25 Responses

  1. Lucky at |

    Thats what makes them good.

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  2. SeanP at |

    Very well written and interesting list. For anyone who enjoyed this I would recommend “Surviving the Cut”.
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surviving_the_Cut
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    I don’t believe that there are currently new episodes being made but you can likely find reruns of these great documentarys on The Discovery Channel or discovery.com

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    1. Lee Standberry at |

      Excellent series – i watched every one.

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      1. Dave H at |

        You can also find ALL of the Surviving the Cut series (both seasons 1 & 2) on Netflix

        Reply
  3. Mark at |

    What about Special Operations Group of the CIA in “The Farm”?

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    1. Lee Standberry at |

      They are considered para-military operators and outside the scope of the U.S. Military (though most of its operators were or are military)

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  4. Steve at |

    Isn`t the War on Terror over? Osama Bin Laden is dead (or so we`re told).

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    1. daniel at |

      Uh, I think he was just one terrorist. The war on Terror will never end. There will always be another terrorist, or terror group. Once all of Al Qaida is killed, there will be another group, then another, then another. Too many people are making too much money and too much power is being accumulated by those in power that they will find a reason why we are always in danger. Greater danger than yesterday… Requiring greater expenses…

      Reply
  5. luna at |

    I was at a meeting at the Coronado base on the last day of BUDs Hell Week (incidentally, the next class was checking in that same day). It was unreal. After I left, they lit off smoke bombs on the beach–you could see it all the way across the bay.

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  6. Derp at |

    And each one is highly regarded and respected in every branch and are usually exempt of the cross-branch bashing.

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  7. rajimus123 at |

    so the American government is really trying to cover their bases with propaganda, eh? Even the internals must be realizing that the military is a terrible profession

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  8. Johnny Canuck at |

    The article begins with a reference to the length of the War on Terror. I suggest that the very premise of the war cries out for review given the degree of success achieved using the incredibly talented and committed forces that have been assigned to it. I don’t oppose the objectives, just the premise that it must be approached only as a war. America is a multi-dimensional nation and has contributed tremendously to many facets of life in the modern world. I worry that you have too narrow a focus in your response to the violent islamo-facist conspiracy. My own country contributed aggressive military forces to Afghanistan for about seven years. The size of that effort pales beside the history of our participation in two European wars but it has consumed most of the public support that was generated by the attacks in 2001.

    Your specialized military forces are among the best in the world but you also have many superlative training schools that provide more than just boots on the ground. I was hoping for some insight into other areas such as intelligence analysis, remote sensing, precision weaponry and small unit leadership skills. The strongest invisible Ninjas in the world can’t help you if you can’t find your enemy. The true heroes in the bin Laden saga were the intelligence analysts who doggedly ran down millions of leads over some ten years. Seal Team 6 didn’t find the target, they simply delivered the coup de grace at the end of a very long process.

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  9. Ricky at |

    I read this thinking it might surprise me. But no, American military training is not that great. Our paratroopers in the UK go through similar selections as your special forces. Put the gruelling SAS selection in the mix and there is no contest.

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    1. Johnny Canuck at |

      My country isn’t the USA. Our Special Forces are called Joint Task Force 2. One thing is difficult to factor out of this and that is the tendency of each country to discount the abilities of your allies. The British are legendary in this regard but it will take us (and the Australians and New Zealanders) a long time to forget the incompetence of the leadership you provided about a hundred years ago.

      It can be argued that the emphasis on special forces is out of proportion to the actual results they produce on the battle field.

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      1. Lee Standberry at |

        @ Johnny Canuck – two points. First, I’ve had the distinction of working with officers and troops for other countries during my time in service – notably Australian and British (don’t recall any Canadians, but who knows). So I would agree that often we can become nation centric in our views of the capabilities of other nations – though i’m not one of those people. I fully recognize – as i’ve stated elsewhere – what other military formations are capable of.

        Secondly, I totally agree with your second point. Media coverage these days would have one believe that special forces alone are the predominant formation engaged in combat operations. The fact of the matter is that there are a whole lot of other people active in making even special forces operations successful. This includes (as you mentioned earlier) intelligence, logistics, and even direct and indirect support from regular forces.

        Reply
    2. Lee Standberry at |

      UK paratroopers (and Royal Marines, SAS and the like) receive excellent training. In fact, in terms of training, leadership, dedication and overall effectiveness; I would rate UK military forces among the best in the world – especially considering the small size of your nation. That said, the US military has a far longer reach and more lethal bite than our brothers in arms across the moat that is the Atlantic ocean.

