This is the first part of a multi-part series exploring the various units within the U.K. Special Forces (UKSF). The Special Air Service (SAS) is widely recognized the world over and is often erroneously considered the only special operations unit Britain has. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In this series, we’ll cover the entire UKSF spectrum.
18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment
18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment is a branch of the Royal Corps of Signals in the British Army; it provides communications and information systems support to the force components of the UKSF. Created in 2005, the regiment is one of Britain’s newest special forces units. Members of the unit are referred to as special forces communicators (SFCs). The regiment’s tasks include providing signals intelligence and electronic warfare intelligence, maintaining communications, and conducting its own personal security during special forces missions. Special forces communicators of the 18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment fall under the operational command of the headquarters of the Director Special Forces (DSF), a position manned by a senior British military officer responsible for special forces operations. The DSF post is a senior one within the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
The Special Forces Communicator
18 (UKSF) Signal Regiment may require operators to embed with their counterparts, such as those in the SAS/SBS/SRR. Due to this, the regiment requires them to be trained to the same standards. This includes mastering methods of infiltration, including HALO jumps. They’re also expected to learn special forces techniques including resistance to interrogation and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE). The regiment runs its own special forces selection program called the Special Forces Communicator (SFC) Course. Members of the unit come from across all branches of the British Army, as well as from the Royal Marine Commandos (Navy) given the Commandos’ close ties to the Special Boat Service and maritime operations.
The Special Forces Communicator (SFC) Course is designed as follows:
- Technical Trade Assessment (one week)
- General Support Comms (six weeks)
- Physical Aptitude (five weeks)
- Close Support Comms (five weeks)
- Conduct After Capture (two weeks)
- Military Training (three weeks)
- SF Parachute Training (three weeks)
UKSF signals units
- 264 (SAS) Signals Squadron, attached to 22 SAS
- SBS Signals Squadron attached to the Special Boat Service
- 63 (UKSF) Signal Squadron A reserve unit supporting UKSF
- 267 (SRR) Signals Squadron attached to the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR)
- 268 (SFSG) Signals Squadron attached to the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG)
Light Electronic Warfare Teams (LEWT)
Special Forces Communicators can produce signals intelligence in the form of Light Electronic Warfare Teams (LEWT). These teams are accompanied by members of the Army Intelligence Corps. LEWTs operate modern equipment, including portable scanners, to obtain tactical intelligence. This tactical intelligence can later be analyzed by intel personnel and used to reinforce current operations. While on operations, LEWTs monitor enemy radio traffic to determine their tactics and disposition; they can also pinpoint an enemy signal’s source by using specialized equipment. These teams disrupt enemy communications by using jamming devices, including unmanned systems that can halt communications by jamming various frequencies.
As is the case with most countries’ special operations units, the U.K. is struggling with operational manpower and with trying to keep up with British interests overseas. Signals are a vital part of any military operation, so naturally, the Royal Corps of Signals deploys wherever any U.K. military forces are stationed or deployed. The unit is using more of its reverse manpower to fill the gaps.
Next in the series, we will look at the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR).