Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military units trained to conduct special operations.NATO has defined special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment".
A military is a heavily-armed, highly-organised force primarily intended for warfare, also known collectively as armed forces. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct military uniform. It may consist of one or more military branches such as an Army, Navy, Air Force and in certain countries, Marines and Coast Guard. The main task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and its interests against external armed threats. Beyond warfare, the military may be employed in additional sanctioned and non-sanctioned functions within the state, including internal security threats, population control, the promotion of a political agenda, emergency services and reconstruction, protecting corporate economic interests, social ceremonies and national honor guards.
Special operations (S.O.) are military, law enforcement or intelligence operations that are "special" or unconventional and carried out by dedicated special forces and other special operations forces units using unconventional methods and resources. Special operations may be performed independently, or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does not exist or might adversely affect the overall strategic outcome. Special operations are usually conducted in a low-profile manner that aims to achieve the advantages of speed, surprise, and violence of action against an unsuspecting target. Special ops are typically carried out with limited numbers of highly trained personnel that are adaptable, self-reliant and able to operate in all environments, and able to use unconventional combat skills and equipment. Special operations are usually implemented through specific, tailored intelligence.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO's Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.
Special forces emerged in the early 20th century, with a significant growth in the field during the Second World War, when "every major army involved in the fighting" created formations devoted to special operations behind enemy lines.Depending on the country, special forces may perform functions including airborne operations, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, covert ops, direct action, hostage rescue, high-value targets/manhunting, intelligence operations, mobility operations, and unconventional warfare.
Airborne forces are military units set up to be moved by aircraft and "dropped" into battle, typically by parachute. Thus, they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have the capability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning. The formations are limited only by the number and size of their aircraft, so given enough capacity a huge force can appear "out of nowhere" in minutes, an action referred to as vertical envelopment.
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency (COIN) is defined by the United States Department of State as "comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes". An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. It is "the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify or challenge political control of a region. As such, it is primarily a political struggle, in which both sides use armed force to create space for their political, economic and influence activities to be effective."
Counter-terrorism incorporates the practice, military tactics, techniques, and strategy that government, military, law enforcement, business, and intelligence agencies use to combat or prevent terrorism. Counter-terrorism strategies include attempts to counter financing of terrorism.
In Russian-speaking countries special forces of any country are typically called spetsnaz , an acronym for "special purpose". In the United States the term special forces often refers specifically to the US Army's Special Forces, while the term special operations forces (SOF) is used more broadly for these types of unit.
Spetsnaz is an umbrella term for special purpose in Russian and is used in numerous post-Soviet states.
The United States Army Special Forces, colloquially known as the Green Berets due to their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations force of the United States Army tasked with five primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism. The first two emphasize language, cultural, and training skills in working with foreign troops. Other duties include combat search and rescue (CSAR), counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, hostage rescue, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian demining, information operations, peacekeeping, psychological operations, security assistance, and manhunts; other components of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) or other U.S. government activities may also specialize in these secondary areas. Many of their operational techniques are classified, but some nonfiction works and doctrinal manuals are available.
Special forces capabilities include the following:
Special reconnaissance (SR) is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organizations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations, but both are often carried out by the same units. The SR role frequently includes covert direction of air and missile attacks, in areas deep behind enemy lines, placement of remotely monitored sensors and preparations for other special forces. Like other special forces, SR units may also carry out direct action (DA) and unconventional warfare (UW), including guerrilla operations.
Foreign internal defense (FID) is a term by the militaries of some countries, including the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, to describe an integrated and synchronized, multi-disciplinary approach to combating actual or threatened insurgency in a foreign state. This foreign state is known as the Host Nation (HN) under US doctrine. The term counter-insurgency is more commonly used worldwide than FID. FID involves military deployment of counter-insurgency specialists. According to the US doctrinal manual, Joint Publication 3-22: Foreign Internal Defense (FID), those specialists preferably do not themselves fight the insurgents. Doctrine calls for a close working relationship between the HN government and security forces with outside diplomatic, information, intelligence, military, economic, and other specialists. The most successful FID actions suppress actual violence; when combat operations are needed, HN security forces take the lead, with appropriate external support, the external support preferably being in a noncombat support and training role only.
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening a polity, effort, or organization through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. Saboteurs typically try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.
