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US commander appeared to suggest UK special forces were operating in Ukraine

Nathan Rennolds   

US commander appeared to suggest UK special forces were operating in Ukraine
  • A US commander appeared to suggest UK special forces were operating in Ukraine.
  • Gen. Bryan Fenton told The AP that the US was "taking a lot of lessons" from UK special forces in Ukraine.

A US commander has appeared to suggest that UK special forces were operating in Ukraine.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Gen. Bryan Fenton, the Commander of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), spoke about plans to restructure Green Beret teams based on lessons from British special forces in Ukraine.

"A 12-person detachment might be up-gunned," Fenton said, explaining that as warfare becomes more high-tech, there may be a need for teams to have a cyber expert, an Air Force pilot, or a cryptologist, for example.

He said the ideas had come from "lessons learned out of the experience in Ukraine, mostly through the eyes of our UK special operations partners, who not only have done that in their formations, but they've also learned very quickly that they needed other elements of their joint force."

Fenton said that British commandos have required Royal Air Force pilots' advice on drone operations and needed navy personnel "to help them understand, more than a SOF (special operations forces) teammate could, the way a ship in the Black Sea navigates."

There has been much speculation over the covert presence of Western troops in Ukraine. Indeed, the possibility of Western powers openly sending military units to fight Putin's forces has gained momentum in recent months, with President Emmanuel Macron saying he'd consider dispatching French soldiers.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "It is the long-standing policy of successive governments not to comment on UK Special Forces."

United Kingdom Special Forces comprises several elite units, including the Special Air Service, the Special Boat Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the Special Forces Support Group, 18 Signal Regiment, and the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing.

The Royal Marine Commandos and the Ranger Regiment also include special operations–capable forces.

Ukrainian commanders told The Times of London in April 2022 that special forces were in Ukraine to train Ukrainian recruits on British-supplied anti-tank missiles known as NLAWs.

One senior European defense official told the Financial Times in February: "Everyone knows there are Western special forces in Ukraine — they've just not acknowledged it officially."

Meanwhile, the radical idea of Western troops being officially sent to Ukraine has been floated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking to The Economist at the end of April, Macron said: "I'm not ruling anything out because we are facing someone who is not ruling anything out."

"We have undoubtedly been too hesitant by defining the limits of our action to someone who no longer has any and who is the aggressor," he added.

Macron said he'd consider sending troops "if the Russians were to break through the front lines" or "if there were a Ukrainian request—which is not the case today."

Russia had previously issued stark warnings in response to some of Macron's claims, saying troops sent to Ukraine would meet the same fate as Napoleon's army, which lost more than 300,000 men when it invaded Russia in 1812.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, earlier this week, Dmitry Medvedev, a former prime minister of Russia, also threatened that Russia would use nuclear weapons against Western states if NATO sent troops to Ukraine.