London: The British Army is planning a special force to train local troops in Iraq and Syria to fight Islamic State (IS) terrorists, a media report said here on Saturday.
According to The Times, the specialised infantry battalions will also help to single out soldiers with the potential to join Britain's tier-one special forces.
This could boost recruitment to the UK's Special Air Service (SAS) at a time when elite military personnel are in increasingly high demand.
The new battalions "would be doing what the American Green Berets do at the moment," a defence source told the newspaper.
The Green Berets are officially ranked as tier-two special forces in the US, beneath the Delta Force and the US Navy Seal Team Six.
They are trained to do more than just mentor and advise indigenous troops, however, so are not a direct comparison to the new British concept, which will remain within the regular army's chain of command.
The idea was revealed within the small print of a review of defence and security released at the end of November.
It will form part of Joint Force 2025 ? the future shape of Britain's war-fighting military.
Army planners are working on the concept with a view to establishing the first one or two pilot battalions, each containing about 450 to 500 soldiers, in the next 18 months.
Ultimately, up to five specialised battalions could be created but the final number would depend upon demand.
At present, regular British troops and special forces are deployed around the world to train and advise local militaries.
Countries with a British army presence include Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Ukraine and Nigeria.
SAS soldiers are also thought to move in and out of Syria, working alongside Kurdish forces.