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Old 05-30-2023, 09:39 AM
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Raellus Raellus is offline
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Default British "Stay Behind" SOP Units

Most NATO armies developed special "stay behind" units during the Cold War. Although some of these small units were made up of pre-existing SOF, not all were. The British, for one, developed Special Observation Post (SOP) units, recruited from the regular army and trained by SAS/SBS personnel (but not becoming part of either SOF unit).

From the written intro to the podcast (first link below):

"The [British] “stay behind” Special OP Troop consisted of selected soldiers in 6 man patrols whose task was to dig in large underground hides known as “mexe” shelters along the inner German border. They would then allow the main Soviet forces to pass over them before deploying to two smaller observation posts (Ops) where they would engage the enemy with the long-range guns and rockets of the British Army."



Non-SOF SB, like the British Army's SOP troops, could be a cool background for a PC. CB MEXE shelters and caches could be cool finds for PCs of any background.

Author of Twilight 2000 adventure modules, Rook's Gambit and The Poisoned Chalice, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, and co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:


Last edited by Raellus; 05-30-2023 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 05-30-2023, 01:37 PM
Ewan Ewan is offline
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The magazine article is very interesting and covers all of the Cold War period, might factor it into my Twilight:1985 game.
Thanks for the link.
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Old 05-31-2023, 04:03 PM
ToughOmbres ToughOmbres is offline
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Default Stay Behind Formations

Thank you for the article-good reading.

I could envision PC's getting word of caches (some intact, some partially intact, some looted) from a dying NPC, superior officer or civilian as an adventure hook-much like the SRS but on a much smaller scale. Neat stuff!
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Old 06-01-2023, 11:15 AM
Homer Homer is offline
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The active special OP unit is presently 4/73 (Sphinx) Battery, RA and its TA counterpart is 1 Squadron of the Honourable Artillery Company. Their allied analogues would be the corps level German Fernspahkompanies (FSK), the US Long Range Surveillance Companies (LRSC), the Danish Special Reconnaissance Patrols (SEP) and Jaegerkorpsett, USMC Force Recon Company, and the Dutch 104 Observation and Reconnaissance Company. Combat observation and lasting teams (COLT) tend to have a similar mission but vary in selection and training from unit to unit (mounted/dismounted, operate solo or with maneuver security, operate forward of the FLOT or on the FLOT); some units will insert COLT and MI units with reconnaissance elements.

These units are primarily composed of selected volunteers who have passed some form of screening and skills training process (often looking like the accessions process for other elite organizations). While they perform reconnaissance and terminal guidance they are not generally classified as true SOF units, but as specialized to mission reconnaissance organizations. A key difference is that LRS/Special OP units typically operate within artillery and/or rotary wing coverage of friendly positions while SF units performing Special Reconnaissance typically do not. Usually operating in teams of 6 (team leader, assistant TL, senior scout, scout, senior radioman, radioman) they are armed with light weapons (US teams ran M4s with two M203s) to include suppressed weapons. They will seek to remain undetected, making direct fire contact only if discovery is imminent and immediately seeking to break contact. Unless detected or clearing datum LRS teams tend to move slowly both as a function of encumbrance and stealth. PCs making hostile contact with a LRS team should think they have hit a platoon or larger force because of volume of fire, use of grenades, and claymores.

There may be minor differences from unit to unit with regards to national doctrine and preference. For instance, while all teams trained to “walk to work” US Corps LRSCs maintained jump status and maintained an MFF and waterborne infiltration capability on select teams. The SEP, Sphinx Battery, and HAC did not maintain a standing parachute infil capability. Jaegerkorpsett and force recon also maintained direct action capabilities which the other units tended not to (finding an AAR of LRS fighting a conventional infantry formation action well is right up there with finding indisputable evidence of Bigfoot).

These units could be introduced in several ways:
1. They were most likely inserted in Poland in 97 or in Southern Germany in 98 to report and call fire on the Pact counterattacks. As others have said, finding an old hide or cache would be a potential hook. Keep in mind caches are small- a couple 5 gal cans of water, some MREs, some radio batteries, and other small items is a good rule of thumb- that s enough to keep six going for a week.

2. Teams could have been left behind and absorbed into a local defense force, marauder group, etc. A team could have been sent on a special mission to locate a high value target and "disappeared", with the characters sent to locate them, the target, or both.

3. The characters could encounter the team by chance as it is in position and doing its job. How the encounter plays out is then up to the PCs and plot.

4. The team is guiding the PCs onto an objective. This is probably best used in CENTCOM or other areas with organized forces.

5. The team could come upon a LRS team that is attempting to break contact or that has been compromised and failed to break contact. Rescuing a surviving team member may be a side plot.

Last edited by Homer; 06-02-2023 at 08:56 PM.
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