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British Army to stand up new special ops brigade

Paratroopers at at Colchester's Merville Barracks
Photo: British Army

The British Army will establish a special operations brigade, which will be made up of four battalions of the new Ranger Regiment.

Over the next four years a share of £120 million (approx. $165M) will be invested into the unit, enabling it to undertake roles traditionally carried out by special forces. They can be expected to be involved in collective deterrence such as training, advising, enabling and accompanying partner forces.

Alongside the Army Special Operations Brigade, a further brigade called the Security Force Assistance Brigade will be established. It will provide guidance and training to allied partner nations and draw expertise form across the army.

Elements of each brigade will be routinely deployed across the globe to assist partner nations in delivering defense and security, the UK defense ministry said in an announcement on March 23.

In addition to the Rangers, the Security Force Assistance Brigade will provide guidance and training to allied and partner nations. It will contain specialized infantry units with the ability to draw personnel and expertise from across the army.

“The best way to prevent conflict and deter our adversaries is to work alongside partners to strengthen their security and resilience. These Ranger battalions will be at the vanguard at a more active and engaged armed forces,” defense secretary Ben Wallace said.

The announcement follows the publication of the integrated review this week. Among the more notable decisions announced in the review is the plan to cut the number of British Army soldiers reduced to 72,500 by 2025. This has been rationalized with a focus on unmanned systems and cyber warfare.

In addition to reducing the number of regular troops, the army will not be upgrading its fleet of Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, which will be remain in service until replaced by the Boxer sometimes in the 2030s. Of the 227 Challenger 2 main battle tanks currently in service, only 148 will be upgraded to the Challenger. The remaining fleet will be retired.