Special Operations Group (UNSOG)

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Established in 1989, the Special Operations Group (UNSOG) of the United Nations was a branch designated to conduct various specialist tactical and covert operations on behalf of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). UNSOG field roles are comparable to those of most countries' military special forces. UNSOG is accountable to UNSC and although occasionally works alongside is independent of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS).[1]

With the establishment of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in 1992, SOG was also placed under the jurisdiction of the Stand-by Arrangements System (UNSAS)[2] to form and coordinate Rapid Response Teams for pre-deployment assessment and security.

As a result of the report of the panel on United Nations Peace Operations[3] (known as the Brahimi Report), SOG's functions expanded to bridge existing shortfalls in field security, specifically in strategic information services (intelligence gathering, analysis and distribution), operations training, counter terrorism, close protection of senior or specialist UN staff in high threat environments, special operations/projects, Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC), Rule of Law support and internal mission oversight.

In 2007, as a result of further reform[4] within the United Nations Secretariat, UNDSS was established to bring together a coordinated approach to basic security issues under one entity. The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) extended its role whilst the Rule of Law Unit was established. All of these formally assumed the basic security and internal affairs functions performed on an interim basis by SOG, allowing SOG to specialise in a narrower field of responsibility.

Selection and Training[edit]

UNSOG positions are advertised through the UN careers portal as "consultant" posts and successful applications are forwarded to SOG training.[5] Candidates are then further screened using an extremely rigorous process of interviews and physical, mental and psychological assessments tailored to the role applied for. The candidate failure rate is very high at each stage however exact details including the content of the processes involved are classified. Successful candidates are invited to SOG training consisting of months of continual assessment. All operational SOG roles require the highest (phase five) UN security clearance.