Recently, an Army Special Forces team trained with the Navy’s Special Boat Teams off the California coast, showcasing the spirit of interoperability that is so crucial to mission success.
A Combat Diver Green Beret team from the 10th Special Forces Group represented the Army, while a Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen (SWCC) detachment represented the Navy side of the house.
The Green Berets got the opportunity to test out some new hardware and also work on exchanging and developing joint tactics, techniques, procedures with their Naval brethren. Moreover, they trained with the Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) boats in amphibious assaults and hot exfiltration.
Often referred to a warrior-diplomats, Green Berets are masters of unconventional warfare. They work with and through local partner forces across the world to enhance their effectiveness. SWCC detachments primarily specialize in maritime mobility and direct action. They are the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) go-to option for inserting or extracting a special operations team for both blue and brown water targets.
The detachment commander of the 10th SFG ODA said in a press release that “As people move toward urban areas on the water, which is a global pattern across the world, the applicability of maritime operations will continue to grow.”
Realistic interservice training is all the more important now that the U.S. military is readjusting its focus to reflect the updated National Defense Strategy, which shifts away from low-intensity conflicts and counterinsurgencies and pivots back to Great Power Competition (GPC) with adversaries such as Russia and China. The Chinese military, for example, is growing increasingly capable in the maritime realm. A potent maritime capability is thus essential both as a deterrent and a policy tool.
“Having the ability to operate on the maritime domain gives a geographic combatant commander the ability to employ SF teams, and employ those partner forces,” added the Special Forces officer. “It provides the ability to gain access and placement, and move weapons and equipment throughout the environment.”
Special Forces operators deploy on 12-man Special Forces Operational Detachment Alphas (ODAs). Each Special Forces company is comprised of six ODAs (there are usually 72 ODAs in a Special Forces Group). Each of these six ODAs specializes in a different insertion method. Military Freefall teams master the High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) and High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachuting methods that allow for stealthy insertion via aircraft. Mountain teams are experts in all things related to mountaineering, high-angle operations, and cold-weather warfare. Mobility teams drive some very fast but heavily armed vehicles. Dive teams specialize in underwater insertion and maritime operations.
Dive teams are further broken down to Combat Diver and Maritime Operations teams – this is a result of a lack of enough qualified Combat Divers; the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course (SFCDQC) is one of the hardest courses in the military, and the attrition rate is high despite the fact that students come from Special Operations units, such as the Special Forces Groups and the 75th Ranger Regiment. As a result, there is only one Combat Diver ODA in every company.
Maritime Operations teams focus on maritime interdiction and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations.
SWCC boats pack some serious firepower, with an assortment of M134 miniguns and 240B and M2 0.50 machineguns ensuring fire superiority against most enemies. There are three Special Boat Teams: Special Boat Team 12, based in Coronado, California; Special Boat Team 20, based in Little Creek, Virginia; and Special Boat Team 22, based in Stennis, Mississippi. SBT 12 and SBT 20 focus on blue water operations, whereas SBT 22 specializes on riverine missions.