Armies around the world are getting bigger, badder and tougher, that’s no secret. However, what about the elite fighting units? Navy Seals, British SAS, Green Berets and more are highly trained guys that are rarely ever heard of, yet they do some of the deadliest jobs on the planet. They can stealthily take out terrorists, end hostage situations, and are just generally pretty awesome. Here are the top 12 elite fighting units from around the world.
Green Berets – United States of America
Let’s kick off with the US Army Special Forces; who like to call themselves the Green Berets. These elite fighting units are usually trained in ‘unconventional warfare’ which sounds pretty daunting in itself. This basically means that they learn how to infiltrate hostile areas, along with training local resistance teams to fight the enemy. This type of work has been carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and many others. If there is no resistance in the area then the Green Berets have been trained to ‘neutralize’ the enemy officers, usually by sniping them or cutting their throat. Lovely! They have an extremely extensive training program, which is reserved only for the very best.
A Green Berets candidate must posses 12 certain attributes to be accepted into the program, which include stability, maturity and judgment, to name a few. Only 40% of applicants ever get through into the US Army Green Berets, so it’s pretty tough going indeed. Part of the training involves a 40 mile endurance course, with nothing but a live chicken and a knife.
British SAS – United Kingdom
The Special Air Service is a name known all around the world, that leaves people trembling in fear. They are renowned for being one of the most prestigious and well trained elite fighting forces on the planet! Not only are they trained in all aspects of combat, but they are taught by intelligence agencies, so that they can learn in-depth espionage techniques. Their training doesn’t stop there, however, as they are given the best of the best by experts from across the globe.
The SAS learn knife fighting by experts in Apache Indian knife techniques, along with several types of martial arts. They also learn the Keysi Fighting Method, which recently became popular because of the Batman films. Basically, they learn it all! Nearly every single other elite fighting team uses the British SAS as a role model of how their special services should be.
The British SAS work very closely with the Navy SEALS (spoiler alert: they’re next on our list) in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the kind of guys you really don’t want to cross!
Yet another special forces team that is known all around the world, the Navy SEALS are often considered the best of the best. Although many people think there are thousands of these elite fighting units in America, there are only really about 2,000. To pass the initial criteria and then the one year training is a mean feat in itself! The physical screening requires candidates to be able to swim 500 yards in under 12:30, at least 42 push ups in 2 minutes, at least 50 sit ups in 2 minutes, be able to run 1.5 miles in full kit in less than 11:30 and much more. Only once these tests have been passed will training truly begin.
They receive training in all of the areas that normal US combatants do, only to a much higher standard. Each Navy SEAL will be trained in whatever they need expertise in at the time. This could be anything from languages to hostage situations, it’s a completely mixed bag. SEALS get to learn a new skill and provide an invaluable service for their country!
French Naval Commandos – France
If you thought all of the French army did was surrender, then you’ve probably never heard of the French Naval Commandos. They have one of the oldest navy forces in the world, dating back to 1624; along with one of the toughest training regimes in Europe. They call themselves the ‘green berets’, or ‘berets verts’ in French, and are all trained in different specialities.
There are 6 units within the French Naval Commandos; Kieffer, Trepel, Hubert, Jaubert, de Montfort and de Penfentenya. These units are given particular missions and specialties, depending on their fighter units. You’ll find a range of snipers, missile launch experts, combat diving experts, canine units, and a whole lot more in the French Naval Commandos. They tend to keep themselves to themselves compared to other elite fighting units on this list, which is scary in itself. After all, how do we know what they’re up to if they don’t tell us?! They have been undercover in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last wars, we know that much. It’s all very hush-hush, which we like.
Spetsnaz – Russia
The members of this formidable special forces team in Russia are all pretty scary and it’s not just because they all sound like Bond Villains. Russia’s Special Purpose Regiments are not taught the ways of war like some other military forces; instead they are taught to endure pain.
During their training they are made to fight each other, with the sole intention of causing injury. It doesn’t matter if bones are broken, these fighting units are made to get back up and endure yet even more pain (sorry, training). This process keeps going, being given a short time to heal between each one, until they’re ready. Sounds like a pretty intense training regime to us!
You’ll find the Spetsnaz working on close quarters combat, top secret and deadly reconnaissance missions, or as scary bodyguards for high profile politicians.
Shayetet 13 – Israel
This special forces group is one of three in Israel, and clearly the most well respected. They specialize in hostage rescues and counter-terrorism missions, after undertaking one of the most intensive training regimes on our list. The name means Flotilla 13 and their official motto is ‘Never Again’, in reference to the Holocaust. As they live so close to many countries who are intent on eradicating them, they are ready to travel abroad at the drop of a hat. They’re trained killers, although they are predominately looking for peace in Israel.
