Special Forces Support Group (SFSG)
The Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) is Britain's newest special operations unit. Formed around a core component of members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), with additional troops from the Royal Marines and the RAF regiment, the SFSG provides infantry and specialised support to SAS and SBS special operations.
The roles of the SFSG include :
- Acting as a quick reaction force for SAS/SBS operations
- Sealing off and guarding an area of operation
- Taking part in large scale offensive operations alongside SAS/SBS forces
- Carrying out secondary assaults and diversionary raids
- Acting as a 'blocking force' against counter attacks.
- Training / mentoring foreign militaries
- CBRN detection/protection
- Domestic anti-terrorist support
A model for the kind of operation that the SFSG has been created for can be seen in the 2000 Sierra Leone 'Operation Barras', in which elements of 1 PARA attacked a rebel base whilst the SAS/SBS rescued fellow soldiers from a nearby camp. A comparable relationship exists between the 75th Ranger Regiment and SFOD-1 (Delta Force) in the U.S. Military. The Rangers provided perimeter security for Delta Force operations in Somalia in 1993, as portrayed in the film, Black Hawk Down.
The SFSG was 'stood up' at its base in St Athan, Wales in April 2006 and has reportedly been deployed in support of UKSF operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is thought that 1 Company of SFSG is deployed to Afghanistan, in support of the SBS, under the command of a SBS officer. At least one Company is deployed to Iraq where it supports the SAS.
Apart from giving direct support to SAS/SBS missions, the SFSG also provides specialist training support. One of the traditional roles of the Special Air Service has been to provide foreign militaries with specialist training. Since much of this training does not necessarily require the skills of the SAS, such training tasks can now be performed by members of the SFSG, thus freeing the SAS up for direct combat missions. It has been reported that the SFSG has been training and mentoring Afghan special forces and other troops. (read report)
It's also believed that the SFSG will also support the police during domestic terrorist incidents. The precise nature of this support is not publicly known but it is speculated that it may include providing additional area security around a large scale terrorist incident. Some sources indicate that elements within the SFSG have received counter-terrorist (CT) training from the SAS. Such SFSG CT elements would be able to assist the SAS/SBS in large scale CT operations. It's also beleived that CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiation & Nuclear) specialists from the SFSG would assist in event of a domestic terrorist attack.
The makeup of the SFSG is as follows:
The bulk of the SFSG is made up from the 1st Batallion Parachute Regiment. Paras from the other 2 regular Batallions, 2 and 3 PARA, can apply to the SFSG after 2 years service.
Commandos from the Royal Marines provide another element of the Special Forces Support Group. The role of the Royal Marines within the SFSG is thought to focused on amphibious operations. It's thought that the RM provide 1 strike company (F Coy), around 120 men, to the SFSG. It is believed that all of the Royal Marines component of the SFSG are sourced from the Fleet Protection Group (FPGRM), who run their own SFSG selection course. 2 Troops from FPGRM previoulsy were attached to the SBS to provide support for Maritime Counter Terrorism operations in the North Sea. Some sources indicated that elements of 539 Assault Squadron are also attached to the SFSG to provide amphibious transportation.
It is reported that the RAF Regiment will be commiting at least one flight (the equivalent of a platoon, around 30 men) of RAF Gunners from II Squadron to the SFSG. Aside from infantry support provided by the one RAF Regiment flight, other RAF Regiment elements attached to the SFSG provide a number of capabilities to the SFSG.
- Forward Air Control - Joint Terminal Attack Controllers skilled in calling in close air support
- CBRN support from specialist RAF personnel provides detection and decontamination for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) terrorist attacks.
- Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) - elements of the Ground Extraction Force, a mix of RAF Regiment and Merlin helicopters of E Flight, No 28 (AC) Sqn
The exact SFSG order of battle (ORBAT) has not been disclosed to the public domain, although some details can be gleaned from open source publications. The SFSG is structured in a similar manner to a regular Parachure Regiment battalion, the most notable differences being the addtion of F Coy Royal Marines and the Joint Fires Cell.
- Battalion Headquarters (BHQ)
- Headquarters (HQ) Company
- Motor Transport Platoon (MT Platoon)
- Regimental Administration Office (RAO)
- Regiment Aid Post
- Catering Platoon
- 4 x Rifle Companies
- A Coy
- B Coy
- C Coy
- F Coy (appears to be manned mostly by Royal Marines)
- Fire Support Groups (FSGs)
Consisting of Platoon-sized elements who specialise in providing heavy-weapons support to SFSG rifle companies:
- Support Company
- Mortar Platoon
- Sniper Platoon
Provides sniper teams to support other SFSG elements
- Signals Platoon
provides signals detachments to other SFSG elements
- Joint Fires Cell
RAF Joint Tactical Air Controllers (JTACs) - caling in fire support from fast air (jets), Apache Gunships and UAVs.
- D Company
- Operational Readiness Wing
- General Training Cell
Runs the 'Unit Operator Cadre' which trains new SFSG operatives to 'SFSG Operator Qualification' standards.
- Contingency Cell
Carries out training exercises, conversions to new equipment etc
- Attached / supporting units
Details of SFSG operations remain sketchy at this time, although a handful of reports have surfaced. It is believed that the SFSG has been actively supporting UKSF in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Task Force Red / Maroon
Shortly after the units inception, it was reported that a Company from the SFSG had been assigned to the US-led Task Force 145 (TF-145). TF-145, more recently renamed as TF-88, operates in Iraq and has hunted down senior Al-Qaeda members such as al-Zarqawi and associates. The British element of TF-88 consists of 1 SAS Squadron ('Task Force Black'), a Company of SFSG (reported by different sources as 'Task Force Red' and 'Task Force Maroon') plus associated supporting units (SRR, 18 UKSF Signals, Joint Support Group, 7 & 47 Squadron RAF).
It is reported that the SFSG has been operating as a quick reaction force (QRF) for SAS operations. One such occasion, the SFSG were positioned around the area of an insurgent's bomb-making factory, providing security for an SAS sniper team's operation.
The SFSG also supported the SAS operation to free British peace activist Norman Kember, who had been kidnapped by Iraqi criminals.
SBS and SFSG were reportedly involved in Operation Medusa, in September 2006. OP Medusa was a combined attack on Taliban forces in the strategically important Panjwayi district of Afghanistan that featured NATO units from the UK, US, Canada and Holland. The SBS and SFSG played key roles in the coordinated attacks acting as both attacking forces (SBS) and cut-off groups (SFSG).
UKSF Raid On Taliban Fort
Lste August 2009 - SFSG troops supported a raid by the SBS on a Taliban bomb factory in Helmand Province. The SFSG reportedly carried out diversionary attacks during this operation.
more info : UKSF Raid On Taliban Fort
Special Forces Support Group Resources: