Guardian: Army asks Hoon for 'SAS-lite' unit

#1
not the first time this has been mentioned, but this is from today's Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1372947,00.html

Army asks Hoon for 'SAS-lite' unit

Michael White
Tuesday December 14, 2004
The Guardian

Senior military officers are battling to persuade the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, to create a specialist infantry battalion that would provide back-up to the SAS against the worldwide challenge of terrorism.
The absence of such troops providing communications support contributed to the SAS's failure to capture Osama bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan two years ago, military analysts have concluded.

The army board, chaired by General Sir Mike Jackson, wants to create a special force - less well trained than the £2m a soldier invested in the SAS and Special Boat Squadron - to fill a gap in the same way the much larger American Delta Force is supported by specialist ranger units. Army chiefs do not regard the estimated £20m cost of training and equipping the special battalion as excessive.

Because of the emotions generated by the fate of the Black Watch and other regiments, the prospect of creating an "SAS-lite" is the least debated aspect of the current reforms - and the most secret.

But Mr Hoon is doubtful about the cost of training and equipping the force, which would include signals special ists, mountain troops and people able to fly anything from helicopters to transport planes.

"It's expensive. Geoff Hoon is sympathetic to the idea, if it can be afforded," said one defence insider. The review, due to be announced yesterday, has been postponed until later in the week while talks continue between Mr Hoon and Sir Mike.

The new unit, which could be built around the 3rd battalion of the Parachute Regiment and located near SAS headquarters outside Hereford, would involve infantry redeployments during the restructuring of the army's historic regimental system. [WTF is that last bit supposed to mean :?: ]

The army's 40 infantry regiments are being cut to 36 and headcount officially reduced from 104,000 to 102,000 as 300-year-old regiments are folded into regional super-regiments, designed to create more efficiency and family-friendly flexibility.

But the "peace dividend" from the military wind-down in Northern Ireland, for 30 years part of the army's "non-discretionary" role alongside Nato, also allows changes to frontline forces.

Mr Hoon is said to want more engineers, logisticians and intelligence specialists - units often more in demand in troubled places than high-profile regiments like the Black Watch.
 
#2
hackle said:
not the first time this has been mentioned, but this is from today's Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1372947,00.html

Army asks Hoon for 'SAS-lite' unit

Michael White
Tuesday December 14, 2004
The Guardian

Senior military officers are battling to persuade the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, to create a specialist infantry battalion that would provide back-up to the SAS against the worldwide challenge of terrorism.
The absence of such troops providing communications support contributed to the SAS's failure to capture Osama bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan two years ago, military analysts have concluded.

The army board, chaired by General Sir Mike Jackson, wants to create a special force - less well trained than the £2m a soldier invested in the SAS and Special Boat Squadron - to fill a gap in the same way the much larger American Delta Force is supported by specialist ranger units. Army chiefs do not regard the estimated £20m cost of training and equipping the special battalion as excessive.

Because of the emotions generated by the fate of the Black Watch and other regiments, the prospect of creating an "SAS-lite" is the least debated aspect of the current reforms - and the most secret.

But Mr Hoon is doubtful about the cost of training and equipping the force, which would include signals special ists, mountain troops and people able to fly anything from helicopters to transport planes.

"It's expensive. Geoff Hoon is sympathetic to the idea, if it can be afforded," said one defence insider. The review, due to be announced yesterday, has been postponed until later in the week while talks continue between Mr Hoon and Sir Mike.

The new unit, which could be built around the 3rd battalion of the Parachute Regiment and located near SAS headquarters outside Hereford, would involve infantry redeployments during the restructuring of the army's historic regimental system. [WTF is that last bit supposed to mean :?: ]

The army's 40 infantry regiments are being cut to 36 and headcount officially reduced from 104,000 to 102,000 as 300-year-old regiments are folded into regional super-regiments, designed to create more efficiency and family-friendly flexibility.

But the "peace dividend" from the military wind-down in Northern Ireland, for 30 years part of the army's "non-discretionary" role alongside Nato, also allows changes to frontline forces.

