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Category Archives: Special Forces

SpetsnaZ

To finish off last weeks special forces posts, here are some who will face those already posted on the styrofoam fields of glory… Russian SpetsnaZ.

Now it is hard to write something about these units like I did on their NATO counterparts. For one the term SpetsnaZ refers to all the different units the Soviet Union (and now Russia) had. [EDIT: SpetsnaZ stands for Otryad Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya, meaning: troop for special purposes / functions in English.] All the branches of the Russian military, the police and secret services have at least one unit and western literature frequently mixes them up.

The unit I have gone for is modeled on the GRU GSh (Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye Generalnovo Shtaba, meaning: Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff in English). Their primary missions are sabotage, assassinations as well reconnaissance and direct support for regular forces. Especially the former two were what attracted my attention. In my hypothetical WW III setting Russian attacks Europe and a unit like that would be needed to attack force multipliers behind NATO lines. This is only underlined by the fact that this unit was tasked with taking out nuclear first strike weapons even inside the US.

The unit itself was created in 1949 and there are currently nine brigades and one battalion attached to various military districts. Exact numbers are hard to establish, especially since these men wear regular uniforms (usually airborne) to make sure they do not blend in. This is not only done in an attempt to confuse other nations intelligence, but also to keep them secret within their own nation and military. In combat these men have full choice of weapons and equipment (even western).

Spetznav

Spetznav

The minis above all from Devil Dog Designs, the sniper being a slight conversion. I feel these were some of the finest DDD did back then and they are not that far behind some of the minis produced today. But I painted them nearly a decade ago and one can clearly see how much my style (especially with the skin) has changed since then.

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SAS & KSK

SAS & KSK

OK, today I finally ran out of bad puns, so without much further ado… here are the SAS and KSK.

SAS:

The Special Air Service (SAS) or “The Regiment” are widely regarded as the oldest and most experienced SF unit world-wide. They were created in Juli 1941 to sabotage the supply routes of the German Afrika Korps. The British choose a name to confuse the Germans… L Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade. The term air did not refer to any special mission of theirs and with just 66 men they were far too small for a brigade, but the name stuck. They caused havoc on the German lines and were expanded to 5 battalions during the war, with the third and fourth being made up of French and the fifth of Belgian nationals. These 3 foreign battalions were incorporated into their own nations forces after the war.

After the war they saw (controversial) use  in Northern Ireland, prepared the Falklands landings, hunted Scuds during Desert Storm and war criminals on the Balkans. They freed hostages in Sierra Leone, fulfilled all kinds of missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and acted as advisers and target designators in Libia last year. But still they are best known for their action during the storming of the Iranian embassy in 1980.

Amongst the Special Forces they have a very special role, since they work in close conjunction with the UK´s police forces. In this role they do not only provide SWAT type teams or bomb disposal experts, but also advise, planning and surveillance, something that would be illegal for a military unit in many other western nations.

Today the SAS consists of three Regiments (one active, two reserve). The active 22nd Special Air Service Regiment consists of 4 Squadrons (A, B, D, and G), with 4 troops each. Each troop consisting of four four-men teams. Each troop has a speciality be it either as a Mountain Troop, Mobility Troop, Air Troop (HALO drops) or Boat Troop. All Squadrons rotate special training, so that all are kept on edge for any type of mission. Every six to nine month a different Squadron becomes CRW-Wing (Counter Revolutionary Warfare), essentially providing the counter terrorism forces.

Their abilities are underlined by the fact that other nations turn to them when they raise new special forces units. The US did so when it created Delta and Germany when it created the KSK.

