Document:UK Intelligence And Security Report, 2003

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A compendious summary of the UK Intelligence And Security agencies, including people, events and places.

Disclaimer (#3)Document.png report  by Richard M. Bennett, Katie Bennett dated June 2003
Subjects: Intelligence agencies, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Joint Intelligence Committee, National Criminal Intelligence Service, Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, UKUSA, Defence Intelligence Staff
Source: Unknown
Local copy: File:UK Intelligence And Security Report, 2003.pdf

Wikispooks Comment

This compiles a huge amount of detailed information on the UK's intelligence services which is otherwise hard to come by. Moreover it presents it in an easily digestible form, separating out details of key people, places, histories of groups.



4star.png 25 January 2015 Robin  Impressively compendious research
Although now over 10 years old, this compiles a lot of information of use to anyone interested in the UK intelligence services. The information is largely unsourced, but is well structured and includes an impressive amount of detail on key groups and places. It deserves a wider audience.

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Britain has a complicated and rather bureaucratic political control over its intelligence and security community and one that tends to apply itself to long-term targets and strategic intelligence programs, but has little real influence on the behaviour and operations of SIS or MI5. Not so much ‘oversight’ as 'blindsight'. Despite the cosmetic changes of recent years and their formal establishment as legal Government organizations, there is still little true accountability for their actions or a valid test of their overall efficiency. This myriad of organizations include the four main elements of the UK Intelligence Community; the SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) responsible for foreign intelligence and counter intelligence, The Security Service (MI5), responsible for internal security and counter-espionage within both the UK and Commonwealth countries, The GCHQ, Government Communications Headquarters, SIGINT and COMSEC agency and the DIS, Defence Intelligence Staff, responsible for the intelligence and security activities within the UK's armed forces. They report to the JIC and through them to the Civil Service (PSIS) and finally the Ministerial Committee (MIS).

Ministerial Committee on the Intelligence Services (MIS) - Ministerial control

In their day-to-day operations the Intelligence and Security Agencies operate under the immediate control of their respective Heads who are personally responsible to Ministers. The Prime Minister is responsible for intelligence and security matters overall and is supported in that capacity by the Secretary of the Cabinet. The Home Secretary is responsible for the Security Service; the Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary for SIS and GCHQ; MOD for the DIS; the Treasury and the Duchy of Lancaster.

Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS) - Civil Service control

Ministers are assisted in the general oversight of the Agencies by the Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS). Chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. Reports only to the PM, not the full Cabinet. Members include the PUS to the FCO, MOD, HO and Treasury as well as the CO Intelligence Co-Coordinator representing the JIC. SIS is directly administered through the Permanent Under-Secretary's Department of the FCO in Downing Street (West) SW1A 2AL

Intelligence & Security Committee - Parliamentary oversight

70 Whitehall, London SW1A 2AS.

Parliamentary oversight of SIS, GCHQ and the Security Service is provided by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994. The Committee examines the expenditure, administration and policy of the three Agencies. It operates within the “ring of secrecy” and has wide access to the range of Agency activities and to highly classified information. Its cross-party membership of nine from both Houses is appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. The Committee is required to report annually to the Prime Minister on its work. These reports, after any deletions of sensitive material, are placed before Parliament by the Prime Minister. The Committee also provides ad hoc reports to the Prime Minister from time to time. The Committee is supported by a Clerk and secretariat based in the Cabinet Office and has an investigator whom the ISC can deploy to pursue specific matters in greater detail.


The Current Committee Membership (June 2003):


Location: 70 Whitehall. London SW1A 2AS. 020-7270 1234/3000

Defence & Overseas Affairs Secretariat

Overseas Economic Intelligence Committee (OEIC)

Economic and non-Military Scientific & Technical Intelligence

Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) - Intelligence Co-Ordination

The Joint Intelligence Committee agrees on the broad intelligence requirements and tasking (National Intelligence Requirements) for SIS and GCHQ and oversees the activities of the Security Service's. It prepares summary assessments for selected Ministers and circulates the weekly 'Red Books' to the Cabinet's Defence and Overseas Committee, chaired by the PM. Traditionally it meets every Wednesday morning and includes representatives from UKUSA and the COS secretariat. This is the 'key' committee involved in the Intelligence Community. Originally formed as the Inter-Service Intelligence Committee (ISIC) under the Chiefs of Staff in January 1936, retitled the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in July 1936. Moved to foreign Office control in July 1939. In 1957 control moved to Cabinet Office and in 1968 the post of Intelligence Co-Coordinator was created within the Cabinet Office to oversee its functions. In 1982 following the Falklands War the Foreign Office ceased to have any control and the JIC became a Cabinet Office organization with direct access to the Prime Minister. The JIC is reported to have a staff of 20 with a further 30 in the 'JIO' or ISG. Closely involved with the major City institutions particularly Banking, the Economic Sub-Committee of JIC also includes representatives of both the Treasury and the Bank of England (which also an SLO to receive intelligence reports directly from the JIC). A major drawback to JIC effectiveness appears to be a lack of expert knowledge amongst the majority of its Civil Service staff. Following criticism of the JIC performance both before and during the Falklands War from the Franks Committee in January 1983 a full time Chairman for the JIC was to be appointed from within the Cabinet Office.

The JIC is composed of:

US, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand Intelligence Services.

Chairman of JIC

(Chaired by FO appointee, even after move from FO to CO control in 1957, until Franks Report of 1983. Cabinet Office appointee thereafter)

Co-ordinator for Intelligence and Security

(position created in 1968)

Combined with position of Chairman of the JIC

Role again changed to become the new:

Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator & Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office

A mirror of the new US Homeland Security and with a central Anti-Terrorism role, announced June 2002.

Assessment Staff & Joint Intelligence Secretariat (created 1968)

Also known as the Intelligence and Security Group (ISG).
Its role is to support the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) proper, which in turn provides Ministers and senior Officials with regular intelligence assessments on a wide range of issues of immediate and long-term importance to national interests, primarily in the fields of security, international crime, defence and foreign affairs. The Assessment Staff control the work of the Current Intelligence Groups (CIG), effectively JIC sub-committees each chaired by a member of the Assessment Staff, on the Middle East, Far East, Europe, Northern Ireland and WMD. The CIG's acquire secret intelligence from UK sources (approx one third SIS and two thirds GCHQ),a considerable US Intelligence input and indeed open source information, collate, analyze and prepare weekly reports and long term projects for the JIC to present to the MIS and PSIS. The JIC also sets intelligence requirements and priorities of the Intelligence Agencies, and scrutinises their performance in meeting those requirements. The Joint Intelligence Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the JIC and its sub-committees.

London Signals Intelligence Board (LSIB)

For many years the controlling authority for GCHQ formed in 1942 Supervised SIGINT activities certainly until the late 1980's with the sub-committee known as the LSIC(Defence) handling Military SIGINT in particular

COBRA - Cabinet Office Briefing Room A

Officially entitled the Civil Contingencies Committee it meets as and when required in 10 Downing Street. The committee is chaired by a senior minister, who can call on any Cabinet colleagues or senior civil servants to take part, as well as fire, police and ambulance chiefs, military commanders and the heads of the security and intelligence services MI5 and MI6. Cobra is set in motion to co-ordinate the Government's response to crises that threaten to disrupt the life of the nation. The committee can gather daily, or even remain in session 24 hours a day, to ensure that those directing the handling of a crisis can respond constantly to events. It is backed by a permanent Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office which tries to anticipate and if possible prevent emergencies. The secretariat, made up of civil servants, acts as a centre for emergency planning, produces assessments of potential crises and runs exercises to test the authorities' readiness.
For a more detailed survey of the political control system of British Intelligence and Security – contact AFI Research



Location: King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH. 020-7270 3000

HMGCC (Her Majesty’s Government Communication Centre)

Diplomatic Wireless System - DWS and Diplomatic Telecommunications Maintenance Service -DTMS (GCHQ/SIS network)

  • Hanslope Park, 1 mile SE of Hanslope in Buckinghamshire MK19 7BH. 01908 510444 (purchased in 1938, and run by SIS. massively rebuilt in 1990's, with SATCOM replacing transmitter site)
  • Peel Circus, Hudswell, Wiltshire - opening of new facilities underground available in the Hudswell Quarry complex linked to the NSG-Nuclear Emergency Bunker). Joint FCO/DWS-SIS Complex.
  • Part of the old ‘RAF Rudloe Manor’ complex at Corsham, Wiltshire.

The DTMS provides bugging and de-bugging services and the experts to 'sweep' sensitive Government facilities (Microwave Network Links at FIVE WAYS-Hawthorn and onto WOTTON UNDER EDGE -SPARSHOLT FIRS - STOKENCHURCH-HARROP WEALD- BT TOWER LONDON)

  • Woofferton, near Ludlow. BBC/VOA transmitter facility run by Merlin (FO DWS/SIS)
  • Ramphisham, near Dorchester. BBC transmitter facility run by Merlin (FO DWS/SIS)
  • Skelton, near Goole. BBC Transmitter facility run by Merlin (FO DWS)
  • Orfordness, Suffolk. BBC transmitter facility. USAF/NSA (replaced Crowborough in 1980's/BBC site used for SOE Agent transmissions in WW2, and covert communications in Cold War)
  • Caversham Park, near Reading. BBC Monitoring Service. This is a joint facility set up in 1948 with the FBIS, Foreign Broadcast Information Service of the CIA. A CIA/NSA liaison team is attached to the BBC MS which concentrates on Europe, Middle East and Africa, while the FBIS concentrates on Russia, Central Asia, Far East (taken over from BBC MS in 1976-77), and Latin America.
  • Crowsley Park, near Henley upon Thames. Monitoring & Receiving Station for the BBC MS at Caversham. (BBC had a number of monitoring sites worldwide during the Cold War including the Vienna Embassy, Accra in Ghana and Abidjan in the Ivory Coast).

(BT Radio Stations at such places as Lanivet, near Bodmin in Cornwall and the major site at Rugby in the Midlands may still be used for both commercial and covert transmissions. While other BT Stations are known to be Criggion near Shrewsbury (VLF); Ongar in Essex (Transmitter site); Leafield near Oxford (Transmitter site); Bearley near Stratford upon Avon (Receiving) and Somerton near Taunton in Somerset (Receiving)

Previous sites included;

  • Gawcott-Buckinghamshire (Numbers Station-closed by late 1980's);
  • Creslow-Buckinghamshire (Numbers Station- enormous site rebuilt 1993-97, closed by 1998) and Poundon-Buckinghamshire (CDAA. DWS & SIS, high-security site, but local environmental changes made future operations difficult. Operations moved to near
  • Rendcomb, 5 miles north of Cirencester in Gloucestershire (a similar base existed at Potsgrove, near Milton Keynes) Wartime FCO Clandestine Communications and Propaganda Radio site.(may not have been used since late 1940's or early 1950's)


Founded: 1st August 1909
External Espionage Agency. With the end of the Cold War, MI6's role has fundamentally changed and it now has many more potential targets. Terrorist groups, and so-called 'rogue' states, are now high profile targets. Networks of new agents will be required as intelligence 'needs' constantly shift. Industrial espionage, furthering British trade interests has moved into the area of national interest. Gathering intelligence on friendly governments, obtaining advanced knowledge of their negotiating positions or changes in alliances, are also now ever more important targets for MI6. The Intelligence Services Act 1994 formerly acknowledged its existence.
Headquarters: PO Box 1300, Vauxhall Cross, 85 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP.
FO (Media) 020 7270 3100.
Personnel: 2000 plus

The Russian Revolution in 1917 provided SIS with some of its more outlandish characters and operations. George Hill, Ernest Boyce, Paul Dukes and Augustus Agar who sank a Russian Battleship in the Baltic. Sidney Reilly and his attempt to assassinate Lenin and many of the Communist leadership. While in the end the operations were a valiant failure, it did create a reputation in Europe that SIS was the most dangerous and efficient intelligence service in the world. SIS was, in part, to survive on that reputation for many years. Following the end of the war the re-structuring of the intelligence community saw the Admiralty and War Office code-breaking sections combined as the Government Code & Cipher School in 1919 still under Admiralty control. However in 1922, GC & CS become a department of the Foreign Office and placed under the overall control of the Chief of the SIS in 1923. SIS, a de facto part of the Foreign Office, had gained control of the espionage services of both the Admiralty and the War Office in 1919 along with a new Military cover-name of MI-6. In 1920 the Foreign Office also ceded its monopoly on political intelligence to SIS which then formed its new Political Section in 1921. When the RAF finally became a service branch in its own right an Air Intelligence Section was almost immediately formed within SIS in 1929. An Economic and Commercial Intelligence Section was formed in 1937 to work with the Special Liaison Section of the IIC/MEW Intelligence Branch. Following the failure of the SIS attempt to absorb MI5 in 1925, a Counter-Espionage Section was formed to work with the Security Service.

During the 1920's and 1930's SIS was to concentrate on the Communist threat, often to the exclusion of the fascist threat from Germany, Italy and Spain or the growing Japanese militarism. Denied a decent budget, SIS attempted to create a second far more secret intelligence network in Europe, the Z section. Its originator Claude Dansey had little difficulty in persuading 'C', Admiral Sinclair, that SIS officers normal cover abroad, Passport Control Officer at the Embassy was already well known to all their potential enemies. Although SIS made considerable use of willing journalists and journalistic cover for intelligence officers, this was no substitute for a permanent network. Unfortunately, seven years of operations were thrown away in one stupid incident at Venlo in the Netherlands in 1939. The officers leading the two supposedly separate groups were ordered to meet a representative of an anti-Nazi group, together.

The Germans turned out to Abwehr officers and captured the SIS officers and within months had rolled up both networks. When Germany finally invaded France and the Low Countries in May 1940, SIS was left without a single valuable network in occupied Europe. Apart from Sweden, Switzerland and Portugal SIS was blind to continental events. Fortunately for SIS, the new 'C' Stewart Menzies was to make extraordinary use of both his friendship with the Prime Minister, Churchill and the steady flow of Ultra decrypts of the German Enigma traffic. Without this, SIS may well have been disbanded and replaced by its wartime rival, SOE. In late 1943 in an attempt to simplify operations four Regional Controllers were created to oversee groups of country sections. As it was by 1944 SIS had still not recovered sufficiently to be a major intelligence source, without the Ultra material from Bletchley Park. Menzies was a master at using his political and social connections to win time and eventual survival for SIS, indeed so successful was he that in 1946 he persuaded the Labour Government to close down SOE and transfer its best staff and most promising operations to SIS. During this re-organization GC & CS became a separate organization as GCHQ, within the Foreign Office leaving SIS without its major source of intelligence. Apart from changes of personnel, facilities and intelligence targets, SIS has remained under the Foreign Office and retained its name. The resulting spy scandals of the late 1940'sand early 1950's saw doubt cast on some of SIS's most respected officers, Philby, Brooman-White, Ellis and others.

Menzies retired in 1953 saddened and exhausted by over thirty-seven years in intelligence. His replacement, Maj. General John Sinclair allowed the service to be further tarnished not only by its inept handling of the Suez crisis, but also by its involvement in the Buster Crabb affair, when a diver disappeared while carrying out surveillance on a Soviet Cruiser in Portsmouth. Sinclair's reward was to be replaced by the head of MI5, Sir Dick White. From 1948 the VCSS had doubled as Director of Production and while Jack Easton was the ACSS in the early 1950's his position was amalgamated with that of the Director of Requirements, White later abolished the position of ACSS altogether and reintroduced the Directorate of Requirements. However this would eventually be merged with the Director of Productions to become the new Director of Requirements & Production and later still the current Director of Operations, retaining the Deputy Chief rank.

The eventual decision to remove MI6 to 'south of the river' came as White gave into increasing pressure to control the service in the wake of Suez, Hungary, Philby and Blake. The advent of a Labour Government sealed their fate and indeed White used the period as an opportunity to modernize. The Service R sections were separated off while the remaining R sections became more closely integrated with the Production Sections (DP1/2/3/4). A new Directorate of Counter-Intelligence and Security was created to take over the Vetting, Personnel and R5 Sections, creating Regional CI Sections. Later this would be modified by Oldfield to create three Targeting and Counter-Intelligence Sections (TCI). The creation of a MOD -n 1963-64 also led to the creation of the DIS from the old JIB and the Service Intelligence Agencies, further diluting MI6's influence. Cost cutting at the MOD would also reduce the numbers of Service MIO seconded to MI6. White was also to crucially make major changes in the SIS management structure when after long consultation with the FO Adviser he removed a generation of Senior Directors known as the 'Robber Barons' during December 1965 (effective in January 1966); one had retired (John Bruce Lockhart), two were given early retirement (John Collins and Paul Paulson), while Andrew Fulton was moved sideways and then retired soon after.

In 1973 under the new CSS or 'C' Sir Maurice Oldfield operations were to strictly controlled and scrupulous in their adherence to the wishes of the Government. Oldfield's unique style brought a refreshing blast of fresh air through the corridors of Century House, the SIS multi-story glass and concrete headquarters in south London. SIS objectives were also widened to take account of the increasing demand for commercial intelligence, on the USA, Britain's European partners, Japan and the Middle East oil states in particular. A new Government organization, the Overseas Economic Intelligence Committee (OEIC) became a major customer for both SIS and its SIGINT partner GCHQ. Also during the early 1970's, SIS increasingly became involved in the convoluted politics of Northern Ireland. During the earliest years of the Ulster conflict, the British government favoured the use of SIS in the North of Ireland.

On the basis of countering the IRA bombing campaigns in Britain, MI5 pushed for a presence in the North and from 1973 onwards began to build an infrastructure in Ulster. From that time onwards, SIS has played only a minor role. However, that has still had a considerable political and intelligence significance. It was Michael Oatley, a senior SIS officer who acted as Mrs. Thatcher's direct link to the republican leadership during the 1981 hunger strike, apparently over the heads of MI5 and the Northern Ireland Office and later another SIS officer, Frank Steele established an important dialogue with Gerry Adams. SIS was also involved in later discussions with Sinn Fein representatives on arms decommissioning and ensuring a cease-fire. By the late 1970s, most MI6 agents had been taken over by RUC SB or MI5, and SIS itself had withdrawn from RUC and Army headquarters, although it retained an office at Stormont. SIS is thought to have an operational staff of about 25 in Ireland as a whole, split between the Stormont office, an office at Army HQ Lisburn and the British Embassy in Merrion Road, Dublin. (Between 1971 and 1977 MI6 in the province was run from a large house in Laneside). However in 1972, SIS was to be deeply embarrassed by the Littlejohn incident, when two brothers operating as SIS agents in Ireland were arrested for freelance activities including armed bank robberies. They also claimed to have been given a list of leading IRA members to assassinate. SIS emphatically denied any involvement and Oldfield went so far as to call a meeting of SIS staff to assure them that there was absolutely no truth in the allegations. SIS was soon to withdraw from the battle for control of British intelligence operations in the Province and the strong suspicions remains that the Littlejohn affair was somehow set up by the Security Service (MI5) to damage SIS's reputation. Oldfield was to suffer from a Security Service dirty tricks campaign some years later when appointed the Government's Security Co-ordinator for Northern Ireland in October 1979. It is widely believed that MI5 informed a number of friendly journalists that Oldfield was a homosexual and that his behaviour was a security risk.

SIS came out of the Falklands War, Gulf War and the Balkans conflicts throughout the 1980's and 1990's with an enhanced reputation. Trust in its internal security has been restored by the succession of major Soviet defectors and double agents who were happy to co-operate with the service. There was also a major change in the leadership during 1993 when McColl stayed on as C for an extra two years he effectively bypassed a whole generation of officers, the so-called 'Christmas Massacre' of December 1992 (effective January 1993) and a new younger management team of senior Directors in their 'forties' took office under David Spedding. Barry Gane the expected new CSS retired early. However, the new 'C' failed to complete the task of building a service fit for the 21st century and this task is hopefully being completed by Richard Dearlove, who also may have made more significant changes in direction as there are some insiders who were apparently distinctly unhappy about Speddings time in charge. The final act of coming out of the Shadows, becoming an 'established' Government department and its move to a new high profile Headquarters at Vauxhall Cross has markedly raised its image. SIS is probably now considered a trendy new employer for well-scrubbed young graduates. Whether of course this new generation of political correct and computer literate civil service recruits will prove capable of dealing with the increasingly dangerous and terrorist dominated intelligence environment of the twenty first century is very much open to question.

A historical review of the great changes in SIS organization charts the growth from the first formal restructuring after SIS came under the control of the Foreign Office; In 1921 it was made up simply of the G or Geographical Officers and the four Circulating Sections which provided liaison with the

  • Foreign Office,
  • Military MI-1C, later MI-6,
  • Naval NI-1C and
  • Air AI-1C from 1929.

By the late 1930's this had expanded to ten circulating sections including the original four renamed I, II, III and IV, and

  • V Counter Espionage,
  • VI Industrial intelligence,
  • VII Financial intelligence,
  • VIII Communications,
  • IX Ciphers and
  • X Press .

SIS Section-Z (Z Organization)

Created by Col. Claude Dansey (later a DCSS) between 1932-36 as a parallel and entirely separate intelligence network in Europe in response to the fear that the PCO (Passport Control Officer) cover often taken by SIS officers had been compromised. Formally established in 1937 with headquarters at Bush House, Aldwych, London WC2, while commercial cover was given by Menoline Ltd of 24 Maple Street, London W1. Press cover for Z and indeed the rest of SIS was regularly provided by the Kemsley Newspaper Group and later by the Daily Herald; the Times; Daily Telegraph and the Observer among others. Dansey even funded the creation of what became a highly successful film production company, Alexander Korda's London Films, as cover for agents travelling around pre-war Europe. It is considered likely that Bertram Mills Circus was also used in much the same way, particularly as Cyril Mills was a senior MI5 officer in the Twenty Committee during WW2 and remained an 'asset' long after that. Section Z (with Dansey as Z-1) was later to be fatally compromised right at the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939 when it direct contravention of the basic rules of security in running two separate networks, the Head of Z in the Netherlands, Captain Sigismund Payne-Best and the Head of the SIS Station Major Richard Stevens not only merged their operations but were captured by the Germans after being duped into a meeting at Venlo. The Germans were able to roll up both networks with the help of information provided by the two SIS Officers under interrogation. In the aftermath Section Z was officially re-absorbed into the main body of SIS, however it may have continued to operate for some years as a semi-autonomous section in neutral countries.The G (G1/2/3/4) Officers who controlled operations were replaced by Production 'P' Sections (later rationalized under the DP Controllerates) and the old Circulating Sections were replaced by the Requirement 'R' Sections by 1941. The P Sections included;

  • P1 France
  • P1a French North Africa
  • P1b Non-Free French
  • P1c Free French (Liaison with BCRA)
  • P2 Iberia
  • P4 Italy
  • P5 Poland (Liaison with Fifth Bureau of AK or Home Army)
  • P6 German & Czech Liaison
  • P7 Belgium
  • P8 Netherlands
  • P9 Norway, Faroes & Iceland
  • P13 Baltic countries
  • P15 POW/MI9
  • P19 Photographic

SIS Section D (Destruction)

Established by 1938 and was tasked with creating a sabotage and subversion capability. Taken over on July 22nd 1940 and without the full agreement of SIS, by the MEW (Ministry of Economic Warfare) to form part of the new SOE along with the War Office's MI(R) and various other paramilitary sections. SOE (Special Operations Executive) formed out of parts of SIS 1940, remnants merged with SIS 1946 This was the response made by Hugh Dalton, the Minister of EcW to Churchill's pressure for an immediate counter-offensive against the German occupation of Western Europe. SOE, effectively a temporary, wartime-only organization of doubtful value was run separately from SIS, though for much of the war relied heavily on the intelligence services communications network until the creation of STS-2 (Thame Park); STS53A (Grendon Underwood); STS53B (Poundon House); STS53C (Signal Hill-Poundon, later SIS/DWS closed 1990's); STS54 (Fawley Court, Henley) and STS53D (Belhaven House-Dunbar). Although it had limited successes in Norway (the destruction of Heavy Water facilities), Yugoslavia and the Far East (with TF-136 which was later almost completely absorbed into the post war SIS) in particular, disasters such as the German Operation North Pole penetration of the SOE Dutch section and the German reprisals in the wake of the Heydrich assassination were of greater significance. Indeed by 1944 its military value was strictly limited and it was largely sidelined for the rest of the war. On 15th August 1945 SOE ceased to be separate organization from SIS and the run down process began and in July 1946 the SOE was finally disbanded with many of its best officers, agents, some whole sections and a number of operations being transferred to SIS. Far from SOE disappearing however its absorption into the intelligence service had a significant and largely positive impact on the future organization and leadership of SIS itself. Its first Headquarters was in the St Ermins Hotel, but moved to its permanent facilities at 64 Baker Street on 31st October 1940 with the cover name of Inter-Services Research Bureau (IRSB). Later added Norgeby House at no-83 and St Michael's House at no-82 Baker Street. Along with a myriad of Training Establishments (known as STS-1, 2 etc) SOE was also to create a 'Cooler' for failed agents who could not be posted elsewhere until sensitive operations they had been trained for had been completed. This was at Inverlair Lodge, in Inverness-shire and was heavily guarded by the Cameron Highlanders. Both SOE and SIS were to make considerable use of its secure facilities.

The Chief Executive Officers (CD) of SOE were

British Security Commission (BSC)

Formed in June 1940 under (Sir) William Stephenson to improve liaison between MI5/SIS/GCCS and the FBI(later OSS), It also carried out clandestine activities within the USA aimed at Germans or pro-Nazi Americans. Absorbed New York SIS Station and opened new offices in The Rockefeller Centre on 5th Avenue. Disbanded 1946, liaison transferred to the SIS and MI5 SLO at Washington Embassy. BSC however established the close co-operation that led to the BRUSA and UKUSA agreements that still operate in one form or another between US CIA/NSA/FBI) and British(SIS/MI5/GCHQ) in 2003.


By 1941 SIS had formed a number of semi-autonomous overseas organizations including the major Inter-Service Liaison Departments for the Middle East ISLD (Cairo) 1941-46, ISLD (Algiers) 1942-44, then absorbed into ISLD (Cairo) and the Far East ISLD (FE) 1941-46. They were simply the cover name for SIS Staff attached to Theatre GHQ. ISLD (FE) was based in New Delhi from 1941 to 1944, and then in Kandy, Ceylon 1944-46. ISLD (Cairo) renamed CRPO/ME in 1946 and ISLD (FE) became CRPO/FE and moved to Singapore.

MI9 Escape and Evasion organization

Part of SIS. Headquartered at Wilton Park with a cover address of Room-900 of the War Office, it also had an office at 5 St James's Street.

