Tag: Maritime

The Battle of Niså, the Invasion of Demark by Norwegian king Harald Hardrada

Battle of Niså – king Harald Hardrada aboard his Longship during his attempt to invade Denmark.

The Battle of Niså (Slaget ved Niså) was a naval battle fought on 9 August 1062 between the forces of Norwegian king Harald Hardrada and king Sweyn II of Denmark.

Harald had claimed the Danish throne since 1047, and had launched raids into Denmark ever since. With his invasion in 1062, he wanted to decisively defeat the Danes, and thus finally be able to conquer Denmark. The battle was won clearly by the Norwegians, but since many Danes managed to escape, including Sweyn, it proved indecisive in Harald’s attempt to conquer Denmark.

When Harald became the sole king of Norway in 1047, he also claimed the Danish throne, despite that his predecessor and co-ruler Magnus the Good (king of Norway and Denmark) had appointed Sweyn Estridsen as his successor in Denmark. Since 1048, Harald launched raids into Denmark almost annually, attempting to force Sweyn out of the country. Although the raids were largely successful, Harald never managed to occupy Denmark. With the invasion in 1062, he sought to gain a decisive victory over Sweyn.

Harald Hardrada – the last of the ‘great Vikings’ who invaded England in 1066 AD.

According to the Icelandic saga writer Snorri Sturluson, the battle had been preassigned a time and place, but Sweyn did not appear as agreed. Harald thus sent home his non-professional ships and soldiers, the “peasant army” (bóndaherrin), which had made up around half of his forces. When the ships were out of sight, Sweyn finally appeared and engaged Harald’s fleet. With his own so-called drekanum ship in the middle, Harald tied his ships together in order to prevent gaps in the line. He placed earl Haakon Ivarsson and his forces from Trøndelag on the flanks. Sweyn used the same tactic, but unlike Harald had his own earl Finn Arnesson placed right next to himself, instead of on the flanks. The battle commenced in the evening, and lasted through the night.

The History Channel show ‘Vikings’ naval battle between the Vikings and the Franks gives a good representation of how the Vikings prepared for and conducted naval battles (see video above).

The two sides were evenly matched for a long time into the battle, until Haakon disengaged his ships from the flanks and started attacking the weakened Danish ships on the flanks. Sweyn had no similar reserve force, and his fleet was defeated by dawn, with 70 ships left “empty” and the remainder retreating.

While Finn Arnesson fought until he was captured, Sweyn jumped into the water and was rescued by his former ally Haakon (albeit unknowingly to Harald). Haakon was after the battle universally recognized, including by Harald, as the hero of the battle, but when his treachery in rescuing Sweyn was discovered he fell into disfavour (even though Haakon claimed Sweyn had been in disguise, and that he had not recognized it was him).

Sweyn II King of Denmark 1047-1074.

Aftermath

Although Harald won the battle, the victory was not decisive since many Danish ships and men had managed to escape, including Sweyn. Denmark’s economic and social fabric had been destroyed by the yearly raids, but the lengthy war had also taken its toll in Norway. After the Battle of Niså, Harald had trouble collecting taxes in the Uplands, and probably also in other areas. In 1064, Harald finally offered Sweyn unconditional peace without reparations or loss of land, and the two kings concluded peace.

References

The Finnish Navy to participate in the Northern Coasts exercise in Sweden

Rauma-class Fast Attack Missile Boat

PRESS RELEASE:

The exercise Northern Coasts (NOCO-17) will be arranged between 8 September and 21 September 2017 in Sweden. The exercise is the German navy´s international invitation exercise for NATO and EU countries, as well as for NATO partner nations. The exercise is led by Sweden and there will be 16 participating countries.

The aim of NOCO-17 is to exercise the multinational command and control and how to act in crisis management operations. Activities related to international co-operation and command and control will be enhanced during the exercise. Finland´s participation in the exercise will support the goals and objectives of the Finnish-Swedish co-operation (FISE), with a view to obtaining common defense capabilities and co-operation in naval operations.

The exercise is divided into two phases, an initial phase and a tactical phase. During the first phase of the exercise, the units will be training in different fields of naval operations, such as maritime surveillance, surface warfare, anti-aircraft warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine hunting and clearing. During the tactical phase, the units will practice how to act in a fictitious, but realistic scenario in a multinational crises situation at sea. The exercise will be conducted in the waters around Gotland and in the southern Baltic Sea.

