Ranking the Top Tier: The 2022 List of Elite US Special Forces

Compiling a list featuring the most elite special forces in the United States military (Army, Navy, and Air Force) was a complex process requiring consideration

Eric Sof

Most Elite Special Operation Units in the US Military, a TOP TEN

Compiling a list featuring the most elite special forces in the United States military (Army, Navy, and Air Force) was a complex process requiring consideration of various elements. We evaluated their publicly known missions, primary objectives, the unit’s capabilities in firepower and mobility, and the number of prestigious awards they have received, particularly awards for acts of bravery. This article showcases the US military’s top 10 elite special operations units that exhibit exceptional agility and lethality. These units represent the cream of the crop in terms of training, skill, and experience, making them some of the most formidable forces in the world.

Introduction

The units included in this list are among the world’s finest. We have ranked them based on various factors to provide a comprehensive overview.

The brief descriptions for each of these highly specialized units merely offer a glimpse into their secretive and profound nature. These units are considered the top ten most elite special operations units in the US military and can adapt to various environments and conditions. American military special forces are widely regarded as some of the best in the world, and among them are some of the bravest and most accomplished heroes.

Please note that this list is not official and does not represent any official statement. It reflects our understanding and interpretation of US special forces. If you disagree with our ranking, you may choose not to continue reading.

USMC Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team

Also known as FAST, it is ready for rapid deployment when US Government installations worldwide require additional security. They are stationed at different naval command posts across the globe. This unit of close to 500 Marines is specially trained using state-of-the-art weapons.

The Most Elite Military Units in the United States: USMC FAST - Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team 2
USMC Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team ranked in the 10th place in the Top 10 elite special operations units in the US Military list (Photo: XY.)

USAF Pararescuemen, PJ

The primary mission of the US Air Force’s Pararescuemen is to recover aircrew members who are either downed or injured in harsh environments. They also provide on-the-scene emergency medical treatment to stabilize the wounded while evacuating them. The conditions sometimes warrant them to act as aircrew gunners and scanners, as some missions require enemy evasion.

The Most Elite Military Units in the United States: USAF Pararescue Jumbers (PJs) deploying
USAF Pararescue Jumpers (Photo: USAF)

75th Ranger Regiment

The Rangers, a highly trained infantry unit, serve as a special operations unit headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia. This elite unit consists of a single Special Troops Battalion and three special operations battalions trained in various specialized skills to carry out various missions. These three light infantry battalions can be swiftly deployed and take turns being designated as the “Ranger Ready Forces,” ensuring they are always prepared to respond to any crisis anywhere in the world within 18 hours or less.

The Most Elite Military Units in the United States: 75th Ranger Battalion operator
75th Ranger Battalion Operator (Photo: US Army)

USMC ANGLICO

The US Marine Corps Special Forces, also known as ANGLICO, are recognized for their expertise in controlling Close Air Support (CAS). In addition, they receive training in ground-based fire support, such as cannon and rocket artillery, as well as precision-guided munitions. This comprehensive training makes ANGLICO the only firepower control team within the US Department of Defense that operates full-time and is fully equipped to coordinate fire support from the air, on land, and at sea.

USMC Anglico in training
Members of USMC ANGLICO during training (Photo: USMC)

MARSOC Raiders

MARSOC, a specially trained Marine Corps group, was established in February 2006 as a component of the US Special Operations Command, representing the USMC’s contribution to SOCOM. Their primary capabilities encompass direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter-terrorism, information operations, and unconventional warfare. These highly specialized individuals must possess the functional ability to operate effectively in fast-paced and often remote and complex environments.

MARSOC Raiders aiming their weapons during the training
MARSOC Raiders aiming their weapons during the training (Photo: Pinterest/Marines)

Army Intelligence Support Activity

The primary purpose of this highly secretive US Army intelligence unit is to gather intelligence that serves as the basis for action plans. The unit obtains this information from a variety of sources, including, but not limited to, local covert operatives and monitoring and tracking of radio communications.

600 SF troops in massive Black Hawk helicopter assault (PHOTO) 8

USMC Force Reconnaissance

The USMC Force Reconnaissance, established in June of 1957, is a highly specialized unit known for its exceptional capabilities in deep reconnaissance and direct action missions. This elite task force is trained to operate autonomously in hostile territories and execute unconventional operations supporting conventional warfare. Their central mission is to provide support to Marine expeditionary and amphibious operations.

