Foreign Special Operations Roundup, News, and Future projects

One of my favorite subjects to research is foreign Special Operations units.  Many of our allied SOF units are very professional and I think much more proficient than we often give them credit for.  Some of them have literally been fighting and dying alongside American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, a fact that the American public is painfully unaware of.  One of my main goals is to cut through the misinformation and bring some of the realities of foreign SOF to American readers.

This includes a two-pronged approach.  First, writing articles about these units with as much insight as I’m able to dig up via my sources and research.  Second, actually buying the foreign rights to books written by and about foreign SOF and having them published in America.  The current project that I’m working on is Jaeger: At War with the Elite by Thomas Rathsack.  The book is written by a former member of Denmark’s Jaeger Corps who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’ve read the translation and it is an amazing book that I can’t wait to bring to American readers.

Currently, we are discussing having our company,, actually open our own publishing house for Special Operations books like this.  Mainstream publishers won’t bring these books to America because they haven’t been able to make money on them.  That’s a shame and the English speaking world is missing out on some great books from Denmark, Poland, France, and beyond.  No wonder why Americans don’t know about this stuff…

So on that note, here is a roundup of some of the foreign SOF material I’ve worked on recently.


Swiss DRA-10

In our coverage of foreign Special Operations units, there is one country which is easily overlooked. When we think of SOF in the Western world, it is Rangers, SEALs, SAS, KSK, or somewhat more obscure units like SOG or FSK that come to mind. In a conversation about international Special Operations units, few would mention Switzerland’s DRA-10. In a country famous for neutrality and chocolate, fewer still would be aware of the Swiss hostage rescue mission that almost got off the ground in Libya several years ago.
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Israeli S13

Shayetet 13, the Israeli answer to the US Navy SEALs, executed a ship seizure operation off the coast of Sudan yesterday.  The ship was carrying Syrian made rockets that were en route from Iran to the Gaza strip.  These are the type of rockets that would be used if we saw a repeat of the 2006 offensive against Israel.  I had the opportunity to meet a S13 veteran about two years ago in New York City.  He was a cocky little guy who gave a friend of mine (a former US Navy SEAL) a t-shirt that said, “Don’t worry America, we got your back!”  I always recognize SOF guys, doesn’t matter what country they come from!
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Swedish SOG

We hear little about the Special Operations units of Scandinavian nations, but in recent days the veil has been lifted, if only just a little, to give us a small look at what our allied SOF units have been up to in Afghanistan.  Policy-makers in Sweden have refused to confirm or deny any operations that Swedish troops may have participated in, but by correlating martyr biographies of dead jihadists, at least one newspaper has been able to put two and two together.
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Australian Commandos

By all accounts Corporal Cameron Baird was true warrior and is greatly missed by his team mates in 2 Commando.  Corporal Baird is Australia’s 40th KIA in Afghanistan during the War on Terror and is now Australia’s 100th Victoria’s Cross recipient.
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Norwegian FSK/MJK

Tom Bakkeli is a Norwegian writer and journalist who has written extensively about Norway’s Special Operations units, MJK and FSK. Unfortunately, his books are not available in English, but Tom was gracious enough to spare SOFREP a few minutes of his time to answer some questions about Norway’s allied Special Operations units, which have been helping us fight the War on Terror.

Q: What is the Norwegian approach to special operations? Is it roughly along the same lines as other NATO member nations, or do the Norwegian units feature historical and cultural traits unique to their country?

A: As a country with a five million population, we have a quite small defense force. It has undergone a huge modernization after the cold war. In this process, the special operations forces, Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK) and Marinejegerkommandoen (MJK), have been strengthened. The operations in the former Yugoslavia – Bosnia and Kosovo – and especially in Afghanistan, have shown that they are capable. The Norwegian SOF traditions go back to Second World War, when they were established under British command in Special Operations Executive. Company Linge executed several spectacular operations in Nazi-occupied Norway; one of the best known is the heavy water operation in Vemork in 1943.
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Peruvian SOF

