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German alternative to US Navy SEALs: Special forces of underwater commandos

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kommando spezialkrafte marine - German alternative to US Navy SEALs: Special forces of underwater commandos

The elite detachment of combat divers, Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine (KSM) is a special unit of commandos of the German Navy that may serve as Berlin’s response the US Navy SEALs. Against the background of the current situation in the world (cold wars, sea piracy, etc.), KSM acts as an important tool of Germany’s foreign policy. KSM was established for special operations under the water.

Special forces in the naval forces of Germany appeared relatively recently. First-ever German military divers were trained in France in 1959. The task of the German battalion “Specialized operational marine forces” (Spezialisierten Einsatzkräften der Marine) included special operations on land and under the water. From 2003 to 2014, the battalion was one of the most sought-after units of the German army.

Special operations were conducted in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Lebanon, Kosovo and Somalia. In the process of the recent reorganization of the German Navy, the battalion was divided into several groups. In April 2014, a fundamentally new military organization was created – special forces of commando divers – Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine, or KSM.

The Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine is based in the German city of Eckernförd, where the entire fleet of German submarines is deployed. “The new military structure has a narrow specialization, this allows us to better perform the tasks set. Guys do their work professionally, and it is the most important thing for me,” the commander of KSM, Jorg Buddenbaum, said.

ksm kommando - German alternative to US Navy SEALs: Special forces of underwater commandos

KSM operators during the training (Photo: FILE)

The tasks of Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine (KSM) special forces include reconnaissance and sabotage activities on the water, under the water, and in the coastal zone. Missions can also be life-saving, peacekeeping, aimed at protecting and ensuring security of any objects (ships, oil and gas offshore platforms). The work of the unit is often conducted under the aegis of NATO or the UN.

Each mission usually involves four or five military divers – a commander, a sniper, a medic, a radio operator and an observer. Their diving equipment includes German rebreather Dräger LAR-V, dry and wet suits from 5 to 7 mm, fins and masks, navigation gadgets, knives, underwater watch and underwater pistol P11 Heckler&Koch (silently fires steel arrows). KSM divers use submarine scooters to move underwater, while air cushions, speedboats, kayaks, etc. are used on the water surface.

The German Armed Forces do not disclose any information on the number of KSM soldiers. According to various reports, it goes about 130 men (only men can serve in KSM).

ksm germany - German alternative to US Navy SEALs: Special forces of underwater commandos

Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine (Photo: FILE)

KSM candidates have to undergo an exceptionally intense 3-year training course. In the process of training, candidates master the knowledge and skills necessary for naval commandos: diving, parachute jumping, rock climbing, counter-terrorism training, boat and ship navigation. As a rule, only 30 percent of candidates join the rank of KSM servicemen. To date, KSM is considered one of the most highly trained special units of the German army.

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Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces

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IMG 1662 3 - Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces

In Portuguese, it is called Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais (CTOE), and you can translate it to Special Operations Forces Center, they are the Portuguese Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) and are part of the Army Rapid Reaction Brigade. They are based in Lamego, a city in the North of Portugal surround by mountains and very close to the Douro River. The very cold environment in the winter mixed very hot in the summer, the mountain terrain together with the harsh training the men receive is a great recipe to create very tuff Men.

Organized in Special Operations Platoons and Task Units (TU), but together with support and logistics, they have a Battalion size unit. The CTOE is composed of a specially selected man, which are organized, trained, equipped and use techniques, tactics and procedures that are nonstandard to regular forces. They are able to conduct activities in all spectrum of warfare, independently or integrated with other regular or irregular forces in a way to achieve victory. In case of Political need they are also able to conduct descript or even covert operations. Special Operations can be conducted directly against an enemy, or indirectly by training and supporting local foreign military or even create militia from populations.

Portuguese SOF TU can be infiltrated by air, land or water and coordination with Air, Land and Naval Firepower support is common in any Joint Operations Area as it augments Special Operations capacities.

The regular TASK UNIT is composed of Commander (Captain), Operations and Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant), Operations and Intelligence Sargent, Team and Logistics Master Sargent, one support section, one maintenance section, one medical section, one communications section and a Platoon of Special Operations soldiers. Sometimes, if needed, it can be augmented with Air Force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) personnel.

Portuguese SOF missions include:

  • Perform studies and experiments with new tactics and gear,
  • Organize, train and maintain Special Operations Forces,
  • Organize, train and mentor irregular/civilian forces,
  • Organize and perform Subversive Warfare in case of homeland invasion by foreign forces,
  • Unconventional warfare,
  • Counter-Terrorism,
  • Psychological warfare
  • Direct and indirect actions,
  • Raids and Sabotage against high-value targets,
  • Long range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP),
  • Locating enemy command and control centers,
  • Targeting and destruction of enemy air defenses and radar systems,
  • Hostages, POW and other personnel rescue operations,
  • Many other that it´s commander find suitable.

