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NATO Special Operations News

Maritime Special Operations Forces Discuss Transformation and Interoperability

Senior leaders gather outside the NATO SOF Maritime Development Conference. Senior leaders gather outside the NATO SOF Maritime Development Conference.

PORTSMOUTH, UK – More than 20 NATO Allied and Partner nations gathered at the Royal Navy’s Maritime Warfighting Centre in Portsmouth, UK, May 16-18, 2023, to discuss NATO SOF maritime transformation and interoperability to support future force development and training. The conference focused on the role of Maritime Special Operations Forces'' support to NATO's collective defence, partnerships, and ensuring relationships are in place to set the conditions for success in support of the Alliance in peace, crisis, and conflict.

Maritime Special Operations Forces (SOF) are vital to the strategic defence of the Alliance through the integration, interdependency, and interoperability of SOF with conventional maritime forces. Together, the forces continue to build mutual trust and confidence through training and education in a multi-domain environment.

This conference provided an opportunity for the Alliance Special Operations Forces (SOF) Maritime Community of Interest to strengthen the SOF network through shared awareness and an opportunity for increased coordination, interoperability, and strong working relationships.

Brig. Neil Grant, Deputy Commander of NATO Special Operations Headquarters, shared his thoughts on the role of SOF in Maritime operations.

"The vital strategic role that SOF plays in the maritime domain is being demonstrated clearly in Ukraine and the Black and Baltic Seas today," said Brig. Grant. "It is conferences like these that bring together a range of nations to contribute their unique perspectives and to help NATO SOF build the type of maritime capabilities that successfully deter our adversaries and defend the Alliance."

Throughout the conference, the leaders discussed the importance of delivering maritime SOF support to NATO strategic effects, identified areas of common interest and future development of Maritime SOF force development. The ability to achieve this level of interoperability comes through the Maritime SOF community of interest network and the connection and collaboration with other domains, partners, and stakeholders.

This community of interest focused on interoperable capabilities, special operations maritime doctrine, training and exercises to support maritime special operations to deter and defend the Alliance, provide SOF advice to NATO Special Operations Commander, national SOF Commanders, and other senior military commanders fully nested with the defence of the NATO Alliance.