Mr Hoon is said to want more engineers, logisticians and intelligence specialists - units often more in demand in troubled places than high-profile regiments like the Black Watch.
Amazing, that last paragraph. The reason the SAS failed to locate OBL was insufficient troops looking for him. Fit well trained light role infantry battalions used imaginatively could more than adequately support SF. This over reliance on SF and almost contemptuous indifference to regular infantry and reluctance to deploy them on such tasks as were common place in the 1950s and 1960s is incomprehensible. SAS "Light"? Utter B******s!
 
#3
Hereford has asked that the three Para battalions are rotated through the role, citing Op Barras in Sierra Leone as precedent and an example of good cooperation in the past. If it goes ahead, it gives some protection to the Para Reg from critics of a largely non-useable para capability. It might also suit POD. Last gesture to the Toms to help secure their future before he retires next year, perhaps?
 
#4
Op con has been used for years with the Para reg units, as Hereford normally only request them as back up for a number of Ops. Afghan they used 1 Para Mortars, OP barras, and one or two we cannot mention here that were before that. its just never been an established role on paper, its like the delta farce and the Rangers.

I think the herald had somthing about it the other day
 
#5
This is relatively old news.

Britain forms new special forces unit to fight al-Qa'eda
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 25/07/2004)

A new special forces regiment is being created to infiltrate Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qa'eda, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Reconnaissance and Surveillance Regiment will work closely with the Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service. Its mission will be to penetrate groups, either directly or by "turning" terrorists into double agents.

It will be given the authority to operate around the world, working closely with friendly intelligence agencies such as the CIA and Mossad.

Security chiefs hope that the regiment, comprising up to 600 troops, will run a network of agents providing the West with accurate intelligence on potential terrorist operations, allowing attacks to be foiled. It will at first be formed from members of a highly secret surveillance agency - the Joint Communications Unit Northern Ireland - which has worked in Ulster for more than 20 years. The unit, which worked with the SAS, MI5 and the Special Branch, perfected the art of covert surveillance in urban and rural areas and created a network of double agents who supplied the British security forces with intelligence on terrorist attacks.

Its success stemmed from its ability to plant listening devices and cameras in the homes and cars of terrorists, to bug phones and to monitor suspects at close quarters.

Such was the secrecy surrounding the unit that few of its operations were made public. Members of the unit are, however, some of the most highly decorated men and women in the Services.

One of its successes was providing the information for the SAS operation in 1988 which led to the shooting dead of three IRA terrorists who were planning to attack British forces in Gibraltar. The unit also took part in an operation that thwarted an IRA plot to attack a police station at Loughgall, County Tyrone, in 1987. Eight IRA members were killed by the SAS in a carefully planned ambush.

Volunteers for the regiment, both male and female, will be taken from all three branches of the Armed Forces. Officers are keen to recruit those of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean appearance, as well as Muslims and members of ethnic minorities.

Recruitment has begun and volunteers must pass an intensive six-month training course, learning covert surveillance, communications, driving skills and first aid as well as close-quarter battle skills, using a variety of weapons. Priority will be given to those able to infiltrate or blend in with Islamic terror groups, rather than, as with the SAS, their fitness or fighting capabilities.

One officer said: "The SAS's role is essentially to kill people. This new regiment's role is to provide the intelligence for the SAS to do that."

Those who pass - a 90 per cent failure rate is expected - will be sent on an Arabic course at the Armed Forces language school at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

The unit will be commanded by a lieutenant colonel with a special forces background, although not necessarily a member of the SAS, and will be based in South Wales. He will report to the Director of Special Forces.

A senior officer associated with the formation of the new regiment said: "This unit will be used primarily for intelligence gathering. The work will be dangerous, as it was in Northern Ireland, and operators will be taught how to protect themselves. The threat from Irish terror groups is far less now and although we will keep a presence in Ulster, it is time to use this force on a worldwide basis."
I love the reference to the CIA and Mossad as 'friendly intelligence agencies'!! :)
 
#6
The_Sloping_Wire said:
This is relatively old news.
Quite so, I made that point when I posted the Guardian article but it contains 'new' info/speculation, and these matters are somewhat topical this week. Thanks for pulling up the original article. :wink:
 
#7
Busterdog hits the nail on the head - why are the SAS being used in completely non cost-effective way in tasks which could be performed just fine by a properly-resourced infantry btn?

Oh, I guess we don't have any properly-resourced infantry battalions.....
 
