Anyone who tries to rank Special Forces of different countries would be in for a surprise because they are all very good at what they do. When people would talk about Special Forces they immediately think about Navy Seals, Delta Force and Special Air Service (SAS) in film and television shows which have made them famous and many think they are the best in the business. But, there are other countries that also have a very competent and deadly group of individuals who are capable of many brave and daring acts.
People may find it hard to believe, but Special Forces have existed for a long time. Every Army in the world has used men who had special skills as long as wars have been fought. Chinese strategist Jiang Ziya, in his Six Secret Teachings, talks about recruiting men for serving in specialized elite units who can make rapid long-distance advances. HamilcarBarca the father of Hannibal used specialized troops trained to launch several offensives per day. In Roman or early Byzantine period, Roman fleets used small, fast camouflaged ships crewed by selected men for scouting and surprise attacks.
During the time of crusades, Muslim forces had naval special operations units which were again camouflaged ships to gather intelligence, launch raids and another where soldiers who could pass for Crusaders infiltrated to board enemy ships and then capture and destroy them. In Japan, Ninjas were used for reconnaissance, espionage, assassins and bodyguards. Emperor Napoleon used rifle and sapper units with specialized roles in reconnaissance and skirmishing for which different skill set was required than regular army.
This article does not show Ranking based description becuse all of the mentioned special forces teams are exceptanal in nature and have performed very risky and dangerous missions. But since the American and British are the most well-known, we will start with them.
In America, the most famous Special Forces operatives are called the Navy Seals. They have a long and distinguished track record when it comes to covert operations. The most famous of them all is the raid on the compound of Osama Bin Laden. Also there are other covert teams which are equally capable of operating in hostile territory like the Green Berets, Delta Force and Force Marine Recon. Each of these units has their own specialty which can be used for various threat situations like, infiltration, scout, hostage recovery and Anti Terror Ops.
During the Second World War the British army probably laid the foundation of modern Special Forces and conducted several deadly operations against the Germans in North Africa, mostly behind the enemy line. They would attack fuel depot, destroy airplanes and other sabotage activity, even though Adolf Hitler had issued “Nazi Commando” order which clearly stated that commandos will not be treated as regular army soldiers and hence to be executed. Thus the Special Air Service was formed and has played a very important role in covert ops all over the world.
Now this country was formed in 1948 and since then Israel had to and still defend itself practically every day. Due to this, it has some of the best Special Forces operatives in the world and the most notable is the SayeretMatkal and they specialize in reconnaissance and inelegance gathering. They say some of the operatives can pass themselves as Arabs and have been involved in several operations and the most famous of them all was the rescue of Jewish Hostages from Uganda code name Operation Thunderbolt or more commonly known as Operation Entebbe. The current Israeli Prime Minister’s brother led the assault who was the only commando who died.
They are called the Spetsnaz and they are highly trained special ops unit which is again similar to the American spec ops. Not much is known about them other than information which used to leak due to Soviet defections. Training is very hard for anyone who wants to be part of any elite unit, but the Spetsnaz take the training to new level and is considered brutal and maybe inhuman. They are trained to be only focused on achieving the target and are told to be ruthless because that is what the situation demands.
The history of Indian Special Forces again has to go back to the Second World War with the famous Chindits a name derived from Burmese word Chinthe, a mythological beast that guards temples and they were the ones who would penetrate deep into the jungles to attack the Japanese. It mostly consisted of the much feared Gurkha. After independence the Indian Army formed the Para Commando which participated in all conflicts since 1965. The other spec op teams are the MARCOS or Marine Commando who are experts in Amphibious Warfare, Hostage Rescue and Counter Terrorism. And then there is the National Security Guards or Black Cats who are experts in giving protection to some of India’s VIP. There is one more covert unit called the Special Frontier Force and are operationally under the Research and Analysis Wing. Notable achievement was the rescue of 223 men of the 5/8 Gorkha Rifles in operation Khukri when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels surrounded them for over 75 days and it just took 12 Para-Commandos force the enemy which numbered between 2000-5000 to surrender that ultimately led to the liberation of Freetown. Today there is a war memorial for Indian soldiers in Sierra Leone called the Khukri War Memorial on the bank of the River Moa.
From Pakistan we have the Special Service Group (SSG), a commando unit so covert for many years after its inception; India did not have any clue of its existence. Again based on the concept of British SAS the SSG is one of the most effective Special Forces in the world. But sadly its utility has been misused by the Pak Government and the Military when it sends them as advisors for the Taliban. But at present they are involved in fighting in the North West frontier.
In France they have different Special Forces team and many soldiers from the French Foreign Legion apply for Special Forces training. The most well known of them all is the GIGN (National Gendarmerie Intervention Group). This unit is designed for counter terrorism.
GSG 9 was created after the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes. Its purpose is for a very quick response to terror threat and hostage rescue.
Not much is known about the Chinese Special forces other than their effectiveness when it comes to martial arts. The People's Liberation Army Special Operations Forces numbers between seven to fourteen thousand, but for practical propose the real figures are classified. The world got a glimpse of their efficiency when they performed the security drill for the 2008 summer Olympics which was held in Beijing
The GIS (Gruppo di InterventoSpeciale) is a highly trained team and are experts in combating terror threats. They are known for their marksmanship with a sniper rifle.