Top 5 Spec Ops Teams


Do you remember the movie “Navy Seals?”

Yea, the one with Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn? Did you know that it grossed over 25 million at the box office?

And the movie “G.I. Jane?” Over 97 million – just at the box office.

We have a love affair with covert military operations. And operators.

Which make it difficult to draw the line between what really might be out there and the imagination of some talented writers.

But let’s say that there are macho types out there rappelling out of helicopters and shooting the bad guys. Who’s the best of the best world wide?

Let’s take a look.

Top 5 Spec Ops Teams

1. CIA Special Activities Division (SAD)

Yep. The CIA has got to rank just about first. They are the ones, along with the Navy’s DEVGRU, that took out bin Laden a year ago.

They are said to be the most secretive of the US Spec Ops community and recruit their warm bodies from other top level organizations (DEVGRU, Delta Force, MARSOC, etc).

To be considered for SAD you have to have at least a bachelor’s degree. And it’s said that many of their operatives come from Ivy League schools. In addition to the standard 18 month spy training course, SAD candidates receive extensive training in a broad variety of specialized courses.

What Kind of Guns Do They Shoot?

  • Sig Sauer P226 pistol
  • HK MP5

A complete list would be exhaustive. These guys go anywhere and do anything and therefore would have to have a working knowledge of a wide variety of firearms. Think living, breathing IHS Jane’s Defence: Weapons

Top 5 Spec Ops Teams


DEVGRU is what the Navy is calling what used to be Seal Team Six. To become a DEVGRU operative a guy (sorry, no gals at the present) first has to be in the Navy. And then be patient.

According to Master Chief Information Systems Technician Richard McGurr, a DEVGRU recruiter, “Our billets don’t show up on job advertising and selection systems or job career management system, so it is up to us to get out there and get the word out to the fleet that we have a command here that supports special warfare and we’re out there to try to find the best and the brightest young Sailors in a myriad of ratings.”

Those chosen as candidates then attend a 6 month Operators Training Course. Attrition is said to be high – about 10 percent complete training.

What Kind of Guns Do They Shoot?

  • Heckler & Koch HK416 assault/battle rifle
  • Heckler & Koch MP7A1 submachine gun
  • SIG-Sauer P226 handgun – an all stainless steel model developed for the USN

Top 5 Spec Ops Teams

3. British SAS

The Special Air Service is a regiment to the British Army. Only members of the UK Military are considered for selection.

Candidates receive a 5 week training program that has been describes as one of the most grueling military programs anywhere. Again, attrition is high with only about 10 percent completing the course.

Those who successfully complete the course are assigned to an operational unit. During peacetime the SAS is tasked with counter terrorism operations. When at war they perform special operations.

What Kind of Guns Do They Shoot?

  • Accuracy International AW50 anti material/sniper rifle
  • Browning High-Power / FN GP35 handgun
  • Colt Canada / Diemaco C7 assault rifle

These are but 3 of what, some say, is a 29 weapon arsenal. It seems to be SOP that the Spec Ops groups have access to the best of the best.

Top 5 Spec Ops Teams

4. US Army Delta Force

After the CIA’s SAD, Delta Force is the next most secretive Special Operations Group. Believed to consist of between 800 and 1000 personnel operating out of Ft. Bragg NC, the unit is primarily tasked with counter-terrorism, hostage rescue and covert operations.

Many of the candidates for Delta come from the 75th Ranger Regiment. And in turn many of the candidates for the CIA’s SAD come from Delta Force. As with DEVGRU, Delta Force has been know to assist in tasks assigned to the CIA.

Although their goings on are classified, an interesting account of their participation in the elimination of Pablo Escobar can be found in Mark Bowden’s book “Killing Pablo.”

What Kind of Guns Do They Shoot?

Their arsenal is said to be extensive. And backed by a staff of Amory gunsmiths that can modify almost any weapon for almost any special occasion. That said some of the more conventional arms include;

  • M4 carbine in 5.56 NATO
  • Beretta M9 in 9 mm
  • Barrett M107 .50-Caliber Anti-Materiel Sniper Rifle

Of special interest is the M24A2 SWS. Those of you who are gun savvy might recognize it as a  highly modified Remington Model 700. The M24 Sniper Weapons System (SWS) includes a detachable Leupold 10×42 mm Ultra M3A scope and an HS Precision adjustable stock.

For the Special Forces, the M24A2 is outfitted with a detachable 10-round magazine and Remington MARS (Modular Accessory Rail System) Picatinny rail. The barrel is modified for a suppressor. Available in 7.62 NATO or 300 Winchester Magnum.

Top 5 Spec Ops Teams

5. Shayetet 13

Our last stop is Israel and their famed Shayetet 13 – which means flotilla. Their motto is  “Never Again.” In reference  to the Holocaust. They are the Israeli Navy’s Special Operations Unit and are tasked with maritime counter-terrorism, intelligence gathering and hostage rescue.

The Middle East is a hostile environment with many of Israel’s neighbors bent on their demise. Which has resulted in Israel’s military in general and Shayetet in particular remaining in condition orange.

Shayetet training last just short of 2 years. And is said to be the most extensive – anywhere. They also participate in cross training drills with foreign military units, including US Navy Seals.

What Kind of Guns Do They Shoot?

  • M4 carbine
  • M203 grenade launcher
  • Negev machine gun
  • Tavor assault rifle
  • Glock pistols

The CIA maintains what they call an Office of Public Affairs. Among their various duties, they are tasked with “working” with the entertainment industry.

To what extent is classified.

Written by James Bradrick

James Bradrick left the sun and surf of southern Mexico to blog and write about civil and human rights issues from San Diego CA.


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