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.

For those interested, Special Operations Unit differs from Special Forces units as any unit can be given the status of a Special Operations unit if they conduct special operations but only a handful are given the title of Special Forces as they are advanced in some form, warfare, tactics, abilities. E.g SOF units: US Marine Recon, British army parachute regiments, French Foregin Legion, U.S. Public Affairs. E.g SF units, SAS, SASR, NZSAS, Delta Force, Navy Seals, JTF-2.

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:

Afghanistan Afghanistan[edit]

Afghan National Army

Albania Albania[edit]

Albanian Armed Forces

Algeria Algeria[edit]

Algerian Army
  • 25eme Regiment de Reconnaissance (25th reconnaissance regiment)
Algerian Navy
  • Batallion des Fusiliers Marins (Naval Commando Battalion)
  • Plongeurs de combat (Combat Divers)
Algerian Air Force
  • 772nd and 782nd Regiment des Fusiliers Commandos de l'air (RFCA)[2]

Angola Angola[edit]

Angolan Armed Forces
  • Special Forces Brigade — reported 2007, located at Cabo Ledo region, northern Bengo Province.[3]

Argentina Argentina[edit]

Argentine Air Force
Argentine Army
Argentine Navy

Armenia Armenia[edit]

Armenian Army
  • one spetsnaz regiment (Source IISS).[4] A special forces presence was reported in the Russian-language internet at Nubarashen district, part of Yerevan, in 2012.[5]

Australia Australia[edit]

Special Operations Command[6]

Austria Austria[edit]

Austrian Army

Azerbaijan Azerbaijan[edit]

Azerbaijani Navy
  • 641st Special Warfare Naval Unit
Azerbaijani Army

Bangladesh Bangladesh[edit]

Bangladesh Navy

Belarus Belarus[edit]

Armed Forces of Belarus

Belgium Belgium[edit]

Belgian Land Component

Benin Benin[edit]

Bolivia Bolivia[edit]

  • Fuerza de Tarea "Diablos Azules" (FTDA) (River commando group)
  • 17th, 24th and 27th Ranger Regiment (Satinadores)

Botswana Botswana[edit]

Brazil Brazil[edit]

Brazilian Air Force
  • Para-SAR – Special Pararescue Unit — Highly trained paratrooper, trained in evasion and extraction, tactical rescue and survival in hostile environment.
Brazilian Army
Brazilian Navy
  • COMANF – Amphibian Commando — Brazilian Marine Corps Commandos who are attached to the Special Operations Battalion, the Batalhão Tonelero.
  • GRUMEC - Combat Divers Group — Unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism and special reconnaissance at sea and seashore.

Brunei Brunei[edit]

Bulgaria Bulgaria[edit]

Bulgarian Land Forces

Burkina Faso Burkina Faso[edit]

Cameroon Cameroon[edit]

Cambodia Cambodia[edit]

Royal Cambodian Army

Canada Canada[edit]

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

Chile Chile[edit]

Chilean Army
Chilean Air Force
    • Grupo de Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces Group)**
    • Agrupación Antisecuestros Aéreos (Air Counter-Terrorism Group)**
    • Comandos de Aviación (Aviation Commandos)**
    • Paracaidistas de Busqueda, Salvamento y Rescate (Parachute Search, Rescue and Recovery)**
Chilean Navy
  • Comando de Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces Command)
    • Buzos Tácticos de la Armada (Tactical Divers of the Navy)
    • Equipo de Intervención Rápida (Rapid Intervention Team)

China China[edit]

People's Liberation Army Marine Corps[19]
  • Special operations battalion
  • Special Forces Amphibious Reconassisnce Battalion
People's Liberation Army Ground Force

Colombia Colombia[edit]

Colombian Air Force
Colombian Navy
National Army of Colombia

Democratic Republic of the CongoCongo Democratic Republic of[edit]

  • 31e Brigade Commando des Unites de Reaction Rapide(URR/321,322 and 323rd battalion)
  • 391st Commando battalion URR[21]
  • 41st and 42nd Commando battalion URR

Croatia Croatia[edit]

Croatian Army

Czech Republic Czech Republic[edit]

Army of the Czech Republic (ACR)

Denmark Denmark[edit]

A brief from the Royal Danish Defence College listed two Danish special operations units:[23]

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.[26] 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.

