List of military special forces units

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This is a list of active military special forces units. Several NATO documents use the term Special Forces.

NATO Allied Joint Publication (AJP) 3.5 defines special operations as "Special operations are military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment. These activities may be conducted across the full range of military operations, independently or with conventional forces, to help achieve the desired end-state. Politico-military considerations may require clandestine or covert techniques and the acceptance of a degree of political or military risk not associated with operations by conventional forces. Special Operations deliver strategic or operational-level results or are executed where significant political risk exists.'

The NATO-Russia Glossary of Contemporary Political and Military Terms doesn't contain any definition for Special Forces. It does have a definition for Special Operations Forces and Special Operations Force:[1]

  • special-operations forces -

Strategic formations and units of the armed forces, whose role is to conduct sabotage, reconnaissance, subversive and other special operations on the territory of foreign countries. In wartime they may also be assigned tasks such as intelligence-gathering, the seizure or destruction of key installations, the conduct of psychological operations or the organization of insurgencies in the enemy’s rear area. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have separate special-operations forces brigades, battalions and companies which are integrated with the intelligence assets of military districts, fronts, fleets, armies or corps.

  • special-operations force -

Designated special groups of selected servicemen which provide NATO with unique capabilities of special reconnaissance, direct action and military assistance in order to undertake difficult, dangerous and sometimes politically sensitive missions for the theatre commander.

These are distinct from special-purpose infantry units such as the Royal Marine Commandos.

Other potential sources of a good definition for Special Forces or Special Operations Forces include the Department of Defense Dictionary (Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms) and the 24th Special Tactics Squadron memoir No Room for Error by Col. John T. Carney, and Benjamin F. Schemmer.

For other units, see:

Angola Angola

Angolan Armed Forces
  • Special Forces Brigade — reported 2007, located at Cabo Ledo region, northern Bengo Province.[2]

Armenia Armenia

Armenian Army
  • one spetsnaz regiment (Source IISS).[3] A special forces presence was reported in the Russian-language internet at Nubarashen district, part of Yerevan, in 2012.[4]

Australia Australia

Special Operations Command[5]

Austria Austria

Austrian Army

Belarus Belarus

Armed Forces of Belarus

Belgium Belgium

Belgian Land Component

Botswana Botswana

Brunei Brunei

Canada Canada

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

Chile Chile

China China

People's Liberation Army Marine Corps[18]
  • Special Operations Battalion
  • Special Forces Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion
People's Liberation Army Ground Force

Democratic Republic of the CongoCongo Democratic Republic of

  • 391st Commando battalion URR[20]

Czech Republic Czech Republic

Army of the Czech Republic (ACR)

Denmark Denmark

A brief from the Royal Danish Defence College listed two Danish special operations units:[22]

Two other Danish units have some claim to special forces status. The Danish Home Guard's Special Support and Reconnaissance Company is capable of behind-the-lines stay-behind reconnaissance, similar to the Cold War role of the British 21 and 23 SAS Regiments.[25] The Royal Danish Navy also maintains a unique ski patrol unit that conducts dog patrols of Greenland throughout the year. This unit, the Sirius Patrol, maintains a combat capability.

 Egypt

Ethiopia Ethiopia

France France

Special Operations Command

Gabon Gabon

Germany Germany

German Army
German Navy
German Air Force

Greece Greece

Hellenic Army

India India

Indian Army
Indian Navy
Indian Air Force

Indonesia Indonesia

Indonesian Army
Indonesian Navy

Iraq Iraq

The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau reports to the Prime Minister directly. The Iraqi CTB oversees the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Command, a formation that includes all Iraqi Special Operations Forces (two brigades, according to the IISS 2013). As of 30 June 2009, there had been legislation in progress for a year to make the Iraqi CTB a separate ministry.[39]

