The Belgian Special Forces Group (SFG)

1.0 Introduction

The Special Forces Group (SFG) is the special operations force of the Land Component of the Armed Forces of Belgium. Established in April 2000, the unit gained independent status in 2003 before being reallocated to the Light Brigade in 2012. With roots tracing back to World War II and its affiliation with the British SAS, it stands as Belgium’s Tier 1 special operations group, having participated in various theatres of operation over its history.

Belgian Special Forces Group (SFG) member visualised by Charlie Cousens on behalf of Grey Dynamics.
Belgian Special Forces Group (SFG) member visualised by Charlie Cousens on behalf of Grey Dynamics.

2.0 Motto, Symbols, Patches and History

2.1 Motto

The Special Operations Regiment (SOR) has two mottos. One dates back to its incorporation under the British SAS during WW2.

“Far ahead”

&

“Who Dares Wins”

– the motto of the British SAS which the SFG uses and dates its lineage back to.

[Source]

2.2 Symbols of the SFG

Due to the history of the unit, dating back to WW2 and the British SAS, they use the maroon beret with a fabric unit badge. This was done in order to pay tribute to the first Belgian SAS paratroopers. [Source]

2.3 Patches

Belgian SFG operators seldom wear patches because of their classified mission nature but they occasionally wear the Belgian flag on the front of their uniform.

Female Deep Development Capability (DDC) member of the Belgian SFG
Female Deep Development Capability (DDC) member of the Belgian SFG – [Image source]

2.4 History of the SFG

The history of the SFG dates back to WW2 and the creation of a Belgian parachute company. It has undergone several designations and different commands throughout its history.

2.4.1 WW2

In January 1942, the first Belgian parachute units underwent training at RAF Ringway, Manchester, England and was initially commanded by Captain E. Blondeel. The unit was subsequently absorbed into the Special Air Service Brigade (SAS) and functioned as the 5th Special Air Service (Belgian SAS Squadron).  They were active during WW2 until hostile activities stopped following the conclusion of the war.

[Source, source]

2.4.2 Post WW2 (1951-1994)

On January 3, 1951, the Belgian SAS and Commando regiment were merged to form the Paracommando Regiment. From 1 April they became the 1e Battalion Para and 2e Battalion Commando. In 1955, the Eléments Spéciaux de Recherche-Speciale Opsporings Elementen (ESR-SOE), known as the Special Detection Unit, was founded, comprising operators from diverse branches of the Belgian Army. Initially under the 1st Belgian Corps, it was led by Captain J. BYL, succeeded by Major R. Tagnon. 

In 1961, the unit was established with Major R. Tagnon appointed as its commander. By 1964, the Equipes Spéciales de Reconnaissance-Gespecialiseerde VerkenningsPloegen (ESR-GVP), or Specialized Reconnaissance Teams, came into existence. The unit served in a stay-behind role in order to disrupt a potential Soviet advance in the outbreak of a war between the Soviet Union and NATO.

It was comprised of operators from the Belgian Army. The unit was initially stationed in Weiden, later relocating to Euskirchen, and finally to Spich before its disbandment in 1994.

[Source, source]

2.4.3 Post-1994

In 1994, the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) was established, taking on the duties previously carried out by the ESR-GVP. Stationed in Heverlee, it operated until its disbandment in 2000. In April 2000, the SFG was established, originating from the 3rd Regiment Lanciers Parachutisten, and the regiment relocated to Flawinne. By 2012, the SFG transitioned to Heverlee, becoming part of the Light Brigade until the establishment of the Special Operations Regiment (SOR) in July 2018.

[Source]

3.0 Organisation of the SFG

The Land Component of the Belgian Army commands the SFG, which comprises several distinct components.

  1. HQ detachment
  1. Operational detachment
  • Liaison unit
  • Training unit
  • 4 Land operations teams – specialised in mobility, advanced mountain capabilities and polar capabilities
  • 2 Amphibious operations teams – Watercraft and advanced amphibious capabilities
  • 4 Air operations teams – HALO/HAHO airborne and heliborne capabilities
  1. Support detachment
  • Intelligence cell
  • Communications cell
  • Medical cell
  • Logistics cell

[Source]

3.1 Key Figure

The Belgian SFG has one key figure which is its commanding officer, Major Christophe Comhair.

