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. -Jack

Overhead, the sun beats down mercilessly. Daytime temperatures average above 40 Celsius. There is no shade. Just heat, glare and the sand.

This is Niger, a land-locked and drought-stricken part of Africa that is one of the poorest nations on earth. And yet, here we are: watching the Canadian military get ready to prevent a new war on terror and, for the first time on television, to reveal something about our secret commandos.

The term itself, commandos, instils a sense of special forces. They are the brethren of soldiers like the British SAS and the U.S. Navy SEALs; among the toughest of the tough who can take the fight to the enemy on their home turf and win.

Canada has such a team. In typical Canadian fashion, their name is a bureaucratic acronym, CSOR. It stands for Canadian Special Operations Regiment. It’s perfectly bland to hide a top-secret regiment that deploys all over the world.

It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to talk openly about CSOR. Formed in 2006, this new breed of elite fighters has been deployed to hot spots like Mali, Libya and Afghanistan. These are the troops Canada sends to the toughest missions, such as taking out high-value targets and rescuing Canadians trapped in warzones. They are our nation’s covert commandos and their full names and missions are classified.

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Unprecedented access

CTV News reporter Mercedes Stephenson has spent years negotiating rare access into this secretive world, and that’s why our W5 crew travelled with her deep into the Sahara desert. For the first time, CSOR allowed television cameras behind the scenes on one of its missions – watching their counter-terrorism training in al Qaeda’s newest breeding ground and to hear from its operators.

While CSOR won’t reveal the exact size of their current regiment, W5 has learned there are approximately 800 of these elite soldiers, deployed to wherever Canada needs them.