The Special Operation Group (SOG) was a SOF unit from the Czech Republic. The unit was part of the Military Police and was one of the youngest units kicking around with its formation in 2002. SOG consisted of two departments: the Department of Protection for the Minister of Defense and the Combat Operation Department.
SOG as a unit was ready to operate out of Czech territory and where the Czech armed forces were deployed. SOG was there to assist regular Czech forces and of course, like most SOF units, they were also deployed as a unit to assist other nations around the world in combat or protection operations. SOG was also responsible for operations inside of Czech territory such tasks as Anti-Terrorism operations or serious organized crime. As part of the military police they were often used to target individuals of serious organized crime gangs operating inside and outside of the Czech military. Other tasks that SOG were used for protection of important facilities and materials / VIP protection / protecting civil aircraft / Police protection for especially dangerous criminals
Since 2001 and The War On Terror, SOG was involved in a number of international operations. Both of their departments were deployed to the Middle East on number of different operations. Below is a list of operations that SOG was involved in:
- 2003 – Deploying a SOG protection contingent as part of a field hospital in Iraq. Protection of the Embassy in Kuwait. Protection of the Embassy in Baghdad. A contingent was part of the Military Police in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
- 2004 – The British contingent in Iraq invited members of the SOG unit to assist them in protecting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who came to visit with a delegation.
- 2005 – 2006 – in the period of one year, the Unit SOG is deployed to protect the brigade command center in units of KFOR in Kosovo. They are also working on gathering intelligence through human sources (HUMINT).
- 2006 – Deployment of the SOG to Iraq and Afghanistan.
- 2007 – SOG deployment in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan in Helmand province working with British forces.
- 2008 – SOG deployment in the ISAF mission in Lorgar Province in Afghanistan. Targeted operations to arrest High Value Targets (HVTs).
Then out of nowhere the unit was disbanded in 2009 by the Minister of Defense for reasons unknown. Leaving some of the SOG members in a bit of shock. How can a unit be disbanded when clearly it was needed and was put to good use?
Here is some of the kit used by SOG members,
- Glock 17 Pistol (9 mm);
- HK MP5 SD6 submachine gun (9 mm);
- Various versions of the M4 rifle (caliber 5.56 mm);
- Model 61 automatic pistol (caliber 7.65 mm) – Scorpion;
- Sako TRG-22 sniper rifle;
- Winchester 1300 shotgun;
- M203 grenade launcher
- Toyota Hilux vehicles prepared for combat in the desert (used in Afghanistan);
- Iveco off-road vehicles
- underwater scooters
- Motor bikes prepared for the desert
Next we move on to the training of SOG members. Like most SOF units in the world there was a brutal selection course, followed by meticulous continuous training of all its members especially in firearms and CQB. Because of their police role they were not trained in air operations for example HALO etc… They did however train in SUT, Demolition, Combat medics, Climbing, Heli operations, Close Protection and Sniper training.
I recently visited the Czech Republic to catch up with a friend of mine Lumir Nemec the former commander of the Special Operations Group (SOG). To ask him a couple of questions about the unit and how they continue their units traditions in the civilian life.
“JR standing for me and LN standing for Lumir Nemec”
JR: Why did SOG have both SOF and Law Enforcement Responsibilities? How come the two were combined into one unit?
LN: SOG was a special unit of the military police, performing duties in the Czech Republic and abroad. In the Czech Republic, as a unit we were tasked to act against people who committed crimes against and in connection with the military, whether they were soldiers or civilians who acted against the army. Such things as Theft, Corruption, Drug Dealing, Blackmail, Robbery usually connected to organized crime gangs. Outside the Czech Republic, the unit was primarily intended for hostage rescues or to protect people in high risk areas. Due to the exceptional capability of the unit in Afghanistan, SOG was used for direct combat operations.
JR: What operations has SOG conducted can you tell me some the operations that you were involved in?
LN: During the unit’s deployment in Kosovo, SOG was tasked with the protection of high ranking officials and conducted HUMINT Intel tasks as part of that deployment, which lasted about 12 months. In Iraq the unit was there to protect government officials operating in the local area. In 2007 -2008 SOG was deployed to Afghanistan in the provinces of Helmand and Logar. SOG was to conduct joint operations with British forces in Helmand and in the Logar province we conducted direct combat operations against the Taliban, in which we conducted a wide range of tasks from clearing compounds, locating safe houses , and the arrest of HVTs. Some of my men were attached to other units to conduct Sniper operations and provide over watch.
JR: What was the training like for SOG members?
LN: All members of the unit underwent special training in all skills such as CQB, SUT, Pyro, Medical, shooting drills, climbing, fast roping, close protection, and driving. In order to provide a full interchangeable unit were each member can fulfil each task. Each member also a specialty they trained in: Sniper, Medic, Demo, etc…
JR: Why was the Unit disbanded?
LN: The unit was dissolved in 2009 by the order of the Minister of Defense M. Bartak. The reasons behind this were never mentioned.
JR: What are the units in Czech SOF today?
LN: Currently there are two SOF units in the Czech Republic: 601 group of the Czech army is their SF unit, and URN rapid response unit is a SOF unit of the Czech police.
JR: How do you and some of the former SOG members keep your unit’s traditions going today?
LN: After the disbanding of SOG, I and some other colleagues founded the company SOG Defence, which in 2014 was renamed THOR Tactical. The company provides personal protection and various training programs for the armed forces and also for the civilian sector. Currently we have offices in Netherlands, USA, UK, and Saudi Arabia. Through our training we are able to pass down our knowledge and keep the fundamentals of SOG alive.
After the interview it’s clear to me that these men are proud of their back grounds and happy that they served with SOG. As for the reasons behind why the unit was disbanded, we will never know. I thing there is more to this than meets the eye, and maybe one day it will come to light.