He joined the Belgian army in 1999 and in 2005 he joined the 3rd Parachute Battalion as an airborne infantry platoon leader. In 2010 he applied for and joined the SFG and rose through the ranks holding commanding positions of operational detachments. Since 2019 he has been the operations and training officer of the Special Operations Regiment (SOR). 

He has deployed multiple times on operations including Lebanon, the “Operational Mentoring and Liason Team” (OMLT) in Afghanistan, and close protection in 2011 and 2012 at the Belgian embassy in Kabul. He also deployed to Iraq in 2016 and 2017 as a part of Operation Valiant Phoenix and also as a part of Operation Red Kite in Afghanistan.

[Source]

Major Christophe Comhair, commanding officer of the Belgian SFG.
Major Christophe Comhair, commanding officer of the Belgian SFG. – [Image source]

3.2 Recruitment and admission requirements, initial training and further training of the SFG

The Belgian SFG has several month-long training courses that its aspirant applicants must undergo in order to become members of the group. Membership in the SFG entails meeting several requirements, which applicants must fulfil in order to be considered.

3.2.1 Recruitment and Admission Requirements

The admission requirements include:

  • You have to have completed compulsory education
  • Cannot be over 31 upon application
  • You must be Belgian or an EU/EEA/Swiss resident
  • Knowledge of Dutch 

Furthermore, for individuals who were part of the Belgian military, specific service requirements apply: 18 months for volunteers, 2 years for non-commissioned officers, and 7 years for officers in the Belgian armed forces.

If you were an officer there are also several other requirements or conditions in addition to the ones listed above. This includes:

  • If you have a Bachelor’s/Master’s degree you cannot be older than 33
  • You must know Dutch
  • You must also have to take a test to show some knowledge of the French language.

[Source, source]

3.2.2 Civilian Recruitment to the SFG

The SFG also offers the opportunity for civilians to apply to join its ranks. Under the “Fast Track” program, civilians can apply and have to attend several training courses before joining the SFG and beginning further training. This includes:

  • 10-week military initiation phase
  • 16-week specialised infantry para-commando training phase
  • 4-week training phase to obtain the A Commando qualification
  • Schaffen Parachute Training Centre to obtain the A Para qualification (by jumping from an A400M aircraft) 

After completing these phases, civilian recruits then go on to do the 8-week Basic SOF Course at Marche-les-Dames. Subsequently, candidates join the SFG and participate in the selection week tests. Following this, they undergo a rigorous 5-month qualification course administered by the SFG.

[Source, source]

3.3 Initial training for the SFG

The training to join the Belgian SFG consists of several distinct parts. This includes a selection phase, basic training, Complementary education and functional training as well as other training periods. Operators aspiring to join specialized units within the SFG must undergo additional training, outlined as follows:

3.3.1 Selection phase

This phase begins with a weeklong training camp, during which candidates undergo evaluations of their physical fitness, map reading proficiency, military knowledge, and marksmanship skills. A comprehensive psychological assessment is conducted. Following this week, candidates enter a specialised training program where they undergo further assessments, focusing particularly on their map reading and shooting capabilities, among other skills. Finally, there is an ‘Identification of Military Material’ (IM) course.

[Source]

3.3.2 Selection week physical tests

Candidates have to undergo these physical tests which are all scored in order to pass the selection week:

  • Running test on a treadmill – Candidates have to run for as long as possible with the minimum score being able to run for 7 minutes 30 seconds at 10.2 km/h (0 points) and the maximum score is being able to run 22 minutes 30 seconds at 16.2 km/h (20 points)
  • Pull-ups – The minimum score is 3 (7 points) and the maximum score is 16 (20 points). Any score below 3 is deemed a failure, leading to the rejection of the candidate.
  • Push-ups – The minimum score is 3 (2 points) and Maximum score is 25 (20 points). Women are allowed to do this test with their knees touching the ground.
  • Side-bridges (Left and Right) – Men and women have differing maximums and minimums for this. Men have to hold it for 52 seconds in order to get the minimum score (1 point) and 2 minutes for the maximum score (20 points). Women have to hold it for 42 seconds in order to get the minimum score and 1 minute 50 seconds for the maximum score. 

