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:

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]

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

Belarus Belarus[edit]

Armed Forces of Belarus

Belgium Belgium[edit]

Belgian Land Component

Botswana Botswana[edit]

Brunei Brunei[edit]

Canada Canada[edit]

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

Chile Chile[edit]

China China[edit]

People's Liberation Army Marine Corps[19]
  • Special Operations Battalion
  • Special Forces Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion
People's Liberation Army Ground Force

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]

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


Ethiopia Ethiopia[edit]

Gabon Gabon[edit]

Germany Germany[edit]

German Army
German Navy
German Air Force

Greece Greece[edit]

Hellenic Army
Hellenic Navy

India India[edit]

Indian Army
Indian Navy
Indian Air Force

Indonesia Indonesia[edit]

Indonesian Air Force
Indonesian Army
Indonesian Navy

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

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)

Kuwait Kuwait[edit]

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

New Zealand New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand Army

Nigeria Nigeria[edit]

Pakistan Pakistan[edit]

Pakistan Air Force
Pakistan Army
Pakistan Navy

Philippines Philippines[edit]

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]
  • Special Operations Command (KSO)[72]

Serbia Serbia[edit]

Serbian Armed Forces

South Africa South Africa[edit]

South African National Defence Force

Spain Spain[edit]

Spanish Army
Spanish 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)

Taiwan Taiwan[edit]

Republic of China Army[80]
  • Aviation and Special Forces Command (ASFC)
  • Airborne Special Services Company: an elite 150 member unit trained in counter-terrorism and hostage rescue
  • 101st Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 862 Special Operation Group
  • 871 Special Operation Group
  • 601 Aviation Brigade
  • 602 Aviation Brigade
  • 603 Aviation Brigade
  • Special Forces Command: oversees six airborne battalions.
Republic of China Marine Corps[81]
  • Special Services Company
  • Amphibious Reconnaissance Patrol Units
Republic of China Military Police[82]
  • Special Services Company
Coast Guard Administration (Taiwan)[83]
  • Special Services Company

Turkey Turkey[edit]


  • Ministry of Internal Affairs units:
    • Berkut (special police force). Have been disbanded following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
    • Cheetah: 200 man unit stationed in Crimea, forced to evacuate due to the Crimea Crisis
    • Tiger: The unit is designed to combat terrorism and preserve public order. The unit was active in suppressing protests during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution.
    • Omega: Stationed in Mariupol 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
    • Cobra: Specializes in mountain combat
    • Griffin: Tasked with protecting courts, ensure the safety of judges
    • Jaguar: Tasked with stopping hooliganism, cease riots, suppressing riots in prisons. Was actively involved in the suppression of Euromaidan protests, afterwards units were also deployed against pro Russian separatists.
    • Titan: Ensuring the safety of foreign deputies, investigating fraud and counter-fitting rings.
    • Bars: Main purpose is to ensure law and order in case of protesting students, football hooligans as well as various security duties. Was active in suppressing the Euromaidan protests.
    • Scat: Protection of ports as well as other marine structures such as dams and vessels. Specialize in underwater demolition.
    • Shadow: Specialize in intelligence and counterintelligence activities and sabotage. Designed to operate for prolonged periods of time behind enemy lines.
    • Vega: Combat terrorism, works closely with the Omega unit.

United Kingdom United Kingdom[edit]

United States United States[edit]

Venezuela Venezuela[edit]

Venezuelan Air Force
  • Special Operations Air Group 10 [91]
  • Special Operations Air Group 15 [91]
  • Special Operations Air Group 17 [91]

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe[edit]