SAS

SAS

The minis above all come from TAG´s SAS range. Again not the best minis, but about the best that were available when I painted them a couple of years ago. Back then I planned to wargame Afghanistan (an idea I have dropped since) so they are kitted out to represent a four men patrol in the mountains of the Hindukush. The wear Jungle DPM jackets and Desert DPM trousers. This could be seen a lot with British soldiers during the first months of operations in Afghanistan. I am not too sure why this was done, but I assume to better blend in with the terrain, which can be strange at times. Since my wargaming is just set in Europe these days, I have often contemplated repainting them, but can not get around to it. But maybe this troop has itself geared for a mission in the Lüneburger Heath were green over sand would be useful as well. 😉

KSK:

The German Kommando Specialkräfte (KSK) is maybe youngest of NATO´s special forces. For years logic had dictated that Germany did not need special forces of their kind. Due to the lessons learned during the 3rd Reich where the military had been used to suppress the population, German law absolutely forbids the use of the military in police actions on German soil. So the federal police fulfilled this role with the Grenzschutzsondergruppe 9 (GSG 9 / made famous by the storming of the Lufthansa jet “Landshut” in Mogadishu). Offensive operations by the German army were strictly forbidden by German law and for the purely defensive operations of the Cold War the existing Kampfschwimmer (roughly equivalent to the UDT´s) and the Fernspäher (long-range scouts) were deemed sufficient. Then came the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War and along with it more German effort worldwide and missions existing forces could not handle. This reached its climax in 1994 when Germany found it had no forces (the GSG 9 was too small and no German military forces had the training) to deploy to rescue German nationals from Rwanda and had to turn to Belgium to do that. The embarrassment was only made worse by the fact that 12 Belgian soldiers lost their life during the mission. In the same year the German High Court decided, that peace keeping and even offensive operations outside NATO boarders where legal under certain conditions. The road was clear for the creation of the KSK in 1996.

While members were recruited from all units of the Bundeswehr, the Fernspäherkompanien were dissolved and incorporated into the KSK. The initial training was heavily supported by the British SAS, after which the KSK was to be modelled. Formation was completed in 1997 and the first missions conducted the following year, when they began the hunt for warcriminals in the Balkans. The same year saw them expand to their current strength of around 1100 men. They saw action in Afghanistan when they conducted scouting missions and provided flank security during the assault on Tora Bora and Operation Anaconda. It has been estimated that at least 100 KSK men are on constant deployment in Afghanistan in since 2001. This also includes their highly controversial use in the Task Force 47.

The airmobile and special operations capable Saarlangbrigade is their dedicated combat support units much in the way the PARA´s are to the SAS or the Rangers to Delta.

KSK strike team

KSK strike team

KSK support team

KSK support team

The above minis are from Devil Dog Designs, both from the KSK pack as well as the normal Bundeswehr pack. Some of the minis (namely those sporting MP-5s and MG-3) were converted using 1:35 scale weapons. Back then these were the best minis one could get, but unfortunately they show some minor deficits when it comes to equipment details.

KSK sniper team

KSK sniper team

Now these minis are from Eureka miniatures and show the clear evolution modern miniatures have gone through over the last decade if you compare them to both the TAG and DDD minis above.

What is next… tomorrow will see their opposition… Russian Spetznav. So stay tuned!

 

Delta Dawn or the ACE up your sleeve

Delta Dawn or the ACE up your sleeve

Today it is time for another modern Special Forces installment (and another bad pun)… 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne) or as they are known since their (second) re-christening in 2010: Army Compartmented Element (ACE).

They were created 5 days before I was born in 1977. Far smaller than the SeALs with about 1000 men they are one of the US Armys contributions to the US arsenal of special forces. [EDIT: I have been contacted by a friend who served with Delta. As of last year that are three operational Sabre Squadrons with 40 to 60 operators each. So the figure of 1000 men includes AFO personel as well as AVN troop members.] If you look at the story of their creation, their main goal was the use in hostage situations and they saw frequent use on US soil until the Depart of Justice deemed this a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Back then their organisation was modeled along the line of the British SAS which took a large part in their training. Their first big mission was the freeing of hostages from the embassy in Teheran in 1980 (Operation Eagle Claw) which never got to their target due to a refueling accident in the desert.They hunted Iraqi Scud launchers during Desert Storm, are reputed to have shot Pablo Escobar, had the largest part in the SF operations in Somalia and sabotaged Iraqi command and control installations around Bagdad in 2003. Along with DEVGRU they are the only unit today that has it´s primary mission in counter terrorism.

