This article may lack focus or may be about more than one topic.(August 2019)
This is a list of current commando units.
- Beijing Military Region-"Oriental Sword" belongs to the Beijing Military Region. All 3000 soldiers in the force complete all types of operations.
- Guangzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit – "South Blade" or "South China Sword" established in 1988 as the People's Liberation Army's first special reconnaissance group, and was later expanded in 2000 to become the first PLA special operations unit to be capable of air-, sea-, and land-operations similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs.
- Chengdu Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Falcon". Established in 1992, this unit is specialised in target locating and indicating, airborne insertion, sabotage and offensive strike, and emergency evacuation.
- Beijing Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Arrow". Established in the early 1990s, this unit is equipped with various "high-tech" equipment including unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle (UARV), individual explosion devices and handheld laser dazzling weapons.
- Shenyang Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Siberian Tiger" is capable of completing missions on the ground and in the air and water, as well as surviving in the wilderness alone or in small groups.
- Nanjing Military Region Special Forces Unit – Nickname "Flying Dragon" is the special land force of east China's Nanjing Military Region.
- Nanjing Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Oscar"
- Lanzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Night Tiger" has a long and illustrious history with its origins dating back to World War II. It is home of China's first counter-terrorism unit, established in 2000.
- Jinan Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Eagle" Soldiers of the Eagle special force can complete sea-air-land operations also similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs
- Thor (Leishen) Commando Airborne Forces is a crack special force for reconnaissance operations of the PLA's airborne troops, which is capable of performing the tasks of strategic deterrence, combat assault, task operations under IT-based conditions.
- PLA Navy's commando team "Sea Dragon" soldiers are equipped with black uniforms, this unit's first publicly known mission was to accompany three Chinese warships in protecting and escorting commercial ships against Somali pirates in December 2008, in cooperation with other nations as part of a UN mandate. Since then, the unit has participated in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Eden for over 300 days.
- Leopard is the name given to the crack troops of the Southwest China Falcon special force.
- Special Air Command Group (Agrupación de Comandos Especiales Aéreos)
In France, commando is both the name of Special Operations or Special Operations Capable units and the name of an elite light infantry training.
- French Army (Armée de Terre)
The commandos are trained at the Centre national d'entraînement commando or National Commando Training Center. The graduates of the Center are either serving in a SF unit (1er RPIMa and 13e RDP), in a light-infantry unit (Commando Parachute Group in the 11th Parachute Brigade and Mountain Commando Group in the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade) or as instructors in a regular Army unit. Furthermore, members of the counter-terrorist National Gendarmerie Intervention Group and of the Division Action of Directorate-General for External Security are usually graduates of the Center. The National Center has three courses of training, commonly called levels : Training, Instructor and Senior Instructor. In order to qualify for a senior course, the candidate must have graduated the junior one(s) with outstanding results.
- French Navy (Marine Nationale)
The Commandos Marine are the Navy component of Special Operations Command. They draw their personnel from the Navy Infantry (Fusiliers Marins) and have their own training pipeline, but they can also train at the Army Training Center.
- Commando Hubert : (also named Commando d'Action Sous-Marine Hubert, CASM, "underwater operations commando"): Submarine action (combat divers).
- Commando Jaubert : Assault at sea, exfiltration, close quarters battle at sea.
- Commando Trepel : Assault at sea, exfiltration.
- Commando de Penfentenyo : Reconnaissance, Intelligence Operations (recon swimmers)
- Commando de Montfort : Long range neutralisation (missile launchers, light mortars, heavy sniper rifles), fire support designation
- Commando Kieffer : C3I, military dogs
- French Air Force (Armée de L'Air).
The Parachute Commandos (commandos parachutistes) are the élite units of the Air Force Infantry (Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air). They have their own training pipeline, but they can also train at the Army Training Center
The KSK is stationed in Calw, in the Black Forest area in southern Germany. It consists of about 1,100 soldiers, but only a nucleus of these are in fighting units. Exact numbers are not available, as this information is considered secret. The KSK is a part of the Special Operations Division (Div. Spezielle Operationen or DSO).