Other capabilities can include bodyguarding; waterborne operations involving combat diving/combat swimming, maritime boarding and amphibious missions; as well as support of air force operations.
A bodyguard is a type of security guard, or government law enforcement officer, or soldier who protects a person or a group of people—usually high-ranking public officials or officers, wealthy people, and celebrities—from danger: generally theft, assault, kidnapping, assassination, harassment, loss of confidential information, threats, or other criminal offences. The personnel team that protects a VIP is often referred to as the VIP's security detail.
A frogman is someone who is trained in scuba diving or swimming underwater in a tactical capacity that includes police or military work. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of combat diver, combatant diver, or combat swimmer. The word frogman first arose in the stage name The Fearless Frogman of Paul Boyton in the 1870s and later was claimed by John Spence, an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy and member of the OSS Maritime Unit, to have been applied to him while he was training in a green waterproof suit.
Naval boarding is to come up against, or alongside, an enemy ship to attack by placing combatants aboard the enemy ship. The goal of boarding is to capture, or destroy, the enemy vessel. Larger ships carried specially trained and equipped sailors, or marines, as boarders.
Special forces have played an important role throughout the history of warfare, whenever the aim was to achieve disruption by "hit and run" and sabotage, rather than more traditional conventional combat. Other significant roles lay in reconnaissance, providing essential intelligence from near or among the enemy and increasingly in combating irregular forces, their infrastructure and activities.
In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration outside an area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about natural features and other activities in the area.
Chinese strategist Jiang Ziya, in his Six Secret Teachings , described recruiting talented and motivated men into specialized elite units with functions such as commanding heights and making rapid long-distance advances. [ citation needed ] In the late Roman or early Byzantine period, Roman fleets used small, fast, camouflaged ships crewed by selected men for scouting and commando missions. Muslim forces also had naval special operations units, including one that used camouflaged ships to gather intelligence and launch raids and another of soldiers who could pass for Crusaders who would use ruses to board enemy ships and then capture and destroy them. In Japan, ninjas were used for reconnaissance, espionage and as assassins, bodyguards or fortress guards, or otherwise fought alongside conventional soldiers. During the Napoleonic wars, rifle and sapper units were formed that held specialised roles in reconnaissance and skirmishing and were not committed to the formal battle lines.Hamilcar Barca in Sicily (249 BC) had specialized troops trained to launch several offensives per day.
The British Indian Army deployed two special forces during their border wars: the Corps of Guides formed in 1846 and the Gurkha Scouts (a force that was formed in the 1890s and was first used as a detached unit during the 1897–1898 Tirah Campaign).
During the Second Boer War (1899–1902) the British Army felt the need for more specialised units became most apparent. Scouting units such as the Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment made up of exceptional woodsmen outfitted in ghillie suits and well practised in the arts of marksmanship, field craft, and military tactics filled this role. This unit was formed in 1900 by Lord Lovat and early on reported to an American, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the Chief of Scouts under Lord Roberts. After the war, Lovat's Scouts went on to formally become the British Army's first sniper unit.Additionally, the Bushveldt Carbineers, formed in 1901, can be seen as an early unconventional warfare unit.
The German Stormtroopers and the Italian Arditi were the first modern shock troops. They were both elite assault units trained to a much higher level than that of average troops and tasked to carry out daring attacks and bold raids against enemy defenses. Unlike Stormtroopers, Arditi were not units within infantry divisions, but were considered a separate combat arm.
Modern special forces emerged during the Second World War. In 1940, the British Commandos were formed following Winston Churchill's call for "specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast."A staff officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clarke, had already submitted such a proposal to General Sir John Dill, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Dill, aware of Churchill's intentions, approved Clarke's proposal and on 23 June 1940, the first Commando raid took place.
By the autumn of 1940 more than 2,000 men had volunteered and in November 1940 these new units were organised into a Special Service Brigade consisting of four battalions under the command of Brigadier J. C. Haydon.The Special Service Brigade was quickly expanded to 12 units which became known as Commandos. Each Commando had a lieutenant colonel as the commanding officer and numbered around 450 men (divided into 75 man troops that were further divided into 15 man sections).
