Recent decades have underscored the key role that Special Operations Forces (SOF) play in modern conflicts around the world. The time, resources, and intensive training needed to produce these elite warriors make them a capability that is in high demand in the United States and among our allies and partners worldwide. In December 2018, Slovakia’s Special Operations Forces met a key milestone by becoming certified as NATO-interoperable, allowing them to train and deploy to missions around the world as part of the Very High Readiness Joint Force (VJTF), making them one of first units ready to go if needed to defend the Alliance. In recent years Slovakia, as well as neighboring Hungary and Romania have all worked to develop their special operations capabilities in part due to investments by the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF).
The GSCF is a joint program of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense that works to provide training and equipment to U.S. allies and partner security forces and is managed by the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in partnership with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). GSCF is an effective and flexible tool for addressing urgent security challenges and seizing emerging opportunities that further U.S. foreign policy interests by strengthening our partners’ defense capabilities. The program has invested $232 million to date in projects in 14 countries, helping countries from central Africa’s Lake Chad Basin take the fight to Boko Haram; strengthening maritime security in the Philippines; and supporting Ukraine’s modernization of its defense forces, among other projects.
Beginning in 2013, GSCF provided assistance to SOF from Slovakia’s 5th Special Purpose Regiment, Hungary’s 34th Special Operations Battalion, and Romania’s 6th Special Operations Brigade to build Special Operations Task Groups (SOTGs) capable of conducting direct action, special reconnaissance, and internal defense, as well as providing deployable SOTGs in support of NATO and contingency operations.
GSCF support helped all three countries modernize military training that was still based on Warsaw Pact models dating back to the 1980s. GSCF also delivered NATO-standard communications gear and other equipment as well as the training necessary to operate them. By assisting those countries during the critical transition phase, GSCF was able to provide them with an infusion of technology and training, accelerating their progress towards NATO interoperability. All three countries have put this training and equipment to the test, deploying their special operations forces in support of NATO operations in Afghanistan.
We salute the hard work and dedication of special operators in Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania and are proud to have contributed to their success through GSCF. This capability significantly contributes to U.S. objectives identified in the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and National Military Strategy, which all emphasize the central role of a strong, capable, and interoperable NATO in securing U.S. national interests such as deterring Russian aggression, and empowering allies to take on a greater role in addressing shared security challenges.
About the Author: Alec Metz serves as the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for the Global Security Contingency Fund, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives, in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.