The SIS Board of Directors 1948-49

  • C/SS
  • AC/SS - R Sections
  • D/WP
  • D/FA
  • H/TD

SIS organization Post War

The massive wartime changes and the absorption of SOE resulted in a structure that by 1948 now included;

  • CCE - Chief Controller Europe
  • CNA - Controller Northern Area (Scandinavia & Denmark)
  • CWA - Controller Western Area (France, Italy & Iberia)
  • CEA - Controller Eastern Area ( Germany, Switzerland & Austria)
  • CCM - Chief Controller Mediterranean
  • CME - Controller Middle East (London)
  • MEC - Middle East Controller - Cairo, later Beirut - JIC (ME)
  • CCP - Chief Controller Pacific
  • CFE - Controller Far East (London)
  • FEC - Far East Controller - Singapore- JIC (FE)
  • CPR - Controller, Production Research
  • P Section - Soviet Union
  • P Section - Eastern Europe
  • P Sections - Western Hemisphere (including the USA)
  • UK Station
  • Section V (CE)
  • D/WP - Director, War Planning
  • Liaison with CNA, CWA, CEA, CME & CFE
  • D/FA - Director, Finance and Administration
  • H/TD - Head of Training and Development

(later to be abolished with Training going to Personnel and Development to the Directorate of Support Services)

AC/SS - Directorate of Requirements (Circulating Sections)

  • R1 Political (FO)
  • R2 Military (MI6)
  • R3 Naval (NID17)
  • R4 Air
  • R5 Counter Espionage (combing V & IX, still operated in 1946 in two equal sections; CE(V) under Oldfield and Communist Investigations (IX) under Charles Ransom)- Combined with Inspectorate of Security and PV Section in 1964 to form the powerful Directorate of Counter-Intelligence and Security.
  • R6 Industrial, Commercial & Financial. Worked closely with both the Treasury and the Bank of England, as well as Merchant Bankers such as Hill Samuel; Hambro's; Kleinwort Benson; Morgan Grenfell; Brandts; Cootes and the Midland. Solicitors firms such as Slaughter & May were also part of the network of important contacts, along with Thomas Cook; ICI; BP; Shell; Lonrho and RTZ.R7 Wartime Scientific Intelligence, previously a sub-section of the Air Section (Section 11) became a full Section representing the needs of the Directorate of Scientific Intelligence (at what would eventually become the MOD) and the JIC's Scientific and Technical Intelligence Committees.
  • R7/TCS - Technical Coordinating Section. Also known as TAL (Tube Alloys Liaison) the cover name

for the development of the atom bomb and nuclear scientific intelligence.(The original Financial role of

  • R7 was taken over by the creation of a Directorate of Administration and Finance)
  • R8 GCHQ Liaison (Later RGC-Requirements Government Communications) and
  • R9 Scientific Intelligence (merged with R7)

In 1956 Head of CI (HCI) became the Director of CI. In 1958-59 however the Regional Chief Controllers were abolished. The Production Directorate was broken up into four separate Directorates and the subordinate Area Controllers also abolished, along with the MEC and FEC positions. P Sections thereafter answered directly to the four Directors of Production and their DDP organized into a new Directorate of Production with a

  • CCE became DP1
  • Controller Northern Area CAN Soviet Bloc and Scandinavia,
  • Controller Western Area CWA Spain, France and North Africa,
  • Controller Eastern Area CEA Germany, Switzerland and Austria
  • CCM became DP2
  • Controller Middle East CME,
  • CCP became DP3
  • Controller Far East CFE and
  • CPR became DP4
  • Controller London Station

In the re-organization of 1966 many overseas Stations were to be closed and the structure changed to;

  • Directorate of Production
  • Directorate of Requirements
  • Directorate of Counter Intelligence & Security (formed after Philby & Blake cases)
  • Directorate of Operational support
  • Directorate of Personnel & Administration
  • Directorate of Training (added soon after)

By 1968 this had been simplified to

  • DP1 Western Europe,
  • DP2 Middle East and Africa,
  • DP3 Far East and Americas and
  • DP4 London Station.

In 1978-79 the service finally merged the old Requirement and Production Directorates with its controller effectively the new Deputy Chief of the SIS, to create a somewhat more streamlined, at least on paper, structure; The six major Controllers were the

  • C1 London Station,
  • C2 Middle East,
  • C3 Far East,
  • C4 Western Hemisphere,
  • C5 Soviet Bloc and
  • C6 Africa.

The R Sections retained their own DDR until the early 1990's when they eventually came under the control of their relevant Area Controllers.

The last major restructuring was occasioned by the end of the Cold War and the need to redirect SIS activities more towards Terrorism and Global crime and so by 2001 the overall organization had had been rationalized into;

  • Directorate of Operations with a
  • London Station,
  • Middle East & Africa,
  • Far East & Western Hemisphere,
  • Eastern Europe,
  • Global Tasks

Established in 1994 as Global & Functional (Global Issues) to combine; organized crime (1992), counter-proliferation section (PCTP-Production Targeting Counter-Proliferation, formed at the request of the JIC in 1991) and narcotics. Runs deep-cover operations, Operational Support (became a separate department in 1994 to support deep cover or covert operation, represented a considerable upgrade of the original Technical Support Division or TOS) includes; Special Support Technical support (staffed by MOD expert locksmiths, video & audio technicians, scientists, chemists, electronic experts, forensics, surveillance and explosives experts) and Information Operations (I/Ops- psy-ops - consisting of around 20 media-friendly officers designed to 'brief' and place black propaganda stories on the press and importantly to provide media 'legends' for officers - formed around 1992)

SIS Paramilitary/Covert Action sections

SIS had established a covert action or paramilitary capability before the war in the form of Section D. This had become one of the integral components of SOE in 1940. In the post war period SOE was abolished and many of its best officers and sections were to be absorbed back into SIS to become a new Special Operations Section in 1946, however it was officially named the Directorate of War Planning.

Directorate of War Planning

The D/WP was in fact a resurrected and expanded Section-D and was tasked with carrying out 'special operations' and creating stay-behind networks in Europe. plus developing a close liaison with Special Forces. Other parts of SOE were to be absorbed into H/TD and involved the more extensive training and development of equipment that had been pioneered by SOE during the war. Indeed the SOE officer John Munn became the first H/TD and saw the creation of Fort Monckton as one of a number of new specialist training centres very much in the SOE STS mould. DWP phased out quietly in 1953 though some form of 'special operations' capability was undoubtedly retained with the creation in late 1953- early 1954 of a covert political action group known as the Special Political Action Section.

Special Political Action Section (SPA)

This was to become heavily involved in deception, political influence operations and engineering changes in the leadership of foreign countries through rebellions such as the failed Indonesian Permesta rising of the late 1950's, insurgency, coups such as Iran in 1953 and the Congo in 1961 or perhaps by extreme 'executive action'. Within SIS the SPA was known as the 'jolly fun tricks department' and was directly controlled by the Head of R1. Thus the R1/SPA section was not an actual operational unit, but the originator and coordinator of operations mounted by the Directorate of production and any assets it used ranging from foreign mercenaries, 'former' Intelligence or special forces personnel, often used for 'deniable' operations, the SAS, IRD or any number of outside contracted specialists. The SPA would fall victim to the Labour Governments aversion to covert action and was quietly abolished in the mid 1970's. It was at this stage that the relationship with the SAS, seconded and retired, as well as a number of 'private' specialist companies became ever more important and by 1987 a Special Forces Directorate was formed to coordinate the activities of the SAS and SBS and ensure closer collaboration with the SIS. By 2003 such activities are the responsibility of the General Support Branch.

General Support Branch

Handles 'dirty operation' and uses The Increment as its executive arm. The so-called SIS Charter, known as the 'order book' requires that the service maintains a 'Special Operations' capability in addition to it more expected duties. The para-military or covert action option is provided by the 22 SAS CRW - Counter-Revolutionary Wing and the M (CT) Troop of the SBS and is supported by the RAF S & D Flight. The SAS/CRW Increment would normally have around 45 highly trained specialists available for SIS requirements. All have a minimum of five years service in the SAS, are the rank of sergeant or above and have been heavily vetted by SIS. They will have gone through an induction course on surveillance and intelligence as well as three weeks at Fort Monckton. The SBS which provides a further 15 or so personnel, all of whom are expert divers, combat swimmers and underwater demolition experts, often with experience gained in the Comacchio Group, Mountain Leaders and the Artic Warfare Cadre. Several have 'skippers tickets' and could command commercial vessels or fishing boats when required. The SBS Increment places tracking devices on 'suspect' vessels in ports around the world. They also control the SIS 'mini-submarine', an advanced form of chariot with two crew and upto four passengers. It is used for clandestine infiltration and exfiltration of agents. The RAF S&D has some ten or so specialist pilots allowed to fly below 50ft and can call upon a specially modified C130 Hercules for agent drops and 'quick' recovery operations and a Puma (or newer model) helicopter, equipped with additional fuel tanks, mainly used to ferry SIS staff around the UK and in particular for the shuttle between London (Battersea Heliport) and Fort Monckton. The Army's secretive FRU (agent running unit); 14th Intelligence & Security Company; Intelligence Corps and Royal Military Police all provide additional personnel for 'The Increment' including Women Officers. The 14th indeed provided surveillance for SAS 'snatch teams' in the Balkans attempting to arrest suspected War Criminals in the 1990's. Defensive driving courses have been provided by the RMP at HMS Daedalus (a naval airfield near Fort Monckton) while field training and toughening-up courses are held at the SAS Pontrilas area in Wales and jointly with the Italian SISMI Intelligence Service in Rome. Has a Command Centre in the secure basement at Vauxhall Cross.

The dissident SIS officer Richard Tomlinson has publicly accused The Increment of being involved in SIS sponsored plans to assassinate foreign leaders including Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic. In 1998 Tomlinson confirmed the existence of the unit which he described as 'a small cell of the SAS and SBS which is especially selected and trained to carry out operations exclusively for MI5/MI6' and indeed of a written assassination plan He claimed that the document proposed three methods of assassinating Milosevic. The first method was to train and equip a Serbian paramilitary opposition group to assassinate Milosevic in Serbia. An MI6 Officer, Nick Fishwick, argued that this method would have the advantage of deniability, but with the disadvantage that control of the operation would be low and the chances of success unpredictable. The second method was to use The Increment to infiltrate Serbia and attack Milosevic either with a bomb or sniper ambush. The MI6 officer argued that this plan would be the most reliable, but would be undeniable if it went wrong. Fishwick’s third proposal was to kill Milosevic in a staged car crash, possibly during one of his visits to the ICFY (International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia) in Geneva, Switzerland. Chillingly the MI6 Officer even provided a suggestion about how this could be done, namely disorientating Milosevic’s chauffeur using a blinding strobe light as the cavalcade passed through one of Geneva’s motorway tunnels. Whatever the truth of such stories The Increment has been used as the covert 'strong-arm' of the Intelligence Service since the downgrading of its own military capability in the 1970's. Operations against terrorist threats to Intelligence officers and facilities and providing protection for senior officers are certainly part of their remit.

However, the SIS also now directly employs a considerable number of former members of the SAS, SBS and 14th Intelligence Detachment of Military Intelligence and SIS has now decided, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in September 2001, to recreate some form of Special Operations department.

Special Operations department

By early 2003 the Special Operations department had recruited some 200 additional recently retired special forces personnel to greatly expand its own 'Covert Action' and overseas protection capability, along with as many as 100 Analysts and Linguists, and up to 200 additional admin/support staff for general intelligence duties. SIS also has a small group of perhaps 20-30 men and women known as UKN, mostly volunteers from outside organizations including private business who provide expect surveillance and counter-surveillance skills and training, as well as specialist computer and IT knowledge. The UKN are often used alongside The Increment for covert operations.

Natural Cover Committee

UKA (EE), UKB (WE), UKC (Africa, RSA), UKD (ME), UKJ (Japan), UKO (India & Pakistan) and UKP (Iran) 1990's

A historical review of SIS facilities


  • Hotel Metropol, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2. 1909-1913
  • 2 Whitehall Court, London SW1. (MO/MI-IC) 1913-1923
  • 1 Melbury Road, near Kensington High Street, London W14. (SIS) 1923-1925
  • Broadway Buildings, 54 The Broadway, London SW1 (SIS) 1925-1966
  • Century House, 100 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 (SIS) 1966-1995 (071 928 5600/CBX 3501)
  • Vauxhall Cross, 85 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TP (SIS) 1995-


At one time or another SIS has had offices scattered all over London, 'The City' and the Home Counties, these are known to include;

  • Artillery Mansions, Victoria Street, London SW1. SIS Production Research Department. 1950's-1960's. Floor One (Tech Ops -forgeries, bugging, legends etc). Floor Two (Russian interception ops.DP4).
  • Bush House, Aldwych, London WC2. Colonel Dansey’s Z Sections were based here 1937-1940
  • 2 Caxton Street, London SW1. SIS Section D 1939 (next door to St Ermin's Hotel, also used by MI6)
  • Clarence Terrace, Regents Park, London NW1. SIS-CIA centre for Berlin Tunnel ops in mid 1950's.
  • Transcription Unit & later MI5 A4.Coleshill House, Highworth, near Swindon. CTS for Section D (later SOE 1940)
  • Glenalmond and Prae Woods, St Albans, north of London. SIS Section-V 1940-43 and Registry 1940-1945
  • 111 Old Church Street, Chelsea, London SW3. 4 storey House. SIS Training School (Eastern European ops 1948)
  • Queen Anne Mews, London W1. SIS large underground car park. 1940's to early 1970's (Apcos Car Parks Ltd 1980's)
  • 21 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1. The Official Residence of 'C' from 1923-1966. Backed on to Broadway Buildings.
  • Palace Street, London SW1.General Trade Craft Course - TS School 1948.
  • Princes House, Princes Street, London W1. SIS 'General Craft Centre' School from 1945 under the Director of Training and Development
  • 14 Ryder Street, London SW1. SIS Section-V/R5 Counter-intelligence section 1943-45. HQ & SLC Baltic ops and agent running 1945-51. Soviet defectors centre 1948-71 and Special Liaison Centre.
  • Sloane Square, London, SW1. SIS Training Schools 1940-45
  • Southwark Bridge Road, London.SE1. SIS Garages (D of Env - facilities)
  • 60 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2RR. SIS London Station 1950's to around 1996 (Known in MI6 as VBR)
  • 296-302 Borough High Street, London SE1. .SIS Training Centre until mid 1990's.
  • Whaddon Manor, Whaddon, E of Bletchley. First (1938) SIS clandestine transmitter station (Mark XV at nearby Windy Ridge)

Safe Houses

Have included:

  • 24 Cheney Walk, Chelsea Embankment, London SW3.(Guy Liddell's home-DDGSS MI5-used by both MI5 and MI6)
  • Coleherne Court, London SW5. SIS 'Safe' house 1960's
  • Gordon Hospital, 128 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1. 1960's
  • Pavilion Road (a small Mews House-upstairs flat), Sloane Square, London SW1 (used by both MI5 and


Joint facilities with CIA


  • RAF Cheddington, near Aylesbury. Largest clandestine arms dump for use in Europe. OPC/CIA 1956-1964 (GLADIO Stay behind network-may still have been in use 1975 or later)

Overseas Stations in the Post War period


  • Bad Salzuflen, near Bielefeld, West Germany, Main SIS Station, 1948 (cover as Political Office of BCCG, staff often posted as members of the Intelligence Division of the BCCG)

(BCCG -British Control Commission for Germany, Norfolk House, St James's Square, London SW1)

  • British Consulate, Dusseldorf SIS outstation, 1948
  • Bonn Embassy, 1955
  • Lancaster House, Fehrbelliner-Platz, Berlin SIS HQ 1946
  • Olympic Stadium Buildings, 1946. later HQ SIS Station Berlin.
  • BMEO(British Middle East Office) Co-Ordination Division (SIS cover name) moved from Egypt 1954.
  • Athalassa, SIS Covert Propaganda Radio Station with underground CC(BMEO)
  • POMEF(Political Office of Middle East Forces) replaced BMEO as SIS cover in mid 1950's.
  • Fort Bin Jema
  • Singapore Phoenix Park HQ in 1946 under Controller Far East with outstations in Canberra; Rangoon; Kuala Lumpur; Hong Kong; Tokyo; Bangkok and later Vientiane and Hanoi.

Personnel regularly posted to diplomatic missions elsewhere, and Stations later added in Beijing; Manila and Seoul among others. Pre War there had only been important Stations in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

  • Cairo HQ (Combined Research & Planning Office or CRPO, replaced wartime ISLD

(Cairo) in 1946) used BMEO as cover and under Controller ME & A.

  • Had outstations in Beirut (later Main Station after political changes in Egyptian in 1954-55); Baghdad; Basra; Tehran; Amman; Port

Said; Damascus and later Tripoli; Jeddah and Muscat. Liaison with MI5 & IC in Aden and personnelregularly posted to diplomatic missions elsewhere. Tel Aviv Station run by CWH or direct from London.
Pre War Stations were limited to Athens, Jerusalem, Istanbul and Cairo.

The major SIS Stations were in Washington DC; Paris; Bonn and Rome. While SIS Stations were also operational in Embassies and Missions in most of the Capitals and many of the major cities throughout Europe and in selected Embassies in Latin America and Africa. In Colonial and later Commonwealth nations SIS either operated jointly with MI5 DSLO's or directly liaised with the National Intelligence Service. Before 1939 SIS had a large New York Station in the Cunard Building on Wall Street, this became the British Security Coordination (BSC) in May 1940 under Sir William Stevenson and effectively the main liaison between the entire British and American Intelligence and Security communities in World War Two. Later moving to much more substantial Headquarters in the Rockefeller Centre.

IRD Information Research Department – closely linked to SIS

FO/SIS propaganda and disinformation organization, and often used as a cover for SIS 'Black operations'. Represented at SIS-CIA liaison meetings. Established in 1947 to carry on the work of the wartime PWE (Political Warfare Executive) from offices in Carlton House Terrace, it was to be based at Riverwalk House, 157-166 Millbank, London SW1P 4RR from the mid 1950's. Abolished in 1977 and replaced by the OID (Overseas Information Department), under J. N. Allan, little changed however as the first Director of OID was the SIS Officer James Allen. OID was to be finally absorbed into FCO's Information Department in 1981.

The IRD used Media and 'Academic' fronts, often with the CIA, such as Encounter Magazine (1953, exposed as CIA front 1967), Forum World Features (1965), ISC (Institute for the Study of Conflict 1970, formed to run some operations that IRD was was now not allowed to), Ampersand Ltd (IRD Publishing), ANA, China News Summary (CNS), Background Books series (Phoenix House, after 1960 Bodley Head), NAFEN Ltd, Africa Features Services (AFS 1971), INRAR (International News Rights and Royalties, set up in 1963 to take over Britanova assets) among many others.

Many well known Authors and Writers were involved with IRD including Brian Crozier (SIS, Forum, ISC), Robert Moss (ISC), David Floyd (DT), Tom Little (ANA), Charles Douglas Home (Times Editor), Paul Wilkinson (ISC), Nigel Clive (ISC,IRD,SIS), Robert Conquest, Alan Hare (INRAR), Michael Goodwin (Ampersand, then ISC), Kenneth Benton (IRD, ISC)

Directors of IRD


MI6 (SIS) 'front' companies

Have included:

JIC member) and Ferguson Dempster (Mexico -DCS 1969). Covert ops for City Institutions and SIS. Offices in Rome and probably the USA. May have been a front for CIA as well as MI6.)

Facilities regularly used by SIS


  • Special Forces Club. 8 Herbert Street, Knightsbridge.

SIS Current facilities


  • 3 Carlton Gardens, London SW1Y 5AA.Front office since 1950's and Top Secret Y Section after 1945 for some years.
  • Fort Monkton near Gosport. Specialist Training Centre for Covert Operations at an old Napoleonic fort on the south coast in Hampshire. 1946 under D of T & D and from 1956 when it passed to FCO control as 'No-1 Military Training Establishment', off Gosport-Stokes Bay. (Peter Follis of SOE was selected to provide SIS with a Special Training School in 1946 at Fort Monkton, following the disbanding of SOE itself. Army Intelligence Corps base at Ashford in Kent also used for SIS training, now moved to Chicksands).

SIS Communications facilities


  • Hanslope Park, Buckinghamshire MK19 7BH. 01908 510444. SIS 1938. Technical Security Department (TSD). SIS Communications centre at FCO HMGCC.
  • Peel Circus, Hudswell, Wiltshire, near the former RAF Rudloe Manor at Corsham - underground facilities available in the Hudswell Quarry complex linked to the NSG-Nuclear Emergency Bunker).The joint FCO-SIS Complex moved from Poundon-Buckinghamshire (DWS & SIS, high- security site, but environmental changes made future operations difficult!)
  • Montreathmont Moor – just South of Brechin. SIS/GCHQ Clandestine communications (and a similar

site at Laurencekirk, 5mile NE of Brechin - stay behind networks). (BT MW Link from EAST LOMAND to CRAIGOWL, part of same chain to MORMOND HILL) Other covert Communications sites include Barford St Johns (Oxfordshire-Numbers Station -joint CIA) and very probably privately owned sites such as the SERCO-run RN Inskip facility (near Preston) and of course the BNFL site at Capenhurst (Cheshire). Ayios Nikalaos - Cyprus. CSO/9th RSR Monitoring and Intelligence Communications Base Site of 'E3 Lincolnshire Poacher' Transmissions to covert SIS and SAS operations and agents in the Middle East, particularly pre 2003 Iraq and increasingly over the last 25 years, Iran. Guam. Joint CIA/SIS Communications facility, Site for 'E3A Cherry Ripe' Agent Transmissions to Communist China and North Korea in particular. Kowandi, near Darwin had been an important SIS-ASIS Communications link since 1973. A DFA Radio Station as well by 1997.

Directors or Chiefs of the Secret Intelligence Service

The Director of Operations (The Director of Requirements & Production-DRP) is known as The Director and is effectively the DCSS. An ‘official’ deputy is usually only appointed in the year before the current CSS retires and is considered to be the ‘heir apparent’ (the CSS own choice in fact). The Director of Counter-Intelligence & Security-DCIS is effectively third in the chain of command.

CIA Liaison with SIS

A large Staff of over 70 with a Head of Station operates out of a wing of the third Floor of the US Embassy at 24-31 Grosvenor Square in Mayfair. It is organized into at least six sections;

  • A) Political Liaison Section (c/n for SIS Liaison, established 1947)
  • B) Area Telecommunications Office (around 12 Staff)
  • C) JRRU Joint Research & Reports Unit (up to 30 Staff based in Room-388, works closely with the JIC in the Cabinet Office).
  • D) FBIS (which works closely with the BBC Monitoring Service at Caversham Park)
  • E) Counter-Terrorism (Liaison section from the CTC at Langley)
  • F) SUSLO - Office of the Senior US Liaison Officer (Room-452, on fourth floor above main CIA

Offices, NSA Liaison with GCHQ, includes some CIA Staff) The Station provides Representatives to numerous British Intelligence, Security and Defence Committees, including the Cabinet Office JIC (there are strong links between the SIS-NSC in Washington, as well as the CIA-JIC in London). This is part of a very close ‘Special relationship’ which sees various US organizations including the FBI (Legal attaches –Liaison to MI5, MP-CT/SB and NCIS) and the DIA (DIALL, Defence Intelligence Agency Liaison London – to the DSI at the MOD) greatly influencing their British counterparts most sensitive activities.

The CIA’s Covert Operations Office (codenamed LCPIPPIT) was originally based at 71 Grosvenor Street in 1947, rented from MI5 and situated above a furniture shop. Later it was in Upper Brook Street, Mayfair just round the corner from the Embassy during at least the 1970’s & 1980’s. The US Visa Branch was used as cover for operating from 55/56 Upper Brook Street, W1A 2JB.


Founded in its present form as a separate department of the FO in the reforms of 1946.
Mission: To provide Government Departments and Military Commands with signals intelligence (SIGINT) in support of Her Majesty's Government's security, defence, foreign and economic policies.
In addition to providing signals intelligence, GCHQ also provides advice and assistance to Government Departments and the Armed Forces on the security of their communications and information technology systems. This task is undertaken by the Communications Electronics Security Group of GCHQ, who work closely with their customers and industry, as well as with the Security Service, to ensure that official information in such systems is properly protected.

Headquarters: GCHQ operates from two sites (Benhall and Oakley) on the outskirts Cheltenham.
Admin. HQ has been at Oakley, Priors Road, Gloucestershire GL52 5AJ since 1952. 01242 221491
The new HQ will be on the Benhall site by 2003. (Microwave Network Link at BREDON HILL)

Personnel: 6500 split between the two sites.

GC & CS Government Code & Cipher School was formed on October 24th 1919 and was fully operational by November 1st. It merged the Naval Intelligence Department-25 (Room-40) and the War Offices MI-1B code-breaking services under the civil administration of the Admiralty at Watergate House. The British Army formed the Royal Corps of Signals on August 5th 1920 to maintain the so-called 'Army Chain' via the Rhine Army Signals, Egypt Signals, No-2 Wireless Centre at Sarafand and through to Jubbulpore centre in India. At the same time the Admiralty maintained the most important elements of its wartime network, particularly those stations in the vital strategic centres of Singapore and Hong Kong. In April 1922 it what was to be the most significant event in British SIGINT history, the Foreign Office took over responsibility for GC & CS and placed it under the operational control of SIS (MI6). 'C' became the Director of GC & CS, while the day to day control rested with the Deputy Director. The new headquarters were in a large private house situated on the corner of Queens Gate and Cromwell Road, which was destroyed by a V-I in August 1944. The Admiralty finally agreed to establish a Naval section within GC & CS in 1924. In an attempt to cope with the tiny budget the Government of the day allowed SIS, GC & CS was moved into the 3 rd and 4th floors of the Broadway Buildings in 1925.Another important milestone was reached in 1928-29 when a 'Y' Committee was formed to co-ordinate the development and activities of the world-wide chain of British service radio interception bases, and in rapid succession the Army opened a section in 1930, while the Admiralty created NID-9 to operate the intercept stations in 1932. In 1934 the Air Ministry followed suit with the AI-4 and indeed open its own section within GC & CS in 1936. By now, the clouds of war in Europe were clear to see and a dedicated German section was established in May 1938. During this period the head of SIS Admiral Sinclair had found an alternative wartime site for the code-breakers well away from London. It was widely believed that in the event of a war, the capital would quickly be devastated and such a vital intelligence resource as GC & CS could not be risked. Therefore on August Ist 1939 in anticipation of war being declared, the service sections of GC & CS were able to move into a new operational headquarters at Bletchley Park in the quiet Buckinghamshire town of Bletchley. The Diplomatic and Commercial sections followed on August 15th.. The new facilities were to provide an immense opportunity to expand and before many months had passed the ground would be covered in the famous 'Huts'. Bletchley would be known by a variety of designations during the war, BP, Station X and even HMS Pembroke-V. The official cover name from September 1939 till 1942 was to be GCB or Government Communications Bureau. In 1939, MI5 formed the civilian RSS or Radio Security Service in 1939 (later taken over in 1941 by SIS) which would further increase the amount of intercepts flowing into Bletchley. In April 1940 the Commercial section returned to London. Soon GC & CS were to be faced with an internal revolt by many of the brilliant code-breakers and academics, which had swelled the staff at Bletchley to nearly 10,000. Frustrated at what appeared to be damaging, bureaucratic and unnecessary restrictions on the development of the ULTRA material derived from the Enigma intercepts, a group of the rebellious 'war service only' personnel went over the heads of their superiors contacted Churchill and explained the problems they believed were holding up the war effort. Churchill was to issue his famous 'action this day' instruction and long overdue changes occurred at Bletchley, expansion, extra staff and more relaxed working conditions for staff under huge pressure. More fundamental was the acceptance that the senior management would have to change if the problems of breaking into the German U-Boat communications was to be solved before the convoy system broke down under the mounting losses.

