The UK special forces will focus on a new covert mission to counter the alleged threats from “big state adversaries,” including Russia and China, Royal Marines Brigadier Mark Totten has said.
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According to Totten, who leads the Royal Marines’ 4,000-strong Future Commando Force, his men will take up some of the duties of the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service, which in turn will be able to concentrate on “higher risk” counter state tasks.
This entails small numbers of Royal Marines being placed around the globe to carry out various types of operations.
“What we will be able to do is allow [special forces] to focus on more difficult, more complex, counter-Russia, counter-China [tasks]. It takes real specialist expertise, so we will allow them to have more time and people to address those and we can conduct some of the tasks, such as maritime counterterrorism for example, or partnered operations, where it is difficult, where there is a higher risk,” Totten said, as quoted by The Times.
The UK special forces may also engage in surveillance of China and Russia’s intelligence and military units alongside MI6 spy service. Meanwhile, an army source told The Times that they also could train navies of South China Sea countries.
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Totten’s comments are said to be the first time a UK official specifically namechecked Russia and China as being targeted by the country’s special forces in the future.
Earlier in March, the UK presented its integrated review of its foreign and security policy, which called Russia “the most acute direct threat to the UK” and China as a potential threat to the country’s economic security.