Currently, the 601st Special Forces Group is a unit directly subordinate to the Minister of Defense; represented by the director of Military Intelligence; and provides the superior and unique skills for the Supreme Command of the Czech Army. The 601st Special Forces Group is the only Special Forces unit in the Czech Army of its kind.
The mission of the 601st Special Forces Group emerges from generally defined tasks of special forces according to NATO documents as well as from the definition of the Highest National Command.
1. Special Reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is the basis for all unit’s operations. It serves for gathering the information of strategic significance.
2. Assault Actions
They are carried out in order to silence, destroy or damage strategic objects of interest. These actions are of small (traps), medium (ambush) or great extent (gunfire raids) and newly also final guiding of precise ammunition to target.
3. Specific Tasks
In this group, there is a whole complex of tasks fulfilled on the basis of the Czech Armed Forces Highest Command orders (e.g. rescue missions, Department of the Inferior assistance etc.).
The 601st SFG use all ways of insertion; ground, air and water; for transportation to the target. Divers’ capabilities as well as the capability of parachute jumps from high altitude (around 10 km) both with high opening of the parachute (HAHO) and low opening (HALO) as well are unique.
The 601st Special Forces Group consists of following parts:
- headquarters and staff
- combat troops
- logistics troops
Besides primary combat troops there are specialists at the unit’s disposal: snipers, divers, bomb disposal experts, FAC and specialists for technical means of reconnaissance. These specialists are supplemented into combat groups, which are created on the basis of each specific task “ad hoc”.
According to the fact, that tasks are executed by small operational teams, each member of a combat group is able to perform at least two functions (e.g. deputy commander is also a medic).
Chief of Military Intelligence controls and creates the conditions for 601st SFG through the newly created special forces command headquarters.
The unit was established in October 1952 as a paratroop brigade. In 1960 it was relocated from Presov; which lies in East Slovakia; to Prostejov as a 22nd Paratroop Brigade and it has existed in that area since.
In 1969, the 22nd Paratroop Regiment was created by reorganization and relocation of the 7th Paratroop Regiment in Holesov and the 1st and 4th Paratroop and Reconnaissance Companies in Chrudim. Until 1969, the troops of the regiment were trained in the manner of Soviet troops for mass parachute operations with a mission to occupy and defend important military points until the arrival of the main forces.
Since 1969, the organization structure of paratroop regiment was created by single paratroop reconnaissance battalion and two paratroop reconnaissance companies. In 1976, units of mass paratroop operations were dissolved and the regiment began to focus on training small reconnaissance groups, which were trained to be inserted in the rear of enemy to carry out reconnaissance and diversionary activities.
In 1988, the unit was reorganized to the 22nd Paratroop Brigade and its organization structure was developing further.
In 1995, the 6th Special Brigade is established and its organization substantially approaches the NATO Armies’ Special Forces organization standards.
Honorary historical name – GENERAL MORAVEC – was awarded to the Brigade by the President of the Czech Republic on occasion of 54th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1999.
The unit approached the Alliance standards even more after the entry of the Czech Republic to NATO and 6th Special Forces Group was established in 2001.
The unit was reorganized to the 601st Special Forces Group in accord with Czech Armed Forces reform in 2003.
Members of the 601st Special Forces Group participate or participated in many foreign missions:
- IZ SFOR – Iraq – 2004
- MNF (I) – Iraq – 2004
- EF – Afghanistan – 2004
- EF – Kuwait – 2002, 2003
- Iraq – 1991, 2003
- ISAF – Afghanistan – 2002
- AFOR – Albania – 1999
- KFOR – former Yugoslavia from 1999 to 2006
- SFOR – former Yugoslavia from 1996 to 2001
- IFOR – former Yugoslavia 1996
- UNPROFOR – former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1995
- Saudi Arabia – 1990
The 6th Special Forces Company was the first Czech Army unit which operated in Kosovo in 1999. It laid foundations for activities of other Czech Army units in this territory.
So far, the most important mission the Group has taken part in was Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2004. This mission was the first combat operation of the Czech Armed Forces since World War II. More than 100 people participated for six months and, without break, fulfilled their tasks in arduous climatic conditions.
Participation in this mission was highly appraised by the highest state officials as well as the ACR and coalition partners. The 601st SFG has taken a firm position within the world Special Forces elite group.
Operation Enduring Freedom
The Czech Republic Special Forces Contingent [Task Force 601] for operation Enduring Freedom is operating in Afghanistan according to mandate approved by Government and Parliament of the Czech Republic.
The mission of TF 601 is to carry out special reconnaissance, direct actions and other special operations in southern part of Afghanistan in order to disrupt enemy activities [especially of Taliban and Al Qaida] in support of internal country security.
CZE unit is a part of the multinational Special Forces task group and will remain under operational control of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan Commander [CJSOTF-A] for operation Enduring Freedom independently of NATO (ISAF) assumption of responsibility in southern Afghanistan.
This has been the second combat mission during the Czech Republic history as well as the second 601st Special Forces Group combat operation.
The deployment of TF 601 to Kandahar Air Base was finished in the middle of May. Immediately after arrival the mission preparation (especially weapons and communication systems adjustment) and operational planning started. This phase was done in very short time in spite of unfavorable weather conditions [high temperatures around 50 degrees of Celsius in shadow, dust and low humidity].