The fighting units are divided into four commando companies of about 100 men each and the special commando company with veteran members, taking supporting tasks. Each of the four commando companies has five specialised platoons:
- 1st platoon: land insertions
- 2nd platoon: airborne operations
- 3rd platoon: amphibious operations
- 4th platoon: operations in special geographic or meteorologic surroundings (e.g. mountains or polar-regions)
- 5th platoon: reconnaissance, sniper and counter-sniper operations
- Command Platoon
There are four commando squads in every platoon. Each of these groups consists of about four equally skilled soldiers. One of each group is specially trained as weapons expert, medic, combat engineer or communications expert respectively. Additionally a group can contain other specialists, e.g. heavy weapons or language experts.
The Para Commandos are a special forces unit of the Indian Army. Formed in 1952, the Para Commandos are the largest and most important part of the Special Forces of India. They are highly trained units of the Indian Army, meant to operate behind enemy lines.
- 1st Battalion (Special Forces)
- 2nd Battalion (Special Forces)
- 3rd Battalion (Special Forces)
- 4th Battalion (Special Forces)
- 5th Battalion (airborne battalion)
- 6th Battalion (airborne battalion)
- 7th Battalion (airborne battalion)
- 9th Battalion (Special Forces)
- 10th Battalion (Special Forces)
- 11th Battalion (Special Forces)
- 12th Battalion (Special Forces)
- 21st Battalion (Special Forces)
- 23rd Battalion (airborne battalion)
- 29th Battalion (airborne battalion)
- 31st Battalion (Rashtriya Rifles)
- 106th Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) (based at Bengaluru, Karnataka)
- 116th Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) (based at Devlali, Maharashtra)
Ghatak Commandos are tactical level commando units attached to each battalion of the army.
The Special Frontier Force is a paramilitary special force of India created on 14 November 1962. Its main goal was to conduct covert operations behind Chinese lines in the event of another Indo-China war. SFF was raised with covert operations in mind, mainly along the Indo-China border, however SFF has been fielded by R&AW and the Indian government in various covert and overt operations.
The Garud Commando Force is the Special Forces unit of the Indian Air Force. The unit derives its name from the word for eagle in Sanskrit. Garud is tasked with acting as quick response teams during attacks on critical Air Force bases and installations; as well as conducting search and rescue of downed pilots, forward air control and carrying out strikes against enemy air defences and radar installations.
A portmanteau of Komando Pasukan Khusus or "Special Forces Command", is an Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) special forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as direct action, unconventional warfare, sabotage, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, intelligence gathering and Special reconnaissance. Kopassus was founded on 16 April 1952 and like other special units within the TNI, it is able to conduct military operations in different dimensions namely Land, Sea, and Air. It gained worldwide attention after several operations such as during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and hostage release of Garuda Indonesia Flight 206.
Taifib (Indonesian: Batalyon Intai Amfibi) is an elite recon unit within the Indonesian Marine Corps which is tasked for conducting Amphibious reconnaissance and Special reconnaissance. It is operationally similar to the Combat Reconnaissance Platoon (Indonesian: Peleton Intai Tempur, abbreviated "Tontaipur") from the Army's Kostrad corps. Taifib was previously known as "Kipam" (abbreviation from: "Komando Intai Para Amfibi") which literally means in English: the Para-Amphibious reconnaissance Commandos, it was formed in 1961 under the auspices of the Indonesian Navy and like other special units within the TNI, it is able to conduct military operations in different dimensions namely Land, Sea, and Air.
In the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), one of its five branches, the elite Quds Force specialises in extraterritorial operations. In the Ground Forces, the Saberin Battalion is the most famous special unit. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy has its own Special Units of marines.
