Here in the United States, we have some seriously badass special operations units like the Green Berets, the Navy SEALs, and the Delta Force, which are all some of the most impressive military units on the planet. Across the globe, however, there are certainly some other special operations units that could give them a run for their money. There’s the GROM from Poland, the Sayeret Matkal of Israel, China’s Snow Leopard Commando Unit, and, of course, the Russian Spetsnaz.
However, one specific special ops unit from the unassuming country of Denmark has been making waves across the internet because, well, they look scary as f*ck. I’m talking about the Danish Frogman Corps.
The Frømandskorpset, known as the Frogman Corps in English, plays an important role in the Danish Defence part of the country’s Special Operations Command. This is a group of elite, highly-trained, lethal assassins that are tasked with reconnaissance, counterterrorism operations, sabotage missions, and boarding enemy ships. As you can imagine, they don’t let just anyone into the Frogman Corps, and, in fact, it’s one of the hardest special ops units in the world to be accepted into. While the Danish aren’t particularly known for their military prowess, a look into the Frogman Corps tells a very different story.
Frogman Corps History
The Frømandskorpset was created on June 17th, 1957, and based on the United Kingdom Royal Marines Special Boat Unit, the United States Underwater Demolition Team, and the Marinejegerkommandoen (a Norweigan naval special warfare unit that’s super badass in its own right).
This was the first Danish special operations unit ever created. Originally, the unit was part of the Royal Danish Navy’s Diving School, located in Copenhagen. However, in 1972, they became an independent unit of the Royal Danish Navy. Later, on July 1st, 2015, the Frogman Corps was transferred from the Royal Danish Navy to the newly established Special Operations Command.
Today, to become a part of the Frogman Corps, you have to meet several prerequisites and then pass through one of the most rigorous training courses imaginable. In a typical year, 500 to 600 people will apply to join the unit, only about 70 will actually be allowed to start the training course, and less than a dozen will be accepted. Since the creation of the unit, only 311 soldiers have been able to call themselves Frogmen.
Frogman Corps Training
To join the Frogman Corps, you need to be between the ages of 21 and 31 and be a Danish citizen. Before you’re even allowed to try out for the Frogman Corps, you have to take the FYSISK (the Danish Armed Forces test) and receive a Level 5 (the highest score possible).
The Frogman Corps training course lasts a total of nine months. Over those nine months, participants have to go through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests. Soldiers must pass an extremely difficult fitness test that includes running with and without a 30-kilogram (66-pound) backpack, swimming long distances, doing pull-ups and push-ups, and holding difficult positions for long periods of time.
The soldiers are occasionally subjected to mental tests that assess their abilities in mathematics, English, Danish, technical understanding, sense of direction, logic, and performance under pressure. There are also psychological evaluations to weed out only those but the most strong-minded soldiers in the group.
In addition to being physically and mentally strong, the soldiers must demonstrate advanced abilities in diving, controlling a boat, performing medical examinations and medical care, parachuting, wilderness survival, shooting, close-quarters combat, demolition, and much more.
As you can probably tell, it takes a special (and kind of crazy) person to become a part of the Frogman Corps, which is why there have only ever been 311 of them. Among those 311 is Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark, who became a badged Frogman and was given the nickname “Pingo” after a Danish comic strip series. In 2020, a woman named Lene became the first-ever female to graduate from the Frogman Corps training program.
Frogman Corps Operations
While you don’t hear about Denmark being involved in many wars, the Frogman Corps has conducted several important operations over its history. One of the most notable was Task Force K-BAR, the first major ground operation in the war in Afghanistan. The operation was led by the United States and was carried out by special forces from seven different nations, including Denmark.
From 2008 until the end of 2014, the Frogman Corps was involved in counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, Guardafui Channel, Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea, known as Operation Ocean Shield. The operation was to stop pirate attacks, most of which were taking place off the vast coast of Somalia.
What Makes Them So Scary?
The trademark of the Frogman Corps is the face veil made of camouflage netting that they wear over their helmets which sort of makes them look like Dementors from the Harry Potter series of films. If I were a terrorist and I saw a black-clad soldier wearing one of those and pointing an AR-15 in my direction, I would throw my hands up and surrender immediately. Those uniforms are just pure nightmare fuel. Oh, and the fact that they’re trained to kill doesn’t make them any less intimidating, either.
The face veils do play a practical role, however. First of all, it obviously covers their faces. In combat, you don’t want the enemy to see your face and be able to recognize you in the future. Secondly, the veil breaks the silhouette of the head and the shoulders, which makes it more difficult for enemies to identify you as a human being rather than an inanimate part of the scenery. Also, under those veils are goggles, which can cast a reflection on the water and alert the enemy. So, on top of looking absolutely horrifying, those face veils give these soldiers the ability to move through water and land in stealth without being seen.
Of course, psychological warfare can have a profound effect in battle. So part of the reason that the Frogman Corps uniforms look so scary is, well, to scare people.
The Effect of Fear in Battle
In war, it’s a fairly effective tactic to scare the hell out of your opponent. Militaries have been employing psychological warfare for centuries. Vlad the Impaler put dead bodies on stakes outside of his castle to scare off potential invaders. Genghis Khan would tell his soldiers to light three torches each and stand menacingly on a hillside overlooking a village they were about to invade to make it look like there were three times more soldiers than there actually were. During the Vietnam War, the United States military employed Operation Wandering Soul in which they would play “ghostly sounds” on loudspeakers to keep the Vietnamese soldiers hiding around their perimeter in fear.
So, in a similar way to these other historical scare tactics, the Frogman Corps uniforms were probably designed to look as horrifying as possible, and I’d say they did a pretty good job. The dark colors and the head veil, combined with the fact that you can’t see any part of their faces, make the Frogman Corps seem less like human soldiers and more like dark spirits of death. And no one wants to fight a dark spirit of death.