This year Finnish staff officers, conscripts and employed staff will participate in the exercise. Participating ships from Finland will be a Hämeenmaa class minelayer, a Rauma class fast attack missile craft and two Katanpää class minehunters. Staff officers from the Swedish-Finnish Task Group will continue the exercise within the framework of the exercise AURORA, which is the main war exercise of the Swedish Armed Forces this year. AURORA 17 will be conducted by the Finnish and Swedish navies and it will partly overlap with the NOCO-exercise.

The Finnish Navy participates in the Northern Coasts exercise according to its annual exercise plan. The NOCO exercises have been conducted since 2007 and Finland has participated every year.

Sweden hosting this year’s Baltic Sea exercise Northern Coasts

Northern Coasts 2016 participants sail in formation

Sweden will be hosting a total of 16 countries for the 2017 edition of the German Navy-sponsored exercise Northern Coasts 2017.

The international exercise is taking place between September 8 and 21 off Gotland and in the Southern Baltic Sea.

A general goal of the drill is to develop skills in maritime surveillance, anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and mine counter-measures. At a tactical stage, a fictitious but realistic scenario will see participants respond to a multinational crisis in maritime areas.

Northern Coasts is a recurring exercise which has been taking place in the Baltic Sea since 2007. European naval ships will be operating in multiple task groups composed of up to seven ships from different nations.

The previous two editions of the exercise were hosted by Germany in 2015 and Denmark in 2016.

 

Special Forces in Focus: The Danish Jaegerkorpset/Hunter Corps and Fromandskorpset/Frogmen Corps

Jaegerkorpset- Hunter Force or Hunter Corps. Danish Army Special Forces Maroon berets.

The Hunter Corps (Danish: Jægerkorpset) is an elite, special forces unit of the Royal Danish Army based at Aalborg Air Base.

The group unit insignia of Jægerkorpset.

The first incarnation of the corps was formed in 1785 as Jægercorpset i Sielland (The Hunter Corps of Zealand) and existed in various forms until it was remade in its current form in 1962 where Major P.B.Larsen and First lieutenant Jørgen Lyng were the first two to complete the training. Their hunting origin is recalled in the hunting horn on their insignia. In the year 1995, the Corps was deployed for the first time. A six-man team was sent to Sarajevo, Bosnia as a counter-sniper reconnaissance team.

Throughout the Cold War, the Jaegers’ primary tasking was that of a long-range reconnaissance unit, with wide renown for their skills in parachute operations. However, with the advent of the post-9/11 Global War on Terror, the Jaegers were modernized to better meet the developing threat of global terrorism. As such, the Jaegers increased their proficiency in counter-terrorism skills, while still maintaining their excellence at reconnaissance operations.

In 2002, the Jaegers were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Danish contribution to Task Force K-Bar, along with the Frogman Corps. During these operations, the Jaegers took part in de-mining operations, reconnaissance in support of conventional forces, the capturing of high-value targets, and direct-action raids on Taliban and al-Qaeda positions. As part of Task Force K-Bar, the Jaegers were awarded “The Presidential Unit citation” on December 7, 2004 for its effort as part of the joint-forces special forces group in Afghanistan.

Jægerkorpset unit in Afghanistan.

The selection course to become a Jægersoldat (a member of Jægerkorpset) is very demanding, both mentally and physically. For a candidate to be accepted into the corps, he/she must complete the following:

  • Pre-course 1 (5 days)
Introduces the candidate to the subjects covered in the patrol course, and gives the candidate a feel for what he/she must get better at. (Orienteering, swimming, etc.)
  • Pre-course 2 (2 days)
More training and evaluation in the above covered subjects.
  • Pre-course 3 (2 days)
More training and evaluation in the above covered subjects with tougher requirements.
  • Patrol Course (8 weeks)
Basic patrol skills. This course must be completed at a satisfactory level to continue to the aspirant course.
  • Aspirant Course (6 weeks)
Very demanding course teaching the candidate the physical limits of himself/herself and his/her patrol. If passed the candidate is awarded his/her “bugle” for the beret.
  • Basic parachuting course (2 weeks)
  • Combat Swimming Course (2 weeks)
When all this has been completed to a satisfactory level, the candidate can begin their actual training. Following the successful completion of a years full time training, the maroon beret is awarded, and the soldier is considered a full member of the corps.
Jægerkorpset og Frømandskorpset overdrages til Specialoperationskommandoen.

Jægerkorpset wears the maroon beret with a brass emblem depicting a hunter’s bugle on a black felt liner. After one year of satisfactory service and training in corps the wearer is issued the shoulder patch “JÆGER” (English: Hunter) and may call himself by this name.