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
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c Thomson, Mark; Davies, Andrew (2008). "ADF capability review: Australian Army". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. p. 3. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  7. ^ "Commando". Defence Jobs. Australian Army. Retrieved 19 August 2008. 
  8. ^ Österreichs Bundesheer – Jagdkommando. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  9. ^ Das Jagdkommando (JaKdo). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Composante Terre Unités Special Forces Group. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ IISS Military Balance 2013, p.495
  14. ^ Brunei Special Forces Regiment Joint Exercise with 1st Commando Regiment Australia
  15. ^ James Goldrick, Jack McCaffrie, Navies of South-East Asia: A Comparative Study, Volume 50 of Cass series--naval policy and history, Routledge, 2012 ISBN 0415809428, 16.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Canadian Special Operations Regiment | Régiment d'opérations spéciales du Canada. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  18. ^ Joint Task Force Two | La Deuxième Force opérationnelle interarmées. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  19. ^ IISS Military Balance 2013, 291
  20. ^ PLA Special Operations Forces. (30 August 2008). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Special operations - myths and facts, p.7
  24. ^ Forside. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  25. ^ Kongsøre. (24 September 2010). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  26. ^ Hjemmeværnet – SSR – Særlig Støtte og Rekognoscering. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  27. ^ Janq Designs. "Special Operations.Com". Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  28. ^ IISS Military Balance 2014, 315.
  29. ^ Ethiopia: Commando Division Officer Dupes 1.2 Mil. Br.,
  30. ^ Einheiten – KSK – Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) . Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  31. ^ Einheiten – Kampfschwimmer. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  32. ^ Greek Raiders, Special Weapons Magazine, October 2013
  33. ^ [2][dead link]
  34. ^ [3][dead link]
  35. ^ [4][dead link]
  36. ^ Lowry, Bob (1996). The Armed Forces of Indonesia. The Armed Forces of Asia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. pp. 86–89. ISBN 1-86448-144-7. 
  37. ^ Kingsbury, Damien (2003). Power politics and the Indonesian military. Routledge. pp. 93–109. ISBN 978-0-415-29729-5. 
  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. 
  39. ^ a b Kingsbury, Damien (2003). Power politics and the Indonesian military. Routledge. pp. 110–111. ISBN 978-0-415-29729-5. 
  40. ^ D.J. Elliot, Iraqi Counter Terrorism Bureau, Montrose Toast, 30 June 2009
  41. ^ ARW | Organisation | Army | Defence Forces. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  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.
  44. ^ The Israeli Special Forces Database™ – Sayeret, Commando, Special Operations. (6 May 1967). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  45. ^ a b c d
  46. ^ a b c /investiresicurezza/moltiplicatori_strategici.htm
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ [5][dead link]
  50. ^
  51. ^ NZ Army – NZ Special Air Service Group. (7 July 2011). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Strategic assets: Pakistan strengthens security of nuclear assets". 
  54. ^ Special Operations.Com. Special Operations.Com. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  55. ^ A Celebration of the Little Black Dress. (17 September 2010). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  56. ^ Philippine Journals Online. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  57. ^
  58. ^ Web 6 Apr.qxp. (PDF) . Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  59. ^ About Section, Official Force Recon Page.
  60. ^ :: Morska Jednostka Działań Specjalnych – FORMOZA :: STRONA GŁÓWNA ::. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  61. ^ [6][dead link]
  62. ^ //- Nieoficjalna strona poświęcona Jednostce Wojskowej GROM -//. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  63. ^ Witamy na stronie 1 PSK. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  64. ^ Dowództwo Wojsk Specjalnych. (3 September 2011). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  65. ^ a b
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^ Menirea Interventiei Rapide. Retrieved on 8 September 2011
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^ SA Special Forces League. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  76. ^ Ministerio de Defensa. Nodo de Internet. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  77. ^ Presentation РArmada Espa̱ola. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  78. ^ Since 1 August, Switzerland has had its first professional special forces unit, known as DRA10.. swissinfo (5 September 2007). Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  79. ^
  80. ^ "Defense News". 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  81. ^ "Defense News". 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  82. ^ "Defense News". 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  83. ^ "Defense News". 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  84. ^ a b "Nasıl Bordo Bereli olunur?". Özel Kuvvetler. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  85. ^ Rayment, Sean (28 December 2003). "Overstretched SAS calls up part-time troops for Afghanistan". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  86. ^
  87. ^ "18 Signal Regiment". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 2013. 
  88. ^ "Elite special forces unit set up". BBC News. 20 April 2006. 
  89. ^ 1 PARA, Retrieved 21 February 2014
  90. ^ 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. 
  91. ^ a b c List of Air Groups in the official website of the Venezuelan Air Force,
  92. ^ Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit | Unité interarmées d'intervention du Canada. Retrieved on 8 September 2011.
  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]