The missions tasked to the Increment are so-called 'black ops' - deniable missions that would be disavowed by the British government if compromised. These can include:
- secret military assistance to foreign powers
- clandestine insertion and extraction of intelligence agents
- covert reconnaissance / intelligence gathering
Naturally enough, no official confirmation of the existence or operations of such a unit has ever been forthcoming.
The most reliable report in the media so far that such a MI6-UKSF cadre exists was in a January 2012 BBC report on MI6/UKSF operations in Libya that makes mention of an 'E Squadron', noting that the unit was "formed five years ago to work closely with the intelligence service, MI6, and is mainly involved in missions where maximum discretion is required". The BBC report goes on to say that E Squadron is "the modern-day successor to the shadowy cell sometimes referred to as the Increment."
It is believed that the Increment ranks feature SAS and SBS operatives who have been specially trained and selected to work with MI6. It has been reported that every SIS station chief has a direct line to the SAS Duke of York's Barracks in London and that close ties exist between the two units. The Secretive unit is also manned by operatives from the Joint Support Group, the SRR and the Intelligence Corps.
It is thought that the SAS Anti-Terrorist team often provide the men for Increment operations. Men from M Squadron, the SBS Maritime Counter Terrorism (MCT) unit also provide manpower. When working for SIS, the SBS is rumoured to have used its skill at operating underwater to place trackers on vessels docked in foreign ports. It's also believed they use SDVs to ferry SIS agents to and from foreign shores.
When air support is required, 7 and 47 Squadron RAF (or other elements of the JSFAW) can be called on. Such support might include covert infill/exfil of SIS agents or assets from foreign countries, as well as directly supporting Increment operations.
Those seconded for the Increment are usually the more experienced ranks and all are vetted by SIS. Their backgrounds, friends and families are all thoroughly examined for potential security risks. Increment operatives receive specialised training.
Some sources state that the Increment work alongside another shadowing group known as UKN, a highly specialised surveillance unit, also run by SIS. UKN appear to specialise in surveillance in foreign countries and it has been speculated that they act as the increment's eyes and ears, identifying and tracking targets for operations.
There are somewhat wild and unsubstantiated rumours that The Increment / UKN have been involved in several high profile events such as:
- the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed
- the death of Dr David Kelly
- the planned assassinations of foreign leaders such as Libya's Colonel Gaddafi and Serbia's Milosovich
Greysteel Killer Stephen Irwin Freed
Mass murderer Stephen Irwin has been freed from prison for the second time just weeks before the 20th anniversary of the Greysteel massacre.
The 40-year-old Irwin was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement but he was imprisoned again in 2005 for slashing a football fan at an Irish Cup final.
He was told then that he would have to serve out his full sentence for the eight Rising Sun Bar deaths.
But he submitted an application to the Sentence Review Commissioners for early release and last week walked out of Maghaberry after the commissioners ruled his application should be granted and he was released immediately
East Derry MLA John Dallatdescribed the move as “unbelievably insensitive” coming so soon before the anniversary of the Greysteel massacre.
He said: “This will only fuel the widely-held belief that Irwin and his fellow killer Torrens Knight were and most likely still are on the payroll ofMI5 and that that affords them the kid glove treatment.
“I have it on excellent authority from a well placed source that both Irwin and Knight were agents and met their MI5 handlers at Ebrington and Shackleton Barracks when they were in operation.
“People are not stupid and they know there are many unanswered questions about the Greysteel slaughter and the killing of four men in Castlerock earlier the same year that Torrens Knight also committed using the same weapon.
“Those questions will only be answered if an independent inquiry is held and access is given to files on Irwin and Knight.
“I am sure the relatives of those murdered and maimed in Greysteel 20 years ago will be sickened as I am that someone who was clearly unbelievably insensitive thought it was a good time to put this killer back on the streets.”
Confirming the release, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said: “The SRC is an independent body and it is for them, not the Secretary of State, to determine eligible prisoners' suitability for release.
“The Sentence Review Commissioners determined that Mr Irwin's application for early release should be granted.”
The Sentence Review Commissioners were contacted but declined to comment.
On October 30, 1993, Stephen Irwin led Torrens Knight, Geoffrey Deeney and Brian McNeill, all fellow UFF members, into the Rising Sun Bar in Greysteel.
Eight people — six Catholics and two Protestants were shot dead. 19 others were injured. The victims were: John Burns, Moira Duddy, Joe McDermott, Victor Montgomery, James Moore, John Moyne, Stephen Mullan and Karen Thompson.
Irwin pleaded guilty to the killings and was given eight life sentences but was later released under the Good Friday Agreement. In 2005 he was jailed for four years for knifing a football fan.