[Source]

SFG aspirants during a selection event
SFG aspirants during a selection event – [Image source]

3.3.3 Military Initiation Phase (MIF)

During this phase, candidates undergo a 10-week training program known as the Military Initiation Phase (MIF). The MIF focuses on fully integrating candidates into the broader SFG. Prospective candidates reside in the barracks throughout this period, where they undergo evaluation based on their teamwork and communal living experiences with fellow candidates.

[Source]

3.3.4 MIF training

During this phase candidates are assessed in several areas including:

  • Tactics and SOF techniques
  • Personal hygiene
  • Observation posts and firing position construction

There are also several physical tests, all of which are pass or fail. This includes:

  • Pull-ups (6 times to the chin and back down)
  • Abdominal crunches whilst hanging from a bar (1 time but feet must go over shoulders and touch the bar)
  • Sit-ups (35 times)
  • Moving whilst balancing on a bar at 5 m height (back and forth 4 times)
  • Leaping onto a mat after progressing along the bar (after the fourth turn on the bar)
  • 2.4 km run in 12 minutes

[Source]

3.3.5 Specialised Professional Training (GPO)

This phase lasts 16 weeks and includes:

  • Further physical training
  • Classroom lessons on military techniques, tactics and other items
  • Teamwork exercises

There are several physical tests which candidates have to pass in order to continue and these include:

  • Tightrope walking – performed in under 2 minutes 30 seconds wearing boots, combat clothing
  • Obstacle track – performed in under 4 minutes and 30 seconds wearing boots, combat clothing
  • Man-carrying – candidates must carry another candidate over 200 metres in under 100 seconds. This includes wearing an armoured vest, army boots, combat clothing and carrying a dummy weapon.
  • Speed-march – performed in under 120 minutes over a distance of 16km. Done whilst wearing an armoured vest, army boots, combat clothing and carrying a dummy weapon.
  • Swimming – performed over a distance of 100 metres, candidates must wear combat clothing (no armour), boots and a dummy weapon.

[Source]

3.4 Basic Training of the SFG

The SFG basic training spans approximately 6 months, comprising three distinct phases: orientation, technical, and tactical. Each phase extends for roughly 2 months. Upon successful completion of these phases, candidates earn the right to refer to themselves as operators.

3.4.1 Orientation phase

The orientation phase puts operators through demanding physical tasks. it aims to evaluate their proficiency in map reading, teamwork, and independence it culminates in the ‘Tenderfeet’, this phase serves as a test of their readiness. This is an individual map reading exercise in which candidates have to traverse 100km in 48 hours.

Some of the areas covered in the orientation phase include:

  • Navigation and orientation
  • Recognition and identification of military materials
  • Special Forces tactics
  • Shooting skills
  • Survival skills
  • Communications
  • Physical training (endurance and resistance focus)
  • Medical techniques
  • Close combat (CQB)

[Source]

SFG members sparring during training
SFG members sparring during training – [Image source]

3.4.2 Technical phase

Skills covered and taught during the technical phase include:

  • Radio equipment handling procedures
  • Amphibious insertion techniques
  • Advanced shooting techniques
  • Advanced combat medical techniques and procedures
  • Military theory and tactics

During this course, trainee operators master the skills needed to operate behind enemy lines. This course is focused on team tactics whilst being relentlessly pursued by an opposing force (OPFOR).

[Source]

3.5 Complementary SFG training

This phase of training lasts for around a year. Operators are given advanced training in several areas including:

  • High Altitude free fall (HA)
  • Special Operation Forces Advanced First Responder (SOFAFR)
  • Détachement d’Agents de Sécurité (DAS) – close protection training
  • Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat (SFAUC)
  • Tactical Site Exploitation (TSE)
  • Tactical Air Controller Party (TACP)
  • Landing Point Commander

[Source]

3.5.1 Commando A and Para A Qualifications

Candidates have to also undertake the Para A and Commando A qualifications in order to proceed with further training if they have not already done so.