In December 1940 a Middle East Commando depot was formed with the responsibility of training and supplying reinforcements for the Commando units in that theatre.In February 1942 the Commando training depot at Achnacarry in the Scottish Highlands was established by Brigadier Charles Haydon. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Vaughan, the Commando depot was responsible for training complete units and individual replacements. The training regime was for the time innovative and physically demanding, and far in advance of normal British Army training. The depot staff were all hand picked, with the ability to outperform any of the volunteers.
Training and assessment started immediately on arrival, with the volunteers having to complete an 8-mile (13 km) march with all their equipment from the Spean Bridge railway station to the commando depot. Exercises were conducted using live ammunition and explosives to make training as realistic as possible. Physical fitness was a prerequisite, with cross country runs and boxing matches to improve fitness. Speed and endurance marches were conducted up and down the nearby mountain ranges and over assault courses that included a zip-line over Loch Arkaig, all while carrying arms and full equipment. Training continued by day and night with river crossings, mountain climbing, weapons training, unarmed combat, map reading, and small boat operations on the syllabus.
Reaching a wartime strength of over 30 individual units and four assault brigades, the Commandos served in all theatres of war from the Arctic Circle to Europe and from the Mediterranean and Middle East to South-East Asia. Their operations ranged from small groups of men landing from the sea or by parachute to a brigade of assault troops spearheading the Allied invasions of Europe and Asia. The first modern special forces units were established by men who had served with the Commandos, including the Parachute Regiment, Special Air Service, and Special Boat Service. The Commandos were also widely imitated elsewhere: the French Naval commandos, Dutch Korps Commandotroepen, Belgian Paracommando Brigade, United States Army Rangers and United States Marine Raiders were all influenced to some degree by the British Commandos.
The first modern special forces unit was the SAS, formed in July 1941 from an unorthodox idea and plan by Lieutenant David Stirling.In June 1940 he volunteered for the No. 8 (Guards) Commando (later named "Layforce"). After Layforce was disbanded, Stirling remained convinced that due to the mechanised nature of war a small team of highly trained soldiers with the advantage of surprise could exact greater damage to the enemy's ability to fight than an entire platoon. His idea was for small teams of parachute trained soldiers to operate behind enemy lines to gain intelligence, destroy enemy aircraft and attack their supply and reinforcement routes. Following a meeting with the C-in-C Middle East, General Claude Auchinleck, his plan was endorsed by the Army High Command.
The force initially consisted of five officers and 60 other ranks.Following extensive training at Kabrit camp, by the River Nile, L Detachment, SAS Brigade undertook its first operations in the Western Desert. Stirling's vision was eventually vindicated after a series of successful operations. In 1942, the SAS attacked Bouerat. Transported by the LRDG, they caused severe damage to the harbour, petrol tanks and storage facilities. This was followed up in March by a raid on Benghazi harbour with limited success but they did damage to 15 aircraft at Al-Berka. The June 1942 Crete airfield raids at Heraklion, Kasteli, Tympaki and Maleme significant damage was caused, and raids at Fuka and Mersa Matruh airfields destroyed 30 aircraft.
In the Burma Campaign, the Chindits, whose long range penetration groups were trained to operate from bases deep behind Japanese lines, contained commandos (King's Regiment (Liverpool), 142 Commando Company) and Gurkhas. Their jungle expertise, which would play an important part in many British special forces operations post war, was learned at a great cost in lives in the jungles of Burma fighting the Japanese.
Immediately after the German occupation of Greece in April–May 1941, the Greek government fled to Egypt and started to form military units in exile. Air Force Lt. Colonel G. Alexandris suggested the creation of an Army unit along the lines of the British SAS. In August 1942 the Company of Chosen Immortals (Greek : Λόχος Επιλέκτων Αθανάτων) was formed under Cavalry Major Antonios Stefanakis in Palestine, with 200 men. In 1942, the unit was renamed Sacred Band. In close cooperation with the commander of the British SAS Regiment, Lt. Colonel David Stirling, the company moved to the SAS base at Qabrit in Egypt to begin its training in its new role. Operating under British direction, the special forces unit fought alongside the SAS in the Western Desert and the Aegean.
