U.S. Special Forces
Trained in counterterrorism, covert reconnaissance and guerilla warfare,
U.S. Special Operations Forces are the front-line troops in America's war
against terrorism. Washington state is home to several units. Below is a
look at America's best-trained and best-equipped fighting forces.
Air Force Special Operations
Air Force Special Operations Forces are trained for a variety of operations,
including: unconventional warfare, counterproliferation, direct action,
special reconnaissance, civil affairs, combating terrorism, foreign internal
defense and psychological operations. They fly high-tech helicopters and
fixed-wing aircraft including the AC-130 gunship. There are currently 8,800
Special Operations troops. The 22nd Special Tactics Squadron is based at
McChord Air Force Base in Lakewood.
Before 1944 the MR, as they are called, were primarily implemented as scout
and sniper units. They began as UDTs (Underwater Demolition Teams), to
conduct beach reconnaissance. They were deployed in the Gulf, where they
helped plan a possible route for a marine invasion. Even before the ground
war began in Iraq, the MR took 238 prisoners.
Their name stands for Sea, Air and Land teams. These Navy commandos endure a
famously rigorous 26-week training course that most candidates fail. SEAL
units are based at Navy facilities in Coronado, Calif., and Little Creek,
Va. There currently are approximately 2,200 SEALs. The SEALs were born out
of a Navy need for a specialized unit to conduct deep-penetration
reconnaissance, sabotage and counterterrorist missions.
Army Special Forces
Also known as the Green Berets, Army Special Forces conduct counterterrorism
and unconventional warfare, train foreign forces, carry out covert
reconnaissance, and capture wanted persons in a variety of climates,
including arctic, desert, jungle and mountain. Made famous by the 1968 John
Wayne film and a song about them, Green Berets are trained to live for
extended periods in remote and hostile territory. Green Berets may perform
reconnaissance and surveillance in teams of three or four. They could be
tasked to infiltrate Afghanistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden and his
associates so they can be targeted or captured. 1st Special Forces Group is
based at Fort Lewis, a battalion of which has been deployed in the fight
These special army units generally conduct light infantry missions -- for
instance, attacks to temporarily seize and secure key objectives. Currently,
the top group among them is the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 75th Ranger
Regiment is composed of three battalions; each can deploy anywhere in the
world on 18 hours notice. The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment is
stationed at Fort Lewis.
The famed 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), known as the
Night Stalkers, employs extremely accurate helicopter lift and attack
capabilities supporting special-operations missions, including force
insertion and extraction, aerial security, armed attack, electronic warfare,
and command and control support. Aircraft include MH-60 Black Hawk utility
helicopters and MH-6 "Little Bird" special-operations helicopters.
The Delta Force, a clandestine operational unit of Army Special Forces,
specializes in high-risk missions, including hostage rescues, seizure of
indicted war criminals and assassination. Delta is organized for missions
requiring rapid response and surgical applications using a variety of unique
skills, while maintaining the lowest possible profile of U.S. involvement.
The unit is so secret the government does not discuss details of its
activities. They are said to be among the world's best specialists in
close-quarters battle. Delta Force is believed to have fewer than 2,000
Sources: ABCNews.com and The Seattle Times