When it comes to keeping the world safe, most countries have got it just right! With power, strength, numbers, and weapons, we can always count on our special forces to protect us from our enemies. But what are the deadliest special forces in the world?
Great Britain- SAS
As WWII came to a head, the British government created the Special Air Service (SAS) to protect and serve the country. Although they are rarely used today, they still work within the realm of counter-terrorism.
United States of America- Navy SEAL
The U.S. Navy SEALs are known across the globe for being one of the most important special forces units in the US Military. The SEALs specialize in Sea, Air, and Land operations and are considered some of the most highly trained, detailed and intellectual soldiers in the world – meaning the recruitment process isn’t easy. Although their missions are rarely made public, one of their most prolific missions resulted in the capture of Osama Bin Laden.
Ireland- Ranger Wing
It’s no secret that Ireland has had a pretty colorful past. In 1980, the Irish Army Ranger Wing was formed to deal with the ongoing terrorism during the ‘Troubles’ years and has since been used to aid special operations and numerous peacekeeping operations. The Irish Army Ranger Wing chooses its recruits from a range of military backgrounds, including the Air Corps, the Navy, as well as the Irish Army. However, they need to pass scrupulous and challenging mental and physical tests.
The Mossad is an Israeli intelligence agency tasked with collecting military intelligence, counterterrorism initiatives, and covert operations. They are also tasked with a special job, which is bringing Jews who want to live in Israel but are not allowed to immigrate there because of their country’s laws. They also protect Jewish communities in countries where they are unsafe. The Mossad director reports directly to Israel’s Prime Minister.
The French Special Forces are otherwise known as the Commandement des Operations Speciales (COS) and was created to serve the country in 1992. The COS recruits consist of former Navy, Army and Air Force members, and pride themselves on their ability to be prepared for any eventuality at a moment’s notice. Although they are based near the Pyrenees mountains, the COS have recently spent most of their time in Paris after the increase in European-wide terror offenses.
As a close neighbor (well, not geographically) with Britain, Canada followed in the footsteps of the British SAS to initiate their own special forces called the Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2). The Canadian government keeps the use of JTF2 well under wraps, and their missions are strictly classified, so nobody knows exactly what they do. However, we do know that they are specialists in immediate response, nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, as well as counter-terrorism. They very rarely make public appearances, how secretive!
If you’ve ever played Call of Duty, you probably recognize this name. The Russian Spetsnaz contains some of the toughest soldiers in the world, that are highly trained in all aspects of fighting and defense, including hand-to-hand combat, explosives training, and counterterrorism. There are numerous Spetsnaz units across Russia and are so-called because they are controlled by GRU – the Russian military intelligence unit. In 2010, the Spetsnaz were temporarily disbanded and placed under the rule of the Russian Military, but have since returned.
The German army is known for its strict rules and highly specialized training – and it’s no different in the German KSK. In fact, soldiers who wish to become a part of this special forces unit must be personally selected and undertake years of training in 17 training schools across the world to get them prepared for any eventuality. With their elite status and ability to combat any situation, NATO has classed them as one of the best special forces in the world.
United States of America- Special Forces Snipers
When you think of the U.S Army Special Forces Snipers, you probably think of the epic 2014 movie, ‘American Sniper.’ And yes, that is exactly what it is like. And yes, they are terrifying. Once U.S Army recruits finish the Special Forces Qualification Course, they are given the option to take extra classes in the Special Forces Sniper Course. Those who pass spend hours training to be as quick and as accurate as possible with their snipers.
Initiated in 2001, the Serbian Gendarmerie is one of the newest special forces units on this list. As part of Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, the special forces unit consists of both a Special Police Unit and a Special Operations Unit and can be found on the streets, in prisons, on the battlefields, and in danger zones. With an objective to secure and protect the ‘Ground Safety Zone,’ they work for the military, but also deal with civilian welfare.
Iraq- Special Operations Forces
Like the Serbian Gendarmerie, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces are still relatively new. Created in 2003, this special forces unit is often called the Golden Division and is made up of over 18,000 highly trained soldiers that offer the motto, ‘May you sleep peacefully in your bed tonight for a mighty sword stands ready to strike fear into the hearts of those who would terrorize us.’ This special forces unit mainly deals in counter-terrorism missions.
If you’re up to date on your German translation, you’ll know that the German Kampfschwimmer literally translates to ‘combat swimmers.’ As per their name, you can’t join this special forces unit if you don’t pass rigorous swimming tests – including holding your breath for a minute, and swimming 1,000 meters in under 23 minutes. You also need to be between 17 and 25. Otherwise, you won’t get accepted! As part of the German Navy, the use of the German Kampfschwimmer is kept secret.