  • Commando A – Taking place in Marche-Les-Dames, this dynamic 4-week training program actively instructs candidates in rock climbing, descending, and basic amphibious movement skills. They acquire techniques for negotiating challenging terrain, both day and night.
  • Para A – Held in the Para training centre (CE Para) in Schaffen and this 4-week program consists of a week of ground training and 3 weeks of static line jumping from both balloons and aeroplanes.

[Source]

3.5.2 High Altitude free fall (HA) training

This 5-week program takes place in the Para training centre (CE Para) in Schaffen. During the first two weeks, SFG candidates are taught free fall skills. In the last three weeks, they learn to conduct nighttime jumps from a maximum height of 12,000 feet. 

After the completion of this training candidates receive their Special Forces Operator certification. From here, they join a team and actively participate in missions. Subsequently, they commence functional training and assume specific duties such as sniper, communications, medic, or breacher roles, among others.

[Source]

3.6 Functional training for SFG operators

Operators receive functional training tailored to their specific duties within the SFG.

3.6.1 Free fall Very High Altitude (VHA)

A 3-week-long course which only follows after completing the HA course (outlined above). Taking place in the Para training centre (CE Para) in Schaffen it specialises in extreme high altitude infiltration via parachute. Operators execute jumps from an airplane at 30,000 feet, utilizing oxygen rebreathers, and must deploy their parachutes upon exiting.

[Source]

3.6.2 Combat diver

A 5-8 month long course which takes place in Zeebrugge under the diving school of the Marine Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. Training received includes:

  • Compressed air diving
  • Non-autonomous diving
  • Rebreathers using pure oxygen
  • Rebreathers using nitrogen-oxygen mixture

[Source]

Belgian SFG Diver
Belgian SFG diver – [Image source]

3.6.3 Instructor or Assistant Instructor Commando 

This 8-week course is conducted at the Commando Training Centre (CE Cdo). It consists of a 4-week instruction period followed by a 4-week training program where candidates learn to create installations with ropes and cables to cross vertical, horizontal, and wet terrain and obstacles.

Candidates are also taught how to install climbing ropes and ladders, as well as how to evacuate injured personnel across rocky and difficult terrain.

[Source]

3.6.4 Lead climber training

This 5-week program instructs candidates on how to correctly traverse mountainous terrain on rocks, snow and ice. Instruction is also given on how to create trails and this takes place at the Commando Training Centre (CE Cdo) (3 weeks) and Chamonix, France (2 weeks).

[Source]

3.7 Ground Mobility Capability Training for SFG Operators

This training is given to all operators regardless of their assigned speciality. It includes vehicle and mountain training and there are further specialisations within these.

3.7.1 Ground Mobility Vehicle Training

Candidates and operators are given training in varying vehicle mobility techniques. This includes:

  • Tactical combat vehicles – Capable of traversing difficult terrain with high firepower (weapons mounted on vehicles) and a heavy load-bearing capability. Allows operators to remain independent on long-range missions without support.
  • Specialised armoured vehicles – Providing security for VIPs in high-risk territory and this specific training is available to members of the DAS (Détachement d’Agence de sécurité) and Close Protection Teams (CPT).
  • DAS – Further training for DAS operators includes offensive and defensive driving techniques, off-road driving and drifting/braking techniques.

[Source]

3.7.2 Mountain training

This includes:

  • Tactical Urban Climbing (TUC) – specialised training in urban traversing which includes climbing and rappelling on buildings.
  • Infiltration and exfiltration – techniques which require knowledge of mountaineering and orientation skills. Also includes training in ski traversal during nighttime.

[Source]

3.7.2.1 Advanced Mountain Training

Only available to members of mountain teams this includes:

  • Training in extreme high-altitude mountain traversal. Training includes meteorology, orientation, mountain equipment, rope techniques, and ice climbing.

