Special Forces come out of the need for specialized skills in situations the regular law enforcement officers are not equipped to deal with effectively. Many countries saw the need for special task forces after the horrific events of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. With the growing need to protect all citizens from terrorists and other criminals out there, governments have formed the following and many more elite task forces.
15. BOPE – Brazil
The BOPE is one of the best Special Forces in Latin America, an elite task force that comes from Brazil. BOPE stand for Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais, which literally means the “Special Police Operations Battalion” in English. BOPE is a part of Brazil’s military police, highly specialized in urban warfare. Hardly can the police in any country penetrate environments that are confined and restricted as the BOPE can, thanks to the special training and weapons that this team has. This elite task force deals with drug traffickers, gangs in the slums, and preventing the trafficking of weapons. Other responsibilities of the BOPE include; counter-terrorism, protecting VIPs, counter-insurgency, armed response to civil unrest, and paramilitary law enforcement.
14. Special Services Group – Pakistan
Whenever the Pakistani army needs to handle special operations using their best soldiers, they call upon the Special Service Group (SSG), a highly organized task force made up of eight battalions of 700 specially trained soldiers divided into four companies. This elite group has been active since 1956 and it continues to protect Pakistan to this day. The SSG was very instrumental in the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, the Soviet-Afghan war, the Siachen and Kargil War of 1980, as well as in Operation Scorched Earth Yemen, to deal with the Yemeni rebels called the Houthi. In 2014, the SSG killed Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah, an al-Qaeda global operations chief together with a few fighters.
13. MARCOS – India
Previously known as the Marine Commando Force, MARCOS is the Indian Navy’s Special Forces unit. The special training that the members of this unit go through makes them the ideal fighters owing to their competence in operating on land, air, and water. MARCOS conducts special operations in counter-terrorism, amphibious warfare, direct action, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, hostage rescue, and foreign internal defence, among others. Although this unit can operate on all types of terrain, their special training lies in Maritime operations and the fear that terrorists have for this unit is well placed. MARCOS has countered many piracy incidences in the Indian Ocean and different parts of the world in the last few years.
12. Alpha Group – Russia
Alpha Group is the name that Spetsgruppa “A”, a Russian elite task force, is called in English. Alpha Group is a highly trained Special Forces unit that mostly concerns itself with counter-terrorism, as well as preventing and responding to acts of violence in buildings and public transportation. The KGB created this elite group in 1974 and it is believed that it operates under the directive of the top leadership in Russia, which is why most of its operations are classified. The Alpha Group has participated in paramilitary operations, extended police duties and undercover operations in Russia as well as outside Russia.
11. GIS – Italy
The GIS stands for Gruppo di Intervento Speciale in Italian, which is Special Intervention Group in English. GIS handles all forms of terrorism threats as well as provide protection for VIPs, dignitaries, and executives in Italy. The original GIS was formed in 1977 as an elite airborne unit as part of the Italian Carabinieri military but since 2004 it has become a special forces unit that is a force to reckon with. Although their missions are classified, the GIS focuses on extremely dangerous counter-terrorism operations especially in the air, so you can expect them to storm into a hijacked aircraft and take out the terrorists.
10. Unidad de Operaciones Especiales – Spain
The Unidad de Operaciones Especiales (UOE) was and still is a group of elite soldiers from the Spanish marines and Navy. This elite unit is one of the best units that Europe has ever seen, although in 2009 it was absorbed into the Naval Special Warfare Force, a force that has since taken over UOE’s responsibilities. The UOE was formed in 1967, and it consisted of 100 highly trained men divided into three teams, with the main responsibility of undertaking special operations along the coast, in maritime and within 50 km inland from the sea. The UOE is famous for fighting against acts of terror, as is the case when they stormed a North Korean vessel that was transporting 15 SCUD missiles to Yemen.
9. EKO Cobra – Australia
In the case of any terrorist threats in Australia, the EKO Cobra (Einsatzkommando Cobra) is the best-trained and best-equipped special force to handle them. EKO Cobra is separate from the Australian police. This unit was formed in 1978 in response to attacks on the Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics of 1972, and it was called the GEK until 2002 when the name was changed to what it is today. The approximately 450 men that make up the EKO Cobra have elite Special Forces training from some of the leading forces in the world. This elite force is famous for ending a hijacking while a plane was still in the air in 1996.
