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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 Boat Service (SBS) is an elite special forces unit of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. The SBS can trace its origins back to the Second World War when the Army Special Boat Section was formed in 1940. After the Second World War, the Royal Marines formed special forces with several name changes—Special Boat Company was adopted in 1951 and re-designated as the Special Boat Squadron in 1974—until on 28 July 1987 when the unit was renamed as the Special Boat Service after assuming responsibility for maritime counter-terrorism. Most of the operations conducted by the SBS are highly classified, and are rarely commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to their sensitive nature.

The Special Boat Service is the maritime special forces unit of the United Kingdom Special Forces and is described as the sister unit of the British Army 22 Special Air Service Regiment (22 SAS), with both under the operational control of the Director Special Forces. In October 2001, full command of the SBS was transferred from the Royal Marines to the Royal Navy, while the green beret remained with the Marines. On 18 November 2003, the SBS were given their own cap badge with the motto "By Strength and Guile". This follows opening recruitment from only the Royal Marines to all three services of the British Armed Forces. The SBS has traditionally been manned mostly by Royal Marines Commandos. Read more...

Selected biography

General Bryan D. Brown

Bryan Douglas "Doug" Brown (born October 20, 1948) is a retired four-star United States Army general. He retired in 2007 after four decades of military service. In his final assignment, he served as the seventh commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), from September 2, 2003, until July 9, 2007. As USSOCOM's commander, he was responsible for all unified special operations forces (SOF), both active duty and reserve.

Brown joined the United States Army in 1967 as a private in the infantry and after graduating from Special Forces Qualification Course, he became a Green Beret. He enrolled in Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1970. After attending Army Aviation School, he deployed to Vietnam as a UH-1 helicopter pilot. After the Vietnam War, he was part of a task force that would go on to later found the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in 1981. During his stint in the 160th SOAR, Brown took part in numerous contingency operations in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1983, Brown participated in the invasion of Grenada where his unit became the first aviation unit to use night vision goggles in combat. In the late 1980s, he led the 160th as it was assigned to Operation Prime Chance in the Persian Gulf amidst the Iran–Iraq War. Shortly thereafter, he commanded a battalion within 160th SOAR during Operation Desert Storm; after which he was promoted to colonel and commander of the regiment. After leaving 160th SOAR, Brown served at the helm of Joint Special Operations Command from 1998–2000 and then U.S. Army Special Operations Command from 2000–2002.

In 2002, Brown became the deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and, holding the post until 2003 when he was selected to replace Air Force General Charles R. Holland as Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Shortly after becoming the head of USSOCOM, in 2004, he was involved in the aftermath of the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident which culminated when he testified before the congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2007. Also during his tenure in command of USSOCOM, he announced the creation of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in 2006. Brown retired in 2007 after leading USSOCOM through four years of the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan. Read more...

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Special Air Service in North Africa E 21337.jpg

British Special Air Service members in north Africa during World War II.

Photo credit: Keating (Capt) No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit

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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