Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World in 2023

To determine the list of the top 10 special operations forces around the world in [currentyear], some things need to be cleared. First, most of the special operations forces around the world use similar tactics, weapons, and training. They often train together with other units and even exchange operators in special exchange programs to teach and learn from each other.

So there is no one specific “best” unit, and there is no way to rank them indeed, but … since you asked a question, here is a list of some of the best in the world that have recent combat experience. Among the country’s training, history, equipment, and military strength, combat experience is the most ranking factor. The positions are from 1 to 10.

Special Air Service / SAS (United Kingdom)

Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World - British Special Air Service
Operators from the British Special Air Service (SAS) posing for a photo (Photo: XY)

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes many roles, including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action, hostage rescue, and human intelligence gathering.

The corps presently comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component, under the operational command of the United Kingdom Special Forces, and 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and 23 Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under the operational command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Brigade.

Regarding its history and the unit’s combat experience, Special Air Service is still considered the leader of the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World.

1st SFOD-D / Delta Force (United States)

Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World - delta force operator
Delta Force (1st SFOD-D) operator standing guard during the firefight (Photo: XY)

The full name of this unit is the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. In addition to counter-terrorism operations, Delta Force can also participate in hostage rescue, raids, reconnaissance, and less covert direct action operations. The group was formed in 1977 due to an increasing number of high-profile terrorist operations.

Since then, it has been mainly composed of soldiers who have served in US Special Forces like the Green Berets or Rangers. To be considered for training, potential candidates must be male, at least 21 years old, score highly on an aptitude test, and be between the rank of corporal and master sergeant.

A series of grueling physical and mental tests, all copied and based on the SAS training and selection process, aim to weed out the weak, coupled with its own added mix of physical and mental tests. Allegedly, the dropout rate of Delta has been reported at almost 96% (considered one of the toughest if not the toughest training cadres in the world) to the six-month-long training course coupled with the original year and a half training procedures of the enlistees’ original MOS.

Delta force won a unit citation in 2012 for the assault on an enemy compound that previously the SAS could not take due to a casualty they took on the way. Delta remains the American’s most heavily guarded and secretive Black Operations unit, with missions from the United States to Europe into Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Asia. Delta Force missions remain a heavily guarded secret, most of which have never been released. Rest assured, wherever the US or its allies find themselves; we can assume they are right there too!

In the last quartal of 2019, they led the raid in Northern Syria, hunting down the most wanted terrorist at the time, notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They forced him to retreat to the tunnel beneath his compound on the raid on his hideout. With no way out, he triggered his suicide vest, killing himself and his two children.

The long history of excellence puts the Delta Force in #2 place on the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World.

SASR (Australia)

australian SASR - Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World
Australian SASR operators (Photo: XY)

After the dramatic events of September 11, 2001, the Canberra government has decided to increase its military instrument to fight against terrorism by setting up two people for special tasks, which are joined to the existing Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), the only real component Special Forces (per NATO standards) Australian armed forces.

There is no need to speak further about SASR. It is widely known that they are highly skilled and highly capable operators with significant combat-experienced gained through their deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in the recent decade. They made their way up to the #3 position on the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World list.

JTF-2 (Canada)

JTF training mission
JTF2 during training mission (Photo:

A squad of elite warriors in the Canadian Forces (CF) is working under the name of Joint Task Force 2 or just JTF2. Their operations include counter-terrorism operations and armed assistance to other government departments militarily.

JTF2 is a successor of the Special Emergency Response Team of the RCMP, which was in service regarding these security questions from 1986 to 1993, when the federal government restructured Canadian military forces. Today, JTF2 serves with the other Canadian Special Operations Regiment, the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron, and the Joint Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defence Company. They are acting as a part of the Canadian Special Operation Forces Command.

JTF2 is placed in position #4 of the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World list.

NZSAS (New Zealand)

NZSAS operators in Afghanistan
NZSAS operators in Afghanistan Photo: XY)

New Zealand Special Air Service is often seen as the toughest unit in the New Zealand Army. They were formed on July 7, 1955, and it is also abbreviated as the NZ SAS. As their name suggests, they were closely modeled on the British Special Air Service (SAS). Their history traces its origins to the Second World War and the famous Long Range Desert Group that several New Zealanders served with.

For the New Zealand Government, the NZSAS is the “premier combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force.” They had taken part in particular missions where their operators showed why they are number one in their country. They are placed at position #5 on the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World list.

SEAL TEAM 6 / DEVGRU (United States)

devgru operators
Seal Team 6 / DEVGRU operator (Photo: XY)

You knew these guys were going to have to show up sometime. DEVGRU is a Tier 1 American Special Operations Group created After Operation Eagle Claw which has achieved near-mythical status. This, in part, is thanks to Operation Neptune Spear – the mission in which SEALs flew into Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011 and killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.

DEVGRU is elite, and the physical and mental strength required to make it in this force is ridiculously high. Training behind as an average tier 2 SEAL takes over two years. Most applicants can’t even get past the physical qualification test, which involves swimming, push-ups, sit-ups, and running, all accomplished within a stringent time limit.

Get past that, and you enter general training. Pass that, and you move on to SEAL qualification training, which opens the door to specialized training. All of this ensures that SEAL members are physically and mentally as tough as nails and capable of undertaking the most demanding operations globally, wherever that may be.

After a few years in the teams, SEALs are selected by DEVGRU instructors that fit all criteria. They then begin a three-week physical fitness exam and a two weak mental wellness check. Less than 20% make it last this block alone, the ones who do move onto selection which, according to Mark Owen’s book ‘No easy day’ takes up to six months.

