Everyone is familiar with the idea of a country’s military. A military consists of mentally and physically tough individuals who work together to protect and serve their country. How much do you know about special forces, though? A special force is a specially trained military unit that carries out unique or specialty operations that can’t be completed by standard military forces. If you’ve ever watched an action movie, I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept. Basically, a special force consists of extraordinary individuals who go out and complete top secret missions. Pretty much every country with a military has at least one form of special force. In this article, I’m going to be talking about some of the best special forces in the entire world. Without further ado, let’s get right into this list of the top 10 best special forces in the world.
#10 – Special Boat Service
We start our list with the Special Boat Service, which is a special forces unit belonging to the Naval Service of the United Kingdom. The Special Boat Service, also known as SBS, has been around since 1940, and over the years they have performed operations during World War II, the Persian Gulf War, the Korean War, and the Libyan Civil War. (As you can probably gather from that fact, the Special Boat Service was originally formed during the World War II, where they performed a variety of different vital raids.) The Captain General of the SBS is the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, and the Colonel of the Regiment of the SBS is Admiral of the Fleet Michael Boyce. As a special forces unit associated with the Royal Navy, the Special Boat Service is capable of performing missions both on land and by sea. The missions completed by the special force typically pertain to surveillance, offensive action, support, and counter terrorism.
#9 – JW GROM
Next it’s time to talk about JW GROM. GROM stands for Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego, which is Polish for Group for Operational Maneuvering Reponse. The unit is also named after the Silent Unseen, an elite special operations unit from Poland during World War II. JW GROM is one of special forces belonging to the Polish Armed Forces, and its specialty is primarily counter-terrorism. It’s only been around since 1990, but it has since been considered one of the most competent special forces in the whole world. As of 2014, this unit was home to 650 personnel. Although many of the operations completed by this unit are still classified, the missions that we do know about are pretty impressive. JW GROM has performed missions in Afghanistan and in the Persian Gulf. They’re arrested war criminals, performed bodyguard duties, and acquired key intelligence for their country during times of war.
#8 – Shayetet 13
The operations of Shayetet 13 are highly secretive. This is arguably one of the most elite special forces units belonging to Israel’s military. Shayetet translates to ‘flotilla’, which means that like the Special Boat Service, this is also a special forces unit that is associated with the Navy. Shayetet 13 was first formed in 1948, and over the years they have engaged in numerous different conflicts, including the War of Attrition, the 1982 Lebanon War, the 2006 Lebanon War, the Gaza War, and the Gaza flotilla raid. Recruits of Shayetet 13 undergo some highly brutal training. During their twenty month training process, they learn military basics, advanced diving techniques, weapons training, and hand to hand combat. If you volunteer to be a part of this elite unit, you are forced to serve for a minimum of four and a half years, which is well above the normal mandatory commitment in Israel’s military.
#7 – Green Berets
We’re brought to our first United States special forces unit: the Green Berets. The Green Berets have been around since 1952, and they mostly work in missions related to unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, internal defense, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, hostage rescue, reconnaissance, and more. During their many decades of operations, the Green Berets have seen action in World War II, the Bosnian War, the Gulf War, the Vietnam War, the Salvadoran Civil War, the Somali Civil War, and even the Cold War. Due to the amount of work that a member of the Green Berets will perform in foreign countries, you are required to speak a foreign language in order to join this unit. Training typically lasts between 55 and 95 weeks, depending on which foreign language you chose. Once your basis training has been completed, you can train for advanced skills like parachuting, diving, and sniping.
#6 – Delta Force
The 1st Special Forces Operation Detachment-Delta, also known as Delta Force, is one of the most powerful special mission units under the United States Army. Their actions are highly classified, but we know that they have engaged in the Gulf War, the Somali Civil War, the Yugoslav War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War since the force’s founding in 1977. Delta Force was originally formed during the 1970’s in response to highly publicized terrorist attacks that seriously disturbed the American public. If you want to be a part of this elite counter-terrorist group, you have to put in a lot of work. Delta Force has a brutal selection process that tests applicants based on physicality and psychology, and only about 12 to 14 applicants out of 240 usually get through it. That’s before training has even officially begun!
