Special Forces are military units who are specially trained and selected from the best of that countires military. Normally selected from Elite units such as Paratroopers or marines and almost always trained in Parachuting and covert/stealth missions, examples include the British SAS and SBS, the US Green Berets and the Russian Spetnaz. Their role varies between countries but always involves covert (secret) operations often far behind enemy lines, sabotage and increasingly counter-terrorism, a role which made the SAS famous after the Iranian Embassy siege in London. Some have been involved in the training of local forces such as the Green Berets in Vietman, but most often they proceed a major operation to gain valuable intelligence such as the role of the SBS (Special Boat Service) in checking out suitable landing sites for amphibious forces, or deep penetration raids such as the SAS (Special Air Service) 'Scud Hunting' in the Iraqi desert. In their covert role they often work with a countries intelligence services conducting missions that if successful often remain secret for years, such as the recovery of a Russian Hind-D helicopter from Afghanistan for study during the Russian invasion.
How to cite this article:
Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (30 July 2000), Special Forces, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/concepts_specialforces.html