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Joint Support Group to Downsize

16.04.2014

A recent newspaper report has indicated that the Joint Support Group (JSG) - an elite intelligence unit - will soon have its strength cut by 50%.[1]

The unit - which is part of the British Army's Intelligence Corps - gathers human intelligence - HUMINT - by recruiting agents from indigenous populations, often turning enemy operatives against their organisations. The JSG is staffed by men and women from all 3 services. [2]

The Joint Support Group's forerunners were the Force Research Unit (FRU), an Intelligence Corps unit that operated in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles. The FRU turned IRA terrorists into informers who would provide the security services with vital intelligence on upcoming IRA operations.

The JSG has carried out similar work in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres. JSG operatives supported a joint US / UK special operations task force that operated in Iraq. With the help of JSG's network of double agents, the JSOC/UKSF operation dramatically degraded al-Qaeda and the insurgency's ability to wage war. [3]

A similar story can be told about Afghanistan, where the JSG has helped coalition forces kill or capture scores of Taliban commanders, bomb makers and drug lords.

JSG operatives are highly trained in the various psychological techniques required to create double agents out of enemy operatives. They undergo language training and become fluent in the languages spoken by their targets. JSG operatives are taught counter-surveillance, pistol shooting and unarmed combat techniques.

The Mirror reports that the JSG is currently facing a recruitment crisis and is struggling to find troops of the right caliber. According to the report, the JSG has well over 400 ranks, most to be found in 4 squadrons. The group also has a headquarters and training wing.

When British forces withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the Army will cut the JSG to a peace time level of half its current strength, pairing it down to only 2 squadrons.

There may be more than simple cost savings motivating the proposed JSG cuts. It's claimed that the army has an uneasy relationship with some of its more 'specialist' units, finding them hard to control. This unease may hark back to controversy surrounding the Force Reseach Unit's alledged collusion with Unionist paramilitaries during the Troubles.

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