FORECON
USMC FORECON (Photo: USMC)

Army Special Forces (Green Berets)

The United States Army Special Forces, commonly called the Green Berets, are often considered one of the world’s most elite special forces units. Known for their unconventional warfare skills, they are trained to operate in various environments and execute missions such as unconventional warfare, counter-insurgency, direct action, and special reconnaissance. The Green Berets are highly selective and undergo intense training, including the Special Forces Qualification Course, considered one of the toughest military training programs in the world.

They are also equipped with advanced weapons and technology, allowing them to carry out missions with a high degree of stealth and precision. Their reputation for excellence has earned them a place among the top tier of special forces units. They are often called upon to execute some of the most challenging and high-stakes missions to support US national security interests.

Navy Seals (Regular teams)

The US Navy Seals, one of the most recognizable Special Operations groups, are a highly specialized and multi-faceted force trained to operate in various environments, including air, land, and sea. The roots of the Navy Seals can be traced back to World War II when the US Navy recognized the need for covert reconnaissance of landing beaches and coastal defenses. In response to this need, the Amphibious Scout and Raider School was established in 1942.

US Navy SEALs in hard firefight with ISIS militants
A Navy SEALs in a gun battle in Iraq, 2016 (Photo: Video Still)

US Army Delta Force

The US Army Delta Force is a unit comprised of highly skilled and discreet professionals. They are involved in various missions, including unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, information operations, and more. Delta Force operators refer to themselves as “The Unit,” reflecting their strong sense of unity and cohesiveness. The unit was first established in November 1977 and is recognized for its versatility and expertise in conducting covert operations, such as hostage rescues and raids.

A group of Delta Force operators armed with HK416 assault rifles hanging out from the Blackhawk
A group of Delta Force operators armed with HK416 assault rifles hanging out from the Blackhawk (Photo: XY)

This versatility has earned Delta Force a reputation as one of the top 10 elite special operations units in the US Military, and it is considered a highly classified Tier 1 unit. The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) is known for its commitment to mission success and its ability to execute complex and high-stakes operations with precision and stealth.

SEAL Team 6

The US Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as DEVGRU, is a highly classified unit with several teams deployed across the globe. The original Team 6 was disbanded in 1987 but later re-established by the US Navy as the Special Warfare Development Group – DEVGRU. The exact number of teams and details of their operations are highly confidential and are not disclosed by the White House or the Department of Defense.

Reportedly a US Navy SEALs Team Six member, DEVGRU (Photo: XY.)

Information about DEVGRU remains shrouded in secrecy, making it one of the world’s most enigmatic and mysterious special forces units. Despite the lack of publicly available information, the unit is widely regarded as one of the most elite and highly skilled special operations forces, with a reputation for executing complex and sensitive missions with unparalleled precision and stealth.

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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19 thoughts on “Ranking the Top Tier: The 2022 List of Elite US Special Forces”

  1. If we all stop to think about it. It, it takes all of us to get the job done. We are trained to to do a special job, so we work together. I was with 1st, and 2nd, ANGLICO, yes USMC, but I worked with 101 Airborne, 82 Second Airborne, 173 Airborne and the 25 Army Division. Its the men who are willing to do the dangers job for his country that make him Elite. ANGLICO had to work with NATO Country’s as well. ANGLICO was disbanded in the 90s. There was only four at that time. They were reinstated, now they have six ANGLICOS. What ever army we were with, we also and to learn their system of training. The only thing about a man is the one that stands with you when things get hot.

  2. I personally do not know any operators or what groups they are from.
    however I did serve In the USMC.
    I am grateful for all of our service men who have traind and in any branch of service!
    It takes an entire military to get the job done!
    with that being said I am still very proud I AM A MARINE!
    and I am very proud to call all of you my brothers in arms.
    Thank you all for your service!!!

  3. The seals are undoubtedly the best.

    Any other thought is invalid. It’s proof gobies they’re record. Give it a look and you’ll realize the accuracy. The rest are also amazing fighter’s but not truly T1 ops.

  4. Having been married to a combat-diving, Green Beret Medic, I was with and around many SF’ers. Indeed, a few couldn’t find their ‘dick’ with both hands–must have been a bad decision at SFQC. Most, if not almost all, were quiet professionals, training diligently and doing a job they wouldn’t trade for the world, keeping their and my families, communities, and our nation as safe as was in their power to do so. The ones I knew didn’t like their pictures taken (especially by strangers) and would not have liked ANY publicity in any magazine. One cannot go unnoticed in their places ‘of work’ if one’s photo goes viral. They all have major PTSD and back problems after their service ends. I am divorced from ‘my Green Beret’ now, but I still cut him (all of them) some slack. JLM

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