707th Special Missions Battalion
The 707th Special Missions Battalion, part of the Republic of Korea's Army Special Warfare Command (ROKA SOCOM), is South Korea's primary counter terrorist and quick reaction force. The unit's soldiers distinguished by their black berets are tasked with conducting urban counter terrorist missions, and constitute the Army's quick-reaction force for emergencies. During wartime they perform clandestine special-warfare assignments. This elite force of operators was formed after the Munich Olympic disaster in 1972. The South Korean government realized the need to raise a specially trained unit to handle the many threats facing it. These threats ranged from North Korean special operations forces conducting operations to destabilize the government to foreign terrorist organizations operating on Korean soil.
In 1982 the South Korean government tasked the battalion with providing a counter terrorist response to any potential terrorist incident occurring during the upcoming 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. The unit immediately began a program to rapidly expand it strength and operational capabilities, almost tripling in size.
The 707th provided security for VIPs and for key facilities during the 1986 Asian Games and during the 1988 Olympics. At both events terrorist attacks were considered to be a real danger. In addition, the unit has reportedly seen extensive action against North Korean infiltraters, and according to several unconfirmed reports, they have also conducted multiple operations on the North Korean mainland.
The Songham City based unit is currently composed of approximately 300 operational personnel who are split into six companies; two of which are actually tasked with conducting counter terrorist missions. Each of the counter terrorist teams is organized around four 14-man operations teams. Support and demolitions teams also exist to augment the main teams.
It is also reported that the 707th maintains a group of female operators for use in situations where a woman would not be suspected of posing a risk, such as an aircraft hijacking where food and medicine might be allowed to be taken on board.
Prospective candidates for the battalion are only drawn from the ranks of qualified special forces personnel. Special Forces operator training and selection lasts for a full year, and includes six months of basic infantry combat training, with an additional six months of special warfare training and parachute training. During the special warfare portion of their training are provided instruction in basic parachute techniques, rappelling and mountain warfare, martial arts, fire arms instruction, and demolitions.
Korean special forces personnel are well known for their toughness, and 707th SMB personnel are reportedly even tougher. Throughout their training physical fitness is stressed and students are driven hard by their instructors. Various reports have stated that members frequently perform daily calisthenics in the snow and subzero temperatures, and swim in freezing lakes without any thermal protection.
Those special forces personnel wishing to volunteer for service in the unit must first pass an extensive background check and endure a ten day selection process that eliminates approximately 90% of the applicants. Counter-terrorist training for the 707th is intensive, and once an operator is accepted into the unit he will receive additional instruction in combat shooting, breaching, assault tactics, SCUBA diving, and various other skills.
The battalion's training facility, which is reportedly one of the finest in the world, has an extensive network of range facilities allowing for the development of CQB skills in the unit's operators. It also reportedly contains a complete mockup of a 747 airliner, allowing operators the opportunity to conduct live fire training exercises, and hone their aircraft takedown skills.
In addition to working with other Korean special operations forces and special Korean counter terrorist police units, such as the Korean National Police Agency's SWAT team, the 707th maintains close ties with similar units from around the globe, including Singapore's STAR team, the Australian SASR's Tactical Assault Group (TAG), and Hong Kong's SDU, although the unit's closets ties are with the US Army's 1st Special Forces Group, and the 1st SFOD-D.
The South Korean government lavishly funds the battalion, and as a result they use a wide variety of foreign and domestically produced weapons. Pistols include modified versions of the US produced Colt .45 and the Daewoo 9mm. The HK MP-5 is now used as the primary submachine gun for assaults. Both the Daewoo K1 and K2 assault rifles are used, albeit modified for assaults with the addition of forward pistol grips and in some cases low-light vision devices. For rearguards a Benelli Super-90 shotgun with pistol grips is used. For light sniping the HK PSG-1 and M-24 7.62mm rifles have been used, heavier sniping needs are cause for the RAI .50 caliber weapon to be broken out. When heavier firepower is needed the unit has M-203 40mm grenade launchers, M-60E3 and K3 Beltfed 7.62mm machine guns at its disposal. The unit has also deployed Short Brothers Javelin man-portable SAMs as a defense against low level aircraft.