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UK Special Forces Operations examined: Introduction and Methodology

Britain’s Special Forces have been deployed operationally in at least 19 countries in the past decade, new analysis reveals, raising questions over the degree of transparency and democratic consent these shadowy units operate under.

Mapping, undertaken by research charity Action on Armed Violence, shows that, since 2011,  UK’ Special Forces (UKSF) have been primed to contact or surveil hostile forces in Afghanistan, Algeria, Estonia, Mediterranean (Cyprus), France, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Strait of Hormuz (Iran/Oman), Syria, UK, Ukraine and Yemen.[1]

There are a further six sites where UKSF have trained foreign forces or where they have based themselves before launching into another country. These are: Burkina Faso, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Djibouti.

And there are another seven locations known to be used by UKSF for their own exercises. These are: Albania, Falklands, Gibraltar, Belize, Brunei, Malaysia, and Canada, although there are likely to be far more.

Here AOAV outlines the operations, the evidence and the background to these hostile deployments.

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Methodology

We have defined ‘deployed operationally’ as primed to contact or surveil hostile forces. We have not included locations only used for bases before launching into other nations (see Djibouti, Jordan, Turkey, Oman), training of foreign forces (see Saudi Arabia) or internal UKSF training.

If we included the sites of training foreign forces, or where UKSF have based themselves before launching into another country, the number would increase by six (Burkina Faso, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Djibouti)

If we included the sites of UKSF internal training exercises, the number would increase by another seven (Albania, Falklands, Gibraltar, Belize, Brunei, Malaysia, Canada) although the number is of course likely to be much higher.

Six of the 19 were the site of hostage rescue.