The United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) is a directorate comprising the Special Air Service, the Special Boat Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the Special Forces Support Group, 18 Signal Regiment and the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing, as well as the supporting No. 47 Squadron. In UK law, “special forces” means those units of the armed forces of the Crown and the maintenance of whose capabilities is the responsibility of the Director of Special Forces or which are for the time being subject to the operational command of that Director.
|United Kingdom Special Forces|
|Branch||British Armed Forces|
|Size||2,000 personnel (2009)|
|Part of||Strategic Command|
|Headquarters||Permanent Joint Headquarters, Northwood Headquarters|
|Website||Directorate of Special Forces at gov.uk|
|General Mark Carleton-Smith|
The government and Ministry of Defence (MOD) have a policy of not commenting on the UKSF, in contrast to other countries including the United States, Canada and Australia. In 1996, the UKSF introduced a requirement that serving members sign a confidentiality contract preventing them from disclosing information for life, without the prior approval of the MOD, following the publication of several books written by ex-service members.
In 1987, the post of Director SAS became Director Special Forces. From that time, the incumbent has had control of both the Army's Special Air Service and the Naval Service's Special Boat Squadron, which was renamed the Special Boat Service during the formation. The directorate has since been expanded by the creation of the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, 18 Signal Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group. Approximately 40% of all UK Special Forces personnel are recruited from the Royal Marines.
Following the Army 2020 reforms, in 2014, 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), 23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and the Honourable Artillery Company were shifted from DSF's command to 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade. This change was partly reverted in 2019, with both 21 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and 23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) becoming an integrated part of the United Kingdom Special Forces.
Following Army 2020 Refine, the Army Special Operations Brigade and British Army Ranger Regiment were formed. Though not part of UKSF, these units have a special operations remit, including Foreign Internal Defense (FID). Creating these units will relieve the pressure on UKSF units to perform FID, allowing them to focus more on the remainder of their mission sets. This is thought to be inspired by the U.S. Army Green Berets who fulfil a similar mission, complementing and reliving pressure on units within JSOC - the American equivalent of UKSF. There are other British Special Operations Forces which also fall outside UKSF, such as the Pathfinder Platoon and the Brigade Patrol Troop and other Royal Marines mountain leaders of the Mountain Leader Training Cadre.
The following units are part of UK Special Forces and UK Special Forces (Reserve).
Royal Air ForceEdit
Joint service unitsEdit
Joint Special Forces Aviation WingEdit
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