[Source]

Belgian SFG mountain team traversing on skis
Belgian SFG mountain team traversing on skis – [Image source]

3.8 Air Insertion Capability Training

Basic air insertion skills are taught to all operators and candidates regardless of speciality. This includes:

  • Rotary wing (Helicopter) – Inserion via helicopter, operators are trained in fast-rope, spy-rig, rappel and touch-and-go descent from helicopters.
  • Fixed wing, fast landing attack
  • Static line parachuting (1000 feet)
  • Free fall (15000 feet) – Both HAHO and HALO insertion methods are taught

[Source]

3.8.1 Advanced Air Insertion Capability Training

Only available to operators who are members of specialised air insertion teams, this includes:

  • Very High Altitude (VHA) free fall jumps are executed from an aeroplane at 30,000 feet using oxygen rebreathers. This requires an additional medical crew, as operators rely on specialized equipment and mixtures of nitrogen and oxygen.

[Source]

Belgian SFG operator preparing to jump
Belgian SFG operator preparing to jump – [Image source]

3.9 Amphibious movement and insertion capability training

All operators, regardless of speciality, receive basic amphibious capabilities. Training includes:

  • River crossing – Crossing streams and rivers using what is at hand
  • Surface infiltration – Swimming over large distances using diving gear and rebreathers
  • Kayak – collapsible kayaks for infiltration over large distances
  • Semi-rigid rubber boats – Rapid movement over large distances and training in navigation against tides.
  • Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) – training in operating RHIBs allows for fast movement during operations.

[Source]

3.9.1 Advanced Amphibious movement and insertion capability training

Only for members assigned to the ‘sea’ teams. These operators are trained as combat divers and this 8-month course teaches diving techniques. It includes:

  • Tactical diving using rebreathers
  • Beach, harbour and close target reconnaissance training
  • Underwater sabotage and demolition training

[Source]

Belgian SFG maritime operators
Belgian SFG maritime operators – [Image source]

3.10 Connections to the Special Operations Regiment 

The SFG operates under the Special Operations Regiment (SOR). The SOR is the overall commanding force for Special operations of the Land Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. It brings together several units under its command. This includes:

  • The Special Forces Group (SFG) – Based in Heverlee
  • HQ and Staff Company – Based in Heverlee
  • 2nd Commando Battalion Para Commando – Based in Flawinne
  • 3rd Paratroopers Battalion – Based in Tielen
  • 6th Communications and Informations Systems Group – Based in Peutie
  • Paratrooper Training Centre – Based in Schaffen Air Base
  • Commando Training Centre – Based in Marche-Les-Dames

[Source, source]

3.11 Specialisations within the SFG

There are 6 specialisations within the SFG which operators can become. This includes:

3.11.1 Special Operation Boat Unit (SOBU)

A SOBU operator works in a 4-man boat crew and is responsible for operating in extreme or difficult maritime conditions within a range of tactical situations.

The main tasks of a SOBU operator/team include:

  • Insertion and extraction of SF teams
  • Maritime patrols and Special Reconnaissance (SR)
  • Boarding operations
  • Small vessel interceptions
  • Overwatch and fire support
  • Supporting diving operations
  • Maritime counter-terrorism
  • CASEVAC
  • Transferring of personnel and gear

Selection for SOBU units is as follows:

  • After completing the SOF basic course and the A Para and A Commando courses there is a 10-month selection course. There is a 3 phase physical week focusing on physical tests, orientation skills and technical military skills. After this, the SOBU course operators follow additional courses which inform them of operational tactics necessary for navigation and operations in a maritime Special Operations environment.

[Source]

3.11.2 Close protection agents (DAS)

A DAS operator is responsible for the protection of senior Belgian officials in foreign countries.

[Source]

Belgian SFG DAS operators providing HVT protection
Belgian SFG DAS operators providing HVT protection – [Image source]

3.11.3 Sniper Teams (KILO)

SFG operators who are a part of sniper teams (KILO) are specialists in long-range targeting and experts in camouflage and observation.

Selection and training for sniper team members are as follows:

  • After the Q-course, operators may be assigned as snipers. To become snipers, SFG members first enroll in a sharpshooter course led by instructors. After 1 or 2 years, they attend a basic sniper school (local or international) for additional training in undetected infiltration, high-precision shooting, and exfiltration.
  • After this, they are equipped with AXMC, SCAR-H PR or Barrett M107A1 rifles. They are experts in short/long-range targeting and operations in urban and woodland conditions from static or mobile positions.

