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South-East Asian 
Special Forces 


Colour plates by SIMON McCOUAIG 


Published in 1991 by 

Osprey Publishing Ltd 

59 Grosvenor Street, London, W1X gDA 
© Copyright 1991 Osprey Publishing Ltd 

All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the 
purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, 
as permitted under the Copyright Designs and Patents 
Act, 1988, no part of this publication may be 
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted 
in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, 
chemical, mechanical, optical, photocopying, record- 
ing or otherwise, without the prior permission of the 
copyright owner. Enquiries should be addressed to the 

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data 
Conboy, Kenneth 
South-East Asian special forces. — (Elite series, 

no. 33). 
1. Soviet special forces 

I. Title II. Series 

ISBN 1-85532-106-8 

Filmset in Great Britain 
Printed through Bookbuilders Ltd, Hong Kong 

Artist’s Note 
Readers may care to note that the original paintings 
from which the colour plates in this book were 
prepared are available for private sale. All reproduc- 
tion copyright whatsoever is retained by the publisher. 
All enquiries should be addressed to: 

Simon McCouaig 

4 Yeoman’s Close 

Stoke Bishop 

Bristol BSg 1DH 

The publishers regret that they can enter into no 
correspondence upon this matter. 

Author’s Note 

I would like to thank the following who generously 
gave of their time in compiling this study: Doan Huu 
Dinh, Tran Dac Tran, Hiep Hoa Trinh, Thoai 
Hovanky, Soutchay Vongsavanh, Oroth Insisien- 
gmay, Albert Grandolini, Thach Saren, Thach Reng, 
the Indonesian Embassy (Washington), the Malaysian 
Embassy (Washington), the Royal Thai Embassy 
(Washington), the Embassy of the Philippines (Wash- 
ington), the Singaporean Embassy (Washington), and 
countless others who would rather remain anonymous. 
Elite units have long been prominent in the armies of ~ 
South-East Asia, and, given the turmoil in the region 
since the 1960s these forces have had ample opportun- 
ity to be tested in combat. For reasons of space the 
author has been obliged to exclude such units as the 
South Vietnamese Airborne and Ranger formations; 
but see Elite 29, Vietnam Airborne by Gordon L. Rott- 
man for details of these units. Additional information 
on Cambodian élite units ean be found in MAA 209 
The War in Cambodia. 

For a catalogue of all books published by Osprey Military 
please write to: 

The Marketing Manager, Consumer Catalogue Department 
Osprey Publishing Ltd, 59 Grosvenor Street, London, W1X 9DA 

South-East Asian Special Forces 

Republic of Vietnam: 
Special Forces 

In early 1956 the French-built Commando School at Nha 
Trang was re-established with US military assistance to 
provide physical training and ranger instruction for up to 100 
students. Early the following year President Ngo Dinh Diem 
ordered the creation of a special unit to conduct clandestine 
external operations. Initial parachute and communication 
training for 70 officers and sergeants was conducted at Vung 
Tau; 58 of these later underwent a four-month commando 
course at Nha Trang under the auspices ofa US Army Special 
Forces Mobile Training ‘eam. Upon completion, they 
formed the Lien dot Quan Sat so 1 (1 Observation Unit) on 1 
November 1957 at Nha ‘Trang. The unit was put under the 
Presidential Liaison Office, a special intelligence bureau 

controlled by President Diem and outside the normal ARVN 
command structure. The commander was Lt.Col. Le Quang 
Tung, an ARVN airborne officer and Diem loyalist. Many of 
the Unit’s members came originally from northern Vietnam, 
reflecting its external operations orientation. 

In 1958 the Unit was renamed the Lien Doan Quan Sat so 1, or 
1 Observation Group, reflecting its increase to nearly 400 men 
in December. By that time the Group was seen as an anti- 
Communist stay-behind force in the event of a North 
Vietnamese conventional invasion; however, because of its 
privileged position the Group stayed close to Diem and rarely 
ventured into the field. 

By 1960 it was apparent that the main threat to South 
Vietnam was growing Viet Cong insurgency; the Group 
abandoned its stay-behind role and was assigned missions in 
VC-infested areas. Operations were briefly launched against 
VC in the Mekong Delta, and later along the Lao border. 

ARVN STD ‘Earth Angel’ team dressed in North Vietnamese 
uniforms prepare for insertion into Cambodia, 1971. 

STD team members dressed in tiger-stripe fatigues practise 
communications skills at Camp Yen The, 1971. 

In mid-1961 the Group had 340 men in 20 teams of 15, with 
plans for expansion to 805 men. In October the Group began 
operations into Laos to reconnoitre North Vietnamese Army 
logistical corridors into South Vietnam. In November the 
Group was renamed Lien Doan 77, or 77 Group, in honour ofits 
USSF counterparts. Over the next two years members were 
regularly inserted into Laos and North Vietnam on harass- 
ment and psychological warfare operations. Longer-duration 
agent missions, involving civilians dropped into North Viet- 
nam, also came under the Group’s auspices. 

The Group’s sister unit, 31 Group, began forming in 
February 1963. Following criticism of 77 Group’s perceived 
role as Diem’s ‘palace guard’, both groups were incorporated 
into a new command, the Luc Luong Dac Biet (LLDB) or 
Special Forces, on 15 March 1963. In theory the LLDB would 
work closely with the USSF in raising irregular village defence 
units. This cosmetic change still kept the Special Forces 
outside of ARVN control, however, and did little to change 
the performance of Col. Tung’s troops. In August, LLDB 
members attacked Buddhist pagodas across South Vietnam in 
an effort to stifle Buddhist opposition to the Diem regime. At 
the time LLDB strength stood at seven companies, plus an 
additional three ‘civilian’ companies used by Diem on 
political operations. Because of such missions the LLDB 
became despised and, when anti-Diem military units staged a 
coup d’état in November, the rebel forces arrested Col. Tung 


and quickly neutralized the LLDB. 

(Tung was later 

The LLDB after Diem 

In the wake of the coup the Presidential Liaison Office was 
dissolved and its functions assumed by the ARVN. The LLDB 
was put under the control of the Joint General Staff and given 
the mission of raising paramilitary border and village defence 
forces with the USSF. External operations were given to the 
newly formed Liaison Service, also under the JGS. The 
Liaison Service, commanded by a Colonel, was headquar- 
tered in Saigon adjacent to the JGS. It was divided into Task 
Forces 1, 2, and 3, each initially composed of only a small 
cadre of commandos. 

In 1964 the JGS also formed the Technical Service, a covert 
unit tasked with longer-duration agent operations into North 
Vietnam. Commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, the Technical 
Service comprised Group 11, oriented toward agent oper- 
ations in Laos and eastern North Vietnam; Group 68, another 
infiltration unit; and the Coastal Security Service, a maritime 
commando group at Da Nang with its own contingent of PT 
Boats for seaborne infiltration. 

The post-Diem LLDB-was restructured for its proper role as 
a source of counter-insurgency instructors for paramilitary 
forces. By February 1964 31 Group had finished training, and 
was posted to Camp Lam Son south of Nha Trang. In May 
the Group became responsible for all LLDB detachments in I 
and IT Corps. A second reorganization occurred in September 
when 31 Group was renamed 111 Group and given responsi- 

bility for the Special Operations Training Center at Camp 
Lam Son. Now 77 Group, headquartered at Camp Hung 
Vuong in Saigon, became 301 Group. In addition, 91 
Airborne Ranger Battalion, a three-company fast reaction 
para unit, was raised under LLDB auspices in November. 
Total LLDB force strength stood at 333 officers, 1,270 
sergeants, and 1,270 men. The LLDB command at Nha 
Trang was assumed by Brig.Gen. Doan Van Quang in August 

By 1965 the LLDB had become almost a mirror image of 
the USSF. LLDB Headquarters at Nha Trang ran the nearby 
Special Forces Training Center at Camp Dong Ba ‘Tinh. 
LLDB ‘C’ Teams, designated A through D Company, were 
posted to each of South Vietnam’s four Military Regions; each 
‘C’ Team had three ‘B’ ‘Teams, which controlled operational 
detachments at the sub-regional level; ‘B’ ‘Teams ran 10 to 11 
‘A’ Teams. ‘A’ Teams were co-located with USSF ‘A’ Teams 
at camps concentrated along the South Vietnamese border, 
where they focused on training Civilian Irregular Defense 
Force (GIDG) personnel. 

In addition, the LLDB Command directly controlled Delta 
teams and the four-company 91 Airborne Ranger Battalion, 
both used by Project Delta, a special reconnaissance unit of 
the US Military Assistance Command-Vietnam Studies and 
Observation Group (MACVSOG), which operated deep in 
VC/NVA sanctuaries. 

