On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that 11 of the 19 countries where UK special forces secretly conducted operations were Muslim countries.
The UK’s elite military units conducted covert operations after the outbreak of violence in many countries, including Iraq, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Oman, Somalia, and Yemen, according to an investigation by the research group Action on Armed Violence. They also carried out operations in Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines, and most recently Sudan.
According to the allegation, UK special military teams were also dispatched to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The investigative report’s authors claimed that UK special forces also conducted covert operations in France, Mali, Cyprus, and Estonia.
Particularly in Syria, UK special forces have had continuous military activity since 2012 in a joint effort with opposition forces aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
In Ukraine, the Pentagon documents leaked earlier this year showed that fifty members of UK special forces were in the former Soviet republic alongside Kiev forces fighting against Russia.
The leaked papers from the Pentagon did not specify the precise purpose of the UK special troops.
In the past, British missions have included hostage rescues, exfiltration, training sessions, protection, and the extraction, evacuation, and transportation of UK citizens from conflict zones.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron is said to have given the nation’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) members a “carte blanche” (permission to kill) while in office.
Direct orders from the prime minister or defence secretary are used to direct high-risk operations around the world, which are primarily carried out by members of the SAS, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment, among other highly secretive military units like the 18 (UKSF) Signals Regiment and the Future Commando Force (FCF).
Small-scale special forces operations can be carried out without MPs’ authorization and are not subject to committee inquiries, but major military acts of war carried out by UK special forces require approval from the British parliament.
After a public investigation revealed that units had carried out more than 50 summary executions of accused Taliban members in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011, UK special forces came under scrutiny in this regard.
In the meanwhile, the military is required under UK policy, outlined in the Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, to expand its covert activities abroad in order to defend Britain’s interests across the world.
The philosophy calls for a change in direction in order to confront China and Russia in the future.
In related news, UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace warned last week about their assumptions regarding the growing threat of Russia and China, saying “Conflict is coming.”
In the meantime, the UK’s military policy requires its special forces to integrate its capabilities across all five operational domains.
The five domains include improving British forces’ interoperability with international partners like NATO, gaining access to the most innovative equipment and intelligence capabilities and adopting a more assertive posture.