#5 – Special Service Group
Next is the Special Service Group, which is probably the greatest special operations unit in the Pakistan Army. The Special Service Group, also known as SSG, was formed in 1956, and it’s about as big as 8 battalions, headed by Major-General Tahir Masood Bhutta. It’s base is located in the Tarbela Cantonment in Pakistan. During the early years of this unit, training was largely inspired by the training of special forces units in the United States. (During the Cold War, Pakistan worked very closely with the United States.) Today, they’re also known for their skillful use of Chinese training and tactics. The SSG is mostly an anti-terrorist group today, but they’ve also done extensive work in reconnaissance, sabotage, and raiding. The Special Service Group has seen engagements in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the War in North-West Pakistan, the War in Afghanistan, and more.
#4 – Spetsnaz
The word Spetsnaz is an abbreviation of a Russian term that roughly translates in English to Special Purpose Forces or Special Purpose Military Units. Spetsnaz is often used to refer to the special forces units belonging to Russia, but it can often be used to refer to special forces units belonging to former Soviet states. (When the Soviet Union dissolved, these countries kept their individual special forces.) There are several Spetsnaz units based out of Russia, with one related to combined arms, seven related to Russian Ground Forces, one related to Russian Airborne Troops, and four related to Naval Special Operations. The doings of all of these units are highly secretive, but we know that they’ve performed operations during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Second Chechen War, and during anti-terrorist operations conducted prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. It has also been alleged that Spetsnaz forces are performing various operations in the Syrian Civil War.
#3 – MARCOS
MARCOS used to be known as MCF, which stood for Marine Commando Force. The new name, MARCOS, is derived from the words Marina Commandos. Although it’s undergone a name change, this is still known as the most elite special forces unit in the Indian Navy. MARCOS was established in 1987, and they perform a variety of different tasks related to direct action, counter-terrorism, personnel recovery, hostage rescue, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and unconventional warfare. Members of MARCOS are trained to use pretty much every kind of weapon, including sniper rifles, assault rifles, knives, crossbows, and handguns. Training typically takes between two to three years, and trainees learn all about skydiving, explosive disposal, insertion methods, demolitions, parachuting, and submarines. This highly professional special forces unit is greatly feared by terrorists, who are plenty aware of how deadly and effective they are in the field.
#2 – Navy SEALs
We’ve talked about two other special forces in the United States already, but the Navy SEALs are the very best of the best. SEAL stands for “Sea, Air, and Land”, which is what these operatives are trained to work in. The Navy SEALs have been around since 1962, and although its exact size is unknown, it’s capable of having up to 2,450 positions filled. This force has seen engagements in the Vietnam War, the Somali Civil War, Operation Desert Storm, the Yugoslav War, the War in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, the War in North-West Pakistan, and the War on ISIL. Their operations typically relate to coutner-terrorism, hostage rescue, raids, and reconnaissance. Probably the most recent, most well-known success of this unit was the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. These people are seen as heroes by those living in the United States, and they have have movies made about them, like Lone Survivor, Zero Dark Thirty, Act of Valor, and American Sniper.
#1 – British SAS
I debated which of these two I should put on top, but I think it’s only fair to place the British Special Air Service over the Navy SEALs because, basically, the SEALs based a lot of their tactics and training on what the SAS has always been doing. They were originally founded in 1941, and they specialize in work related to counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, hostage rescue, and wartime operations. They have performed countless successful operations during the years, especially during World War II. In World War II, the Special Air Service suffered 330 casualties but they had killed or wounded 7,733 enemies and captured around 23,000 of them. This, obviously, is an incredible success. The team didn’t really acquire international recognition until 1980 when, on television, they rescued numerous hostages during the Iranian Embassy siege. They’re a seriously talented and efficient unit, and they have been saving lives before some of these other units were even an idea.