Ground Forces of Islamic Republic of Iran Army units whose members are trained at Lashkarak Takavar Training Centre:
- 23rd Takavar Division based in Parandak
- 58th Takavar Division (Zolfaghar Division) based in Shahroud
- 25th Takavar Brigade based in Pasveh
- 35th Takavar Brigade based in Kermanshah
- 45th Takavar Brigade based in Shushtar
- 55th Airborne Brigade based in Shiraz
- 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade (NOHED Brigade) based in Tehran. Mashregh News considers the unit one of the top ten commando units in the world.
- 1st Marine Brigade (Imam Hossein Brigade) based in Bandar Abbas
- 2nd Marine Brigade (Hazrat Rasul-i-Akram Brigade) based in Bushehr
- 3rd Marine Brigade (Hamza Sayyid-ush-Shuhda Brigade) based in Konarak
During the reign of the last Shah (king) of Iran, much of the naval training was created by members of the Soviet Union's Spetsnaz and the British Special Boat Service. Training is at least a 12-month process. After the recruit has demonstrated the minimum physical requirements, he is sent to a collection of schools.
On 31 August 2016, Clarksville Online reported U.S. soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Strike, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), took charge of a Ranger training program for qualified volunteers from Iraqi security forces at Camp Taji, Iraq. The Ranger training program, led by Company A, 1-502nd, is designed to lay the foundation for an elite Iraqi unit.
Shayetet 13 is the elite naval commando unit of the Israeli Navy. S'13 specializes in sea-to-land incursions, counter-terrorism, sabotage, maritime intelligence gathering, maritime hostage rescue, and boarding. The unit is respected as among the best of the world's special forces.
Primarily a field intelligence-gathering unit specializing in special reconnaissance behind enemy lines, Sayeret Matkal is also tasked with counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and foreign espionage. Modeled after the British Army's Special Air Service—from which it emulated the motto, "Who Dares, Wins"—the unit is considered to be the Israeli equivalent to the famed Delta Force of the United States.
As one of Israel's most elite commando units, Sayeret Matkal has reputedly been involved in almost every major counter-terrorism operation since its inception in 1957.
The Egoz Reconnaissance Unit is an Israeli Special Force commando unit, in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Egoz is a unit that specializes in guerrilla, anti-guerrilla warfare, behind enemy lines intelligence gathering, and more complicated ground activity. Egoz is part of the Commando Brigade but still completes basic training with the Golani Brigade.
Maglan (Also known as Unit 212) is an Israeli special forces unit which specializes in operating behind enemy lines and deep in enemy territory using advanced technologies and weaponry.
Unit 217, frequently called Duvdevan Unit is an elite special operations force within the Israel Defense Forces, part of the Oz Brigade. Duvdevan are noted for undercover operations in urban areas, during which they often wear Arab civilian clothes as a disguise. They are also known to be trained in human and mechanical counter-surveillance. Along with Sayeret Matkal, soldiers in Duvdevan are the only soldiers in the IDF authorized to wear their uniforms without identifying shoulder tabs.
Shaldag Unit, also known as Unit 5101, is an elite Israeli Air Force commando unit. Shaldag's mission is to deploy undetected into combat and hostile environments to conduct special reconnaissance, establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control and commando actions.
- 40th Rangers Strike Force
The Special Service Group (SSG) is an independent commando division of the Pakistan Army. It is an elite special operations force. Official numbers are put at 2,100 men, in 3 Battalions; however the actual strength is classified. Based at Cherat and Attock, the SSG was created in 1956 with active support from U.S. Special Operations Forces. That year the 19th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment (19 Baloch) was selected for conversion to a Special Operations Force.
The SSG also has a unit in the Pakistan Navy known as the Special Service Group Navy (SSGN). The SSGN currently maintains its headquarters in Karachi and is headed by a Pakistan Navy Commander. In 2006, the SSGN created two new groups, the Pak Seals and VBSS. The Pak Seals will operate at sea, from the air and on land.
