Naval Special Warfare Group

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Navy Special Operations Group (NAVSOG)
SWAG Patch
Active November 5, 1956 - Present
Country Philippines
Branch Philippine Navy
Type Special Forces
Role Counter-Terrorism, Special Reconnaissance, Unconventional warfare
Size classified
Part of the Philippine Navy, serving as its Special Operations arm
Garrison/HQ Cavite Naval Base, Cavite City
Nickname(s) NAVSOG, NSWG, SWAG
Mascot(s) Shark
Anniversaries November 5
Engagements Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines
Anti-guerrilla operations against the NPA and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Decorations Presidential Streamer Award
Unit Patch/Tab SWAG Patch/Tab, UOG/ SEAL Team Badge

The Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) is the smallest elite unit of the Philippine Navy trained in special operations, sabotage, psychological and unconventional warfare. It specializes in sea, air and land (SEAL) operations ranging from reconnaissance, close combat, demolition, intelligence and underwater operations in support of overall naval operations. The unit gained prominence in a number of counter-terrorism operations, most notably against the Abu Sayyaf Group, and is known for its highly-demanding physical training program which is based on the United States Navy SEAL program. The NAVSOG training program is known as Basic Naval Special Operations Course (BNSOC). The program is physically and mentally demanding and is regarded as one of the toughest military selection programs in the entire Philippine military. Candidates have to swim two miles and run 10 kilometers everyday. Furthermore, they must swim 27 kilometers from Roxas Boulevard in Manila to the naval base in Sangley Point without any rest. They also undergo "Hell Week," which is the most demanding weeks of NAVSOG training. Candidates have to carry out demanding physical team events with their boat crews with as little as a couple of hours sleep for the entire week. In one BNSOC class, only 21 students remained from 79 applicants who originally started the NAVSOG training program.

History and organization

The predecessor unit to the NSWG/SWAG (the Underwater Operations Team or UOT) was activated on 5 November 1956 as a special forces of the Philippine Navy. Patterned after the US Navy Underwater Demolition Teams and the Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS with modifications for Philippine conditions, the UOT was charged with conducting underwater operations in waterways, beach areas and harbors in support of Philippine naval operations. These operations included underwater explosive disposal, mine countermeasures, salvage and search and rescue. In 1959 the UOT was expanded and redesignated the Underwater Operations Unit, then as the Underwater Operations Group (UOG).

US Navy 090820-N-4220R-762 Philippine Navy Special Forces Sailors confront U.S. Sailors portraying crewmembers aboard military sealift command rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50).jpg
Philippine Navy SWAG member confront U.S. Sailors portraying crewmembers aboard military sealift command rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard.

The UOG was then finally renamed the Naval Special Warfare Group. The unit's tasks were also expanded to cover all facets of unconventional warfare in a maritime and riverine environment. This includes but is not limited to demolition, hostage rescue, harassment, force protection and maritime tactical operations.

The Naval Special Warfare Group is headquartered at Sangley Point, Cavite City and has a complement of 450 officers and 3,650 enlisted personnel. It has eight units located across the Philippines, from Naval Station San Vicentedisambiguation needed in the north to Naval Station Zamboanga in the south. Each unit is attached either to a task force or a naval force and has a complement that varies from 3 to 6 SEAL Teams, with each team consisting of an officer and seven enlisted men. All team members "…are trained tactical divers, parachutists and demolitionists and in the execution of Special Warfare Operations from the Sea, Air and Land.” To become a qualified Philippine Navy SEAL, officers and enlisted men must successfully complete the six-month Basic Naval Special Warfare/SEAL Course.[1]

United States influence

There are similarities between the Philippine Naval Special Warfare Group and the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command. Filipino NSWG/SWAG operators are trained and operate in a manner similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs. The Filipino SEALs (actually called SWGs or SWAGs) also wear a trident similar to their U.S. Navy counterparts. The Filipino counterpart of the U.S. counterterrorist United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) is the Special Reaction Group (SRG), which operates under the direction of Naval Intelligence.[2]

The best NSWG/SWAG frequently train and operates with their American counterparts and their naval brethren, the Philippine Marines.[3][4]


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