Top 10 Most Elite Special Forces in the WorldSpecial operations units are by far the most well trained soldiers on the planet, and for good reason. They are preparing to be sent into some of the toughest situations on the planet; literal life or death missions.
This list is for the special operations forces that are the most prepared, most well trained, most capable, and most likely to complete their objectives.
Fact: Nearly ALL the world's Special Forces base their military model on the British SAS. In fact, the USA's Delta Force was set up after the founder spent time attached to the SAS. Delta Force even uses an SAS organizational structure, utilizing troops and squadrons. It's often remarked that the sand beret is also worn by US Rangers, but this was a recent development and, in any case, the Rangers are NOT the same kind of unit. It can be said with confidence that the world's most professional special forces belong to Britain.
The Special Air Service is the number one fighting force in the world. It is trained to perform equally well in all the fields listed for the SEALs, but is also trained by MI-5 and MI-6 for in-depth counter-espionage, more so than the SEALs. Physical competency must be of equal stature to the SEALs, to the degree that both special forces work closely together when necessary (Iraq and Afghanistan) and have good camaraderie.
The SEALs are the best in the world today. Arguing about physical, mental, and emotional training is moot because all special ops units are elite in those categories. However, the SEALs have advantages over others due to the unparalleled US military budget, which provides them with training in every geographical and climate scenario. The US has been active in wars around the globe since the Cold War, providing the SEALs with actual battlefield experience and proven results. Whereas most other units belong to nations that have not been at war for many years. At the end of the day, the SEALs blow past the competition because of their incredibly advanced technology and endless firepower. Upon completion of duty, former SEALs are the most hired consultants by other nations to oversee training for their respective units than any other special ops organization.
Indian MARCOS are one of the best forces present in the world. They are HALO and HAHO trained and are equipped with the best assault rifles, sniper rifles, and real-time warfare equipment required. These individuals are emotionally well-trained and highly motivated when it comes to defending their own country. The rejection rate during the selection process is as high as 98%, which is why India has only 2000 marine commandos. Sooner or later, this special group will rise to the top, and it won't be long before MARCOS deliver a decisive blow to Pakistan, a country known for promoting terrorism.
See, Indian special forces, or MARCOS, are the ones who are prepared for the worst-ever situations. So, they are the best.
Secondly, unfortunately, we, as India, have had a number of bad experiences, such as terrorism, war fronts, hill terrain warfare, and seafront wars. But the good thing is that we are more familiar with these situations, so we know better than anyone else how to face them. Thus, they are trained with all these things in view.
Thirdly, India is a land of different terrains. Almost all types are available here, so they are trained in different terrains.
Lastly, but not least, you can come up with a strategy for a mind-driven person or a powerful enemy, but for someone who is emotionally driven with a fire of enthusiasm and love for the country, you can't stop them.
The Israeli Naval Commandos have always had a strong reputation for what they are capable of. A highly well-trained group of soldiers capable of assaults by sea, air, or land and specializing in maritime operations. Arguments will most likely be made as to why this unit is not a top 5 unit. Most funding to Israeli special ops units like Shayetet 13, Matkal, and Shaldag comes from the United States. Therefore, since they are relying on an uncertain external force to keep them afloat, I consider their foundation too fragile to rank higher.
The best-trained Israeli force is Sayeret Matkal, directly dependent on the Prime Minister, not the IDF. Among other feats, it performed the Entebbe rescue. The funding of Israeli special forces does not depend on the US, nor does the funding of the IDF. Israel funds its armed forces with its own money. It receives 2% of the funding from the US, and it is used on US-made equipment. The top anti-terror unit in the world is the Israeli YAMAM, which is part of the Israeli Border Police. It has won the SWAT competition in the US for three years in a row. MATKAL is a force with enormous resources, a mixture of SAS and Delta, but specialized in the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin.
Very brave and courageous. A Russian president once said that if he had Pakistan's army and Russian weapons, he could conquer the entire world because they are very brave.
The SSG had only 100 men in the Battle of the Hill in Afghanistan, in which they posed as Mujahideen and attacked the Russian regiments of Spetsnaz there. They won the battle although the enemy had the elevation of their posts and superior numbers on their side. In another case, only 100 SSGs cleared 3 towns in the Swat District from 2,000 Taliban in a matter of 2 days!
