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SEALs are the United States Navy’s principle Special Operations Force. Able to operate on SEa, Air, and Land (from which the SEAL name is derived) they have lived up to this moniker during the global war on terror with countless operations launched from all three of these environments. Most notably, from the sea with the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in April 2009, by air with the audacious direct action raid in Pakistan on May 1st, 2011, and on land with countless ground operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots around the world.
SFOD-D is the US Army’s premier CT force able to operate worldwide in any environment. While not much is known about “The Unit” which it is commonly referred as, it has been directly involved in every conflict the United States has had since it was formed. Most widely known was its involvement in Somalia in 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger which was portrayed in the book and subsequent film, “Black Hawk Down”. The Unit has been extensively used in the war on terror, but specific details on operations have remained classified.
Other Government Agencies or OGAs have been used extensively in the war on terror. OGA Operators vary greatly in their skill sets, backgrounds, operational profiles and tasking which gives them a vast amount of flexibility during their deployment. OGA Operators were the first boots on the ground in the war on terror and will be the last boots off.
Canada’s JTF2 or Joint Task Force 2 was stood up in 1993 to provide Canada with its own elite CT unit. Tasked with direct action, special reconnaissance, PSD (Personal Security Detail), and other highly specialized counter terrorist missions, the JTF2 has very quickly established itself as a world class unit able to handle anything thrown at them. JTF2 Operators have been used numerous times in Afghanistan and Iraq and were also present during the 2010 Winter games to provide and assist with security.
GROM unit is Poland’s elite CT force and has made a name for itself as a very motivated, aggressive and hardened force comprised of rugged, extremely capable, and well trained individuals. Universally feared by the enemy for their uncompromising intensity, they have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Formed in 1990, the GROM have been involved extensively in Iraq and are currently operating heavily in Afghanistan as part of operations in the Ghazni Province.
Germany’s KSK were activated in 1997 in an effort to create a CT force within the military separate from Germany’s GSG 9, a highly trained counter terrorist police force similar to the United States FBI HRT. The KSK are specialized in their tasking and this specialization carries into their organizational structure with land insertions, Intel gathering, amphibious operations, mountain warfare, and sniper or reconnaissance roles each being assigned to a separate platoon. The KSK have been involved in
Afghanistan from the very beginning, where they have developed a solid reputation among the other Special Operations units as an extremely capable and professional outfit.
Widely regarded as the first example of the modern Special Operations units, the British Special Air Service Regiment, or SAS as it is more commonly known, was created in 1947 after a brief reorganization following WWII. The SAS has a long and storied history of success, with arguably the highest profile mission being the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 and the subsequent rescue of 26 hostages, also known as Operation Nimrod. The raid to rescue the hostages and secure the embassy took place in broad daylight while televised on national TV and was “an almost unqualified success” on all counts.
The Australian Army’s SASR is the premier SOF unit of the Australian armed forces. While it shares its name and motto with the British SAS, it differs in many ways. Its organizational structure maintains one squadron fill the counter terrorism role while the two others fill the surveillance and reconnaissance roles. The SASR have been highly active and effective in the war on terror, but are especially sought after for their expertise and unique skills in desert reconnaissance and mobility.
South Korea’s ROKN UDT/SEALs are heavily influenced by the U.S. Navy SEALs and cross train together several times a year. They specialize in VBSS, maritime interdiction, and counter terrorist operations. Their most notable operation to date was the successful rescue in January 2011 of a freighter hijacked by Somali pirates where eight pirates were killed and all 21 crew members were freed.
Norway’s FSK has a wartime tasking to gather Intel, identify enemy activity, carry out direct action missions against critical targets, and preform hostage rescue missions. The FSK has been active in Afghanistan since the very beginning, where it took part in Operation Anaconda, the largest ground operation of the Afghan campaign in the war on terror.
The Swedish SOG is a relatively new unit formed last year by combining the Swedish SSG and the SIG. The SSG were involved in Afghanistan were they performed special reconnaissance mainly in the north operating with an extremely small signature. By combining the two units, each with a different broad set of skills, the newly formed Swedish SOG will be a multifaceted CT force that will utilize its extremely proficient, clever and adept Operators to continue to solve problems well beyond enemy lines.
Russia’s Spetsnaz “Alfa” Group is a special purpose CT force created in 1974. Although operational details are not well known, they are a Russia’s most elite military unit and were used extensively in Chechnya where they hammered Chechen fighters invoking great fear among them.