In January 1942, the joint Committee of Control made up of two SIS and two GC & CS officers was scrapped and GC & CS was split in two following the recommendations of a former Deputy Director of Military Intelligence. Diplomatic and Commercial sections would operate from 7-9 Berkeley Street in London under Denniston as Deputy Director (C), while the Service sections would remain at Bletchley under Edward Travis, previously Denniston's assistant, as Deputy Director (S). The new structure, under the new cover name of GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters, enabled a vast improvement in the service GC & CS was able to offer and an expansion that led to extra facilities for the new computers and extra staff, mainly Wrens needed to operate them. Country houses all over the area were to become outstations for the remainder of the war. New purpose built facilities followed at Canons Corner in Stanmore and Lime Grove in Eastcote in London. In anticipation of a new threat from Britain’s wartime ally, the Soviet Union appearing after the war, GC & CS embarked on a major re-organization in February 1945. Following the suggestions of Sir Findlater Stewart, RSS was finally to be fully absorbed and within a year GC & CS had gained its full independence from SIS and placed under the direct control of the Foreign Office, taking the wartime cover name of GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters as its now official title As part of the new and vastly expanded capability to monitor the Soviet Union, the British and US intelligence communities created the UKUSA agreement Treaty in 1946 - together with Canada, Australia and New Zealand (later they were joined by West Germany, Denmark, Norway, Japan and South Korea) to co-ordinate SIGINT world-wide. GCHQ formed the Composite Signals Organization (CSO) to run its civilian network of intercept stations. Eventually the CSO would take over control of the various networks run by the armed forces, though not in some cases until the creation of the Ministry of Defence in 1963-64. In 1952 GCHQ moved its operations to Oakley in Cheltenham. As other sections include the Joint Technical Language Service and Communications Security were transferred to GCHQ it expanded to the Benhall site in Cheltenham as well. GCHQ has played a pivotal role in the British intelligence community and with the widescale introduction of Commercial and Intelligence satellites its importance has increased. There is little doubt that GCHQ played a leading part in the Cold War and in conflicts since, including the Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan, indeed it probably produces more than 70% of all the intelligence gathered by the UK.The Intelligence Act 1994 placed GCHQ on a statutory basis along with SIS, but it also significantly widened its remit. Originally and ‘officially’ limited to foreign targets, it now has a role in ‘the prevention and detection of serious crime’ This, allied to a raft of new Anti-Terrorist legislation in the wake of 9-11 has given GCHQ huge new powers to monitor nationals (British citizens) as well as non-nationals (legal visitors as well as illegal migrants or suspected terrorists) within the UK. However this has also further highlighted the dominance of the United States NSA in the workings of GCHQ, as the Strategic Direction Summary bluntly points out; GCHQ’s contribution to the UKUSA Intelligence relationship must be of a nature and scale worthwhile to their partners (ie. the NSA). Probably as much as 80% of the SIGINT activities performed by GCHQ are joint operations with the NSA, such as the continued development of ‘Dictionary’ which automatically searches through the countless millions of intercepts for ’keys’ (words, numbers or other’ triggers’) which are regularly updated by the Intelligence Services, or directly on behalf of the NSA (ie US designated SIGINT operations). However it is probably true to say that without this ‘special relationship’ GCHQ would quickly cease to play an important role within the worldwide SIGINT alliance and be scaled down appropriately.

GCHQ has operated SIGINT sites either as Composite Signals Organization Stations (CSOS) or as Royal Signals or RAF/RN Signals Stations in:

  • West Germany (Gatow-Berlin (RAF); Birgelen (13th RS); Jever (13th RS); Teufelsberg (13th RS and 26 SU RAF); Schafoldenorf (RAF 291 SU); Celle (RAF 225 SU); Dannenberg (RAF 226 SU) and Gorleben-Hanberg)
  • Gibraltar (RAF 351 WU, later CSOS)
  • Malta (Sigli-closed and Buskett Gardens nr Dingli (SCU-4) closed)
  • Cyprus (Pergamos RAF 33 SU at Episkopi and Mount Olympus-OTH)
  • Turkey (Sinop-joint US INSCOM)
  • Aden (RAF Khormaksar & 15th RS Regt - closed 1967)
  • Bahrain (RAF base)
  • Oman (Masirah Island-joint NSA(NOSIS); Jebal Harim-Straits of Hormuz, and Beirham on Saudi-
  • Yemen border)
  • Iran (Marshad - near Soviet border, closed by 1979)
  • Botswana (Francistown),
  • South Africa (Silvermine-10km N Cape Town 1966. Vastly expanded with NSA and GCHQ help from 1973. Britain ‘officially’ closed its SLO at Silvermine in 1977, but continued to receive an input from project ADVOCAAT which allowed the South Africans to monitor air and sea movements within a 5000km radius)
  • Diego Garcia (joint NSA)

Mauritius (Curepipe closed 1945, HMS Mauritius, Vacoas. 1967- 1976)

  • India (Abbottabad-NW Frontier; Cherat; Bangalore 1943-44; Ranchi; WEC( cover for Indian Central Bureau) Anand Parbat nr Delhi;
  • Singapore (FECB Sembawang August 1939-42. Yio Chu Kang 1946-49; Chai Keng CK2 1949-1971 and Kranji KR2 1971- Feb 1974)
  • Hong Kong (Stonecutters Island FECB 1935-39; Tai Po Sai (1945, closed 1951); Little Sai Wan (joint DSD 1951-1982); Tai Mo Shan (joint DSD interception site in NT) and Chung Hom Kok -joint DSD 1982-closed 1995)
  • Okinawa. (CSOS liaison with NSA at Sukiran, later moved to Guam)
  • Sri Lanka (FECB 1942 as HMS Anderson moved to HMS Highflyer at Perkar, neat Trincomalee in 1954, closed 1967)
  • St Helena (Piccolo Hill, closed pre-1980)
  • Bermuda (Daniels Head)
  • Belize (British Honduras JSSU 1972-1994)
  • Australia (Coonawarra, Darwin -evacuated Dec 1974 after Cyclone Tracy. Shoal Bay, the new base is 32km south on Stuart Highway replaced both Coonawarra and Singapore stations (7th RA Signals Regt/RAN SU). The DSD Geralton replaced joint GCHQ-DSD Hong Kong 1995)
  • British Missions (Cairo, Accra, Nairobi, Lilongwe, Freetown, Lusaka among others)

It maintained Liaison sections at important US Stations in the UK such as

  • RAF Menwith Hill, nr Harrogate (operational by 1960, NSA control from 1966 as Station F83. Largest US SIGINT facility in the world. Microwave Network Link at HUNTERS STONE);
  • RAF Croughton, nr Banbury (Important US Intelligence facility.1952 DSCS Terminal, USAF/CIA/Dip-SIGSEC HQ. A new secure communications link was built in early 1980’s betweenCroughton and Cheltenham with new relay stations built at Leafield, near Stratford upon Avon; Little Rissington; Cleeve Hill, near Cheltenham and GCHQ itself);
  • RAF Barford St Johns (CIA/Dip Transmitter site for RAF Croughton. CIA Agent transmissions 'E5', as part of an international network based on USN Palermo and Syracuse ('M23') in Sicily, Trondheim in Norway ('M52'), USN Pensacola (Fla), Guam ('E5') and Langan ('E5' & 'E23'), near Walldorf, Frankfurt IAP. ‘Mystic Star’ Presidential Communications Network);
  • Hillingdon, RAF Uxbridge. AUTOVON Switching Centre. Underground Bunker
  • RAF Oakhanger, near Borden, Hants. USAF/NRO-National Reconnaissance Office (Satellite Control Facility) liaises with JARIC at Chicksands. USN DSCS. Established 1967, part of US SCF network from 1975
  • RAF Mildenhall, Bury St Edmunds (LOCE Linked Operational Intelligence Centers Europe. Top

Secret US facility. SATCOM/Intell, Agent control 'XF Fader Transmissions'. USAF SIGINT 488th Sqdn - RC135A. ‘Giant Talk’ Strategic Air Command Radio Link 1980’s)

  • RAF Molesworth, near Huntingdon, Cambs. (USEUCOM - Joint Analysis Center (JAC) - Joint Intelligence Center - Supports all US Combat activity in Europe and probably the Middle East)
  • USN Forres, just West of Thurso. USN VLF, part of MEECN (Minimum Essential Emergency

Communications Network in 1980’s

  • USN West Murkle, just east of Thurso. Important Communications HF and LF site. DSCS joint with RAF/CSOMormond Hill, near Fraserburgh, NE Scotland (major NATO/US North Atlantic relay Communications site) and Ground entry point for EC135 ACCA.

Abroad at

  • NSA HQ Fort Meade,
  • Victoria Barracks DSD HQ in Melbourne
  • The joint GCHQ-DSD base at Geraldton in Australia which replaced the station in Hong Kong; and with bases in Canada (CSE) and New Zealand (GCSB).
  • RAF Edzell, just north of Brechin (Established 1960, CLASSIC WIZARD. NSA/USN SG closed)
  • RAF Chicksands, Bedfordshire (1948, developed from 1950 as one of three main USAF, later NSA Strategic Interception Sites in Europe [with San Vito dei Normanni, near Brindisi in Italy and Karamursel near Istanbul in Turkey. Pirmasens in Southern Bavaria, West Germany added later]. In 1956 became one of ten NSA CCRC. USAF 6950th USAFSS, later ESC. Home to a Flare-9 ‘Elephants Cage’ and the secure Building-600 Control Centre. Closed 1994. By 1996 home for UK DISC);
  • RAF Kirknewton, nr Edinburgh (NSA/USAF/USN 6952nd ESC from 1952 – Supervised ‘Hot Line’ link between Moscow and Washington. SIGINT closed September 1966, closed same day as NSA took over Menwith Hill)
  • RAF Brawdy, nr Haverfordwest (USN NAVFAC from 1973. Largest underwater monitoring station in OSIS. Part of Project Caesar (Began 1954 in USA), closed 1994. NSG SOSUS TSC. Caesar SDC-2 1978. Buried along Welsh coastline of St Brides Bay and hundreds of miles out into the Atlantic were cables connecting the rows of underwater listening hydrophones and sensors to the Computer and Analysis facilities at Brawdy. [Linked to similar stations at Keflavik and Hofn in Iceland]. The cables had been laid largely by Mini-Submarines including the Pisces 111 which was famously ‘trapped’ on the seabed off Ireland for a few days in 1973)
  • Clooney Park, Londonderry (USN, closed 1970's, transferred to UK 14th Royal Signals for CSO)

Listening sites in Britain

Have at one time or another included:

  • Blakehall in Wiltshire (HF R & D closed 1988);
  • Wincombe-Shaftesbury, Dorset (1942, closed 1977);
  • Fort Bridgewood, Chatham (1933, closed 1940);
  • Beaumanor, Woodhouse nr Quorn, Laics (replaced Fort Bridgewoods in 1940);
  • Shenley Church End-Buckinghamshire (CDAA. closed 1996);
  • Hawklaw-Cupar, Fife (closed 1988);
  • Bower, Bowermadden, nr Wick (closed 1970's-may still be SABRE-HAARP, 'auroral research'?);
  • Brora, NE Scotland (closed 1984) in Scotland;
  • Cheadle in Staffordshire (RAF 62 WU, later 361 WU, 1937-closed 1996);
  • Flowerdown nr Winchester, Hampshire (closed 1977);
  • Island Hill-Comber, Ulster (closed 1977-78)
  • Gilnahirk, 314 (342) Gilnahirk Road, East Belfast, Ulster (‘officially’ closed 1978. Acquired by GCHQ 1947, GPO DF 1939, RSS & SCU3 WW2);Divis Mountain, Belfast. (14th Regt RSC. Communications interceptions. MW Transmissions)
  • Clooney Park, Londonderry (14th Regt RSC. Communications interceptions. MW Transmissions, former USN Base)
  • Culmhead, Taunton,Somerset (took over FORDE program. closed for SIGINT 1990's. CTS 1985, largely rebuilt in 1990's);
  • Goonhavern in Cornwall (Trans-Atlantic cables exit at nearby Perranporth. by 1964, closed 1970)
  • St. Anne's Mansions, Petty France, London SW1. Major London GCHQ Station 1942-45. Direct link to SIS for RED intercepts.
  • Central Training School moved in 1985 from Bletchley Park to Culmhead.
  • Capenhurst - Cheshire 1989-1998 (150ft concrete tower built on the BNFL secure site to intercept Irish Communications traffic between BT MW Towers at Holyhead in Angelsey and Sutton Common-Macclesfield. 7 floors of monitoring equipment and 3 floors of 'glassed in' aerials. Staffed 24 hours a day by RAF Special Signals personnel from RRE at Malvern. Cover as MOD ETF - Electronic Test Facility. Closed when Irish changed to a different system/route).
  • FORDE (Foreign Office Research & Development Establishment) Ivy Farm, Knockholt Pound, Kent (1942- FISH Morse interception - later moved to CSOS Culmhead in 1952-53)
  • Cornwall House, Stamford Street, London SE1. 4th & 5th floors used for 3 month GPO Y/CSOS

Training courses, before additional training at Bletchley(1940’s-1950’s).

Service SIGINT sites

  • Garrats Hay, Loughborough, Leicestershire. Army SIGINT (224 SU). WOYG Fort Bridgewoods at Chatham, ‘bombed out’ 1940, temporary move to RAF Chicksands as SYG, then to permanent new base at Beaumanor. Moved to Garats Hay after WW2 as Intelligence & Security (UK), since 1996 at DISC Chicksands.
  • RAF Wyton, nr Huntingdon;
  • RAF Oakhanger, Borden, Hants (SATCOM, joint with USAF/CIA).

Royal Signals

The Corps was created on the 5th August 1920, operating SIGINT sites at Sarafand/Zrifin, nr Tel Aviv, a major GC & CS 'mirror site' in Palestine, Museum-Heliopolis (Middle East Central Bureau) in Egypt closed July 1944, RAF Habbaniya in Iraq and both Cherat & Jubbulpore in India among others)) provided two units, the 9th Regiment in Cyprus and the 13th Regiment (formerly the wartime 2nd Special Wireless Regiment) in Germany, for use by GCHQ for most of the Cold War, manning numerous SIGINT sites. However in March 1995 the 13th Regiment was finally disbanded with only a few specialist staff transferring to RAF Digby or to GCHQ. 14th Signal Regiment (EW) formed in Germany mid 1970's, possibly at Gorleban, moved in the 1990's to former US base at Brawdy which had been closed in 1994.

A historical review of the Signals Intelligence Services main establishments

This would would run to many pages, so it will be sufficient to list it major secret interceptions bases only, these would include its headquarters at;

  • 15 Watergate House, York Buildings Adelphi, London WC2. 1919 Nov -1922 April
  • Queens Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 (Room-14 FO) 1922-1926
  • Broadway Buildings, 54 The Broadway, London SW1. SIS Headquarters (5th and 6th Floors), June 1926-1940
  • Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire (and a vast range of additional wartime facilities both in the area and in London, as Room-47 FO, Station X, BP and other cover names including that on the gates; GCB or Government Communications Bureau) 1940-1945. Central Training Establishment for CSO until 1985. Last aerials removed 1987. Cover as PO/BT Site.
  • Eastcote, Lime Grove, London (with additional facilities at the former Free Polish Station at Stanmore-Canons Corner 1943) 1945-1952 (official final move Ist March 1948. (Also used as USN Office Complex during the Cold War)
  • Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (Benhall Park and Oakley) 1952- Benhall is now the home of a massive new bagel-shaped complex, the size of Wembley stadium. Construction began in 1998 and the intention is to ensure the centre's readiness for the hi-tech national security and intelligence-gathering challenges of the 21st century. It will have one of the largest and most sophisticated computer systems in the world.

In 2003 the Composite Signals Organization operate SIGINT sites at:

  • Irton Moor, just West of Falsgrave, off the A170, near Scarborough in Yorkshire, (Wartime HMS Paragon, largely rebuilt 1990's)
  • Morwenstow near Bude in Cornwall (opened in 1970. Microwave Network Link at TRESKINNICK CROSS) and
  • Ayios Nikaloas in Cyprus (opened in 1949- the 9th RS moved to Cyprus from Palestine in 1947)

Two Boats on Ascension Island (since 1966 - joint NSA. Important SIGINT site).

  • Falkland Islands (Joint Services Signals Unit - JSSU maintain a small SIGINT site 1982-)
  • Embassy Sites (Prague,Budapest,Warsaw,Istanbul and Moscow)
  • RAF Boddington, Glos (4 Communications Unit-military support for GCHQ)
  • RAF Digby, just West of Ashby de la Launde in Lincolnshire. Signals Unit 591 monitors Service (&

Civilian) mobile phones with a special dispensation from the DTI. Part of a specialized 'Defensive monitoring' capability. Co-operates closely with GCHQ in surveillance operations with fixed facilities and a fleet of monitoring vehicles. Signal Unit-322 specializes in HF SIGINT. Signal Unit-339. US INSCOM 6950th ESG

  • RAF Wyton in Huntingdon; SIGINT/EW Squadrons No-51 and No-162

(CSO Traffic Handlers have also operated interception centres at the Shonecliffe, Redbrae and Chilwell Military Bases) In addition to a number of jointly run stations throughout Britain and the world, mainly with the British Armed Forces, the NSA and the Australian DSD.

The London stations


  • 2-8 Palmer Street, SW1 (GCHQ London Station. Known as UKC1000, it targets ILCC networks with an emphasis on business telex, fax and e-mails. GCHQ's Commercial & Financial Intelligence Centre. 4th Floor is the 'intercept room'). Diplomatic Intercept Centre moved here from 7-9 Berkeley Street (‘above Peggy Carter’s Hat Shop’) after WW2.
  • Empress State Building (Several floors) in Earls Court, London SW5. CSOS on upper floors. Monitors London Embassy/Diplomatic Traffic as part of its remit.
  • Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE. Tel: 020 7222 5000

Built on the site of 4 Central Buildings, Matthew Parker Street, and extended over the WW2 underground shelter in Broad Sanctuary.
The bunker now houses the exchange for the House of Commons etc, and various other important Government departments (possibly including the Intelligence and Security services, as well as a highly sophisticated communications monitoring centre run by GCHQ Staff for both SIS, the FCO and MI5. Intercepts the communications and bugs the conversations of the delegations to the many International Conferences regularly held there, as well as British MP's and others involved in political, diplomatic or intelligence activities.

Directors of GC & CS

(The head of GC & CS was the Deputy Director, as the head of SIS was the official Director)

Directors of GCHQ

DO Director of Organization

is the effect Deputy Director of GCHQ. NSA SUSLO
Established 1952. First based at 7 North Audley Street, later Flat 507 35 Bryanston Square.
Main Offices; Room 452, US Embassy (on floor above CIA Station) and Cheltenham.
Liaison Officers from ASA and Arlington Hall 1942-1952
The present Structure of GCHQ main directorates:

Directorate of Organisation and Establishment (Oakley, then to Benhall 2003-4)

  • C Overseas staff,
  • E Personnel,
  • F Finance and Supply,
  • G Management and General,
  • M Mechanical engineering,
  • Q Technical
  • R Security

Directorate of SIGINT (Benhall)

  • H Cryptanalysis – Code-Breaking. Still the most important element within the UKUSA Accord,

provides some 75% of Britain's take for NSA. Works closely with X Computer Services

  • X Computer services – Computers. Operates the agency's highly developed supercomputers
  • S Statistical Operations – Traffic Analysis. Source, destination, priority and frequency.
  • J Special SIGINT - Interception - Formerly SovBloc intercepts. Compiles user reports.
  • K General SIGINT - Interception - ROW. Compiles user reports.

First sections specializing in Counter-Terrorism established in early 1980’s. K20 Special Unit monitors Radical Groups or Individuals ‘within’ Britain.

  • U Search Technology – LRTS Long Range Technical Search. Developing means of location.
  • W Communications Division – Delivery of SIGINT to final consumer.
  • Z Requirements & Liaison - Coordinates coverage for domestic customers including SIS, MI5, MOD,

FCO, Treasury, Bank of England, DTI, Customs and Excise, MPSB and NCIS. Liaison with NSA and other SIGINT partners

Directorate of Communications Security (L Division)

  • CESG (Communications Electronics Security Group) – COMSEC duties performed by London Communications Security Agency originally part of the PO and operating under the ‘cover’ of the Communications Electronic Security Department of the FO until transferred to GCHQ in 1969 and moved to Benhall, Cheltenham in 1978. Around 350 staff. Works closely with Treasury Departments
  • CCTA - Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency.
  • JTLS - Joint Technical Language Service - Translators. Specializing in Voice Intercepts including bugging tapes. Staffed by Foreign Language Experts from all the services. Often used by SIS and MI5. Originally based at 4-9 St Dunstans Hill, moved to Cheltenham 1975. (In 1958-59 the group of Baltic & East European émigrés based in Clarence Terrace, Regents Park, London NW1 who transcribed intercepts for SIS were transferred to GCHQ. In 1960's were slowly replaced by military personnel and language graduates).
  • JSRU - Joint Speech Research Unit - Based at Eastcote, moved to Benhall 1978, now ‘officially’ merged with the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern since 1985, in reality a GCHQ ‘Lodger Unit’. Research into language, works with the Automatic Speech Recognition Section of the RSRE. Close links with Police Research Laboratory at Sandridge and BT Laboratory at Martlesham.
  • COMSEC Directorate spent over £10 million in 1991 on Secure High Speed Information exchange system with NSA codenamed DOJAC. Uses ultra-short digital bursts by SATCOM.

Directorate of SIGINT plans: P (planning)

In the late 1980s a new special unit K20 was set up to monitor telephone calls and the activities of radical groups and individuals within the UK. It passes this information to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in the Cabinet Office.


A civilian controlled organization created by GCHQ soon after the war in 1947 (UKUSA 1947) to direct and rationalize the SIGINT activities of both the Services and the PO. Replaced the Y Service which had operated in a similar role for GC & CS. Traditionally GC&CS, and later GCHQ allowed the War Office, Admiralty, Air Ministry, Police and even the GPO to run interception bases on their behalf.With the changes being contemplated that would merge the Service Establishments into a single Ministry of Defence and the pressures of modern technology, GCHQ decided to close down or takeover the majority of such facilities as CSOS during the 1960's. The paramount importance of SATCOM has now reduced the need for a worldwide network of SIGINT sites to a minimum and most have closed since the late 1980's.

Additional reports on both SIS and GCHQ, including ECHELON, SIS connections to the Media and Business, particularly Banking and the City of London and comprehensive coverage of MI-1(b)/Room 40; the GC & CS; the Y Service (SIGINT interception);SWG/SCU; the RSS/MI8c(HQ Arkley, nr Barnet); the CBME (RAF 50 & 53 WU Heliopolis-Egypt, SIS SLU at nearby Abbassia); the FECB (Hong Kong, Singapore & Ceylon); operations in general between 1914 and 1945; the LCS; A Force and the PWE are also available from AFI Research



50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT. 020-7273 4000


Terrorism co-ordination organization - formation publicly announced March 2003


Founded: 1st August 1909
Mission: MI5 was originally tasked with simply countering German espionage. Adopted the title of the Imperial Security Intelligence Service after 1919. In 1931 it assumed wider responsibility for assessing threats to national security which included international communist subversion and, subsequently, fascism, taking over Intelligence sections of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and became known as The Security Service, though keeping its old military cover designation MI5. Today the role of MI5 is to protect the State against substantial, covertly organised threats, primarily from terrorism, espionage and subversion. Most recently in 1992 it finally took over the lead role from the MPSB in dealing with Irish terrorism and since the passing of the Security Service Act 1996, its role has again been expanded to provide support to law enforcement agencies in the field of organised crime. The Security Service has no executive powers; cases likely to result in prosecution are co-ordinated closely with the police, or HM Customs and Excise who take the necessary action.

Headquarters: Thames House, North & South Buildings, Millbank. PO Box 3255, London SW1P 1AE. (Informants) 020 7930 9000. (Media) 020 7273 4610. Personnel: 2000 plus.

MI5 emerged from the Haldane reforms of the War Office in 1905, which led to the creation of a General Staff and the recognition that Military Intelligence needed to be properly organised. As usual there was an inter-Service squabble, between the Royal Navy and the Army, over control of Military Intelligence. In March 1909, the Prime Minister, Mr Asquith, instructed the Committee of Imperial Defence to consider the dangers from German espionage to British naval ports. In July a subcommittee recommended the creation of a Secret Service Bureau which should be a separate organization, but keep in close touch with the Admiralty, the War Office, Home Office as well as the Police, Post Office and Customs authorities. The Secret Service Bureau began work on October 1st 1909 under the nominal control of MO 5, the special section of the Military Operations Directorate that was responsible for enemy aliens. Within months the two senior officers involved had agreed on a division of responsibilities to fulfil the Admiralty’s requirement for information about Germany’s new navy. By early 1910 this had been formalised into a Home Section under Captain Vernon Kell of the South Staffordshire Regiment and a Foreign Section under Captain Mansfield Cumming of the [[Royal Navy]], which became known as the 'Secret Service'. Between March 1910 and the outbreak of the First World War, more than 30 spies were identified by the Home Section, known as MO (T), and arrested, thereby depriving the German Intelligence Service of its network. At the time, the Bureau had a staff of only ten, including Kell ('K') himself. The Bureau was rapidly mobilised as a branch of the War Office on the outbreak of war in 1914, becoming MO 5(g). On 1st October 1914 MO5(g) was sub-divided in three sections A, B and C and then on 11th August 1915 into four. MO5(g)a became MO5(g); MO5(g)b became MO5(f); MO5(g)c became MO5(h) and the new section MO5(e). On 3rd January 1916 MO5(g) became part of a new Directorate of Military Intelligence as MI5. The Foreign section MO5(a) became MI-IC and also took over responsibility for counter-espionage in non-Empire countries. MI5D replaced MI5G 21st September 1916; . Various other administrative changes took place in 1917. Wartime legislation increased the responsibilities of MI5 to include the co-ordination of government policy concerning aliens; vetting and other security measures at munitions factories. MI5 also began to oversee counter-espionage measures throughout the Empire. By the end of the War, during which a further 35 spies were identified and arrested, making it virtually impossible for the Germans to maintain any form of espionage network in Britain. By then MI5 had approximately 850 staff. After the Bolshevik coup d’état of October 1917, MI5 began to work on the threats from Communist subversion within the Armed Services, and sabotage to military installations. MI5 was reorganized yet again on 31st March 1920 (f) became (a), (g) became (b), (h) and (d) became (o). Others that remained included (c) and (e).