Following advice from the British, Australia began raising special forces.The first units to be formed were independent companies, which began training at Wilson's Promontory in Victoria in early 1941 under the tutelage of British instructors. With an establishment of 17 officers and 256 men, the independent companies were trained as "stay behind" forces, a role that they were later employed in against the Japanese in the South West Pacific Area during 1942–43, most notably fighting a guerilla campaign in Timor, as well as actions in New Guinea. In all, a total of eight independent companies were raised before they were re-organised in mid-1943 into commando squadrons and placed under the command of the divisional cavalry regiments that were re-designated as cavalry commando regiments. As a part of this structure, a total of 11 commando squadrons were raised.
They continued to act independently, and were often assigned at brigade level during the later stages of the war, taking part in the fighting in New Guinea, Bougainville and Borneo, where they were employed largely in long-range reconnaissance and flank protection roles.In addition to these units, the Australians also raised the Z Special Unit and M Special Unit. M Special Unit was largely employed in an intelligence-gathering role, while Z Special Force undertook direct action missions. One of its most notable actions came as part of Operation Jaywick, in which several Japanese ships were sunk in Singapore Harbour in 1943. A second raid on Singapore in 1944, known as Operation Rimau, was unsuccessful.
The United States formed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II under the Medal of Honor recipient William J. Donovan. This organization was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was responsible for both intelligence and special forces missions. The CIA's elite Special Activities Division is the direct descendant of the OSS.
On February 16, 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps activated a battalion of Marines with the specific purpose of securing beach heads, and other special operations. The battalion became the first special operations force of the U.S. The battalion became known as Marine Raiders due to Admiral Chester Nimitz's request for "raiders" in the Pacific front of the war.
In mid-1942, Major-General Lucian Truscott of the U.S. Army, a liaison officer with the British General Staff submitted a proposal to General George Marshall that an American unit be set up "along the lines of the British Commandos", resulting in the formation of the United States Army Rangers.
The United States and Canada formed the 1st Special Service Force as a sabotage ski brigade for operations in Norway. Later known as the "Devil's Brigade" (and called "The Black Devils" by mystified German soldeiers), the First Special Service Force was dispatched to the occupied Aleutian Islands, Italy and France.
Merrill's Marauders were modelled on the Chindits and took part in similar operations in Burma. In late November 1943, the Alamo Scouts (Sixth Army Special Reconnaissance Unit) were formed to conduct reconnaissance and raider work in the Southwest Pacific Theater under the personal command of then Lt. General Walter Krueger, Commanding General, Sixth U.S. Army. Krueger envisioned that the Alamo Scouts, consisting of small teams of highly trained volunteers, would operate deep behind enemy lines to provide intelligence-gathering and tactical reconnaissance in advance of Sixth U.S. Army landing operations.
In 1983 the US Army created the Special Forces Tab. It was later decided that personnel with at least 120 days' wartime service prior to 1955 in certain units, including the Devil's Brigade, the Alamo Scouts and the OSS Operational Groups, would receive the Tab for their services in World War II, placing them all in the lineage of today's U.S. and Canadian (via Devil's Brigade) Special Forces.
The Axis powers did not adopt the use of special forces on the same scale as the British.
The German army's Brandenburger Regiment was founded as a special forces unit used by the Abwehr for infiltration and long distance reconnaissance in Fall Weiss of 1939 and the Fall Gelb and Barbarossa campaigns of 1940 and 1941.
Later during the war the 502nd SS Jäger Battalion, commanded by Otto Skorzeny, sowed disorder behind the Allied lines by mis-directing convoys away from the front lines. A handful of his men were captured by the Americans and spread a rumor that Skorzeny was leading a raid on Paris to kill or capture General Dwight Eisenhower. Although this was untrue, Eisenhower was confined to his headquarters for several days and Skorzeny was labelled "the most dangerous man in Europe".
In Italy, the Decima Flottiglia MAS was responsible for the sinking and damage of considerable British tonnage in the Mediterranean. Also there were other Italian special forces like A.D.R.A. (Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica). This regiment was used in raids on Allied airbases and railways in North Africa in 1943. In one mission they destroyed 25 B-17s.
