Numbers have been affected by a drop in the overall size of the Armed Services and a shortage of troops with combat experience
SAS bosses have resorted to taking out a job advert as they battle to deal with a recruitment crisis.
An unprecedented call for volunteers to serve as “special forces communicators” has been made in Soldier, the Army’s magazine.
The move follows the disclosure of a struggle to find new members of the SAS, SBS, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group.
Numbers have been hit by a fall in the overall size of the Armed Services and a shortage of troops with combat experience.
Coupled with that has been a relentless increase in the demands placed on special forces units.
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The toll they face of non-stop training and deployment, known as “the wheel of death”, has made joining them less attractive. Last night one source admitted: “The talent pool has dwindled.”
The ad in Soldier says: “The Special Forces Communicator is selected for their technical acumen, tactical abilities and physical robustness to deliver and enable information where needed.”
Successful applicants will be a member of a “trade of trades” and will be entitled to additional special forces pay.
Anyone volunteering must pass a six-month course similar to parts of SAS selection. Recruits do a month of arduous physical training in the Brecon Beacons but get slightly more time to complete tests.
They are then screened for their aptitude for specialist communications and, like all other SAS candidates, must pass courses in conduct after capture, close-quarter battle and elite parachute training.
One source said: “The SFC are very highly rated guys. They go everywhere and do everything the SAS do. They have to be fit and robust.
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“They are not members of the SAS but they are attached to it. They have their own badge and motto ‘Colloquendo Imperamus’ which effectively means ‘Command through Communications’.”
The SFCs’ emblem features a sword with Roman numerals and three signal flashes.
The advert in Soldier follows the revelation that special forces troop numbers are seen as “worryingly” low.
Both the SAS and the SBS should have a strength of around 400 to 450 men and need to recruit 20 to 30 a year each, with the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines traditionally supplying the bulk.
Selection courses are run twice a year for up to 120 candidates and usually have a pass rate of around 10 per cent.
But sources said the last two courses have produced far fewer new recruits.
One said: “Ten years ago there were over 100,00 soldiers, whereas today there are 75,000.
A lot of the guys who had combat experience have either left or are too far into their careers to want to undertake SAS selection.
“And the demands on the SAS are so huge many leave to save their marriages.”
Sandhurst’s millions from tyrant states EXCLUSIVE: by Alan Selby
Army bosses pocketed £4.5million in a year from training recruits from regimes with questionable human rights records at Sandhurst military academy.
Some 55 cadets came to the renowned establishment in 2018 from such states.
Bahrain, which is accused of engaging in systematic torture, extra-judicial killing and enforced disappearances, sent five cadets to the Berkshire academy once attended by Princes William and Harry.
Another 25 were sent by the UAE, Oman and Qatar, which between them are accused of infringements including torture, illegal detentions and silencing political opponents.
With many thanks to the: Daily Mirror and Sean for the original story