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Special forces, or special operations forces are military units used to trained to perform unconventional (not ordinary), difficult, often high-risk missions. They are highly-trained and are the most valuable units in the world. Because of the hard training and the high risk, there are not many special forces units. Those elite units are often used to operate deep behind enemy lines. In a war they are also used for unconventional warfare.
Military special forces
Because special forces are really rare, they mostly have to do unusual, difficult things like:
- Gathering intelligence
- Destroying targets (for example bunkers, ports, missiles etc.)
- Protecting and rescueing important people
- Unconventional warfare
Special forces were very important in the history of warfare where war is more defined as "hit and run" and sabotage and not traditional army combat, where quantity was more important than quality.
The Chinese strategist Jiang Ziya said about 1,000 B.C. ago that such elite units had many advantages, recruiting talented and motivated men to be serving in specialised units should be more important than any other things.
Special forces were formed in the early 20th century, during World War I. In this "big" war, military operations in enemy terrority showed up tactical benefits. They were often used to sabotage enemy infrastructure like radio stations, which are important for communication between the troops.
Special forces units gained more importance during World War II, when technology became more important at a warfield.
Our mission is to kill people and destroy things. [...] We are killers, not auxiliaries or instructors.
- the British Special Air Service (SAS), ~500 men
- the American Delta Force unit, ~1.100 men
- the United States Navy SEALs, ~2.400 men
- the Polish GROM, ~300 men
- "Chapter 4: Special Operation Forces in Annual Report to the President and the Congress (1998)". US Government. http://www.dod.mil/execsec/adr98/chap4.html. Retrieved 11-05-2012.
- see Anglim, Simon: Special Forces - Strategic Asset.: Infinity Journal, 2/2011, p.16.
- Gray, Colin S.: War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History, London: Routledge 2007, S. 284.
- Hartmut Schauer: US Ranger. Die Geschichte einer Elitetruppe. Motorbuchverlag, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-613-01581-1. (German)