The Imperial Japanese Army first deployed army paratroops in combat during the Battle of Palembang, on Sumatra in the Netherlands East Indies, on 14 February 1942. The operation was well-planned, with 425 men of the 1st Parachute Raiding Regiment seizing Palembang airfield, while the paratroopers of the 2nd Parachute Raiding Regiment seized the town and its important oil refinery. Paratroops were subsequently deployed in the Burma campaign. The 1st Glider Tank Troop was formed in 1943, with four Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks. The paratroop brigades were organized into the Teishin Shudan as the first division-level raiding unit, at the main Japanese airborne base, Karasehara Airfield, Kyūshū, Japan.
However, as with similar airborne units created by the Allies and other Axis powers, the Japanese paratroops suffered from a disproportionately high casualty rate, and the loss of men who required such extensive and expensive training limited their operations to only the most critical ones. Two regiments of Teishin Shudan were formed into the 1st Raiding Group, commanded by Major General Rikichi Tsukada under the control of the Southern Expeditionary Army Group, during the Philippines campaign. Although structured as a division, its capabilities were much lower, as its six regiments had manpower equivalent to a standard infantry battalion, and it lacked any form of artillery, and had to rely on other units for logistical support. Its men were no longer parachute-trained, but relied on aircraft for transport.
Some 750 men, mainly from the 2nd Raiding Brigade, of this group were assigned to attack American air bases on Luzon and Leyte on the night of 6 December 1944. They were flown in Ki-57 transports, but most of the aircraft were shot down. Some 300 commandos managed to land in the Burauen area on Leyte. The force destroyed some planes and inflicted numerous casualties, before they were annihilated.
During World War II, the Finnish Army and Border Guard organized sissi forces into a long-range reconnaissance patrol (kaukopartio) units. These were open only to volunteers and operated far behind enemy lines in small teams. They conducted both intelligence-gathering missions and raids on e.g. enemy supply depots or other strategic targets. They were generally highly effective. For example, during the Battle of Ilomantsi, Soviet supply lines were harassed to the point that the Soviet artillery was unable to exploit its massive numerical advantage over Finnish artillery. Their operations were also classified as secret because of the political sensitivity of such operations. Only authorized military historians could publish on their operations; individual soldiers were required to take the secrets to the grave. A famous LRRP commander was Lauri Törni, who later joined the U.S. Army to train U.S. personnel in special operations.
Admiral William H. McRaven, formerly the ninth commanding officer of the U.S. Special Operations Command (2011–2014), described two approaches to special forces operations in the 2012 posture statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services: "the direct approach is characterized by technologically enabled small-unit precision lethality, focused intelligence, and inter-agency cooperation integrated on a digitally-networked battlefield", whereas the "indirect approach includes empowering host nation forces, providing appropriate assistance to humanitarian agencies, and engaging key populations."Elements of national power must be deployed in concert without over-reliance on a single capability, such as special forces, that leaves the entire force unprepared and hollow across the spectrum of military operations.
Throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century, special forces have come to higher prominence, as governments have found objectives can sometimes be better achieved by a small team of anonymous specialists than a larger and much more politically controversial conventional deployment. In both Kosovo and Afghanistan, special forces were used to co-ordinate activities between local guerrilla fighters and air power.
Typically, guerrilla fighters would engage enemy soldiers and tanks causing them to move, where they could be seen and attacked from the air.
Special forces have been used in both wartime and peacetime military operations such as the Laotian Civil War, 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, Vietnam War, Portuguese Colonial War, South African Border War, Falklands War, The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Jaffna University Helidrop, the first and second Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia, the first and second Chechen Wars, the Iranian Embassy siege (London), the Air France Flight 8969 (Marseille), Operation Defensive Shield, Operation Khukri, the Moscow theater hostage crisis, Operation Orchard, the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis (Lima), in Sri Lanka against the LTTE, and the raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.
The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan involved special forces from several coalition nations, who played a major role in removing the Taliban from power in 2001–2002. Special forces have continued to play a role in combating the Taliban in subsequent operations.
As gender restrictions are being removed in parts of the world, females are applying for special forces units selections and in 2014 the Norwegian Special Operation Forces established an all female unit Jegertroppen (English: Jeger Troop).
The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.
A commando is a soldier or operative of an elite light infantry or special operations force often specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting or abseiling.
The United States Army Rangers are designated U.S. Army Ranger units, past or present, or are graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger School. The term ranger has been in use unofficially in a military context since the early 17th century. The first military company officially commissioned as rangers were English soldiers fighting in King Philip's War (1676) and from there the term came into common official use in the French and Indian Wars. There have been American military companies officially called Rangers since the American Revolution.
