The Japanese Special Operations Group (特殊作戦群, Tokushu Sakusen Gun) is the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s counter-terrorist unit established by the former Japanese Defense Agency to counter terrorist activities and deter guerrilla-style attacks on Japanese soil and to conduct military operations, like the 1st Airborne Brigade, against guerrillas or enemy commandos. The unit is based in Narashino, Chiba garrison in Funabashi, Chiba with the 1st Airborne Brigade. They are currently known more recently as the Special Forces Group.
The SOG has been referred to as Japan’s Delta Force, due to their specialized role in the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. Delta Force personnel had been responsible for assisting the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force in raising the SOG’s foundations prior to its establishment.
The civilian counterpart of the SOG is the Japanese National Police Agency’s Special Assault Team.
In 1998, the Japanese Defense Agency had proposed the formation of a unit in the JGSDF that would handle tasks such as Counter-terrorism with a selected group of JGSDF soldiers from the 1st Airborne Brigade sent to the United States to be trained by Delta Force operators. At the same time, two platoons were created from the brigade as a means of creating the unit’s foundations. These consist of the G Platoon (Formation Unit) and the S Platoon (Research Unit).
The establishment of unit’s framework had been completed in 2003, after 3 years of training and organization.
On March 27, 2004, the Japanese Defense Agency had activated the unit as the Special Operations Group with the mandate under the JGSDF as its Counter-terrorist unit.
In 2005, the SOG had deployed four of its operators to serve as bodyguards for the Japanese commander of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s contingent in Iraq under the Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group.
On March 28, 2007, the SOG had merged with the 1st Airborne Brigade, the 1st Helicopter Brigade and the 101st NBC Protection Unit to create the Central Readiness Force.
The unit had changed its name on March 26, 2008 from the SOG to the SFGp or the Special Forces Group.
- Commander (Led by a Colonel)
- Executive Officers (Led by a Lieutenant Colonel)
- 1st Department (General Affairs)
- 2nd Department (Intelligence)
- 3rd Department (Planning)
- 4th Department (Supply)
- Headquarters Administration Unit (Led by 3 Majors)
- 1st SOG Company
- Company Headquarters
- 1st Platoon (Freefall)
- Specialized squads (e.g. Assault, Sniper)
- 2nd Platoon (Maritime)
- 3rd Platoon (Mountain)
- 4th Platoon (Urban Warfare)
- 2nd SOG Company
- 3rd SOG Company
- Training Unit
All potential recruits to the SOG have mostly been drawn out from the 1st Airborne Brigade with qualification from the Rangers. As such, all SOG soldiers are airborne qualified.
For specialized training, the 1st Platoon have their freefall training under the 1st Airborne Brigade with the 2nd Platoon under the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces.
The SOG has a training facility inside the JGSDF Narashino, Chiba camp to conduct training on various techniques, especially on CQB tactics.
- Colt M4A1 SOPMOD Block I
- Howa Type 89
- HK MP5SD6
- Remington 870
- HK USP 9
- Barrett M95
- Remington M24
- Type 91 MANPAD
- Type 01 Anti-Tank missile
- Howa 84RR recoiless rifle
- Various Hand grenades
The SOG has access to equipment used by the JGSDF, such as the Komatsu LAVs and Toyota Koukidoushas for transport and reconnaissance use. They also work in conjunction with the 1st Helicopter Brigade to provide mobility support, though they can be also deployed via C-130 Hercules aircraft.
As part of regulating and protecting the identities of the various soldiers serving in the SOG, their faces are hidden in balaclavas and cannot be revealed except with authorization from their commanding officers. It is said that personnel cannot enter certain areas of their Narashino camp, such as the SOG barracks, unless they have the proper identification with them.