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Introduction

U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Commandos training in Jordan

Special operations (S.O.) are military, law enforcement or intelligence operations that are "special" or unconventional and carried out by dedicated special forces and other special operations forces units using unconventional methods and resources. Special operations may be performed independently, or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does not exist or might adversely affect the overall strategic outcome. Special operations are usually conducted in a low-profile manner that aims to achieve the advantages of speed, surprise, and violence of action against an unsuspecting target. Special ops are typically carried out with limited numbers of highly trained personnel that are adaptable, self-reliant and able to operate in all environments, and able to use unconventional combat skills and equipment. Special operations are usually implemented through specific, tailored intelligence.

Selected article

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.

The corps currently consists of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component under operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, as well as the 21st (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and the 23rd Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under operational command of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.

The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War. It was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, which is part of the regular army, gained fame and recognition worldwide after its televised rescue of all but one of the hostages held during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege. Read more...

Selected biography

Leroy Arthur Petry (born 29 July 1979) is a career United States Army soldier, now retired. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Petry had an active youth, and joined the Army after high school. Completing the Ranger Indoctrination Program, he was deployed several times to both Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. On 26 May 2008, during his seventh deployment, Petry was a member of a team on a mission to capture a Taliban target in Paktia Province. Despite being wounded in both legs by gunfire, Petry continued to fight and give orders. When a grenade landed between him and two other soldiers, Petry grabbed it and attempted to throw it away from them. He saved the soldiers' lives but the grenade exploded, severing his right hand.

Petry became the second recent living recipient of the medal for the war in Afghanistan in 2011 when he received the award from U.S. President Barack Obama. Opting to reenlist in spite of his injury, Petry remained on active duty in the U.S. Army until his retirement on 29 July 2014. Read more...

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SEAL Michael A. Monsoor.jpg

Posthumous Medal of Honor recipient United States Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor patrolling the streets of Baghdad in 2006.

Photo credit: DOD employee

Did you know?

Rhyner during his 2008 deployment to Afghanistan prior to the Battle of Shok Valley

... that for his actions during the Battle of Shok Valley in 2008, Combat Controller Zachary Rhyner (pictured) became the first living recipient of the Air Force Cross since the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993?

... that the commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), Major General Mark A. Clark, first got involved in special operations through an officer exchange program with the U.S. Air Force?

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