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The Special Forces Command (Turkish: Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı), nicknamed Maroon Berets (Turkish: Bordo Bereliler) because of their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations unit of the Turkish Armed Forces made up of volunteers rigorously selected from all branches of the Armed Forces. The OKK may be considered as the Turkish counterpart of the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets).[2]

Special Forces Command
Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı.jpg
Shoulder patch of the Special Forces Command
Country Turkey
BranchGeneral Staff
TypeSpecial Forces
RoleUnconventional warfare
Special operations
Combat Search and Rescue
Nickname(s)Maroon Berets
Bordo Bereliler
Motto(s)"Death Comes With Us"
"One Dies, Thousand Rises"
ColorsMaroon      (claret red)
MarchAlay Marşı (Regiment March)
Brigadier General Ahmet Ercan Çorbacı
Korkut Eken

Engin Alan

Zekai Aksakallı

Aydoğan Aydın



The Special Forces are not aligned to any of the three branches of the TAF, receiving its orders directly from the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey.[3][4] Its forerunner was the Special Warfare Department (Turkish: Özel Harp Dairesi).

The Maroon Berets, along with Su Altı Taarruz (Underwater Offence) and Su Altı Savunma (Underwater Defence), is one of three special units of the Turkish military.

Although the Special Forces is considered a division-level formation, this includes non-combatant units and administrative duties personnel as well, the combatant size of the OKK is not greater than 500.[5]

Since its creation, the unit has been tasked with fighting terrorism. Each member is highly trained, and knows on average 2 languages and can handle a large variety of firearms and equipment.

Beginning and involvement in the Korean WarEdit

The unit was founded in 1952 under the name Hususi ve Yardımcı Muharip Birlikleri. It was deployed to have powers to perform covert operations behind enemy lines for intelligence gathering and command operations. Due to the changed military situation after the 1990s, in 1992, their name changed to "Maroon Berets" (Turkish: Bordo Bereliler).

Its current color and name comes from designator of the new unit, Kaşif Kozinoğlu which was fan of Turkish football club Trabzonspor.[6]

In a bid to gain membership into NATO, Republic of Turkey sent army troops to combat during the Korean War. At the time the United States military didn't have special operations team, therefore, the Maroon Berets were the only special operations team to operate in the Korean War. MB (Maroon Beret) officers would operate assault missions into the North Korean territory and would recon and intelligence gathering missions into China. MB commandos were the only foreign armed force to operate on Chinese soil at that time. As of this date, the exact details and operations of the MB commandos in the Korean War remains classified.

1974 Turkish Invasion of CyprusEdit

The Maroon Berets remained highly active in the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974 ( also known as the 1974 Turkish-Greek war) and played a major role in the outcome of the (Turkish victory) war. Turkish MB commandos priority throughout the war was to eliminate the Greek Junta armed force in Cyprus which would ultimately cause the collapse of the Greek Junta Political-Military heavily armed force.

The Maroon Berets and the Turkish Army would achieve this through two Invasions Invasion A and Invasion B with invasion scout and reconnaissance missions prior to Invasion A and Invasion B. Maroon Beret commandos would land undetected using high-speed attack boats for Scouting and reconnaissance before the two main Invasion landing.

They would sneak for miles giving locations for the main invasion landing vessels to land on, bomb coordinates for the Air Force to strike, map terrain, mark danger zones and hidden minefields for the upcoming invading soldiers and plant charges to blow during the invasion.

Their scouting and reconnaissance would last from 3 hours to 3 days. These missions were often highly risky and critical for the safety of Turkish Infantry troops, tanks, and transport vehicles.

War on the PKK and Turkish incursions into Northern IraqEdit

The Maroon Berets conduct daily operations against the PKK terrorist organization in the ongoing clashes between Turkish Security forces and PKK Terrorists in an effort for an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Aside from daily operations Maroon Berets participated and led the Turkish Army into battle in 5 Invasions into Northern Iraq as far as 32 kilometers.

October 5, 1992, Operation Northern Iraq, in retaliation to simultaneous attacks on 3 Turkish Gendarme Station which left 28 soldiers dead and 125 wounded. The Turkish Military captured 1,232 PKK members and had killed another 1,551.

March 20, 1995, Operation Steel in retaliation of a PKK attack which left 64 Turkish soldiers dead and another 185 wounded. Result in the killing of 555 PKK members and the capture and execution of 13.

May 12, 1997, Operation Hammer in retaliation a PKK attack which left 114 Turkish soldiers dead and another 338 wounded. Turkish Forces killed 2,730 and captured 415, all to be executed after prison sentences of 25 years.

September 25, 1997, Operation Dawn, in retaliation to another attack which killed 31 Turkish soldiers and 91 wounded. Turkish forces killed 865 and captured 37.

February 21, 2008 Operation Sun in retaliation to a 5th PKK attack which killed 27 Turkish soldiers. Turkish Forces would kill 240 and capture 320, to jail.

