Naval Special Operations Group

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Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG)
SWAG Patch
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
Size~ 400 [1]
Garrison/HQCavite Naval Base, Cavite City
AnniversariesNovember 5

Operation Enduring Freedom

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

War on ISIL

Operation Haribon 1-4 all are joint operation with the Light Reaction Regiment.

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 Group (NAVSOG) or Special Warfare Group (SWAG) is a unit of the Philippine Navy trained in special operations, sabotage, psychological and unconventional warfare and is heavily influenced by the United States Navy SEALs.

History and organization[edit]

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, 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, then as the Underwater Operations Group (UOG).

The UOG was then renamed the Naval Special Warfare Group, and later on as the Naval Special Operations 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 unit changed their name from SWAG to NAVSOG on May 30, 2005.[2]

Today, the Naval Special Operations Group is headquartered at Sangley Point, Cavite City. It has eight 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. 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.[3]


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.


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 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 Naval Station Sangley Point without any rest. They also undergo "Hell Week," considered as the most demanding week of NAVSOG training. Candidates have to carry out demanding physical team events with their boat crews with merely a couple of hours sleep for an entire week. In one BNSOC class, only 21 students remained from 79 applicants who originally started the NAVSOG training program. These are only the common and basic training phases of NAVSOG, 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.[4]

United States influence[edit]

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 Philippine Naval Special Reaction Group (SRG), which operates under the direction of Naval Intelligence.[5]

The Philippine Naval Special Operations Group in a mapping and deployment-extraction mission during the Mindanao declaration of Martial law in the Philippines for the Marawi crisis.
A Filipino Navy SEAL team demonstrates their capabilities to the 74th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in Manila, Nov. 8, 2007

The best NSWG/SWAG frequently train and operate with their American counterparts and the Philippine Marines.[6][7]


Base Units[8][edit]

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

Naval Special Operations Units[8][edit]

Each unit is made up of 3 to 6 special operations and support teams, each of which have 8 soldiers (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

See also[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Too Tough for the Job (The Navy Seals and Admin Diving)" - Philippine Navy Digest
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Special Warfare Group (SWAG)". ShadowSpear. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Smoking-cessation classes, counseling among options offered on U.S. bases in Pacific". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  7. ^ "CARAT 2004: Philippine and U.S. Forces Train to Fight Terrorism" - Asia-Pacific Defense Forum, Winter 2005
  8. ^ a b "NAVSOG - Organization". Retrieved 11 May 2015.


External links[edit]