How tough are the SAS commands

The toughest
Special forces in the world

You train harder than everyone else, only the best fighters join the team: special forces master extremely dangerous missions. These are some of the best elite commandos in the world.

The list of international special forces is long, and some countries have several special forces. They come into action when things get really tricky: Terrorist attacks, hostage-taking or the fight against organized crime are among other things their specialty.

There is no official ranking of the best units in the world. However, there is an international competition every four years in Germany. The best elite special forces compete at the "Combat Team Conference" (CTC). The "Olympic Games of Special Forces" are organized by the German Border Guard Group 9 (GSG 9). In 2015, an Austrian unit won.

The following list is an extract of the strongest special forces in the world:

1. GSG9 and SEK from Southern Bavaria, Germany

The Border Guard Group 9 (GSG 9) of the German Federal Police, which organizes the international CTC competition, is one of the toughest special units in the world. The unit was founded in 1972 in response to the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It is mainly used in terrorist attacks, hostage-taking and bomb disposal. The standard equipment consists of an assault rifle, a pistol and a submachine gun. One of the most famous missions of the special unit was the liberation of the hostages from the Lufthansa aircraft "Landshut" in 1977 in Mogadishu. The machine had been hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.

Another important German elite unit is the Special Operations Command (SEK) Südbayern. The troop took second place in the "Special Forces Olympic Games" in 2019. The SEK primarily fights serious violent crime (such as hostage-taking) and supports the police in individual cases.

2. Argus Special Unit, Switzerland

The Swiss special unit Argus of the Aargau canton police took first place in the "Special Forces Olympic Games" in 2019. The team prevailed against over 40 competing units. In 1999 the unit took first place.

Argus originally emerged as an anti-terrorist unit in the 1970s, when left-wing extremist terrorist organizations carried out bloody attacks in Europe. The unit also maintains contacts with the "Cobra" in Austria.

3. GIGN, France

The GIGN, the special unit of the French gendarmerie (Groupe d'intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale), officially founded in 1974, also has some of the world's best elite fighters. Her area of ​​responsibility includes the fight against terrorism, hostage rescue and the personal protection of special dignitaries. Candidates (from the ranks of the Gendamerie) have to cope with an 8000 meter cross-country run with backpack and long weapon in a maximum of 60 minutes, they also have to do 300 sit-ups, 100 push-ups and 25 pull-ups. In addition, a demanding swimming test must be completed.

According to its own statements, the unit is said to have carried out over 1,800 missions and freed more than 600 hostages. In France it is forbidden to publish the faces of the GIGN team members.

4. Sajeret Matkal, Israel

Sajeret Matkal is a special unit of the Israeli military. In addition to the fight against terrorism and hostage rescue, she is also responsible for intelligence operations. The existence of the unit was secret from 1958 to 1976, only then could you officially apply to the special force. The extremely tough training lasts 20 months and is supervised by doctors and psychologists. Over the decades, Sajeret Matkal has been involved in numerous anti-terrorist operations and hostage rescue operations. One of the most famous missions of the special unit was Operation Entebbe: In 1976, 106 Air France passengers were freed after they were kidnapped by PLO terrorists to Uganda's Entebbe airport.

5. Navy Seals, USA

The world famous "Navy Seals" are a special unit of the US Navy. The elite troops hunted down the radical Islamic terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. By the way, "Seal" stands for "Sea", "Air", "Land" (sea, air, ground). The hard training is divided into 3 phases, with the basic training lasting 9 weeks. Phase 2 includes diving training and phase 3 is infantry training. During the so-called "Hell Week" of the training period, the candidates are allegedly pushed to their limits by sleep deprivation and alternating military exercises.

The Navy Seals also took part in the "Combat Team Conference" years ago and only ended up in the upper midfield, as the German news magazine "Focus" reported. As a result, the members are said to have ravaged two pubs in Bonn out of sheer frustration and smashed furniture. The US embassy is said to have paid for the damage.

6. SAS, UK

The British Army's "Special Air Service" (SAS) unit has existed since 1941, making it one of the oldest elite commandos in the world. The existence of SAS was kept secret or officially denied for a long time. The troops became notorious when they were released from hostages in the Iranian embassy in London in 1980 - the successful operation took place in front of an assembled press crowd. After that, the government gave up on hiding the special unit from the public.

The unit consists of three regiments and is around 500 men strong. Part of the admission process includes 6 weeks of jungle training in a national park in Belize.

7. Alfa Special Forces, Russia

The Russian special unit Alfa or Alpha Group is subordinate to the Russian domestic secret service FSB and serves primarily to fight terrorism. That the unity existed only became known after the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. In recent years, the Sonderkommando has mainly been deployed in Chechnya, including the 2004 hostage-taking in a school in Beslan, which tragically killed more than 300 hostages.

The unit is said to be around 700 men strong. Little is known about the extremely hard physical and mental training. Alfa also took part in the "Special Forces Olympic Games" in 2019.

8. Unidad de Operaciones Especiales, Spain

The Spanish special unit "Unidad de Operaciones Especiales" (UOE) was founded in 1967 and is a unit of the Spanish Navy, which has been part of the newly formed Spanish elite force "Special Naval Warfare Force" (FGNE) since 2009. This special team is mainly used on the high seas, but the UOE has also operated on land again and again. As in all special units, the training is very tough, with an average failure rate of 70 - 80 percent. This is the highest dropout rate in the Spanish armed forces. Equipment includes assault rifles and light machine guns as well as sniper rifles.

The unit is also used in particular to combat terrorism, for example in the past against the Basque terrorist organization Eta, which no longer exists.

9. Operation Command Cobra, Austria

The task force Cobra (Eko Cobra) from Austria can compete with the strongest special forces in the world: In 2015 the Cobra won the "Combat Team Conference" (CTC). The special unit was founded in 1978 as the Gendarmerie Einsatzkommando (GEK), in 2002 it was renamed Cobra and in 2013 an organizational restructuring took place, with the Eko Cobra becoming part of the Directorate for Special Forces (DSE). The team is used, for example, in hostage-taking, rampaging and anti-terrorism. In addition, the unit supports the police in cases of high risk. In 2004 officials of the Eko Cobra were able to provide one of the most dangerous mafia godparents in Turkey. In 1996 the special unit ended an aircraft hijacking while still in the air; no other elite force has yet succeeded in doing so.

In principle, any police officer with two years of experience in the field can apply. Women are and were also part of the Eko Cobra, albeit much less often than men. In the selection test, for example, a three-meter-long rope must be climbed without using the legs. The officers then have to take a fitness test every year. Many are also very sporty in their private lives or even top athletes.

To go with it: Extreme operations: This is what the Cobra does

10. SSG, Pakistan

The Pakistani Army's Special Services Group (SSG) can compete with the best Sonderkommandos in the world. The troops specialize in: counter-terrorism, operations abroad for national defense, reconnaissance and unconventional warfare. The unit is also known as the "Black Storcks" because of its headgear. The SSG was founded in the 1950s. Among other things, the unit was used in war and terrorist situations in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Members of the military with at least 5 years of service and an age of 25 to 39 years can apply. The selection process is extremely tough and the dropout rate is high (85-90%). Among other things, the members are trained to become masters in judo and karate. In the advanced training courses, the recruits complete training in the desert, in the mountains, in the snow, in the air as a sniper or diver, depending on their specialization.

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