Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK) (Armed Forces' Special Command) is a special operations forces unit of the Norwegian Special Operation Forces (Norwegian: Forsvarets Spesialstyrker). The unit was established in 1982 due to the increased risk of terrorist activity against Norwegian interests, including the oil platforms in the North Sea.
On 1 January 2014, the Norwegian Special Operation Forces (NORSOF), also known as Armed Forces' Special Forces, was established uniting the FSK and the Navy Special Operation Command (Norwegian: Marinejegerkommandoen) (MJK) under the one command in the Norwegian Armed Forces. In 2014, FSK established an all female unit Jegertroppen (Jeger Troop).
Very little is known publicly about FSK, since the Norwegian government denied their existence and participation in any military operations for a long time. Some details have however emerged after FSK's participation in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The establishment of FSK was briefly mentioned in an article in the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, in 1983. During a hijacking in Norway in 1985, it was reported that FSK operatives had been put on alert in their base at Trandum, but not requested to assist in any action. A proposal to disband the FSK in 1988, as a financial measure, was met with protests, especially from the oil industry and the military. The plan was shelved after much media attention. Aftenposten reported on the unit as a "special military command composed of highly trained operators from Hærens Jegerkommando at Trandum and Marinejegerkommandoen, in addition to other specialists.
The first time FSK was publicly mentioned by a representative of the armed forces, was in connection with the hijacking of SAS Flight 347 at Gardermoen Airport in September 1993. The following year, the magazine Vi Menn published an article about the FSK. In 1990 the FSK was also mentioned in a research paper: "The Armed Forces' Special Command (FSK) is specially trained to be used in the event of terrorist attacks against oil installations - especially hijacking situations." FSK's existence was only publicly acknowledged by the Norwegian Armed Forces for the first time in 1999, when a piece about the unit appeared in the Armed Forces Magazine Forsvarets Forum (The Defence Forum).
FSK cooperate with special operations forces from several other countries, including the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) of the United Kingdom, Delta Force and Navy SEALs/DEVGRU of the United States, and KSK and GSG-9 of Germany.
Forsvarets Spesialkommando can trace its roots back to the Second World War, when Norwegians served in the Norwegian Independent Company 1 (NOR.I.C.1) of the British Special Operations Executive including the famous Operation Gunnerside raid of the heavy water plant at Rjukan.
On 25 March 1962, the Army Parachute Ranger School (Norwegian: Hærens Fallskjermjegerskole) was created. The focus of this school initially was to provide parachute training for certain groups of personnel within the Norwegian Armed Forces, and eventually the Paratrooper Platoon (Norwegian: Fallskjermjegertroppen) was established in 1965. Specially selected personnel from this platoon were assigned to Ranger Command 1 in the old mobilization army of the Cold War and were on standby in case of war.
In 1971, the Army Parachute Ranger School changed its name to the Army Ranger School (Norwegian: Hærens Jegerskole) (HJS) to emphasize the training of Army Rangers. The main focus over the next decade was long-range reconnaissance patrols (LRRP). Based on an increase in international terrorism and Norway's newly developed offshore oil services, the government decided in 1979 to establish a counter-terrorism capacity within the Norwegian Armed Forces. In 1982, a decision was finally made that this task be given to the Army Ranger School with Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK) established as part of the Army Ranger School. On 1 June 1984, the 38 man unit was operational following assistance from the British Special Air Service and Special Boat Service.
From the mid-1990s there was an increasing focus on international operations. To show that the Army Ranger School now had an operative arm as well as the traditional training role, it changed its name to the Army Ranger Command (Norwegian: Hærens Jegerkommando) in 1997. The same year, HJK moved from Trandum to Rena, where the unit is based today.
During the 2000s, HJK changed its name to FSK/HJK, to reflect the two units that make up the command (FSK being the operative wing and HJK being the training wing). In 2004, the unit commenced reporting directly to the Chief of the Army. In 2013, the FSK/HJK name was discontinued and the operative SOF-unit is simply known as FSK.
FSK has gone from being a cadre and training-unit for paratroopers and the mobilization army, to being a professional unit with substantial experience, robustness, competency and capacity. The unit has been deployed internationally on several occasions and has received international recognition for its efforts.
The unit has a considerable amount of support from Norway's political and military leaders. The Norwegian Parliament has decided that the Norwegian SOF are to be strengthened.
FSK recruits, selects and trains paratroopers and SOF operators, and produces officers for the rest of the Norwegian Armed Forces.
FSK is on both national and international standby for special operations and counter-terrorism operations (alongside Marinejegerkommandoen). In addition, FSK is the competency and training centre for all parachute and counter-terrorism training in the Norwegian Armed Forces.
FSK and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) cooperated in various ways during the Kosovo conflict. FSK, operating alongside the British SAS, was the first special operations force to enter Pristina. FSK's mission was to level the negotiating field between the belligerent parties, and to fine-tune the detailed, local deals needed to implement the peace deal between the Serbians and the Kosovo Albanians.
FSK supported Coalition Special Operations Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as part of Task Force K-Bar. They have carried out missions in the Helmand and Uruzgan provinces of South Afghanistan.
In August 2007, FSK members carried out the successful hostage rescue of Christina Meier, a pregnant German NGO worker in Kabul, no shots were fired and the hostage takers were believed to be a criminal gang not insurgents.
More recently, FSK has had the main responsibility in training the Afghan National Police Crisis Response Unit in Kabul, under the command of the International Security Assistance Force (known as the Kabul Crisis Response unit-an Afghan counterterrorist SWAT team). During the April 2012 Afghanistan attacks, FSK were involved in combating Taliban insurgents in Kabul, having only recently relieved a New Zealand SAS detachment that had been mentoring the Kabul Crisis Response unit.
