SAS joins MI6 to fight ‘Russian meddling’ as new force replaces elite troops

Operatives from the elite SAS regiment will work alongside MI6 agents in a bid to “disrupt Russian meddling around the world”.

The Army is also planning to establish a new Special Operations Brigade to carry out missions in “high threat” environments overseas, at a cost of some £120 million, the MOD has announced.

The new special operations force will combine four infantry battalions into a new Ranger Regiment that will be tasked with many roles traditionally carried out by the SAS and their colleagues in the less well-known SBS.

General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who as the chief of the general staff is the most senior officer in the British Army, made the announcement this week.

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Sir Mark told the Daily Telegraph that special forces will be given a new specific focus on tackling “hostile state actors”.

He explained that the SAS would be “tracking a different trajectory” with this new role and that many of the tasks they had traditionally been associated with would be “handed off” to this new Ranger force.

He also said that the new Special Operations Brigade would be expected to operate alongside “both regular and irregular partners and proxies in high-threat and hostile environments”.

“The Army Ranger Regiment will be the vanguard of the Army’s global footprint,” he added.

The news has emerged as the Ministry of Defence prepares to publish the Defence Command Paper, part of the Government’s Integrated Review of foreign, defence, security and development policy.

The Army is expected to benefit from an extra £3 billion in government spending – although there are also expected to be significant cuts alongside the cash boost.

The changes are intended to reflect a change in the way that wars are fought in the 21st Century, with far less emphasis on mass infantry engagements and smaller, surgical strikes using unconventional tactic and equipment.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that Britain needs to reinvent its armed forces as the threats that the nation faces "has changed beyond recognition" in the past 30 years.

He writes: “Our enemies have infinitely more options: Encryption, precision, and information operations complicate the threat picture.

“We find ourselves constantly confronted in the 'grey zone’,…that limbo land between peace and war. So conflict prevention is more critical than ever.”

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