U.S. special forces teams are among the most elite, highly-trained military units in the world. You’ve heard of many of them-SEALS, Green Berets, and the Air Force Pararescue Unit, to name a few-but what do they really do, what kinds of tactical and survival gear do they use, and how do they, ultimately, keep you and the rest of us safe?
While there are plenty of other special-ops units within the military that are equally as important, let’s take a look at five of the most widely known units.
The Navy Seals
The U.S. Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land is one of the most elite and highly-trained units in the Navy, as well as one of the most recognizable. An organization with a storied past, the SEALS fall under the command of the Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC) and SOCOM.
Seals employ a mixture of extremely rigorous training, tactical and survival gear, and other field equipment to: fight terrorism, aid in foreign/domestic internal defense, provide reconnaissance intel, rescue and recover other military personnel and more. SEALS are assigned some of the most dangerous and specialized missions-missions that other military personnel would not normally be able to accomplish. Seals have served the U.S. in Panama, Iraq, Grenada, and Afghanistan.
The Green Berets: ‘De oppresso liber’
The Green Berets, most recognizable by their military uniforms and trademark headgear, are special ops units within the U.S. Army Special Forces. They specialize mainly in special reconnaissance and surveillance(SR), direct action (DA; short-term action for special causes), counter terrorism, guerrilla warfare (or unconventional warfare: UW), and foreign defense.
Air Force Pararescue: ‘That Others May Live’
The Air Force Pararescue unit (AFSC) is an elite organization within the U.S. Air Force that specializes in recovery and medical treatment of individuals in hostile or ‘denied’ areas. Members who opt to join this unit undergo extremely rigorous training-both physical and mental-over a period of one to two years. Up to 90 percent of those who join pararescue training classes never graduate. It’s just that strenuous.
The U.S. Rangers: ‘Sua Sponte’
Officially known as the 75th Ranger Regiment, the U.S. Rangers is a rapidly-deployable infantry unit based out of Fort Benning, Georgia. Roles of Rangers in the military include air assault, infiltration and extraction, personnel and asset recovery, and aiding other special ops units.
The Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU)
DEVRU, otherwise known as SEAL Team Six, is the unofficial name of another elite forces unit in the Navy. Sometimes even more secret than other SEAL team themselves, DEVGRU is a Tier 1 (known as ‘Black’ ops) unit-TIER 1 operates at the highest level of military and is typically only accountable to the President of the United States or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This fact alone means that this unit is not controlled by the usual military hierarchy; furthermore, the unit is so secret that even its official name is classified information.
Many of DEVRU’s activities and responsibilities are highly classified and, therefore, unknown. One of its missions since its inception has been countering terrorism-using gear and methods not unlike that of other SEAL units.