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 having been formed only in 2002. SOG consisted of two departments: the Department of Protection for the Minister of Defense and the Combat Operation Department.
SOG was there to assist regular Czech forces and of course, like most SOF units, it was 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 members of organized crime gangs or serious criminals. SOG was also used for the protection of important facilities, materials, and equipment, VIP protection, and civil aircraft protection.
Since its creation and during The War On Terror, SOG was involved in a number of international operations. Both of its departments were deployed to the Middle East on a number of different operations. Below is a list of operations that SOG was involved in:
- 2003 — Deployed 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 — For a year, the Unit SOG is deployed to protect the brigade command center in units of KFOR in Kosovo. They are also worked 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).
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
- Motorbikes 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 meticulously continuous training of its members, especially in firearms and CQB. Because of their police role they were not trained in air operations, for example, military freefall. They did, however, train in SUT, Demolition, Combat medics, Climbing, Heli operations, Close Protection, and Sniper training.
Then out of nowhere, the unit was disbanded in 2009 by the Minister of Defense for reasons unknown. This left some of the SOG members in shock. How can a unit be disbanded when clearly it was needed and was put to good use?
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). I asked him a couple of questions about the unit and how they continue their unit’s traditions in civilian life.
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 were 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 been 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 [undertook] 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 overwatch.”
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 [in which] each member can fulfill each task. Each member also [had] 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 the Netherlands, the U.S.A., the U.K., 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 backgrounds and happy that they served with SOG. As for the reasons behind why the unit was disbanded, we will never know. I think there is more to this than meets the eye, and maybe one day it will come to light.