On 30 January 1968 the Communists launched their ‘Tet 
offensive across South Vietnam. Caught celebrating the lunar 
New Year, the Saigon government was initially ill-prepared 
to counter the VC/NVA attacks. When Nha Trang was hit on 
the first day the LLDB Headquarters was protected by 91 
Airborne Ranger Battalion, recently returned from one of its 
Project Delta assignments. At only 60 per cent strength the 

Airborne Rangers turned in an excellent performance, push- 
ing the major Communist elements out of Nha Trang in less 
than a day. The battle, however, cost the life of the battalion 
commander and wounded four company commanders. 

After a four-month retraining phase in Nha Trang three 
companies from g1 Airborne Ranger Battalion were brought 
together with six Delta teams and renamed 81 Airborne 
Ranger Battalion. In early June the new battalion prepared 
for urban operations in Saigon after a second surge of 
Communist attacks pushed government forces out of the 
capital’s northern suburbs. On 7 June the Airborne Rangers 
were shuttled into Saigon and began advancing toward VC- 
held sectors around the Duc Tin Military School. After a week 
of bloody street fighting, much of it at night, the Rangers 
pushed the enemy out of the city. 

Following the Tet Offensive 81 Airborne Ranger Battalion 
was increased to six companies, and continued to be used as 
the main reaction force for Project Delta; four companies were 
normally assigned Delta missions while two remained in 
reserve at LLDB Headquarters. 

The Strategic Technical Directorate 

In late 1968 the Technical Service was expanded into the Nha 
Ky Thuat (Strategic Technical Directorate, or STD) in a move 
designed to make it more like MACVSOG, the US joint- 
services command created in 1964 which ran reconnaissance, 
raids, and other special operations both inside and outside 
South Vietnam. Despite internal opposition the Liaison 
Service was subordinated to the STD as its major combat arm. 
Like SOG, the STD also had aircraft under its nominal 

A stick from the Laotian 1 CCPL prepare for a training jump 
from a French AAC-1 ‘Toucan’, early 1950. (ECPA) 

control, including 219 Helicopter Squadron of the Viet- 
namese Air Force. By the late 1960s the size of the Liaison 
Service had increased tremendously. Task Forces 1, 2, and 
3—commanded by lieutenant-colonels and larger than a 
brigade—were directly analogous to MACVSOG’s Com- 
mand and Control North, Central, and South. Each Task 
Force was broken into a Headquarters, a Security Company, 
a Reconnaissance Company of ten teams, and two Mobile 
Launch Sites with contingents of South Vietnamese Army 
and paramilitary forces under temporary Liaison Service 
control. Although the Liaison Service was a South Vietnam- 
ese unit, all of its operations were funded, planned, and 
controlled by MACVSOG, and recon teams integrated both 
MACVSOG and Liaison Service personnel. 

In December 1970, in accordance with the ‘Vietnamiz- 
ation’ policy, all CIDG border camps were turned over to the 
South Vietnamese government and CIDG units were incor- 
porated into the ARVN as Bret Dong Quan, or Ranger, border 
battalions. No longer needed as a CIDG training force, the 
LLDB was dissolved in the same month. Officers above 
captain were sent to the Biet Dong Quan; the best of the 
remaining officers and men were selected for anew STD unit, 
the Special Mission Service. At the same time 81 Airborne 

French and Lao members of 1 CCPL in US-supplied World 
War Two Pacific camouflage uniforms engage the enemy 
with MAS36 rifles in what appears to be a posed publicity 
picture, February 1951. (ECPA) 

ie 8 

Ranger Battalion was expanded into 81 Airborne Ranger 
Group consisting of one headquarters company, one recon 
company, and seven exploitation companies. The Group was 
put under the direct control of the Army G-2 (Intelligence). 

During 1970 the Liaison Service had staged numerous 
cross-border missions into Cambodia in support of major 
external sweeps by the US and South Vietnamese forces 
against Communist sanctuaries. Early the following year the 
Service sent three recon teams into the ‘Laotian Panhandle’ 
two weeks before the ARVN’s February Lam Son 719 

In February 1971 the STD underwent major reorganiz- 
ation in accordance with Vietnamization and its anticipated 
increase in special operations responsibilities. Headquartered 
in Saigon, STD command was given to Col. Doan Van Nhu, 
an ARVN airborne officer and former military attaché to 
Taiwan. As STD commander, and a non-voting member of 
the South Vietnamese National Security Council, Nhu took 
orders only from President Nguyen Van Thieu and the Chief 
of the ARVN JGS. 

The expanded STD consisted of a headquarters, a training 
center, three support services, and six combat services. The 
training center was located at Camp Yen The in Long Thanh: 
Yen The, significantly, was the name of a resistance move- 
ment in northern Vietnam during the 11th century. Airborne 
instruction was conducted at the ARVN Airborne Division’s 
Camp Ap Don at Tan Son Nhut. The three support services 
were Administration & Logistics; Operations & Intelligence; 


and Psychological Warfare, which ran the ‘Vietnam Mother- 
land’, ‘Voice of Liberty’, and ‘Patriotic Front of the Sacred 
Sword’ clandestine radio stations. The combat services were 
the Liaison Service; the Special Mission Service; Group 11; 
Group 68; the Air Support Service; and the Coastal Security 

The Liaison Service, commanded by a colonel in Saigon, 
was composed of experienced Loi Ho (‘Pull a tiger’s tail’) 
recon commandos divided among ‘Task Force 1 (Da Nang), 
Task Force 2 (Kontum), and ‘Task Force 3 (Ban Me Thuot). 

The Special Mission Service, also commanded by a colonel, 
was headquartered at Camp Son Tra in Da Nang. It 
remained in training under US auspices from February 1971 
until January 1972. Unlike the shorter-duration raid and 
recon missions performed by the Liaison Service, the SMS was 
tasked with longer missions into North Vietnam and Laos. It 
was initially composed of Groups 71, 72, and 75, the first two 
headquartered at separate camps at Da Nang. Group 75 was 
headquartered at Pleiku in the former LLDB ‘B’ Co. barracks, 
with one detachment at Kontum to provide a strike force for 
operations in Cambodia and inside South Vietnam. 

Group 11, an airborne infiltration unit based at Da Nang, 
and Group 68, headquartered in Saigon with detachments at 
Kontum, were soon integrated under SMS command. Group 
68 ran airborne-trained rallier and agent units, including 
‘Earth Angels’ (NVA ralliers) and ‘Pike Hill’ teams (Cam- 
bodians disguised as Khmer Communists). A typical Earth 
Angel operation took place on 15 December 1971, when a 

team was inserted by US aircraft on a reconnaissance mission 
into Mondolkiri Province, Cambodia. Pike Hill operations 
were focused in the same region, including a seven-man POW 
recovery team dropped into Ba Kev, Cambodia, on 12 
February 1971. Pike Hill operations even extended into Laos, 
e.g. the four-man Pike Hill team parachuted onto the edge of 
the Bolovens Plateau on 28 December 1971, where it reported 
on enemy logistics traffic for almost two months. Pike Hill 
operations peaked in November 1972 when two teams were 
inserted by C-130 Blackbird aircraft flying at 250 feet north of 
Kompong Trach, Cambodia. Information from one of these 
teams resulted in 48 B-52 strikes within one day. 

The STD’s Air Support Service consisted of 219 ‘Queen 
Bee’ Helicopter Sqn., the 114 Observation Sqn., and C-47 
transportation elements. The Queen Bees, originally outfitted 
with aging H-34s, were re-equipped with UH-1 Hueys in 
1972. The C-47 fleet was augmented by two C-123 transports 
and one C-130 Blackbird in the same year. All were based at 
Nha Trang. 

The Easter Offensive 1972 
During the 1972 Easter Offensive the combat arms of the STD 
saw heavy action while performing recon and forward air 

Members of Laotian 1 BPL during Operation ‘Dampieres’ 
north of Luang Prabang, September 1953. Unlike the US 
pattern worn by the CCPL, the BPL had new French ‘lizard’ 
pattern camouflage. (ECPA) 

Ort ee ee 7 

55 Bataillon Parachutistes 


Officers 2 
EM 3 


50th Rifle 

51st Rifle 

Officers 2 Officers 2 
EM 111 EM — 106 

guide operations. Meanwhile, 81 Airborne Ranger Group 
was tasked with reinforcing besieged An Loc. ‘The Group was 
heli-lifted into the southern edge of the city in April, and the 
Rangers walked north to form the first line of defence against 
the North Vietnamese. After a month of brutal fighting and 
heavy losses, the siege was lifted. A monument was later built 
by the people of An Loc in appreciation of the Group’s 

In October 1972, the SMS was given responsibility for the 
tactical footage between Hue and the Lao border. In early 
1973 US advisors were withdrawn. The Air Support Service 
soon proved unable to make up for missing US logistical 
support, sharply reducing the number of STD external 
missions. STD personnel, as well as LLDN SEALs, were 
increasingly seconded to President Thieu’s Palace Guard. 
Later in the year the Liaison Service’s Task Forces 1, 2, and 3 
were redesignated Groups 1, 2, and 3; and Camp Yen The was 
renamed Camp Quyat Thang (‘Must Win’). 