Republic of Ireland Ireland

Irish Army

Israel Israel

See also: Sayeret
Israeli Air Force
Israeli Army
Israeli Navy

Japan Japan

Japan Ground Self Defense Force
Japan Maritime Self Defense Force

Italy Italy

Italian Army
Italian Navy
Italian Air Force
Carabinieri

Jordan Jordan

Joint Special Operations Command
  • 61st Special Reconnaissance Battalion[54]

Kenya Kenya

  • One Army special operations battalion (IISS 2013)

Kuwait Kuwait

  • One special forces unit (forming) (IISS Military Balance 2013)

Malaysia Malaysia

Malaysian Army
Royal Malaysian Air Force
Royal Malaysian Navy

Netherlands Netherlands

Netherlands Army
Netherlands Navy

New Zealand New Zealand

New Zealand Army

Nigeria Nigeria

Pakistan Pakistan

Pakistan Army
Pakistan Navy

Philippines Philippines

Philippine Air Force
Philippine Army Special Operations Command
Philippine Marine Corps
Philippine Navy

Poland Poland

[76] [77][78] [79] [80]

Portugal Portugal

Portuguese Army
Portuguese Navy
Portuguese Air Force

Romania Romania

Ministry of Defense

Russia Russia

Special Operations Forces, subordinate directly to the MoD[86][87]
  • Special Operations Command (KSO)[88]

Serbia Serbia

Serbian Armed Forces

South Africa South Africa

South African National Defence Force

Spain Spain

Spanish Army
Spanish Navy

Sweden Sweden

Swedish Armed Forces

Switzerland Switzerland

Swiss Army

Kommando Spezialkräfte KSK (Special Forces Command)

Professional units

Militia units

  • Grenadier Battalion 20
  • Grenadier Battalion 30
  • Grenadier Battalion 40 (Reserve)
  • Fallschirmaufklärer Kompanie 17 (Parachute Reconnaissance Company 17)

Turkey Turkey

Ukraine

  • Ministry of Internal Affairs units:[98]
    • Omega: Stationed in Kyiv the unit has been active in the 2014 War in Donbass. Designed to combat terrorism, often works along with Vega special forces unit.
    • Scorpion: Specializes in the defense of Ukraine's nuclear facilities
    • Falcon: Stationed in Kyiv and designed to battle organized crime
    • Griffin: Tasked with protecting courts, ensure the safety of judges
    • Jaguar: Regiment tasked with stopping hooliganism, cease riots, suppressing riots in prisons.
    • Titan: Ensuring the safety of foreign deputies, investigating fraud and counter-fitting rings.
    • Vega: Combat terrorism, works closely with the Omega unit.
  • Ministry of Defense Units:
  • Security Service of Ukraine

United Kingdom United Kingdom

United States United States

Venezuela Venezuela

Venezuelan Air Force
  • Special Operations Air Group 10[110]
  • Special Operations Air Group 15[110]
  • Special Operations Air Group 17[110]

Vietnam Vietnam

Under the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army (Bộ Tổng Tham mưu Quân đội Nhân dân Việt Nam)

  • Commando (Binh chủng Đặc công)[111], including:
    • Land commando (Đặc công bộ) [112]
    • Naval commando (Đặc công nước or Đặc nhiệm Hải quân)[113]
    • Airborne commando (Đặc công dù) [114]

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

Non-combat special units

While the Submarine Parachute Assistance Group is a relatively overt unit, references to the JSOC units below are rare. Possibly the only authoritative source is Ambinder, Marc, and D. B. Grady The Command: Deep Inside the President's Secret Army, John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

References

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  110. ^ a b c List of Air Groups in the official website of the Venezuelan Air Force, http://www.aviacion.mil.ve/modules/fmcontent/content.php?topic=aviacion&id=11&page=grupos-aereos
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  112. ^ [8]
  113. ^ [9]
  114. ^ [10]
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Miscellaneous Notes
  1. ^ The Japanese Special Forces Group is the current name of the former Japanese Special Operations Group, following a name change.

External links