Known as the ‘Bearded Men’ this special forces unit within the Indian Navy hide themselves with large beards to conceal their identity. Recruits are specially trained to fight in combat situations in a maritime environment – and it’s not easy to get into. Nobody knows how many people make up the Indian MARCOS as their use is classified, and their entry test is notoriously difficult. The MARCOS have been active since 1987 and are still around today, striking fear into their enemies.
Taiwan- Republic of China Armed Forces
Previously called the National Revolutionary Army, this special forces unit is made up of recruits from the Military Police Force, Navy, Army and Air Force and are active in Taiwan. They were of utmost importance during the 1970s when they were in charge of retaking China from the communist dictators. However, now they spend most of their time defending the islands surrounding Taiwan from the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Loosely translated, the Austrian Jagdkommando are the ‘Manhunt Command, ’ and this is pretty accurate. The members of this special forces unit are all highly trained soldiers that hold intense pride in their job and their role in the forces, and only 20-25% of applicants make the cut – especially after their ruthless and intense training regime. The Austrian Jagdkommando are normally used for counter-insurgency and counterterrorism in the country and abroad and are split into three divisions for optimum efficiency.
Peru- Armed Forces
The Peruvian Armed Forces make up some of the oldest special forces units in the world and have protected Peru since 1821. With their iconic painted faces, the soldiers are recruited from Peru’s Air Force, Army, Navy and the Joint Command. They are officially led by the president of Peru. However, the Chief and Ministry of Defence also hold precedence over the unit. You will normally see the soldiers trawling the streets and dealing with domestic issues within the country.
United States of America- Delta Force
Although we know them as the U.S. Delta Force, the official title for this special forces unit is the 1st Special Operational Detachment-Delta – and it’s not surprising they have two names, considering very few people know what they really do. As the most secretive unit in the U.S., it’s believed that they spend most of their time specializing in counterterrorism, hostage rescue and playing a key role in the Mexican Drug War, although their missions are classified.
Poland- JW GROM
Translated into English, the Polish JW GROM is the Polish Military Unit Group for Operational Maneuvering Response, and it’s not just their name that’s unconventional (and rather long). These soldiers make up the elite and are trained in unconventional warfare – although we’re not sure what unconventional warfare entails as the whole unit is extremely secretive. However, we do know that the unit prides themselves on keeping Poland and its residents safe with their counterterrorism techniques and operations.
Great Britain- Special Boat Service
You’ve probably never heard of the British Special Boat Service because the British government like to keep their existence and their movement under wraps. The unit was initiated during World War II to fight on the water, and combat maritime terrorism. Although they are rarely talked about or seen, the recruits in the British Special Boat Service are considered the most highly trained and skilled officers within the British military and work with Surveillance Reconnaissance, Offensive Action and more.
Over the course of their career, the Australian SAS has taken tips and tricks from the British Army and the numerous British Special Forces. Created in 1957, the Australian SAS play a huge role in protecting the country, as well as others across the world. Since its inception, the SAS have been deployed to the likes of Afghanistan, Borneo, Iraq, Vietnam, and Somalia. They are known for their ability to work in small teams, dealing in reconnaissance and surveillance.
Germany- GSG 9
The German GSG 9 special forces unit are often likened to highly skilled, and resilient police officers. The unit was commissioned in 1972 after the horrifying events of the Munich Olympic bombings, as it was found that the police officers involved did not know how to handle a terrorist incident. Because of this, the German GSG 9 are experts in counterterrorism and know the ins and outs of hostage rescue and how to work as a special operations police unit.
Israel- Shayetet 13
There are numerous special forces unit in Israel, but the Israeli Shayetet 13 is perhaps their most popular – however, they are extremely secretive. With a motto of ‘as the bat emerges from the darkness, as the blade cuts through the silence, as the grenade smashes through the rage’ you wouldn’t want to get on their bad side. The unit is known across the world for its intense four-year training program which involves learning how to use hands as deadly weapons.
United States of America- Air Force Pararescue
As one of the many U.S. special forces units, the Air Force Pararescue are in charge of rescuing the other units if they find themselves in trouble. The highly trained soldiers are trained to put others first no matter the cost and are skilled in saving and rescuing soldiers and civilians from harsh environments – including combat zones. The soldiers are also trained to offer medical assistance to save as many lives as they can.
Egypt- Unit 777
The Egyptian special forces are split into two divisions – Unit 777 and Task Force 777. These were set up in 1978 after the increasing number of terror incidents’ and threats to the country, and the soldiers mainly specialize in counterterrorism. However, the government is extremely secretive about Egyptian Unit 777, so there is no way to know how big they really are. Nevertheless, we do know they are highly skilled and train every single day, to prepare for any eventuality.
