Black Swan 19 – SOF Exercise in Europe

Black Swan 19 SOF on helicopter

Special Force troops were assisted by a Hungarian Air Force Gripen multirole fighter, Mi-17, Mi-24, Cougar and American Special Forces CV-22 Osprey helicopters, all of which played a vital part in Exercise Black Swan 19 Distinguished Visitor Day (DV Day). It was held at Szolnok Air Base in Hungary, home to the Hungarian 2nd Special Forces Brigade (Vitéz Bertalan Árpád), 34th Special Forces Battalion (László Bercsényi) of the Hungarian Defence Forces (Magyar Honvédség)

The DV Day scenario simulated a combat situation whereby an enemy airport and control-tower had to be recaptured by the SOF troops, inserted by air and land. It was performed in front of senior Special Force Officers and invited guests, including Major General Kirk Smith; Commander, Special Operations Command Europe and Director, Special Operations, U.S. European Command, and Brigadier General Tamás Sándor; Commander MH 2. Brigade Bertalan Árpád (Special Purpose Brigade).

Hungarian SOF on parade. Photo by Pat Carty.

Running from 2 June to 21 June, Black Swan 19 involved some 700 Special Force troops from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The United Kingdom also had personnel present, but as observers and advisers.

Whilst Black Swan 19 improves the integration of Allied Special Forces, it also facilitates situations that can be encountered by SOF troops on a tactical level and in an unconventional and hybrid environment. It also allows them to experience working with allied forces in command, control and operation with the aim of strengthening the stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.

Despite being overseen by the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) Special Operations Command, Black Swan is actually a Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) exercise, run from within the nearby HDF “Peace Support Training Centre” (HDF PSTC) also located in Szolnok. However, as the HDF Special Operations capability intends to play a leading role in the region, a Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC) also operates from Szolnok. From there, the Command directs a full spectrum of airborne, land and water exercise operations, located in several parts of Europe simultaneously and in a close to a real-life environment.


Top Photo: Special operations forces board an Mi-17 helicopter during Exercise Black Swan. Photo by Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF).

Author: Pat Carty is a NATO accredited journalist who covers military news, events, operations, and exercises; including special operations forces. He is a contributor to SOF News as well as several other military defense publications.