Following a brief respite in the wake of the 1973 Paris Peace 
Accords, the STD was back in action against encroaching 
NVA elements in the countryside. In September 1973 two 
Liaison Service Lot Ho recon teams were inserted by helicopter 
into Plei Djereng, a key garrison blocking the NVA in- 
filtration corridor down the Western highlands. They were 
unsuccessful in rallying the defenders after an NVA attack, 

In late 1974 the NVA increased their pressure; especially 
hard hit was the provincial capital of Phuoc Long in Military 
Region 3. After several weeks of NVA tank, artillery, and 
infantry attacks the Phuoc Long defences started to crack. In 
an effort to save the city the government ordered 81 Airborne 

October 1954: Laotian para-commandos, probably from the 
GCPL just prior to its integration into the BPL, train near 
Vientiane. They wear Laotian Airborne red berets with 
badges based on the French Airborne winged dagger. 
Weapons are the BAR and Thompson SMG. (ECPA) 

52nd Rifle 

53rd Rifle 

Officers 1 Officers 2 
EM 124 EM 12 

Organization of the Laotian 55 BP, 1961. 

Ranger Group to reinforce the southern perimeter. After two 
days of weather delays one company was heli-lifted east of the 
city on the morning of 5 January 1975; and by early afternoon 
over 250 Airborne Rangers were in Phuoc Long. After a day of 
relentless NVA assaults most of the original garrison fled; 
contact was lost with the Airborne Rangers as the NVA began 
to overwhelm the city. Early the next day Ranger stragglers 
were spotted north of the city. A four-day search eventually 
retrieved some 50 per cent survivors. 

By March 1975 the NVA had increased pressure on the 
Central Highlands, prompting Saigon to begin a strategic 
redeployment from the western half of II Corps. Although the 
Liaison Service’s Groups 2 and 3 provided security for the 
withdrawing masses the redeployment soon turned into a 
rout. In the hasty withdrawal Group 2 had forgotten two 
recon teams in Cambodia; these later walked the entire 
distance back to the Vietnamese coast. After the fall of the 
Central Highlands government forces in I Corps began to 
panic, sparking an exodus to the south. In the confusion 
Group 1 of the Liaison Service attempted to provide security 
for the sealift to Saigon. Meanwhile, the SMS boarded boats 
on 30 March for Vung Tau. 

With the entire northern half of the country lost, Saigon 
attempted to regroup its forces. 81 Airborne Ranger Group, 
which had arrived from II Corps in a state of disarray, was 
refitted at Vung Tau. The Liaison Service was posted in 
Saigon, with Groups 1 and 3 reinforcing Bien Hoa and Group 
2 protecting the fuel depots. The SMS also re-formed in 

On 6 April 1975 SMS recon teams sent north-east and 
north-west of Phan Rang discovered elements of two North 
Vietnamese divisions massing on the city. An additional 100 
SMS commandos were flown in as reinforcements, but were 
captured at the airport as the North Vietnamese overran 


Phan Rang. A second task force of 40 Lo: Ho commandos was 
infiltrated into Tay Ninh to attack an NVA command post; 
the force was intercepted and only two men escaped. By mid- 
April 81 Airborne Ranger Group was put under the oper- 
ational control of 18th Division and sent to Xuan Loc, where 
the unit was smashed. The remnants were pulled back to 
defend Saigon. By the final days of April the NVA had 
surrounded the capital. Along with other high officials, the 
STD commander escaped by plane on 27 April. On the next 
day 500 SMS commandos and STD HQ personnel comman- 
deered a barge and escaped into international waters. The 
remainder of the Liaison Service fought until capitulation on 
30 April. 

Naval Special Forces 

In 1960 the South Vietnamese Navy proposed the creation of 
an Underwater Demolitions Team to improve protection of 
ships, piers, and bridges. Later in the year a navy contingent 
was sent to Taiwan for UDT training; the one officer and 
seven men who completed the course became the cadre for a 
Lien Doi Ngoui Nhia (LDNN), or Frogman Unit, formally 
established in July 1961. The LDNN, with a proposed 
strength of 48 officers and men, was given the mission of 
salvage, obstacle removal, pier protection, and special am- 
phibious operations. 

Insignia of the Laotian MR 5 Commandos, 1970. 

Organization of the Khmer Special Forces, 1974. 

Khmer Special Forces 


Soon after the creation of the LDNN a second unit was 

formed: Biet Hai, or ‘Special Sea Force’, paramilitary com- 
mandos under the operational control of Diem’s Presidential 
Liaison Office and given responsibility for amphibious oper- 
ations against North Vietnam. US Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and 
Land) commando teams began deploying to South Vietnam 
in February 1962 and initiated in March a six-month course 
for the first Bet Hai cadre in airborne, reconnaissance, and 
guerrilla warfare training. By October, 62 men had graduated 
from the first cycle. A planned second contingent was denied 

In early 1964 the LDNN, numbering only one officer and 
41 men, began special operations against VC seaborne 
infiltration attempts. Six Communist junks were destroyed by 
the LLDN at Ilo Ilo Island in January during Operation ‘Sea 
Dog’. During the following month the LDNN began to be 
used against North Vietnamese targets as part of Operation 
Plan 34A, a covert action programme designed to pressure the 
Hanoi regime. In February a team unsuccessfully attempted 
to sabotage a North Vietnamese ferry on Cape Ron and 
Swatow patrol craft at Quang Khe. Missions to destroy the 
Route 1 bridges below the 18th Parallel were twice aborted. 
In March most of the LDNN was transferred to Da Nang and 
co-located with the remaining Biet Hai commandos. During 
May North Vietnam operations resumed by LDNN teams 
working with newly trained Biet Hai boat crews. On 27 May 
they scored their first success with the capture of a North 
Vietnamese junk. On 30 June a team landed on the North 
Vietnamese coast near a reservoir pump house. The team was 
discovered and a hand-to-hand fight ensued; two LDNN 
commandos lost their lives and three 57mm recoilless rifles 
were abandoned, but 22 North Vietnamese were killed and 
the pump house was destroyed. 

In July a second class of 60 LDNN candidates was selected 
and began training in Nha Trang during September. Train- 
ing lasted 16 weeks, and included a ‘Hell Week’ in which 
students were required to paddle a boat 115 miles, run 75 
miles, carry a boat for 21 miles, and swim ten miles. During 

Indonesian KIPAM insignia: chest qualification badge (left); 
unit shoulder insignia and tab (centre); HALO qualification 
badge (right). 

the training cycle team members salvaged a sunken landing 
craft at Nha ‘Trang and a downed aircraft in Binh Duong 
Province. Thirty-three men completed the course in January 
1965, and were based at Vung Tau under the direct control of 
the Vietnamese Deputy Chief of Naval Operations 

In 1965 the LLDN was given responsibility for amphibious 
special operations in South Vietnam. Maritime operations 
against North Vietnam were given exclusively to the Da 
Nang-based Biet Hat commandos and Hai Tuan boat crews, 
both incorporated into the new seaborne component of the 
STD, the So Phong Ve Duyen Hai (Coastal Security Service, or 
CSS). The CSS, a joint services unit, was headed by an Army 
lieutenant-colonel until 1966, then by a Navy commander. 
CSS missions focused almost entirely on short-duration 
sabotage operations lasting one night, and had a high success 
rate. The CSS relied heavily on special operations teams 
temporarily seconded from other services. Teams on loan 
from the Vietnamese Navy, considered most effective, were 
codenamed ‘Vega’. Other teams came from the Vietnamese 
Marine Corps (‘Romulus’) and Army (‘Nimbus’). The CSS 
also controlled 40 civilian agents (‘Cumulus’) until the mid- 
1960s. Unofficially, the term Bzet Hai was used for all CSS 
forces, regardless of original service affiliation. CSS training 
was conducted at Da Nang under the auspices of US Navy 
SEAL, US Marine, and Vietnamese advisors. Further sup- 
port was provided by the CSS’s Da Nang-based US counter- 
part, the Naval Advisory Detachment, a component of 

By the mid-1g960s US Navy SEAL teams were being rotated 
regularly through South Vietnam on combat tours. Special- 
ists in raids, amphibious reconnaissance, and neutralization 
operations against the VC infrastructure, the SEALs worked 
closely with the LDNN and began qualifying Vietnamese 


personnel in basic SEAL tactics. In November 1966 a small 
cadre of LDNN were brought to Subic Bay in the Philippines 
for more intensive SEAL training. 