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  10. Ricky at |

    SAS don’t get trained, they get tortured, considering most SAS are hardened paratroopers, and still most fail. The US no doubt has the most powerful army, but the training in a lot of the forces is weak. I mean, you have women paratroopers. No woman has ever passed our paratroopers selection, and never will. Training doesn’t start until you prove you will not break… in the US, your paratroopers simply go to jump school. All said and done, the British army is one of the best trained in the world..

    Reply
    1. Lee Standberry at |

      Well Ricky, in regards to Paratroopers – women in the army are able to be jump qualified, but they cannot serve in line units, such as infantry. They can only serve in support units. I haven’t looked at their TOE lately, so i’m assuming this is still true. Plus, you really can’t compare airborne troops to the SAS. Essentially, airborne (while having a dedicated mission centered around vertical insertion) are not special forces and SAS is. SAS is more comparable to Rangers or perhaps SEALs

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      1. SeanP at |

        I’d think that SAS is more comparable to Delta. I could be wrong but it is my understanding that Beckwith came up with the idea for Delta after spending time training with the 22nd SAS Regiment.

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        1. Lee Standberry at |

          at SeanP – you’re right, I took a look at SAS’s mission orientation and perform operations probably more associated with Delta. However these days, especially with US special forces falling under a joint command (or at least units tasked to a joint command), you have all of these guys doing cross branch operations that fall outside of the scope of their normal mission orientation. Take for example Marine Force Recon. Their mission is clearly defined as near and deep recon operations in support of larger Marine formations. Now they can be tasked with training rebels somewhere (traditionally a Green Beret type mission).

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          1. Derp at |

            But with the most current wars that we’ve had, USMC recon haven’t been doing much more of their school-trained recon missions than regular infantry-related patrols.

            The training is hard…but the individual doesn’t always turn out ideal in the end.

            Reply
  11. Dave H at |

    Only read the top 5, pretty accurate but a few things I noticed I thought worthy of pointing out. The first of which is that although the SEALs are the “poster boys” for the special operations community, 1st SFOD-Delta attachment is in fact regarded higher than the SEAL teams. So regarding this list, Delta should actually be above SEAL. On the flip side of that argument, this article failed to mention Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) aka SEAL Team 6, which would be the Navy’s version of Delta’s equal. That being said, 1st SFOD-Delta and DEVGRU being each others Army v. Navy equals, the SEALs equal in the Army would actually be the Special Forces, nicknamed “Green Berets”. Therefore Army Special Forces or the “Green Berets” should actually be listed higher than Marine Reconnaissance. Now if you were looking for an “equal” for these Tier 1/2 Army/Navy units you might have mentioned Marine Special Operations Command also know as MARSOC. Also, under the Army SF there was a comment saying they are “probably the best known outfit associated with the term “Special Forces”, if for no other reason then that John Wayne made a movie about them” is severely incorrect, seeing as the US Army Special Forces is the ONLY unit deemed “Special Forces” as all the rest are consider Special Operations. So when referring to Special Forces, you are in fact referring to US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and when referring to other units such as SEALs, RECON, or Rangers, they are Special Operations Units operating under SOCOM or JSOC (Special Operations Command / Joint Special Operations Command). Lastly, the Rangers I believe you intended to refer to on this list are the men of The 75th Ranger Regiment, who operate under the Joint Special Operations Command and are the REAL Rangers that people intend to speak of of when talking about US Army Rangers. Ranger School, as you said, is a LEADERSHIP COURSE and not an induction into The 75th Ranger Regiment. Although Ranger School is indeed an extremely grueling and prestigious school, it will earn you a Ranger TAB but NOT an induction into a Ranger Battalion and will not earn you the right to call yourself a US Army Ranger. To do this you must attend RASP or Ranger Assessment and Selection Process, formerly known as RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program). ONLY THEN will you earn your Ranger SCROLL and your TAN BERET inducting you into The 75th Ranger Regiment and the privilege to fight for this prestigious special operations unit.

    Reply
    1. Lee Standberry at |

      Great comments Dave! I would only make note of a couple of things. First, you mention the ranking of the various special operations units. I actually did that on a different list, as this one just focuses on the schools that many of these operators attend at one point or another. In this regard, Delta training and selection may in fact be more grueling than that of the SEAL’s, but there is not very much public information about it to make an accurate comparison. And it should always be noted that i have a Marine Corps bias that I freely admit to :)

      Reply
  12. Ina at |

    Can somebody tell me , can you become a rescue swimmer in the US when you’re from belgium , some people say yes and some people say no , or do i need to get the american nationality first? and how do you get it and how long does it take? please help me :(

    Reply
  13. Ina at |

    Can somebody tell me , can you become a rescue swimmer in the US when you’re from belgium , some people say yes and some people say no , or do i need to get the american nationality first? and how do you get it and how long does it take? please help me :(

    Reply

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