Jægerkorpset is composed of around 150 highly trained soldiers with special expertise in counter-terrorism, demolitions, parachuting, and combat swimming, HAHO and HALO parachuting, infiltration, sabotage, reconnaissance and more. The corps regularly trains with similar units from different countries, such as the US Navy SEALs, US Army DELTA , British SAS and the Danish naval special forces group, the Frogman Corps. The corps is based on the structure and modus operandi of the British SAS.

Their slogan, which is Latin, Plus esse, quam simultatur translates to Hellere at være, end at synes (“Rather to be, than to seem”) in Danish, meaning that the soldier’s capabilities do not have to be widely recognized or boasted—they are only more effective if unknown.

The Danish Frogman Corps (Danish: Frømandskorpset) is the maritime special operations force of the Danish Defence part of Special Operations Command. On 1 July 2015, the Frogman Corps transferred from the Royal Danish Navy to the newly established Special Operations Command.

Frømandskorpset

The Frogman Corps was establised on 17 June 1957 based on the model of the United Kingdom Royal Marines Special Boat Service. Initially it was under the Danish Navy’s Diving School at Flådestation Holmen (Naval Station Holmen, Copenhagen), but in 1972 it was made an independent unit, operationally under the submarine squadron.

The Frogman Corps primary role is reconnaissance, but it is also tasked with assaulting enemy ships, sabotage of fixed installations, advanced force and maritime anti-terrorism tasks.

It performs special operations work on land also, including anti-terrorism and anti-criminal work. The Corps supports the police with clearing up criminal matters that demand highly specialised diving. Also, local authorities, etc. can benefit from the frogman’s skills, for example when underwater installations must be inspected.

Denmark’s Fromandskorpset (Frogman Corps)

The Frogman Corps trains at the Torpedo Station at Kongsøre and works through a long series of courses, e.g.:

  • Combat swimmer course for three weeks
  • Advanced scuba diving course
  • Rescue swimmer course
  • Survival course

The basic Frogman Course is nine months. Each year 500-600 applicants start the course and less than a dozen complete all nine months. Since its creation in 1957, 311 have completed the training, and become a Frogman.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark passed selection and completed continuation training to become a badged Frogman, in the course of which he earnt the nickname “Pingo”.

In 2015, a DR-produced documentary detailing the life of Frogman cadets was released.

The Frogman Corps was involved in operations in Afghanistan such as Task Force K-Bar and in Iraq.

From 2008 until the end of 2014, the Frogman Corps was involved in counter-piracy operations as part of Operation Ocean Shield. On 5 February 2010, ten Frogman Corps aboard HDMS Absalon (L16) conducted a counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden approaching the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged merchant vessel Ariella by rigid hull inflatable boat which had been hijacked by six armed Somali pirates. They scaled the side of the ship and freed the 25 crew, who had locked themselves in a secure room, and continued to search the vessel for the pirates who had however fled.

Armament

Type Caliber Manufacturer Model Danish designation
Pistol 9mm Glock Glock 26 Glock 26
Pistol 9mm Heckler & Koch USP H&K USP
Pistol 9mm SIG SIG Sauer P210 Neuhausen M/49
Pistol 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, .45 ACP STI Tactical 5.0 STI Tactical
Submachinegun 9mm Heckler & Koch MP5 MP5
Carbine 5.56 Heckler & Koch G53 M85
Rifle 5.56 Diemaco C8 CQB M/96
Rifle 5.56 Diemaco C8 SFW M/95
Light Support Weapon 5.56 Diemaco LSW M/04 LSV M/04
Machinegun 5.56 Heckler & Koch 23 E MG85
Machinegun 7.62 Rheinmetall MG3 LMG M/62
Machinegun 7.62 Heckler & Koch 21 E H&K 21 E
Sniper 7.62 Heckler & Koch MSG-90 MSG-90

 

Special Forces in Focus: Sweden’s Särskilda operationsgruppen

Swedish Special Forces Särskilda Operationsgruppen.

The Baltic Post, 19 June 2017

Särskilda Operationsgruppen (English: Special Operations Task Group, abbreviated (SOG) is a special forces unit within the Swedish Armed Forces which has been active since 2011. The unit is headquartered at Karlsborg Fortress in Karlsborg, Västra Götaland County.

Särskilda operationsgruppen was formed in 2011 by merging the Special Protection Group (SSG) and the Special Reconnaissance Group (SIG).

The Special Operations Task Group (SOG) answers directly to the Supreme Commander and the Director Special Forces. The unit, combined with the Special Forces Command, comprises the Swedish Armed Forces Special Forces (FM SF). In addition to this, there are several special forces support units (FM SOF). The personnel are specially selected, trained and equipped units for air, sea and land transportation, technical, logistical and medical support. For example: Special Maritime Transportation unit (STE), Special Signals Group (SSE) and the Section for Special Operative Technology (SOT).

