Naval Special Warfare Operators Assist Honduran Military in Establishing Elite Maritime Unit
By Dialogo February 08, 2013
With a rate of 86 people killed for every 100,000 inhabitants, Honduras is
considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world according to statistics
from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in
With a murder rate four times higher than Mexico, these alarming numbers
depict a nation where violence is part of everyday life. Many of these casualties
are linked to narcotics trafficking, where Honduras and other Central American
nations are used as a transit point from South America into Mexico and the U.S.; the
preponderance of these illicit activities enter the region by maritime.
During a recent six-month deployment, members of Naval Special Warfare Task
Element-Alpha (NSWTE-A), a deployed maneuver element attached to Naval Special
Warfare Unit-FOUR (NSWU-4) in support of Special Operations Command South, partnered
with their Honduran counterparts to train and increase the military capacity of the
newly established Honduran Fuerza Especiales Naval or (FEN). The FEN is a maritime
unit of Special Operators capable of combating transnational organized crime in and
around their waterways.
NSWU4, stationed in Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek, Va., and in
support of SOCSOUTH, headquartered at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., designed and
implemented a comprehensive training and maintenance plan to build the FEN into a
strong counter-narcotic force.
Ten operators from SEAL Team 18, attached to NSWU-4, spent six months
training and observing the FEN in a multi-disciplinary approach, resulting in 45
highly qualified Honduran Special Operators by the end of the two, eight-week Basic
Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/s) style training. These courses were modeled after
the BUD/s selection training done by the U.S. Navy SEALs in Coronado,
Some of the conditioning assessments included an eight-mile log physical
training event and a six-nautical mile ocean swim across the Bahia de Trujillo.
After completing these physical and mental hardships to become a member of the FEN,
the 45 qualified individuals continued through more rigorous and
operationally-focused skills training, which completed their transformation into a
disciplined and dedicated team capable of providing the Honduran Fuerza Naval a
capable maritime branch of special operations.
To compliment the efforts of the Navy SEALs, members from Naval Special
Warfare Special Boat Team 22 also spent a month with counterparts from NSWTE-A
training the FEN in basic watercraft maintenance skills and procedures, nautical
chart familiarization, boat vectoring and intercepting techniques, small boat
handling tactics, and long-range navigation exercises.
“The combination of SEALs and Special Boat Operators provided the FEN with
arguably the best maritime training available within USSOF”, said the NSWTE-A
officer in charge.
Outside of the physical and technical training that is associated with a
special operator, NSWTE-A focused on creating a team of communication specialists
within the FEN to become experts in Harris radio technologies, a skill set that is
lacking in most Central American units due to the lack of expertise.
“In my whole military career, I can only remember three times when radios
were used successfully on a mission,” said the FEN’s commanding officer. He added
that the skills learned during this training should improve the success rate of
radios during military movements.
NSWTE-A also focused its efforts on partner nation self-sustainment
strategies when seven FEN members were selected as future instructors, shadowing NSW
counterparts during all training evolutions. This mentorship provided each Honduran
instructor with the competence and confidence to conduct future selection courses
and internal sustainment training unilaterally.
Organizational departments were also created to include assault, boats,
communications, engineering and training with a senior officer and enlisted advisor
assigned to each department.
“The unique task organization, presentation of functional skill sets, and
development of unit pride and esprit de corps has effectively paved the way for
continued Honduran led training and operations in the future in order to keep their
borders secure against transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking,” said
the NSWTE-A officer in charge.