There are soldiers, and then there are special soldiers. Whether for good or for evil, soldiers who fall under the heading of “Special Forces” are a subject of awe and fascination all over the world.
Consider the case of most Hollywood “action heroes” of the male persuasion: How many of them have not played the role of a Special Forces operative, whether a Green Beret, a member of Britain’s SAS, or even (if playing against type in a villainous role) the sinister Russian Spetsnaz?
Soldiers who serve in a Special Forces unit are considered the best of the best and the toughest of the tough. The Special Forces fighter is truly a special breed of soldier, and the legends and mythology concerning them are too numerous to mention. Here is a list of some of the world’s most celebrated Special Forces units.
10. America’s Green Berets
Hollywood heroes from John Wayne to Sly Stallone have worn the celebrated Green Beret, and for good reason: the American Special Forces fighter is the pinnacle of military might and macho toughness.
While America’s role in Vietnam has come under fire right from day one, no one has ever disputed the role these great fighters played in that infamous and ill fated conflict. For anyone who even dares to, one squinty eyed stare from John Rambo ought to be enough to convince them to hold their tongue.
9. Russia’s Alpha Group
While most of the world’s Special Forces groups operate under the philosophy of “Bring ’em back alive”, Russia’s elite Alpha Group seems to function under a quite different set of marching orders.
Having initially gained worldwide, err, fame, for a mission to the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the course of which they proceeded to slaughter every last inhabitant of the building, the Alpha Group has proceeded merrily on their way ever since. Rumors are already swirling around the world that they may well be functioning on Ukrainian territory as this article goes to press.
8. France’s GIGN
Who’s afraid of big, bad France? Okay, let’s rephrase that. Although known primarily as the native home of “cat house” olfactory gags and Inspector Clouseau, let’s not forget that the French do have one of history’s greatest conquerors, Napoleon, to crow about (despite the fact that he hailed from Corsica and was arguably more Italian than French).
Nonetheless, the GIGN of France has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most fearsome and effective Special Forces units. Formed in response to the massacre of Olympic athletes in Munich in 1972, the GIGN has since made a name for itself in a myriad of operations in Djibouti, Bosnia, and the celebrated 1994 rescue of the passengers of the hijacked Flight 8969 in Marseilles. So, why not open up a bottle of vintage Bordeaux, plaster some Brie cheese on a cracker, and salute the noble GIGN?
7. America’s Delta Force
Where is there to go when you’ve already served in the Green Berets and the Rangers? Where else, indeed, but the elite of the American Special Forces, the Delta Force? Since its formation in 1977, the super exclusive Delta Force is so exclusive, so elite that very few of their missions have ever been declassified. Simply put, hardly one in a million Americans knows precisely why they exist, much less what they do. How’s that for hardcore?
6. Canada’s JTF2
Special Forces, eh? Many readers may be surprised to know that our neighbor to the north, Great White Canada, has an elite Special Forces group of its own. The JTF2 was apparently first put together in 1993, and was significantly expanded after the 9/11 attacks. Since then, the elite band of brothers has undertaken missions all across the world. One of its most celebrated exploits was a series of missions in Afghanistan that were so secret that the very Prime Minister himself was only alerted concerning them after the fact.
5. Pakistan’s SSG
While the precise size and nature of Pakistan’s (rumored to be many) Special Forces groups remains a mystery, enough is known about the elite SSG group for it to rate a mention on this list. The SSG, since its formation in 1956, has concentrated largely on anti-terrorist operations in the war torn country and its immediate neighbors, including Afghanistan.
Since then, the group has won fame in operations at the Lahore Police Academy and the Military Headquarters of the nation itself. For being a stalwart name on the front line of the war against international terror, the SSG more than earns its place on this list.