Tag Archives: Special Forces

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, SOFREP.com, 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.

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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.
Read more: http://sofrep.com/34395/switzerland-dra-10-libya/#ixzz2zCJA4Zcj
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!
Read more: http://sofrep.com/33652/israeli-s13-maritime-commandos-capture-ship-carrying-iranian-missiles/#ixzz2zCHwluYO
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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.
Read more: http://sofrep.com/32212/swedens-sog-takes-taliban/#ixzz2zCIZGvTj
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.
Read more: http://sofrep.com/33001/australias-100th-victorias-cross-corporal-cameron-baird/#ixzz2zCI8gteY
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.
Read more: http://sofrep.com/33876/inside-fsk-norwegian-special-forces-command-interview-tom-bakkeli/#ixzz2zCHhdiFd

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.
Read more: http://sofrep.com/31564/peruvian-sof-strikes-narco-traffickers/#ixzz2zCIkvQFT
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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.
Read more: http://sofrep.com/34370/canadian-sof-operation-flintlock-niger/#ixzz2zCHQ6kEd
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!

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The Activity #12

Today’s recommended reading material.  Delta Force in Fallujah, 5APR04.  The Activity is a comic book about Special Operations, one that mother Army wishes I would stop promoting…

TheActivity

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Special Forces Versus PETA Whackjobs

The public has always been fascinated by the training that US Special Operations Forces receive. What goes in to making an elite warrior? What skill sets are cultivated and polished in these young men?

To sum it up, we train as we fight.At places like the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, our Special Operations personnel train for the austere environments which they will face overseas. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the training is not secretive in nature. However, there is one closely held training secret within the Special Operations community. That secret is out now, and activist groups and politicians are now trying to prevent our soldiers from receiving this life saving training.

It is called Live Tissue Training (LTT), or more often known as the “Goat Lab.” Rumors have persisted in the public sphere about the goat lab for decades. Journalists like Jon Ronson heard bits of information about it, but had no idea what live tissue training was actually about. This led him to come up with some completely absurd conclusions about why Special Forces medics maintain a stock of live goats on Ft. Bragg.

The reality is that these goats are used by the SOCM (Special Operations Combat Medic) course to help train our Special Operations medics to work on casualties under the most realistic conditions possible in a simulated environment; training them as we fight. SOCM does not just train Special Forces medics, but also Navy SEAL and Ranger medics as well. These are the very best combat medics in the world. I’ve seen them in action myself, and have 100% confidence in the product that comes out of the SOCM course at Ft. Bragg.

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Is Special Forces Dead in the Water?

When I heard about Linda Robinson’s Council on Foreign Relations sponsored white paper I was expecting another abstract academic work which was frighteningly detached from anything resembling reality but was pleasantly surprised at Robinson’s down to earth recommendations. Her outline of SOF and policy recommendations are impressively on target, especially for someone on the outside looking in, without getting into classified aspects of the Special Operations community.  You can read Robinson’s paper, The Future of US Special Operations Forces on the CFR website.

As someone who was an insider, I felt that I had a bit of an opportunity to expand on a few of her points from a soldier’s perspective. I should note up front that what you will read here are my personal opinions and in no way represent official statements from SOCOM or for that matter the unofficial opinion of the Special Operations community as a whole.

Direct vs. Indirect Approaches

Much have been made over the last ten years about Special Operations Forces, in particular Special Forces, getting fixated on Direct Action operations. While units such as SEALs and Rangers are designed for Direct Action, Special Forces is designed for Unconventional Warfare. Unconventional Warfare emphasizes a long term approach to influencing the battle space by developing host nation military forces (Foreign Internal Defense) and engaging with the local community on various civil projects among other activities. The accusation has been made that SOF has gotten obsessed with conducting Direct Action High Value Target raids at the expense of keeping an eye on the long game.

Read the rest on SOFREP!

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PROMIS: Rhodesia, now .99 cents!

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Buy it on Amazon for .99 cents!

In addition to my novels and non-fiction work I also write a historical fiction series called PROMIS.  The books are about a MACV-SOG veteran who becomes a mercenary and takes the reader through little known conflicts and operations that actually happened in the 1980’s.  Public perception is that Grenada and Panama happened in the 80’s and not much else so there is plenty of fertile material for someone like me to work with that has not been done to death in this genre.  The first is the series is PROMIS: Vietnam about the protagonist, Sean Deckard, fighting with SOG in the Vietnam War.  The sequel is novella length and takes Sean Deckard to the Rhodesian SAS during the height of the bush war.  Since I first released the novella it has sold very well, especially with UK readers, but I have gone ahead and lowered the price to .99 cents like the first PROMIS installment in hopes of grabbing up some new readers!  If you enjoy it, remember that #3 in the series, PROMIS: South Africa is also available.

