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Brigade Reconnaissance Force

Brigade Reconnaissance Forces (BRFs) are established or ad-hoc formations that carry out ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance). BRFs act as their Brigade's eyes and ears, often operating far ahead of the main units. BRFs typically comprise of reconnaissance specialists plus attached artillery spotters, forward air controllers, snipers, medics, sappers, EOD specialists etc.

The Brigade Recce Force concept has previously been realized within the UK's airborne and amphibious rapid reaction forces, 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade. Their respective BRFs were used with notable success during their deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Army Brigades subsequently deploying to Afghanistan eventually formed their own ad-hoc BRFs for their specific 6-month tours in Helmand Province. These formations were typically disbanded at the end of the tour and underwent little or no pre-deployment training together as a unit. More recent deployments have employed larger, pre-established reconnaissance forces.

A 2009 article reported that the Army aims to retain a standing BRF, of around 150 men, for each of its 6 frontline manoeuvre Brigades. Selection courses for BRFs are run by the parent brigade.

16 Air Assault Brigade

16 AA Bde's BRF is formed around the elite Pathfinder Platoon with attached signallers, artillery spotters, sappers and other elements. The Pathfinder Platoon saw action in Sierra Leone in 2000 and took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Pathfinder Platoon deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan for Herrick 4 (May-November 2006), Herrick 8 (April-October 2008) and Herrick 13 (October 2010- April 2011)

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3 Commando Brigade

The Royal Marines' elite Brigade Patrol Troop (BPT) are the core of 3 CDO Bde's Brigade Reconnaissance Force. The BPT, part of Support Squadron 30 Commando IX, are augmented by attached artillery spotters, signallers, electronic warfare specialists and engineers. 3 CDO Bde's BRF has undergone several tours of Afghanistan. It deployed to Helmand for Herrick 5 (November 2006-April 2007), Herrick 9 (October 2008-April 2009 ) and Herrick 14 (April-October 2011).

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12 Mechanized Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 6 (April 2007 - October 2007).


  • Recce Platoon, 1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards (1 GREN GDS)
  • elements of Light Dragoons
  • elements of King's Royal Hussars
  • elements of Staffords
  • elements of REME, Medical Corps & Royal Engineers
  • elements of 4/73 Battery, Royal Artillery, including a member of of Honourable Artillery Company, Royal Artillery

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52nd Infantry Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 7 (September 2007 - March 2008).


  • Recce Platoon from 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS)
  • 2x Javelin team from 2 YORKS
  • 1x Mortar team from 2 YORKS
  • 3 Sniper pairs from 2 YORKS
  • elements of 4/73 Battery, Royal Artillery, including members of of Honourable Artillery Company, Royal Artillery

52 Brigade's BRF carried out a number of operations in Helmand, including playing a key role in the taking of Musa Qala in December 2007. Perhaps the most notable operation was a 7-week desert patrol, the longest such patrol carried out by a British Army unit since World War 2.

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19 Light Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 10 (April 2009 - October 2009).


19 Light Brigade's BRF was formed primarily from its various infantry units, including:

  • elements of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (2 MERCIAN)
  • elements of 2nd Battalion, the Rifles (2 RIFLES)

19 Light Brigade's BRF were instrumental during several operations including Operation Panther's Claw.

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11 Light Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 11 (October 2009 - April 2010).


11 Light Brigade's BRF - 11 Light Brigade Reconnaissance Force (11 LBRF)  - is made up of troops from all the brigade's of constituent units, based around a core element from B Squadron, Household Cavalry Regiment.

11 Light Brigade's BRF took part in numerous operations, including Operation Moshtarak.

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4 Mechanized Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 12 (April 2010 - October 2010).


4th Mechanized Brigade's (4 Bde BRF) was made up of troops drawn from throughout the Brigade:

  • Royal Dragoon Guards
  • Queen's Royal Lancers
  • 1st Battalion, Scots Guards
  • 1st Battalion, Scots Guards
  • The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border)
  • 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire)
  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles
  • 4th Regiment Royal Artillery
  • 21 Regiment, Royal Engineers
  • 3 Medical Regiment
  • 34 Field Hospital
  • 1st Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
  • 101st Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

As with 11 LBRF, 4 Bde BRF was a properly established, cohesive force. 4 Bde BRF underwent 4 weeks of training in Jordan prior to deployment. The force has taken part in a number of operations, including Operation Tor Shezada.

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20th Armoured Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 15 (October 2011 - April 2012).

Comprised elements of:

  • 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards
  • 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Recce Platoon)
  • supporting elements drawn from throughout the brigade, including 35 Engineer Regiment (Recce Troop), Royal Artillery Fire Support Teams, medics and signallers

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12th Mechanized Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 16 (April 2012 - October 2012).

12th Mechanized Brigade's BRF was formed from troops with the Light Dragoons (LD).

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4th Mechanized Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 17 (October 2012 - April 2013).

The BRF for Herrick 17 is drawn from B Squadron, Queen's Royal Lancers (B Sqn QRL).

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1st Mechanized Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 18 (April 2013 - October 2013).

The Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR) formed the BRF for 1st Mechanized Brigade, along with troops from 4th Battalion the Rifles and various specialist elements from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, 215 Signal Squadron and 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers. The BRF also utilizes Light Electronic Warfare Teams and Desert Hawk small unmanned surveillance aircraft.

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7th Armoured Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 19 (October 2013 - June 2014).

7th Armoured Brigade's BRF is provided by a core element of B Squadron 9th/12th Lancers. Other elements include the Recce Platoon of 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards, Royal Artillery Fire Support Teams, Light Electronic Warfare Teams from 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), signallers from 207 Signal Squadron and the Company Intelligence Support Team.

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20th Armoured Brigade

Deployed for Herrick 20 (June 2014 - December 2014).

The BRF for the final Herrick deployment consisted of a core element from C Squadron, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, with supporting elements such as Fire Support Teams from 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, signallers and Royal Military Police personnel.

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