8. Joint Task Force 2 – Canada
The Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2) is a special task force that was created on April 1, 1993 to protect Canada’s national interests and to combat the growing threat of terrorism in Canada as well as around the world. The JTF 2 develops new technologies, tactics, and capabilities on a regular basis in order to remain relevant in their fight against ever-changing terrorist activities. The above unit is mostly concerned with domestic threats, although it was part of the team that went to Afghanistan in 2001 and made an invaluable contribution to the whole operation. The JTF 2 is known for its professionalism and effectiveness in every mission.
7. JW GROM – Poland
JW GROM is one of Poland’s most elite task forces, a unit with a name that honors the silent and unseen activities of the Polish Army. The JW GROM is the leader in Poland’s anti-terrorism efforts, and they have special training in operational maneuvering response. This special unit began its operations in 1990, and has since then been involved in unconventional warfare activities and other special warfare operations, which make them the feared task force they are today. Although the activities of the JW GROM are usually classified, the unit has been part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it has operations in Afghanistan, and it protects Polish citizens in world events such as during the Euro 2012 football tournament.
6. The Delta Force – USA
The Delta Force is one of the most famous elite groups in the world owing to the numerous movies that Hollywood has produced centering on it, and it is one of the most effective groups as well. Some of Delta Force’s major operations include counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, direct action, and they infiltrate enemy territory to acquire information about a high-value target’s presence or features. This unit provides its members to the CIA’s special unit division and works hand in hand with the Navy as SEAL Team 6. The information with regard to the number of Delta Force members is classified, as is the case with most of its missions.
5. GSG 9 – Germany
GSG9 stands for Grenzschutzgruppe 9 der Bundespolizei, a German counter-terrorism task force that was formed in 1973. This special unit was formed to deal with cases such as kidnapping, hostage taking, extortion, and terrorism, and in the process to conduct sniper operations, neutralize targets, secure locations, and track down fugitives. The GSG 9 was formed after the failure of the German police to rescue 11 Israeli athletes kidnapped by Palestinian terrorist during the Munich Olympics, where all the athletes, five of the terrorists, and one police officer was killed during the rescue attempt. Between 1972 and 2003, the GSG 9 had successfully completed more than 1500 missions.
4. National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) – France
GIGN stands for Groupe D’intervention De La Gendarmerie Nationale in French, but it is translated into English to National Gendarmerie Intervention Group. The GIGN is an elite task force with the mission of enforcing the law and handling special operations such as hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, VIPs protection, surveillance of national threats, and dealing with organized crime. Created in 1974 as a result of the Munich massacre, the unit has grown to over 400 members and is among the best counter-terrorism powers in the world. Most of GIGN’s operations are classified since the group has undertaken over 1,800 missions where they have rescued over 600 hostages. Their 1994 assault on the hijacked Air France plane brought them to prominence.
3. Shayetet 13 – Israel
Shayetet 13 is without a doubt one of the best elite task forces in the world, owing to the highly sophisticated and advanced training that the members of this team have to go through in areas such as demolitions, cold/dark training, parachute training, and underwater warfare. This task force specializes in counter-terrorism, incursions, sabotage, maritime hostage rescue, maritime intelligence gathering, and many other types of missions. Shayetet 13 has taken part in almost all major forms of conflict involving Israel and any of its enemies, and the group has had great success over the years. This group was instrumental in tracking down and eliminating everyone who was involved in the 1972 Munich attacks against the Israeli athletes.
2. Navy SEALs – USA
It is impossible to come up with a list of the most elite task forces in the world and fail to mention the US Navy SEALs, or fail to give this amazing team one of the top three positions. The word SEAL stands for sea, air, and land, meaning that these soldiers can fight any form of threat on land, in the air, or even at sea and beat them. SEALs will usually penetrate behind enemy lines and finish their mission before the enemy realizes that they are there, one quality that makes them so effective. The training that the Navy SEALs have to go through is one of the toughest in the world, and this contributes to making them the outstanding soldiers they are.
1. SAS – Great Britain
No other elite special force in Europe or the world can claim to be better than the British SAS, owing to their development, use, and improvements on modern and special combat tactics. The SAS stands for Special Air Service, and numerous special service around the world model their training and activities to follow in the footsteps of the British SAS. Formed in 1941, the forces then were known to operate behind enemy lines, supporting resistant movements and foiling the enemy’s plans. The training that a recruit has to go through in order to become part of the SAS is extremely difficult, since in addition to the running, the swimming, and the push and pull-ups, someone has to survive in the jungle, endure 36 hours of brutal interrogation, and training by MI5 and MI6 on espionage.