It is not the weapon they hold. It's the men behind it that matters. No matter how the West views them, simply because the word MUSLIM is attached to their identity. I wonder if they know that that exact word is their strength. It is impossible to separate the two.
I think the Russian military is much better for anyone who wants to serve. They have the hardest training I have ever seen, maybe except for Taiwan's leopard crawl. While the training could kill you, it is worth it in the end. The hand-to-hand training seems more skilled than in any other country. The flexibility of the trainees is absolutely amazing. People say Russia is a terrible place for anyone, including the military personnel, but if we're being honest, they take better care of their soldiers than the U.S. does. We have slacked on our military training in every branch, while Russia always seems to make everyone else's look like they are just playing games.
Their training includes torture and beatings (in order to make them pain-resistant), breaking concrete blocks with their bare hands or heads, being hit with wood and glass bottles, and many more things that are banned in Western countries and deemed immoral.
By the way, they have what, for me, are the best assault rifles in the world: the AK family. Big caliber, extremely reliable, and so simple a baby could fix it in the field. They just lack Picatinny rails, which the newest AKs have.
They also undergo extensive training in Systema, which is their martial art. It features almost any movement you can imagine. It's a very deadly martial art, which turns Spetsnaz operators into people who are basically impossible to beat in hand-to-hand combat.
So that's it, basically. If they were equipped with the same material that USSOCOM units have, they would be clearly superior.
However, their history in respect to hostage situations is very bad. They get the job done but have no concern about collateral damage. If they have to rescue 12 hostages and kill 5 terrorists, the operation will almost surely result in 17 dead.
I believe it's kind of hard to determine which special forces unit is "better," as they all tend to have their own specialties and therefore are better or worse depending on the situation. However, given Delta's secrecy, 100% accuracy marksmanship training, and incredibly high-risk training methods (for example: using live ammunition in hostage simulations while their comrades play the roles of the hostages), and also seeing how Delta recruits from other special forces groups while many others have "open tryouts," I'd say that Delta Force is at least the most "badass."
The Delta Force is the best special operations group in the world. They are better than the SEALS in every way (except amphibious operations). They follow a philosophy that gets the right people, not just the best. You can be the best at what you do and still not get into the unit. Delta has more brains and brawn than everyone else and can perform the largest variety of operations with maximum efficiency. They invent their own equipment if they need to. That's how the NVGs with the four tubes were invented. There is so much more that they can do better than everyone else.
Rangers and SEALs will never be as good as the Green Berets. True, Rangers are ready to go on a dime, but so are airborne units and pretty much every other special ops unit in the military. It's not hard to kick in doors, etc. Direct-action units like Rangers and SEALs are elite, but Green Berets can not only do everything they can but also have one of the biggest advantages: the fact that they can go into another country and topple it from the inside without the help of conventional forces. Overall, say what you will, but Green Berets are the best there are.
I don't know anything about other forces, but my dad was a Green Beret and he trained me in subtle ways my entire life. Their training has obviously stayed with them to their core and they are perfect and godlike to me. Aside from fighting skills, they have taught me how to be patient and calm in stressful situations, how to observe and engage others while sizing up situations. I think they're the best because they're not just badass jocks. They are suffused with something different, something extremely honorable, and their presence alone almost imperceptibly asks that of others around them.
And more than anything, they have taught me the importance of KEEPING A SECRET. All my life, whenever I've been told something in confidence, I've never repeated it. I was told, "They're weaker than you and I, and usually share secrets because they have nothing better to say."
"I've got a girl in every port bay..."
They are the guys whom the USA calls when they have a mission behind enemy lines (Afghanistan, Iraq are confirmed examples) that they want to keep very secret and quiet. Most of the time, for years, nobody even knows that any operations were conducted. They were operating in Iraq for at least a year before the official invasion (confirmed 10 years later). They also specialize in search and rescue operations behind enemy lines - yes, they rescued SEALs from the hands of Saddam's soldiers, more than once. Currently, there are rumors that SEALs visit Poland to get training from GROM.
