what exactly makes special forces “special” compared to normal military?


what exactly makes special forces “special” compared to normal military?

In: 32

Special forces need to meet strict criteria performance criteria, often with a history of service in more minor units, with expectational record. They must pass selection courses that push them very far. After selection courses they undergo rigorous training in a variety of disciplines. They have a lot of money invested in them in terms of training and equipment to make them as well prepared for combat as possible.

The big difference is that regular soldiers are expected to follow orders and special forces are expected to show initiative to adapt to local conditions.

From an admin point of view, the UK special forces only recruit from existing military – you can’t join direct (unless you’re applying to the reserves).

training, mission and equipment.


Basically, anyone not intended for the front line role or one of its direct support roles is “special” forces. These units could be infiltration and recon units, saboteurs, kidnapping, assassins, or a verity of other small unit roles that its useful to have a few of floating around in an army. Thier equipment is much more focused towards this sort of small-unit combat, with less “Big war” stuff like anti-tank weapons and more stuff specialised for the sort of fighting they do vs other infantry with small arms.

They are also trained to a much higher standard than most infantry, mostly because its too expensive and time consuming to train hundreds of thousands to people to that level (if its even possible, given the high physical requirements they ask for). They often have special training in methods of covert insertion (ie, sneaking in), stuff like swimming in form a submarine, or high attitude parachute jumps, which often require significant foot marching to reach the target (for example, parachute into a clearing in a forest then march 20 miles across a mountain range to set up a observation post to watch the enemy)

the skills that these units acquire for this “big war” role often translate well into being superb infantry in smaller conflicts, especially stuff like close quarters battle. as such, they make great “door kickers” to make precision attacks on a enemy.


for example, regular infantry might hold a checkpoint in a city, and do house clearance in defense of that checkpoint. Special forces would be used to go on a raid to find the man making the bombs, and kidnap him for trail and interrogation.


Infanty often COULD do the latter role, and often DO when the SF aren’t available, its just the SF are better at it because its part of their core role.

So special forces typically are differentiated from regular forces in that they have:

1. Higher acceptance criteria, in the military I served at, most special forces typically require only a higher degree of fitness and endurance tests although some elite unites also require high aptitude test scores.

2. They have a much longer and more rigorous training routine.

3. They are used differently, so regular forces typically operate in large teams for grand operations like taking over some region, whilst special forces operate on more concrete tasks with smaller unit sizes, typically just a few people, and they’re mostly used for precision operations like rescuing someone, kidnapping an important figure head, etc…

Source: served in the military

I think other people here have covered correctly what makes these forces special, which they usually are. The name special forces though as I understand it isn’t really referring to them being special, rather that they are the forces used for special operations, I.e not ‘normal’ warfare. In terms of the name it’s the missions they do which are special or unusual, but obviously you do usually need special soldiers to complete these mission.