Batalionul 1 Operaţii Speciale (Vulturii)
Batalionul 1 Operaţii Speciale (1st Special Operations Battalion), nicknamed Vulturii (The Eagles), is the one of the Romanian Special Forces.
In the late 1990s, the Romanian Armed Forces considered the possibility of creating a unified special operations force (SOF). The Romanian Joint Chiefs of Staff had discussions in which they sought to decide whether to keep the existing orders of battle of elite units incorporated into each separate category of forces (ground forces, the air force and the navy), or to create a new, integrated unit. They decided on the latter plan, especially considering the (at that time) future integration of Romania into NATO.
Rapid changes took place soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when the decision was made to create this new unit, which would "embed the best soldiers from all three categories of the armed forces, the ground forces, the air force and the navy" (General Chief of Staff, Gen. dr. Mihail Popescu).
Selection started in 2003. Four allied nations—the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Turkey—advised in the selection process, incorporating their experience into the new SOF battalion.
In preparation for the creation of the unit, several elite units were disbanded. These included the 119th Recon Battalion in Oradea, the 56th Para battalion in Caracal-Deveselu, the 64th Para battalion at Titu-Boteni, as well as another para battalion in Câmpia Turzii. All but the last were elite units that participated in a large number of international exercises, as well as deployments abroad.
The "Special Forces Battalion" was legally created in late 2005, after several batches of graduates had already been selected. Members of the SOF battalion have benefited from courses abroad, such as the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) course, the Force Recon course (USMC), as well as other courses. The US Army Special Forces also sent several instructors who were stationed in Romania for periods of up to 6 months at a time. The Turkish SF were also heavily involved in counseling the selection process, due to the high number of exercises previously held in common with various units in Romania. The United Kingdom and Israel also sent instructors, although it is unclear from which units they came.
The Special Forces battalion will be fully operational in 2007, while a company has already become operational in 2006.
Asked if members of the unit will take part in real missions abroad, Defence Minister Teodor Atanasiu replied "with certainty."