In 1967 a third LDNN class numbering over 400 were 
selected for SEAL training at Vung Tau. Only 27 students 
finished the one-year course and were kept as a separate Hai 
Kich (‘Special Sea Unit,’ the Vietnamese term for SEAL) unit 
within the LDNN. Shortly after their graduation the Commu- 
nists launched the Tet Offensive, and some of the young 
LDNN SEALs were sent to the Saigon district of Cholon for 
urban operations. In the wake of the Tet Offensive most of the 
LDNN SEALs were moved to Cam Ranh Bay, where a fourth 
LDNN class began training during 1968. During the year the 
Vietnamese SEALs operated closely with the US Navy 
SEALs. The LDNN SEAL Team maintained its focus on 
operations within South Vietnam, although some missions did 
extend into Cambodia. Some missions used parachute 

LDNN after Tet 

In 1971, in accordance with increased operational responsi- 
bilities under the Vietnamization programme, the LDNN was 
expanded to the Lien Doan Ngoui Nhia (LDNN), or Frogman 
Group, comprising a SEAL Team, Underwater Demolitions 
Team, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, and Boat Sup- 
port Team. Headquarters remained in Saigon. For the 
remainder of 1971 the SEALs operated in 12—18-man detach- 
ments on neutralization operations and raids inside South 
Vietnam. SEAL launch sites included Ho Anh, north of Da 
Nang; Hue; and Tinh An. 

KIPAM team practising amphibious reconnaissance, armed 

with the AK-47. 



During the 1972 Easter Offensive the SEALs were transfer- 
red to Hue to conduct operations against NVA forces holding 
Quang Tri; after Quang Tri was retaken some of the SEALs 
went to Quang Ngai to resume VC neutralization operations. 

After US Navy SEAL advisors were withdrawn in late 1972 
the LDNN SEAL Team, now 200 strong, took over training 
facilities at Cam Ranh Bay; training, however, was cut in half, 
with only one-fifth given airborne training. The SEALs had 
been augmented by ten graduates out of 21 LDNN officer 
candidates sent to the US for SEAL training in 1971. 

When the Vietnam ceasefire went into effect in 1973 the 
SEALs returned to LDNN Headquarters in Saigon. At the 
same time the CSS was dissolved, with the Navy contingent 
given the option of transferring to the LDNN. 

In late December 1973 the government reiterated its 
territorial claim to the Paracel Island chain off its coast and 
dispatched a small garrison of militia to occupy the islands. By 
early January 1974 the Chinese, who also claimed the islands, 
had sent a naval task force to retake the Paracels. On 17 

January 30 LDNN SEALs were infiltrated on to the western 

shores of one of the major islands to confront a Chinese 
landing party. The Chinese had already departed; but two 
days later, after SEALs landed on a nearby island, Chinese 
forces attacked with gunboats and naval infantry. Two 
SEALs died and the rest were taken prisoner and later 

During the final days of South Vietnam a 50-man SEAL 
detachment was sent to Long Anh; the remainder were kept at 
LDNN Headquarters in Saigon along with 200 new SEAL 
trainees. During the early evening of 29 April all SEAL 
dependants boarded LDNN UDT boats and left Saigon; a few 
hours later the SEALs departed the capital, linked up with the 
UDT boats, and were picked up by the US 7th Fleet in 
international waters. 

Army Airborne 

In July 1947 the first Cambodian volunteers from the Mixed 
Cambodian Regiment were chosen for airborne training. 
Additional Cambodian paratroopers, totalling one company, 
were raised within the Cambodian Chasseur Battalion by 
1951. In June 1952 these paratroopers were consolidated to 
form 1 Company ofa planned Cambodian airborne battalion; 
second and third companies were soon formed and sent to 
Saigon for jump training. On 1 December all three companies 
were declared operational and the 1° Bataillon Parachutiste 
Khmere was officially created. As early as June 1952 1 Co. was 
engaging in small-scale clearing operations in southern Gam- 
bodia. By early 1953 both 1 and 2 Cos. were engaging Viet 
Minh elements. In July 1953 the entire BPK was sent to the 
north-eastern town of Sre Ches to drive out a Viet Minh 
battalion. On 31 August 1953 all French officers assigned to 
the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, including the BPK, 
were withdrawn. 

Following the August 1954 ceasefire in Indochina the BPK 
was used for small police actions against bands of armed 
rebels. During the latter half of the 1950s its authorized 
strength remained near 1,000 men; actual strength was closer 
to goo. 

In January 1961 the battalion was expanded into the 
Airborne Half-Brigade, composed of 1 and 2 Para Battalions. 
Half-Brigade HQ and the airborne training centre were at 
Pochentong Airbase outside Phnom Penh. Aside from in- 
frequent skirmishes along the South Vietnamese 
border—against both ARVN and VC forces—the para- 
troopers saw little action. In 1964 1 Para Bn. was parachuted 
near the Thai border in an effort to intimidate the Thai 
government during a dispute over control of the Preah Vihear 
temple. In April 1967 paratroopers were rushed to Battam- 
bang to put down the first armed uprising by the Communist 
Khmer Rouge movement. 

In November 1969 elements of the Demi-Brigade were sent 
to the extreme north-east for limited sweeps against VC/NVA 
forces. At that time HQ and 1 Para Bn. were stationed at 
Pochentong; 2 Para Bn. was garrisoned at Long Vek. When 
Cambodian head of State Prince Norodom Sihanouk was 
deposed in March 1970 and replaced by a pro-Western 
republican government, the NVA attacked the isolated 
government forces in north-eastern Cambodia, forcing the 
paratroopers to evacuate to South Vietnam. They were 
subsequently retrained and sent back to Phnom Penh. During 
early April the remainder of the Demi-Brigade was rushed 
toward the South Vietnamese border to spearhead govern- 
ment offensives against WC/NVA enclaves in eastern 

By August 1970, in accordance with plans for expansion of 
the Cambodian National Armed Forces, the airborne forces 
grew into an Airborne Brigade Group of two brigades. 1 Para 
Bde., based at Pochentong, was composed of a 188-man HQ. 
Co. and five 577-man battalions (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 Para 
Battalions). The first four had been quickly trained within 
Cambodia; 5 Para Bn. was sent for training in South Vietnam 
and did not return until February 1972. 2 Para Bde., based at 
Long Vek, started forming its first unit, 11 Para Bn., in late 


KIPAM team practising ship infiltrations, 1986. 

1970. Three further battalions—12, 13, and 14—were 
planned but only 12 Para Bn. was ever realized, completing 
South Vietnamese training and returning to the brigade in 
April 1972. 

In late August 1970 the four existing battalions of 1 Para 
Bde. were sent to Prek Tameak nine miles north of Phnom 
Penh. For its two days of successful defensive action, the 
brigade was later awarded the Standard of Victory. In 
December 1 Bde. was sent to Prey Totung 44 miles north-east 
of Phnom Penh, where heavy fighting against NVA forces 
earned the brigade its second Standard. 

In March 1971, after 101-D Regt. of the NVA 1st Division 
cut Route 4 leading to Kompong Som, the brigade was chosen 
to spearhead a drive to re-open the road. Over the next three 
months the paratroopers, supported by several infantry 
brigades, pushed back the NVA and eventually captured the 
strategic Pich Nil Pass overlooking Route 4. These actions 
earned the brigade its third Standard. 


Indonesian PASKHAS team dressed in British DPM 
camouflage and armed with M-16s and an M-203. 

The Airborne 1972-1975 

In May 1972 three para battalions were moved from Phnom 
Penh to Siem Reap to participate in Operation ‘Angkor 
Chey’, a clearing action around the Angkor Wat temple. All 
three battalions were moved back to the capital in November. 

In January 1973 paratroopers were fighting their way into 
Srey Prey, 37 miles south of Phnom Penh, to relieve a seriously 
threatened outpost. While the 4,000-strong Airborne Brigade 
Group remained active on similar reinforcement missions 
throughout early 1973, its combat performance was tinged 
with a lack of aggressiveness. In March 1 Para Bde. was 
assigned to clear and hold the east bank of the Mekong. After 
the operation extended beyond the promised five days, 
however, the brigade refused to move and began to desert its 
positions. The commander was relieved and the brigade was 
redeployed to the south Mekong. Tasked with advancing 
along the west bank, the paras again refused to move and 
started to filter back toward Phnom Penh. 

As a result of its poor performance the Brigade Group was 
disbanded in April. 1 Para Bde., composed of 1, 2, 3, and 4 
Para Bns., was retained with headquarters at Pochentong; 5 
Para Bn. and 2 Para Bde., composed only of 11 and 12 Para 
Bns., were disbanded. During mid-1973 two para battalions 
were sent on operations along the Mekong River while two 
battalions. were maintained at Pochentong as a general 

On 25 August, 1 and 3 Para Bns. were rushed to Kompong 
Cham following heavy Khmer Rouge attacks. All airborne 
forces were withdrawn from the vicinity of Kompong Cham in 


December and returned to Phnom Penh. 

