The Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) unit of the Bangladesh Navy is modeled after the elite special operations forces of the United States Navy SEALs. Comprised of highly trained and skilled soldiers recruited from the Bangladesh Navy, little is known about the unit’s specific squad or platoon structures. The unit is estimated to have a total strength of around one thousand. The command center for SWADS is located in the southern port city of Chittagong, and their base is officially referred to as “Nirvik.”
The Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) unit of the Bangladesh Navy was officially formed in 2009, drawing on techniques and tactics used by the United States Navy SEALs and Korean UDT/SEAL teams. The unit’s origins can be traced back to the 1970s when members of the Bangladesh Navy received training on American soil from American instructors. In 2008, training by U.S. Navy SEAL instructors led to the formation of SWADS, with the first class consisting of 150 commandos and 200 divers.
Dan Mozena, the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, aided the unit’s creation. To date, SWADS has participated in Joint Combined Training exchange programs with U.S. Navy SEALs during Tiger Shark exercises.
The unit is utilized both within Bangladesh and internationally. Their missions encompass a wide range of tasks, including but not limited to those types of units of a similar type. Some of their duties include:
- Covert insertions/extractions
- Hostage rescue and personnel recovery
- Hydrographic reconnaissance
- Intelligence gathering
- Underwater demolition
Training and selection
The operators of the Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) unit are selected from the Bangladesh Navy and other allied services through an intense and rigorous training program known to be one of the most demanding in the world, with an average drop rate of 95%.
The instructors for this training are often special forces instructors from countries such as South Korea, Turkey, and the United States. Candidates for SWADS are proposed by their unit leaders to participate in the SWADS selection training. Those who complete the course are then assigned to the unit for further training.
The unit has not been heavily involved in counter-terrorism operations, but they have played a role in various task forces. Their primary responsibilities include maintaining peace during national crises and providing aid during natural disasters.
The armaments used by the Special Warfare Diving and Salvage (SWADS) operators are varied and extensive, as they are trained to handle all types of combat weapons. They also utilize standard gear such as ballistic helmets with night optics and underwater video equipment. A unique aspect of SWADS is its ability to operate underwater and in the air. Some of the weapons commonly utilized by SWADS are listed below.