#8
Why dont they just create the Army Commandos again - although the Royal Marines already suit the role perfectly. In Australia they have Army Commandos........bloody good they are too...........

Another option is to increase the size of 3 commando brigade from 6000 troops up to 10,000...........(by the time 'commando 21' restructure comes into effect)

Anyway, the paras would be more effective than the US Rangers anyway - look at the successful mission they had with the SAS in Sierra Lione.......???!!!!???!!!

Hoon sounds confused about what he really wants............
 
#9
That last sounds not unlike an Arabic version of the FRU to me.

Bet that'll be a fun job.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#11
There's a lot of conjecture out there.

The original article (second in this thread) is for a covert urban recce unit formed around the very limited number of 14 Int guys. The follow up talks about a Para Bn being attached to SF. 14 Int don't yomp around Afghan mountains. Para's do but they don't hide in jamjars in Terr's kitchens so the two articles are talking about opposite roles.

Reading the above my view is the press defence sexperts are throwing in opinions based on their experience rather than the requirements of the regt.

I guess the first question is how "special" will these guys be. The para's, last time I checked, were there to kill people, far more than the UKSF. Sure their Pathfinders can man OP's but then can so many other Inf Bn Recce units, ditto COP, ditto RM. Would UKSF want a specialist Int providing logistical ground holding force, or does he want a covert team of sneaky beaky's? When you're looking at professionalism there is a limited shared ground here that actually doesn't become SAS-on-the-cheap.

And I'm really not sure about the SAS's job of killing people comment. There are plenty of UKSF guys that have never killed anybody. Or at least there were prior to GW2

If the requirement is for more UKSF (due to the volume of deployments) but the standards are too high then it seems to me to be a way of answering this.

If the requirement is for a support unit then they've got the sigs/RLC model to copy already in place.

If the requirement is for a assault unit (Barras) then a dedicated Para or RM unit attached sounds like the answer.
 
#12
isleofwightrifles said:
It's a (vain) attempt to save one of the 4 Bns up for the chop.
Don't be so sure about the vanity of this approach. The lack of fire sp after the 1995 cuts saved 4 TA Bns from being axed...and at least one justified the faith placed in it but that's a different thread.
 
#13
Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent - pish..........

The press should stop having 'Special Forces' wet dreams all the time. Plus do they have to use that bloody saying, it pisses me off.

Wars are won on good intelligence and strategy. Oh dear we have neither!! Dont worry though, 'special forces' will save the day (armed with chinese equipment, oh the joy).
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#15
kennys-go-nad said:
Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent - pish
was he not an officer ??
Yep, did three years in 3 Para. Nice bloke, was at the Sun for a while, then got the push from the Daily Mail, where he was Defence Correspondent, for fiddling his expenses. He seems to have worked his way back into a state of grace now at the Torygraph.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#16
When this idea was first floated a few months back, it was all about acquiring a surveillance capability wordlwide in hostile environments rather than creating a kind of SF Brigade with its own bolt on infantry component but this would be one way of using the spare Para bn not committed to 16 AA under FAS. It would also be a nifty way for SF to spot potential recruits, particularly as we are going down the trickle-posting-through-large regiments route.

Didn't the RM try out the SF/light infantry thing with Commachio Group in the 70s and 80s?
 
#17
It has potential to be a bit depressing for the wannabe-SAS, as there is great potential for them always to be the bridesmaid, but never the bride. This is (so they say) a regular complaint from attachments - they spend all their time guarding, cleaning the bogs and being DROs for a bunch of hairies.
 
#18
The original article has managed to get Cat 2 support to SF (para or any inf bn that's up for it frankly) and a new structure under FAS totally mixed up.

The 2 will be very different, with very different roles.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#19
greyfox said:
It has potential to be a bit depressing for the wannabe-SAS, as there is great potential for them always to be the bridesmaid, but never the bride. This is (so they say) a regular complaint from attachments - they spend all their time guarding, cleaning the bogs and being DROs for a bunch of hairies.
Which is as it should be... but you're right, it could all get a bit depressing for the bolt-ons, and it would also probably require the Regt to get a bit more realistic about rank, saluting and all that shi-ite, 'cos I can't imagine a Para Regt CO being too keen on being first-named by a walrus moustached Corporal who insists on being called 'Stan'. :D
 

Latest Threads