For the first six months of 1974 the paras were used on 
limited defensive operations along the east bank of the 
Mekong. Repeated enemy probes sapped the brigade’s 
morale and brought strength down to 1,000 men. An infusion 
of 250 newly trained paratroopers in June improved perform- 
ance slightly. During December elements of the brigade were 
sent to clear the banks of the Bassac River. The paratroopers 
were then sent east of the capital until mid-April 1975; the 
bulk of the brigade was finally rushed west of Phnom Penh on 
15 April, but could only get six kilometres down Route 4 
before the Khmer Rouge captured the capital two days later. 

Khmer Special Forces 

In October 1971 the Khmer Special Forces was created with 
an initial strength of one 33-man ‘C’ Detachment serving as 
headquarters in Phnom Penh; 1 Special Forces Group 
(Airborne), composed of one 25-man ‘B’ Detachment (B-11) 
and six 15-man ‘A’ Detachments (A-111 to A-116). Most 
members were Khmer Krom (a Cambodian ethnic minority 
living in southern Cambodia and southern Vietnam) who had 
been repatriated to Cambodia with years of combat expe- 
rience in South Vietnamese élite units. In mid-1972 training 
began for 2 Special Forces Group (Airborne)—Detachment 
B-12 and Detachments A-121 to A-126—at the Royal Army 
Special Warfare Center at Lopburi, Thailand. Again, a large 
percentage of 2 Group were Khmer Krom repatriates. 

Psyops Officer 

Wpns Set 

Engr Set 

Commo Set 


Intel Set 

Supply Sgt 


Wpns Sgt 

Med Sgt 


Med Sgt 


E-7 E-7 

Intel Sgt 


Engr Sgt 


(NOTE: Actual Khmer Special Forces deployment rarely matched this proposed organization) 

Khmer SF missions were varied. Its first combat assign- 
ment, clearing a Khmer Rouge rocket team from north of 
Phnom Penh, soon gave way to deep-penetration raids, long- 
range reconnaissance, and reinforcement duties. The SF also 
performed in an unconventional warfare training role for 
paramilitary units, as well as for Khmer Air Force security 
troops. In addition, SF personnel ran the Recondo School at 

In December 1972, 3 Special Forces Group 
(Airborne)—Detachment B-13 and Detachments A-131 to 
A-136—was brought to strength and sent to Lopburi for 
training. Unlike the previous two groups 3 Group had few 
experienced Khmer Krom members. On 23 April 1973 the 
Group graduated and returned to Cambodia. It was given 
responsibility for operations around the capital, along the 
lower Mekong, and the coast; 1 Group was posted to 
Battambang and 2 Group was stationed in Phnom Penh. 

Though highly capable, the SF were too small to make a 
strategic difference in the war. Furthermore, some personnel 
were siphoned off to protect Phnom Penh from the threat of 
internal coups d’état, while two more ‘A’ Detachments were 
used for VIP security when President Lon Nol visited his villa 
on the coast. 

The SF were augmented in late 1974 when they assumed 
operational control over the Para-Commando Battalion, a 
unit which had its origins in a 60-man contingent sent for nine 
months of Indonesian Special Forces training in March 1972. 
Upon their return 36 members were assigned to a ceremonial 
unit in Phnom Penh. Late in 1974, however, they were used as 
a cadre for a new Para-Commando Battalion and, under 
assignment to the Khmer SF, were sent to man the defensive 
perimeter north-west of the capital. 

Organization of a Khmer Special Forces ‘A’ Detachment. 

By March 1975 with all land and river routes to Phnom 
Penh cut, the Khmer Rouge began their final assault on the 
capital. Aside from three ‘A’ Detachments in Battambang and 
two in Siem Reap, the bulk of the Khmer SF were withdrawn 
to Phnom Penh. Two teams defended the national stadium, 
where seven escape helicopters were being kept to evacuate 
key members of the government. Only a handful of SF 
personnel managed to escape. 


On 1 July 1948 3 Company of 1 Laotian Chasseur Battalion 
began airborne training and was renamed the 1°"* Compagnie 
de Commandos Parachutistes Laotiens of the French Union 
Army. By September, 1 CCPL strength had risen to an HQ. 
section and three commando sections, totalling 132 Laotians 
and 22 French. During the same month company headquar- 
ters was established at Wattay Airbase outside of Vientiane. 
On 11 May 1949, 1 CCPL performed its first operational 
parachute jump, dropping 18 commandos to reinforce the 
Nam Tha garrison. Six more airborne operations were 
conducted by the company during the year, including a 112- 
man jump to reinforce Sam Neua on 16 December. 

On 29 April 1951 the company increased to six commando 
sections. In October, however, Commandos 4, 5, and 6 were 
removed to form 2 Co. of the new 1% Bataillon de Parachut- 
istes Laotiens. The remainder of 1 CCPL conducted five 


PASKHAS member dressed in DPM camouflage and armed 
with the folding-stock FNC. Note subdued rank insignia on 
chest tab, subdued ‘Air Force’ tab over left pocket, subdued 
unit insignia on left shoulder, and orange beret with distinc- 
tive PASKHAS badge. 

airborne reinforcement jumps around the country during the 
year. On 1 March 1952 1 CCPL was renamed 1°T* Compagnie 
de Commandos Laotiens (1 CCL). Numerous jumps were 
conducted during the year, mostly as part of counter- 
insurgency sweeps north of Vientiane. 

On 27 April 1953 1 CCL was dropped at Nam Bac to 
establish a forward defensive line in the face of a Viet Minh 
invasion. The company was decimated, and could not 
reconstitute its headquarters section and four commando 
sections until 4 August. On 15 June 1954 the company was 
transferred from the French Union Army to the Laotian 
National Army, changing its name to 1° Groupement de 
Commandos Parachutistes Laotiens. All French officers left 
the group by August. 

A second Laotian parachute unit, the 1% Bataillon de 
Parachutistes Laotiens, began forming in October 1951. By 1 
April 1952 the battalion was brought to strength with 853 
men and officers, divided into a headquarters and three 
companies. Based at Chinaimo outside of Vientiane, 1 BPL 
participated in 20 operations, six involving parachute jumps, 
during 1952. On 15-24 December 576 members of the unit 
conducted a reinforcement drop into Sam Neua garrison 
during Operation ‘Noel’. Eighty more members of the 
battalion jumped into Sam Neua in February 1953, enabling 
the BPL to create a fourth company. 


On 15 April 1953, a massive Viet Minh invasion crushed 
the Sam Neua garrison and sent remnants of the BPL fleeing 
toward the Plain of Jars. A month later the battalion was 
reconstituted at Chinaimo. Recon and commando operations 
were conducted north of Luang Prabang for the remainder of 
the year. 

In March 1954 the BPL began preparing for Operation 
‘Condor’, the planned relief of the besieged Dien Bien Phu 
garrison in North Vietnam. During April and early May the 
battalion moved toward the Lao-Vietnamese border, but was 
withdrawn in mid-May after the garrison fell. On 18 June the 
BPL regrouped at Seno, a French airbase near Savannakhet. 
From 2-4 August the battalion performed the last airborne 
operation of the First Indochina War, jumping into the town 
of Phanop to link up with militia units and sweep the territory 
up to the Mu Gia Pass. 

Following the Indochina ceasefire on 6 August 1954 the 
g81-strong BPL was brought back to Seno. After French 
officers left the unit in October the name of the unit was 
simplified to 1 Bataillon Parachutiste (1 BP). In 1955 the 1°°° 
Groupement de Commandos Parachutistes Laotiens was 
integrated with 1 BP at Seno. The battalion conducted a 
parachute reinforcement jump into Muong Peun during the 

2 Bataillon Parachutiste 

In 1957 a 2 BP began forming at Wattay Airbase. During the 
following year it was brought up to strength following the 
return of a contingent trained at the Scout Ranger course in 
the Philippines. 2 BP was given responsibility for northern 
operations while 1 BP handled southern missions; both 
battalions were commanded by majors; a lieutenant-colonel 
commanded the two-battalion Airborne Regiment. 

In May 1959 2 BP was parachuted near Tha Thom, south 
of the Plain of Jars, to cut off a Communist Pathet Lao 
battalion fleeing toward the North Vietnamese border. The 
mission failed to stop the Pathet Lao, and the malaria-ridden 
2 BP was withdrawn to Wattay the next month. In July the 
unit was rushed to Sam Neua after an alleged Pathet 
Lao/North Vietnamese invasion jeopardized the city. 
Although most of the government forces had fled from the 
area, 2 BP found only minimal insurgent activity. On 22 
August 1 BP was brought up from Seno to conduct a 
parachute reinforcement jump into Muong Peun. Both 
battalions engaged in small skirmishes in northern Laos 
during September. 

In early 1960 2 BP was rushed down to Attopeu to counter 
increased Pathet Lao activity in the region. The battalion 
conducted sweeps along the Cambodian border until flown 
back to Vientiane on 27 April. 

