The elite Underwater Offense (SAT) unit of the Turkish army holds the distinction of being the first and only naval commandos of the country that seek to bolster its defenses in the country's “Blue Homeland.” From the Aegean to the Black Sea, the unit remains on constant standby for operations requiring their high skills.
Though smaller than other units of the military, they are the only ones executing “special operations,” along with the Special Forces Command, which requires stealth, precision and speed.
Established in 1963, the unit constantly updated its training and armory. Eleven years after their establishment, they made a name in the country as the first military unit to make the landing in Cyprus, as part of the Cyprus Peace Operation that ensured the protection of Turkish Cypriots facing Greek oppression. Since then, they played critical roles in operations requiring their assistance, from the rescue of sailors abducted by pirates off Somalia to landlocked areas of war-torn Syria where they aided fellow troops in Operation Euphrates Shield.
Members of the elite unit are chosen among the most agile and mentally resilient soldiers. The SAT Private Specialty Course, whose conception precedes the establishment of the unit by one year, provide their training. Chosen among volunteering members of the Turkish Naval Forces Command, trainees undergo a 52-week intense program that involves psychological and physical training.
Throughout the program, they are taught diving, shooting, demolition, parachute jumping, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering among other subjects. Their training continues at regular intervals even after they are chosen for inclusion in the unit.
Along with combat missions, they assist in the evacuation of noncombatants in military operations, and in search and rescue work for civilians in need. In cooperation with air force units, they aid in laser tagging of targets and reconnaissance work, which came in handy in Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Syria. As the only airborne commando unit of the naval forces, they take part in navy missions requiring their services. The SAT also stands out as the only unit of the Turkish army capable of using aerial vehicles for the purpose of deployment of inflatable boats.
Their training also involves high altitude low opening (HALO) and high altitude high opening (HAHO) during the day and night.
SAT commandos can also engage in targets up to a distance of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) thanks to their sniper training. Their training enables them to approach and neutralize targets without leaving any trace by deployment through any environment – from land, air, underwater or by sea. ATAK and SAT boats exclusive to the unit allow for their swift deployment.
A regular training day for the commandos begins with workouts, including more than one hour of cardio exercises. Training continues with shooting practice, landing practice and simulation of raids in residential areas, as well as jumping from aircraft into the sea by parachutes and underwater deployment.