Ecuador Ecuador[edit]

Ecuadorian Army


  • Five commando groups; one counter-terrorist unit[28]

El Salvador El Salvador[edit]

Salvadoran Army
  • Special Forces Command (CFE)
    • Comando Especial Anti-Terrorista (CEAT) Counter-Terrorism Special Command
    • Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (GOE) Special Operations Group
      • Comandos Hacha
      • Patrullas de Reconocimiento y Alcance Largo (PRAL) Long Distance Recon Patrols

Eritrea Eritrea[edit]

Estonia Estonia[edit]

Estonian Army

Ethiopia Ethiopia[edit]

Finland Finland[edit]

Finnish Army

France France[edit]

Gabon Gabon[edit]

Georgia (country) Georgia[edit]

Germany Germany[edit]

German Army
German Navy
German Air Force

Greece Greece[edit]

Hellenic Army
Hellenic Navy

Guatemala Guatemala[edit]

Guatemalan Army
  • Kaibiles
  • Naval Special Forces (Fuerzas Especiales Navales)

Guinea Guinea[edit]

Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau[edit]

India India[edit]

Indian Army
Indian Navy
Indian Air Force

Indonesia Indonesia[edit]

Indonesian Air Force
Indonesian Army
Indonesian Navy

Iran Iran[edit]


Iraq Iraq[edit]

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.[40]

Republic of Ireland Ireland[edit]

Irish Army

Israel Israel[edit]

See also: Sayeret
Israeli Air Force
Israeli Army
Israeli Navy

Italy Italy[edit]

Italian Army
Italian Navy
Italian Air Force

Japan Japan[edit]

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Jordan Jordan[edit]

Joint Special Operations Command
  • 37th King Abdullah II Royal Special Forces Brigade
  • 28th Prince Hussein Royal Rangers Brigade (Al-Saiqa)
  • 5th Prince Hashim Special Operation Aviation Brigade
  • 91st Airborne Orientation Battalion
  • 81st Airborne Battalion
  • 61st Special Reconnaissance Battalion [50]
Royal Naval Force
  • 77th Marines Reconnaissance Battalion
  • Maritime Assault Team
  • Maritime Counter-terrorism Unit
  • Royal Jordanian Navy Frogman Team
  • Royal Jordanian Navy Special Boat Unit

Kenya Kenya[edit]

  • One Army special operations battalion (IISS 2013)

South Korea Republic of Korea[edit]

Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense

Kuwait Kuwait[edit]

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

Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan[edit]

Latvia Latvia[edit]

Latvian Army

Lebanon Lebanon[edit]

Lebanese Army
Lebanese Navy

Lesotho Lesotho[edit]

  • Commando company

Lithuania Lithuania[edit]

Lithuanian Special Operations Force
  • Anti-terrorism Force squad (ARAS)
  • Combat Divers Service (CDS)
  • Special Operations Element (SOG)
  • Special Purpose Service (YPT)
  • Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion (VGJB)

Republic of Macedonia Macedonia[edit]

  • Special operations regiment(SF and Ranger battalion)
  • 501st para commando detachment

Malaysia Malaysia[edit]

Malaysian Army
  • Grup Gerak Khas (English: Special Service Group) (GGK/SSG)
    • 11th Gerak Khas Regiment
    • 21st Commandos
    • 22nd Commandos
Royal Malaysian Navy
Royal Malaysian Air Force
  • Pasukan Khas Udara (English: Special Air Service) (PASKAU)

Mali Mali[edit]

  • 33eme Regiment Commando Parachutiste (33 RPC)
  • Fusiliers de l'air (air force commando detachment)
  • Groupe Commando Volontaire(GCV/Commando detachment)

Mexico Mexico[edit]

Secretariat of National Defense (Mexico)
Secretariat of the Navy (Mexico)

Morocco Morocco[edit]

Nepal Nepal[edit]

  • Nepalese Army
    • 2 Commandos: Shree Singhanath Battalion, and Shree Bhairavnath Battalion (Paracommando)
    • Shree Yuddha Bhairav Battalion (Elite forces)
    • Shree Yuddha Kawaj Battalion (Mechanized Infantry)
    • Shree Mahabir Battalion (Army Rangers)

Netherlands Netherlands[edit]

Royal Netherlands Army
Royal Netherlands Marine Corps
Royal Netherlands Air Force
Royal Marechaussee

New Zealand New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand Army

Niger Niger[edit]

  • 122e compagnie parachutiste(122nd para coy stationed in Niamey)
  • 322eme compagnie parachutiste(322nd para coy stationed in Maradi)
  • Rapid reaction company(?)