To provide additional training for the two para battalions, 
US advisors built a new base 17 km from Vientiane and began 
providing instruction to a company from 1 BP during 
February 1960. Elements of 2 BP assembled there in April, but 
were withdrawn and parachuted north of Vientiane on 25 
May in an unsuccessful attempt to apprehend a band of 
Pathet Lao leaders who had escaped from prison in the 
capital. Further training was provided at the Royal Thai 
Army Airborne Ranger base at Lopburi. Companies from 2 
BP were rotated through Lopburi in the first half of 1960; 
nearly the entire 1 BP was sent to Thailand on 6 June. At the 
same time, a 3 BP had started forming at Wattay. 

On g August 1960 2 BP, led by its deputy commander, 

Capt. Kong Le, seized control of Vientiane in order to ‘restore 
neutrality’ to Laos. Kong Le was immediately opposed by 
rightist army officers, who began plotting a counter- 
revolution from Savannakhet. 1 BP was returned from 
Lopburi to Seno, and declared its loyalty to the rightists; 3 BP, 
still four months from graduation, had one company defect to 
the Kong Le Neutralists; the remainder of the unit refused to 
support Kong Le and were held hostage at Vientiane. 

During September a company of 1 BP was flown to 
reinforce Sam Neua in the face of pressure from joint Kong 
Le/Pathet Lao forces. In the same month 2 BP parachuted a 
team near Mahaxay to harass the rightist forces. During 
November another contingent from 1 BP was flown to Luang 
Prabang to reinforce rightist elements. In late November the 
rightists began their offensive on Vientiane. By 8 December 1 
BP had advanced to Paksane. Over the following three days 
the battalion parachuted east of Vientiane, linking up with 3 
BP and other sympathetic army units. 2 BP, supported by 
Pathet Lao units and North Vietnamese artillery teams, were 
pushed out of the capital by the third week of December and 
fled north. 

On New Year’s Day 1961 the Kong Le/Pathet Lao forces 
successfully occupied the strategic Plain of Jars. 1 BP jumped 
onto the southern edge of the plain on 2~3 January 1961 in an 
attempt to rally government forces, but was forced to 
withdraw on foot to Tha Thom by 8 January. Over the next 
month the government attempted several unsuccessful offens- 
ives against the Kong Le Neutralists. During this period 
airborne designations became confused as new para battalions 
were added to the order-of-battle. The elements of 1 BP 
occupying Tha Thom were redesignated 11 BP; and 12 BP 
was raised in Savannakhet in mid-January, with two of its 
companies flown to Luang Prabang on 17 January. The 
understrength 3 BP remained at Vientiane. 

During February and March 12 BP remained at Luang 
Prabang, 3 BP operated north of Vientiane, and 11 BP was at 
Tha Thom. Almost 100 paratroopers from 12 BP were 
dropped at Tha Thom as reinforcements on 4 February. In 
addition, a new 55 BP had been raised at Seno, with elements 
sent to Paksane. On 5 April one company from the reconsti- 
tuted 1 BP was dropped over Muong Kassy to trap a 
Neutralist contingent fighting along the Vientiane-Luang 
Prabang highway; the remainder of the battalion was heli- 
lifted into the vicinity later that day. After reinforcements 
failed to arrive, the battalion was forced to evacuate on foot to 
Luang Prabang on 14 April. 

On 24 April all airborne units were gathered under the new 
regimental-sized Groupement Mobile 15 (Airborne) at Seno. 
During May, 3 BP and 12 BP were absorbed into 55 BP, 
leaving only 1, 11, and 55 BP in GM 15. The GM was 
commanded by a colonel; battalions, each numbering 524 
men divided into a headquarters and four companies, were 
commanded by majors. For the remainder of 1961, GM 15 
conducted small-scale sweeps north and east of Savannakhet. 

On 12 February 1962, 1 BP was withdrawn from its static 
defence positions east of Savannakhet and parachuted into 
the north-western town of Nam Tha. As enemy pressure built 
up around Nam Tha, 55 BP was dropped in on 27 March, and 
11 BP on 16 April. After weeks of heavy enemy pressure 
during April, 1 BP began advancing toward the nearby 
enemy-held town of Muong Sing on 3 May. The battalion was 
smashed, sending the paratroopers fleeing back to Nam Tha 
and precipitating a mass exodus toward the Thai border. 

Only 55 BP offered any resistance, losing half its strength in 
the process. GM 15 was not reconstituted at Seno until 25 
May. The paratroopers spent the rest of 1962 replacing their 

In early 1963, 55 BP, recognized as the best unit in GM 15, 
was sent on small-scale clearing operations in Military Region 
4 (Pakse). During November, 11 BP advanced toward the 
North Vietnamese border, clearing the Pathet Lao from the 
town of Lak Sao. Though they were initially successful, a 
strong North Vietnamese counter-attack in December put 11 
BP in danger of being destroyed; 55 BP was parachuted east of 
Lak Sao to provide cover as 11 BP successfully withdrew 
toward the Mekong. 

In April 1964 three para battalions of the paramilitary 
Directorate of National Co-ordination (DNC) took over 
Vientiane in a coup d’état. The DNC had its origins in 
September 1960, when a Groupement Mobile Speciale 
(GMS) composed of 11 and 33 Bataillons Speciales (BS) was 
raised under the command of Lt. Col. Sino Lamphouthacoul. 
The GMS was used during the retaking of Vientiane from 
Kong Le, capturing Wattay Airbase on 16 December. In 
March 1961 the GMS was combined with intelligence, 
psychological warfare, military police, and national police 
units to form the DNC. During the following year a 30-man 
contingent was sent to Hua Hin, Thailand, to receive 
commando and airborne training. Upon their return they 
formed the cadre of the new gg BS, the third battalion in the 
GMS. A DNC airborne course was established at Pon Kheng 
in Vientiane and 11, 33, and gg BS were all given parachute 

PASKHAS jumpmasters. Note Air Force Special Forces 
qualification badge over left pocket on right figure. 


training. Elements of these three parachute battalions were 
stationed at Phou Khao Khouai, north of Vientiane. 

In early 1964 the GMS was brought down to Savannakhet 
to capture the town of Nong Boua Lao. Before the three para 
battalions could reach their objective they were withdrawn in 
April to conduct the coup d’état in Vientiane. Although rated 
as the most capable military unit in Laos, the GMS was 
primarily kept in Vientiane to support the illicit activities of 
certain corrupt officials. 

In May 1964 Kong Le’s Neutralist Forces were attacked on 
the Plain of Jars by their former allies, the Communist Pathet 
Lao. The original 2 BP, which had swelled to six companies 
while it was defending Vientiane in late 1960, had been sub- 
divided, with each of the first five companies becoming a 
separate Neutralist BP and the sixth company becoming an 
Airborne Training Centre at Muang Phanh. Because of the 
lack of aircraft, few of the Neutralist paratroopers were 
airborne qualified. Four of the para battalions—1, 2, 3, and 4 
BP—were stationed on the Plain of Jars; 5 BP had been sent to 
the central Laotian town of Nhommarath in 1962, but had 
been pulled back after clashes with the Pathet Lao in June 

When the Pathet Lao launched a major offensive against 
Kong Le in May 1964, 1 and 4 BP defected to the Commu- 
nists. The remaining forces pulled back west of the Plain of 
Jars; the Airborne Training Centre was moved to Vang 

In November 1964 GM 15 launched Operation ‘Victorious 
Arrow’, a clearing operation east of Savannakhet. During the 
following year elements of each GM 15 para battalion were 
brought to Lopburi for recon and commando training. 

PASKHAS HALO parachutists with folding-stock FNC rifles. 


The overthrow of the DNC 

On 1 February 1965 the DNC, which had held de facto control 
over Vientiane during the previous year, was defeated in yet 
another coup d’état. The GMS, which had been renamed 
Border Police in August 1964, remained at Phou Khao 
Khouai and refused to surrender. After two days of negoti- 
ations, however, the GMS agreed to lay down their arms with 
the option of transferring to the regular armed forces. By mid- 
year they had been moved to Seno to form the core of a new 
parachute regiment, GM a1 (Airborne), composed of 33, 66, 
and gg BP. 

GM 21 quickly became the best regiment in the Laotian 
army. In November 1965 it was rushed to Thakhek after two 
NVA battalions came close to overrunning the town. Com- 
mand of the regiment was held by Col. Thao Ly, previously 
the commander of the three GMS para battalions. 

In October 1966 Kong Le went into exile and his Neutralist 
Armed Forces were organized into Groupements Mobiles. GM 
801, located at Muong Soui, was composed of the newly- 
formed 85 BP and two regular battalions; GM 802 was formed 
at Pakse out of 2, 5, and a reconstituted 4 BP. The airborne- 
qualified 1 Bataillon Commando Speciale, which had been 
trained in Indonesia in 1965, was disbanded and its members 
dispersed to the other para battalions. 