A long-range reconnaissance patrol, or LRRP, is a small, heavily armed reconnaissance team that patrols deep in enemy-held territory.
Sissi is a Finnish term for light infantry which conducts reconnaissance, sabotage and guerrilla warfare operations behind enemy lines. The word sissi, first attested in the modern meaning "patrolman, partisan, spy" in 1787, comes to Finnish from Slavic and refers either to a forest bandit or his yew bow.
The name commando has been applied to a variety of Australian special forces and light infantry units that have been formed since 1941–42. The first Australian "commando" units were formed during the Second World War, where they mainly performed reconnaissance and long-range patrol roles during Australia's campaigns in New Guinea and Borneo, although other units such as M and Z Special Units performed more clandestine roles. These units were disbanded following the end of the war; however, in the 1950s it was realised that there was a need for such units again in the Australian forces. Today, the Australian Army possesses a number of units that perform more conventional direct-action type commando roles, as well as counter-terrorism response, long-range patrolling, and clandestine deep-penetration operations.
The Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) is a unit of the British Armed Forces. The SFSG is the newest addition to the United Kingdom Special Forces. It was formed officially on 3 April 2006 to support the Special Air Service, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Boat Service on operations. The 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, a company strength group of Royal Marines, and a contingent of RAF Regiment personnel form the UK's Special Forces Support Group (SFSG). The SFSG may provide extra firepower from land or air to fulfil their mission.
The special forces of the Australian Defence Force are units of Special Operations Command and associated units of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force that conduct and or support special operations to advance and protect the national security of the Commonwealth of Australia. The special forces of Australia have a lineage to a variety of units raised in the Second World War such as the Independent and Commando Companies, Z Special Unit, Navy Beach Commandos, and the Coastwatchers. Australian special forces have most recently been deployed to Iraq in Operation Okra as the Special Operations Task Group, as the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan, in Afghanistan in support of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and regularly for counter-terrorism pre-deploy to locations of major domestic events throughout Australia in readiness to support law enforcement such as the 2014 G20 Brisbane summit.
The Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment is one of two Special Operations units of the Sri Lanka Army, alongside the Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment. The organizational and operational Structure of the Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment is much similar to the British Special Air Service (SAS) unit. Within one of the four Army Commando Regiments there is a 140-man counter-terrorist unit that provides the primary counter-terrorism response for Sri Lanka. This unit was created in 1980 and is based in Ganemulla, a suburb of Colombo.
Special Forces of Zimbabwe are the units of the Zimbabwe National Army that operate as special forces. These forces have been deployed in several African conflicts, including the Mozambique Civil War and the Second Congo War.
The Special Boat Squadron is the Sri Lanka Navy's elite special forces unit, modeled after the British Special Boat Service. It was raised in 1993 and fought in the Sri Lankan Civil War.
A long-range penetration patrol, group, or force is a special operations unit capable of operating long distances behind enemy lines far away from direct contact with friendly forces as opposed to a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, a small group primarily engaged in scouting missions.
The Special Operations Regiment, formerly the Light Brigade, is a Regiment of the Land Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. Its headquarters is located in Heverlee. Known until 3 July 2018 as the Light Brigade the regiment is Belgium's special operations and rapid response unit.
The 44 Pathfinder Platoon is part of the 44 Parachute Brigade. The pathfinder is a trained and specialized soldier who performs covertly behind enemy lines, either in small groups or in collaboration with other reconnaissance units.
23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) is a British Army Reserve regiment that forms part of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade. Together with 21 Special Air Service Regiment (Artists) (Reserve), it forms the Special Air Service (Reserve). Unlike the regular SAS Regiment, it accepts members of the general population without prior military service.
The 'Elite Forces' include both a specially trained unit and a small percentage of personnel from a specific Malaysian military branch, law enforcement or government agency. In Malaysia, the term 'Elite Forces' is widely used by uniformed services for special forces, special operations forces and specially trained units. Regular personnel must undertake specialized training to be able to join the units of the 'Elite Forces'. These 'Elite Forces' are denoted by different beret colors, shoulder tabs, unit patches, skill badges and uniforms which are different from those of regular Malaysian armed forces personnel.
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