Turkey- Special Forces Command
The Turkish Special Forces Command are often referred to as the Maroon Berets, and is one of the most prolific special forces units in the world, winning NATO’s Special Forces Competition four years in a row. The unit is made up of members from all areas of the military, but becoming an official member isn’t easy. With four years of required training, they can only become members after completing the elusive ‘Trust Shot’ – but many soldiers drop out before this.
The French GIGN is also called the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group and is a division of the French police force – but they’re not your usual run of the mill cops. Created in 1974, these soldiers are trained and used to aid in counterterrorism operations, surveying threats to the country, and rescuing hostages from combat situations. Although they have the power to operate and work in any country, they normally stay under the radar in France to avoid detection.
India- Parachute Regiment
Known as the ‘Paras’ or the ‘Red Devils’ the Indian Parachute Regiment can be recognized by their blue and maroon uniforms. This special forces unit makes up part of the Indian Army and describes themselves as an Airborne Infantry Regiment. They have been in action since 1945, and have changed the course of the Indian history after aided in the independence of India back in 1947. With a motto of ‘Shatrujeet’ (The Conqueror) the Indian Parachute Regiment means business.
Malaysia- VAT 69
This special forces unit perform as part of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, and call themselves the ‘Very Able Troops.’ And that they are. Across the world, this unit has made a name for themselves for their ability to undertake high-risk missions, and complete them. With 1,900 soldiers in the force, they are in charge of counterterrorism, gathering intelligence, rescuing hostages and insurgency missions. They are also one of the only units in the world to be trained in jungle warfare.
Philippines- Scout Rangers
The Philippine Scout Rangers may sound like your local Scout troupe, but they are anything but. As the Special Operations Command unit within the Philippine Army, these guys are on hand to deliver the most ruthless and intense training techniques known to the military, specializing in sabotage, anti-guerrilla jungle warfare, ambushes, and raids. They were formed in 1950 to defeat the Hukbalahap Guerrillas and have recently aided in Moro Islamic Liberation Front capture of the rebels, and are now used for classified missions.
Serbia- Special Brigade
Serbia makes up for its small size by enlisting the help of their Serbian Special Brigade. Formed in 2006, the unit is relatively new, but have made a name for themselves amongst the other special forces units across the world. With around 1,000 soldiers, this elite unit is highly trained and are used to carry out special operations for the army, including counterterrorism and special reconnaissance. Their whole unit is divided into two squadrons, in Pančevo and Niš.
Sri Lanka- Special Forces Regiment
Initiated in 1986, the Sri Lankan Special Forces Regiment is highly secretive. As a division of the Sri Lankan Army, they are based in Seeduwa and help out the army during special operations. They were first created to be a ‘Combat Tracker Team’ but have since entered into the realm of reconnaissance missions. However, that is about all we know. Their size, training regime and missions remain classified – making them even more deadly and scary.
France- Commando Marines
The French aren’t short of people willing to serve their country – and they have a second special forces unit that forms part of the French Navy. The French Commando Marines was created during WW2 and is one of the longest-running forces in the world. And you know what they say, the older, the better! A total of 650 Commando Marines make up the unit and can be recognized by their iconic green berets (or berets vert if you want to be specific).
United States of America- 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment
You might know the U.S. 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment by their other name – the Air Force Night Stalkers. As per their name, this special forces unit has perfected the ability to perform night missions, remaining undetected the whole time. The unit was formed back in 1981, where they worked on-call for any nighttime helicopter missions, but have now become a key part within the military, using their powers of attack, reconnaissance, and assault.
The Indonesian Kopassus make up the Special Forces Command in Indonesia and were formed in 1952. However, for nearly two decades they were simply on standby, before playing an integral role within the Indonesian Invasion of East Timor during the ‘70s. After this, they gained further popularity after releasing hostages from the Garuda Indonesia Flight 206 terrorist plot in the 1980s. Despite their intense training and their ruthless combat techniques, they are well respected by citizens and the media.
There are numerous special forces units in the Pakistan Army. However, the Special Service Group (SSG) is the most prominent. Created in 1956, this unit used training techniques and combat orientation synonymous with the U.S. Special Forces. The whole unit is divided into eight separate battalions to ensure maximum training and impact and specializes in counter-terrorism. In the last few years, they have disbanded groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaida in the Pakistani regions.
Denmark- Hunter Corps
The Danish Hunter Corps is one of the smallest special forces units in the world, with only 150 soldiers. But they deal in quality, not quantity. These soldiers are the best of the best and are thoroughly trained in a plethora of skills making them some of the elite. This special forces unit has actually been around since 1961, but only had their first taste of action back in 1995 when they were used as a counter-sniper reconnaissance team.