Monday, February 10, 2020

Special Operations in NATO

Starting with a Letter of Intent (LOI) in February 2019, then moving forward with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on October 25, five European states established the Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC).

Hungary launched the initiative, and thus will be responsible for “overall coordination of the regional command” as well as supplying the R-SOCC's commanding officer. Joined by fellow NATO members Croatia, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and NATO partner Austria, the five signees expect R-SOCC to “reach Initial Operational Capability” by January 2021 and “Final Operational Capability” by the end of 2024.

The command aims to improve the nations’ ability to “effectively employ their special forces,” as well as increase “cooperation and interoperability within” NATO at large. Alongside the Composite Special Operations Component Command (C-SOCC)—another regional command created in June 2018 by Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands—and NATO’s Special Operations Headquarters in Belgium, R-SOCC will specifically strengthen NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) in the region as part of NATO’s quick-reaction Response Force.

The annual Trojan Footprint exercise provided NATO commanders with the opportunity to “evaluate the progress and future” of R-SOCC, with special attention paid to the command’s deployment viability in case of an increasingly likely crisis with Russia. Given the divide between several NATO allies that has bubbled up in the wake of the organization’s 70th anniversary, NATO needs the improved cooperation and coordination that R-SOCC and other special operations commands intend to provide.

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