It was to be involved in close surveillance of potential subversives amongst the Trade Unions, particularly during the General Strike in 1926. It actively pursued a Communist involvement and the spy ring that operated as part of the Soviet trade delegation with offices in London with the All Russia Co-operative Society Ltd (ARCOS). In May 1927 the operation was closed down following a raid by some 150 Metropolitan police and MI5 officers. Problems caused by there being a number of counter-espionage departments with overlapping responsibilities came to a head in the late 1920's. On October 15th 1931 formal responsibility for assessing all threats to the national security of the United Kingdom, apart from those posed by Irish terrorists and anarchists, was passed to MI5. It was to absorb both Captain Guy Liddell's Home Office Directorate of Intelligence and Maxwell Knight's SIS department. This date marked the formation of the Security Service, although the title MI5 has remained in popular use to this day.

Following Hitler’s rise to power, the new Service had to face the threat of subversion from the right wing. Sir Oswald Moseley's British Union of Fascists was of particular concern, as were the pitched battles between fascists and communists in some of the larger cities. However, at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, MI5 still was ill equipped for its many tasks, which included counter-espionage; monitoring of enemy aliens and advising on internment. In early 1939 the Service’s strength stood at only 30 officers and its surveillance section comprised just six men. Following the disaster of the sinking of the Battleship HMS Royal Oak at anchor in Scapa Flow and a number of other incidents all put down to the activities of 'undiscovered Nazi spies', Churchill then First Lord of the Admiralty forced Kell to resign on May 25, 1940. In the turmoil that followed MI5 was put under the temporary control of the Home Defence (Security) Executive (from 1941 simply the Security Executive) under Lord Swinton. To make matters worse, in September 1940 many of its records were destroyed or damaged by a German bomb, which hit the Wormwood Scrubs Prison where the registry had been moved for added safety. In late 1940 the majority of staff were evacuated to Blenheim Palace and in early 1941, Sir David Petrie was appointed the first Director General of the Security Service. He was also finally given the resources to rebuild a substantial organisation. In 1942 MI5 was reorganized and the continuing arguments over responsibilities between MI5, SIS and the newly created SOE were settled, up to a point.

Internment at the outbreak of the War effectively deprived the Germans of most, if not all, of their existing agents. Moreover, when German intelligence records were studied after 1945, it was found that all of the further 200 agents targeted against Britain during the course of the War had been successfully identified and caught. Some of these agents were ‘turned’ by the Service and became double agents who fed false information to the Germans concerning military and diplomatic strategy throughout the War. This was the famous ‘Double Cross’ system. This highly effective deception contributed to the success of the Allied Forces landing in Normandy on ‘D Day’ in June 1944. MI5 had grown from a small ramshackle, but dedicated counter-espionage section in 1939 to a vast, efficient and highly effective national security service by 1945. Its reached extended across the old Empire and through offshoots such as SIME in the Middle East as well. The new Labour Government of Clement Atlee, suspicious of an ultra powerful and probably fairly 'conservative' security service imposed a 'honest copper' as its new Chief in 1946, Sir Percy Sillitoe an ex Chief Constable of Kent. An inexperienced outsider was not what MI5 desperately needed at the beginning of the Cold War.

MI5 had for some time been focusing on the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain which, at its peak in the early 1940s, had 55,000 members. In March 1948 the Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, announced that Communists as well as Fascists were to be excluded from work “vital to the security of the state”. This was achieved through the setting up of the vetting system under MI5's control. The cases of Philby, Burgess and MacLean, in particular, showed how effective the Soviet Intelligence Service had been before the War in recruiting ideologically-motivated spies in Britain. Active espionage by the Soviets, already considerable during the war, now grew apace. The Atom spies and traitors within MI5, SIS, GCHQ and the Diplomatic Service failed to gain the proper attention of a service lacking leadership and riven with internal dissension. In 1952 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, deputed his personal responsibility for the Security Service to the Home Secretary, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who issued a Directive describing the Service’s tasks and setting out the role of the Director General. This Directive provided the basis for the Service’s work until 1989, when the Security Service Act placed the Service on a statutory footing for the first time. The Security Service now officially became a civilian organization, though it retained its old military cover-title, MI5.

By the early 1950s, the Service’s staff had increased again to about 850. These included some 40 Security Liaison Officers overseas who provided advice and assistance to governments in the Commonwealth and Colonies. Sir Dick White was to split A Directorate into an A Directorate handling operational resources and a B Directorate for Administration. Counter-Espionage, formerly B Directorate took over the old military D title, eventually with a DI(Operations) and D1(Investigations) and later this large Directorate would be split into a re-organized D and a new K Directorate with KX and KY sub-sections formed in 1968. In the 1960s, the successful identification of a number of spies – including George Blake, an officer of the Secret Intelligence Service; the Portland spy ring; and John Vassall, an employee at the Admiralty recruited by the KGB in Moscow, illustrated the need for still greater counter-espionage efforts. Lord Denning's report into the Profumo Affair in 1963 revealed publicly for the first time details of the Service’s role and responsibilities, but must rank alongside the Warren Commission report on the Kennedy Assassination as one of the most misleading and ineffective[1] reports in history. During the 1960's and 1970's MI5 was again plagued by internal doubts about the loyalty of senior officers and the divisive nature of the relationship with SIS in Northern Ireland. In particular the accusations that a small group of MI5 officers had deliberately set out to blacken and undermine the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson created a deep seated distrust of the 'secret services' that has still not dissipated entirely in certain political circles in 2002.

This period of its history culminated in the mass expulsion from the UK in 1971 of 105 Soviet personnel, which severely weakened of KGB & GRU intelligence operations in London following the defection of a Soviet Intelligence Officer. By the early 1970s, the Service’s resources were being redirected from work on subversion into international and Irish terrorism. The Service’s counter-terrorist effort had begun in the late 1960s in response to the growing problem of Palestinian terrorism. Major incidents, including the terrorist sieges at the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980 and the Libyan People's Bureau in 1984, tested the Service’s developing procedures and links with other agencies. During this period, the Service played a leading role in establishing an effective network for cooperation on terrorism among Western security and intelligence services.

Northern Ireland was to see a battle for control between SIS and MI5, but eventually victory went to the Security Service. By the late 1970's, most MI6 activities had been abandoned or taken over by the RUC SB and its surveillance experts of E4A, MI5 or the Army, even though MI6 retained a liaison office in the Stormont building. MI5 operates out of the Army HQ at Lisburn and the RUC HQ at Knock Road, as well as from the three main intelligence co-ordinating Tasking and Co-Ordination Groups (TCG's) directing the Special Forces for covert or even 'executive' action. These were based at Castlereagh in Belfast, being the first to be established in 1978, Gough Barracks in Armagh and in Derry. The Army representative on each TCG was usually from the SAS or the 14th Intell Company, with a considerable input from the FRU established in 1980 by Major General Glover. The main terrorist organisations on the republican side – the Provisional IRA (PIRA), Republican Sinn Fein’s ‘military wing’, which calls itself the ‘Continuity IRA’, and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) – have sought, by violent means, to create a unified republic in the island of Ireland. Although they have been most active in Northern Ireland, republican terrorist groups, especially PIRA, have carried their attacks to the British mainland and to the continent of Europe. Foreign nationals as well as British subjects have been killed and injured as a result. British politicians have been killed and on two occasions PIRA has attempted to kill members of the Cabinet: the bombing of the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton in 1984 and the mortar attack on Downing Street in 1991. Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary organisations, notably the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), have all been involved in a violent campaign in response to what they claim to regard as the threat posed to the Protestant community in Northern Ireland by republican terrorism. Much of their activity has been essentially sectarian in character, often resulting in the random murder of Catholics who may have no connections of any kind with republican terrorism. Before the cease-fire declarations in August 1994, loyalist groups were murdering more people than PIRA. Both loyalist and republican groups, especially PIRA, have for some years sought support from outside Ireland to sustain their campaigns of violence. Such support has included the provision of weapons and finance. PIRA’s principal supplier during the 1980s was Libya, but the organisation has also acquired weaponry and related equipment via sympathisers in North America and from the arms black market in the Baltic and Balkans in particular. In 2001 it became clear with the arrest of three suspected PIRA members in Colombia just how closely involved international terrorism and organized crime have become. While the breakaway, Real IRA has established itself as a ruthless and less sectarian terrorist movement determined to create international links with ETA and probably Islamic groups.

The Director and Co-ordinator of Intelligence (Northern Ireland)

DCI (NI) sits on MI5's Board in London and reports directly to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He also chairs the Northern Ireland Security Committee attended by representatives of the British Army, RUC and government ministers and sits on the Joint Intelligence Committee in London - he is reported to have easy access to the Prime Minister. A former DCI (NI), the late John Deverell was at one time tipped to become head of MI5 but his career was damaged by revelations concerning the WARD and SCREAM undercover operations in Germany which were designed to establish informers in expatriate Irish communities throughout the world. These operations clearly breached the agreement between the German and British authorities regarding the scope of British intelligence work in Germany. In an embarrassing security leak, An Phoblacht/Republican News published documents detailing the two operations and naming Deverell in 1989.

Deverell was to be killed on 2 June 1994 while travelling from the North of Ireland to a conference at Fort George, Scotland. 25 intelligence personnel and four RAF crew died when their CH47 Chinook helicopter crashed on the Mull of Kintyre. Among the dead were ten members of RUC SB, including the head of SB, 2 regional heads and the divisional heads of E1, E2, E3, E3A, E3B, and E4. 4 other MI5 Officers also perished in the crash along with a British Army colonel, three Intelligence Corps lieutenant colonels, and five majors. It is widely acknowledged that the crash killed the upper echelons of the intelligence agencies in the North of Ireland, including key members of the Provincial Executive Committee. MI5/Northern Ireland headquarters, known as The Department, is based at Stormont, in the parliament building on the fringes of east Belfast. It has two operational bases in Belfast city centre, one at River House in High Street and the other at Churchill House, Victoria Square. The latter is the centre for electronic surveillance, including telephone monitoring, for which MI5 receives assistance from the Government Communications Headquarters. GCHQ goes under the name of Composite Signals Organisation in the North and Diplomatic Telecommunications Maintenance Service in the South. MI5 also retains offices at Army Headquarters in Lisburn and at Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) HQ in Knock, East Belfast. While in theory the RUC has overall responsibility for counter-terrorism, in practice MI5 is in the stronger position of power and influence over British policy. Its links to RUC Special Branch are via a small network of Security Liaison Officers.

In 1983, Michael Bettaney, a member of the Service who had offered information to the KGB was detected, in part because the KGB in disbelief that he could be a genuine MI5 officer, suspected a set-up and complained to the Security Service about Bettaney's actions. This highlighted once again, a lack of security within the Service and indeed they were to be plagued for the next two decades with the constant drip of such accusations. The public exposure of Soviet spies who had been offered immunity from prosecution in return for a confession and co-operation added to the Services woes. Following a Security Commission inquiry, whose findings were critical of aspects of the Service, Sir Antony Duff was appointed as Director General. He initiated the discussions which laid the foundations for the Service as it exists today, strengthened by the legal status conferred upon it by the Security Service Act 1989. Major changes in the focus of the Service’s work took place in the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War. The threat from subversion had diminished, and the threat from espionage, though it persisted, required less of the Service’s effort. International terrorism, however, had not abated. In October 1992 responsibility for leading the intelligence effort against Irish Republican terrorism on the British mainland was transferred to the Service, despite protests from the Police Special Branch who had some 110 years of experience in dealing with this threat. However, theSecurity Service was able to draw on the experience it had gained in the 1970s and 1980s in running long-term intelligence counter terrorism operations. Between 1992 and April 1998 the Service’s work with the police against Irish republican terrorism resulted in 18 convictions for terrorist-related offences. However, Stella Rimington as Director General disbanded a specialist section of G7 responsible for Islamic terrorism in 1994 against the protests of experienced counter-terrorist officers. An unbelievably ill advised action in view of the growth of Hezbollah in the Middle East, the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and the many obvious portents of the threat that Islamic terrorism would pose. G7 had been a joint SIS/MI5 liaison group run by a future C, David Spedding, but had made the mistake in Rimington's view of concentrating too much on Political Intelligence and not enough on Counter-Terrorism. The new measures introduced since the attacks of September 11th 2001 and the new responsibilities heaped onto the Security Service will mean considerable changes in the Security Services structure and targets. Despite the cosmetic changes in accountability introduced with the 1994 the Intelligence and Security Committee established under the Intelligence Services Act, the service stills lacks a true and effect external oversight authority.

Organization of MI5 1909-2002

The structure that developed after 1918 and throughout the inter-war period was dominated by the communist threat, subversion and the needs of the Empire. By 1939 this had solidified into an organization that contained:

  • A Division (1917 Registry, Transport & Room O55),
  • B Division (1916 counter Espionage & Counter subversion)
  • C Division (Vetting),
  • D Division (Liaison with SIS and the Service departments)
  • E Division (May 1915 Foreign Nationals) and
  • F Division (The Colonies & Political Parties).

Kell was sacked on June 10th 1940 and his deputy Holt-Wilson resigned. Harker was appointed acting DGSS, however real power was transferred to a new political organization, the Security Executive (usually known as The Swinton Committee). The CSS, Menzies pressed for the appointment of David Petrie (a friend of Valentine Vivian - VCSS) as the new DGSS and later in 1940 Petrie took over with Harker as his deputy. MI5 was re-organized and greatly expanded and by June 1942 when Lord Swinton was moved to other duties, Petrie and MI5 were able in large measure to regain their independence from Duff Cooper, the new head of the Security Executive.

During World War Two B Division was to be vastly expanded and eventually included among numerous other extra responsibilities;

  • XX Committee (Double Agents), Enemy Analysis, Wireless and Mail,
  • SHAEF liaison,
  • RSS (MI8c) Radio interception and
  • GPO Telephone bugging services.

While F Division expanded to include

By the height of the Cold War in 1952 and following the transfer of MI5 from the War Ministry to effective Home Office control in the Maxwell Fyfe reforms, its structure had again dramatically changed;

  • A Branch was administration,
  • B Branch personnel,
  • C Branch protective security,
  • D Branch counter-espionage,
  • E Branch the commonwealth and
  • F Branch political parties and subversion.

MI5 had a number of important connections with the Armed Forces; Customs & Excise and indeed other Groups within the Commercial Sector. These included The Economic League, basically a front for MI5, which had what was basically a 'Desk' within Gower Street during the 1970's. MI5 had of course absorbed Maxwell Knight's 'M' Section from the Economic Leagues IIB in 1931. The organization of MI5 at the end of the Cold War still showed clearly the influence of a service dedicated to defeating the Communist espionage threat and that of internal political subversion.

D Branch was vastly expanded in 1965-66 and would later become K Branch in 1968 and E Branch was disbanded. This had rather been forced upon a reluctant MI5 by the Gray-Coyne affair, in which two senior US officials, Gordon Gray (a former Secretary of Defence) and Gerald Coyne (a former FBI Officer and Secretary to the PFIAB since 1950) had with the help of Cleveland Cram from the CIA London Station secretly reviewed the state of British Intelligence and Security in mid-1965. The result was a greater concentration on the Counter-Espionage or D Branch. At the expense of the Colonial or E Branch. The growing threat of terrorism however was still perceived as mainly a home grown Irish problem.

The organization of 1991-92, instigated by Sir Patrick Walker, but which came into effect under Stella Rimington included:

  • A Branch surveillance
    • A1 operations (including A1A bugging and break-ins,
    • A1B obtaining confidential personal data from the DHSS, Tax, Banks etc,
    • A1C ran 'Safe Houses',
    • A1D expert locksmiths, safe crackers and carpenters to make good any damage,
    • A1E electronic monitoring, provides the tapes for A2A),
    • A2 technical back-up (surveillance devices,
    • A2A transcribed tapes
    • A2B specialist photographs and electronic experts. Liaison with GCHQ),
    • A4 direct surveillance - The Watchers, including vehicles and
    • A5 scientific research.

Based at Curzon Street House, Mayfair.

  • B Branch personnel
    • B1 recruitment
    • B2 personnel management
    • B3 general management services
    • B5 finance.

Based at Curzon Street House, Mayfair.

  • C Branch protective security
    • C1 security in Whitehall
    • C2 vetting government contractors
    • C3 vetting civil servants and Ministers
    • C4 security against terrorist attacks.

Based Curzon Street House, Mayfair.

  • F Branch domestic surveillance
    • F1 Communist Party (CPGB),
    • F2 trade unions (including F2N Trade Union leaders and F2R dealing with the Media, Education, MP's and Entertainers) closed down in 1994,
    • F3 [non-Irish terrorism],
    • F4 agents in the CPGB, trade unions and journalism,
    • F5 [Irish terrorism],
    • F6 agents in radical groups and terrorist organisations,
    • F7 surveillance of political and campaigning groups including Anarchists, Feminists, Pacifists, Black Power, Fascists and Nationalists in Scotland and Wales. F2/URG or University research

group(concentrated on 1920-40 Oxbidge networks). The roles of F3 & F5 were soon to be transferred a new T Branch, while F Branch would be renamed

  • G Branch in the 1980's and moved to Curzon Street House. Based at Headquarters, in Gower Street.
  • K Branch counter-intelligence
    • K1 potential espionage in government departments,
    • K2 monitors KGB and GRU (Soviet military intelligence),
    • K3 recruitment of Soviet agents,
    • K4 surveillance of Soviet diplomats, trade delegations etc,
    • K5 recruitment of East European and Chinese agents,
    • K6 recruitment of other ‘hostile' intelligence agents in UK,
    • K7 investigation of penetration of UK security and intelligence agencies including MI5 and
    • K8 non-Soviet bloc counter-intelligence.

However these were then grouped into two controlling sections; KX Investigative work (DI (Investigations) and much of D3) which had

    • K1 (Soviet),
    • K2 (Satellite countries) and
    • K3(D3 research) and K7 (investigating Soviet penetration of MI5/MI6/GCHQ), while
    • KY Operations had
    • K4 (ORBAT),
    • K5 (Agent running & operations),
    • K6 (Security assessments; specialist records; ministerial briefings; special indexes & records -special

registry for Y Boxes (PF), another part of the old D3) &

    • K8. At one time it was suggested that a
    • K9 section dealt with Defectors and unexpected resignations. Based at Headquarters, Gower Street.
  • S Branch training and computer systems
    • S1 runs the Joint Computer Bureau linked to other agencies including MI6,
    • S2 registry of files,
    • S3 training,
    • S4 supplies, travel arrangements.

Based at Curzon Street House, Mayfair.

  • T Branch anti-terrorism
    • T1 Irish terrorism
    • T2 non-Irish terrorism. Based at Headquarters, Gower Street.

Formed October 1st 1992 (operational by Jan 1992). This marked the effective taking over of the lead role in anti-IRA activities by MI5 replacing MPSB after well over a hundred years..

Special MI5 Team 'Dolly Mixtures'

Monitored 'gossip'/high society, interception of 'special communications' - such as the Royal Family ('Squidgy' tapes etc) 1960-1990's (operated from Gordon Street in 1979)


(British Services Security Oganization)- HQ Rheindahlen, West Germany Joint MI5 & MOD. Ran joint operations with SIS (MI6) as well as liaison with MI5 & SIS HQ in London and SIS at the Bonn Embassy. Cologne (Koln) BSSO Station liaised with West Germany BfV Security Service and BAOR Intelligence & Security Group (Germany) Berlin BSSO Station operated jointly with SIS inside Eastern Europe.

The latest re-organization of the Security Service under Sir Stephen Lander has created a structure in 2003 more suited to a post Cold War environment and with MI5's new responsibilities for combating organized crime. However the greater emphasis now being placed on counter terrorism will see the expansion of certain sections of both G and T branches, perhaps the creation of new departments and a shift in personnel and resources into fighting the War on Terrorism.

A Branch

Still remains largely unchanged as the 'technical' service.

  • AI (Operations) including
    • A1A Tech EW Support, bugging etc;
    • A1F Long term EW penetration of Embassies etc;
    • A2 (Support) including A2A Transcription;
    • A3 (Scientific Support) and
    • A5 (Scientific R& D) Comprehensive operational technical support; and
    • A4 (Surveillance) 'watchers' Mobile & Static surveillance units.

B Branch

The administration and training section.

  • B1 Protective Security;
  • B2 Personnel;
  • B3 Management and
  • B7 Recruitment & Training;
  • D Branch

Recreated in 1994 to combine the much reduced F, K and C Branch's, now responsible for Counter espionage and all non-terrorist threats; organized crime, subversion and arms proliferation.

  • DI Vetting of non MI5 personnel;
  • D4 Counter Espionage;D5 Agent running(D) and
  • D7 Organized Crime (formed October 1995)

G Branch

Covers international terrorism only since the formation of T Branch in October 1992. It has a minimum of nine G sections covering various aspects of the terrorist threat.

  • G2P Counter-Proliferation;
  • G3A Co-ordination of threat assessments;
  • G3C Countering Asian threats (Sikhs etc);
  • G3W Countering Threats ROW;
  • G6 Agent running(G);
  • G9A Countering Threats from Libya/Iraq/Palestine & Kurdish;
  • G9B Countering Threats from Iran and
  • G9C Countering Islamic Terrorism (created to replace G7 disbanded in 1997-98)

H Branch

A new section, replacing S Branch and intended to improve strategic planning, information technology and finance.

  • H1 and H2 Liaison with Whitehall and the Media;
  • H3 Planning,
  • H4 Finance and
  • JCB Joint Computer Bureau.
  • R2 Main registry (late 1977);
  • R5 Y-Boxed files-restricted access only;
  • R10 Registry for temp files only and
  • R20 GCHQ interception files.

T Branch

Covers domestic terrorism, with the emphasis on Loyalist and Republican groups, but with a small section that monitors both Scotland and Wales.

  • T2A IRA/Loyalist terrorism in UK;
  • T2B Liaises with SB & Agent runners in UK;
  • T2C Assesses threat from Irish Terrorists;
  • T2D Researches Irish Terrorism;
  • T2E Liaison with MPSB, based at New Scotland Yard.;
  • T5B Investigates Arms Trafficking;
  • T5C Counter Irish Terrorism in the Republic of Ireland and Europe;
  • T5D Counters Irish Terrorism ROW;
  • T5E Studies Terrorist logistics and
  • T8 Agent running(T) and with special section in Northern Ireland.

B and H Branch come under the direct control of the DGSS or Director-General of the Security Service, while A, D, G and T Branch are under the DDG (Ops) or Deputy Director-General (Operations). The third senior position of DDG (Director of Corporate Affairs - responsible for Registry, Info Technology, Service & Government liaison, a highly influential position held by Lander and retained by him when he became DGSS) was abolished in January 1996, the responsibilities being taken over by the DGSS.

General Intelligence Group (GI)

Made up of some 350-400 MI5 Officers who can be readily assigned to any security task. All sections are now based at the Headquarters complex at Thames House.

National Technical Assessment Centre (NTAC)

Computer surveillance facility at Thames House. Provides the Security Services and Law enforcement agencies with expert support, decrypting intercepted internet and e-mail material. 'Black Box' recorders are placed on the ISP for real-time collection, both the content and for traffic analysis, feeds interceptions directly into the NTAC which holds decryption keys obtained under RIPA legislation. MI5 established this major e-mail monitoring centre in 1999 to take advantage of the terms of RIPA 2000 which required the complete co-operation of all ISP’s in providing open-ended access to their services. First Director was Asst Chief Constable Ian Humphrey.

Transcription service

MI5 has a specialist team of linguists to translate and transcribe overt and secret information obtained in many different languages. Much of the information derives from telephone and postal communications intercepted under the authority of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The main tasks are to select relevant intelligence; to translate it into clear, idiomatic English; to assist in interpreting information; and to provide informed comment based on knowledge of the politics and culture of the region pertaining to the relevant language area. The team comprises both native speakers and graduates


Thames House now contains the Registry and in 2001 The Security Service claimed that it currently holds in total about 450,000 files which have been opened at some time since its establishment in 1909. Of these, approximately 35,000 files relate to Service administration, policy and staff, and 40,000 concern subjects and organisations studied by the Service. About 75,000 files relate to people or groups of people who have never been investigated by the Service such as those who have received protective security advice. This leaves about 300,000 files, which relate to individuals who, at some time during the last 90 years, may have been the subject of Security Service enquiry or investigation. Of this 300,000 some 60,000 have been reduced to microfilm and placed in a restricted category to which Security Service staff has access only for specific research purposes. A further 240,000 files are closed so that staff may use them where necessary in the course of their current work, but may not make enquiries about the subjects of the files. The total number of files held in 1955 was reportedly around 2 million and therefore a very large number of files have apparently been destroyed.

Traditionally PF (Personal Files) were Buff coloured; SF (Subject Files, such as the BCP etc) often ran to several volumes and LF (List Files) which were Light Blue coloured, were for information obtained during operations and which didn't fit easily into either PF or SF. Y Boxes (Y Files) contained restricted information on spies, defectors etc and were only made available under the tightest security to 'cleared' officers with the permission of a superior.

The Security Service for many years referred to telephone tapping, probably at the exchange, as ‘TOWROPE’; to Surveillance through an installed bugging device as ‘AZURE’ and for the combined use of a ‘bug’ and a ‘tap’ in the handset or junction box as ‘CINNAMON’. Many of the Security Services ‘deniable’ operations during the period from the late 1950’s to the late 1980’s at least were contracted out to private security companies often run by trusted former MI5, SIS and Military personnel. The arrangements were reported to be made through a shadowy group known as the ‘Inner Policy Club’ (or IP Club) of former Senior Officers who maintained close contact with the private enterprise concerns who actually carry out the covert operations and such useful companies as Chubb.

A historical review of major MI5 facilities includes the main headquarter buildings at

  • Winchester House, 21 St James Square, London SW1. MO5 1905-Nov 1906.
  • War Office Main Building, SW1. MO5 Nov 1906 -1925. Secret Service Bureau formed in 1909 with a Special Intelligence Branch.

The Home Section which would remain MO5 until renamed MI5 in 1916.