Army Delta

Army Delta

The minis here are geared up for their primary mission… the freeing of hostages and are clad all black. Bottom left is a mini from the Infinity range. Bottom middle is a special mini from TAG´s SWAT range. All the others are Devil Dog Designs. The black uniforms were highlit using black mixed with dark blue.

What else? Now since this is only a single mini and one that is near impossible to photograph I decided to include a USAF PJ as well. PJ stands for Para Jumper. They are Air force Medics that get additional training in combat first aid to the level that their skills can even compete with some doctors in a normal hospitals ER. A good number of them are special operations qualified and accompany other special forces on their missions. They are a very old unit by SF standards since they were created 2 days before the D-Day Invasion in 1944.

PJ

PJ

The mini is a converted Infinity mini. Unfortunately the extreme pose makes him near impossible to photograph, so sorry for the poor shot. His trousers are meant to be Digital Tigerstripe ABU´s, but again… due to the pose it hardly shows.

UP next (tomorrow) are the guys Delta train with… British SAS and German KSK.

 

Your fate is SeAL-ed

Your fate is SeAL-ed

Well please excuse my bad pun but yesterday I finished Eureka´s great set of SeAL minis and I wanted to show them off.

But who are the SeAL´s exactly? Well simply put they are the US Navys contribution to the US inventory of special forces. Their name is both an acronym for their areas of operation (Sea, Air, Land) as well as the well-known mammal that calls the oceans its home.

Between the 8 SeAL teams and DEVGRU there are about 2500 men trained for special operations. Their origins date back to the Underwater Demolition Teams of the second World War. They were founded in 1962 and took part in all major conflicts and operations of the US Military (as well as those unknown). Be it jungle warfare in Vietnam, the freeing of hostages on cruise liners, preparing beachheads by clearing obstacles or just leading the enemy to think that there will be an amphibious landing. They secured Oil Rigs and were part of the fateful convoy in Mogadishu 1993 (something Hollywood seems to have forgotten). It is ironic, that the Mission that made them most famous (Neptunes Spear that killed Osama Bin Laden) was technically not conducted by the SeALs but by the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). DEVGRU is the successor to SeAL Team 6 which was dissolved amidst allegations of fraud and mishandling in the 1980s. While still part of the US Navy it has been under CIA command since 2001 and not JSOC like the other SeAL teams.

So here they are:

SeAL team (DEVGRU)

SeAL team (DEVGRU)

At first I had thought about painting them in a mix of Multicam and A-TACS camo. Both are en vogue with the SeALs these days. In the end I decided against A-TACS. This type of camo is designed for a very diffuse look and it would not have come out on a 28mm mini. Plus my hypothetical WWIII is set in the middle of the last decade when it had not been on the market.

The dog in the foreground is a Malinoi. They see a lot o use with the SeALs and DEVGRU. I just chose to paint this one with a pattern where the brown goes down the neck. That thing strapped to his back is a camera assembly.

SeAL Malinoi

SeAL Malinoi

But this is not the first time I have painted some SeALs. A couple of years ago I already did some, but they were more meant to represent a team deployed on some Tom Clancy style covered operation.

SeAL strike team (Black Ops)

SeAL strike team (Black Ops)

SeAL fire support team (Black Ops)

SeAL fire support team (Black Ops)

SeAL fire support team (Black Ops)

SeAL fire support team (Black Ops)

The prone sniper is from Devil Dog Designs and the kneeling sniper with the Barrett rifle is from TAG´s SWAT range. All the Rest are from TAG´s SAS range. The minis are nowhere near is nice as the Eureka ones (especially the faces which were quite distorted), but they do their service!

Want more… well I will try to post some Army Delta and an Airforce PJ tomorrow.

EDIT:

After posting this on the Steve Dean Froum, I felt that the photo did not do the minis justice so I took some individual shots:

SeAL team leader

SeAL team leader

SeAL LMG

SeAL LMG

SeAL 1

SeAL 1

SeAL 2

SeAL 2

SeAL 3

SeAL 3

SeAL 4

SeAL 4

SeAL Dog

SeAL Dog