regent’s Park, north London.
It will become the fifth British special forces unit, alongside the SAS, the SBS, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, which conducts undercover intelligence missions and runs agents on the ground during operations, and 18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment, which intercepts enemy radio and mobile telephone communications.
Will we get lots of "How do I join ?" type comments on this blog posting, just like we did when we mentioned the formation of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment or of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 recruitment website ?