The SSG in 2001 created a special forces unit for the Pakistan Air Force called the Special Service Wing (SSW). This new component of the Special Forces of Pakistan is still being trained and built up.
The Special Action Force (SAF) is the elite commando unit of the Philippine National Police. It is required to undergo the SAF Commando Course to be allowed to wear the SAF Beret. It also serves as the foundation course or requisite for other SAF specialization trainings such as Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Basic Airborne Course (BAC), Urban Counter Revolutionary Warfare Course (SURESHOCK), SCUBA-BUSROC (Basic Under-Water Search and Rescue Operations Course), SAF Seaborne Warfare Course (SSWC) and others.
SAF Commandos have received training from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), RAID and Yamam. The Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) of the PNP-SAF is responsible for police counter-terrorism (CT) operations nationwide.
The first modern commando type force created by the Portuguese Army was the Sapadores de Assalto (Assault Sappers), a small assault sub-unit organized inside the Army School of Engineers, by the then captain Kaulza de Arriaga, in 1947. However, the majority of the Army was opposed to the existence of special forces and the Sapadores de Assalto were soon extinct.
Later, Kaulza de Arriaga, would be appointed the first Secretary of the Air and – in this role – created the Portuguese Parachute Troops in 1956, with commando features, as part of the Portuguese Air Force and not of the Army.
In 1960, the Army created again a commando type unit, the Caçadores Especiais (Special Rifles). The Caçadores Especiais would fight in the beginning of the Portuguese Overseas War in Africa. However, the Army faction opposed to the existence of special forces prevailed again and the decision was taken to extinct the Caçadores Especiais and to extend the training given to those units to all the field units of the Army.
It was soon found impossible to train all units as Caçadores Especiais. This originated the creation of the Comandos. The first of these forces were created in Northern Angola in 1962, initially as shock sub-units of regular field battalions and later as independent units. The Comandos were designed to conduct special actions in the Portuguese territory or abroad, to fight as assault infantry / shock troops and to provide the high political and military commands with a force able to conduct irregular operations.
Beyond the above-mentioned, the Portuguese Armed and Security Forces organized and employed several other commando type forces in the Overseas Wars in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea, including the Fuzileiros Especiais (Special Marines) of the Portuguese Navy, the Flechas (Arrows) of the International and State Defense Police and the Grupos Especiais (Special Groups) of the Government of Mozambique.
Russia has several units that can be listed under the commando distinction. The 45th Detached Reconnaissance Brigade is a special reconnaissance and special operations military unit within the Russian Airborne Troops, and based near Moscow. Other specialized Russian units include:
- Multiple Spetsnaz Units
Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation 1 CDO, 1st Commando Battalion
While the use of the word commando came to refer to various elite special operations forces units in other countries in the world, South Africa retained its original name as both a well regulated quick response militia as well as a special operations forces unit defined in the worldwide fashion. From the end of the 19th until the early 21st centuries, the Commando units in the form of its original structure were used in both urban and rural areas until the end of white rule in South Africa as part of a nationwide South African Commando System.
When white rule was replaced with majority rule, the new democratic ANC led government demanded the disbandment of the commandos which they considered an obstacle to further democratic control as well as complaints of abuses. Thus, with the integration of white cities with black townships, the new ANC led urban governments immediately disbanded the urban militia commando units.
With the election of Thabo Mbeki, the process of de-arming white militias again commenced and it was announced in 2003, that the rural commandos would be disbanded. The last rural commandos were ordered disbanded by the central government over constitutional arguments.
The ANC government directed its attention toward the Reconnaissance Commandos which were the first mixed-race unit in the old SADF. During the period of rationalisation, reorganisation and integration, some Reconnaissance Regiments (Numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6) were disbanded and the members absorbed into the remaining 4 Special Forces Regiment (SFR) at Langebaan and 5 SFR at Phalaborwa as part of the South African Special Forces Brigade.
