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A man or a woman with absolute dedication. Able to perform their tasks efficiently under any adversity, cold, sleep, hunger or fatigue. Situations that are frankly difficult to train for. This is the definition of a military officer of the Special Naval Warfare Force formulated by one of its members, Magally (codename). Born in Algeciras 46 years ago, he is a soldier and permanent mariner and has half a life in special operations.
He is one of the gaditanos that are part of the elite of the Spanish Armed Forces. The green berets of the Navy that are, says its commander, Colonel Pedro Antonio Martinez Rodriguez de Lema, “part of the heirs of a race of warriors, seafarers and the people of war of the Spanish Navy, who supported the the longest campaign that has been seen, keeping the lines of communication of the empire open for centuries, wherever necessary. “
Colonel Rodriguez de Lema, an islander, has been at the helm of this Marine Corps unit for a year celebrating its tenth anniversary. Composed by the military “destined to act in the vanguard, daring to undertake the missions assigned to us and calm before the risks that its fulfillment entails”.
Men and women «committed to the ideals of unity: sacrifice, work, discipline, firm will of victory whatever the company to undertake, and companionship». His boss assures that the soldiers of the Special Naval Warfare Force (FGNE) are far “from the traditional image of a kind of Hercules with firearms” and that they have qualities such as audacity, serenity, mental resistance and humility.
Precisely that characteristic, humility , is the one most emphasized by the green berets as necessary, “in order to know how to recognize your mistakes, accept them and improve them,” said Galgo , a 43-year-old junior officer from Cádiz. Humility accompanied by work, will to be better every day, honesty, love of Spain, capacity for sacrifice and loyalty.
Fighting pirates and terrorists
A compendium that makes them “the perfect warriors” for all kinds of special operations : rescue of hostages, assault on ships or fight against terrorism, among others.
They have shown this in all the missions, operations and exercises in which they have participated in this decade. As in the liberation of the fishing ‘Alakrana’ in 2009, the liberation in 2011 of the French citizen Evelyn Colombo from pirates or the rescue last April of a Yemeni jabeque that was kidnapped in the Indian Ocean.
Today Special Naval Warfare Force participates in the operation ‘Atalanta’, the cooperative security operation in Cape Verde or in some countries of the Sahel, as well as in national specific exercises of the Navy, joint and international special operations, and he faces the challenge of, as his commander explains, ” leading for the first time the command of the Special Operations Task Group within the framework of the Operation Support for Iraq, forming part of the Joint Special Operations Command (CJDOTF-I) in the country, led by the United States and in coalition with several countries.
Whose mission is the military defeat of the Daesh (self-proclaimed Islamic State jihadist terrorist group) by military assistance to the Iraqi special operations forces.
But the Special Naval Warfare Force carries many more missions behind its back than those of this last decade, as it is the heir to more than 50 years of special operations. This unit comes from the merger of the Special Operations Unit (UOE) of the Armada Tercio de San Fernando (created in 1966) and the Special Unit of Combat Divers (UEBC) of the Navy Diving Center.
New infrastructures had to be planned to welcome the unit, standardize the procedures of two very different units, propose a new training system for the special naval warfare operators, define what new materials were necessary, elaborate doctrinal publications, become independent of the logistic support that the Armed Tercio and the Diving Center provided to the predecessor units. All this while the participation of the green berets of the Navy in operations grew almost exponentially. Because these ten years have been those with the greatest involvement in operations in the history of special operations in the Navy, “explains Colonel Rodríguez de Lema.
We never compare ourselves
In fact, many of the Cadiz members of the FGNE come from the UOE , as is the case of Galgo, who joined in 1998 in special operations, Magally, who did it a year before, or Peri, military troop and sailors permanent, who at 47 years old has two in the FGNE and a backpack of 17 in the UOE.
And, as it could not be less, its commander has served in the UOE in all its uses until it was dissolved. The missions and the materials have made us evolve at a really great speed, but the memories of that time are linked to people. Hard, loyal and honest people who left their skin in the exercise trying to improve. Much of that way of being endures here: stubbornness in maintaining effort, loyalty in compliance and love for Spain.
I remember as if it were today my first climb to the Cruz del Romero. In an era where you could spend entire days walking in the mountains without crossing with anyone, that forest was especially beautiful, “says the head of the green berets. When we reached the top, it was dawn we could contemplate the fields to Algeciras on one side and Cádiz on the other. I do not think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful.
They have participated in missions and operations on all continents: Free Hidalgo (Lebanon), Iraq, ‘Atalanta’ (Indian Ocean), Cape Verde, Senegal, the Sahel, Bosnia, Tunisia, Mauritania or ‘Enduring Freedom’ (Afghanistan). And they have managed to be among the most respected special operations units in the world. They train with the Seal of the US Navy, the Formoza of Poland, the Marsof of the Netherlands, the SFG of Belgium or the DAE of Portugal. But “we never compare,” says his commander. In exercises and operations, we collaborate with other units to compare tactics, techniques and procedures to improve. Nothing else. They learn and we also.
Every morning is a challenge
They are the elite. Only 40% of the candidates that appear to be part of the Special Naval Warfare are able to complete the training process. “I remember my hard instruction, but always motivated by the illusion of reaching the unit in which I had already been in practice and to which I wanted to return,” says Yankee., a 29-year-old officer, born in Rota and who has been with the FGNE for almost four years. During the training process, basic training of the combatant is received, military physical instruction, basic parachuting course and commands, shooting, explosives, communications, military health, overcoming obstacles, life, movement and winter combat, mobility in tactical vehicles, combat diving, naval platforms and a long etcetera, he details.
You give yourself in body and soul to some instructors in whom you believe in blind faith. They take you to overcome tests and situations that would never have been in my life, take your body and mind to such extreme situations(cold, heat, suffering, sacrifice, sleep, hunger, thirst), I would never have imagined finding them. Once overcome, you feel the happiest man in the world, “recalls Peri. But, warns his companion Magally, “the hardest thing is not to get the green beret, but to keep it, which is what makes you special.”
And that is that the day to day in a special operations unit “is a box of surprises,” Yankee says, “a daily struggle to achieve perfection in all tasks,” Galgo explains. They know when they come to work but not at the time they are going to leave, so, in Peri’s words, “every morning that dawns is a challenge”, “a continuous and meticulous specific training,” Magally concludes.
The Yankee officer knows that, in spite of himself, he will have to leave the FGNE in the future, while the NCO and troop hope to finish their career in this unit and retire wearing the green beret. The Special Naval Warfare Force will continue to combat terrorism, as an “effective asymmetric struggle tool,” as Colonel Rodríguez de Lema points out. Ahead, the Spanish ‘Seal’ have “a future, interesting and intense with many commitments and operational deployments that will demand the best of the Special Naval Warfare to be able to face a world and society in continuous change that will force us to a constant adaptation.
Source: la voz digital