  • 124-126 Cromwell Road, London SW7. 1925-1937
  • Thames House, Millbank, London SW1. Two floors of the then ICI Building 1937-1940
  • 57-58 St James Street, London SW1. 1940-1945 (later to become MGM's headquarters, Metro house)
  • Leconfield House, Curzon Street, Mayfair W1. 1945-1974 (Registry-Ground Floor, with basement used for 'Trade Craft'; F Ist Floor; E 2nd Floor; D 3rd & 4th Floors; A, Senior Directors and DGSS Office 5th Floor; Administration 6th Floor, 'Pig & Eye' Bar on 6th Floor; Canteen and Transcription Centre 7th Floor)
  • 14-17 Great Marlborough Street, London W1.1974-1978. Also the Legal department and during 1960's housed parts of D Branch (CE).
  • 140 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1. 1978-1994 (DGSS Office 3rd floor; K & F Directorates)
  • Thames House, Millbank, London SW1P 1AE (Both North and South buildings totally rebuilt 1988-93) 1994 -

Many other buildings have a previous intelligence connection and there is considerable interest in these buildings and their fascinating history;

  • 1-8 Barnard Road, Battersea, London SE11. MI5 Surveillance centre and garages near Clapham Junc, moved to Euston Tower 1978.
  • 7-9 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London W1. MI5 Training centre in 1970's. Formerly GCHQ Diplomatic Code-Breaking 1942-44.
  • Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Safe country retreat from wartime London. Housed the Registry and Administration sections 1940-1945.
  • Bolton Street (probably 29-40), London W1. Housed parts of F Branch, CT and A Branch Technical (Q) Offices until 1994.
  • Clarence Terrace, Regents Park, London NW1. A4 'Watchers' centre in 1950's, 1960's, 1970's before moving to Euston Tower in 1978.
  • 5 Cork Street, London W1. Temporary overspill home for much of C Branch throughout the 1950's and 1960's. Used by the MI-1B Cryptographic Service 1916-19.
  • Crawford Street, Mayfair, London. W1. Covert garages, maintenance and technical centre for A4 vehicles.
  • Curzon Street House, 1-4 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London W1. Built with large underground facilities for the Ministry of Aircraft Production in World War Two, these were adapted to hold the MI5 Registry and its computers in 1974. Housed a number of Directorates including A, B, C, G and S as well as the

Registry until 1994.

  • Dolphin Square, London SW1. 308 Hood House was an office and 'safe house' while 10 Collingwood House was an operations centre. Maxwell Knight's 'B sections' 1924-1946.
  • Euston Tower, 16th Floor, Central London WC1. MI5 Communications Control Centre (CCC) and also the A4 Physical Surveillance Teams ('Watchers') base since 1978. CCC moved to Thames House in 1994, though A4 probably still based there. POID 25th-26th Floors. PO 17th-40th. DSS 1st-15th (with a 'Govt' dept, not DSS on 12th)
  • 71-72 Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, London W1 (Top Floors) Housed Political File Centre in 1980 and also used for training in the 1980's. OSS Europe had its HQ at No-70 in 1944.
  • Hinxton Grange, Cambridgeshire. Twenty Committee (XX) Safe House.
  • Horseferry House, Horseferry Road SW1, extra office space was used here in 1938-40 because of overcrowding at the Thames House building just round the corner
  • Keble College (Oxford). Housed Registry overspill from Blenheim Palace
  • Kensington High Street (probably No-375 Charles House), London W8. MI5 Phone-tapping centre.
  • 6-7 Kensington Palace Gardens, London W8. Wartime MI5 Interrogation Centre 'The London Cage'.
  • 26-28 Mount Row, Mayfair, London W1. MI5 Computer R & D Centre, moved to Curzon Street House in 1977
  • South Audley Street (probably No-33), London W1. Covert surveillance office.
  • Streatham High Road, London SW16. A4 Garages.
  • Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London housed the registry, until a German bombing raid forced them to move to a safer location, and the transport section 1939-40.

Northern Ireland:

  • Stormont Castle, Belfast BT4 3ST. DCI MI5 HQ ‘The Department’ at the NIO.
  • River House, 48 High Street, Belfast BT1 2DR. City Centre Security Offices. PS Teams (Watchers)
  • Churchill House, Victoria Square, Belfast BT1 4QW. City centre EW Surveillance & Monitoring Facility.
  • PFNI (RUC) Headquarters: Brooklyn, 65 Knock Road, Belfast BT5 6LD. MI5 SLO (Security Liaison Office) Staff liaises with both E3 & E4 Civil Service College, Sunningdale, Berkshire. MI5 held their Annual Conferences here. (Other meetings were sometimes held in Ware, Hertfordshire)

Directors of the Security Service



PO Box 8000, London SE11 5EN
(Media) 020 7238 8431

Service Authority

(Liaison with Service Authority for National Crime Squad, at same headquarters - ensures effective co-ordination)
PO Box 2600, London SW1V 2WG. 020 7238 2600
1992 saw the launch of what was to become a fifth full-blown Intelligence Service, the NCIS or National Criminal Intelligence Service effectively redrew the battle-lines. The NCIS has grown immensely in role, structure and influence in the last decade and very largely in the shadows. It has the power to carry out most of the duties previously the domain of MI5 and indeed without the adverse publicity. Most significantly its excellent working relationship with MI6 and its executive powers have combined to cast doubt on the need to maintain a separate and very expensive organization such as the Security Service.

Personnel: 900 or more.

Modern crime is no longer simply a matter for the local police, as national and international organised crime groups continue to network across the globe and carry out a huge proportion of criminal acts. As a result, today's criminal intelligence gathering must be done on a global scale to compete with the professional criminal networks, and this is exactly the role played by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). NCIS is an umbrella organisation providing strategic intelligence on serious and organised crime to law enforcement agencies both nationally and internationally. NCIS defines an organised crime group as satisfying the following criteria; contains at least three people, criminal activity is prolonged or indefinite, criminals are motivated by profit or power, serious criminal offences are being committed. NCIS coordinates much of the UK's higher level criminal intelligence activity, developing intelligence packages for operational law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Squad. It provides specialist facilities for investigators, such as target flagging, interception facilities and access to foreign law enforcement. The Specialist Intelligence Branch (SIB) provides strategic and tactical intelligence in specialist areas of organised crime. NCIS also develops knowledge products such as the National Intelligence Model which aim to standardise intelligence methods throughout the country. NCIS is a multi-agency organisation employing staff directly and seconding staff from over 25 partner agencies such as HM Customs and Excise, HM Immigration Service, the Inland Revenue, UK Passport Agency, Medicines Control Agency, Financial Services Authority and regional police forces. With headquarters in London, five regional offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester and Wakefield, and a satellite office in Belfast, the NCIS can analyse localised information with national and international awareness.

The regional offices are managed by the UK Division of NCIS, which also includes a specific Scottish/Irish Liaison Unit based in London. The International Division of NCIS incorporates the UK National Central Bureau of Interpol, the UK Europol National Unit, the UK European Drug Liaison Officer network, the UK Immigration Officer network and hosts foreign liaison officers.

Access to local information allows NCIS a broader view of criminal networks and key players working in the United Kingdom, and with this intelligence they can work with law enforcement partners against football hooliganism, drug trafficking, smuggling and other organised crime. On an international level, the same information in combination with shared intelligence from European and global organisations can be used to combat similar criminal activity across a variety of borders. Previously, the practice of intelligence gathering was based on investigation in response to criminal activity, but now the aim of NCIS is to provide an active intelligence gathering service that creates long-term plans for crime prevention. NCIS was established in April 1992, and whereas in the past, UK intelligence gathering organisations have had a reputation for secretive and often covert methods of operation, the NCIS Authority changed that perception. This process of regulation and accountability to outside authority has obviously been a little more complicated for organisations such as MI5 that have worked behind closed doors for most of the last century, but for modern organisations such as NCIS a regulatory body,the NCIS Service Authority, was created at the same time it began work. Placed on statutory footing 1st April 1998.

Director General

  • John Abbot 1992-

NCS – the National Crime Squad

The National Crime Squad was launched in April 1998 through the amalgamation of the six former regional crime squads. It is currently staffed by police officers seconded from the 43 forces of England and Wales, and at present there are 1,333 officers working for the Squad, with 432 support staff. National Crime Squad, PO Box 2500, London SW1V 2WF. While the regular Police Force still takes responsibility for general law enforcement, it is the role of departments such as the National Crime Squad (NCS) to investigate particular areas of criminal activity across the UK. The Squad is a part of the Police Force dedicated to high quality investigations that target the very top level of criminality. Their unique position in UK law enforcement enables them to proactively pursue those who commit and facilitate serious and organised crime affecting England and Wales, including major international drug trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, counterfeit currency, kidnap and extortion, people smuggling, and high-tech crime.

With their headquarters in London and three operational command units (OCUs) covering England and Wales, the Squad can liaise with national law enforcement agencies and effectively tackle large organised criminal activities. Each OCU consists of a number of covert branch offices that house the operational teams. The three bodies that are responsible for the accountability, management and supervision of the Squad include the Home Secretary, the Service Authority and the Director General. Under the Police Act 1997, the Home Secretary has a duty to promote the efficiency of the National Crime Squad, and he/she appoints the Director General and may set objectives for the Squad. The Service Authority sets objectives and agrees performance targets in consultation with the director general (these objectives complement those determined by the Home Secretary). The Service Authority comprises 11 members, eight of whom are also members of the Service Authority for the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). And the director general is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Squad.

National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU)

Launched in April 2001 as part of the NCS, and became the UK's first national law enforcement organisation tasked to combat serious and organised cyber crime of a national or international nature. In the same month, the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 was published and made the National Crime Squad a non-departmental public body, which means it operates independently of government ministers, despite the Home Office remaining responsible for their work.
National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, PO Box 10101, London E14 9NF

Immigration Crime Team (ICT)

In addition, the Prime Minister proposed the establishment of a multi-agency programme to tackle immigration-related crime known as Project Reflex. This led to the formation of the Immigration Crime Team in January 2002, whose role it is to combat illegal immigration into the UK by organised criminals. The ICT, staffed by the National Crime Squad and the Immigration Service, is located at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

METROPOLITAN POLICE - Specialist Operations

New Scotland Yard, Broadway, London SW1H OBG. 020 7230 1212
Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO)
The Met has various specialist units that work across the capital or which fulfil a national role. A number of these are grouped into a section of the organisation known as Specialist Operations. They deal with tasks such as intelligence, security, protection of politicians, embassies and royalty, and the investigation of certain categories of serious crimes, including racial and violent crime and terrorism.

1) SECURITY - Anti-Terrorist National Co-ordinator

Special Operations -13 (Anti-Terrorist Branch SO13)

Anti-terrorism campaigns. (Hotline) 0800 789321
In 1970, a small investigation unit was founded within the Metropolitan Police Service as the result of an increase in politically-motivated crime in the Capital. Several weeks later the home of Robert Carr, then Minister for Employment, was damaged by an explosion. Responsibility for this was later claimed by a home-grown terrorist group calling itself "The Angry Brigade". As a result, the Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad was formed. It was renamed the Anti-Terrorist Branch in March 1976 following the increasing number of bombings, assassinations and other terrorist incidents. The Anti-Terrorist Branch is fully equipped to provide a 24-hour service, with teams of officers immediately available to respond to any type of incident or investigation. Senior investigating officers are supported by experienced detectives, forensic scene examiners, search trained personnel and surveillance officers. Other facilities include an extensive major incident room and research team. Responsibilities to investigate all acts of terrorism within the Metropolitan Police area including economic terrorism, politically motivated crimes, and some cases of kidnap and extortion. to help with investigations in other areas of the country. The Commander of the Anti-Terrorist Branch is appointed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) as the national co-ordinator for the investigation of acts of terrorism and cases involving animal rights extremism to take responsibility for prevention and planning as well as running counter-terrorist exercises for training and contingency planning purposes The Counter-Terrorist Search Wing advises generally on all aspects of specialist searches, with responsibility for the policy, training and licensing of search trained officers within the MPS, and to provide explosives officers within the MPS. Uses Paddington Green Station at 4 Harrow Road, W2 as its 'secure' CT holding centre.

2) SECURITY -Intelligence

Intelligence functions were re-organised as part of the general re-structuring of Specialist Operations and as a result, the Criminal Intelligence Branch was formed in March 1960. Its terms of reference were initially to collect, evaluate, and disseminate information about organised crime and prominent criminals. It provides surveillance and technical intelligence support - conventional surveillance teams, photographers and the Technical Support Unit offer a wide range of solutions to today's policing problems. The surveillance teams' specialist skills are highly regarded, serving not only the needs of Specialist Operations Department but any other area or division that may require them.

Special Operations-10 (Covert Operations SO10)

SO10 has specific responsibility for covert operations. Intelligence Evidence Unit. Provides photographers who primarily work with the surveillance teams to provide important and often crucial intelligence/evidence on active criminals, using still photographers and video cameras. Facial Identification Team uses the most up-to-date technology to identify suspects and unidentified persons. Infos - a computer pool which provides centralised searches of all intelligence databases available to the MPS. Telephone Subscribers Unit deals with all enquiries about hard-line and mobile telephone subscribers, as well as some records of calls.

Special Operations-11 (Intelligence SO11)

SO11 has a broad responsibility for gathering, collating and analysing intelligence about criminal activity. Specialist Intelligence Section (SIS) develops collection plans on highly organised and professional groups of criminals involved in major crime and maintains data bases. Financial Intelligence Unit provides co-ordination of financial investigations and is that part of the SIS which receives disclosures of suspicious financial transactions under the relevant money laundering regulations and co-ordinates investigations throughout the Metropolitan Police area. Strategic Analysis Unit analysis and production of high grade packages for service distribution. Focused on commercial robbery, serious sexual offences, murder, drugs and firearms offences. The evaluation includes comparative case analysis, specific profile analysis and crime pattern analysis. It also operates the London Crimestoppers Scheme which offers the facility for members of the public to contact police and supply information on criminal activities anonymously.

Informants - deals with all matters of policing involving informants. Scene advice/evidence gathering - crime scene co-ordinators provide on-scene advice and evidence-gathering, 24 hours a day, at scenes of serious crime, throughout the Metropolitan Police area.
Prison liaison - the Prison Liaison Section provides liaison between the Metropolitan Police, the Home Office and the Prison service and establishes a cross-flow of relevant information and intelligence.

Special Operations-12 (Special Branch SO12)

The Metropolitan Police Special Irish Branch was formed in March 1883 as the 'Political Branch' and initially as a small section of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Metropolitan Police. Between 1st May 1919 and 1921 the Special Branch came under the Home Office Directorate of Intelligence, headed by Basil Thompson. Complaints that this seriously damaged the effectiveness of both the civilian Police and weakened MI5 led to its abolition and return of the SB to the Metropolitan Police. Its purpose was originally to combat, on a national basis, a 'Fenian' (Irish) campaign of terrorism which was prevalent on the United Kingdom mainland at the time. Subsequently, first the controversial title of 'Political' was changed and then the term 'Irish' was dropped from the Branch's title, as over time it took on responsibility for countering a wide range of extremist and terrorist activity. It main responsibilities are to gather, collate, analyse and then exploit intelligence on extremist political & terrorist activity, Initiate, develop and conduct intelligence operations against terrorists and political extremists, Disseminate intelligence for operational use to law enforcement agencies at local, national and international levels, Provide armed personal protection for Ministers of State, Foreign VIPs and other persons at threat from terrorist or extremist attack, Police the ports within the London area to detect terrorist or criminal suspects while travelling into, or out of the country. Assist other Government agencies to counter threats to the security of the United Kingdom from both public disorder from whatever source. Works closely with HM Customs & Excise Investigations Division, the Immigration and other Government authorities. It has acted as the executive arm of MI5 since 1909 and until the Security service assumed the lead role in anti-terrorist operations in 1992 remained the main defence against IRA activities in Britain. The SB have full time access to the PNC Police National Computer set up in 1974 and the PNC2 created in 1991 using software fully compatible to the Schengen Information Service, and all subsequent upgrades.

The European Liaison Section (ELS) of Special Branch was formed in 1977 and will play a significant role in the Euro-Security system known as the Schengen Agreement or more properly as the

Schengen Information System (SIS)

A computerized information exchange system based in Strasbourg and which has been gradually expanded since early 1994. Maintains close links with both

  • Europol PO Box 90850, NL-2509 LW The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Interpol General Secretariat, 200 quai Charles de Gaulle, 69006 Lyon, France

3) SECURITY -Protection

Special Operations-14 (Royalty Protection SO14)

The primary role of this unit is to provide protection for the Sovereign and Members of The Royal Family. The responsibilities of the unit include :the personal protection of members of The Royal Family within the United Kingdom and abroad, the physical protection of the London Royal Palaces, Residences and Windsor Castle, and when members of the Royal Family are in residence at Balmoral, Birkhall, Castle of Mey and Holyrood House, the technical protection of all Royal Residences and Estates throughout Great Britain, the personal protection of certain members of foreign royal families visiting the United Kingdom, provision by the Special Escort Group of escorts for Royalty, visiting Heads of States, other VIPs, high risk prisoners and valuable loads support for protection training courses throughout the United Kingdom.

Special Operations-16 (Diplomatic Protection SO16)

As a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, Her Majesty's Government is required to ensure the protection of the diplomatic community throughout the United Kingdom. In London, this responsibility falls to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. As a result, in 1974 the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) was formed - its function to protect London's diplomatic community. The Diplomatic Protection Group is responsible for: providing high visibility armed protection to diplomats, their missions and residences, in order to meet our obligation under the Vienna Convention, providing high visibility protection to members of HM Government and other prominent people potentially at risk, the provision of an armed contingency reserve for the Metropolitan Police Service, providing security at police buildings such as New Scotland Yard, providing residential protection for visiting Heads of State, Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers, maintaining the Central Index of Privileged Persons and Diplomatic Vehicles, providing crime prevention and security advice to Foreign Missions and liaison between the police service and visiting armed forces to meet our obligations under the Visiting Forces Act 1952.

Special Operations-17 (Palace of Westminster Division SO17)

The Palace of Westminster Division (whose staff include police, fire and security officers) polices and enforces the regulations of the Houses of Parliament at the Place of Westminster and the various outbuildings used to accommodate Members of Parliament and their staff.

4) Serious Crimes Group

(This also includes SO-1 Major Enquiry Teams; SO-5 Child Protection; SO-6 Specialist Crime and SO-7 Serious & Organized Crime)

Special Operations-19 (Force Firearms Unit SO19)

SO19 is the name given to the department which provides firearms-related support to the rest of the Metropolitan Police Service. This is the nearest that the British Civilian Police have to a SWAT-style response unit and though most Police Forces in the UK have increased the numbers of armed Officersnone have chosen to create a genuine para-military capability as yet. SO19 is based on the Metropolitan Police firearms instructors, with the unit being primarily trained for containment and as snipers. Several small teams are however trained for assaults in situations where it should not prove necessary to request SAS assistance. They also handle most non-political hostage rescue situations. Weapons in use include the 'Glock’ 17 automatic pistols, 9mm H&K MP5 7.62mm L39A, Enfield Enforcer and Parker-Hale sniper rifles and a range of other automatic rifles and side-arms. SO19 is divided into a number of subsections dealing with different aspects of firearms work. These include: Operational: For example the crews for Armed Response Vehicles, teams of Specialist Firearms Officers who deal with pre-planned firearms operations and the Rifle Section, which provides a counter-sniper capability.
Training: The unit provides courses and refresher training for all firearms officers and more than 2,000 officers attend training courses every eight weeks. Background. The Metropolitan Police in 1884, following the murders of two constables, were given permission from the Commissioner of the day, to carry revolvers during uniformed night time patrols. These were called ‘Comforters’ and each Officer would make up their own mind if they wished to carry them. This was the nearest we have ever been to a fully armed service and that was over a hundred years ago. In 1909, a bungled robbery at Tottenham led to an extraordinary rampage by two Latvian anarchists armed with semi-automatic pistols. It left 25 wounded and two dead. At the end of the following year, five police officers were shot in the City of London - three fatally - as a result of another robbery by several Russian immigrants with anarchist sympathies. Two were eventually traced to a house in Stepney (a third having been accidentally shot by his comrades during the first confrontation). So began the Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911. It led to a five hour exchange of fire between the forces of order - contingents of the City of London and Metropolitan Police supported by a detachment of Scots Guards from the Tower and the desperate men armed with two 7.63mm Mauser semi-automatic pistols and a Browning. Something in the region of 2000 rounds of ammunition were expended and the building destroyed before the threat from the gunmen was neutralised. Their burnt corpses were later discovered. Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, did not come off too well in the ensuing press coverage. In typical style Churchill arrived at the ‘Battle of Stepney’ to take charge of operations. More positively, the debacle led to the purchase of 900 .32 Webley semi-automatics by the Metropolitan force (although Winston would have preferred Mausers). When the Lord Trenchard arrived as Metropolitan Commissioner in 1931 modest efforts were made to standardise instruction. A specific number of men from each division were required to parade for the annual range day and better records kept of their shooting. And, from July 1936, guns could only be issued if there was good reason and if the officer had been “properly instructed” (and not merely at his own request for night duties). WWII led to more guns being given to the police for protection duties but there was a suspension of annual range days (as had happened in the First War). Indeed, annual practice was not generally reinstated in the Met until 1954. With it came certain small improvements: ammunition allocation was slightly increased, and courses of firing became more practical, save for a curious over-emphasis on left handed shooting. The much publicised Bentley/Craig case of 1952 led to renewed debate on armed crime and the proper response to it. But, it was the dramatic crime wave of the 1960s and, in particular, the brutal murder of three plain clothes officers in Shepherd’s Bush in 1966 that finally galvanised the Metropolitan Police into serious action. During the hunt for one the criminals, Harry Roberts, a Malaya veteran and former Army marksman, weapons had by necessity been issued to untrained officers. This was clearly a most unsatisfactory situation.

This time, however, the deficiency was recognised and a specialist firearms unit was created in the same year. It started as part of D6, the branch of the Met with responsibility for Civil Defence. Training practices were heavily influenced by those developed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (which had for many years operated a famous firearms school at its academy at Quantico, itself the result of the FBI experience of armed crime and the proper response to it). This was not a perfect situation, there were indeed flaws in the FBI training system, but it was a vast improvement on what had preceded it in Britain. The specialists of the Met Firearms Unit, later renamed D11 developed their own methods and an excellent reputation for their marksmanship skills. Their initial role was as shooting instructors but later they would be deployed operationally too. They were highly influential nationally, as were the West Yorkshire force which introduced ‘Instant Response Cars’ as early as 1976. By the end of the 1970s, a decade which saw the successful resolution of the Spaghetti House and Balcombe Street sieges the police service had adapted to the new threats. It had considered both armed crime and terrorism and had responded, after considerable thought, with new tactics, equipment and training. By accident or policy, large numbers of officers were being authorised to use firearms in this era. A number of highly publicised incidents in the 1980s, including the Cherry Groce, John Shorthouse and Stephen Waldorf cases, where innocent individuals were accidentally shot by the police, led to a major review of training and policy and showed the dangers of complacency. A greateremphasis was put on stress management and realism in training and gradually the number of authorised officers was reduced so that only those officers with current, well practised, skills would be asked to undertake armed duties. Basic training courses were extended, and national training facilities were developed. All these efforts, were not just intended to prevent accident, there was a need to improve practical marksmanship. As their role changed significantly, another important, though little debated, change took place: there was a gradual shift towards a more militaristic appearance for specialist firearms officers. It was clear to many outside observers that post Prince’s Gate, the police service was being influenced in its dress and choice of weapons (notably the adoption of the H & K MP5) by its contact with specialist military units like the Counter Revolutionary Warfare division of the Special Air Service (SAS). Today, there are far fewer officers authorised to use firearms. They are better trained and receive more frequent follow up training than in the past. Briefing and planning skills have also been much refined. There are around 1750 authorised firearms users while in 1984 the figure was 4,600 out of a force of some 26,000... The new approach, is to use Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs), first introduced in 1991, for immediate response and containment, with tactical advisers and specialist teams to back them up as required (the teams are trained in skills such as rapid entry and hostage release and may also be deployed for pre-planned operations). At any one time in the Met, about a dozen ARVs - each of which contains three officers - are available for deployment and half a dozen specialist teams.





Headquarters: Brooklyn, 65 Knock Road, Belfast BT5 6LD. 028 9065 0222
The Special Branch is formally constituted as the E Department. It is organized and subdivided by function into three regions (Belfast, North and South). E1 looks after vetting of personnel, internal security, the supply of under cover vehicles and security of communications (mail and telecommunications). E2 is the department responsible for legal liaison, the interrogation centres and SB activity in prisons. E3 collates all intelligence gathered by field operators, informers and uniformed officers. It is split into three sections. E3A evaluates intelligence on republicans, while E3B and E3C are concerned with loyalists and leftists and other groups (eg animal rights) respectively. E4 is the operations division which carries out the day-to-day field work of intelligence gathering. E4A carries out person-to-person surveillance and achieved a certain notoriety through ‘shoot-to-kill' actions in the 1980s which were the subject of the Stalker inquiry. Technical surveillance - the installation of bugs, tracking devices etc. - is the responsibility of E4B. Finally, E4C and E4D carry out photographic and video surveillance. While E5 liaises with the Army’s SMIU.

Counter Terrorist Sections included the E4A Surveillance unit formed 1976, Special Branch, Special Patrol Group (SPG) 1972, replaced by Divisional Mobile Support Units (MSU) 1980, and CT Specialists BRONZE SECTION formed from SPG in 1976 and since divided into Special Support Unit and HQ Mobile Support Unit in 1980.

Special Interrogation Centres; ‘Police Office’ PO1 Castlereagh Centre-Belfast (38 cells and 21 rooms)/used by Army Intelligence as well and PO2 the Gough Centre, Magilligan in Armagh(24 cells and 9 rooms)


Background: Pre-1939 GPO Telephone Interception Unit at the Central Exchange at Moorgate which worked with the Met Police and MI5. WW2 saw the entire Investigative service placed under MI5 command, returning in 1945 to the GPO as the POID, however the Transcription Staff based at Blenheim Palace were to be permanently absorbed into MI5 as Section A3 (later A2A). Tapping Centres in the 1950's saw a degree of centralization and included the Metropolitan Police Training & Monitoring centre at the PCO in Petty France, replaced in the 1960's by a more secure centre in the Duke of York’s Barracks (300 lines), and for MI5/6 another 300- line centre at 8/14 Douglas Street SW1 just behind MI6 London Station (VBR) at 60 Vauxhall Bridge Road. The POID centre was at Caroone House, near St Paul’ as IT4/NE1 (MONDIAL International Exchange) until 1971. MI5 also had an additional Phone Tapping Centre on the 4th Floor of a building (375 Charles House) in Kensington High Street.1971-1980 Operating under cover names PO/THQ/OPD/EDD, the main interception centre moved to Ebury Bridge House, 93 Ebury Street (TINKERBELL-1). OP5 changed to ES4 under new BT control, while the POID becoming BTID. By 1981 moved to top two floors of CHANTRY HOUSE, Ecclestone Street, Victoria (TINKERBELL-2 and Special Studies-9/SS9). Cover names included Network Services Division (NS3.4 Field Projects) with contact number at London Telecom Region HQ at Camelford House, Albert Embankment (800 or so lines). By mid-1984 operating from the top two floors of BT's former HQ at 2-12 Gresham Street, in the City of London and the BT (Secret) Department AS-314-2W in the basement of 8 Craythorne House (ex GPO 1980's), Newgate Street, near St Paul’s. Equipment Strategy Division (ESD) name changed to Operational Strategy Coordination Division (OSCD) in 1980's, unit responsible for control of PO/BT 'tapping' activities.