On the 17th of December this past year, a joint police and military operation commenced in the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM) in which Peruvian forces launched multiple synchronized strikes against clandestine airfields used to smuggle an estimated 1.2 tons of cocaine per day.  Four 30-man teams were reportedly launched from a base in Pichari to begin the process of disabling the illegal airfields with explosives, probably cratering charges in this case.  The Peruvian troops were drawn from the police counter-terrorism directorate known as Dircote, a counter-narcotics units called Dirandro, and a Special Forces unit reported as being called FEC, however as Navy personnel are reported to be conducting the operation with law enforcement, it seems more likely that this unit was actually Fuerza de Operaciones Especiales which is more akin to America’s Navy SEALs.
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Canadian CSOR

W5′s Mercedes Stephenson recently filmed a rare documentary about Canadian SOF, specifically about CSOR conducting Foreign Internal Defense operations in Niger.  The Canadians are very tight lipped about their SOF units, the other being JTF-2, so it is surprising that they were willing to publicize their involvement in Flintlock.  One of the interesting things about foreign SOF units is that what the US government considers to be the most low grade operations are often considered to be the most sensitive by foreign governments like Canada.  While the US military openly publicizes SOF’s involvement in Flintlock, allied nations treat it like a closely held state secret.
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Hope you enjoyed the articles.  In addition to the Jaeger book, there are a few other projects in the works.  SOFREP will be publishing a ebook about the history of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, we’ve got an account from the Australian Commandos coming, and I may be participating in a military exercise abroad later this year.  More on that soon!


Filed under News

10 responses to “Foreign Special Operations Roundup, News, and Future projects

  1. Jack – truly mindboggling the amount of work you guys have gone through….this is only the Allies….staggering. Ver ygood reads all.

    Look forward to more.

  2. First Sergeant

    When I was in Iraq I was privilege to speak to one of the generals from the Australian SAS and New Zealand SAS(no names). They were gracious and pragmatic at the same time. Attached to USASOC, we talked in great length. Interesting at the PX I ran into some in Tikrit. SO divers see a lot, trust me!

  3. Tony Mo

    Jack, amazing stuff here. I’m a writer as well, currently doing research on the differences and similarities between foreign SOF, with a focus specifically on practices and tactics. I’ve been poring over your web pieces and am in awe of the ground you’ve covered. I wonder if you’ve happened to have done any posts or pieces that I might have missed that deal specifically with differing practices or tactics between foreign SOF, or if you may know of some resource where I might be able to find some info on this. For example how one group might breach a building, or maintain a captured position, or handle urban combat, or even hold a knife, say, versus the way members of another team might. I’m not naive enough to think that these groups make all of their practices readily available to the public, I’m sure it’s quite the opposite, but any tips, resources, knowledge bases, etc. that you (or anyone) might have, would be hugely appreciated. Thanks for all this amazing info above and all the great work on the sites.

    • I’m also fascinated in that topic but TTP’s specifically are something that we don’t really share publicly. Even with in US SOF, the tactics differ greatly. Remember, the way each unit works is shaped by their nation’s history, politics, geography, and culture. Some countries have other strange inputs, like China for instance. Population has a big impact on how they do things.

  4. This is going to be great Jack. Can’t wait !

  5. D

    So Jack, do you think (again, keeping OPSEC in mind here) that once more is going on w/Inherent Resolve inside Iraq/Syria, that units like FSK/MJK (who are not always deploying with our SOF in every instance, only in certain very specific TFs on very particular ops) and KSK will be def on the ground with us there?
    I heard from an “old sweat” from CAG/ACE/Delta (and some other Army SMU) that it was “a bit naive” to not already assume we are REALLY awaiting any type of actual greenlight to deploy JSOC units to Iraq and Syria (basically, he’s implying, in so many words, that they’re already there doing a bit more than just FID…instead they’re already on recce and/or SRs and even DAs) and that the Aussie SAS/SASR, JTF2/CSOR, and SAS/SBS/SRR are already “getting busy on ISIL as we speak”
    In your opinion (again, w/OPSEC in mind and only being as specific as you’d feel comfortable being), do you think there’s truth in that? I took him at his word as he still talks to Unit guys from his old sqdn, as well as currently active DEVGRU apparently already basing a few of theirs at Al Assad.

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