Bordo Bereliler: The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer

Author: Eric Sof

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Turkey as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies puts a lot of effort into its security forces. With their military history, being a soldier is a rule instead of an option. Their most elite unit is known as Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets), a special forces unit that was founded by Turkish officers. To become a member of this unit, a Turkish Army officer needs to voluntarily go through a roughly 4-year training period.

The OKK may be considered as the Turkish counterpart of the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets).


The unit was founded to prevent and reject all attacks on Turkey, both internal and external. As the name suggests, they are well-known for their Maroon Berets (Turkish: Bordo Bereliler).

Thanks to their outstanding special training guided by their own special instructor’s training unit, the members of the board are expected to Bordo Bereliler can overcome and endure all kinds of terrain and climate in which ordinary army soldiers can not act “normal.” Members of Bordo Bereliler are also considered tough enough to survive by any means necessary.

Bordo Bereliler was officially established on September 25, 1952, and is still considered one of the most elite military special forces in Turkey.

Turkish Special Forces Command insignia worn by OKK
Turkish Special Forces Command insignia worn by OKK (Photo: XY)


Today, members of Bordo Bereliler are tasked with various objectives, but as ordinary, they are used for:

  • elimination of internal and external enemies;
  • VIP protection and escort of the VIP persons;
  • in a case of war, preparation, and training of the local population for resistance

Throughout history, the Bordo Bereliler took part in many operations, mostly covert and secretive, but in 1999, they arrested opposition Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey. With this action, they drew attention to their dedication and work.

One of the main tasks of the unit is the fight against Kurdish separatists, but accurate information is never revealed to the public.

Training and selection

Bordo Bereliler candidates undergo training and education in three categories divided into national, international, and special. These three categories include 47 different areas. The training of the candidate takes an average of 3-4 years to complete before he becomes a full member of the Bordo Bereliler. National Training which develops basic skills lasts for 72 weeks while the length of training abroad ranges 10-52 weeks and provides specialized training in collaboration with other specialized units.

A squad of the Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets) operators
Turkish Armed Forces Special Forces – Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets) (Photo: XY)

The skills of the unit operators were recognized many times on a national level, but they usually send teams to the competition where other world’s special forces took part. During 2004 and 2005, they took first place in a competition held in Germany.

The Bordo Bereliler operators are highly trained special forces. After they finish their rigorous training, they need to pass the final exam. It’s some sort of confidence test. It is done in the pairs. While one operator stands next to the target, another one walks towards him and shoot on signal double taps, half way he turns his back to the target and on the signal, turns over and shots again, now to the targets between the legs of the operator. After finishing the magazine in given time roles changes.

Weaponry of Bordo Bereliler

The unit is equipped with most modern weapons used by units of similar purpose in the world, from assault rifles to pistols. Here is the list of most used small arms in Bordo Bereliler.

Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets)
Pistols: HK USP, SIG Sauer P226, SIG Sauer P229, Sarsilmaz Kilinc 2000 Mega, Sarsilmaz Kilinc 2000 Light, Glock 17, Glock 19
Assault Rifles: M16 rifle, M4A1, Heckler & Koch HK416, MKEK MPT-76, AKM, IMI Tavor TAR-21, G3A7
SMGs: HK MP5, MP7A1, FN P90
Sniper Rifles KNT-308, Sako TRG, CheyTac Intervention, Dragunov sniper rifle, Barrett M82, Accuracy International Arctic Warfare, MKEK JNG-90, M110, McMillan Tac-50

And all others they found suitable for certain missions and tasks.

Turkish Maroon Berets are one of the few special forces in the world which are constantly tested on the battlefield. In the last 40 years, they took part in hundreds of operations mostly against PKK militants. Last few years, Bordo Bereliler played a significant role in anti-ISIS operations.

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