Special Forces Support Group

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Special Forces Support Group
Active 3 April 2006 – Present[1]
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Tri-service
Type Infantry
Role Special Forces Support/Counter-Terrorism
Size One battalion group
Part of United Kingdom Special Forces
Engagements War on Terror
Director Special Forces

The Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) is a special operations unit of the British Armed Forces. The SFSG is the newest addition to the United Kingdom Special Forces. It was formed officially on 3 April 2006 to support the Special Air Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Boat Service on operations. The 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), The RAF Regiment, and The Royal Marines form the UK's Special Forces Support Group (SFSG). The SFSG may provide extra firepower from land or air to fulfill their mission.


File:Special Forces Support Group Inaugural Parade at RAF St Athan, Wales on Thursday 11th May 2006. MOD 45146159.jpg
The Special Forces Support Group Inaugural Parade at RAF St Athan on 11 May 2006

The unit's creation stems from the need to provide infantry support to the United Kingdom Special Forces, which became evident after the Battle of Tora Bora during which two Special Boat Service (SBS) squadrons assaulted the al-Qaeda cave complex.[2] Previously, this support was carried out on an ad hoc basis, with infantry units assisting special forces teams when needed.

During Operation Barras in Sierra Leone, soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment were deployed alongside troops from the Special Boat Service (SBS) and D Squadron SAS. This was successful, as the SAS soldiers attacked the encampment containing the hostages while the soldiers from The Parachute Regiment attacked a second encampment.[3]

In December 2004, it was announced that a unit would be formalised for this role as part of the wider future army structure. It was initially conceived as a battalion of "Rangers", similar to the United States Army Rangers.[4]

The SFSG's formation was announced officially by the then Secretary of State for Defence John Reid in Parliament on 20 April 2006.[1] Following the announcement, it was reported that a company of SFSG soldiers was operating in Iraq as part of the US-led Task Force 145.[5]

On 12 May 2007, a joint SBS and Special Forces Support Group team killed the Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah in Helmand province, Afghanistan, after a raid on a compound where his associates were meeting.[6]

As of late 2008 SFSG personnel have received two Military Crosses, one Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service, two Mentions in Despatches and 12 Joint Commander's Commendations.[7] In August 2009, three soldiers from the SFSG were killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol near Lashkar Gar, Southern Afghanistan. A fourth soldier from the same patrol was injured in the explosion.[8] In December 2009, an SFSG soldier was killed as a result of a suspected improvised explosive device in Sangin, Afghanistan.[9]

On 8 March 2012, a small Special Boat Service team, along with members of the Special Forces Support Group, attempted to rescue two hostages, Chris McManus (British) and Franco Lamolinara (Italian), being held in Nigeria by members of the Boko Haram terrorist organisation loyal to al-Qaeda. The two hostages were killed before or during the rescue attempt. All the hostage takers were reportedly killed.[10]

In August 2013, the Telegraph reported that the SFSG, works hand-in-hand with an elite unit of Afghan commandos, known as Task Force 444, throughout Helmand province. The unit's A Company arrived in Afghanistan in January for a six-month tour and went on to mount relentless raids against the Taliban. The Ministry of Defence sources confirmed that the SFSG and Afghan strike forces led a series of raids on suspected Taliban bomb-makers in May after three British soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb at the end of April, The raids continued two or three times a week afterwards. Also the unit targeted insurgent supply lines in the desert near the border with Pakistan, and Taliban bases in the centre of the province.[11]

Formation and selection

The Ministry of Defence does not comment on special forces matters, therefore little verifiable information exists in the public domain.[12]

The SFSG was established to support British special forces units in battle overseas and on domestic "counter-terrorist" operations.[3][dead link]

Most unit personnel are Parachute Regiment soldiers, Royal Marine commandos or RAF Regiment gunners. All infantrymen selected for the SFSG have passed either the P Company selection course run by the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines Commando course or the RAF Regiment Pre-Parachute selection course.[7] Royal Marines are sourced from across 3 Commando Brigade, with all candidates required to be General Duties specialisation (with the exception of Junior and Senior NCO's).[7]


  • Special Forces Support Group[13][not in citation given]
    • HQ
    • D (HQ) Company
      • Regimental Administration Office
      • Quartermasters
      • Regiment Aid Post
      • Catering Platoon
      • Motor Transport Platoon
      • Operational Readiness Wing
        • General Training Cell
        • Counter Terrorism Cell
        • Campaigns Training Cell
        • Contingency Cell
    • A Company,
    • B Company,
    • C Company,
    • F Company,
    • G Company
      • Fire Support Group 1
      • Fire Support Group 2
      • Fire Support Group 3
      • Fire Support Group 4
      • Sniper Platoon
    • Support Company
      • Signals Platoon
      • Mortar Platoon
      • Patrol platoon[7]
      • Joint Tactical Air Controllers (from RAF)

The Royal Marines comprise approximately one platoon strength within each of A, B and C Company. The RAF Regiment also provide a platoon in B company and Forward Air Controllers to direct close air support. The Support company comprises mortar, sniper and patrol platoons.[7] The Patrol platoon operates vehicles including the Jackal.

There is also a RAF Regiment CBRN unit assigned to the SFSG to provide specialised knowledge and capability to military and civilian agencies in detection and handling of chemical, biological and radiological/nuclear weapons and materials.[7]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Special Forces Support Group". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Norton-Taylor, Richard (5 July 2002). "Scores killed by SAS in Afghanistan". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Special Forces Support Group forms in Wales". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 20 April 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  4. "Britain to double commitment to the war on terror with 'SAS Lite". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 April 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Men in the Shadows - Hunting al-Zarqawi". ABC News. Retrieved 24 April 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Leithead, Alastair (25 June 2007). "Long haul fight to defeat the Taliban". BBC News. Retrieved 9 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Tim Ripley (25 February 2009). "Special Effects:UK SF unit comes into its own". Jane's Defence Weekly. 46 (8): 24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Kennedy, Maev (7 August 2009). "Three British soldiers killed". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Soldier killed in Afghan blast named by MoD". BBC. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Watt, Nicholas; Norton-Taylor, Richard; Vogt, Andrea (8 March 2012). "British and Italian hostages killed in Nigeria". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Elite forces in secret raids against Taliban bomb-makers". the Telegraph. 18 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Special forces quitting to cash in on Iraq". The Scotsman. Retrieved 9 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Special Forces Support Group - SFSG". eliteukforces.info.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links

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