The world was hit hard in 2015 by terror attacks around the globe. Some struck close to home for Europeans, as their countrymen were killed in Paris and in Tunisia. It quickly became clear that it was time for Britain to prepare for an attack on its soil.

This is when our new police counterterrorism unit, CTSOF, was formed. The unit consists of 130 members with some support staff assisting the unit in the running of day-to-day operations. Trained by the SAS in all aspects of counterterrorism, close-quarters combat (CQB), and hostage-rescue operations (HRT), CTSOF operators are trained to shoot very accurately. Some claim they are trained to only make head shots. This is obviously an exaggeration; let’s not forget that these are policemen at the end of the day, not soldiers. It came as a shock to the British public when this new unit began cutting around London, showcasing its new look and equipment.

Some papers have gone so far as to say these are SAS soldiers in police uniforms. Although these men are elite and would be right at home in the SOF community, SAS they are not. The SAS will join them on some raids in the UK as needed. There is still a debate going on as to who should respond to a terrorist incident in the UK: CTSOF or SAS. For me, the appropriate answer will always be the SAS, at least until this new unit can prove their worth in the heat of battle.

With the SAS coaching them every step of the way, I have no doubt in my mind that they will step up to the mark. I also feel that this is something the UK has long needed: a unit with the same capability as the FBI’s HRT, the GSGU, GIGN, RAID, and GSG9. Some of the other specialist training these men will undertake will be fast-roping from helicopters, sniper training, and different types of entry on platforms such as ships, trains, and planes. To the Americans reading this, this will be nothing new to you guys, but here in the UK, it’s new and sexy. They look tacticool!

The CTSFO teams deal with MPS and national firearms operations. They provide firearms support to bureau and specialist units. They are multi-skilled and can deliver all elements of armed policing, including operations to combat major crime, hostage-taking, and terrorism. All CTSFOs have previously served as ARV officers. Their level of training, exposure, and experience in dealing with such a wide range of armed operations led many to consider the SC&O19 CTSFOs to be one of the world’s leading specialist armed police support units.”

Weapons used by the unit:

  • Glock 17
  • H&K G36 Carbine
  • Sig Sauer SG516: A semi-automatic 5.56mm x 45mm gas piston-operated rifle reportedly used by some ARV, TST, and CTSFO units. Recent pictures of SCO19 SIG 516s wielded by CTSFOs have shown the CQB variant, which features a 10″ barrel. Variants with longer barrels (up to 18″) may be used by rifle officers.
  • Benelli M3 Super 90 shotgun
  • HK69 Baton Gun
  • X26 Taser

New recruits to this unit are drawn exclusively from existing firearms units in the UK, across all branches.