UK leaders decided that after the September 11th attacks in New York a new surveillance and reconnaissance unit was needed. The aim was to conduct missions that would cover “counter-terrorism” activities. SRR is that unit. The Special Reconnaissance Regiment was born and with the terrorist threat level still at severe (an attack being highly likely), they’ve plenty to be getting on with.
Throughout The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the UK has a similar unit, 14 Intelligence Company. They conduct operations against the provisional IRA.
SRR – The Beginning
It was in 2005 that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment came into fruition. Formed from around 500-700 troops, they relieved the SBS and SAS of certain roles. This allowed them to focus on more direct action operations and training.
SRR merged with 14 Intelligence Company to become one unit. It’s open to men and women from all military units and they undergo a gruelling six month training period before being based at Hereford alongside the SAS.
SRR training focuses mainly on covert surveillance for obvious reasons, but they also learn close quarter battle tactics, driving skills including evasive driving and self-defence.
At the time of their formation, John Reid, Defence Secretary said “The Special Reconnaissance Regiment is one of the new capabilities generated as part of the reshaping of our Armed Forces. They have greatly improved support to worldwide operations at a time when they are needed most in the ongoing fight against international terrorism.”
SRR – The Action
SRR go straight in to action in Iraq as part of Task Force Black. They conduct tough surveillance ops to help other SF units with nightly raids during the war.
They were also back in Northern Ireland after the Troubles, completely unarmed in a non combat role for two years from 2009. Their task was to help the Police Service of Northern Ireland gather info on dissident republicans.
SRR gather information by being undercover, meaning plain-clothes and unmarked cars. Wearing uniform would mean they stick out like a sore thumb and attract attention.
Bosses deployed 50 members to Ulster once again in 2015 after fears of more troubles. They would again be assisting undercover police.
2016 saw MI6 send teams to Yemen. Yemeni forces have been fighting a battle against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). SRR have now joined MI6 in Yemen to help identify targets for drone strikes and to train combat skills to the local forces.
It hasn’t all gone to plan for them though, with reported civilian deaths from drone strikes.
SRR – The Future
SRR have skills that are required more than ever as ISIS continue to try and attack European countries.
Successful recce equals more intelligence. More intelligence means a higher chance of successful missions and therefore more enemy dead and fewer losses.
The unit continue to do their work on the quiet so you won’t hear about SRR in the media, you won’t hear about SRR from the bloke down the pub. I don’t know what they do but they still receive a shout in my list of best special forces.
But they will need to change their tactics. In Northern Ireland it was much easier to blend in with the local population rather than the middle east.