Like real James Bonds, they cross borders with fake identities and fake passports.
They operate in small isolated teams and have access to the full line of 007 gadgets designed by the Q section of spies.
Its members are notorious for not always looking like soldiers. Some speak foreign languages ââand can pose as foreign nationals.
The permanent joke is that they could fit into an embassy or brothel party in Istanbul.
And just like Bond, they’re all highly trained in gun handling and hand-to-hand combat.
In fact, their training is considered âamazing, even by SAS standardsâ.
But unlike 007’s fictional character, these assets don’t work in MI6, the notorious British Secret Intelligence Service.
They constitute an elite section of the SAS, known as “The Increment”.
According to a report published in the UK The sun, the existence of the secret unit, “E Squadron,” was inadvertently confirmed this week when senior military officials disclosed the personal details of more than 70 special forces soldiers.
Buried deep in a spreadsheet of 1,200 names of soldiers, trades and military units was a single reference to “22 SAS E SQN”.
It was the first written proof of the existence of the unit.
Squadron E is the fifth and newest member of 22 SAS, the world’s most famous Special forces regiment, whose motto is Who Dares Wins.
But his work is so secret that his troops are kept away from the other four Saber squadrons, A, B, D and G, at their headquarters in Hereford, according to the Sun report.
The main task of the squadron is to work with MI6 on high profile missions all over the world.
SAS legend Andy McNab spent three years with the unit from 1991 to 1993, following its patrol in the First Gulf War which he wrote about in his book Bravo Two Zero.
He said the unit – which was hand-picked by the SAS – was “the closest to what James Bond does” of any British Secret Service.
But nearly 30 years after he left, he said his work was still too secret to be revealed, according to the Sun report.
Another former member, who asked not to be named, said: âWe entered and left countries with different passports. Always in civilian clothes, abroad all the time. It was busy.
“It was the James Bond thing – use your imagination.”
The ex-member added, “You had to be able to blend in. People were chosen for their ability to do undercover work.”
While some MI6 officers are trained in firearms, it is never to the same level as their E Squadron counterparts.
The former soldier said: âMI6 and MI5 always distance themselves from James Bond, saying they’re not really like that. That’s right, spies aren’t like James Bond, they’re egg heads. Give them a gun, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.
âE Squadron fixes that problem, but they’re doing a lot more as well. “
The places they often have to work, using civilian cover identities, make weaponry impossible, so they’re all trained in lethal hand-to-hand combat, according to the Sun report.
SAS author Chris Ryan served with Andy McNab on the 1991 Bravo Two Zero mission, in which an SAS patrol was deployed to Iraq during the First Gulf War to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s war strategy .
Ryan says, “To be in the Increment is to be the best of the best.”
According to SOFREP.com, The Increment are strictly covert operations – deniable missions that would be disowned by the British government if compromised.
These could include:
- Secret military assistance to foreign powers
- Clandestine insertion and extraction of intelligence agents
- Secret reconnaissance / intelligence gathering
Today, the members of E Squadron are drawn from the three level one special forces units – the SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance Regiment, according to the Sun report.
The SBS provides specialized frogmen and mini-submersibles that can be used to insert undetected teams on foreign shores.
The SRR, whose soldiers specialize in plainclothes surveillance operations around the world, provide a large number of women.
The unit was made up of 14 Intelligence Company, known as Det, and operated under cover in Northern Ireland during the height of the unrest.
A source said: âWomen are often the best at this kind of job. If a group of guys shows up, it always looks suspicious.
“We haven’t had a female Bond in the movies, but there are a lot of them in real life already.”
The Increment troops were among the first British soldiers in Afghanistan, before the American invasion in 2001.
They were also involved in the 2011 uprising in Libya that overthrew Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, according to The Sun newspaper.
A former E-Squadron soldier said the unit was heavily involved in Iraq as the 2003 invasion approached.
He said: âE Squadron is made up of military personnel. They have rules of engagement.
“Is that a license to kill?” It is certainly not carte blanche. But the nature of the profession of a soldier means that sometimes it is necessary to take life. Everyone is trained in lethal force.