The Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) was formed in April 2006 and is one of the recent additions to the United Kingdom Special Forces ORBAT. Operations in Afghanistan proved the need for such a force, especially after an assault by two Squadrons of SAS on the al-Qa’ida and Taliban base at Tora Bora. This involved approximately 100 officers and men on an operation that saw The SAS employed in a role that it is unsuited to and should have been allocated to an elite unit such as the Parachute Regiment or Royal Marines, which are more used to working in large numbers.
The Special Forces Support Group would be tasked in direct support of Special Forces operations by carrying out diversionary attacks, the provision of Force Protection, and defensive cordons around SAS and SBS operations. The Group could also provide supporting fire, mortar and sustained fire, to Special Forces operations. It is said that The Group could also be called upon to assist the civilian authorities within the confines of the UK should the need arise.
SFSG has the following constituent elements drawn from across the British Armed Forces:
• 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment (1 PARA)
1 PARA is the largest contributor to The SFSG. They provide the main component of the HQ element, Support Company and three Sabre Companies.
• The Royal Marines
The Royal Marines provide one Sabre Company.
• The Royal Air Force Regiment
In excess of providing the Forward Air Controller capability to the SFSG and snipers, there is a platoon of Royal Air Force Regiment airmen integrated into ‘B’ Company.
• Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Reconnaissance (CBRN) Det
The CBRN Detachment attached to the SFG provides specialist knowledge in the detection and handling of Chemical, Biological and Radiological/Nuclear weapons and materials.
The strength of The SFSG is unknown but an ‘all-up’ strength of some 1,200 officers and soldiers has been mentioned making it nearly double the size of a normal Battalion. Members of 2 and 3 PARA are rotated through the SFSG. This has the benefit of enabling all members of the Parachute Regiment to experience using the specialist equipment available to 1 PARA in its dedicated SFSG role. The only restriction on serving with The SFSG is that all members must have served at least 2 years in either 2 or 3 PARA. Other contributors to The Group, for example the Royal Marines and RAF Regiment, doubtless have similar restrictions placed on those who wish to serve with The SFSG.
In order that The Group can operate effectively alongside other Special Forces units, SFSG is equipped with the latest ‘state of the art’ equipment such as Satellite Communications (SATCOM) and laser designating systems allowing effective target acquisition by RAF aircraft.