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

The Turkish Bordo Bereliler, also known as the Red Berets, is a special forces unit of the Turkish Armed Forces. It is one of Turkey’s

Eric Sof

Turkey's elite special forces - Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets)
Turkey's elite special forces - Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets) (Photo: XY)

The Turkish Bordo Bereliler, also known as the Red Berets, is a special forces unit of the Turkish Armed Forces. It is one of Turkey’s oldest and most reputable special forces units, with a long history of successful operations domestically and internationally.

Introduction

As one of the world’s rapidly developing economies, Turkey significantly emphasizes its security forces. With a rich military history, being a soldier is considered a norm rather than an option. The country’s most elite unit is the Bordo Bereliler (Maroon Berets), a special forces unit founded by Turkish officers. To become a member of this unit, a Turkish Army officer must voluntarily complete a rigorous 4-year training period. The OKK may be considered the Turkish equivalent of the U.S. Army Special Forces (SF).

History

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

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

Thanks to their exceptional special training, guided by the unit’s specialized instructor training, members of Bordo Bereliler are expected to be able to operate in any terrain and climate where regular army soldiers would struggle. They are also recognized for their ability to survive under any circumstances. Bordo Bereliler was officially founded on September 25, 1952, and continues to be considered one of Turkey’s most elite military special forces units.

Mission

The Bordo Bereliler are exceptionally trained and well-equipped and renowned for their proficiency in various special operations, such as counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and covert operations. Currently, the operators of Bordo Bereliler are assigned various objectives, but typically they are employed in tasks such as:

  • 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

Operations

The Bordo Bereliler, a covert special operations unit, has played a significant role throughout history. In 1999, the unit arrested Kurdish opposition leader Abdullah Ocalan, head of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey. This action brought attention to the unit’s dedication and capabilities.

In addition to this high-profile operation, the Bordo Bereliler has been involved in various specialized missions, including the rescue of Turkish hostages in Iraq in 2015 and the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov in 2016. The unit has also participated in peacekeeping operations and collaborated with other special forces worldwide.

While fighting against Kurdish groups is one of the unit’s primary responsibilities, information about its activities is not publicly disclosed.

Training and selection

The Bordo Bereliler is renowned for its rigorous selection and training process, which includes demanding physical, mental, and technical challenges. Candidates undergo training and education in three categories: national, international, and special. These categories encompass 47 different training areas, which take 3-4 years to complete.

The initial national training, which focuses on developing basic skills, lasts for 72 weeks, while specialized training abroad, in collaboration with other specialized units, ranges from 10-52 weeks.

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

The unit’s operators have received recognition for their skills on a national level and often participate in competitions against other world special forces. In 2004 and 2005, they took first place in a competition held in Germany.

After completing their rigorous training, Bordo Bereliler operators must pass a final exam, a test of confidence. The exam, performed in pairs, involves one operator standing next to the target while the other approaches and shoots at the target with double taps, half way he turns his back to the mark and, on signal, turns over and shoots again, now to the targets between the legs of the operator. After finishing the magazine in a given time, roles change.

Equipment

The Bordo Bereliler unit is outfitted with the most advanced weapons utilized by special forces units around the globe, including assault rifles and pistols. The following is a list of the most commonly employed small arms among the 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 SASS, McMillan Tac-50

The Turkish Maroon Berets are an elite special forces unit constantly tested in real-world battlefield scenarios. Over the past 40 years, they have participated in numerous operations targeting PKK militants. More recently, the Bordo Bereliler has played a significant role in anti-ISIS operations.

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.

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