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- For the Star Trek: The Cantabrian Expeditions Spec Ops, see Starfleet Intelligence Special Operations Branch (TCE).
The Starfleet Intelligence Special Operations Branch, also known as Spec Ops, is the elite branch of Starfleet Intelligence, roughly analogous to Special Forces divisions such as a Marine Corp, that is frequently tasked with assignments deemed unsuitable or to difficult for the regular forces of Starfleet. (Star Trek: Prometheus)
Spec Ops was formed as an elite sub-division of Starfleet Intelligence during the formation of the Federation Starfleet following the founding of the United Federation of Planets in 2161 with the express purpose of carrying out special assignments that were deemed unsuitable for assignment to normal Starfleet personnel. As a sub-division of a division of Starfleet Spec Ops uses the same rank structure as the rest of Starfleet.
Initially Spec Ops was comprised of elements of United Earth's Military Assault Command Operations (M.A.C.O.) and analogous Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellarite organizations. Like its Earth predecessor Spec Ops officers have similar weapons, training, and tactics to the special forces of a number of member nations of United Earth (the US Navy SEALS, Delta Force, Army Rangers, Marine Force Recon, CSOR, etc).
Although it has not been generally promoted Spec Ops has played significant roles in nearly every conflict the Federation has been involved in including conflicts with the Klingons in the 23rd century and in 2375, The Federation-Cardassian War, The Federation-Tzenkethi War, and the Dominion War. In many of these conflicts the outcome would have been significantly worse, if not an outright defeat for the Federation, if Spec Ops personnel hadn't been involved in regular and special assignments.
When not performing missions Spec Ops squads undergo near constant intensive training in a variety of subjects at various facilities, such as West Point Military Academy, throughout Federation space. After serving in Spec Ops officers were generally transferred back to normal duties in Starfleet with the express purpose of enhancing the combat capabilities of the general fleet and to illustrate the capabilities of Spec Ops officers. Every Spec Ops officer is an able pilot as it has been deemed necessary that all officers have piloting abilities so the loss of a designated pilot does not endanger the completion of a mission.
Spec Ops officers wear a uniform variant known as the Surface Operations Blacks, S.O.B.'s, and the Ground Combat Uniform. The S.O.B.'S are comprised of an all black tunic with the division color stripe running across the chest and back, rank insignia are not worn on the S.O.B.'s so enemy troops can not see who is the senior officer merely by looking for rank insignia. While not on training or deployed the standard uniform and the standard rank insignia are worn in the typical manner. For communications, when deployed and on training exercises, Spec Ops officers use a specialized communicator built into the inside of right wrist of the tunic.
Following first contact with the Borg in 2365 Spec Ops underwent a dramatic reorganization and enlargement which included the creation of a dedicated sub-branch/task force, the Anti-Borg Task Force, and greater co-operation with Starfleet R&D in an effort to develop even more advanced technologies.
Spec Ops is not affiliated, officially or unofficially, with the rogue Starfleet Intelligence division known as Section 31. Spec Ops does not condone the autonomous nature of Section 31 or the questionable actions of said organization.
The members of Spec Ops generally are the first Starfleet officers to test new equipment to determine its suitability for deployment to the rest of the fleet. The technology tested by Spec Ops includes, but is not limited to: