The hallmark, of just about every country’s armed forces, is their elite, Special Forces. Most countries have at least one such group, but it is not uncommon to find multiple groups, trained in different specialties. The current list, of the world’s Top Ten, was constructed by those who are more knowledgeable about such things than I am. They will admit, however, their placement of maybe two of the Special Forces groups could be interchanged. Here is the Top Ten List.
10 – Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG)
The Army’s branch of the SSG is considered to be among the most highly trained, professional special operations forces in the world. They are also known as the “Black Storks.” The force consists of ten Battalions trained within one of three specializations: skydiving, mountain warfare, or as combat divers. In recent years, the “Black Storks” have shown their expertise in Counter Terrorism operations. It is estimated that less than ten percent of new recruits complete training. The SSG cross trains with special ops groups from Turkey, the U.S., China, Jordan, Iran, and the United Kingdom.
9 – Austria’s EKO Cobra (Einsatzkommando Cobra)
This special operations tactical unit was initially formed in 1978 with the name change to EKO Cobra in 2002. They are Austria’s primary Counter Terrorism force under the direct control of the Federal Ministry for the Interior. This tactical unit consists of 450 men recruited from the Austrian Federal Police. They specialize in hostage rescue, and are the only Counter Terrorism unit to end an aircraft hijacking while the plane was still in the air. Covert operations are carried out with little or no media coverage.
8 – French Army Special Forces Brigade (Brigade des Forces Spéciales Terre)
Little is known about this elite Special Forces Brigade. It is considered one of the best in the world. The Special Forces Brigade was activated in 2002. It was created to support Peacekeeping operations in Cote d’Ivoire and Afghanistan. It consists of three units:
*1er RPIM – specializing in Counter Terrorism and Patrol operations
*13e RDP – French Army’s Long Range Recon Patrol made up of seven squadrons: three Intelligence squadrons, two Long Range Communications squadrons, and two Training squadrons
*4e RHFS – Air Transportation anywhere in the world for the French Special Forces
7 – Poland’s JW GROM
There has been a variety of Special Forces groups in Poland since the late 1970s through the early 1980s. It was not until 1990 that the GROM was established, and 1994 before the Polish public knew of the existence of the GROM. GROM soldiers go through one of the toughest training programs in the world. All of the men are trained in anti-terrorism, and special operations as well as, Scuba UDT training, Sniping, and Parachuting. They are all cross-trained in each other’s specialties. This force responds to a variety of threats and specializes in unconventional warfare techniques. They are highly revered by NATO.
6 – Germany’s KSK
This elite Special Forces military unit consists of handpicked soldiers from Germany’s Bundeswehr. Their training falls into two phases: the qualifying phase is almost four months long where five to eight out of one hundred remain, and the training phase which lasts for a two to three year period. As of 2001, training for the KSK has been open to women. Deployment of the KSK requires approval by the Bundestag. There has been numerous anti-terrorist campaigns throughout Europe and abroad, and all are top-secret even from most government entities. Each Company is made up of six platoons: Command, Land Insertions, Intelligence and Airborne operations, Recon/Snipers, Amphibious operations, and Operations in Special Environments.
5 – Israel’s Shayetet 13 (S’13)
This Special Forces unit is one of the oldest in the world. It was established in 1948, but the Israeli government did not acknowledge its existence until 1960, and it is one of the most secretive units of the entire Israeli Military. The S’13 specializes in sea-to-land incursions, counter terrorism, sabotage, maritime intelligence gathering, hostage rescue at sea, and hostile, ship boarding at sea. They participate in training operations with the U.S. Navy SEALs.
4 – United States Army’s Delta Force
This group is the U.S. Army component of the Joint Special Operations Command. The Delta Force is the main Counter Terrorism, direct action, and National Intervention Task Force. Since an estimated seventy-five percent of this task force is made up of U.S. Army Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment, it is no wonder this Special Forces Unit is capable of a wide range of operations including hostage rescue and raids.
3 – Russia’s Spetsnaz GRU
The Spetanaz GRU was initially controlled by Russia’s Military Intelligence Service. As of 2010, it was reported as under the control of the Ground Forces. The companies do not have any names or designations and operate under complete secrecy. They have a Counter Terrorist Unit, a Special Activities Division (sabotage/ counter sabotage, assassination, anti-terrorism, etc.), and a Special Purposes Service (no information available). Training is overly brutal and less than 10% hit the demanding goals.
2 – United States Navy’s SEALs
SEAL stands for Sea, Air, Land team, and is the U.S. Navy’s Special Operation’s Force. The most famous of the SEAL Teams is SEAL Team 6. The SEALs work hand-in-hand with the CIA. Their roles include: direct action, special recon, counter terrorism, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, counter drug operations, and hostage rescue among other special operations. Training exceeds one year, in addition to eighteen months of pre-deployment training. The drop-out rate from SEAL Training is about ninety percent.
1 – United Kingdom’s SAS (Special Air Service)
The British Special Air Service is considered by most experts as “The Elite of the Elite.” The perceived SAS model has been used as the prototype for most Special Forces Operations Groups worldwide. Their training regimen is very similar to that of the U.S. Navy SEALs with additional instruction by the British Intelligence Services. The SAS is comprised of the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd Special Air Service Regiments. In peacetime, its function is an Anti-terrorism Force, and at war, it is a Special Operations Force. There is very little verifiable public information available on the SAS or its operations.