MI6 Telephone intercepts were for some time handled at the London Station or VBR, by a group of specialists and linguists known as UKZ and operating with a team of specially cleared BT engineers known as the OND. Metropolitan Police Interception and Special Services Centre was situated at 113 Grove Park, Camberwell, London SE5 and served as a joint MI5/MI6/MPSB/C7/GC & CS unit. This had been in operation as 'Grove Park' since around 1919 and was still a covert listening site well into the 1980's. Some operations were transferred to Sandridge near St Albans in the late 1930's and that base was taken over by GCHQ in 1946. A fleet of detector vans was based there throughout the 1950's and 1960's. By 1970's had reverted to Home Office control and had became a Surveillance Research centre developing equipment for Gove Park and other users.

The secret R12 Department at the Martlesham Heath Telecommunications Complex near Ipswich is a major R & D source of surveillance technology and works closely with GCHQ/MI5/MI6/NCIS, while similar work was also carried out at the JSERL-Joint Services Electronics Research Laboratory at Baldock in Hertfordshire (former wartime GPO DF Station along with Burnham), where bugging equipment for use in Ulster and by both MI5 and MI6 was developed. MI5 interceptions are made via the BTID facilities on the 25th and 26th Floors of the Euston Tower and fed to the Transciption Unit at Thames House via a secure digital line. Since 1995 the transcribers have used the 'Marshbrook' computer system and updated versions which transcribe, analyse, log and file all interception communications. 2003 - Current Hi-Tech System controlled from the BT National Network Central Operations Unit, National Special HQ, Broggyntyn Hall, Oswestry, Shropshire, for many years the National Emergency Network Control Centre. (Microwave Network Link at ALBRIGHTON).

BT Worldwide Network Management Centre at Oswestry, Shropshire, was opened on 5 September 1990 at a cost of £4 million. The Centre monitored all of BT's System X exchanges (57 trunk and 373 local exchanges) and the company's three digital internal exchanges. Has overall control of interception of international calls. The new National Network Control Centre officially opened on September 12, 2002.The video wall measures 16.32m by 3.06m made up of 36 monitors. The giant screen is the same as used in modern digital cinemas with more than 800,000 individual mirrors behind the screen, a solid-state system that ensure razor sharp images. The control centre was developed for BT by CCC Network Systems using FreeVision technology: the wallboard was supplied by Synelec. The £10 million state-of-the-art building at Oswestry in Shropshire, gives engineers a helicopter view of the state of health of the UK's communications networks. They can view telephone call, data and broadband traffic at a glance, responding to incidents world-wide which could impact on quality of service not only to BT's customers but also to other UK operators and service providers and helps HMG and the Intelligence Community have both oversight and eventual control of the entire network. Has overall control of the interception of national calls.

Britain’s telephone network, System X, was designed with wiretapping capabilities built in and indeed all the digital exchanges built since the mid 1990’s have an intercept capability under the aegis of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

GCHQ/DTMS (Diplomatic Telecommunications Maintenance Service) controls the GTN Government Telephone Network and any monitoring needed. DTMS HQ at MI6 HMG CC Communications Establishment at Hanslope Park, near Milton Keynes, Bucks.

BT Research Centre, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich. Top Floor houses Dept R12 Special Investigation Division, works closely with Private Industry, MP, MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the MOD on advanced bugging and anti-bugging devices. Dept R18 Speech Recognition, Synthesis and Coding Division works closely with GCHQ and JSRU. Sandridge, St Albans. Joint MI5/MI6 EW R & D Site(moved from PO Dollis Hill building as Special Investigations Unit Research) - first established as a GPO interception site in 1937, along with the future CSOS at Cupar (Hawklaw) and Brora.

Northern Ireland

All telecommunications to and from both Ulster and the Republic have been monitored for many years by a variety of British secret facilities having been intercepted by such sites as the 13 storey, windowless concrete tower at Capenhurst in Cheshire. Army Tapping Centre. Top Floor, Churchill House, PO/BT Building, Victoria Square, Belfast. GCHQ - Dublin Embassy. 14th Royal Signals Regiment operated from the Divis Flats in Belfast and Clooney Park in Derry.


POID Special Section, GPO Headquarters and King Edward Buildings, King Edward Street, St Pauls, EC1. Foreign Sorting Office at London Chief Office - MAIL INTERCEPTION CENTRE. For many years housed a sizeable MI5 section which coordinated mail and phone interceptions with 'Special Sections' established within all central GPO offices around the country. Later moved to: 'Post Office Bureau Services' unit within the 300 strong POID Special Section CPD (SS), Room 202, HQ Union House, St Martins-le-Grand, near St Pauls, London EC1A 1DQ.

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary (UKAEAC)

HQ Building E6, Culham Science Centre, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3DB 01235 463760
Was set up as part of the UKAEA by the Atomic Energy Authority Act 1954 with a statutory remit to protect nuclear material on behalf of the Government both on UKAEA sites and in transit. Subsequent legislation extended this remit to BNFL and Urenco sites when these bodies were created. The Constabulary is authorised to deploy armed police officers to protect nuclear material and Armed officers accompany sensitive secret movements of material to and from Sellafield. These movements, in unmarked vehicles, include plutonium from Sellafield, tritium from BNFL Chapelcross near Carlisle, movements of MOX (plutonium and uranium) fuel to Carlisle Airport and to Barrow docks. Under the AEA (Special Constables) Act of 1976 they were given far greater powers. They can now carry arms at all times; have the power to enter any house or premises at will; they can arrest anyone on suspicion anywhere in the UK. The AEA police carry weapons to patrol certain areas inside the razor wired perimeter of Sellafield. They have their own firing range inside the Drigg nuclear dump site and their own team of trained dog handlers. Its officers are trained to the highest standards set by Home Office and Scottish police forces, including advanced training in the use of firearms. At each of the sites its officers have a close working relationship with their opposite numbers in the local police force. The Constabulary has a strength of around 500 officers and is accountable to Parliament through the Department of Trade and Industry. A Police Authority, representing the prime users of its services, agrees the Force's funding and decides its policing plans and objectives. Independent regulation of security in the civil nuclear industry is provided by the Directorate of Civil Nuclear Security. They recruit and operate independently of the civil police. This police force is accountable to the Atomic Energy Authority, who in turn are responsible to the Secretary of State of the relevant government department. Culham-Dounreay-Harwell-Risley-Windscale-Winfrith.

Custom & Excise

New King's Beam House, 22 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PJ
020-7620 1313

National Investigative Service

Custom House, Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EE
020 7283 5353
Additional reports on the Home Office, MI5, SIME, other related security units and operations during both world wars, Northern Ireland and the MPSB and ATU are available from AFI Research



Main Buildings, Horseguards Avenue, London SW1A 2HB, 020 7218 9000

MOD War Room

Below Main Buildings in Whitehall code-named PINDAR and built in early 1980’s. The MOD set up in 1946 only fully came into being in 1964 when five older departments were joined to create a unified ministry responsible for the Armed Forces. The departments that were brought together included the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry, the old Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry for Aviation Supply. The first four ministries combined in 1964, but in 1971 the MOD took control of military aircraft and guided weapons supply, previously controlled by the Ministry for Aviation Supply. The original four departments still exist within the present MOD, although the Ministry for Aviation supply is now called the Procurement Executive. Of all the departments the MOD absorbed, the Admiralty is by far the oldest, with its origins dating back to the Navy Board set up by Henry VIII in 1546 to monitor the naval issues of the day under the jurisdiction of the Lord High Admiral and then the Admiralty Board. The War Office also has a lengthy heritage, dating back to 1666, when the first Secretary at War, responsible for the Army, was killed in battle at sea against the Dutch. The remaining two departments, the Air Ministry and Procurement Executive were relatively young compared to the Army and Navy ministries, but that has more to do with the timing of the invention of the plane than anything else. The Air Ministry was formed in 1918 as the guiding force behind the creation of the Royal Air Force, which was itself a combination of the Royal Flying Corps (part of the Army) and the Royal Naval Air Service. Before 1940, the Air Ministry was also responsible for the supply of military aircraft, but this became the function of a variety of different ministries until 1971 when it became a responsibility of the Procurement Executive within the MOD.


At the RN HQ Northwood, Middlesex. Established in 1996. The Joint HQ connects the policy and strategic functions of the MOD with the conduct of operations. The Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF) was also established in August 1996, while the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) was established in April 1999 and operational by October 2001.

  • Army Land Command HQ Wilton
  • RN HQ Northwood (Subordinate centres were at Pitreavie Castle,near Dunfirmline in Fife and Mount Batten, Plymouth)
  • RAF Strike Command HQ High Wycombe
  • Army Northern Ireland HQ Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn
  • US European Command War Headquarters are in huge underground facilities built at High Wycombe (Daws Hill) in Buckinghamshire in early 1980’s and linked to UK equivalent at Northwood in Middlesex.

Defence Communication Services Agency

Basil Hill Barracks, Building 111, Park Lane, Corsham, SN13 9NR. 01225 814886 DCN-Defence Communications Network (Microwave Network Link at FIVE WAYS, Hawthorn)
Bases include;

  • RAF Chelveston, nr Wellingborough (opened 1991- replaced RAF Greatworth);
  • RAF Edlesborough, nr Dunstable;
  • RAF Oakhanger, nr Bordon in Hampshire (SATCOM-also has USAF/DSCS/CIA unit);
  • RAF Milltown nr Chesterfield;
  • RAF Balado Bridge, near Kinross, Fife (US DSCS & MF/HF);
  • RAF Bampton Castle in Oxfordshire (SIGINT 2 SU, control centre - replaced RAF Stanbridge) and
  • RAF Boddington, just North East of Gloucester (SIGINT - HQ handles military traffic for GCHQ)
  • RAF Defford, just East of Croome Court and West of Besford, near Pershore (det of 1001 SU SatCom links for RSRE and US DSCS (the former DCN HQ was at RAF Rudloe Manor, Hawthorn, Wiltshire)

RN Sites


  • Forest Moor, Blubberhouse Moor, Yorkshire. Built 1943, rebuilt 1992-93.
  • Important Naval Communications and DF.
  • Crimond, Fraserburgh. RN/NATO HF.LF.Mountbatten, Plymouth HQ.
  • Fort Southwick, Portsmouth HQ.
  • Knock Hill, Pitraevie Castle HQ (RN & RAF) & Rosyth.
  • St Eval, near Newquay. former RAF base near St Mawgan. Large aerial field.

Other site of interest

  • RAF Boulmer, Northumberland. 75 SU & 500 SU


Established: 1964
Mission: To provide the Ministry of Defence with accurate and timely intelligence in support of the policies of HMG in the UK and where ever a potential threat exists to British Forces. Formed to act as a central clearinghouse for intelligence generated by all military intelligence departments.
Headquarters: Old War Office Buildings, Whitehall, London SW1A 2EU. 020 7218 2407.
Much of the Intelligence Analysis and Evaluation was carried out in the Metropol Buildings in Northumberland Avenue, Whitehall, WC2N 5BP.

CDI - Chief of Defence Intelligence is one of the members of the JIO. Each service (Army, Navy, Air Force) have their own intelligence arms, the DIS provides the overall assessment and evaluation. Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). It gathers intelligence on `threats' from surveillance, military attaches in UK embassies, SIGINT from GCHQ, and from the US NSA.

DIS Management

  • CDI
  • Deputy CDI
  • Director General Intelligence and Geographic Resources

The three main directorates are:

  • DI Programmes and Resources
  • DI Global Issues
  • DI Regional assessments
  • DI Scientific & Technical
  • DI Commitments
  • DI Information Systems
  • DISC(Chicksands)
  • Military Survey
  • DI Secretariat

The Defence Intelligence Staff can trace its ancestry back to 1946, when the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) was established under the direction of General Keith Strong, General Eisenhower’s British wartime Chief of Intelligence. The DIS was created in 1964 by the amalgamation of all three service intelligence staffs and the civilian Joint Intelligence Bureau to form an integrated body able to serve the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces and other Government Departments.

The DIS are also involved in the setting up of the WEU Situation Centre and Intelligence Section and submits Weekly Intelligence Summaries to the Intelligence Section. It has also responded to ad hoc requests from the Section for more detailed briefing on particular areas. The DIS works closely with WEU partners to refine current arrangements and to improve the WEU's ability to receive and circulate intelligence.


Chicksands, 1 mile West of Shefford, Bedfordshire SG17 5PR. 01462 - 752125
The Agency was created on 1 October 1996 to integrate all intelligence and most security training into a single tri-Service organisation. Core functions are to provide training in intelligence and security disciplines, training in conduct after capture, and advice on intelligence and security policy. The Defence Intelligence and Security Centre trains the Armed Forces and other intelligence agencies in intelligence and security disciplines, and conduct after capture. It acts as the Department's centre of excellence for the production of imagery intelligence. Its role is to exploit and analyse imagery from all available sources and produce intelligence products and services to meet the requirements of MOD andthe operational Commands. It provides this intelligence to military commanders and the Government, in support of current military operations, defence planning and wider intelligence matters. Defence Intelligence & Security School; Joint Services Intelligence Organization; Defence Debriefing Team; Intelligence Corps; Defence Special Signals School and Army Communications & Security Group.


The Headquarters are in Elmwood Avenue, Feltham, Middlesex TW13 7AH, alongside its largest business unit, the Defence Geographic Centre.
On the 10th May 1999, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State announced that two Agencies, JARIC and Military Survey Defence Agency would merge on 1st April 2000 into a new agency to be known as the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency. The DGIA is based at four main UK sites: Feltham in West London, RAF Brampton near Huntingdon, Tolworth in Surrey; Hermitage near Newbury, and RAF Münchengladbach in Germany. The DGIA has some 1,700 staff; over half are civilians and all three Services are represented. The Agency acts as the Department's centre of excellence for the production of imagery intelligence and geographic information in support of current military operations, defence planning, general intelligence requirements and wider Government interests.

Military Survey Defence Agency

Established as a Defence Agency on 2nd April 1991. Its role was to ensure the provision of geographic and geospatial support to defence planning, training and operations. It provided the Armed Forces with the accurate mapping throughout the world.

JARIC Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre

RAF Brampton, Huntingdon, Cambs PE18 8QL
It acts as the Department's centre of excellence for the production of imagery intelligence. Its role is to exploit and analyse imagery from all available sources and produce intelligence products and services to meet the requirements of MOD and the operational Commands. It provides this intelligence to military commanders and the Government, in support of current military operations, defence planning and wider intelligence matters. JARIC was extensively reorganised early in 1999 to take full advantage of new technology. Although photographic processing remains the mainstay of much of the agencies' current business, digital technology is opening up new techniques for imagery analysis that are likely to be increasingly in demand, including for example computer-generated 3-D visualisations and the merging of multi-source images. The agencies envisage that they will have an increasingly overlapping requirement for new technologies to provide these capabilities.


It was not until 1905, shortly after the Boer War, that specific recommendations were made for the formation of an Intelligence Corps, despite the timeless need for intelligence throughout history. Thus in 1914 the Intelligence Corps, based in part at 5 Cork Street, Mayfair, began to develop its skills during World War One, including the use of air photographs, counter intelligence and methods of interrogation. Despite many successes the Corps planners decided intelligence was required only during times of war and the Corps was disbanded at the end of the War. Accordingly, when war broke out again, the Intelligence Corps was re-formed with the approval of King George VI on 19th of July 1940. The Corps' functions were similar to those it had carried out in the First World War Members were involved in security, travel control, censorship, special operations, interpreters/linguists, photographic interpreters. The Intelligence Corps played a big part in breaking the German Military and Political Code Machine - ENIGMA. At the end of the War, the Intelligence Corps played a prominent part in rounding up war criminals, and member were directly involved in the arrest of Heinrich Himmler at Bremervoerde. Since the Second World War, the Corps has deployed with the British Army on all of its major deployments- Korea, Suez, Brunei, Indonesia, Dhofar, Northern Ireland, Falkland Islands, the Gulf, Africa and the Former Yugoslavia. In recognition of its meritorious service the Corps was declared an 'Arm' on 1stFebruary 1985. An 'Arm' is defined as those Corps whose role is to be in close combat with the enemy. Based at Templer Barracks, Ashford, Kent for much of the post War period, The Intelligence Corps has now moved into the 21stCentury co-located with the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre (DISC) at Chicksands. The DISC is the UK Defence Agency responsible for training all personnel training in intelligence, security and information support. Sections include: SIW Special Intelligence Wing and WIU Weapons Intelligence Unit.


The British Army runs its own intelligence operation in the North of Ireland under the name of Northern Ireland Command Military Intelligence (NICMI). Little is known about NICMI and its true organisational structure. Top level data is handled by the Joint Action Unit, Northern Ireland (JACUNI). On the operational side, it is reputedly made up of staff from the SAS, the Royal Corps of Signals, the Royal Air Force (which pilots helicopter surveillance), 14th Intelligence Company and Field Research Units. These units were set up by Commander of Land Forces Major General Glover in 1980. All intelligence from Army sources is stored on the Crucible computer at Lisburn HQ which is maintained by 12th Intelligence and Security Company.

12th Intelligence and Security Company (EW and Computer specialists)

Formed: 1972

14th Intelligence and Security Company (Surveillance & Agent handling)

Formed: Mid 1978
Mission: To monitor known IRA terrorists and to carry out pre-emptive strikes against terrorist operations.
Jurisdiction: Originally Northern Ireland Only
Headquarters: Armagh. Personnel: 150 officers and men
Known as the thinking man's SAS, the 14th Intelligence & Security Company recruits its personnel from all three branches of the UK's armed forces. It was formed to provide a specialist security force that could be deployed against the various terrorist organisations that operate with the Northern Island Province. Its founder was an SAS Officer who had already served with MI6.

The men of the 14th tend to be smarter, stealthier, and less aggressive than those in the SAS, and are highly trained in all forms of covert surveillance. Those men that are selected by the 14th Intelligence Company for "Hazardous duties in Northern Ireland", are put through a tough six month training course where they are taught some of the skills they need by the SAS.

The operations that are carried out by the 14th Intelligence and Security Company are often indistinguishable from those of the SAS, and like the SAS it is highly secretive organisation, whose successes are never directly credit to the 'company'. It formed part of the Army's Intelligence & Security Group, and the 14th Cpn developed out of the previous covert '4th Field Survey Troop of the RE' formed in 1974 to replace the ill-fated Mobile Reconnaissance Force or MRF 'Freddies' formed in 1970 and disbanded in 1973. Its individual field teams are usually known as 'Dets' operating out of secret bases in the province.


Formed 1980-81.
Replaced the Unit Intelligence Officers for Agent Running 1969-1978 and the Research Office 1978-1980. The Force Research Unit is a covert military intelligence unit of the UK Ministry of Defence, under the Army's Special Intelligence Wing (SIW)at Ashford originally (now at Chicksands). FRU is thought to specifically target terrorist organizations in Northern Ireland from a secure base within the Intelligence Corps centre at Thiepval barracks. It is not clear the relationship between FRU, Royal Ulster Constabulary, MI5, GCHQ and 14 Company, however it is assumed that all work in tandem to support counterterrorist efforts in Northern Ireland. Its crest is a man with a net; its motto is "Fishers of Men". Its remit involves running agents to infiltrate terrorist organisations and gather intelligence. FRU's role is to:" target, recruit and run human sources from all divisions of the community, with priority given to the running of agents within the terrorist organisations themselves. The FRU's role is probably the most sensitive of all the covert operations undertaken within Northern Ireland. It is the only military unit that exploits pre-emptive intelligence gathered directly from its informants to combat terrorist activity." FRU secured 'restriction orders' in advance of a number of loyalist attacks in order to facilitate easy access to and escape from their 'target'. FRU, it is believed, had a representative at the weekly meetings of the Tasking and Co-ordination Group (TCG), the group responsible for liaison between all the different security forces/agencies including the RUC, MI5 and the British Army. According to the author of Ten-Thirty Three the FRU applied for 'restriction orders' at these weekly meetings which ensured that regular British Army/RUC patrols would avoid a particular area at a specified time. In theory this was to allow undercover operations to be carried out. In certain instances it is now claimed, the intention was to allow loyalist murder gangs to operate without interference. Both the McDaid and Slane families reported the presence and then suddendisappearance of patrols in their area leading up to both murders. The clear implication is that the Tasking and Co-ordination Group, composed of senior RUC and military personnel, were aware of the illegal activities of the Force Research Unit and loyalist paramilitaries from the Ulster Defence Association.


Formed in 1972. SMIU is not an established unit as such, each is actually administered directly by the Intelligence Corps . Around 50 specially selected Officers and NCO's liaised between the Army Command and the RUC/PFNI at Knock HQ, Special Branch at various levels of operation and command.


NITAT or Northern Ireland Training and Tactics Team while a genuine organization had a covert role in Northern Ireland and soldiers posted to 14th Intell Cpn for instance were often listed as being in NITAT, so its security role was consolidated and the name changed to I & S G in late 1978. There are at least two other I & S G in UK and Germany. 28th Intelligence Section, probably from the I & SG, maintained surveillance of alleged IRA activities in Germany.

Facilities (Northern Ireland)

  • Garnock House, near Lisburn. Army interrogation centre.

Surveillance & Intelligence Facilities (SIGINT provided by Royal Signals/CSO)

  • Ladas Drive, Castlereagh, Belfast. MI5/RIR(UDR) Intelligence and Main Interrogation Centre.

Established 1985-86.

  • (No 341?) Gilnahirk Road, Belfast. GCHQ/CSO Monitoring and Interception Facility(WW2 GPO Interception site, taken over in 1947 by GCHQ. Closed officially in 1978 as a CSO Base)
  • Torr Head, Ballycastle. Major Army communications Site (probably has a SIGINT function)
  • Oxford Island. Radar and Communications Base (may have SIGINT capability)

(though officially closed in 1978 as a CSO Base Island Hill, Comber may have continued to be used by GCHQ as an internal communications monitoring facility)

Dedicated Surveillance & Intelligence towers with attached bunkers

Built since 1984:

  • Belleeks.
  • Camlough.
  • Crievekieran.
  • Crosslieve (Dromintee).
  • Drumucknavall.
  • Foxhall Mountains.
  • Fathom Mountain.
  • Faughill Mountain.
  • Glassdrummond.
  • Lislea.
  • Sturgeon Mountain.
  • Slievesrack
  • Slievenbala(twin posts)

Intelligence Facilities on Civilian Property


  • Broadway Tower, Belfast.
  • Templar House, Belfast.
  • Divis Tower, Belfast.
  • Monitoring facility also reported to be based in 'Ward-19', Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast

Northern Ireland Military Command -Thiepval Barracks

  • GOC Land Forces HQ.
  • 39th Brigade HQ.
  • SMIU HQ.
  • SAS Liaison Office.
  • British Army Press office.
  • Belfast Regional Command. Thiepval Barracks, Belfast (corresponds to PFNI/RUC Belfast)
  • North East Regional Command. Ebrington Barracks, Derry (corresponds PFNI/RUC Rural East)
  • South East Regional Commanmd. Drumadd Barracks, Armagh (corresponds PFNI/RUC Rural West)
  • Abercorn Barracks, Ballykinlar, Co Down.
  • Lisanelly Barracks, Omagh, Co Tyrone.
  • Palace Barracks, Hollywood, Co Down
  • St Patricks Barracks, Ballymena Co Antrim
  • Mahon Barracks, Portadown, Co Armagh
  • Shackleton Barracks, Derry.
  • Alexander Barracks, Aldergrove, Co. Antrim.
  • North Howard Street Barracks, Belfast.
  • Fort Jericho, Belfast
  • Girwood Barracks, Belfast.
  • Musgrave Barracks, Belfast.


Founded: 1888
Headquarters: Admiralty Building, London. Established by Captain Henry Oliver the Naval Intelligence Department was originally a signal interception and code breaking section within the Royal Navy. However, this changed, when Admiral 'Blinker' Hall became head of the NID in 1914. Blinker Hall was considered by many to be one of the most intelligent and devious head of any British secret service department and is to have struck terror into the hearts of the enemy. Under his leadership, he not only built improved the existing cryptography section by employing, he also set up a Code Breaking School to help clear the back log of captured German messages, and also set up an extensive network of agents and spies in neutral countries.

Probably the NID’s finest moment, and the one move which helped bring the United States into the First World War was the interception of the Zimmerman telegram which indicated that the Germans were about to introduce unrestricted submarine warfare off the American Seaboard. Between the two world wars, NID or Room 40 (Old Building) as it was more often called was scaled down on the orders of the head of MI6, Sir Mansfield Cummings, probably because Hall's network of agents were better trained and more well equipped than his own agents. During the Second World War, the Naval intelligence Department once more grew in size, and planned and executed a number of operations, probably the most famous of which was Operation Mincemeat. This was an operation that was aimed at deceiving the Germans into thinking that landings for the forth-coming invasion of Sicily would take place in Greece. To achieve this a corpse, supposedly a Royal Marines major carrying plans for an allied invasion of Greece, was deposited by a British submarine on the Spanish coast in the hope that the Spanish authorities would inform the Germans. This plan, carried out in May 1943, was a resounding success, and the Germans diverted a significant force to the defence of Greece. At the end of WWII the Naval Intelligence Department was once more comparable in size and function to MI6 with its own agents, and once again it was scaled down, and now is a shadow of its former self. These days, NID concentrates on gathering and evaluation intelligence from a variety of separate naval sources including research ships, signal intelligence and underwater sensor arrays.


Founded: 1912
Headquarters: RAF West Drayton, London.
Founded shortly after the famous Sheerness Zeppelin incident, the Air Intelligence Service was supposed to allowed the UK to be able to classify all air movements within the UK. The AIS originally collated aircraft sightings from the other two branches of the armed services, the police and coast guard stations. During the first world war, the AIS provided tactical support for the Royal Flying Corp's activities in France against the Germans including keeping accurate tallies on the number of German aircraft destroyed in dog-fights, and the makes and models of German aircraft in use. Towards the end of the First World War, the AIS was asked to provide the Army with intelligence on German Troop positions, and so the Photo Reconnaissance Unit was formed as part of the AIS. During WWII, the AIS were once more responsible for co-ordinating all reports of enemy aircraft and providing Photo Reconnaissance work for the War Office. These days, the AIS are also responsible for co-ordinating NATO satellite intelligence that is gathered by UK via the network of NATO owned spy satellites. Finally, the AIS is responsible for co-ordinating with the Civilian Air Authority to provide a list of all current sanctioned civilian aircraft flights within the UK so that Military flying can be conducted as safely as possible in the busy skies of the UK.