During 1967 GM 15 remained in static defence positions 
around Muong Phalane. One of its battalions, 55 BP, was 
briefly sent to the extreme north-western corner of the country 
to confront warring opium smugglers. GM a1 rotated two of 
its battalions to Military Region 4 for operations around 
Khong Sedone, Saravane, and Lao Ngam. The Airborne 
Training Centre at Seno, advised by members of the French 
military mission, was commanded by a major. 

In the opening days of January 1968 the entire GM 15 was 
rushed to the northern garrison of Nam Bac to counter heavy 
NVA pressure. On 8 January, with pressure nearing the 
breaking point, 99 BP was landed north of the garrison. Nam 
Bac fell the following day, resulting in the total destruction of 
g9 BP and the near disintegration of GM 15. 

In August, all Groupements Mobiles in the Laotian Army 
were abolished, replaced by independent battalions. The two 
battalions of GM 21 and the remnants of GM 15 were 
consolidated into the independent ror, 102, and 103 BP. All 
three, plus the Airborne Training Centre, were based at Seno. 

The Neutralist Groupements Mobiles were not disbanded 
until the following year after GM 801 was crushed at Muong 
Soui and brought to Thailand for retraining. The para 
elements in GM 801 were grouped into the new Bataillon 
Commando 208, and sent to Vang Vieng. From GM 802, 5 
BP was converted into 104 BP, and the other airborne 
elements were gathered into Bataillon Commando 207; both 
of these battalions were stationed in Pakse. 

During 1969 the three airborne battalions of the Lao army 
were shuttled across the country in reinforcement operations. 
In January all three launched successful attacks east of 
Savannakhet into North Vietnamese-held territory. One 
battalion was then heli-lifted into Thateng in Military Region 
4on 4 April. BP 103 was sent to northern Laos in May to help 
government forces briefly capture the Communist-held town 
of Xieng Khouangville. In September BP ro1 replaced BP 
103 in the north and was used in an unsuccessful attempt to 
recapture the town of Muong Soui. 

During the same year, three companies totalling 340 men 
completed airborne and ranger training at Lopburi. Based at 

Ban Y Lai, north of Vientiane, the unit was known as the 
Military Region 5 Commandos (MR 5 Cdos.) and was used 
primarily on counter-insurgency sweeps around Vientiane. In 
later years the MR 5 Cdos. were used in other military regions 
to demonstrate symbolic support from the Vientiane govern- 
ment: during September 1971 two companies participated in 
Operation ‘Golden Mountain’, the successful capture of Phou 
Khout; in 1972 two companies were sent to Military Region 4 
to help in the recapture of Khong Sedone. As late as May 1975 
a single remaining company from the MR 5 Cdos. was 
fighting north of the capital. 

In 1970, BP ror was sent to Luang Prabang to halt a North 
Vietnamese advance toward the city. During the final month 
of the year a para battalion was sent to reinforce a guerrilla 
staging base, PS 22, on the eastern rim of the Bolovens 

In mid-1971, following the fall of the southern city of 
Paksong to the NVA, the Neutralist BP 104 and BC 207 were 
used during a prolonged government counter-offensive. Also 
used was the Laotian Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion based at 
Pakse, which had been allowed to send some of its men 
through airborne training because its commander was the 
brother of the Military Region commander. In late 1971 
planning began for the consolidation of all infantry battalions 
into two light divisions: the 1st Division based at Vientiane 
and the end Strike Division at Seno. Both divisions, each 
composed of three light brigades, were formally created on 23 
March 1972. The three independent airborne battalions—BP 
101, 102, and 103—were dissolved and integrated into among 
the 2nd Strike Division’s 22 Brigade. 


Construction began in late 1971 on a training centre at Seno 
to provide commando instruction for the 2nd Strike Division. 
The training cadre, consisting of several graduates of US 
Army Special Forces training in the US, were converted 
during 1972 into the core of an elite SPECOM, short for 
Special Commando, directly under the commanding officer of 
the 2nd Strike Division. By mid-1972 SPECOM had two 
airborne reconnaissance companies, each broken into 12-man 
recon teams. A third recon company, composed of 14.0 former 
members of the airborne-qualified Savannakhet Commando 
Raider Teams (see MAA 217 The War in Laos 1960-75), and a 
Heavy Weapons company were transferred to SPECOM in 

Indonesian Special Forces qualification badges: Pathfinder 
(left); HALO (right). 

SPECOM was first used in late 1972 to secure an H-34 
helicopter crash site north-east of Seno. In the opening 
months of 1973 SPECOM recon teams were sent to Thakhek 
when NVA forces began pressuring the city. By mid-year 
SPECOM was heli-lifted north-east of Seno to place a 
listening station on Phou Sang He Mountain near the Ho Chi 
Minh Trail. A planned SPECOM assault into Vientiane after 
renegade Air Force officers captured Wattay Airfield in 
August was cancelled when the coup attempt quickly fell 

In April 1974 SPECOM’s 2 Co. was moved to Vientiane to 
provide VIP security for rightist members of the new coalition 
government. In May elements of the 2nd Strike Divisions’s 
three under-strength brigades were converted into three para 
battalions—711, 712, and 713 BP—under the new 7 Para 
Brigade at Seno. SPECOM, which numbered 412 men, was 
converted into the brigade’s fourth para battalion, 714 BP. 

In early 1975 elements of 714 BP were brought to Thakhek 
in an unsuccessful attempt to quell pro-Communist de- 
monstrations. By May the 7 Para Brigade was disbanded after 
Pathet Lao forces took control of Vientiane. 

Marine Special Forces 

In 1960 a cadre of Indonesian Marines received training at 
the British-run Jungle Warfare Centre in Malaya. During the 
following year a second group attended US Marine reconnais- 
sance training at Coranado. These cadres were combined to 
form the core of an élite reconnaissance unit combining 
airborne and amphibious skills. Officially created on 18 
March 1961, the unit was called Komando Intai Para Amphibi 
(KIPAM, or Amphibious Recon Para-Commando). 

Set at company strength, KIPAM was first used in the 
reconnaissance role during the Irian Jaya operation in April 
1962. It was next used during the Confrontation with 
Malaysia, conducting coastal reconnaissance operations 
along the Malay peninsula. During the December 1974 East 
Timor operation, KIPAM was again used in the reconnais- 
sance role. In 1971 KIPAM was expanded on paper to a 976- 
man battalion; actual strength, however, remained at only 
300 throughout the 1980s. One detachment is stationed in 
Jakarta; the remainder are garrisoned at the KIPAM trainin 
centre in Surabaya. 

KIPAM accepts volunteers from the Marines with at least 
two years’ experience. Seven months of commando training 
include a one-month airborne course: airborne qualification 
wings are presented after five day jumps, one night jump, and 
one ‘rough terrain’ jungle jump. Refresher jumps are conduc- 
ted into the water. The standard parachute is the US T-10. 

The standard KIPAM recon team consists of nine men. 
Equipment is normal Marine issue, an exception being the 
choice of assault rifle: rather than the M-16 of the Marine 
Corps, KIPAM uses both the licence-built Belgian FNC and 
the durable Soviet AK-47. Select KIPAM members have 
benefited over the years from overseas training with the US 
Marine Force Recon, US Navy UDT/SEALs, US Army 
Rangers, and British Marine Commandos. In 1979 a joint 



Indonesian KOPASSANDHA in training, 1983. 

exercise was held between KIPAM, Indonesian UDT detach- 
ments and US Navy SEALs. 

To provide an underwater demolitions and salvage cap- 
ability, the Indonesian Navy created an Underwater Demo- 
litions Team in 1962. Called PASKA, the unit is stationed in 
Surabaya and is not airborne-qualified. PASKA trained the 
initial Malaysian PASKAL cadre. 

Air Force Special 

The Indonesian Air Force paratroopers are the oldest air- 
borne formation in the country. During the anti-Dutch 
revolution a guerrilla cadre was formed within the fledgling 
air force; and on 17 October 1949 nine men from this group 
were parachuted into Kalimantan to incite an anti-colonial 
uprising. This date is celebrated as the founding day of the 
Indonesian Air Force paratroopers. 

During the early 1950s the initial Air Force guerrilla cadre 
was expanded into the Pasukan Pertahanan Pangkalan (PPP), or 
Air Base Defence Force. Drawing from PPP members, an 
airborne-qualified Pasukan Gerak Tjepat (PGT), or Quick 



Mobile Force, was raised by the mid-1950s. The PGT was 
soon thrown into action in West Java during the DI/TII 
Islamic rebellion. In 1958 PGT detachments were para- 
chuted north of Sulawesi to act as a shock force during the 
Permesta rebellion, and into Sumatra during the same year to 
retake key cities from mutinous army units. In 1962, elements 

jumped into Sorong and Fak Fak during the ‘Trikora’ 

Operation to liberate Irian Jaya. 

In mid-1964 the PGT saw extensive action during the 
Confrontation with Malaysia. On 17 August members of the 
force infiltrated by small boat south-west of Johore on the 
Malay peninsula in an attempt to organize anti-Malaysian 
rebels. Two weeks later over 100 PGT paras jumped at night 
near Labis in north Johore. Several further seaborne in- 
filtrations were conducted during the final months of the year. 

