In an unanticipated but promising move, five European countries will establish a new Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC) according to NATO standards.
According to NATO, defense ministers of Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) in February 2019 to create a common Special Operations Command. Austria, a partner nation, will join the command soon after its establishment as a NATO partner and not a member state.
A NATO representative told the UK Defence Journal “this command will dramatically increase the ability of these five nations to effectively employ their special forces. The non-permanent structure of the R-SOCC enables each participant to use its own contributions separately, while benefiting from the integrated R-SOCC structure, once activated for a deployment.”
NATO already has a dedicated Special Operations Headquarters in Belgium, which mainly serves as a command and control element for training events and operational deployments. The new command will adhere to the same standards and procedures but allow for more regional flexibility in terms of training and cooperation.
Rose Gottemoeller, the NATO deputy secretary-general, said the new command is “a significant step forward in strengthening Special Operation Forces capacities in the region, and towards a fully integrated multinational regional command element,” Army Technology reported.
The U.S. military’s special operations presence in Europe is the Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), established in 1955. SOCEUR directly controls the 352nd Special Operations Wing (352nd SOW), stationed in the United Kingdom; a special operations signals detachment, the 1st Battalion of the 10th Special Forces Group (1/10SFG); and the Naval Special Warfare Unit 2 (NSW Unit 2). Both the 1/10SFG and the NSW Unit 2 are forward-deployed to Stuttgart, Germany.
The 352nd SOW flies the CV-22 Osprey helicopters and the MC-130J Commando II aircraft. Also under its wings is the 321st Special Tactics Squadron, comprised of pararescuemen, combat controllers, special operations weather technicians, and Tactical Air Control Party airmen.
NSW Unit 2 is a small headquarters element that also controls a few rotating Navy SEAL platoons and Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen detachments from Naval Special Warfare Group TWO (NSW Group 2) in Virgina, and contains East Coast SEAL teams. Although the NSW Unit 2 falls under the administrative control of NSW Group 2, it follows the operational authority of SOCEUR.