Building connectivity between Special Forces and partners

  • 01 Feb. 2013 -
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  • Last updated: 14 Aug. 2014 15:03

Optimising the employment of Special Forces and building on the lessons learnt in current operations is crucial to improving Alliance capabilities. To help do this, the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) is training Allied and partner Special Forces to improve their interoperability and to create a network of trained personnel.

“The purpose of the NSHQ mission is to make the employment of Special Operations Forces as effective, efficient, and coherent as possible, so as to deliver to the Alliance a highly agile Special Operations capability across the range of military operations,” explains Scott Morrison, Director of the Commander’s Action Group at NSHQ. “21st century NATO Special Operations brings much more to the table than the commando work most are familiar with,” he adds.

Located at SHAPE Headquarters in Mons, Belgium, the NSHQ was set up to coordinate NATO’s Special Operations and to optimise the employment of Special Forces. It has one of the most diverse multinational compositions within the Alliance, with 33 NATO countries and partners working together.

“One of the most critical instruments to enabling this NATO SOF capability is an enduring NATO SOF Headquarters’ Allied and Partner Collaborative Network, the centrepiece of which is the people,” Morrison adds.

Connected through training

Much of the training led by NSHQ takes place at the NATO Special Operations School at nearby Chièvres Air Base, where students are taught and work with common NATO doctrine, processes, and methods. This means that a Special Forces Network is comprised of those who have the same training, background and understanding to allow them to operate more effectively and coherently when deployed.

During the last year, the NATO Special Operations School had almost 1,000 graduates, with a total of 3,453 graduates since 2007. “The Special Forces Network is about fostering deeper, more effective and enduring partnerships throughout the Special Forces community,” says Major Remigijus Bridikis from Lithuania.

While many of these relationships are built on the ground or in training, the NSHQ also makes use of communications that include secure video teleconferencing to bring together personnel in all areas of operations for conferences, workshops and information sharing.

“The investment in the relationships among Special Operations Forces facilitates information sharing among a rich multinational Special Forces community, and develops understanding and perspectives that are essential ingredients to operating successfully in the complex operational environment of the 21st century,” he adds.