All of the Invasions were led by Maroon Beret commandos followed by Gendarme Commandos and then by Army Soldiers.

Also, they lead Operation Euphrates Shield and had an important role at Operation Olive Branch.


Volunteers initially face a pass/fail written exam as well as physical and psychological tests. Those who pass the exams become special forces candidates. Adequate linguistic skills in at least one foreign language is a plus for admission. The candidates then have to complete a challenging training period which lasts around 3.5 years. Many drop out during this intense training period. Training encompasses fitness; obstacle courses; a range of martial arts; high-altitude mountain warfare school; close quarters combat (CQC); biological/chemical/nuclear warfare; parachuting; diving; sniping; demolition; counter-terrorism; search and rescue; stealth search and destroy; reconnaissance; and survival. Learning foreign languages is a part of the training. During the training, candidates are pushed by their instructors to their limits, both physically and mentally. The training schedule includes all aspects of a modern-day regular and psychological warfare. 100 km (62 mi) terrain-walking with a 40 kg (88 lb). The load is an example of what the candidates have to go through during training.

Training and recruitmentEdit

There are three categories of education and training that an MB will undergo. These are Domestic, International and Specialty

Within these three categories, there are 47 different subjects. Domestic training takes 72 weeks of basic training; International training takes 10 to 52 weeks of specialized training in different countries. It takes 3.5 – 5 years to become an MB commando.

The Maroon Berets came into the public spotlight when they captured the PKK terrorist organization leader Abdullah Öcalan in Kenya. The identities of MB personal is classified. Unlike other special operations teams, MB Officers are battle hardened and are constantly operating and are active in the war on the PKK in the southeastern Iraqi border region of Turkey and even cross-border action into Northern Iraq.

Maroon Berets are all recruited from high-rank Army officers who volunteer to join. Each recruit must have at least served 3 years as an Army soldier and must have a certain amount of time received by Army operations either from exercises or actual clashes.

They must undergo:

a) Domestic training which takes 72 weeks

b) International training takes 10 to 52 weeks depending on the rank of the volunteering officer.

c) Specialty. After graduating from Special Operations Training commandos are tested before officially becoming an MB officer. They are expected to survive in all environmental conditions for at least 2 weeks, so they are left as an entire team in different environments each on with no equipment or help for 2 weeks as a part of the final testing stage. If they survive they become MB commandos. On the last month of training, Maroon Berets receive interrogation and torture training. The last month of training is called hell month, similar to the United States Navy Seals hell week training.

Trust Shot training programEdit

The Trust Shot (in Turkish "Güven Atışı") is a part of the MB's training program. It is exercised on the last month of the training and is to ensure that the soldiers can trust each other with their lives. The Trust Shot consists of two members of a squad standing next to paper target boards, while another member fires on the targets with a handgun while walking towards them from 15 m (49 ft) away. During the exercise, the men standing next to the targets are not allowed to move or wear body armor. They are one of the few special operations teams in the world to perform the trust shot.[7]

Special Aviation GroupEdit

Special Aviation Group provides helicopter support for command's missions. The helicopters have been modernized and can operate in night/day, integrated and in sync.[8][9][10]

Role in 2016 Turkish coup d'état attemptEdit

A key figure of the coup was brigadier general Semih Terzi, who was Deputy Commander of the Special Forces at the time and the highest ranking field commander during the coup attempt. He led a team of roughly 40 special forces operatives in an attempt to secure Special forces Headquarters and organize attacks against government agencies and the parliament. The attempt ended in failure, when senior master sergeant Ömer Halisdemir, a noncommissioned officer (NCO) with the Turkish military’s Special Forces Command (OKK), shot and killed Semih Terzi, demoralizing and disrupting command and control of the rebels.[11][12]



  1. ^ Uslu, Emrullah (July 10, 2008). "Tackling the PKK: New Directions for Turkey's Special Forces". Terrorism Monitor. Jamestown Foundation. VI (14): 9–11. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  2. ^ Pike, John. "Turkey - Special Forces Command, General Staff Headquarters (Ozel Kuvvetler Komutanligi - O.K.K.)".
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Onlar TSK'nın bel kemiği - Sayfa 8 Sabah - Fotohaber - Gündem - 05 Eylül 2015 Cumartesi". Archived from the original on 2015-10-06. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "TSK: Öyle bir atış şekli yok, 'güven atışı' var - Hürriyet Gündem". Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  8. ^ "HELICOPTER AVIONICS MODERNIZATION - Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  9. ^ "HELİKOPTER MODERNİZASYON PROGRAMLARI - TUSAŞ-Türk Havacılık ve Uzay Sanayii A.Ş." Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  10. ^ "Türkiye'nin yeni Karaşahini: T-70 Helikopteri". Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-02. Retrieved 2018-02-01.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

Further readingEdit

  Media related to Special forces of Turkey at Wikimedia Commons

  • Lale Sariibrahimoglu, 'Live-fire exercises shine spotlight on Turkey's special forces,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 January 2004