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Special forces

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Special forces is a generic term for small elite military units designed for special operations rather than conventional warfare. These units rely on stealth and speed and are often equipped with specialist equipment. They generally do not have the numbers to outfight regular military units instead relying on sabotage and superior training to escape and evade conventional units.

The work of special forces is often classified. In most cases, there are ties between intelligence agencies and special forces units.

In many cases special forces are also used to train local forces when military aid is given to other countries.

Because of their training and the covert nature of much of their work, special forces have an aura surrounding them and are frequently the topic of military fiction.

Table of contents

History of Special Forces

Special forces have played an important role throughout the history of warfare where the aim is to achieve more disruption by "hit and run" or sabotage than more traditional face to face combat.

During the Napoleonic wars for example rifle and sapper units existed who where not committed to the formal lines that made up most battles of the day. They instead held more specialized roles in reconnaissance and skirmishing.

World War II

The formation of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War to organize non-conventional covert operations was perhaps the genesis of formal recognition of the role special forces play today.

Although the overseas operations of SOE saw the birth of many of the tatics and operational modes of the SAS other special forces where formed; for example the Royal Marine Commandos where formed by Churchill as "specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down on these (enemy occupied) coasts."

The German army also had the Brandenburger Regiment who were special armored commando forces used by Rommel in the North Africa campaign for long range reconnaissance as well as raids behind enemy lines.

Late 20th and early 21st Centuary

Throughout the later half of the 20th centuary special forces have come to higher prominence as governments have been less keen to commit large numbers of conventional forces to land battles where large numbers of casualties are more likely. In the Gulf War, Kosovo War and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan they have been heavily utilized for reconnaissance and often follow up with assisting air power in the location and "painting" of targets.

In the case of Afghanistan they also played and important role in liasing with native local units, often calling up air support on their behalf.

Special Forces units

Albania

Algeria

Argentina

Australia

Austria

Bangladesh

Belgium

Bolivia

Botswana

Brazil

Canada

China

Colombia

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Costa Rica

Czech Republic

Denmark

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

Eritrea

Ethiopia

Finland

France

Germany

Iceland

India

Indonesia

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Kazakhstan

Kenya

Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan

Lebanon

Lithuania

Malaysia

Netherland[?]

New Zealand

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Russia

Serbia

Singapore

Slovakia

South Korea

Soviet Union

Spain

Sudan

Sweden

Taiwan

Thailand

Tunisia

Turkey

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States Usually referred to under the umbrella term Special Operations Forces examples include:

Venezuela

See also: Commando



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