The commando brigades are air assault Helicon unit, mainly responsible for clearing enemy special forces that have infiltrated the rear of the allies.
- 201st Special Assault Brigade
- 203rd Special Assault Brigade
In the case of commando regiments, it is a unit performing infiltration missions and air-operated warfare operations that begin with invasion of land and air.
- 700th Special Assault Regiment
- 701st Special Assault Regiment
- 702nd Special Assault Regiment
- 703rd Special Assault Regiment
- 705th Special Assault Regiment
- 706th Special Assault Regiment
- Air Force
Turkish commandos typically wear blue berets. Commando brigade form the backbone of the Turkish Army's offensive capabilities, but they are not trained to conduct special operations, rather they serve as the infantry arm of the TAF. As of 2016, the number of commando brigades have been expanded to 16 to deal with the new threats, including two in the gendarme force brigade. These include:
- 1st Commando Brigade - specialized in airborne operations
- 2nd Commando Brigade
- 3rd Commando Brigade
- 4th Commando Brigade
- 5th Hakkari Mountain and Commando Brigade - specialized in mountain warfare
- 7th Commando Brigade
- 9th Commando Brigade
- 10th Commando Brigade
- 11th Commando Brigade
- 17th Commando Brigade
- 41st Commando Brigade
- 49th Commando Brigade
- Amphibious Commando Brigade - specialized in amphibious warfare and amphibious reconnaissance
- 1st Gendarmerie Commando Brigade
- 2nd Gendarmerie Commando Brigade
The most notable are the 1st Commando Brigade and the 5th Hakkari Mountain and Commando Brigade. The Hakkari Mountain and Commando Brigade was founded as a subunit of the 1st Commando Brigade and is stationed in Hakkâri Province at south-easternmost Turkey. With the rise of the Kurdish insurgency, the existing formation has been enlarged from the size of a battalion to a brigade. The 1st Commando Brigade was involved in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and fought beside airborne commandos (Bolu) and the Naval Infantry Brigade (Izmir). In 1988, 7000 commandos received training from the United States.
3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines is under the command of the Royal Navy's Commander-in-Chief Fleet. All Royal Marines (other than those in the Royal Marines Band Service) are commando trained on entry to the Corps, with supporting units and individuals from the other armed services undertaking the All Arms Commando Course as required.
The Brigade is made up of 30 (IX) Commando, 40 Commando (home base: Taunton), 42 Commando (Bickleigh, South Hams, Plymouth), 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group (HMNB Clyde, Argyll and Bute), 45 Commando (Arbroath, Scotland), the Commando Logistic Regiment, the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group (Bovington Camp (Royal Armoured Corps Centre), Dorset), 539 Assault Squadron RM, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery and 24 Commando Regiment Royal Engineers.
The Royal Marines is the largest force of its type in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
The United States continues to have no designated "commando" units; however, the closest equivalents remain the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment and United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions, which specialize in most of the same tasks and missions. The U.S. 75th Ranger Regiment is a light infantry, special operations unit of the United States Army. The regiment is headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia and is composed of one special troops battalion and three ranger battalions. The regiment is the U.S. Army's premier raid force, with specialized skills that enable them to perform a variety of missions. These include direct action, airfield seizure, airborne and air assaults, special reconnaissance, personnel recovery, and high-value target raids. It operates as a special operations force under the United States Army Special Operations Command.
During the Vietnam War the U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) instituted, "Special Operations Augmentation Recondo School," an acronym for Reconnaissance Commando. The school was at Nha Trang Air Base, north of the massive U.S. Navy and Air Force Base at Cam Ranh Bay. Recondo School trained small, heavily armed long-range reconnaissance teams the art of patrolling deep in enemy-held territory. All students were combat veterans and came from the ranks of the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps Force Recon Battalions, and the Army of the Republic of South Korea. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam had their own school.
