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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April 2005, 19:17 GMT 20:17 UK
'New regiment will support SAS'
A new special forces regiment has been set up to support overseas operations - particularly in the fight against terror. Analyst Charles Heyman explains what he thinks the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) will do.

Announcing the creation of the SRR on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence gave little away.

It spoke of a unit to "meet the growing need for special reconnaissance capability", adding that it would offer "a wide range of specialist skills and activities related to covert surveillance".

SRR cap badge
The SRR will be between 500 and 600-strong, Mr Heyman says

Specific details were not up for discussion, because it could "compromise security".

Mr Heyman, a senior defence analyst for Jane's Consultancy Group and former Army major sees the regiment as principally supporting the SAS.

"The best way to describe the new unit would be halfway between the SAS and normal infantry," he said.

"The SAS is really organised, equipped and trained for highly surgical small unit missions.

"But at the end of the day, there's a gap between what the SAS can do, because there's so few of them, and normal infantry."

SAS priorities

Mr Heyman compares the role of the new unit, which he estimates will be between 500 and 600-strong, with the American Rangers formation, which operates in large groups.

"These groups can do things like take airfields and get behind the lines - the sort of things you need a lot of people for."

Mr Heyman speculated that the "backbone" of the SRR would be made up from one of the already existing parachute regiment battalions.

The SRR could support the "very small" SAS numbers by "getting in and out of an operation", he added.

The new unit had been "necessary for a long time".

"The truth is it's very difficult for the SAS to keep up with all the demands placed on them.

"With the new unit, you will be able to prioritise the really difficult things that only the SAS can do.

"You can give other operations to the SRR, thus freeing up the SAS."

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