THE elite SBS military unit is desperately short of top soldiers, it has been revealed.
The Special Boat Service has a 30% manning shortfall and is having to rely on part-timers.
The unit has been responsible for maritime counter-terrorist operations around the UK coast since it was formed in 1940.
The crack team has fought in World War Two and the Falklands conflict, and has taken part in operations against Islamic State.
The unit boasts a total of 380 trained or “badged” soldiers but has just 266 available for operations.
This shortfall has been caused by injuries and a spike in soldiers leaving the unit.
A source with the SBS said: “We have had to rely on our reservists. Without them we would not have been able to operate. These guys need understanding employers or work for themselves.”
The source added: “Our reservists are as good as the regulars and we have needed them to maintain operations.
“Like all areas of the military we are short on numbers at present. We are recruiting but in the current environment it is not easy.”
Despite years of secrecy, the SBS, based in Poole, Dorset, is now set to mount a roadshow across the Royal Marines and Army units.