List of military special forces units

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This is a list of active military special forces units.


The units are to trained to conduct special operations being referred to as either special forces or special operations forces.

The current NATO definition of special operations is:-

special operations military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment.[1][2]

In 2001, NATO agreed definitions with Russia defining special operations and special operations forces:-[3]

special operations military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained and equipped forces using operational techniques and modes of employment not standard to conventional forces. These activities are conducted across the full range of military operations independently or in coordination with operations of conventional forces to achieve political, military, psychological and economic objectives. Politico-military considerations may require clandestine, covert or discreet techniques and the acceptance of a degree of physical and political risk not associated with conventional operations.[4]

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.[4]

The United States definition of special operations is:-

special operations operations requiring unique modes of employment, tactical techniques, equipment and training often conducted in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and characterized by one or more of the following: time sensitive, clandestine, low visibility, conducted with and/or through indigenous forces, requiring regional expertise, and/or a high degree of risk.[5]

The Canadian definition of special operations forces is:-

special operation forces organizations containing specially trained personnel that are organized, equipped and trained to conduct high-risk, high value, special operations to achieve military, political, economic, or international objectives by using special and unique operational methodologies in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive area to achieve desired tactical operational, and/or strategic effects in times of peace, conflict, or war.[6][7]

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

For other units, see:

Albania Albania[edit]

Albanian Armed Forces

Afghanistan Afghanistan[edit]

Afghan National Army Special Operations Command[9]

Angola Angola[edit]

Angolan Armed Forces
  • Special Forces Brigade — reported 2007, located at Cabo Ledo region, northern Bengo Province.[12]

Armenia Armenia[edit]

Armenian Army

Azerbaijan Azerbaijan[edit]

Azerbaijani Armed Forces
  • Special Forces of Azerbaijan The Special Forces of Azerbaijan is a military unit of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It was established in 1999 under the Ministry of Defense. Typically 30 out of 500 candidates earn the "Maroon beret" certificate.

Australia Australia[edit]

Special Operations Command (Army)[15]
Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Air Force

Austria Austria[edit]

Austrian Army
  • Jagdkommando[18][19]
    • 1st Special Operations Task Group
    • 2nd Special Operations Task Group
    • 3rd Special Operations Task Group (Reserve)

Bangladesh Bangladesh[edit]

Bangladesh Armed Forces

Belarus Belarus[edit]

Armed Forces of Belarus

Belgium Belgium[edit]

Belgian Land Component

Botswana Botswana[edit]

Brazil Brazil[edit]

Brazilian Army
Brazilian Air Force
Brazilian Navy

Brunei Brunei[edit]

Bulgaria Bulgaria[edit]


Canada Canada[edit]

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

(Air Force)



  • Enhanced Naval Boarding Party[36]

Chile Chile[edit]

China China[edit]

People's Liberation Army Marine Corps[37]
  • Special Operations Battalion
  • Special Forces Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion
People's Liberation Army Ground Force

Democratic Republic of the CongoCongo Democratic Republic of[edit]

  • 391st Commando battalion URR[39]

Croatia Croatia[edit]

Special Operations Command (Croatia)

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:[41]

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.[44] 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 Egypt[edit]

Sa'ka Forces Thunderbolt Forces

Egyptian Paratroopers

Navy Special Operations Brigade

Estonia Estonia[edit]

Ethiopia Ethiopia[edit]

  • Agazi Commando Division[45]
  • 205th/206th Commando Brigade
  • Anti-Terrorism Battalion
  • ESOF(400 men detachment)

Finland Finland[edit]

Finnish Army

The conscript-training units Parachute Jaeger Company (Finnish: Laskuvarjojääkärikomppania) of Utti Jaeger Regiment,[47] the Diver School (Finnish: Sukeltajakoulu) of the Coastal Brigade[48] and the Special Border Jaeger Company (Finnish: Erikoisrajajääkärikomppania) of the Finnish Border Guard Border and Coast Guard School[49] are called in special forces. While they are volunteer-only, they are not standing professional formations like the others mentioned, but units training conscripts to serve as reservists in special operations forces during a crisis.[50]


France France[edit]

Special Operations Command

Gabon Gabon[edit]

  • Commandos Fusiliers Marins (COFUSMA)
  • Presidential Guard Unit[citation needed]

Georgia (country) Georgia[edit]

Georgian Army
  • Special Operations Brigade[53]
    • 1st Special Operations Group
    • Naval Group Special Operations
    • Iverioni Mountain-Reconnaissance Battalion
    • Support-Maintenance Battalion

Germany Germany[edit]

German Army
German Navy
German Air Force

Greece Greece[edit]

Hellenic Army

Hungary Hungary[edit]

India India[edit]

Indian Army
Indian Navy
Indian Air Force

Indonesia Indonesia[edit]