Nigeria Nigeria[edit]

Norway Norway[edit]

Norwegian Armed Forces Special Operations Forces

Pakistan Pakistan[edit]

Pakistan Air Force
Pakistan Army
Pakistan Navy

Peru Peru[edit]

Peruvian Army
  • 1st Special Forces Brigade (1ra Brigada de Fuerzas Especiales)
  • 3rd Special Forces Brigade (3ra Brigada de Fuerzas Especiales)Cuartel General del BCFE, Base Militar del Campo Grande, Asuncion, Paraguay
  • 26th Special Forces Group "Quevedo"
  • Special Forces Group "Puma"

Philippines Philippines[edit]

Presidential Security Group
Philippine Air Force
Philippine Army Special Operations Command
Philippine Marine Corps
Philippine Navy

Poland Poland[edit]

[60] [61][62] [63] [64]

Portugal Portugal[edit]

Portuguese Army
Portuguese Navy
Portuguese Air Force

Romania Romania[edit]

Ministry of Defense

Russia Russia[edit]

Special Operations Forces, subordinate directly to the MoD[70][71]

Senegal Senegal[edit]

  • Bataillon des Parachutistes (Para battalion)
  • Batallion des Commandos (Commando battalion)
  • Compagnie des fusiliers marins commandos (COFUMACO/naval commando coy)
  • Groupement des fusiliers commandos d air (GROUFUAIR)
  • Compagnie des forces speciales (CFS)

Serbia Serbia[edit]

Serbian Armed Forces

Singapore Singapore[edit]

Singapore Army
Republic of Singapore Navy

Slovakia Slovakia[edit]

Slovak Army

Slovenia Slovenia[edit]

South Africa South Africa[edit]

South African National Defence Force

Spain Spain[edit]

Spanish Army
Spanish Navy
Spanish Air Force

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka[edit]

Sri Lanka Army
Sri Lanka Navy
Sri Lanka Air Force

Sudan Sudan[edit]

Suriname Suriname[edit]

Sweden Sweden[edit]

Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Army
Swedish Royal Navy

Switzerland Switzerland[edit]

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)

Syria Syria[edit]

Syrian Army
Special Forces Command
  • 41st, 45th, 46th, 47th, 53rd and 54th independent special forces(Airborne/Air Assault) regiments[citation needed]

Tajikistan Tajikistan[edit]

  • CT detachment "Alpha"
  • 7th air assault brigade of mobile forces
  • Spetsnaz detachment(within National Guard)

Thailand Thailand[edit]

Royal Thai Army
  • Special Warfare Division
Royal Thai Navy
Royal Thai Marine Corps
  • Marine Reconnaissance Battalion
Royal Thai Air Force
  • Royal Thai Air Force Commando Company
  • Royal Thai Air Force Pararescue

Taiwan Republic of China (Taiwan)[edit]

Republic of China Army

  • Aviation and Special Forces Command (航空特戰指揮部)
    • 601 Air Cavalry Brigade (original special force battalion assigned transferred back to 862nd Brigade)
    • 602 Air Cavalry Brigade (original special force battalion assigned transferred back to 862nd Brigade)
    • 603 Air Cavalry Brigade (this is a phantom unit, only exists on paper, no manpower, units, helicopters assigned)
    • 101st Reconnaissance Battalion (better known as Sea Dragon Frogman, has a company station in Kinman, Matsu, 3 in Penghu, and other frontline islands).
    • Special Forces Command (特戰指揮部) In charge of 3 training centers
      • Army Airborne Training Center (大武營「陸軍空降訓練中心」)
      • Army Special Forces Training Center (谷關「陸軍特戰訓練中心」)
      • Army Winter and Mountain Training Center (武嶺寒訓中心)
    • Special Operation Command
      • 862 Special Operation Group (originally 862nd Special Operation Brigade, with 3rd, 4th, and 6th battalion that transferred back from aviation brigades)
      • 871 Special Operation Group (units unknown)

Republic of China Navy

Togo Togo[edit]

  • Regiment Commando de la Garde Presidentielle (RCGP)
  • Regiment Parachutiste Commando (RPC)
  • Fusiliers Marins Commandos (FUMACO/ naval commando coy)

