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11 Most Elite Military Special Forces Branches in the US

If you’ve ever been curious about the most elite military special forces branches in the US, today is your lucky day.

When it comes to the military, each branch also has their own branches of special forces. Those special forces gained more attention when the Navy SEALS killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011. To begin, the U.S. Armed Forces consists of the Navy, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. These elite special forces groups such the Green Berets, US Delta Force and The Night Stalkers, are all tasked with specific missions and focuses, making them among the most elite US special forces. Delta Force is also referred to as the Army Combined Applications Group, and many of its missions are classified. When it comes to the Army, it holds the largest number of special operations command personnel out of any military branch with around 26,000 soldiers all across the globe. While you need to be in good physical shape to be a member of any military branch (if you’re not when you sign up, basic training is sure to do the trick), members of the special forces are in the best possible shape they can be in. A person cannot even be considered for one of the special forces roles without being in top physical shape and passing training and tests to prove it.

11 Most Elite Military Special Forces Branches in the US


If you look at a full list of us special forces, it can be extremely overwhelming since there are so many in the United States’ Armed Forces. Out of all the branches, the Marine Corps has the smallest number of special units forces. Since their list is shorter, many wonder the Marine special forces name, which is the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, better recognized as MARSOC.

You must have the willpower to survive the training, the minds to pass the exam, the tactics to plan and improvise, and the skills to become a member of an elite force of the military. We sourced our list from the Military, American Special Ops, and Quora. It was a challenge to choose the most elite since all branches have their distinct duty and mission and all are equally important in saving the lives of people and protecting their country. Also not much quantitative information regarding the special forces as much of it is classified. We randomly listed the special operations branches that made it onto our list, but the lower they are on the list, the more elite they are considered. We have also listed special forces units from across all branches. We will leave it to your perspective how elite these commands are, but they are all among the best of the military. However, if you want to be a part of one, you can start off scanning the easiest special forces branch to join. There are also other elite forces worldwide, and you can find some on our list of best, most elite hardest training special forces in the world.

Let us find out which are the most elite military special forces branches in the US.

11. Marine Division Recon

The task that Marine Division Recon must carry out is amphibious-ground reconnaissance, underwater reconnaissance, initial terminal guidance, battle damage assessment, or direct action raids or ambushes. This elite Marine unit provides recon for their assigned Marine Air-Ground Task Force Ground Combat. Unlike other elite special force branches, Marine Division Recon has a limited direct action capability.

10. The Night Stalkers – 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment

Also known also as Task Force 160 are The Night Stalkers or the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. This is an elite U.S. Army special operations unit, next on the list of most elite military special forces branches in the US, trained to fly helicopters to support other troops. The scope of their mission includes insertion or extraction of special operations forces, attack missions, and reconnaissance. The 160th SOAR hones their skills regularly with SOF from U.S. Army, Air Force, and the Navy. Other exercises are conducted with other nations like the United Kingdom.

9. Pararescuemen (PJs)

Next on the list of most elite military special forces branches in the US is the Pararescuemen or Pararescue Jumpers, PJs for short, of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces and Air Combat Command Rescue Squadrons are tasked to retrieve personnel from hostile environments. Their mission includes a critical insertion by helicopter behind enemy lines for them to find, extract and treat friendlies. These men are also trained to jump into the water from hovering helicopters and insert by parachute. Pararescuemen’s motto is “That others may live.”

8. Air Naval Gunfire Liason Company (ANGLICO)

The role of this team is coordinate, synchronize and deconflict air strikes and artillery fires for the Joint, Allied or Coalition forces operating in, or adjacent to the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) battlespace. ANGLICO is deployed in small teams to the battlefield; however, it may vary though depending on what the mission requires.

7. MARSOC – U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

MARSOC stands for the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. It is under the umbrella of Special Operations Command or SOCOM. There are several U.S. Marine Corps special operations elements that are covered by MARSOC. Under the umbrella of MARSOC are the Marine Raider Regiment, the Marine Raider Support Group, and Marine Special Operations School. Their notable operation is Operation Enduring Freedom.

6. Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team

Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team has to respond to threats to Naval, Marine Corps or other US government interests which earned the sixth spot on our list of most elite military special forces branches in the US. It is an elite security force that is part of the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment. Their skills are counter surveillance, physical security, urban combat techniques, close quarter combat or CQB, and martial arts. Detect, deter and defend against threats, with a focus on anti-terrorism is among the missions of FAST as well.

5. 75th Ranger Regiment

The elite U.S. Army light infantry special operations unit is the 75th Ranger Regiment or “The Rangers.” Their mission is airborne or air assaults, direct action operations, raids, airfield seizure, recovery of personnel and special equipment, and support of general purpose forces or GPF. Their regular role is to act as a backup or security for Delta Force Operations.

4. The Green Berets

We are continuing our list of most elite military special forces branches in the US with”The Green Berets” that is the other term for the U.S. Army Special Forces that are bound to fulfill their mission of unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense or FID, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, and information operations. Their motto is “To free from oppression,” and under the Green, Berets umbrella are other subunits with their distinct tasks and missions to fulfill.

3. Navy SEALs

If you intend to join the Navy SEALs, you must possess the versatility to operate in sea, air, and land for that is what it entails. The role of their unit is counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, and special reconnaissance. Navy SEALs are under the umbrella of Special Operations Command.

2. SEAL Team 6

The other term for SEAL Team 6 is DEVGRU or the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. If you are quite familiar with the Navy SEALs, they are an elite team within the elite unit. The Army’s Delta Force is on par with this special mission unit. The primary mission of SEAL Team 6 is counter-terrorism, close protection, and special reconnaissance.

1. Delta Force

The primary role of the elite unit Delta Force is counter-terrorism. The scope of their duty is hostage rescue, the capture or elimination of terrorist forces, intelligence gathering on terrorist threats, close protection like guarding VIPs, and unconventional warfare. Delta is now expanding their knowledge towards systems on aircraft, trains, ships, and vehicles. With Delta Force, we wrap up our list of the most elite military special forces branches in the US.