The Global Special Forces Partnership

The Global Special Forces Partnership

By Dialogo
October 01, 2012

Few kidnap victims can say that a multinational Special Forces team supported
by CV-22 Osprey, MH-47 Chinook and MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters helped rescue them,
even if it was just part of a capabilities exercise.
The rescue of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was set in motion over a harbor near
downtown Tampa, Florida, when the Osprey swept in from the south then nearly froze
in midair as its rotors slowly shifted to a vertical position, causing the waters
below to ripple in wide circles as hundreds of onlookers watched in awe. What took
place over the next 45 minutes was a feat of interoperability and fluid
communications among Special Forces units from around the globe.
Special Forces members from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Jordan,
Norway, Poland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the United States were part of
the land, sea and air exercise. They parachuted from C-130 Hercules aircraft,
fast-roped from a Black Hawk helicopter onto an enemy vessel and dropped out of the
back of a Chinook into rigid hull inflatable boats. In addition to rescuing the
mayor, they stormed beaches and secured an “enemy village.”
With Special Forces representatives from more than 90 nations in attendance,
the International Special Operations Forces (ISOF) Conference hosted by U.S. Special
Operations Command (SOCOM) from May 21-24, 2012, was also an opportunity for
commanders to share best practices and network.

“We are exchanging ideas, tactics, techniques, procedures – all in an effort
to make both of our forces better,” SOCOM Commander Admiral William McRaven told
attendees in his opening remarks. “As we all see on a daily basis, threats like
narcoterrorism, transnational organized crime, human smuggling and violent extremism
exist in every region of the globe.”
Colonel Jesús Daniel Serrano, of the Salvadoran Army, told Diálogo that
problems like the menace of violent gangs are not isolated to his native El
Salvador, but are faced by nations globally. “Some of the techniques of what we are
confronting in El Salvador can be useful in Honduras, and Guatemala. Similarly, what
we do here, we can do at the global level.”
Col. Serrano said that interactions like those at the ISOF conference help to
build relationships and facilitate joint operations against shared threats.
Major Gustavo Adolfo Muñoz Roldán, of the Guatemalan Special Interdiction and
Rescue Group, told Diálogo that the threats are transnational, and organized crime
is interconnected. “The best way to combat [organized crime] is the same way as [the
criminals] – we rely on each other’s forces working together,” Maj. Muñoz said.
New Threats, New Approaches

Narcotraffickers and terrorists in Central America, South America and the
Caribbean are taking advantage of ungoverned spaces for refuge and to conduct
operations. Honduran Armed Forces have trained with U.S. Special Operations forces
to confront traffickers by using forward operating bases to mount a direct challenge
to the traffickers who use clandestine airstrips to smuggle drugs.
Honduran Army Colonel Raynel Enrique Fúnez Ponce told Diálogo that the
tactics Honduras and the U.S. practice together can be applied to other regions and
threats. “It has been more than two years since we began cooperating, from training
to assistance in operations. We have developed models that are yielding results,” he
said. Col. Fúnez added that the rich operational experience the Honduran Army has
gained allows the forces under his command to strengthen the readiness of its
neighbors. “We train together, we take courses together, and they learn about us,
because part of the Special Forces doctrine is to understand cultures.”