Swedish Special Forces to take part in task force Takuba

The Swedish Special Forces is getting ready to participate in the multinational task force Takuba, part of the French-led Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region, at the turn of the year 2020/2021.
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Swedish Special Forces during an exercise in Gotland (Pictire source: Jimmy Croona/Swedish Armed Forces)

The expansion of armed terrorist groups in the region is detrimental to peace, security and development. The task force is charged with counselling, supporting and escorting parts of the Malian army, as well as international partners, thereby supporting the efforts of ensuring more security in Mali and the Sahel.

The Swedish unit comprises some 150 staff with a variety of competences and skills, suitable for the nature of the task, that are ready to manage threats and risks. “The primary purpose of Sweden's participation in this mission is to enable the task force Takuba to enhance the work of the Malian security forces. Through our participation, Sweden is also assisting France, leader of Operation Barkhane, in a regional crisis management effort that is vital to Europe”, Brigadier General Anders Löfberg, head of Special Forces Command, says.

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Swedish Special Forces during an exercise in Gotland (Pictire source: Jimmy Croona/Swedish Armed Forces)

Särskilda Operationsgruppen (Special Operations Task Group, abbreviated SOG, Special Operations Group.) is a special operations unit within the Swedish Armed Forces which has been active since 2011. The unit is headquartered at Karlsborg Fortress in Karlsborg, Västra Götaland County.

The Special Operations Task Group (SOG) answers directly to the Supreme Commander and the Director Special Forces. The unit, combined with the Special Forces Command (SFL) , comprises the Swedish Armed Forces Special Forces (FM SF). In addition to this, there are several special forces support units (FM SOF). The personnel of which are specially selected, trained and equipped for air, sea and land infiltration, technical, logistical and medical support. For example, The Special Helicopter Group (SHG), Special Maritime Transportation unit (STE), Special Signals Group (SSE), and the Section for Operative Technology (SOT).

SOG consists of two so-called response units (IE). IE1 is focused on combat tasks (Direct Action) and IE2 is focused on intelligence gathering (Special Reconnaissance). IE2 is known to utilize female intelligence personnel to conduct certain HUMINT tasks.

Each SOG response unit (IE) is organized in squadrons, troops, and patrols. Three 4-man patrols make up a troop, and an unknown number of troops make up a squadron. Besides the operational elements of the unit, there is also a Training Wing, responsible for the selection and training of future and current operators. Each operator has a broader skill base than a regular soldier and one or two patrol skills at which he is exceptionally skilled. A typical SOG team consists of four operators: a team leader, a demolitions expert/breacher, a communicator, and a combat medic. Each patrol can be augmented with EOD technicians, JTAC-specialists, military working dog handlers, or snipers.

Furthermore, every soldier has an infiltration specialty in either military free fall (HALO/HAHO) or combat diving.

The SOG differs greatly from the rest of the Swedish Armed Forces in its equipment and armament. The most noticeable difference is their usage of Multicam rather than M90. Operators wear combat uniforms from Crye Precision or Arcteryx, a wide variety of different plate carriers and Ops Core FAST ballistic helmets. Besides the differences in equipment, the SOG also issues different firearms than the conventional military as well, with the standard Ak 5, support weapons such as machine guns and anti-armor weapons also differ from those usually employed by the conventional military. SOG operators are issued most prominently LWRC rifles in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm, as well as the CBJ-MS PDW. The standard issue handgun of the unit is the Glock 17.