SOG consists of two so-called response units (IE). IE1 focuses on combat tasks (Direct Action) and IE2 focuses on intelligence gathering (Special Reconnaissance). The requirements to IE2 are slightly lower than for IE1. In IE2 there are also female intelligence operators.

What most people see of the operators is when they are employed as personal protection for the Supreme Commander or other high-ranking officers of the Swedish Armed Forces when they visit Swedish areas of operation. However, their most frequent usage is during multi-national special operations such as Direct Action, Special Reconnaissance and Military Assistance.

SOG combat operations are of great strategic importance that cannot be accomplished by conventional forces or weapon systems. Combat missions can be to eliminate high-value targets or objects of great importance to the enemy, to conduct complex rescue operations of Swedish personnel held captive or hostage, or to gather time-critical intelligence through action.

Special reconnaissance and intelligence gathering is intended to gather information of great tactical importance about the enemy´s activities, enemy personnel or other bits of information of operational significance.

Special Forces can also be tasked with advising and training foreign military units as part of an international peace-keeping military operation.

The unit maintains a high degree of readiness and can be deployed on short notice within a 6000 km radius of Stockholm and can operate in any environment, for example jungle, desert, mountain/alpine, sub-arctic and urban. The unit is deployed on request by the UN, EU or NATO but must then be sanctioned on a political level.

The unit is lightly equipped for greater mobility, both tactically and strategically. SOG strive for simplicity in planning and execution, and unpredictability through unconventional and flexible methods.

Due to operational security, the unit’s capabilities, equipment, operational methods, previous or on-going operations and the identities of their personnel are classified.

The SOG’s predecessors, the SSG and SIG, participated in operations in the Balkans, Congo, Tchad and the Central African Republic. Swedish special forces has also been continuously deployed in Afghanistan from the beginning of the conflict up until the withdrawal of ISAF forces in 2014. From 2015 a contingent of around 30 operators from the SOG along with its support units has been participating in Operation Inherent Resolve, acting as trainers for Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Särskilda operationsgruppen on patrol.

Each operator has a broader skill base than regular soldiers and one or two patrol skills at which he or she is exceptionally skilled. A typical SOG team consists of four operators: A team leader, a demolitions expert, a radio operator and a combat medic. Each patrol can be augmented with, EOD technicians, JTAC-specialists or snipers.

Selection is open for Armed Forces members of both sexes who are at least eligible for specialist officer’s training and can only be attempted once unless mitigating circumstances caused the candidate to fail on the first attempt.

The candidates are advised to prepare themselves at least six months prior to the selection course and are invited to attend a pre-selection weekend where they will be tested and advised on their likelihood of success or failure and also where they need to improve.

The selection process takes two weeks and is held once a year. Historically, candidates for SOG´s predecessor, the SSG were sought out by the unit and invited to attempt selection. Selection for SOG however, is advertised on the Armed Forces website and is open for anyone who meets the basic requirements. The part of selection consists of an extremely grueling field exercise, stretching over more than a week, where the candidates are tested on their fitness, field craft and land navigation and the tests are conducted during great stress. The second week consists of psychological tests, similar to those undertaken by fighter pilots. They are also tested for their predisposition for phobias, such as heights and confined spaces. If the candidate is successful, he will begin the basic operator course which lasts for 12 months and is divided into three blocks:

  • Basic combat skills
  • Patrol skills
  • Special skills course

Once completed, the operator will be put in an operational team and can be deployed with the unit.

Personnel applying to join the unit as EOD or JTAC operators undergo the same selection process as the normal operators, but do a shorter 8 month basic operator course, after which they continue with specialist training in the EOD or JTAC function.

Operators train at their own compound at a secret location near Karlsborg, which, among shooting ranges, also features a large multi-story CQB-building, with bullet-absorbing lining in its walls. The building also facilitates helicopter insertions on its roof.

Särskilda Operationsgruppen, Special RECON Unit.

The SOG coat of arms is blazoned thusly: Upon a black shield is a six-pointed star in silver in the upper left corner. It was developed by the Armed Forces Board of Traditions and symbolizes the unit´s ability of un-conventional problem solving, effectiveness of duty and clandestine operations, and the asymmetrically positioned star symbolises asymmetric warfare.

The unit insignia, worn by each operator on the combat uniform consists of a winged Norse dagger (Seax) with an asymmetrically positioned six-pointed star.

Personnel within the Swedish Special Operations Forces, SOG and its support units also wear an olive green beret with a black, embroidered cap badge, the only non-metal cap badge within the Swedish Armed Forces.