SEALs, Green Berets join large defense drill in Sweden
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 13, 2020
STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. special operations forces are drilling with military responder units in Sweden to rehearse how they would jointly confront an enemy force in the Baltics, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe said Friday.
Navy SEALs, Green Berets, special boat teams and aircraft are all taking part in the drills to test the ability of U.S. and Swedish forces to contend with an imminent threat, officials said.
The bilateral exercise with Sweden is the latest push by SOCEUR into the Baltic Sea region, where coastal nations are concerned about a more aggressive Russia.
SOCEUR, in cooperation with the Swedish Defense University, authored a paper in 2019 that details a “Resistance Operating Concept” strategy for fighting back against a larger adversary like Russia.
“When a nation loses control of territory, resistance is applicable (and) potential adversaries must be put on notice that they will not succeed; they will be ousted,” Maj. Gen. Kirk Smith, then-SOCEUR commander, wrote in a forward to the strategy document.
The training unfolding in Sweden incorporates some aspects of the resistance concept, SOCEUR spokesman Maj. Juan Martinez said.
For example, U.S. special operators are linking up with Swedish homeland defense reserves, who would play a central role in a guerrilla warfare campaign in the event of a foreign armed incursion.
“In theory, if something were to happen, our guys would be embedded there as well,” Martinez said.
SOCEUR, in a statement detailing some of the training, said some efforts were taking place at an undisclosed location while other parts were happening in the Baltic Sea near the Swedish naval base of Karlskrona.
The training also incorporates the Navy destroyer USS Ross and the England-based U.S. Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing and 100th Air Refueling Wing.
“This exercise provides the opportunity to train with SOF partners as well as U.S. and Swedish conventional forces across all warfighting functions and domains,” Air Force Col. Nathan Owendoff, joint special operations task force commander for the exercise, said in a statement.
In recent years, SOCEUR has bolstered its ties throughout the area. NATO has also stepped up its presence with multinational battlegroups in all of the Baltic states as well as Poland.
An official from Sweden’s special operations command said the exercise showcases the importance of its partnership with U.S. forces.
“The strength of Swedish and U.S. special operations forces together enable conventional armed forces to defend the region,” said the official, who could not be named under Swedish military rules.