Beijing’s Special Forces are legit.
Key point: Special Forces let a small number of soldiers punch above their weight.
Some special force units get all the attention. America’s Delta Force, Russia’s Spetnatz and Britain’s SAS have glamorous reputations.
When was the last time you heard about China’s commandos?
But Chinese special forces exist, and they have been growing in size, sophistication and global reach, according to the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO). Their command structure has been streamlined and training has become more realistic.
China put these changes to this summer during the first comprehensive assessment of its special forces. The exercise, Ingenious Special Operations Soldier-2018, “tested all levels of command, including brigade, battalion, company, element and squad levels,” FMSO said. “While media coverage of the exercise emphasized tests of special forces skills, such as fast-roping from helicopters, night operations and sniper attacks, the underlying point of the exercise is likely to be the test of command capabilities.”
Chinese special operations units are a recent creation. “China’s first army special forces units were first set up in the 1990s,” FMSO said in the August issue of its OE Watch magazine. “Additional units have continued to be stood up, with the other services of the PLA establishing SOF [special operations forces] units with specialized skills sets throughout the 2000s.”
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