Turkey Turkey[edit]

Turkish General Staff
Turkish Land Forces

Turkmenistan Turkmenistan[edit]

  • 152nd air assault brigade (Spetsnaz brigade)

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates[edit]

United Kingdom United Kingdom[edit]

Ukraine Ukraine[edit]

United States United States[edit]

Uzbekistan Uzbekistan[edit]

  • Rapid Reaction Brigade 7332
  • Spetsnaz battalion(Within eastern military district)
  • 17th air assault brigade (Military Unit 64411)
  • Spetsnaz detachment(Tashkent)
  • Rapid reaction detachment "C"(CT unit)
  • 4th parachute brigade
  • 2nd Spetsnaz Brigade (actually coy within National Guard)

Venezuela Venezuela[edit]

Venezuelan Army
  • 109 Special Forces Battalion “General of Brigade José Gregorio Monagas[88]
  • 509 Special Forces Battalion “Colonel Domingo Montes[89]
Venezuelan Navy
  • 8th Special Operations Brigade “Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda[90]
Venezuelan Air Force
  • Special Operations Air Group 10 [91]
  • Special Operations Air Group 15 [91]
  • Special Operations Air Group 17 [91]

Vietnam Vietnam[edit]

Vietnam People's Army
  • Vietnam Commando (Đặc công Việt Nam)
  • M1 (FIBUA and CT operations)
  • M13 (operations in jungle and mountains)
  • K3 special reconnaissance group (Đoàn Trinh sát - Đặc nhiệm K3)
  • 2 naval commando groups (Đoàn Đặc Công M26 và 126)
  • M44 (within 2nd infantry division)
  • DC20 (within 1st military zone)
  • Đoàn Đặc Công 41/B1 (commando 4th military zone)
  • Đoàn Trinh Sát 12 (reconnaissance group in 4th military zone)
  • Đoàn Đặc Công 409 (commando 5th military zone)
  • Đoàn Trinh Sát 1 (reconnaissance group 2nd army corps)
  • Đoàn Đặc Công 198 (commando 3rd army corps)
  • Đoàn Đặc Công 129 (commando 4th army corps)
  • M5, M113, M429 commando units

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe[edit]

Zimbabwe National Army
  • Boat Squadron
  • Combat Diving Unit
  • Special Air Service
  • Commando regiment

Non-combat special units[edit]

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.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Centre Francais de recherche sur la reseignement, Bulletin de documentation 5, accessed January 2014.
  3. ^ Army Special Forces Celebrate Years, 3 May 2007.
  4. ^ IISS Military Balance 2013, p.215. See also
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  7. ^ "Commando". Defence Jobs. Australian Army. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
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  17. ^ Canadian Special Operations Regiment | Régiment d'opérations spéciales du Canada. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
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  29. ^ Ethiopia: Commando Division Officer Dupes 1.2 Mil. Br.,
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  38. ^ a b Bennett, Richard M. (2003). Elite Forces. The World's Most Formidable Secret Armies. London: Virgin Books. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0-7535-0823-0. 
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  40. ^ D.J. Elliot, Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, Montrose Toast, 30 June 2009
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  42. ^ a b Katz, Yaakov (13 August 2006). "Commandos out in the open". USA Today. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  43. ^ First female Arab soldier joins elite unit 669 – Israel News, Ynetnews. (20 June 1995). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
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  58. ^ Web 6 Apr.qxp. (PDF) . Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
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  72. ^ Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -
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  76. ^ SA Special Forces League. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
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  78. ^ Presentation РArmada Espa̱ola. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  79. ^ Since 1 August, Switzerland has had its first professional special forces unit, known as DRA10.. swissinfo (5 September 2007). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  80. ^
  81. ^ "The secretive sister of the SAS". BBC. 16 November 2001. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  82. ^ Rayment, Sean (28 December 2003). "Overstretched SAS calls up part-time troops for Afghanistan". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
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  84. ^ "18 Signal Regiment". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 2013. 
  85. ^ "Elite special forces unit set up". BBC News. 20 April 2006. 
  86. ^ 1 PARA, Retrieved 21 February 2014
  87. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj "SOCOM 2013 Factbook". 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  88. ^ Official Twitter of the 109 BAFES,
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  90. ^ List of brigades in the official website of the Venezuelan Navy,
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  93. ^
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[edit]