Forsvarets Spesialkommando's Role
"Forsvarets spesialkommando (FSK) has a role in the Norwegian Armed Forces' independent responsibility to handle an act of terrorism that is considered an "armed attack" on Norway, but also has a dedicated mission to support the police in the event counter-terrorism operations at sea. FSK may further assist the police on land." - Norwegian Parliamentary Statement 29 and e-mail address.
In wartime, their tasks are mainly:
- to gather intelligence
- to localize and identify enemy supplies and activity
- to carry out offensive operations against strategically important targets
- to provide support for rescue missions of important personnel
- to provide protection for personnel and departments
Selection and training
Currently anyone who has completed their military service with Norwegian Armed Forces can apply.
The road to becoming an elite soldier of the FSK is long and hard. First, one must go through a general selection to separate out those who do not have physical and mental strength to start the special forces recruitment school. This selection lasts three days. A candidate must do 45 push-ups and 50 sit-ups in two minutes, 8 pull-ups, swim 400 meters in under 11 minutes, and march 30 kilometers carrying 25 kilograms in less than 4 hours and 50 minutes. It is emphasized that this is the bare minimum, and that candidates should ideally be able to do more than that. The female troop has lower standards, with one pull-up; 20 push-ups; 35 sit-ups in two minutes or less; 20 back extensions; swim 200 metres (660 ft), with no underwater phobia; and perform a 7-kilometre (4.3 mi) road run carrying 22 kilograms (49 lb) in 59 minutes.
After passing the general selections, an applicant attends SOF selection. This selection lasts three weeks and comprises hard physical and mental exercises with little food and little sleep. Very few of those who enter the school get through.
Following selection, the potential operator start basic training (one year). This training involves all basic disciplines required to serve as a SOF operator. Not all who begin basic training get through. After training, one is eligible for operational service in FSK, including training in specialist roles, such as sniper, combat medic, forward air controller, etc. Further training is conducted in Norway or abroad at allied training facilities.
During a FSK training mission in 2010, former United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Thilgman died when the boat he was riding on capsized at a speed above 50 knots. A number of safety procedures had been violated, when the "newly" acquired boat was being demonstrated without testing being completed in advance.
Former commanding officers
Former commanding officers of FSK include:
The soldiers are or have been trained in the use of these weapons:
- Assault rifles
- Submachine guns
- Sniper rifles
- Grenade launchers
- Machine guns
- Anti-tank weapons
- Geländewagen/MB270 CDI FAV vehicle armoured and EOD protected with 3 weapon-stations (2 MG3 and 1 M2 or GMG). Developed in 2002 and later modernized. Used in operation Anaconda. Lot of space and mounts for equipment and communication. In 2015, a £23 million order was placed for Supacat HMT Extenda vehicles to be delivered from 2017 to 2019.
- Olsen, Tommy; Thormodsen, Marius (June 2014). Forging Norwegian Special Operation Forces (Master's thesis). U.S. Navy Postgraduate School. OCLC 893922200. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- Monica Rikoll: Forsvarets spesialkommando feiret 50-års-jubileum NRK, 1 September 2012, (in Norwegian)
- "- VIKTIG Å BESKYTTE: Forsvarets spesialkommando (FSK) har jevnlig realistiske øvelser i terror mot norske oljeplattformer i Nordsjøen"
- "Jegertroppen i Forsvarets spesialkommando". Norwegian Armed Forces (in Norwegian). 18 April 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- "Daler ned i skjul", Forsvarets Forum.
- "Forsvarets spesialkommando" (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 2014-03-30. Retrieved 2014-03-20. Official FSK website
- Hjalp vi forbryterne til makten? - Kultur - Dagbladet.no Archived June 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Tom Bakkeli - Norges Hemmelige Krigere (ISBN 978-82-489-0722-0)
- "Britisk og norske soldater i Pristina". VG. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- "Norske elitesoldater skamroses". VG. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Tom Bakkeli. "Slik var Bolles hemmelige oppdrag i Afghanistan". VG. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Neville, Leigh, Special Forces in the War on Terror (General Military), Osprey Publishing, 2015 ISBN 978-1-4728-0790-8, p.144
- http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/artikkel.php?artid=10069650 VG: "Norwegian SOF return to Afghanistan"
- "Spesialjeger" (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 2014-01-31. Retrieved 2014-03-20. Official FSK website
- "Kevin TILGHMAN Obituary - Brandon, FL - TBO.com". TBO.com. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Tom Bakkeli (2011-10-06). "- SIKKERHETEN HAR SVIKTET". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). p. 14.
- "Regjeringens drapsmaskiner", Dagens Næringsliv,16./21.April 2003,p.29
- . Aftenposten. 2014-07-26. p. 16. Missing or empty
- "Supacat signs £23m contract for Norwegian High Mobility Vehicles". Supacat (Press release). 6 May 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- «Åsta-helt døde under anti-terrortrening», from Verdens Gang, October 6, 2005 (in Norwegian)
- «Norske styrker øver anti-terror» from Forsvarsnett, December 30, 2002 (in Norwegian)
- «Taushet om spesialstyrker», from Ny Tid, November 16, 2001 (in Norwegian)
- «Spesialkommandoen skulle befri Ostrø» from Verdens Gang, September 23, 2001 (in Norwegian)
- «Video of NORSOF» from TVNORGE, January 21, 2007 (in Norwegian)
- TV Commercial Video (in Norwegian)
- Forsvarets Spesialkommando promo video (in Norwegian)
- «The FSK official website»