British intelligence services are reorganizing their special operations to take on the hybrid warfare waged by Russia in Ukraine. The goal, according to a BBC report quoted in the National Interest, is to take action short of war to thwart Russia.
It is another sign that Western intelligence agencies are downgrading their primary mission since 9/11–counterterrorism and mass surveillance–in favor of addressing more contemporary threats: information warfare, “little green men,” and social media disruption.
“For example, under the new plan, an operation might be mounted in a Baltic republic or African country in order to uncover and pinpoint Russian covert activities,” the BBC says. “Then a decision would be made as to whether to make public what had been learned, or to cooperate secretly with local security forces in order to disrupt it. The new missions would take UKSF units in a less ‘kinetic’ or violent direction – after almost 20 years of man-hunting strike missions in the Middle East and Afghanistan – and into closer cooperation with allied intelligence agencies and MI6 [British intelligence].”
The core of Britain’s special forces is the Special Air Service (SAS) regiment, the Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), which carries out covert surveillance. The SRR’s mission would expand under the new plan