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Sabah/Malaysia/Filippino/Abu Sayaaf/Military Stand Off

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Two weeks ago the MNLF, one of the Muslim groups, kicked off a major offensive against the Abu Sayaaf group, another Muslim organization/terrorist group in Sulu.  It seems that Abu Sayaaf got pushed right to the waterline on the coast and without anywhere else to go they hopped on a boat to the Sabah region of Malaysia.   For those who have been keeping score, these groups are completely different than the others I’ve written about previously such as the Ampatuans and BIFF which is Kato‘s Islamic faction that broke away from the MILF…which in turn had broken away from the MNLF.  Confused yet?

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The Weapons and Equipment of “Target Deck”

Grayman Sub-Saharan

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The Sub-Saharan from Grayman knives is made for killing. I searched far and wide but was unable to find a Nazi, communist, or terrorist to sink this blade into. I killed the s**t out of a downed tree for you though to give you an idea of the kind of damage this knife can deal out. The picture above shows the tree after maybe five or six chops on each side. The Sub-Saharan has more in common with a Roman short sword than the type of fixed blade knives that most of us are familiar with.  Deckard makes short work of some cartel trash in Target Deck.  It is also the knife depicted on the cover of the book.

Carl Gustav

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Admittedly, the M3 Carl Gustaf isn’t the sexiest of weapons among the 75th Ranger Regiment’s rather extensive arsenal.  This is especially true when you have to pack this giant metal tube into an AT4 jump pack with cardboard honeycomb and exit a C-17 during a Mass-Tactical airborne jump at night.  Getting hung up in a MH-60 with the Goose slung over your back while fast roping and dangling 50ft in the air ain’t sexy either.  Don’t ask me how I know that…  I’ve written about being Tank Sniper and elaborated on the training and tactical issues surrounding the Gustaf in the past, so take a look!

In Target Deck, the mercenaries of Samruk International utilize the flechette round against a hoard of cartel gunmen.

HK 417

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The HK 417 is the 7.62 big brother of the 5.56 HK 416 developed at the request of a certain Special Mission Unit and now used in various SOF units.  Chambered for the larger 7.62 round, Nikita makes good use of the 417 as a sniper rifle in Target Deck.  You will also get a lesson in the intricacies of making a high angle shot.

Hooligan tool

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Basically the Hooligan tool, or Hoolie, is a high speed pry bar for mechanical breaches.  Useful for making a quiet entry…

MK48

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The most memorable remark about the Mk48 that I ever heard was, “That is the lightest heavy machine gun I’ve ever seen!” As a Corporal, I was a Gun Team Leader in Ranger Battalion where my team made great use of the Mk48 in training as well as combat. The Mk48 is the size of a SAW but packs the 7.62 punch of a M240B. It’s small size makes it perfect for immediate support by fire in dismounted, urban environments.

Chromacamo

Chromacamo is a name I invented for the next generation of camouflage uniforms, those that actually change their color to mimic their surrounds.  The idea for it is based on SMARTCAMO developed by Hypersteath which I have written about previously on this blog.

Improvised breaching charge

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IVbagEver wonder what you can do with a flashbang and an IV bag?  Some MacGuyver shit, that’s what.

AK-103

AK103

Pencil

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Alone and un-armed, Deckard has to improvise a solution when trapped in a room with a very dangerous Lebanese money launderer and his bodyguard.  A pencil laying on his desk makes a handy weapon, especially when jabbed into the soft tissue of the body guard’s neck.

MK-19

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On my last deployment, we were no longer permitted to use the MK19 inside the cities, so these were left to collect dust in my weapons shed until myself or my Junior Weapons Sergeant gave them a cleaning every so often. While fun to shoot, I always found the 40mm rounds to be under powered, not providing sufficient explosive impact. Then again, I never had the chance to use the MK19 against dismounted infantry. I did have a friend who was a MK19 gunner in Afghanistan when his convoy was ambushed. He rotated his turret and let it rip on the enemy positions to devastating effect. One point to remember with the MK19 is that you have to charge it twice, that is to say, rack the charging handles, drop the bolt, and then repeat the procedure once more to seat the first round all the way down onto the bolt face. Not knowing how to do this properly can result in an accidental discharge, or worse yet, leave you firing on an empty chamber during a firefight!

Improvised tank

Yeah, this bad boy makes an appearance in the book as well…

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