Along with the usual firearms and heavy weapons training, they also are taught Krav Maga. This national martial art focuses on fighting to kill, knowing that there will be only one survivor in a real combat situation. This is another elite fighting unit that likes to keep everything they do under wraps, although they have some publicized missions. They’re most famous was called the Operation Spring of Youth, where they killed several members of Black September as revenge for the Munich massacre in 1972. Basically, don’t annoy these elite fighting units!
Delta Force – United States of America
Yet another entry from the US army, these elite fighting units are very similar to the Shayetet in that their sole purpose is counter-terrorism. They’re trained to rescue hostages and to perform all manner of counter-terrorism missions, all of which are extremely top secret. In order to be part of the Delta Force you have to go through grueling physical tests and trials. You’ll be made to do sit ups, push ups, and a 3-mile run, in the quickest time possible. After that, you have to hike 18 miles over mountains, at night; complete with 35lb backpack, a compass, and no map. If you get through that, you’ll be made to do a 40 mile hike, with a 45lb backpack, in a quicker time than the first hike. After all of that, you will then be put through a series of psychological tests and mental tests. Basically, the psychologists will try to make you break or cause confusion and panic. If you pass all of this then you can begin your 6 month Delta training… Wow, that all seems pretty painful.
MI-6 – United Kingdom
If you don’t believe that James Bond was based on a real person, then you obviously have never heard of the MI-6. This is as about as close to James Bond as real life actually gets! The UK’s Secret Intelligence Service section 6 is a rather foreboding concept, that not many people know a lot about. Working closely with MI-5, these are actually fighter units that travel round the world in order to act on information gathered by MI-5.
Basically, section 5 is a spy agency and does all of the ground work, then section 6 comes in and ‘neutralizes’ the targets. You can actually see their HQ in Vauxhall in London, which looks a little bit boring. In fact, most of them well tell you their jobs are pretty boring and there’s definitely no James Bond characters lurking around. We, however, beg to differ. After all, if you’re doing undercover missions then you’re hardly to go shouting about them, are you? They also have their very own ‘Q’ who is in charge of weaponry deployment and equipment for each mission. Doesn’t sound boring to us!
MARSOC – United States of America
We’re back in the US again, they certainly have a lot of incredible elite fighting units! The US Marines Corps Forces Special Operations Commands only allow men at this current time and deal mainly in direct action or internal defense within other countries. There are 4 phases to the MARSOC training regime, each one getting harder and harder to test the units’ endurance. Phase 1 looks at survival, evasion, escape and resistance. Phase 2 looks at amphibious demolitions, reconnaissance and marksmanship. Phase 3 is basically a continuation of phase 2, except with satellite and communications training. Finally, phase 4 is instruction for ‘irregular warfare’ which is a polite way of saying ‘anything goes’. By the time you have made it through all 4 you will be one of the toughest fighting units in the world. Part of their training involves learning how to make fire by anything at all, which includes ice! We didn’t even know you could make fire by ice, but apparently it is possible and these elite fighting units can do it. Hint: you mold the ice into a magnifying glass.
Special Forces Group – Belgium
We are sure you didn’t expect to see Belgium in this group! The country known for it’s fine chocolate and terrible governmental structure apparently is also responsible for one of the best combat unites the world has ever seen! 3 years ago the Belgan special forces moved to a new barracks facility in Heverlee and became part of the Light Brigade.
Marinejegerkommandoen – Norway
Norway…? Yes Norway! The Marinejegerkommandoen (MJK) are the Norwegian maritime special forces unit. It is the oldest of Norway’s special operations forces. There is no place for weak soldiers in the MJK and like any good special forces unit, the training to become a part of the MJK is long and difficult, taking a minimum of two years.
The Brigade of Gurkhas
Everyone has heard of Gurkhas, and everyone knows how tough these guys can be. These Nepalese fighting units are actually part of the British army and have been since 1815 when Britain conquered India. Even though India became independent in 1947, many of the Gurkha regiments remained loyal to Britain and continued to fight for the country. There are just under 4,000 Gurkhas serving in the British army today, with more being trained all the time.
Gurkha fighting units are most famous for their foreboding weapon, the kukri. This big and heavy knife has a curved blade, which is used to take enemy heads off. They are renowned for being fearless and deadly soldiers, and have fought in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan. They also go on peacekeeping missions, when they’re not slicing off heads with their kukris. If there’s one elite fighting unit you do not want to run into on a battle field, it would most definitely be the Brigade of the Gurkhas. Unfortunately for the enemy, it looks as though this special service is not going anywhere for a long time.