Portuguese Army SOF has been deployed worldwide. Some of the known countries are Angola, Mozambique, Guinee-Bissau, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, East-Timor, Afghanistan, Mali and the Central African Republic. They have been a part of NATO Immediate Reaction Forces since its creation.

Working in other countries for long time period missions demands that the unit acquires knowledge of the local language and cultural costumes. English and French are common languages taught to the unit. Portugal has a long military tradition in Africa so this is one area of operations where the unit feels very comfortable

Some of the foreign qualifications that the Officers and Non-Commission Officers take are:

  • Forward Air Controller (FAC) in Germany
  • Sniper in the United Kingdom,
  • Special Forces in the United States,
  • Airborne in the United States,
  • Ranger in the United States,
  • Special Operations Military Free-Fall in the United States,
  • Jungle warfare in Brazil,
  • Artic Warfare in Norway,
  • Enemy vehicles recognition in Germany,
  • Long range reconnaissance patrol in Germany

Portuguese Army SOF has been modernizing itself for the last years. Especially in what concerns the individual soldier equipment. New weaponry like assault rifles, silencers, light and medium machine guns, Trijicon and Schmidt & Bender scopes, AN PEQ-16B laser/illuminator modules, AN PVS-21 night vision goggles, but also protection equipment like the Ops core Helmets, Warrior assault systems Tactical Vests and some day by day items like the mystery ranch backpacks, Harris Radios and Peltor Headsets.

Portuguese Army SOF is a modern force with experience in many theatres. With participation in United Nations, European Union and NATO operations, it is a strong asset to these Organizations and its partners.

Their motto is: “Que os muitos por sermos poucos não temamos” – Don´t fear the many just because we are few.

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COMMANDO Special Forces Group

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COMMANDO Special Forces Group Poland - COMMANDO Special Forces Group

COMMANDO Special Forces Group is part of Polish Special Operations Forces. The unit or JWK (Polish: Jednostka Wojskowa KomandosowJW Komandosow) and its history date back to 1957 when the Commander of the 6th Pomeranian Airborne Division decided to form a reconnaissance company. In 1961 on the basis of that company, the fully independent 26th Reconnaissance Battalion was established.

History of the unit

In 1964 they were transferred from Krakow to Dziwnow, changing their name to the 1st Assault Battalion. Another transfer happened in 1986 when the battalion was moved to Lubliniec to be transformed again in 1993 into 1st Special Forces Regiment.

Jednostka Wojskowa Komandosow - COMMANDO Special Forces Group

Operators of JWK during the combat training (Photo: Facebook/JWK)

In 1995 the regiment received a distinguishing name “COMMANDO”. In 2011 the name was changed again to COMMANDO Special Forces Group.The unit is dedicated to the whole spectrum of special land operations (including inland waters). It fulfills various tasks of both operational and strategic character in Poland and abroad. COMMANDO operators served in Macedonia, Congo, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Role

The unit is designed to carry the full range of military activity which is part of special operations. These operations can be carried out on land and inland waters in peacetime, crisis or war. The principal types of these operations are direct action, reconnaissance and special military support. An entity may carry them alone or as part of national and Allied campaign.

Missions

In Afghanistan they conducted ISAF operation priorities i.e. training and preparing the local security forces as well as providing assistance during counterterrorist actions. Training and support provided by COMMANDO soldiers helped Afghan operators from special operations police units become one of the first to reach combat readiness to conduct operations independently.

Motto and insignia

JWK insignia - COMMANDO Special Forces Group

JW Komandosow insignia (Photo: Wikipedia)

Insignia of Commando Special Forces Group (Jednostka Wojskowa Komandosow, JW Komandosow, JWK) represents the spirit of Polish people and the unit itself. It combines tradition and modernity of such type of unit. It refers to the tradition of the Polish Home Army, which is very important for the unit because JWK is formed from the parts of units involved in war operations.

The anchor refers to the distinctive signs of the three battalions of Polish Home Army  “Parasol”, “Zoska” and “Miotla”, whose roots unit continues.

The second sign of a symbol contained in JWK a dagger – it is clearly recognizable throughout the world as a sign of special forces, and at the same time refers to the symbols contained in the sign of 1. PSK.

The red color of the emblem was taken from the signs of the 1st Independent Commando Company, which inherits traditions JWK. The color of the black dial has been selected as the official color of Special Forces in Poland.

Non-official motto’s regularly used inside the unit:

  • People are more important than hardware.
  • Quality is better than quantity.
JWK operators in the woods - COMMANDO Special Forces Group

Jednostka Wojskowa Komandosow operators during the exercise (Photo: Facebook/JWK)

Today, COMMANDO Special Forces Group continues the tradition of the following Polish special formations: the 1st Independent “Commando” Company, the 62nd Special “Commando” Company in Boleslawiec, Polish Independent Special Battalion, Polish Home Army Battalions: “Parasol”, “Zoska” and “Miotla”, and the 1st Assault Battalion in Dziwnow.

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