Special forces

Polish GROM special forces troops at Umm Qasr during the 2003 invasion of Iraq

Special forces and special operations forces are military units trained to conduct special operations. [1] [2] [3] NATO defines special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment". [1] [4]

Special forces emerged in the early 20th century, with a significant growth in the field during the Second World War, when "every major army involved in the fighting" created formations devoted to special operations behind enemy lines. [5]

Depending on the country, special forces may perform some of the following functions: airborne operations, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, covert ops, direct action, hostage rescue, high-value targets/ manhunting, intelligence operations, mobility operations, and unconventional warfare. The term special forces in the United States refers to the U.S. Army's forces, while the term special operations forces (SOF) refers to all units. [3] In Russian-speaking countries special forces are typically called spetsnaz, an acronym for "special purpose". Likewise, Russian speakers refer to special forces of other nations as spetsnaz; for example, U.S. Special Forces would be referred to as amerikanski spetsnaz in Russian.


Special forces capabilities include the following:

Other capabilities can include bodyguarding; waterborne operations involving combat diving/combat swimming, maritime boarding and amphibious missions; as well as support of air force operations.

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