Special Forces officer slated to lead NATO special operations

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A highly experienced Army Special Forces officer has been slated to become the next NATO special operations commander.

The Pentagon picked Lieutenant General Mark C. Schwartz to head the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ), which is located in Belgium, last November. He will be replacing Lieutenant General Eric Wendt.

Lt. Gen. Schwartz was previously serving as the Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Before going to Israel, Schwartz was the deputy commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which commands Delta Force and SEAL Team 6.

Schwartz is no stranger to the European special operations setting. He has previous NATO experience from his time as a special operations plans officer at NATO’s Joint Forces Command, in the Netherlands. Additionally, between 2016 and 2018, Schwartz served as the Commanding General for US Special Operations Europe (SOCEUR).

Lieutenant General Mark Schwartz (SOCOM).

According to its mission statement, the NSHQ provides focused Special Operations advice to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), who is also the commander of the US European Command (EUCOM), and the NATO Chain of Command and provides on a collaborative, inter-dependent platform to enhance the Alliance SOF network.

In a nutshell, NSHQ is constantly enhancing the NATO special operations capability through education, training, and doctrine development. Moreover, it improves existing systems and infrastructure, such as the new special operations center that was recently built in the Baltics.

In addition, the NSHQ tracks and coordinates national special operations activities and developments among NATO members. For instance, when the German KSK, the country’s tier 1 unit, went through a reorganization this past summer, the NSHQ might share any lessons learned from that with the rest of the Alliance’s special operations units. NSHQ is also an advocate of partnership activities, like the recent joint training that took place between US special operators and Swedish commandos.

U.S. Navy SEALs prepare to seize a high-value target during Flaming Sword 20, Lithuania’s annual special operations exercise. Flaming Sword allows Lithuanian and allied special operations forces to practice countering hybrid threats while improving their ability to work together in times of crisis (SOCEUR).

Schwartz is a career Special Forces officer. He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) and received the coveted Green Beret in 1993. He served as a detachment commander, company commander, and battalion and group operations officer at the 5th Special Forces Group. Among his numerous other assignments, Schwartz also served as the executive officer and deputy commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance from Idaho State University and a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

His experience with SOCEUR will certainly aid in his transition to his new command.

Stavros Atlamazoglou

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and national security. He is a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School.