Founded: 4th May 1972
Headquarters: RAF Rudloe Manor, Wiltshire.Located south-east of Bath, RAF Rudloe Manor is in fact just one of several sensitive military installations situated on the Spring Quarries, Copernacre Quarry, the villages of Hawthorn and Hudswell, and the town of Corsham.
Personnel: estimated to be around 50. Originally set-up to look into complaints of low-flying aircraft, AS2 had its brief widened to include the investigation of ‘UFO’ reports some time in 1979. The reason seems to be the growing concern within the MoD that 16000 or so UFO sightings reported to RAF bases, police stations and the MoD itself might have a defence implication after all.


Formed in 1987 and is directly in control of the SAS and SBS from its Headquarters at the Duke of Yorks Barracks in West London. The Director of SAS, an Army Brigadier, is also the Director Special Forces, while the deputy is a Royal Marines (SBS) Colonel. It maintains close contact with both the Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6) and Security organization (MI5) and with similar foreign SpecOps Commands, in particular USSOCOM.


Founded: 4th March 1941
HQ and 'Ready Unit': Duke of Yorks Barracks, Chelsea, London SW3.
Depot: Stirling Lines, Credenhill, Hereford (moving from Bradbury Lines/Stirling Lines, Hoarwithy Road, Hereford in late 1990's)
Personnel: 550-800. Microwave Network Link at COLDWELL.

22 Regiment SAS

Has four operational squadrons (A, B, D, G and R) comprising of four troops each (except R which is similar to the TA SAS, but all it members have had previous service in the British Armed Forces). Each troop should have 32 men organised into four 8-man patrols. However as the regiment is always undermanned this is not always the case. Each troop has a speciality in terms of an "insertion skill". These are:

  • Air: Parachuting
  • Mountain: Climbing And Walking
  • Mobility: Vehicles and Motorbikes
  • Boat: Boats and Canoes

The squadrons rotate every six months between three roles. These are:

  • Special Projects: Anti-Terrorism Role
  • Team Tasks: Overseas Training
  • Squadron Training: Deployment and Training

The Regiment remains one of the prime anti-terrorist and hostage rescue units in the world. It also has its headquarters at the Duke of York Barracks in West London while the main training base and depot has recently moved to new accommodation at Credenhill just to the north west of the city of Hereford in the west midlands of England. It is presently organized into five operational units, four Sabre Squadrons each with 4 operations squads of 16 men each again in turn divided in 4 four-man specialist units known as the Boat, Air, Mountain and Mobility Troops and the fifth unit being its own communications support in the form of the 264th (SAS) Signals Squadron, which provides for secure links for operations worldwide.

A Squadron

Troops: 1 (Boat), 2 (Air), 3 (Mobility) and 4 (Mountain). Formed from local British Army volunteers in Malaya, 1950.
Active service includes: Malaya 1950-58; Oman, Jan-Feb 1959; first squadron in Borneo, Jan-April 1963; first squadron in Aden/Radfan, April-May 1964; thereafter served in Aden, like other squadrons, for a few weeks at a time during retraining during Borneo tours; Borneo June-Oct 1964 and May-Oct 1965; Oman 1970-76, on four-month tours as part of British Army Training Team (BATT); Northern Ireland since 1976; Gulf 1990-91, provided two half-squadron motorised raiding groups for work behind Iraqi lines and the Balkans since 1993.

B Squadron

Troops: 6 (Boat), 7 (Air), 8 (Mobility) and 9 (Mountain). Formed from volunteers from 21SAS and other ex-SAS reservists who agreed to return to regular service for three years, Malaya 1950.
Active service includes: Malaya 1950-59; disbanded 1959; reformed for service in Borneo, 1963; Borneo Nov 1964-Feb 1965 and Nov 1965-Feb 1966; Aden at various times, including providing teams for undercover work in the city itself; Radfan 1966; Oman (Musandam Peninsula) 1970, including first operational free-fall jump by 22SAS; Oman (Dhofar) 1970-76; Battle of Mirbat, 18 July 1972; like other squadrons did several four-month tours; Prince's Gate, London, 5 May 1980 (Operation Nimrod); Falklands War 1982- proposed operations at Port Stanley and on Argentine mainland cancelled; Gulf 1991, provided three road watch patrols, including Bravo Two Zero; also provided reinforcements to A and D Squadrons;. Balkans since 1992; Afghanistan and Middle East since 2001.

D Squadron

Troops: 16 (Air), 17 (Boat), 18 (Mobility), and 19 (Mountain) Formed in Malaya 1951.
Active service includes: Malaya 1951-58; Oman (Jebel Akhdar) Nov 1958-Feb 1959; Borneo April-Aug 1963, Dec 1963-April 1964, Feb-May 1965, July-Sept 1966; Aden at various times in between Borneo tours; Northern Ireland as a rifle company, Sept-Nov 1969; Oman 1971-76, four-month tours; provided first troop for patrol/ambush work in Northern Ireland, Jan 1976; Falklands War 1982- formed a squadron-strength strike force; part of task force to retake South Georgia (Operation Paraquat), late April; Pebble Island raid (Operation Prelim), 13 May; Darwin/Goose Green raid on night of main landings, 21 May; seizure of Mount Kent area, 24 May-1 June; later relieved some G Squadron patrols; two troops on raid on seaward side of Wireless Ridge, 13/14 June; Gulf 1990-91, operated as a motorised raiding force behind Iraqi lines, Feb-April, troops coming together for certain operations; Balkans since 1992; Afghanistan and Middle East since 2001

G Squadron

Troops: 21 (Mobility), 22 (Mountain), 23 (Boat), and 24 (Air) Formed from a troop-sized cadre from the Guards Independent Parachute Company January 1967.
Active service includes: Oman 1970-76, including the Battle of Mirbat, one of the few times when two SAS squadrons were present in Dhofar; Northern Ireland from 1976; Falklands War 1982, ten 4-man patrols inserted on East and West Falkland from 10 May; one troop on Wireless Ridge raid; Gulf 1990, became the first squadron deployed, but later returned to UK to take over CRW duties and Balkans since 1993. This Squadron was formed to replace the disbanded C Squadron Formed from100 Rhodesian soldiers, originally known as Far East Volunteer Unit, Southern Rhodesia 1950. Which saw active service in Malaya 1951-53; disbanded on return to Southern Rhodesia; reformed 1961 and participated in several exercises in the Middle East, 1962-63; became the basis of the Rhodesian SAS in 1964; formal links with Britain cut after Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Rhodesia, 1965; participated in the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia civil war, 1966-1980, especially external operations in Zambia and Mozambique; expanded to become 1st SAS Regiment in 1978 and finally disbanded 1980.

CRW (Counter Revolutionary Warfare)

The main anti-terrorist capability is known usually within the SAS as the SP (Special Projects) Team and is drawn from whichever of the four Sabre Squadrons is on standby. Each squadron takes it in turn for a six-month period to act as the 'crisis alert unit'. The SP team is normally made up of approximately 80 personnel who are divided into four troops of sixteen men and while the SP operates similarly to the other squadrons during periods of training, the picture changes significantly when a terrorist incident occurs. The alert troop is broken down into a surveillance/sniper unit, while the remaining soldiers form the assault group. In addition, a Royal Air Force C-130 remains on standby at RAF Lyneham at all times should the SP Team require immediate long-range transportation. Unlike most special operations groups, the SAS rotates all of its squadrons through CRW/SP duty. Because of this, all SAS personnel are considered counter-terrorist qualified and refresher training is constant. Organizationally, the Special Projects unit is broken down into Red and Blue Teams, each with snipers and EOD trained experts.

Operations Research Unit

This is a major contributing factor to the continuing success of the SAS. It develops unique equipment for use by the SP team. It is this unit that developed the highly effective and now-widely used stun ('flash-bang') grenade. Other equipment included specialized ladders for train and aircraft assaults, night vision goggles, and audio/video equipment.

Training Directorate

Ensures that proficiency in firearms is constantly refined for close quarter's battle (CQB) in the 'Killing House' at the Hereford Training Depot. The basic CQB course is six weeks, during which troopers may fire in excess of 2,000 rounds. This skill is further enhanced during a squadron's SP duty. Adding an element of realism to the training is the use of live personnel as hostages during room clearing operations. SAS counter-terrorist and hostage rescue training is further facilitated by the inclusion ofhigh-ranking members of the UK government, many of who (including the Prime Minister) take part in actual training exercises. 22nd SAS demands an extraordinary level of physical fitness, stamina and technical ability from its personnel. They are trained in combat shooting and combat swimming, explosives and EOD, sabotage, sniping, heliborne-insertion, desert, mountain, arctic and jungle warfare and survival, languages, camouflage, parachuting using paravanes, HALO (high altitude and low opening) and HAHO (high altitude high opening), hostage rescue, defensive driving, as VIP bodyguards and much more.

The SAS Armoury

Has at their disposal a huge range of British and foreign weapons and explosives, including many used by the world's terrorists including 9mm SIG-Sauer L105A1 (P226), often used with the optional 20-round magazine. A custom-made variant of this, the 9mm SIG-Sauer L106A1 (P226K), has a shortened slide. The compact 9mm SIG-Sauer L107A1 pistol (P228) since 1992. For close-quarter assault, the 9mm H&K L80A1 submachine gun (MP5K), 9mm H&K L90A1 submachine gun (MP5KA1), 9mm H&K L92A1 submachine gun (MP5A3) and 9mm H&K L91A1 suppressed submachine gun (MP5SD3) which have been partly replaced by the 5.56mm H&K L101A1 assault carbine (HK53A3). In more conventional military operations, the 5.56mm Colt AR-15A2 Model 705 assault rifle is preferred, along with the 7.62mm H&K L100A1 battle rifle (G3K), 5.56mm FN L108A1 MINIMI and 5.56mm FN L110A1 MINIMI-Para light machine gun, 7.62mm Enfield L7A2 general-purpose machine gun and 40mmSR Colt M203 underbarrel grenade launcher (under AR-15A2 Model 702). Sniper rifles include the 7.62mm H&K PSG1 rifle, 7.62mm Accuracy International L96A1 bolt-action rifle, 7.62mm Accuracy International AWS suppressed bolt-action rifle, 8.6mm (.338 Lapua Magnum) Accuracy International L115A1 bolt-action rifle and 12.7mm (.50 BMG) Barrett L82A1 sniper rifle (Model 82A1). Since 2001 a number of 5.56mm Diemaco C8SFW carbines have been delivered (Canadian-built variants of the Colt CAR-15A3). These will mount a 40mmSR H&K AG36 underbarrel grenade launcher. The 18.5mmR (12-gauge) Benelli M1 Super 90 semi-automatic shotgun is also used in 'house-clearing'. The 5.56mm Enfield L85A1standard assault rifle of the British Army is only used by Territorial Army SAS units and when the 22nd SAS wish to pass as conventional soldiers. Vehicles include Land Rover 110 Defender utility vehicles armed with L7A2 machine guns. The 8th Flight of the Army Air Corps provides four Agusta A109A helicopters for use with the SAS, while the RAF's 7th Squadron supplies Boeing Chinook HC.3 helicopters (equivalent to CH-47D/E) with 7.62mm General Electric M134 miniguns.

Operational composition

This is such that the squadron is the largest force normally used to conduct a single operation, though in most cases the standard combat unit will be one or more patrols of four men. However operations of smaller size will usually require the squadron HQ to run a forward mounting base or to directly command troops in the field. If more than one squadron is " in-theatre" a regimental tactical headquarters will be deployed to take command. Sometimes even if a squadron or less is involved, the CO of the regiment will be present though Squadron commanders are usually the highest-ranking SAS members to take part in actual operations. A full-strength squadron would have six officers and seventy-eight other ranks, divided into a Headquarters and four Troops. The Officer Commanding (OC) is a major, with a captain as his Second in Command (2IC) and operations officer. Also in the HQ are the Squadron Sergeant Major (SSM), a warrant officer class 2, the Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant (SQMS), a staff sergeant, and a few clerks, storemen and armourers.

Each of the operational Troops, whether it specializes in mountain warfare, boating and diving, free-fall parachuting or vehicles, is authorised a captain and fifteen other ranks, further split into four 4-man patrols. In practice a squadron is almost never up to strength. Because of the shortage of 'badged' officers, the SSM with upto fifteen years of SAS experience, will often act as 2IC. Many 16-man Troops will not have officers and in these cases a staff sergeant, otherwise the troop 2IC, will be in command. The squadrons are rotated every six months to carry out different duties; these include squadron training in the UK or overseas, especially in the United States, Middle East and Brunei. Training foreign Special Forces. So called 'Strip Alert' or Crisis Response duty, ready for deployment anywhere in the world on very short notice and counter-terrorist duty, during which a squadron will come under the direction of the regiment's Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Wing.

21 (Artists) Regiment - Territorial SAS

With its HQ Squadron (Greater London); A Squadron (Greater London); B Squadron (Wales) and C Squadron (East Anglia and Eastern Wessex). This is actually the oldest SAS unit having been established in 1946 as a reserve unit and which currently recruits highly trained personnel in Southern England. It acts as a mirror unit for the 22nd SAS, as well as emphasising intelligence gathering. The second territorial unit is the

23 Regiment - Territorial SAS

With its HQ Squadron (West Midlands), A Squadron (Scotland), B Squadron (Yorkshire and Humberside) and C Squadron (North and North West of England) and which recruits largely in the north of England and Scotland. Formed in London in 1959, it was soon moved to Birmingham. It has squadrons based in some of the more important commercial areas and indeed can be used to 'monitor social unrest' for the Intelligence Services. It was created out of the Joint Reserve POW Intelligence Organization (TA) and the JRU-Joint Reconnaissance Unit (TA), this unit keeps alive the skills developed by the highly secretive Second World War organization, MI-9/P15/IS(9) and carries out combat rescue, escape and evasion, prisoner of war rescue or interrogation and clandestine intelligence gathering. There is also an additional communications unit the

63 (SAS) Signal Squadron

Royal Corps of Signals which is based in South East England and Eastern Wessex, this squadron's four troops, authorised 31 men each, provide communications support to 21 and 23 SAS. All TA SAS squadrons are authorized 79 all ranks each. With a total of eight squadrons the two regiments have a combined establishment of 632. The Sabre squadrons operate in the normal four-man patrols building up to sixteen-man troops.

Private Sector

The Special Forces make use of the services of former personnel though both the TA units and a variety commercial companies set up by ex SAS/BBS and SIS members to provide the private sector with specialist security services and in particular the authorities with clandestine capabilities ranging from surveillance, bodyguards, mercenaries and perhaps other more covert operations. These have included David Stirling's Watchguard based on Guernsey and established in the mid 1960's and closed down in 1976, known to mercenaries as 'Plan-A-War'; KMS Ltd, when finally exposed moved out of its Earls Court Offices to its 'sister' organization, Saladin Security at 13 Sloane Square, SW1; Control Risks; Thor Security Systems, established in 1976; and J.Donne Holdings, closed in 1981, one of its founders Maj Freddie Mace moved on to DCS.


Founded: June 1941
Headquarters: Whale Island, Portsmouth. Depot; Hamworthy, Poole.
Personnel: 90-100 men.
The SBS is a part of Britain's Special Forces Group. It has operated all over the world in its primary amphibious warfare role, as well as performing many other tasks. SBS has variously stood for Special Boat Section and Special Boat Squadron; since 1987 it has stood for SB Service. Before its reorganisation in 1987, the then Special Boat Squadron was about 150 strong, with about 50 reservists. Since then it has been expanded, but to what extent is not exactly clear. According to a Ministry of Defence statement on force structure, there are four squadrons (I Reservist) in the Special Boat Service.

M Squadron

The counter-terrorist force, consists of Black, Gold and Purple Troops. Sixteen-man operational troops are used, at least in the traditional swimmer-canoeist role, as they can be split into eight canoe pairs, four four-man patrols or two boat-loads. Inflatable and rigid-inflatable boats are operated by the SBS themselves, as are SDVs. The Rigid Raiders of 539 Assault Squadron RM, as well as the various landing craft used by this and other squadrons, provide further support. Air support would come from RAF Special Forces Flights, using Hercules aircraft and Chinook helicopters, and from the RN's Naval Air Commando squadrons, with Sea King helicopters. Recruits must be Royal Marines Commandos with at least three years service. They will have started off their careers with the 30-week initial stint at the Commando Training Centre or the 15-month Young Officers Course, mostly at the same establishment. Later they may have had further training in signals, heavy weapons, sniping etc. Those wishing to join the SBS must first go through a two-week aptitude test, which consists of the following: Boating Week. Candidates must pass a combat fitness test and pass the SBS swimming test, which demands 600m in 15 minutes, 50m clothed with weapon and belt kit, and 25m underwater. Complete all canoe trials, including a 5km march with Bergen and canoe and 30km canoe paddle. Diving Week. Complete a number of dives, generally show confidence and willingness to dive. Those successful will go on to the joint SAS/SBS selection course Brecon Beacons phase (3 weeks)- land navigation marches with Bergen and weapon, culminating in " long drag". The majority who drop out will do so in this phase. Pre-jungle training (2 weeks)- working in four-man patrols. Jungle Training, Brunei (6 weeks). Officer week/signals training (1 week). Support Weapons Training (1 week). Army Combat Survival Instructor Course (2 weeks)- survival, evasion, resistance and escape is well-known for its harsh 'Resistance to Interrogation training and the last phase where many will be failed ('Binned'). Continuation training takes place mainly at Hereford Demolitions (2 weeks), Observation Post Training (1 week),CQB Course (2 weeks), Individual Skills Courses (8 weeks)- during this time men will undergo training as Special Forces medics or signallers, or further demolitions training. Officers attend language training and a Special Forces commander's course, Static Line Parachute Course (3 weeks)- for those who are not qualified paratroopers. SBS students go on to their own 8-week boating and diving course, including underwater navigation and demolition, negotiating surf zones and navigating a 55km course in the Klepper canoe, and infiltration via submarine. Following this Marines are rated as Swimmer Canoeist Class 3, and entitled to wear the badge of this specialist qualification on the left cuff of their blue and green dress uniforms, " SC" over a wreath. This and the parachute wings worn on the upper right sleeve are their only distinctions; they wear the same green beret and capbadge as all Royal Marines, or white cap in blues. RM officers do not wear qualification badges, so they have just the parachute wings. For Marines to be promoted to Corporal they must qualify as SC2 and to Sergeant SC3. These advanced training courses emphasize operational planning and training supervision. Promotion to Sergeant also requires passing the Senior Command Course at the CTC, Lympstone in East Devon. Newly-qualified swimmer-canoeists will then join an operational troop, but of course training never ceases. They may go through further training in combat medicine, communications, counter-terrorist operations, foreign languages, SDV " driving" and many other skills. Exercises are conducted with friendly nations' units, the closest relations being with the SEALs and Dutch SBS. Weapons used include specialist and foreign weapons likely to found on the battlefield or in the hands of a terrorist group and include the silenced Sterling submachine gun, designated the L34A1 and the M16A2 a popular weapon among British special forces and often has the M203 40mm grenade launcher attached. Other weapons include the MP5 series of sub-machine guns, particularly the MP5SD which has now largely taken over the silenced SMG role, while the Browning Hi-Power remains the main pistol. The Royal Marines have a long sniping tradition, the Accuracy International L96A1 being the weapon used today. Support weapons include the 7.62mm GPMG ("Jimpy" or MAG), 66mm Light Antitank Weapon and 51mm mortar, the last even fired from specially modified canoes. Two-man kayak-type canoes are used by the SBS due to their stealth capability, portability and reliability. The latest model known to be in service is the Klepper Aeres Mark 13. Other craft are the Gemini inflatable and Avon Searider rigid-inflatable boats; these are always used with twin engines in case of failure on operations. The SBS started experiments with two-man Swimmer Delivery Vehicles in the late 1960s.Descendants of these prototypes are in service today, along with American-built four/six-man types. The Draeger LAR-V closed- circuit system is the most commonly used scuba gear today. On operations this will be worn with a dry-suit over the combat uniform. Communications are of course of paramount importance to men on long-range patrols, and the PRC-319 and PRC-320 radios are known to be in service.

Royal Marines – ML Mountain Leaders (Mountain & Arctic Warfare Cadre)

The MLTC originated in the early 1950s as the Cliff Assault Wing. As the name suggests, the main mission in those days was to get troops and equipment up coastal cliffs. However Cliff Leaders, as the members were known, also carried out exercises to improve their own climbing, originally in Wales and Scotland, but later also in Austria, Norway, Canada and the Alps. In 1962 the wing was renamed the Cliff Assault Troop, by which time it had begun training in general winter warfare techniques. Thus the CLs were called upon to prepare the men of No.43 Commando for the first Norwegian exercise carried out by the Royal Marines in October 1962. Several years later it was decided to increase the troop's expertise by putting all members through a reconnaissance course run by the Platoon Weapons Branch at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone in East Devon. This was done in 1965 and the unit now became known as the Reconnaissance Leader Troop. In 1970 the RL Troop became the Mountain & Arctic Warfare Cadre and moved to its present location at Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth in southwest Devon. The following year 3rd Commando Brigade returned to the UK after several years in the Far East. The brigade's main mission now was to be on NATO's northern flank and annual exercises were to be conducted in Norway these are conducted usually in the winter and in the far north of the country. The M&AW Cadre had a big role to play in preparing the Commando units for these exercises and Mountain Leaders were attached to all units in the brigade. 3rd Commando Brigade is among the world's leading exponents of cold weather warfare, thanks mainly to a small group of specialists who had been developing the necessary expertise for many years. The Cadre was also given the wartime role of long range foot and ski reconnaissance for the brigade. In the Falklands War of 1982 the twenty members of the Cadre and twenty men undergoing training as MLs accompanied 3 Commando Brigade " down south ". Their war began immediately after the landings of 21stMay. Four-man patrols were inserted all over the brigade's area of operations, in some cases relieving patrols of the SAS and SBS, and also mounting operations in co- operation with the latter. On 31stMay a patrol spotted Argentine commandos (Buzo Tactico) landing by helicopter near Top Malo House, in the far north of East Falkland and just south of the proposed Britishroute to Port Stanley. A request for an air strike on the Argentinians now setting up base in the house was denied; instead nineteen more MLs under their commander, Captain Rod Boswell, were flown in an hour after dawn. After landing one group opened fire on the Argentines with 66mm rockets and light machine guns, setting the house on fire, while the others began the assault on the enemy. In the subsequent 40 minute battle four MLs were wounded; of the 17 Buzo Tactico, 8 were killed and 9 captured. The M&AW Cadre operated in the mountains of northern Iraq in 1991, during Operation Haven, the Allied effort to bring aid to the Kurdish separatists then under heavy attack from the Iraqis. MLs worked in co-operation with US Army Special Forces and also the other elements of 3rd Commando Brigade in the area.

Marine Reconnaissance Troop (LRRP)

In 1992, during a period of reorganization in 3 Commando Brigade, it was decided that a permanent Medium Range Reconnaissance Troop (LRRP) would be formed. Usually referred to as Recce Troop, it was to form part of the Headquarters and Signal Squadron. Initially there were four 6-man patrols, each with an ML sergeant, two ML corporals and three General Duties Marines, men drawn from a Commando. In command was an ML lieutenant. By 2002 there are six four-man patrols. All members have gone through the sniper course at Lympstone, lasting six weeks, and a 3-week static line parachute course at RAF Brize Norton. Those who have not yet qualified as ML2s will have been trained by the Mountain Leaders to Reconnaissance Leader (RL) standard. Recce Troop concentrates on training in the same disciplines as the Cadre: in climbing and cliff assault, cold-weather survival, long range patrolling on ski and foot, long range communications, high altitude mountaineering, snow and ice climbing, target and route reconnaissance, primary interrogation and resistance to interrogation, and sabotage. In addition many members will have gone through the Army's Jungle Long Range Patrol Course, run in Brunei. Some also train as specialists in desert warfare, for the Royal Marines must be ready to deploy almost anywhere in the world. Later members may go through advanced training as divers and/or free-fall (HALO) parachutists.

Royal Marine – Comacchio Group

Founded: 3rd October 1978.
Mission: To protect the UK oil fields in the North Sea from terrorism and also to protect the UK's Sea Born Nuclear Weapons whilst in port, and to protect the Coastal Nuclear Power Stations from terrorist attack. UK Mainland, and Scottish islands.
Headquarters: HMS Condor, Arbroath.(45 Commando and Arctic Warfare Group)
Personnel: 300-350 and contains a large contingent of combat swimmer-canoeists from the SBS. They train to carry out assaults on rigs from helicopters, small raider craft and underwater from Submarines or by parachute-scuba insertions. A group of Royal Marines initially set-up in the late 70's to protect north sea oil rigs from terrorism. The name of the group, Comacchio, was taken from a WW2 battle honour. From the early 80's the group's role expanded to include aspects of naval security, including the guarding of Britain’s Independent Nuclear Deterrent centred mainly on the West Coast of Scotland. The group's personnel are highly trained, with emphasis on quick response and accurate shooting. They have their own small craft for waterborne movement.

The UK's Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF)

Capability is provided by the 10,000 strong 16th Air Assault Brigade based in Colchester, Northeast of London. It comprises two out of the Parachute Regiments three elite Battalions (1st, 2nd or 3rd); one airmobile trained Infantry Battalion; the 7th Para, RHA with 18 105mm light guns; the 21stDefence Battery, RA, with Javelin SAM and an air support component that will eventually have 18 CH47 Chinooks and 18 Puma's. However it the light of the growing demands made on the armed forces since 9-11 the helicopter element is likely to be increased to give even greater mobility and enhanced with a dedicated gunship capability in due course. The Brigade does contain one genuine Special Forces unit in the form of Pathfinder Platoon of the Parachute Regiment, which has a very effective LRRP capability and is similar in many respects to the SAS. Marines

3rd Commando Brigade

The Royal Marines also provides a major component of Britain's JRDF in the form of the this Brigade with its HQ in Plymouth, Devon has under its command 40, 42 and 45 Commando, battalion-sized combat units in addition to a range of support units that make this a very efficient and self-sufficient elite rapid reaction force.


