The 707th Special Missions Battalion

ROK 707th SoldiersThe Korean War was fought from June 25th, 1950 when the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea) invaded the ROK (Republic of Korea, or South Korea) until July 27th, 1953 when the war ended in a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty. This means that although many in the West do not know it, the Korean War has actually been going on from 1950 to today. One of the branches of the Republic of Korea Army military trained to defend the South from terrorists or attacks from the North is the elite 707th Special Missions Battalion.

Tht 707th is officially a part of the Republic of Korea Army Special Warfare Command, which was founded in 1969 (although the special forces had been around since 1957). Today, the SWC commands six special forces brigades, the 707th Special Missions Battalion, the Special Missions Group, and the Special Warfare Training Group. The 707th was founded in the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre (which also led to the forming of GSG-9), when the South Korean government realized that it required a unit of soldiers trained specifically to deal with terrorist attacks, as well as threats from North Korean special forces.

ROK 707th Afghanistan
707th soldier interacting with a villager in Afghanistan

After its founding, the 707th Special Missions Battalion was tasked with providing security at the 1986 Asian Games as well as the 1988 Olympics that were held in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Due to the nature of the Munich Olympics Massacre, terrorism at international games was considered a very grave threat, especially due to the volatile politics between North and South Korea. Since then, the 707th’s role has grown from security against terrorist attacks to international counter-terrorism operations and dealing with infiltrators from North Korea, although there have also been unconfirmed reports of the 707th being deployed within the DPRK.

The 707th is based out of Songham City, which is located southeast of Seoul and is comprised of three-hundred soldiers divided into six companies, which are divided into fourteen-man operating teams, as well as demolition and support teams. In order to join the 707th, personnel must already be members of qualified special forces teams, and are then subjected to six months of basic infantry combat training, and then six more months consisting of special warfare training, which includes parachute, HALO (High-Altitude Low Oxygen) and SCUBA training. Operators are also trained in rappelling, mountain warfare, demolitions, and martial arts. Female combat operators are also recruited for situations such as an aircraft hijacking when terrorists may allow medicine or food to be brought on board.

The Daewoo K7 submachine gun, used by the 707th
The Daewoo K7 submachine gun, used by the 707th

Training within the 707th is particularly brutal, as many operators are known to swim in frozen water and exercise in the snow in sub-zero temperatures without the aide of any thermal protection. In the selection process for the 707th Special Missions Battalion alone which takes place prior to the year of training, over ninety percent of candidates are washed out. Physical fitness is extremely important, and the training facility maintained by the 707th is supposedly one of the best in the world, which includes areas to practice live-fire training, close-quarters battle (CQB), as well as a mock-up of an entire Boeing 747 which allows operators to practice anti-hijacking operations. The 707th is lavishly funded by the ROK government, and allows not just for the facility but also for quality weaponry produced both domestically and foreign. For example, the Daewoo K1 and K2 are both used, as well as the K7 submachine gun (which includes a built-in silencer and appears very similar to the H&K MP5). However, some German weapons are also used such as the MP5 and the MP7, as well as the American M24 and M40 sniper rifles.

The 707th Special Missions Battalion patch, with a White Tiger and the unit's name in English and Hangul
The 707th Special Missions Battalion patch, with a White Tiger and the unit’s name in English and Hangul

707th Special Mission Battalion operators wear a distinctive black beret and have a white tiger as their mascot, as well as having the nickname “White Tigers.” The 707th has also trained with other similar groups, such as the American Special Operational Detachment – Delta (SFOD-D), or Delta Force, British Special Air Service (SAS), the German GSG-9, French GIGN, and the Russian FSB. Hopefully with the continued threat of aggression from the DPRK, the 707th will be a deterrent against future attacks on the ROK.

If you enjoyed this article on the 707th, take a look at these other articles on the German KSK or the Serbian Žandarmerija.

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