[Source]

3.11.4 Deep Development Capability (DDC)

SFG members who are part of a DDC team engage with local populations in order to gather intelligence, support operations and engage in pre-conflict sensing of a target environment.

Selection for DDC units is as follows:

  • DDC members don’t need para-commando badges. After completing the SOF Basic course, DDC aspirants begin the 16-week SOF Human Domain (HD) course and the DDC-specific phase. This training is followed by a 4-6 week operational deployment for hands-on experience.

[Source]

Feamle Belgian DDC operator advising friendly forces
Female Belgian DDC operator advising friendly forces – [Image source]

3.11.5 Assault Explosive Ordnance Disposal (AEOD)

AEOD operators are responsible for the tracing, identification diffusing of explosive devices. They deal with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), mines, munitions/sub-munitions, artillery shells and mortar bombs, hand/rifle grenades, guided missiles, rockets and other explosive devices.

[Source]

3.11.6 Special Operations Air Land Integration (SOALI)

SOALI operators are an additional supporting element and are responsible for a variety of duties. SOALI operators can specialise as either a Radio Operator Maintainer and Driver (ROMAD) or as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC). All ROMAD operators are qualified in drone operating and use micro-UAS, Raven, Phantom 4 Pro and PUMA LE drones.

Selection for SOALI operators is as follows:

  • Following the Basic SOF Course, Q-course, A Para and A Commando courses, operators are enrolled in specific SOALI ROMAD or JTAC training courses.

[Source]

4.0 Equipment

The Belgian SFG uses a wide variety of equipment which ranges from domestically produced weapons to internationally procured vehicles and weapons platforms.

4.1 Weapons

The Belgian SFG uses a wide variety of weapons. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Pistols
    • FN Five-SeveN MK2 – (FN 5.7x28mm NATO)
    • Glock-17 (9x19mm)
  • Assault Rifles (ARs)
    • FN SCAR-L CQC (10-inch barrel) – (5.56x45mm NATO)
    • FN SCAR-L STD (14-inch barrel) – (5.56x45mm NATO)
    • FN F2000 – (5.56x45mm NATO)
  • Battle Rifles (BRs)
    • FN SCAR-H CQC – (7.62x51mm NATO)
  • Submachine Guns (SMGs)
    • FN P90 – (FN 5.7x28mm NATO)
    • B&T MP9-N – (9x19mm Parabellum)
  • Sniper Rifles (SRs)
    • FN SCAR-H PR (Precision Rifle – 20-inch barrel) – (7.62x51mm NATO)
    • Accuracy International AXMC – (8.6x70mm)
    • Barrett M107A1 – (12.7x99mm NATO/.50 BMG)
  • Machine Guns (MGs)
    • FN Minimi M3 Tactical SB (Short Barrel – 13.7-inch barrel) – (5.56x45mm NATO)
    • FN Minimi 7.62 M3 – (7.62x51mm NATO)
    • Browning M2HB CQB – (12.7x99mm NATO/.50 BMG)
  • Grenade Launchers (GLs)
    • Heckler & Koch GMG – (40x53mm HV – High Velocity)
    • FN40GL – (40x46mm LV – Low Velocity)
  • Other weapons
    • HAFLA-35L single shot (disposable red phosphorous incendiary launcher)

[Source]

4.2 Vehicles

The SFG uses a variety of vehicles either through direct control methods or through support provided by other branches of the Belgian Armed Forces.

4.2.1 Tactical vehicles

This includes:

  • Jankel Fox RRV (Rapid Response Vehicle)
  • Jankel LTTV (Light Troop Transport Vehicle)
  • JACAM Unimog Logistic Platform)

These are usually armed with a heavy machine gun or a grenade launcher.

[Source]

SFG JACAM Unimog vehicle with a Jankel Fox RRV in the background
SFG JACAM Unimog vehicle with a Jankel Fox RRV in the background – [Image source]

4.2.2 Air Support and Other Vehicles

These vehicles provide transport and air support to the Belgian SFG and are operated by the 1st Wing and 15th Wing of the Air Component of the Belgian Armed Forces.