Polish GROM is in the same league as the British SAS, US Navy Seals, and Delta Force. It has been created and trained based on the same principles and standards as them. In my opinion, GROM should be within the world's top four special units. Just ask the British and Americans who have carried out quite a few special operations with GROM. They will tell you what GROM is worth.
The Ranger Regiment is working at a consistently higher level than nearly any other operational unit on the planet. There are only a handful of Tier 1 assets across the globe that can boast an equal operational tempo, higher rate of success, or more difficult training cycle than the Regiment. No other unit is harder to stay in than the Regiment. Others may be harder to get to, but none are as difficult to remain within due to the nature of the training and constant deployment schedule. The Regiment of "Black Hawk Down" is unrecognizable in terms of the type of mission sets the Regiment is performing today. If people knew just what the Regiment really did today, I think you'd find them well within the top 5 on this and any other list around.
I personally know and/or have met many active-duty, recently- and long-retired Rangers from Battalion 2 at Fort Lewis-McChord over the last several years and do not believe that a more highly and diversely skilled, dedicated, discreet, intelligent, loyal-for-life, and unwaveringly committed Special Force unit exists within the United States military. The cumulative past and present successful missions, including retrieving other military branches' Special Forces, are because of every Ranger's competencies and bravery.
The fact that the Army Rangers' long legacy of "top-of-class" mission success is rarely publicized or commercialized underscores an unwavering, lifelong commitment to do what is necessary for every American's well-being around the world. Thank you all!
JTF-2 remains the only foreign special operation unit to be inducted into the American Tier 1 ranking (along with Delta and Seal Team 6). Furthermore, JTF-2 is a military unit specifically requested to perform operations that were seen as incapable for other special forces such as Seals, Green Berets, and Delta during operations in Afghanistan. They are experts trained to operate in the world's deadliest terrains, where they specifically train in frozen and mountainous environments. Information about JTF-2 members is deemed classified, and members of the unit cannot inform family members of their involvement within the unit. It is one of the most guarded and secret special forces units in the world - products of a nation that values training rather than the advancement of weapon technology above all else.
As a Canadian citizen, I can tell you how under the radar these guys are. Almost no one knows about JTF2. Their size is unknown. They could be larger than any special force in the world. No one will know. Another factor that makes Canada's JTF2 unique is that countries don't suspect Canada as a major threat and contributor in anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency, which allows them to operate with little international pressure. Technically, Canadian soldiers are considered to be some of the best-trained and equipped in the world, with a great salary. I can only imagine the quality of the soldiers in JTF2.
The most highly trained amphibious special forces in the world. Picked from the same stock as the SAS, they don't get as much publicity but are just as effective and successful. The SEALs are great, but the SBS are the best in this category. They have been completing missions like Operation Anaconda since 1940 and we've never heard a word of it. The SAS and the SEALs might be the show ponies these days, but the SBS have always been the prize workhorses of the British and NATO special forces.
Easily one of the most difficult trainings to pass, they have great leaders, both currently and historically, use some very well-made weaponry and equipment, and most of all, they bring all that together to result in success in every arena of combat they are placed in.
The SBS, in the main, are selected from the Royal Marines, which have the longest and most extensive infantry training in NATO. Mountain leader training alone takes one and a half years! Therefore, the benchmark has already been set for very professional military skills. Many more were initially selected for 14 Intelligence in Ireland, due to their ability to undertake undercover lone working with MI6, where many initial SAS failed to adapt to this crossover type of work. They were the preferred choice during Task Force Black due to their more reflective and planned approach, relative to the SAS, who already set a high benchmark.
They undertake all the same skills as the SAS and fought alongside them unofficially in Vietnam, Malaya, Borneo, and Sierra Leone. They pioneered parachuting to water, oil rig, and boat rescue. They kayak for massive distances and dive from subs. They carry considerably more weight, not including the kayak! In short, water-based endurance and skills are far more challenging, particularly in the cold waters of Norway!
Their job is to enter quickly and leave quickly. The road to becoming a KSK Soldier is harsh. To become a KSK soldier, you have to march with full gear through treacherous terrain, swim in water that is around 1 degree Celsius, and walk up a mountain with wet gear and a log on your back, which in total weighs around 50 kg. After walking up the mountain, they have to make it back to their base, again, jogging with full gear. After all the physical work is done, they have to take a written test which assesses if they can still solve problems while they are exhausted. This week is called "Höllen Woche" in German, or "Hell Week."
