Naval Special Operations Command

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Philippine Naval Special Operations Command (NAVSOCOM)
ActiveNovember 5, 1956 - Present
BranchPhilippine Navy
TypeSpecial Forces
RoleSpecial operations
Direct action
Special reconnaissance
Unconventional warfare
Hostage rescue
Foreign internal defense
Counter narcotic operations
High value target raids
Airborne operations
Garrison/HQNaval Base Heracleo Alano (Naval Base Cavite)
Nickname(s)SWG, SWAG
AnniversariesNovember 5

Operation Enduring Freedom

  • Philippines
  • Anti-guerrilla operations against Abu Sayyaf
  • Anti guerrilla operations against ISIL

War on ISIL

DecorationsPresidential Streamer Award
Naval Parachutist Badge
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png
AFP Master Parachutist Badge
The AFP Master Parachutist Badge.jpg

The Naval Special Operations Command (NAVSOCOM) is a separate command of the Philippine Navy trained in special operations, sabotage, psychological and unconventional warfare and is heavily influenced by the United States Navy SEALs. NAVSOCOM is headquartered at Sangley Point, Cavite City. It has eleven units located across the Philippines, from Naval Operating Base San Vicente at Santa Ana, Cagayan in the north to Naval Station Zamboanga in the south.

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 predecessor unit to the NAVSOCOM, the Underwater Operations Team or UOT was activated on 5 November 1956 as a special operations unit of the Philippine Navy.[1] Patterned after the US Navy Underwater Demolition Teams and the Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS with modifications for Philippine conditions, from its founding 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 (UOU), then as the Underwater Operations Group (UOG).[2]

The UOG was then renamed Special Warfare Group (SWG) in 1983,[3] then Naval Special Warfare Group (NSWG), and later on as the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) on May 30, 2005.[4] The unit took the Naval Special Operations Command (NAVSOCOM) name.


The unit specializes in SEa, Air, 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.[5]


The NAVSOCOM 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 around the world. Candidates have to swim 3 kilometers and run 10 kilometers every day. Furthermore, they must swim 14.6 nautical miles from Roxas Boulevard in Manila to Sangley Point, Cavite City without any rest. They also undergo "Hell Week", considered as the most demanding week of BNSOC training.[3] Candidates have to carry out demanding physical team events with their boat crews without any sleep at all for an entire week. In one BNSOC class, only 21 students remained from 79 applicants who originally started the BNSOC training program. These are only the common and basic training phases of BNSOC, with further evolutions of the training (including interrogation resistance) remaining highly classified.

Under Filipino law, women can apply to become SEALs, but thus far none have. Prospective SEALS are put through BUD/S, which lasts for four months and can often stretch into six with breaks between phases.[6]

United States influence[edit]

There are similarities between the Philippines Naval Special Operations Command and the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command. NAVSOCOM operators are trained and operate in a manner similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs. They also wear a trident similar to their U.S. Navy counterparts.

NAVSOCOM Operators (Aiming) with counterparts from Australian Special Forces during Balikatan 2019

The Filipino counterpart of the U.S. counterterrorist United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) is the Philippine Naval Special Reaction Group (SRG), which operates under the direction of Naval Intelligence.[7]

The NAVSOCOM Special Boat Unit in a mapping and deployment-extraction mission during the Mindanao declaration of martial law in the Philippines for the Marawi crisis.
A Philippine Navy SEAL Team demonstrates their capabilities to the 74th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in Manila, Nov. 8, 2007

They frequently train with their American counterparts and operate alongside the Philippine Marines and the Philippine Army's Special Operations Command (SOCOM).[8][9]


NAVSOCOM is composed of the following units as of 2014:[10]

Base Units[edit]

  • Headquarters, NAVSOCOM
  • SEAL Unit
  • Diving Unit
  • Explosive & Ordnance Disposal Unit
  • Special Boat Unit
  • Combat Service Support Unit
  • Naval Special Operations Squadron

Naval Special Operations Units (NAVSOUs)[edit]

Each unit is made up of 3 to 6 special operations and support teams, each of which have 8 sailors (1 officer, 7 enlisted).

  • Naval Special Operations Unit 1
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 2
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 3
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 4
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 5
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 6
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 7
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 8
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 9
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 10
  • Naval Special Operations Unit 11


  1. ^ "AFP chief vows more support for elite naval group".
  2. ^ Military balance : the annual assessment of global military capabilities and defence economics 2017. Arundel House, Temple Place, London, UK: Routledge, Taylor & Francis for The International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2017. ISBN 978-1857439007. OCLC 960838207.
  3. ^ a b Conboy (1991), p. 46.
  4. ^ "NAVSOG | Careers". Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  5. ^ Manalo, Eusaquito P. (2004). The Philippine Response to Terrorism: The Abu Sayyaf Group. Storming Media. ISBN 9781423521877.
  6. ^ "NAVSOG: The past, present, and future of the Philippine Navy SEALs". SOFREP. 18 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Special Warfare Group (SWAG)". ShadowSpear. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Smoking-cessation classes, counseling among options offered on U.S. bases in Pacific". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  9. ^ "CARAT 2004: Philippine and U.S. Forces Train to Fight Terrorism" - Asia-Pacific Defense Forum, Winter 2005
  10. ^ "NAVSOG - Organization". Archived from the original on 2014-03-19. Retrieved 11 May 2015.


  • Conboy, Kenneth (1991). South-East Asian Special Forces. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1855321069.

External links[edit]