Home > Reviews > Modern > Special Ops Volume 34


Special Ops Volume 34

by Gordon Arthur, Yves Debay, Samual Katz and Alberto Scarpitta


Concord Publications, ISBN 962-361-114-5. Price: $16.50 USD.

This latest volume in the series concerns itself with recent events in Iraq, less well-known military special operations units of the Netherlands and Finland, as well as a Belgian police SWAT unit.

Writer Gordon Arthur has produced “Operation Al-Fajr, The Battle of Fallujah”, which contains 74 color photos and one map. Using US Government-sourced images, he tells the story of the US marine and US Army units and their battle to clear Fallujah of terrorists. Many of the photos have been seen on various web sites, so there is not an awful lot that is new here. Some vehicles seen include Army and marine Corps Abrams MBTs, Bradley, Stryker, LAV25 and AAVP troop carriers, engineer construction, and, of course, the ubiquitous HUMMVEE. Troops are seen in action carrying and employing a variety of weapons, while a USMC 155mm M198 gun/howitzer is also depicted. The text takes the form of a brief overview, followed by a chronology of events.

Alberto Scarpitta follows this up with a piece describing “Antica Babilonia, The Italian Contingent in Iraq”, using 48 original color photos. Attached to the British Division as a “Brigade Joint Task Force”, the unit also includes Romanian assets. Vehicles depicted include M113-based VCC-1 APCs, Iveco VM-90 light trucks, VM-90P LAVs, Centauro armored cars and a Romanian derivative of the Russian BTR-80 APC, called the B-33 “Zimbru. Air assets are also shown including AB-412 Huey derivative, HH-3F and CH-47 Chinook, as well as a C-130J, the latest version of the famed Lockheed Martin Hercules transport plane. Typical of the mixed nature of the force, the uniforms of the various troops are sometimes quite colorful. For instance there are the “Lagunari” with their black berets and colorful cravats, the “Bersaglieri” with their plumed Kevlar helmets, “Tuscania” paratroops with their black tactical uniforms and maroon berets, and Romanians with desert pattern BDUs and Kevlar helmets. The text gives an overview of the units, their organization, and their mission. The photo captions are informative and usually quite extensive.

Ever “on the road”, Yves Debay rings in with a short piece entitled, “Coastal Jaegers, Guardians of the Finnish Archipelago”, which is made up of 19 color photos. He describes these troops and their mission of patrolling Finland’s extensive coastal waterways in typical style. The photos are fresh and crisp and depict the men and their personal weapons and specialized equipment, notably a combination flak jacket/ floatation vest. The small vessels used by the unit, notably the small “G-Boat” and the somewhat larger, more capable “Jumo”, are shown in their typical Baltic grey splinter camouflage. The text details the unit’s organization, weapons and mission, while the captions ably describe the men and their equipment.

Samual Katz is next with, “Devils With Green Berets, Inside the Special Operations World of the Dutch Army’s Korps Commandotroepen”, which is composed of 43 color photos, all from official sources. The unit profiled is equivalent to the US Army’s Special Forces/Airborne Rangers. It is tasked with all of the traditional missions of such a unit, including covert reconnaissance, hostage rescue, deep raids, targeting important individuals and facilities and generally making life miserable for anyone foolish enough to cross them! The photos (all of which are censored with the “black rectangle” to protect the identity of individuals) depict these troops in various scenarios. These include airborne (helicopter assault and parachute) and waterborne operations; urban, mountain and ski operations, and the traditional graduation ceremony. The well-done text details the history of the unit (which traces its roots back to World War Two), its training, its organization and its weapons and equipment. The captions nicely compliment the fine photographs.

Mr. Katz closes this issue focusing on Belgium’s “Bijzonder Bijstandsteam”, in the article “Antwerp Tactical”, which includes 29 color photos. Although possibly of less interest to frequenters of this web site, nonetheless, figure modelers may find this piece informative. The author describes two “notional” scenarios wherein the SWAT unit “takes down” international criminals in the heart of the bustling seaport city of Antwerp. The text also describes the reason the unit was formed, how the teams are organized, how they are armed, how they train, and finally, how they “do business”. The photos are crisp and show details of the uniforms, weapons and equipment, while the captions inform.

Overall, I expected more from this title, especially in the section on Fallujah, where many of the images are readily available to anyone with internet access. Because of that, I’d say my two favorite pieces in this issue are the ones on the Italians and the Finns. This issue is quite a “salad”, but one that’s possibly not to everyone’s taste.

Recommended with reservations.

Frank V. De Sisto

Concord Publications are available from retail and mail order shops, or from the publisher at: www.concord-publications.com.