The German KSK are an elite commando unit of the German military and cross-train very often with the elite police unit known as GSG9. The German KSK have been involved in training many other European special forces units and have a high reputation among military leaders around the world.
Aus SAS operations from Vietnam to Afghanistan speak for themselves. This force is highly regarded by British and US special forces commanders and regularly trains side by side. The Aus SAS selection is considered by many to be the toughest on the planet, as it is basically the same as the British selection but in more rugged, hostile, and very hot conditions. In the absence of a Marine Corps, the Aus SAS also train like the British SBS or US Navy Seals. It staggers belief that they are not listed here in the top 3 to 5, as they have been by military experts in other more thoroughly investigated or official almanacs. Perhaps this is because most of the opinions come from countries with much larger populations and patriotic bias.
The training for the SAS is incredibly hard here in Australia. In harsh conditions and training with heavy loads in groups, it really tests mental and physical strength. Even after completing the selection course, there is still a 70% chance you will get kicked out of the SAS. After the selection course, there are still many more challenges and tasks to complete. It is extremely tough, and the results over the last 30 years speak for themselves: Vietnam, Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria/Iraq.
With its headquarters in Cijantung, East Jakarta, KOPASSUS is considered to be an elite force that has traditionally emphasized its small size and quick-strike potential. It has been involved in numerous military actions in response to internal Indonesian unrest. KOPASSUS units were involved in 1981 in freeing the hostages from the "Woyla," the Garuda Airline plane hijacked by followers of Imran, leader of an Islamic splinter movement in West Java. Imran forced the plane to land at Don Muang Airport in Thailand. KOPASSUS troops were dispatched to Thailand and brilliantly overwhelmed the hijackers. Around 90 troops from KOPASSUS were dispatched to Irian Jaya when a rebel group took hostages. They left the province without rescuing the remaining captives in 1996. KOPASSUS members climbed Mount Everest in 1997.
They're all brutally trained to make up for our machinery and weaponry, obviously. The thing is, they aren't just physically trained like any other special forces in the world. Their martial arts also focus on psychological and spiritual endurance. They meditate and train their energy or chakra to be able to do things impossible for a normal person, like driving and fighting with their eyes closed. They can break bricks and steel with their bare hands, thighs, and even heads. They have the strongest survival skills as well. Trust me, you can just drop these guys in the middle of the thickest Amazon or even in the middle of the Sahara Desert, and they'll make it out alive.
According to historians (UK historians, actually), France has the best ratio in terms of winning major conflicts. People should remember that we're talking about a major nuclear, diplomatic power, consistently for 300 years. That counts for something.
I went to French Commando School #7 (Trier, Germany). Trained with a platoon of Americans, a platoon of Germans, a platoon of British, and French. Awesome training. Lots of high climbing, rappelling, hand-to-hand, and extreme endurance.
France has actually WON more wars than any other nation in history. This is what makes the British and their cousins so angry and disdainful about it.
They are the most highly trained force in the world. They have a longer boot camp than any of the other three branches in the United States military. They are skilled in many different kinds of martial arts. I would pit a United States Marine Sergeant against a Navy SEAL any day of the week. They were the first to respond to the call in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Marines are who you send in when the Army just won't cut it. Born in 1775, they are the smallest but the most well-trained warriors on Earth.
The most elite fire support team in the world, and the only one that has the U.S. Department of Defense distinction of calling in strikes from air, land, and sea.
The US Marines are number 1 on this list. The US Army is second, and the Navy SEALs are third. Read military history about the battle victories that saved the world from complete destruction. Semper Fi.
I have no idea how Alpha Group, the group that is an elite part of the already elite Spetsnaz, is ranked so far below the Spetsnaz. The French GIGN also deserves a better rank as well.
Honestly, all I have heard about Alpha Group is that they shut down the power in a part of Ukraine for training.
Spetsnaz on steroids.