Indonesian Army
Indonesian Navy
  • Frogman Kopaska,[65][66] reconnaissance battalion Taifib and counter-terrorism unit Denjaka which its personnel are recruited from both Kopaska and Taifib
Indonesian Air Force

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.[70]

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 Ground Self-Defense Force
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Jordan Jordan[edit]

Joint Special Operations Command

Kenya Kenya[edit]

Kuwait Kuwait[edit]

Malaysia Malaysia[edit]

Malaysian Army
Royal Malaysian Air Force
Royal Malaysian Navy

Mexico Mexico[edit]

Morocco Morocco[edit]

Royal Moroccan Army
Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie

Namibia Namibia[edit]

Netherlands Netherlands[edit]

Netherlands Army
Netherlands Navy
Royal Marechaussee

New Zealand New Zealand[edit]

Special Operations Command

Nigeria Nigeria[edit]

Norway Norway[edit]

Norwegian Armed Forces

Pakistan Pakistan[edit]

Pakistan Army
  • Special Service Group (SSG)
  • Special Response Force (SRF) was created in April 2012 to strengthen the security of strategic nuclear assets.[103]
Pakistan Navy
Pakistan Air Force

Philippines Philippines[edit]

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

Poland Poland[edit]

[110] [111][112] [113] [114]

Portugal Portugal[edit]

Portuguese Army
Portuguese Navy
Portuguese Air Force

Romania Romania[edit]

Ministry of Defense

Russia Russia[edit]

Main article: Spetsnaz
Special Operations Forces, subordinate directly to the MoD[120][121]
  • Special Operations Command (KSO)[122]
Russian Ground Forces[124]
Russian Airborne Troops[125]
Russian Navy[126]

South Korea Republic of Korea[edit]

Republic of Korea Army
  • Republic of Korea Army Special Warfare Command[127]
    • 1st Special Forces Brigade (Eagle)
    • 3rd Special Forces Brigade (Flying Tiger)
    • Oversea Deployment Group (Whole World) (Formerly 5th Special Mission Group 'Black Dragon')
    • 7th Special Forces Brigade (Pegasus)
    • 9th Special Forces Brigade (Ghost)
    • 11th Special Forces Brigade (Golden Bat)
    • 13th Special Forces Brigade (Black Panther)
    • 707th Special Mission Battalion (White Tiger)
Republic of Korea Navy[128]
  • Special Warfare Flotilla:[129][130]
    • 1st Battalion (main strike force divided into four specialized units)
      • Special Warfare Squadron (SEAL)
      • Underwater Demolition Team (UDT)
      • Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team (EOD)
      • Maritime Rescue/Counter Terrorism Unit (CT/VBSS)
    • 3rd Battalion (Support)
    • 5th Battalion (Support)
  • 5th Flotilla:[131]
    • 55th Salvage Squadron
      • Ship Salvage Unit (SSU)
Republic of Korea Air Force[132]
  • Combat Control Team (CCT)
  • 6th Search and Rescue Group
    • 233rd Rescue Battalion
    • 235th Rescue Battalion

Serbia Serbia[edit]

Slovakia Slovakia[edit]

Military of Slovakia

Somalia Somalia[edit]

Special Forces Regiment (Army)

South Africa South Africa[edit]

South African National Defence Force

Spain Spain[edit]

Defence Staff (Joint Operations Command)
Spanish Army
Spanish Navy
Spanish Air Force
  • Airborne Combat Parachute Engineers Squadron (Escuadrón de Zapadores Paracaidistas (EZAPAC))[138]

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka[edit]

Sri Lanka Army
Sri Lanka Navy

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)

Turkey Turkey[edit]

Combined Arms
Turkish Naval Forces
Turkish Air Force
Gendarmerie General Command

Thailand Thailand[145][edit]

Royal Thai Army
Royal Thai Navy
Royal Thai Marine Corps
Royal Thai Air Force
  • Special Operations Regiment

Ukraine Ukraine[edit]

Ministry of Internal Affairs units
  • 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

United Kingdom United Kingdom[edit]

British Army
Royal Air Force/British Army
Royal Navy

United States United States[edit]

Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)
United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)[164]
Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC)[164]
Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)[164]
United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC)[164]

Venezuela Venezuela[edit]

Venezuelan Air Force
  • Special Operations Air Group 10[165]
  • Special Operations Air Group 15[165]
  • Special Operations Air Group 17[165]

Vietnam Vietnam[edit]

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),[166] including:
    • Land commando (Đặc công bộ)[167]
    • Naval commando (Đặc công nước or Đặc nhiệm Hải quân)[168]
    • Airborne commando (Đặc công dù)[169]
  • Special reconnaissance (Trinh sát Đặc nhiệm): the reconnaissance force is not a separate branch, every armed branch has a reconnaissance team.[170]

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe[edit]

Non-combat special units[edit]

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.


Miscellaneous Notes
  1. ^ The Japanese Special Forces Group is the current name of the former Japanese Special Operations Group, following a name change.
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