From the Sunday Times. The Army is to form a new elite unit of a 1,000-strong force, to be called the Ranger Regiment. Troops serving in battalions facing the axe will be able to apply to transfer to the Ranger Regiment and undergo a rigorous selection process, or to other regular units unaffected by the Ministry of Defence’s Integrated Review of defence, security and foreign policy.

Modelled on the United States’ Green Berets, the new forces will take over missions currently carried out by Special Forces as the British Army seeks to reduce costs.

Hundreds of highly trained soldiers will be moved into a new special operations brigade that will deploy into hostile territory as part of a significant restructuring of the army.

The Ranger Regiment will comprise four battalions of about 250 personnel who will be specially selected from across the infantry and will take over dangerous missions normally carried out by Special Forces.

Their role, modelled on the Green Berets, the US army’s unconventional warfare specialists, will include carrying out cyberattacks and electronic warfare and gathering intelligence backed by new technology such as drones.

The announcement of the 1,000-strong brigade came as military chiefs sought to defend looming cuts to the army by insisting that the new force would be more lethal.

Soldiers in the Rangers will undergo a selection process that will test their fighting skills as well as “brain power” and they will be expected to be “older and wiser”, having carried out at least a couple of tours.

“What this entails is highly trained empowered specialists at the heart of army operations,” said Major Tom Foulkes-Arnold, 36, as the army carried out a mock exercise to show how they will operate in a future conflict.

The military wants to free up elite Special Forces troops so they can carry out the riskiest missions and have other specialised forces carry out their traditional roles. It is one of the changes to the army that will be announced in the defence command paper published on Monday that will outline cuts and investments to the military.

Under the plans, the Rangers will support foreign nations or proxies with training or on dangerous counterterrorism operations and will then pass on information they have gathered to a new-look Royal Marine Commando force that will carry out the fighting.

The grenade drones, which he compared to the Quidditch “snitch” in Harry Potter, can be flown through holes in the walls of enemy compounds and take out insurgent fighters on the battlefield.

The grenades were developed by DefendTex, an Australian company, have a maximum range of 12.5 miles and can fly in a swarm with other drones.

Speaking at a demonstration of the two new special operations forces at Bovington military camp in Dorset, the head of the army, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, said that the first Ranger battalion would be ready by Christmas and could deploy to east Africa next year.

Mozambique and Somalia are believed to be two of the countries under consideration for the first deployment.

The Chief of the General Staff said: “The Army Special Operations Brigade is designed to operate alongside both regular and irregular partners and proxies in high-threat and hostile environments. We are looking for a much more rounded hybrid capability. This isn’t just about fit young men and press-ups, this often is brain power matched with firepower.”

He said that the brigade would also use psychological operations to influence local populations such as those currently carried out by 77 brigade.

Asked about leaked plans revealed in The Times to cut the army by almost 10,000 personnel to 72,500, he said: “Modernised armies will no longer be defined purely by scale. Size today actually matters much less. The real currency is capability, utility and relevance and deployability.

“What I think will emerge is a right-sized army for the digital age ready to compete more effectively.”

General Sir Nick Carter, head of the armed forces, added: “Rather than focusing on size and shape I would focus on lethality, the relevance, the resilience and the readiness of the army.”

General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of Strategic Command, which oversees Special Forces operations, said that the new force structure would enable the “Tier 1” Special Forces soldiers to go after the “hardest targets in the hardest places”.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said: “These Ranger battalions will be at the vanguard of a more active and engaged armed forces.”

Irregular experts
The Rangers draw their name from a crack unit that fought in the British Army in the 18th century in America using “irregular tactics”.

They first saw action during the French and Indian War of 1754-63.

Specialising in unconventional warfare in the forests, they supported Native Americans and fought hostile forces who supported the French.

Ranger units operated in terrain that was inaccessible to regular forces. They often had deep reconnaissance roles to secure routes for other forces. They were also used by both sides in the American war of independence from 1775 to 1783.

One of the most famous units was Rogers’ Rangers. Its founder, American Major Robert Rogers, wrote the original 28 rules of ranging. They included “at night, keep half your force awake while half sleeps”.

Rogers’ Rangers evolved into the Queen’s Rangers, which became a British Army regiment. After the war of independence, the Queen’s Rangers went north to become part of the garrison of British North America.

One commenter wrote, “it’s being painfully exaggerated, it’s basically SFAB…’s not that difficult and for whatever reason people are misinterpreting the training aspect of FID and the primary element consisting of NCOs/Officers – to being conducting high-speed raids and support ops. SFSG does all the stuff they’re trying to pass off, it’s just a coverup so they can amalgamate regiments/battalions. It’s nothing cool or noteworthy. Nor are they going to do anything beyond a typical mentor role that they’ve been doing in 4 Rifles for years.”


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