Saturday, August 31, 2013

Elite Military Units and the AR Weapon Platform: AFEUR, Columbia

On November 6, 1985, thirty-five terrorists from the M-19 terrorist group stormed the Supreme Court building of the South American nation of Colombia and held around 300 people hostage.  Included in that number where both supreme court justices and other political leaders.  Negotiations failed and it appeared an assault would be required.  Hours after the attack, an initial assault was made by the Colombian Army resulting in freed hostages and neutralized terrorists on the first two floors of the building.  The following day a final assault took place.  When the building was retaken and the terrorist threat eradicated, the death toll reached 120 (including innocents, 11 justices, 48 military members, and terrorists).  There was significant damage to both the building and many of the records it housed.  When the terrorist assault occurred, there was no real special operations level unit in the Colombian military or police force.  This terrible event was a catalyst for creating a special forces capability throughout the Colombian military and law enforcement community.

Colombia has experienced additional terrorism since, and continues to face threats from a number of terrorist groups within its borders.  Each military branch and most police units of the larger cities in the nation currently have well trained special operations units.  In this blog post, we will briefly highlight the Colombian Army's AFEUR (Agrupacion de Fuerzas Especiales Antiterroristas Urbanas), or Urban Counter Terrorist Special Forces Group. 

The AFEUR main unit headquarters and training facilities are located near the capital, Bogota.  Smaller sub-units exist, posted in various larger, urban areas throughout the country.  Colombia has a fairly large number of SF capable units in its various military branches and law enforcement divisions, with very specific operational purposes and capabilities including kidnapping prevention and interdiction, hostage rescue, and narcotics eradication and enforcement.  AFEUR has a particular focus on direct action/assaults, hostage rescue, and personnel protection, all in the context of counter-terrorism.  The unit was tasked with providing security for U.S. President Clinton during his visit in 2000, and President Bush in 2004.  AFEUR also routinely provides this service for Colombian political officials including the President.  Political officials and government buildings are likely targets for terrorist operations, so it makes sense that AFEUR would be trained for and assigned to focus on this type of operation. 

Potential AFEUR  members are drawn from any of the military branches or national police units, though most applicants have some previous specialized training. A seven day selection process is followed by a six month training course that is composed of two phases.  The first focuses on teamwork and small unit tactics, and the following phase teaches specific tactical skills such as explosives, communications, and combat medicine.  During their training, members will also be instructed in airborne and fast roping assaults and night-time operations. 

If there seems to be a parallel to U.S. special operations training doctrine and curriculum, it is more than coincidental.  U.S. Army special forces soldiers from the 7th SFG and other USSOCOM members have had an integral role in the formation of the Colombian military's special forces units and continue to have a welcomed and valuable presence through instruction and joint training opportunities.  Each year, the U.S. military Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) holds a special forces competition for all countries in their region of oversight.  National special operations forces from Latin American countries compete in "Fuerzas Comando" in tasks and drills that have a dual value and purpose as training exercises.  This event also builds rapport and cooperation with participating units and nations.  AFEUR has won the competition many times in the past, most recently in 2012.                             

The AFEUR main unit is composed of around 100 members, coordinated in 15 man teams that include 2 officers and 13 operators.  AFEUR uses a wide variety of weapons; in regard to battle rifles, operators commonly use the AR platform weapons (usually the M16A2 and M4) and the IMI/IWI TAR (Tavor) in various configurations.  Because of the ongoing and real threat of terrorism faced by the Colombian people and AFEUR members, the unit has a very high training and operational schedule.  Their choice of these two battle rifles shows a confidence in the ability of these weapons to be dependable in the defense of life and nation. 

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the AR-15 rifles we manufacture or the rifle kits, complete upper assemblies, or any of the parts we sell at, please contact us.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Elite Military Units and the AR Weapon Platform: FSK, Norway

In continuing our series that highlights various special operations units of the world that use the AR weapon platform in their arsenal, we will use this post to provide a brief introduction to the Norwegian Forsvarets SpesialKommando (FSK) unit.

As far as historic special ops units go, the FSK is a relative newcomer.  The concept of a Norwegian special forces capability originated around 1981 in response to the prevalence of terrorism in general and the susceptibility of North Sea oil platforms to terrorism in particular.  The unit became "operational" around 1984, but for about the first decade of its service its existence was highly confidential and at times denied.  Due to operations and training events with the special forces units of other countries, more is known about its existence and capabilities, but the unit is still highly secretive. This has led to a lack of veritable information about specific details such as unit size, command, training, and how this unit interacts with other Norwegian Department of Defense units.

It is thought that member selection and training is similar to that of most other military special ops units, and that most members come from other Norwegian special forces units such as their Army Rangers Force (HJK) and Marine Naval Command (MJK).  These units are also considered "special operations" units but with different operational functions than the FSK, though they may share facilities and even command with the FSK.

During war or counter-terrorism operations, the unit performs tasks such as intelligence gathering, hostage rescue and personnel protection (including members of royalty and political personnel), and direct action (assaults).  The FSK is also available to support the Norwegian national police force and the LE agencies of other nations, when requested.

FSK has been active in recent conflict theaters such as Kosovo and Afghanistan.  According to Norwegian media, the unit has actively supported U.S. forces in Operation Enduring Freedom through activities such as training Afghan military forces.  The have also participated in training and operations with special forces units from other allied nations, including the British SAS, KSK of Germany, and USSOCOM.

AR platform weapons are the current battle rifle in service with the FSK.   The Colt Canada (Diemaco) C8SFW and the Heckler and Koch 416 are the two main 5.56x45 Nato weapons used by the FSK.  The H&K weapon is a gas piston operated AR platform, while the Colt Canada C8 uses the standard direct impingement gas system.  The C8 is much like the U.S. M4, but with a heavy profile barrel. A short-barreled Colt Canada C8CQB is also used and is almost identical to the U.S. Mark 18 Mod 0 with a 10" barrel and Vortex muzzle device.  The AR platform variants are typically configured with rail systems for mounting and employing optical and target acquisition accessories.

The FSK is a highly trained unit capable of performing special operations functions in the defense of Norway and allied nations.  The unit's selection of the AR platform as their "go to"  battle rifle is a strong statement of confidence in the AR's utility and dependability.

Thanks for reading our blog. If you have any questions about the AR-15 rifles we produce or the AR-15 parts and accessories we sell at, please feel free to contact us.