  • A109BA – (Helicopter)
  • NH90-TTH – (Helicopter)
  • Airbus A400M – (Aeroplane)
  • C130H Hercules – (Aeroplane – Retired as of 21 December 2018)
  • RHIB (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat )
  • Kayaks
  • Semi-rigid rubber boats

[Source, source]

Belgian SFG operators with a kayak used for infiltration
Belgian SFG operators with a kayak used for infiltration – [Image source]

4.3 Armor and Kit

The Belgian SFG utilises a variety of armour and kit which includes but is not limited to:

  • Ops-Core Future Assault Shell Technology (FAST) Helmet
  • XACT NV3X (NVG)
  • 3M Peltor Comtac variants (ear protection and communication)
  • Rebreather gear (for diving elements)
  • Rebreather gear (for HAHO/HALO/VHA parachuting)
  • Diving equipment (includes flippers and suits)

4.4 MPC

The SFG also uses attack dogs in its missions also known as Multi-Purpose Canines (MPCs). They are trained to find explosives, chase down targets and detect hidden threats.

5. Tactical-Operational Information

The Belgian SFG has several main tasks which constitute its tactics and its operational duties. This includes:

5.1 Special Reconnaissance (SR)

SR is one of the duties performed by the SFG and it is done in order to support a commander’s Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIR). This includes eyes-on-target surveillance such as Human Intelligence (HUMINT), close target reconnaissance and the deployment of ISR assets in order to gather intelligence.

[Source]

5.2 Direct Action (DA)

DA is an offensive operation performed by the SFG in order to seize, destroy, disrupt, capture, exploit, recover or damage High-Value Targets (HVTs).

[Source]

5.3 Military Assistance (MA)

MA is broad in scope and includes supporting friendly elements through training, advising, mentoring and the conducting of combined operations alongside friendly forces. It also includes capacity building, engagement with local, regional and national leadership/organisations and civic actions aimed at supporting or influencing the local population.

[Source]

5.4 Operations

Due to the classified nature of the SFG operations, many of its activities are unknown. However, there are some operations which the unit is known to have conducted either in its current form or under one of its historical designations. This includes but is not limited to:

5.4.1 Congo

The SFG, whilst within the Para-Commando Brigade took part in extensive operations in the Congo. This includes:

  • Operation Dragon Rouge – During the Simba Rebellion which began in 1964, rebels took several hundred white hostages to the Victoria Hotel. 350 members of the Para-Commando Brigade were airlifted by US Air Force C-130 transports to the airport in Stanlyeville and upon securing the airfield they made their way to the Victoria Hotel. They prevented the Simba rebels from killing all but 80 hostages. [Source]
  • Operation Red Bean – The Para-Commando Brigade took part in an operation aimed at freeing hostages taken by the FLNC rebels after they had conquered the city of Kolwezi. On 20 May the Para-Commando Brigade landed at the nearby airport, headed towards the city and started evacuating Europeans towards the airport. [Source]

5.4.2 Somalia

Elements of the SFG were deployed in Somalia as a part of UNITAF, UNOSOM I and UNOSOM II. This was done in order to create an environment for conducting humanitarian operations in varying parts of the country.

5.4.3 Iraq and Syria

Operators in Baghdad, Iraq
Belgian SFG in Baghdad, Iraq – [Image source]

Belgian SFG operators were deployed in Iraq and Syria in order to combat ISIS. They provided ISR capabilities and also helped to coordinate Belgian airstrikes against ISIS targets.

[Source]

6.0 Conclusion

The Belgian SFG is one of Belgium’s premier special forces units. With a history dating back to WW2, it has seen extensive involvement in operations on multiple continents. Created in April 2000 in its current form it has undergone several redesignations and commands until it has settled under its current command under the Special Operations Regiment (SOR). Candidates must undergo extensive training in order to become members of this historic unit and are dedicated to the protection of Belgium and its VIPs from external threats.

Belgian SFG operators with Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder who was presenting recruitment plans for 2024
Belgian SFG operators with Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder who was presenting recruitment plans for 2024 [Source] – [Image source]
Table of Contents

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