The North Vietnamese produced some of the most effective commando units (sometimes known as sappers) of the post World War II era. Called đặc công, these units represented a force economy measure for the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and the Viet Cong. With large scale conventional attacks increasingly untenable, small commando operations came into their own, particularly after the Tet Offensive, and at times inflicted severe damage to US and ARVN troops and bases.
Commandos were originally supporting adjuncts to regular formations prior to 1967, but in time, independent formations were created throughout the Vietnam arena. Commandos could operate in support of a larger regular infantry formation, or as the main spearhead themselves, with regulars as backup. In the spearhead mode, they represented their most potent threat. A typical raiding operation was divided into 4 elements: Assault, Fire-Support, Security and Reserves. Assault teams were generally broken down into three-five man cells. Fire-support was critical, as it forced defenders to keep their heads down, while infiltrating assault elements made their final penetrations. One of the most devastating attacks was against the US Firebase, FSB Mary Ann in 1971. See chart for detailed breakdown of a typical commando raiding party. In addition, they also conducted a commando attack on the U.S. military airport in Thailand. The United States recorded a total of five attacks on airfields in Udorn, Ubon (three times) and Utapao. According to the United States the attack caused heavy damage to Udorn on a C-141, damage to some F-4s, minor damage to a helicopter HH-43. Attacks on Ubon destroyed 2 C-47 aircraft and a truck. At Utapao, a B-52 was damaged and two other B-52 bombers suffered minor damage. These are just a few examples out of many successful raids.
While small in terms of total men deployed throughout the Vietnam theater, commando attacks had a significant impact for the NLF/PAVN effort. As one US Army history puts it:
From the beginning of 1968 until mid-1969, sappers were essential to the North Vietnam war effort. Although they participated in only four percent of all assaults, these made up twelve percent of all significant assaults—those that inflicted serious damage. In 1969, the average raid inflicted more than $1,000,000 damage and accounted for more allied casualties.
The modern era Vietnam Naval Commandos are better known as "đặc công nước". Chinese sources believe that the Vietnam Naval Commandos just might be the best Special Forces unit in Asia.
The unit initially known as the 126 Frogmen Division or the "Naval Engineers Regiment 126" which was established in 1969. It is said that the Vietnam Naval Commandos sank multiple U.S. and Republic of Vietnam ships during the Vietnam war. This Division was later known as the Brigade of Marines 126. Vietnam Naval Commandos supposedly have two brigades based in Long An and Khanh Hoa. Annually the division welcomes about 30-50 special elite frogmen. The Dac Cong Nuoc specialize in reconnaissance, ambushes, raids, assassinations, and demolitions.
Later in the Sino–Vietnamese War and a series of 1979–90 border war with China, Vietnamese commandos had raided into Chinese territory and destroyed many Chinese weapons and ammunition of the People's Liberation Army, which had concerned China over the Vietnamese commandos' sudden attacks. Also, it raised concerns of the abilities of Chinese military to protect its ammunition which was relatively not modernized and relied much on the other supplies.
During the Rhodesian Bush War of 1965–1980, the Rhodesian military increased its usage of commando type of operations in fighting against insurgents until the formation of Zimbabwe. In the Rhodesian Light Infantry a Commando was also the name given to its company sized units.
- Martin Middlebrook: "The Argentine fight for the Malvinas - The Argentine Forces in the Falklands War", Pen and Sword Books, 1989, ISBN 0-670-82106-3, p. 62 "The Argentine army did not have Special Forces. In the early 70s, commandos were formed but subsequently disbanded because of the fear of the highly trained groups being used in a coup d’état. In 1975, they were reformed for the 'dirty' war and disbanded again after participating in security during the 1978 Football World Cup. The trained commandos were dispersed throughout the army. About 80 men were assembled in the 601st and 602nd Commando companies and send to the Falkland Islands. They were beefed up with SWAT-like teams from the Gendarmería Nacional – paramilitary frontier guards."
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