Founded: 1st April 1991
Mission: To provide a single organisation to under-take cutting edge none nuclear weapons research for the UK. Today: Essentially unchanged except that DERA now provides hi-tech research for none military organisations.
HQ: Ively Road, Farnborough GU14 0LX
DERA is spread over a number of sites; Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, Fort Halstead near Sevenoaks in Kent, Malvern in Gloucestershire, and Porton Down Wiltshire.
Personnel: 11,000 staff and researchers
DERA was formed through the amalgamation of a number of research organisations that were once controlled by the MoD; the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE), the Biological and Chemical Warfare (BCW) division, the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE), and Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE). DERA provides services and research into Aircraft research such as aerodynamics, instrumentation, metallurgical research, and hypersonic engine design. In the areas of electronic communications research DERA has provided systems for satellite communications weapon guidance, semiconductor devices, lasers and night vision devices. Its main effort was concerned with defence but the work was also relevant to civil scientific projects, such as cancer therapy, satellite communications and metal cutting and welding.

Since the First World War, the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down had carried out experiments on volunteers to understand better the effects of chemical agents that might be used against British troops in warfare and improve protective measures. Has developed a close working relationship with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infections Diseases at Fort Detrick, about 50 miles north of Washington. By 1991 the Chemical Defence Establishment had become the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment and was one of the six new Defence Support Agencies. In 1995, the Establishment, now known as the Biological and Chemical Warfare (BCW) division, became part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). The research DERA carries out includes biological and chemical warfare interdiction, pathogen production and in experimental airborne infections, thus providing some of the earliest UK effort in the then embryonic sciences of biotechnology and aerobiology. DERA is also one of the few facilities in the UK to do active research into the Hanta and the Ebola family of viruses. On the 1st July 2001, DERA was split into two organisations: QinetiQ, a private company, and the DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), which remained an agency of MOD. The establishment is now known as DSTL Porton Down. DSTL now delivers defence research, specialist technical services and the ability to track global technological developments. In July 2002, the controversial US Carlyle Group took a 34% stake in QinetiQ. Controversy has also regularly surrounded the activities of Porton Down itself and indeed in July 2003 the suspicious death of Dr David Kelly once more pointed the spotlight upon this secretive establishment. Dr Kelly was suspected of being the source for embarrassing leaks to the BBC about the so-called 'dodgy dossier' on Iraqi WMD published in September 2002 was from 1984 to 1992 the Head of Microbiology at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment. Kelly took part in the trilateral visits to sites in the former Soviet Union, made up of Russian, American and British experts. He was Senior Advisor on Biological Weapons to UNSCOM from 1994-99, and led and participated in many inspections in Iraq from 1991 to 1998. Kelly was also among the hardliners who claimed that Iraq had WMD. In October 2001, Kelly also claimed, that in 1985, Iraq had obtained Anthrax by mail order from the Virginia-based American Type Culture Collection. Cobbett Hill Site, Pirbright Camp in Surrey. re-opened as SATCOM and Transmitter R & D site by DERA in 1994-95

Additional reports on the MOD, the JIB from 1945 to 1964, Military, Air Force and Naval Intelligence, BRIXMIS (1946-1991) and the Special Forces are available from AFI Research


The Origins of the modern Intelligence and Security Services The Intelligence Services can trace their origins back to the Elizabethan spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham in as early as 1573 and indeed for hundreds of years British agents had gathered information and taken part in secret operations, at home, and in all parts of the world on a largely ad hoc basis, but it was not until the 19th century that a formal, permanent organization began to take shape.

In 1803 a Depot of Military Knowledge was established and that provided information, a library and maps during the Napoleonic Wars, but was disbanded in 1815 after the former Emperor's final exile. Intelligence was to be shamefully neglected until the debacle of the Crimean War where British Commanders had little information on the Russian defences, troop numbers, equipment or intentions with near catastrophic consequences. It was only Major Thomas Best Jervis's private initiative that provided suitable maps for the British and later French forces. However this did lead to the creation on 2nd February 1855 of a Topographical & Statistical Office, under Jervis, within the War Office. With a staff of 2 officers, a clerk and 26 lithographers it was established in an old coach house off Whitehall until its move in 1856 to Spring Gardens.

TSD-Topographical & Statistical Department

  • Director
  • Library
  • Topographical Branch
  • Statistical Branch with;
    • Section A (France, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Asia & Africa)
    • Section B (UK, India, Spain, & Portugal)
    • Section C (Austria, Scandinavia and Russia)

On the Ist April 1873 Major General Sir Patrick MacDougall (replaced in 1878 by MG Sir Archibald Allison)became the first head of a new Intelligence Branch with a staff 26 and this absorbed the TSD.

Intelligence Branch

  • Deputy AG for Intelligence
  • Topographical Section
  • Section A (Austria, Russia and Scandinavia)
  • Section B (UK & Colonies)
  • Section C (Germany, Spain, Switzerland & Portugal)
  • Section D (Turkey, France, Italy, Greece, Asia & Africa)

A re-organization in 1877 placed the ID under a Deputy QMG for Intelligence:

  • Central Section (Admin & Registry)
  • Section A (France, Belgium & Military History)
  • Section B (UK, Colonies & Imperial Defence)
  • Section C (Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark & Americas)
  • Section D (Russia, India, Asia, Far East, Spain & Portugal)
  • Section E (Austria, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Norway & Africa)
  • Section F (Topographical)

While on 1st June 1887 the ID finally came under a Director of Military Intelligence (DMI), Major General Henry Brackenbury (replaced Allison in 1885 and served until 1896)adding an additional Mobilization Section. In 1896 at the outbreak of the Boer War. It was renamed the Intelligence Division.

  • Section L (Library)
  • Section H (Special Duties),added 1899, Major (later BGen Sir) James Edmonds was placed in charge and was responsible for 'special duties' including censorship, counter-intelligence and 'secret service'

During War Office re-organization in 1901 which amalgamated the ID with the Mobilization Division, Section H was replaced by Subdivision-13 which contained a 'temporary' three-man 'Secret Section', 13A. The new DG of Mobilization and Military Intelligence (DMMI), Lt,General Sir William Nicholson (who replaced Sir John Ardagh 1896-1901) argued for the section to be made permanent. He was supported by the head of Section-13 Colonel (later MG Sir) J. K. Trotter. However Lord Harwicke's Committee of Enquiry in March 1903 disagreed and 13A was abolished. Director General of Mobilization and Intelligence (1901-1904)

Mobilization Division

Intelligence Division (with Sub-Divisions covering Strategy; Foreign & India and Special Duties)

The restructuring of the War Office in 1904-06 saw Intelligence reduced once again to an advisory sub-committee within the DMO-Directorate of Military Operations. A new 'Special Section' (later MO5) would be formed under Major James Edmonds in late 1907 with a staff of one Major (later a Conservative MP for Woolwich in 1910) and a retired Police detective. The DMO Maj.General (later Lt. General Sir) John Ewart acknowledged the inadequacies and agreed that Edmonds should try to expand espionage operations particularly in Germany, in December 1907. The DNI Rear Admiral (later Sir) Edmond Slade was also apparently 'dismayed' to discover that the Admiralty's NID was just as unprepared for 'Secret Service'. Finally in March 1909 R. B. Haldane, the Secretary of State for War set up with Cabinet approval, a subcommittee of the Committee of Imperial Defence to consider the threat of Foreign espionage.

Directorate of Military Operations (1904-07)

  • DMO
  • MO1 Strategy
  • MO2 Foreign Intelligence with 8 sub-sections A to H
  • MO3 Admin and Special Duties including Espionage, Censorship, WT/Cables & Library
  • MO4 Topographical

In the major reforms of 1907 this became

  • DMO
  • MO1 Strategy
  • MO2 Foreign Intelligence (Germany, Holland, Austria-Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Near East,
  • USA, Latin America, Balkans & Africa)
  • MO3 Foreign Intelligence (France, Belgium, Russia, Far East and Scandinavia)
  • MO4 Topographical
  • MO5 Special Section (with CE added in 1909 with the creation of the Secret Service Bureau)
  • MO6 Medical Section (disbanded in August 1914, reformed in April 1915 as War Office cover for SIS

and dealing with enemy ciphers)

  • MO7 Press Censorship (formed 24th August 1914 to deal with news censorship and public relations)
  • MO8 Cable Censorship
  • MO9 Postal censorship

and together with MO5 placed under the Directorate of Special Intelligence headed by Brg-General G.K. Cockerill

In December 1915 the Directorate of Military Intelligence was reformed and sections took the prefix MI in place of MO. MI-1 becoming the Secretariat responsible for Secret Intelligence, with MI-1(a) Admin; MI-1(b) Co-ordination of SI; MI-1(c) the military cover name for the SIS, then headquartered in the Metropol Hotel in Northumberland Avenue and MI-1(d) Analytical & reports. MI-1(e) formed in July 1916 for SIGINT/DF. MI-1(g) September 1918 to co-ordinate security of information & deception. The prefix MI-6 at that time referred to a section dealing with War Trade. MI-10 formed in 1917 to handle foreign military liaison & attaches. MI-1(c) would be removed from the control of the Admiralty and War Office to the foreign Office in 1917, but the move was not formalized officially until 1919 when with the end of War Trade the prefix MI-6 became available for use by the SIS. In 1922 DMO & I again replaced the DMI which was not reinstated until March 1940.

Directorate of Military Intelligence

  • DDMI (Organization)
  • MI-1 Administration
  • MI-4 Geographical Section
  • MI-6 Special Duties-SIS
  • MI-8 GC & CS and Y Service. COMSEC
  • MI-9 POW Interrogations and controlled by MI-6
  • MIL Liaison
  • MIR Non-Conventional Warfare (later part of SOE)
  • DDMI(Information)
  • MI2 Country Sections (ME, FE, Scandinavia, USA, USSR, Latin America)
  • MI3 Country Sections (Rest of Europe)
  • MI-10 Technical Intelligence
  • MI(JIC) Liaison between DMI and the JIC
  • Director of Defence Security Intelligence
  • MI5

Secret Service Bureau

The result of its findings was the creation of a Secret Service Bureau which was to be finally established in 1909. A Naval Section would be responsible for Espionage and a Military Section for Security. By early 1910 these were renamed a Home Section under the War Office as MO-5, much later to become the Security Service (MI5). While the Foreign Section under a Naval Officer, Captain Mansfield Cumming, which would be restored to Admiralty control, War Office covers of first MO6 then MI-1(c), and continue to be responsible for overseas intelligence gathering. The Foreign Section soon to be known as the Secret Service or SIS also gained a Military cover designation of MO-5 (a). The major re-organization of intelligence and the War Office in 1916 saw the creation of the Directorate of Military Intelligence. MO-5 would become MI-5 and while the Secret Intelligence Service as it was now known gained a new Military cover-name of MI-1C and now became part of the War Office. It also became accountable to and directed by the Foreign Office, which largely funded its budget.

Historical review of early Intelligence Headquarters include

  • 4 New Street, Spring Gardens, Admiralty Arch, London SW1 (ID) 1873-74 (TSD Topographical & Statistical Department here 1856-73, absorbed into new ID-Intelligence


  • Adair House, 20 St James Square (ID) 1874-84
  • 16-18 Queen Anne's Gate (MI – Intelligence Section) 1884-1901
  • Winchester House, 21 St James's Square (MI) 1901-06(New Mobilization and MID moved its Intelligence Section here in 1901)
  • Old War Office-Whitehall (MI) 1906 November-1909 (remained HQ for MO until January 1916 and then for the DMI/DMO/DMI in turn)
  • Watergate House, 13-15 York Buildings, London.(SSB-Home, SSB-Foreign in Metropol Hotel) 1909-1913


Acts reflecting upon Secrecy and Human Rights in the UK 2003

The Freedom of Information Act 2000

The act established a general right of access to information held on people by public bodies in England Public bodies must now publish the information they hold on individuals.

The Public Records Act

It regulates the release of government information, such as Cabinet papers, under the 30-year rule. The information commissioner is responsible for enforcing and overseeing the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts. Campaigners for greater openness in Government have argued that the commissioner has not yet interpreted his role widely enough or doing enough to ensure people have access to the data held on them.

Data Protection Act 1998

The act was introduced as a response to growing public disquiet about personal information held on computers. It created a good practice code for holders of personal information, which means they must process data accurately and for limited purposes. The act gives individuals rights to access the data held on them and to seek compensation if data is wrongly held or used, though there are exemptions such as national security and law enforcement. Organisations can charge £10 for such requests. The act created a Data Protection Registrar, whose job it was to monitor compliance, but this has been replaced by the Information Commissioner.

The Interception of Communications Act 1985

The act, for the first time, created a framework for the interception of mail and telephone communications. Under the act the home secretary needs to be convinced of one of three criteria before he can sign an interception warrant: a risk to the national security of the UK; a threat of serious crime; or a threat to the economic well-being of the UK.

The act also sets out guidelines on the way intercepted material could be copied, distributed and stored. Interception of communications commissioners Set up by the above act, the commissioner is primarily responsible for reviewing warrants issued by the home secretary and the Scottish Executive to intercept communications.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000

RIPA updated the law on the interception of communications and puts the onus on internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose information to the government when required. It has been branded a "snoopers' charter" by human rights campaigners who say it gives the government unprecedented powers to monitor the communications of law-abiding citizens. It supposedly provides further guidance on the use of covert surveillance and gives the state new powers to access encrypted computer data. However RIPA also requires British internet providers (ISP) to be connected to a new MI5 e-mail interception centre established in London. Although mass trawling of communications by GCHQ is only ‘officially allowed’ for foreign intelligence or external operations, RIPA has provided a useful loophole in the form of a new warrant known as ‘an override certificate’ which allows GCHQ to carry out extensive surveillance of domestic communications, rather than just on a specific target.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal

The tribunal, which was set up by RIPA and replaced the Interception of Communications Tribunal, is designed to deal with complaints from the public about surveillance by the intelligence services and the police. It was set up to sit in secret but, after a challenge by the Guardian newspaper under the Human Rights Act, will now sit in public when there is no "threat to national security".

Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC)

The OSC's remit is to review authorisations by chief officers of police, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad and HM Customs, for operations involving entry onto private property, or interference with property or telephones, without the consent of the owner. When surveillance commissioners are supposedly required to give prior approval If the target premises is a home, a hotel bedroom or a business. If legally privileged information, confidential personal details or confidential journalistic material is likely to be acquired The OSC also reviews operations involving human intelligence sources - spies and informants and is funded by the Home Office, does not have the power to review operations carried out by the secret services or the military.

Lawful Business Practice Regulations

Another product of RIPA, the regulations establish in what ways employers can snoop on their employees. Employers can intercept communications, including e-mails, letters and phone calls, without their employees' consent. The employers need only suspect that "regulations are not being complied with" to begin monitoring, although they do have to inform staff this may take place. Employees are protected by the Data Protection Act, which provides guidelines for the way in which the information gathered can be used for.

Intelligence Services Commissioner

The commissioner reviews the warrants issued by the home secretary that authorise interference with property and telephone equipment by the intelligence services. He also reviews the use of intrusive and covert human surveillance by the security services. Lord Brown also has powers to review the activities of the secret intelligence services abroad, even those which been sanctioned by the foreign secretary. The commissioner can demand access to documentation from the security services and makes an annual report to the prime minister that is then presented to Parliament.

The Security Service Act 1989

Forms the statutory basis for MI5 and its position within the remit of the Home Secretary. It provides for a complaints procedure through the Security Service Tribunal, PO Box 18, London SE1 0TZ.

The Intelligence Services Act 1994

Forms the statutory basis for both SIS (MI6) and GCHQ and their position within the remit of the Foreign Secretary. The Act clearly defines the remit for GCHQ's work, "to monitor or interfere with electromagnetic, acoustic and other emissions" It provides for a complaints procedure through the Intelligence Services Tribunal, PO Box 4823, London SW1A 9XD

The Official Secrets Act 1989

The most important section of this act replaces section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 by provisions protecting more limited classes of official information.

The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

Widens the concept of ‘terrorist activities’ to include many areas of civil disobedience, political opposition, dissent and subversion. This expanded definition of ‘terrorism’ can be used to criminalise any form of civil protest or extra-parliamentary action.
A) It allows the unlimited detention of terrorist ‘suspects’ who cannot be removed from the country. The ‘suspicion’ is to be based solely upon ‘intelligence’ reports even if largely unsubstantiated, and the suspect will not know what the evidence is against them. This has required the UK to derogate from article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
B) It requires telecommunication providers to retain all traffic data from e-mails, faxes, land line and mobile phone calls and records of private internet usage to be kept for a minimum of 12 months. Under the act, data used by phone companies and internet service providers must be provided to the authorities when there is considered to be a threat to ‘national security’.
C) It allows free exchange of ‘personal’ information between the Customs & Excise, Immigration, Police and Inland Revenue. The act allows the public bodies to disclose personal information to the authorities when criminal investigations are under way and allows Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue to disclose financial details to the authorities.
D) It allows the UK Government to ‘fast track’ EU Justice and Security Legislation by introducing them by secondary legislation.
E) It allows for asylum-seekers' and refugees' fingerprints to be kept on record for 10 years.
F) Extends these new powers to MOD and BT Police.

Defence, press and broadcasting advisory committee

The committee is an informal body made up of five government officials and 12 media representatives which regulates the publishing or broadcasting of information that may be a threat to national security. There are standing DA notices covering five sensitive areas - military operations and plans; nuclear weapons; codes; sensitive installations and home addresses; and the intelligence services. The notices are not legally binding but most newspaper editors and broadcasting chiefs tend to pay heed as it does not look good to be seen to be endangering national security or servicemen's lives. The committee's secretary, Rear Admiral Nick Wilkinson, also gives informal advice to the media and did so during the Iraq war on the activities of special forces.

Wireless Telegraphy Act 1998

This act, which updates earlier legislation, governs the management of the radio spectrum. Basically anyone using a frequency making up part of the spectrum - from mobile phone companies to radio stations - has to get a licence from the Radio Communications Agency, which is soon to become part of the watchdog OFCOM. Under the act it is illegal to transmit on a frequency without a licence - for example using an audio transmitter bug.

International Agreements directly affecting the UK Intelligence Community

SIGINT Agreement 1940

A highly secret agreement on the sharing of SIGINT responsibilities between the UK and USA was signed in November 1940, and was a fore-runner of the later BRUSA and UKUSA agreements. It resulted in a small US Liaison team arriving at BP as early as January 1941 and co-operation was already extensive and ‘unqualified’ between the FECB in Singapore and the USN SIGINT onCorregidor by mid 1941, some six months before Pearl Harbour. It had also been extended to include Canada, Australia, Nationalist China and the Dutch NEI on Java.

Hambro-Donovan Accord

26th June 1942. Led to two major agreements being signed:

  • A) Between COI/ OSS and SOE, covering Special Operations (SO)
  • B) Between COI/ OSS and SIS (MI6), covering Special Intelligence (SI)

The agreement was later expanded on 16th June 1943 to improve Counter-Espionage co-operation with MI5 and Section V of MI6 by the creation of the X2 Division OSS was established on 13th June 1942 to replace COI who had conducted the initial negotiations)

BRUSA Agreement

17th May 1943. Monumentally important SIGINT Accord between GC&CS and the US Code-breaking organization at Arlington Hall. Forced a massive reassessment of the Cryptological effort and saw the US slowly become first an equal and later, the senior partner. Brought many important changes to operations within Bletchley Park.

CIG-JIB Accord 1946

In February-March 1946 ‘C’ (Menzies) chaired a Secret Anglo-American Conference in London, representing the UK, Canada & Australia. The final agreement certainly covered joint SIGINT and perhaps other important aspects of Intelligence and Security. Also known as the Atlee-Truman Accord, it resulted in the exchange of liaison officers between CIG and SIS. It was further amended the following year to take into account the creation of the CIA and the NSC or National Security Council.

CIA-SIS Intelligence Agreement 1947

The creation of the CIA as a replacement for the CIG in June 1947 quickly led to an important Anglo-American agreement parallel to UKUSA in the areas of HUMINT operations and territorial responsibilities between the CIA and SIS. The Agreement was also in principle aimed at preventing operations being conducted without agreement in each others territory and the recruitment of each others nationals. The British and US Intelligence & Security Services would continue their wartime co-operation.

UKUSA Agreement 1948. (UK-USA Security Agreement)

The most important single Intelligence agreement (‘The Secret Treaty’) made within the Western (English Speaking) World. Set the stage for SIGINT in the post 1945 period and the Cold War. The negotiations throughout 1946-47 involved Australia, Canada and New Zealand SIGINT services as well as ‘Second Parties’ with the UK. Signed in June 1948 it brought about the important geographical SIGINT division of responsibilities assigned to the UK and US SIGINT Agencies. The US DoD formed the AFSA on 20th May 1949 to control the cryptological activities of the US Forces; this was replaced in October-November 1952 by a single Agency for both COMINT and COMSEC, the NSA. Changes to the UKUSA Agreement in 1952-53 were to govern much of GCHQ and NSA activities over the following fifty years. It also brought in the IRSIG or International Regulations on SIGINT (applied only in full to the five original signatories), in its Third Edition by 1967.

Further developments within the UKUSA community came about when the FBI began pushing other countries to adopt the IUR - International User Requirements. This is because the US intelligence agencies wanted allied countries to have standardised intelligence systems that they could use to ensure interception of the increasingly widely used mobile telephone and e-mail technology. For instance, the US intelligence agencies might want to monitor someone from one country using a mobile phone in another country, that is routed through the phone system of a third country. In 1993, the FBI arranged a meeting to promote the Requirements at its headquarters in Quantico, south of Washington DC. Confidential European Union (EU) papers record that the meeting included EU representatives plus Canada, Norway, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. In January 1995, the 15 EU governments secretly agreed to the requirements without any reference to their national parliaments. Since then, there has been controversy as the legislation was pushed through in each country. A 1995 European Union police report had indeed noted the need "to create new regulations for international co-operation so that the necessary surveillance will be able to operate." The next move was a "Memorandum of Understanding" drawn up to extend the US-EU system to the non-EU countries. The key group for promoting this co-operation in internal surveillance is the:

International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar (ILETS) -1993

Founded by the FBI its membership is made up of the same 20 countries that met in Quantico earlier in 1993. The core of ILETS is the five "UKUSA" intelligence allies: the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There are thus two global surveillance systems involving those five countries: the US-led Echelon system for international surveillance and the ILETS co-operation for co-ordinated internal surveillance on the nationals within each member country. European Union documents reveal that by October 1996 Australia and Canada had formally supported the International User Requirements and that New Zealand was considering the means by which they could support the 'Requirements'. By 1998 a series of meetings in Rome (July), Vienna and Madrid (October) between the expert groups ILETS, IUR and STC (Standing Technical Committee) had called for ‘adjustments’ to the 1995 ‘requirements’ to be made as a matter of urgency to cope with advancements in technology. The pace of change and expansion of the numbers and scope of specialist groups has accelerated greatly since 9-11. As early as 1998, ENFOPOL 98, dated 3 rd December and further amended by ENFOPOL 19 dated 15th March 1999, had called for the identification of internet users to the authorities to include “IP address, credit card number (added by ENFOPOL 19) and E-mail address.

The ‘Lyon Group’ – 1996

The G8 Senior experts Group on Trans-national Organized Crime was formed after the G8 Prime Ministers meeting in Lyon. It is deeply involved with both ECHELON and ILETS. Alongside G8 is P8 (Political 8) which deals with terrorism, crime and illegal migration and this has expanded into numerous specialist groups and meetings such as the G8 Sub-Group on High-Tec Crime held in Paris in May 1999 which set out the agenda influencing the EU-FBI surveillance plans.

CAZAB Conferences -1967

An important innovation in creating closer relations and greater co-operation between the main English-speaking Intelligence and Security services was first held in Melbourne in November 1967. The ‘best and the brightest’ senior officers attended the conferences which were held every 18 months. The next two were held in New York and then in London in May 1974. In spring 1988 Stella Rimington and the DGSS Patrick Walker attended a CAZAB Conference at a high security venue on an Australian Island. Since the end of the Cold War the conferences have continued but under a new name and with a somewhat different, more immediate, inclusive and broader format, far more responsive to the needs of countering the growth of international terrorism.

KILOWATT Group - 1977

International Counter-Terrorist Intelligence Network (code-named KILOWATT Group when formed in 1977 at the instigation of Israel and largely in response to the Munich Massacre of 1972) made up of USA, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and Israel. It ensures the free flow of intelligence about terrorist groups and political extremists and Israel plays the an important role in this network with both MOSSAD and Shin Beth at the centre of operations. Liaison links may well now have been established with other nations and some may indeed have been invited to help strengthen the network in due course. Because the Israelis and the Germans Intelligence Services undoubtedly hold the most comprehensive registry of information on international terrorism and political extremism, a special and highly secret permanent link was established between MOSSAD in Jerusalem and the BND at Pullach near Munich, using high speed, hyper-encrypted communications known as 'C37A' from a SIGINT site near Tel Aviv and '6XM8' from a similar site at Monschau, near Hoefen on the Belgium border, top secret material can be fed from MOSSAD, Unit-8200's huge SIGINT facilities just outside Herzyyliah and the internal security service Shin Beth straight to LIZ ( the Situation Information Centre) and the massive 'personal filing system' at Pullach for distribution through the Schengen Information Service and to most other countries and organizations involved. MOSSAD however probably feeds the USA directly though RAF Menwith Hill and perhaps the UK as well.

Club de Berne - 1971

The secret "CLUB DE BERNE" is a supposedly ‘informal’ association founded in Berne in 1971 to enable the exchange of classified information particularly on terrorism and subversion, between the Intelligence and Security Services of Western, originally EU only, states. Today, this exclusive club is said to unite the intelligence services of some 19 countries including Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Denmark, Britain, Switzerland, France and now presumably the USA. TheBerne Club organises meetings, technical conferences, and investigation operations. The club has its own communication system, which helps it combat terrorism. All the member countries work co- operatively, while its true activities, its leadership and its legal basis remain "top secret" and are apparently not even known in the "Bundeshaus" in Berne. Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal are reported not to be full members, but certainly are represented by liaison officers

The Schengen Information Services and the Trevi Group, both highly secret Intelligence Service cooperation or information groups all have representatives from the British Intelligence and Security Services.

There were known to be over 1,000 Defence and Security Agreements and Treaties (such as the ABCA agreement of 1946 for Military Co-operation between the main UKUSA Countries) in force between the main UKUSA Countries by as early as 1990. Several hundred of these deal directly with Intelligence, Security and Terrorist activities.

In the Defence field the Spaatz-Tedder accord of 1946 which would later be ratified by Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin in 1948 and become the basis of the permanent basing of US Forces in the UK. This was further strengthened by the NATO Treaty of 4th April 1949, another NATO Agreement on US Forces based abroad, signed in June 1951 and finally the presence of US Forces in Britain was given statutory rights by the Visiting Forces Act of 1952)

(c) AFI Research - Richard Bennett & Katie Bennett - August 2003

  1. Wikispooks comment: 'Misleading' the Warren Commission report certainly was, but to call it 'ineffective' is to take its stated aims at face value.