Based on campaign situation, the CZE SOF Contingent has been divided into two main parts and a few liaison elements.
“CAMP PROSTEJOV“ at Kandahar Airfield became a temporary home of Czech combatants. Camp is not only the operation command and control center location, but also a mission preparation and refit / recovery area for all TF elements. It is a “save heaven” despite of high level of combat readiness maintained due to frequent enemy rocket attacks.
The CZE TF operational base is one of the coalition bases situated in difficult mountain terrain. The movement of personnel, vehicles and supplies to this operational base, which took couple of nights, was itself very difficult and dangerous operation.
CZE TF 601 has been actively involved in combating of terrorists in region, which is historically Taliban stronghold, since beginning of June. Czech operators are taking part in every main coalition operation, for example Operation Mountain Thrust. Even though, the aim of every mission is to provide help to local population and government representatives, they have been involved in a few skirmishes with enemy with no own casualties so far.
The high proficiency, readiness, morale and unique equipment give us appropriate capabilities for successful mission accomplishment despite of the fact, that situation in southern provinces of Afghanistan is the worst since beginning of combat operation in 2001.
1. General Provisions
Selection procedure for service at the Group, in connection with the function and tasks of 601st SFG and on the basis of experience from previous years, is understood as a basic precondition for further development of each serviceman – member of Special Forces.
The selection process has been put together as a set of arrangements intended to discover physical and mental resistance of the candidate, as well as other preconditions for his/her personal development. Motivation for the service at the Unit, resolve, self-discipline, decisiveness, initiative and character pose another objective of the selection.
There are two categories of candidates within the selection procedure:
Category A: candidates for combat troops (7 days)
Category B: candidates for other parts of the Group (2 days)
2. Identical entrance conditions for both categories
- minimum of 2-year service at ACR units and facilities as a regular soldier or 3-year military school graduate (can be excused only in specific cases)
- “A” health classification (paratrooper capable)
- clean Penal Register
- complete secondary education with GCSE (exemptions only within logistics unit)
- ideally security clearance needed for certain function
Candidate has to submit following documents to be registered:
- extract from the Penal Register
- Health Classification Certificate
- Security Clearance Certificate, must be original
- other qualification certificates (GCSE, driving license, STANAG certificate, professional certificate etc.).
- last periodical assessment
- entrance questionnaire (filled in during the registration)
3. Selection procedure
Actual selection procedure consists of basic selection and selection week.
3a. Basic selection
Basic selection is identical for both categories and is divided into two parts:
I. Physical Fitness Test: contents correspond to the extent of annual physical training examination valid in ACR, but encompass all disciplines – set of strength exercises, pull-ups, 12-minute run and 300-meter swimming.
To advance to another part you have to obtain at least 200 points for “A” category and 150 points for “B” category from all disciplines, however, minimum specified points must be reached at each discipline.
It is sufficient to swim at least 300 meters for “B” category
Meeting the norms of Physical Fitness Test is the condition for advance to part II – set of psychometric tests.
II. Psychometric tests: using psychometric tests, we test candidate’s IQ, reacting abilities and abilities of teamwork (intelligence tests, performance test – endurance test, personal questionnaires, discussion and projection techniques).
Basic selection is the only part to pass for “B” category.
Successful passing the psychometric tests is the basic condition to advance to the Selection week for “A” category.
3b. Selection week
After successful passing the basic selection, candidates for 601st combat troops (of “A” category) advance literally immediately to the selection week.
The selection week is characterized by high demandingness, it is composed as complex field activity, which is intended to test physical fitness, psychical endurance, moral qualities and team spirit of each candidate under extreme conditions.
Candidates, during 6-day complex activities under the command of qualified instructors of the 601st SFG and constant supervision of a doctor (medic) and a psychologist, undergo a set of demanding physical test focused on stamina, strength, tenaciousness and the ability to react in different situations. The complex activities are composed of endurance running, long-distance marches and a set of strength exercises, which are supposed to test the ability to cope with predicaments under enormous physical strain.
The candidate can opt out at his own request whenever he wishes. It is allowed to retake the selection procedure after six months at the earliest and repeat only 3 times.
Instructors eliminate the candidates only if the candidate does not fulfill the TL repeatedly (3 times and more), in case of serious breaking of the set rules or for the health reasons.
4. Personnel measures
The service at the 601st SFG has to be started within 2 years from the selection procedure. In case of later acceptance he/she will have to undergo the new selection procedure in full extent. This measure applies to both categories.
In case of failure or opt-out from selection procedure the candidate is immediately sent back to his mother unit or facility of the ACR.
Providing the selection week cannot be finished by the candidate he could be offered a position at non-combat part of the Group (“B” category position).
There is an interview with the Commander’s Committee at the end of selection procedure (after passing the psychometric tests for “B” category and after passing the selection week for “A” category). The objective of this interview is to find the most optimal systemized position within the 601st SFG organization. The needed security clearance level is set on the basis of this interview.
The results for “A” category candidates are announced immediately after the selection, for “B” category within 14 days since the end of the selection procedure. These results are also concurrently announced to the candidate’s commanders and chiefs.