Once completed, less than 5% is left standing, of which instructors may only pick up to one or two to join the highly elite team. Although the entire graduating class could also be chosen, it all comes down to how the instructors think you did.

The list of Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World could not be complete without the Seal Team 6 / DEVGRU. They are placed in the #6 position on this list.

KSK (Germany)

German KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte (Special Forces Command, KSK)
KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte operators (Photo: XY)

KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte (Special Forces Command, KSK) is an elite special forces military unit composed of special operations soldiers handpicked from the ranks of Germany’s Bundeswehr and organized under the Rapid Forces Division. KSK has received many decorations and awards from NATO, the United States, and its affiliates. KSK operators are frequently requested for joint anti-terror operations, notably in the Balkans and the Middle East.

Germans are devoted to world peace, so they take every opportunity to support the NATO mission. Under those missions, their commandos gained experience all around the world.

Alpha GRU (Russia)

Alpha Group training
Alpha Group training (Photo: FSB)

Alpha Group (Alfa), also known as Spetsnazgruppa “A,” is a special unit within the Center for Special Operations of the Russian FSB. Alpha’s are the most famous special force in Russia, founded in 1974. They are the guards of the Russian state and its security, the most powerful unit in the country and among the main forces that have ensured the Olympics in Sochi.

There is no need to speak about Russia’s most elite military tactical unit. They were very active in Syria in the last few years, where they gained significant combat experience while fighting alongside the Syrian Army. Enough to place them on the #8 of the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World list.

MJK (Norway)

The operator from Norway's Marine Jager unit
The operator from Norway’s Marine Jager unit (Photo: XY)

Marine Jaeger is one of two special force units in Norway. The Marine Jaeger have their own under the Defence Command North (Forsvarskommando Nord). They can be compared to the British SBS (Special Boat Squadron) and the US Navy SEALs. Every second year they go to train with the Navy SEALs. Their primary missions are deep penetration reconnaissance and sabotage of enemy naval installations.

Operators belonging to the MKJ were deployed to Sudan and Afghanistan (ISAF-Enduring Freedom).

Irish Army Ranger Wing (Ireland)

Irish Army Ranger wing training drills
Irish Army Ranger Wing training drills (Photo: IAF)

The Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW) is the special unit in the Irish Defence Forces. The Army Ranger Wing is Ireland’s hostage rescue unit, and they are closely related to the specialized Irish Emergency Response Unit (ERU). Sciathán Fiannóglach an Air (Irish: Army Ranger Wing) and An Garda Síochána (Emergency Response Unit) are training together. In any hostage situation, the Irish Ranger Wing could be requested to support the ERU.

In 2020, they were deployed to Mali, where they gained new combat experience. That experience put them on the Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World list.

9 thoughts on “Top 10 Special Operations Forces Around the World in 2023”

  1. Absolute Rubbish, biased, opinionated editorialism and not objective fact. First off…if you believe this youll believe anything! I wonder how much money you guys were bribed with to write this crap? Canada doesn’t have special forces because the Federal government is Liberal and doesn’t believe in (Army Navy or Airforce). Just like one of the other commentors so correctly pointed out, where is the rest of the world? The real heavy weight lifters like French GIGN, German GSG9 British SAS Israeli MOSSAD, Hong Kong HKSDU? What a shocking vacum of common sense! The sheer orrogance to think that if i can’t pronounce it, i might as well overlook it! Absolute crap. Canada as a country is 150 years old, and when North Korea, Russia China and Iran come knocking, who do you think Canada is gonna call for help? That’s right big brother America. Canada is a complete joke, JTF2 is a bunch of wingnut wannabies with duck dynasty and zz top beards. Like seeing a lumber jack dress up as a soldier for Halloween. Little Norway has a bigger army than Canada, and is better trained, funded and respected on the word stage. Nothing important has come out of Canada for the last 150 years. Not even justin Biebers tim bits.

  2. hahaha, jack you are funny, we have 5 special ops teams jtf2, CJIRU, CSOR, 427 SOAS and CSOTC. but like the jtf2 motto says “deeds not words” as in we don’t need to bark like Americans do.

  3. Bro left out Tongan Commando Regiment and Samoan Special Operations Unit.
    They’re the real badasses!

  4. All this top 10 Rubbish is absolute BS and as for a “Several New Zealanders served with the LRDG” the entire Long Range Patrol (the very first LRDG designation) was manned entirely by Kiwis from the 2nd NZEF except from its officers who were British and Commanded by Ralph Bagnold try actually doing some research stops you looking foolish. And going onto this top 10 malarkey there is no SF Olympics so there is no top 10 the best SF are those who do the actual job the most and every one knows who that is anyway like I said top tens are for Civilians and 15 year old high school boys lol

  5. Jack, you’re actually retarded…”where is the rest of the world?” I guess the US, Canada, Germany, Norway, Russia, Ireland, and New Zealand don’t cover enough for you? French GIGN, German GSG9 are essentially elite police force, this article is considering military special operations forces. The German KSK Special Forces are also included in this list (since you brought up the GSG9). MOSSAD is an intelligence agency, and the British SAS is literally listed as being number 1 on this list, you absolute fucking retard. Canada’s JTF2 is also an actual thing.

  6. Jack the jtf2 sniper has the longest confimered sniper kill during a rotation in Afghanistan which is over a mile dummy

  7. JTF2 is a tier 1 special force, with arguably the most terrorists killed. Along with the fact that the budget is likely larger than some of these smaller countries

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