111 Trp, tough boys with brotherhood/teamwork that fits all situations. Green berets are not easy to get. However, SAS are in another league, but no one recognizes SBS as they are undercover and even most Brits have not heard of them. After the siege in London where the SAS was exposed, the SBS now use the SAS title as they do not want publicity but just to complete missions. The fact is that Royal Marines are in the top 10, SAS in the top 5, but SBS in the top 2. Seeing this table, it is just wrong. However, you guys should check out Unit 777 and the Turks. Jesus, they are tough. Out of the two, I would say Unit 777 would wipe them out. They could even potentially join SBS in the battle for the top 2. Dangerous bunch.
Although not technically special forces, I would argue that these guys should be higher up on the list. Not only do they possess the professionalism, humility, and physical attributes that come with being a Royal Marines Commando, but they also have the mentality to keep going until they can physically no longer take another step. That's just basic training.
Good bunch of fighters. Well-trained and well-disciplined.
Unmatched expertise and training. These are the absolute best soldiers in existence, above all others. Their access to the latest information, most advanced and rigorous training, most advanced technology, and America's worldwide military infrastructure put their capabilities above all other special forces units in the world.
If these guys are not number one, there is something wrong. They killed Bin Laden. Toughest of the toughest soldiers. My uncle, who was in the SAS, worked with these guys and said they are the highest trained warriors in existence.
Training is brutal. Trust me, I know a guy who worked with them, and he is one of the most noble and independent SEALs I know. They are the best of the best.
Simply elite. The Thunderbolt forces should be among the best in the world, or at least in the top ten. Like others here say, they are kick-ass.
This should be elevated to where the SEALs are. I've seen these guys before and heck, they are no joke. They have trained with the top special forces in the world and have proven themselves as crucial to those specific missions as the other teams.
They also train to benefit from and survive in the environment, as they learn to kill snakes, lizards, and scorpions and to eat them alive.
Top-tier "Superman" training that even other special forces operators respect. Air, sea, jungle, sand - they're in it, killing bad guys, usually behind enemy lines, and with a primary mission to save your ass at the same time, no matter who you are, how well you were trained, or what the attrition from your program is. If you've needed them, you know this, and how happy you were to see them coming. The fact that they are trained as equals, treat other operators as equals, and do their job SELFLESSLY for the Army, Navy, Marines, fellow Air Force, or foreign friends alike, makes them number one in my book.
Navy SEALs aren't trained in the field of medicine nearly as well as pararescuemen. In fact, no other special forces group in the world is trained as intensely in this field. The Pararescue training has a 90% dropout rate, not only due to the physical intensity of the program but also due to the inability to keep up mentally. Pararescuemen have to train in every condition and learn to not only survive those conditions to fight but also to give medical attention to whomever requires it. "Because even Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and Recon Marines need to call 911." No matter where or when, pararescuemen can save the lives of those trapped under fire and keep them alive, no matter the cost. Field medics meet special forces. Honestly, pararescuemen are SEALs with medical training. This extra training puts them on top.
I'm a former 0321, and this is some "fake news" or fake polling. I was in 2nd Force from 1959 to 1967, and I'd stack Marine Recon up against any others. We should certainly be in the top 5. Do some research and read about the training required. Recently, there was a show on AHC about Force Recon. In my day, Marine Recon did not talk about their missions to the outside world. It just was not done. The story was pretty factual, and I was shocked, so I called a longtime Recon friend to ask if he had seen the program or ever heard of this? He spent 27 years in the Corps and 14 years in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Recon, and his answer was "Hell no." Just curious, who did this polling? Semper Fidelis.
My father served in the USMC for 26 years. He served in Korea and Vietnam. I swore an oath to defend my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, in 1979, and I was honorably discharged from the USMC in 1976. To this day, I am active in all manner of sports, even with two bullets lodged in my spine. I deal with pain and keep moving, and I owe it all to the Marine Corps. I love the Corps! How we could be rated so low is beyond my comprehension. As an aviator on the CH-53, I was in constant contact with my Force Reconnaissance brothers, and I have watched them in action. They performed flawlessly. Semper Fidelis!
They are one of the best special naval forces in the world, much better than MARCOS.
Proud to be Pakistani.
They are the greatest.