New Special Forces Support Group: Inaugural Parade
Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Des Browne MP, and the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson, attended the inaugural parade of the new Special Forces Support Group at RAF St Athan in Wales on 11 May 2006.
The Special Forces Support Group is a new unit within the UK Special Forces group, which was set up on 3 April 2006. It will directly support UK Special Forces intervention operations around the world and provide the UK with an additional counter-terrorist capability. Personnel for the unit will be specially equipped and trained for their Special Forces role. Welcoming the event, Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
"This is a proud day for the new members of the Special Forces family. We can all feel more secure, knowing that the best Special Forces in the world are being given the extra support that they need to deal with modern threats.
"This enhancement to the UK's Special Forces is part of the restructuring of our Armed Forces to deliver new capabilities that are relevant to the threats of today.
"This parade, which clearly illustrates the blend of different Services into a single Special Forces ethos, marks a new and proud chapter in the history of the UK Special Forces."
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, falling under the operational command of the Director of Special Forces. As with the rest of the Special Forces, the best way to protect their capabilities is to respect the importance of keeping the identities of its individuals, its operations, its capabilities, its tactics and training, and its equipment properly secret.
The need to enhance Special Forces capability was announced in the Strategic Defence Review New Chapter, published in July 2002. Members of the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) will retain the cap badges of their parent units and will also wear the SFSG insignia.
All individuals within this specialist group have passed either the Royal Marines Commando course, the Airborne Forces Selection course run by the Parachute Regiment or the RAF Pre-Parachute Selection course. Each of these selection courses involves arduous physical selection and high quality infantry training. The personnel are then equipped and provided with additional training to fit their specific specialist role on joining the SFSG.
The main role of the SFSG is to provide direct support to UK Special Forces intervention operations around the world. They will be prepared to operate in war-fighting, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations at short notice. Their roles may include provision of supporting or diversionary attacks, cordons, fire support, force protection and supporting training tasks. Prior to the creation of the SFSG, these tasks have been carried out by other units on an ad hoc basis.
The creation of two new Special Forces units to enhance the overall capabilities of the Special Forces and to improve the UK's ability to fight terrorism was announced by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, on 16 December 2004. The first unit, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, became operational in April 2005. The SFSG is the second unit, which became operational on 3 April 2006.