By 1965 the PGT totalled three para battalions with a 
headquarters at Bandung. In the wake of the September 
Communist coup attempt it was renamed the Komando 
Pasukan Gerak Chepat (KOPASGAT), or Quick Mobile Com- 
mando Force. KOPASGAT consisted of one Command 
Headquarters in Bangdung and three Quick Mobile Force 
Wings in Jakarta, Bandung, and Surabaya totalling 3,000 
men in ten Assault Battalions (Airborne). Its primary mission 
was airborne special operations. Elements of the force jumped 
into East Timor in December 1975 to secure the airfield. 

In 1983 KOPASGAT was renamed Pasukan’ Khusus TNL 
AU (PASKHAS), or Air Force Special Forces. Its mission was 
limited to airbase security, seizing airfields, search and rescue, 
pathfinding, and providing forward air guides. In 1989 

PASKHAS was commanded by an Air Force air marshal and 
composed of one Command Headquarters in Bandung and six 
airborne Special Forces Squadrons numbered 461 to 466. 
Detachments are stationed at airbases across the country, and 
one company is kept on the disputed Natuna Island. A 
PASKHAS Training Depot Squadron is kept at its Bandung 
headquarters; airborne and commando courses are held at 
Margahayu, near Bandung. Seven jumps must be completed 
for parachute qualification. 

Army Special Forces 

On 16 April 1952 preparations began for the formation of a 
commando unit to be assigned to the élite Siliwangi Division. 
Training was conducted at Batujajar near the east Javan city 
of Bandung. One year later the commando unit was removed 
from the Siliwangi Division and put under the command of 
Army Headquarters. Over the next two years this small élite 
cadre was known as the Korps Komando Angatan Darat 
(KKAD), or Army Commando Corps; In 1955 it was 
renamed the Regimen Pasukan Komando Angatan Darat 
(RPKAD), or Army Commando Regiment. 

During the following year the RPKAD became embroiled 
in domestic politics after its Sudanese commander lent his 
support to conspirators within the Armed Forces. In Novem- 
ber he moved the commandos from Batujajar to the outskirts 
of Jakarta in anticipation of a coup d’état. No reinforcements 
arrived, however, and the unit moved back to Batujajar. A 
mutiny among NCOs within the regiment later that month 
gave the Army Headquarters an excuse to arrest the comman- 
der and bring the RPKAD firmly back under government 

In early 1958 anti-Javan discontent, led by rebel Sumatran 
army units, was fast spreading across the island of Sumatra. 
Spearheading the government counter-offensive, 600 
RPKAD commandos parachuted into central Sumatra on the 
morning of 12 March, capturing the city of Pakanbaru and 
eventually putting down the rebellion. On 26 October 1959, 
the RPKAD was renamed the Regimen Para-Komando Angatan 
Darat (RPKAD), or Army Para-Commando Regiment. 

In 1962 the RPKAD was in the forefront of the next major 
operation, the retaking of Dutch-held West Irian (now called 
Irian Jaya). On 4 May a company from the regiment’s single 
battalion was dropped from C-47 aircraft near the coastal city 
of Fak Fak; four more planeloads of commandos were 
dropped in the same vicinity on 15 May. Almost a dozen other 
jumps were conducted in late May and June near Fak Fak, 
Merauke, and Kaimana. While much of their time was spent 
evading Dutch patrols, the Irian Jaya operation increased 
confidence within the RPKAD. 

Following the Irian Jaya operation the RPKAD was 
expanded to three 600-man battalions: 1 Para-Cdo. Bn. in 
Jakarta, 2 Para-Cdo. Bn. in Ambon in the Maluku Islands, 
and 3 Para-Cdo. Bn. in Solo, central Java. In October 1963 
elements of these battalions began to train Malaysian insur- 
gents being sent into Sabah during the Confrontation. The 
RPKAD also participated itself in cross-border operations 
against British Commonwealth forces in Malaysia until late 

In mid-1965 leftist army officers began conspiring with 

members of the Communist Party of Indonesia to stage a coup 
d’état in Jakarta. When the coup materialized during the first 
week of October the staunchly anti-Communist 1 Para-Cdo. 
Bn., which had resisted attempts by the conspirators to be 
dispatched to Kalimantan, joined 2 Para-Cdo. Bn., which 
had just arrived from Solo to participate in a 5 October 
Jakarta parade, to confront the Communist rebels. Both 
battalions were quickly tasked with seizing Halim Airbase 
outside the capital from rebel forces, which they did on 2 
October. 1 Para-Cdo. Bn. then retook the radio station. After 
it became clear that Communist resistance inside Jakarta was 
crumbling the RPKAD was sent to central Java to crush 
rebels in Semerang and Solo. On 22 November the regiment 
scored a major victory when it captured the leader of the 
Communist Party of Indonesia. During the following month it 
was sent to the island of Bali to control anti-leftist riots that 
were sweeping the nation. 

By early 1967 the RPKAD was in the forefront of rightist 
forces poised to take full control in Jakarta. On 11 March 
three RPKAD companies in civilian clothes approached the 
palace of President Sukarno. The intimidated president 
quickly fled the capital and soon resigned his presidency. Over 
the next five months the regiment participated in the arrest of 
several leftist ministers, and helped purge disloyal army 
officers across central Java. Once stability had returned to 
Indonesia by the year’s end the RPKAD was one of the most 
politically powerful units in the country. To bolster its 
capabilities the regiment added two special warfare groups, 
each composed of three battalion-sized karsayud; 1 Group was 
stationed in Jakarta, 2 Group in Solo. 


On 17 February 1971 the RPKAD was renamed the Komando 
Pasukan Sandhi Yudha (KOPASSANDHA), or Unconven- 
tional Warfare Force. Commanded by a major general, 
KOPASSANDHA was divided into four groups plus the 
Batujajar Training Centre. 1 and 3 Groups held a para- 
commando mission; each was composed of 1,800 men divided 
into three battalion-sized ‘Combat Detachments’. 1 Group, 
which traced its lineage back to the RPKAD’s original three 

Indonesian Special Forces shoulder insignia worn by the 
RPKAD and KOPASSANDHA (left), and KOPASSUS (right). 





KOPASSANDHA member dressed in Special 
camouflage. The SF beret badge is pinned on the jungle hat; 
cloth SF qualification badge, Army wings, and marksman 
badge are above the left pocket. 

RPKAD Para-Commando battalions, was stationed initially 
in Jakarta, then shifted in 1980 to Serang, West Java. 3 
Group, brought to full strength in 1980, was- originally 
stationed in Solo, then moved to Ujung Pandang, south 

The second half of KOPASSANDHA was composed of two 
Sandhi Yudha, or Special Warfare, groups: 2 Group was 
stationed in Jakarta, 4 Group in Solo. These 600-man groups, 
successors of the two RPKAD special warfare groups, 
operated in a true special forces/unconventional warfare role. 

KOPASSANDHA was placed administratively under the 
Army chief-of-staff; operationally, it came directly under the 
head of the Department of Defence and Security. As an élite 
reserve it took over many of the responsibilities previously 
held by the Army’s KOSTRAD Strategic Reserve. 

In 1974 KOPASSANDHA was called upon to train 
Timorese nationalists to counter the rise of Timorese rebels in 
the Portuguese colony of East Timor. Over the next year the 
situation in East Timor grew worse after the FRETILIN 
nationalist group declared independence in the wake of a 
Portuguese withdrawal. Advance KOPASSANDHA units 
moved into the border village of Batugade in October and 
started staging cross-border forays into Timor. After 
FRETILIN forces continued to consolidate their hold, Jak- 
arta began to plan Operasi Seroja (Operation ‘Lotus’), the 
invasion of East Timor. During the pre-dawn hours of 7 


December 1975 commandos from KOPASSANDHA’s 1 
Group boarded C-130 aircraft at Jogjakarta; at 0600, they 
jumped into the East Timor capital of Dili, securing areas of 
the city for subsequent jumps by KOSTRAD. airborne 

KOPASSANDHBA distinguished itself during the opening 
phases, spearheading the capture of key towns. To counter 
FRETILIN insurgent activity in the countryside 
KOPASSANDHA was used in late 1978 as a heliborne strike 
force across East Timor. On the last day of that year 
KOPASSANDHA was able to locate and kill the movement’s 

In 1982 KOPASSANDHA continued to operate in East 
Timor, this time providing instructors for the training of local 
forces. During August 1983 KOPASSANDHA was used 
against FRETILIN during Operasi Sapu Bersih (Operation 
‘Clean Sweep’). In late 1983 KOPASSANDHA forces were 
employed against the Free Papua Movement, a guerrilla 
group seeking the independence of Irian Jaya. Additional 
KOPASSANDHA commandos were brought into Irian Jaya 
during February 1984. 


In 1985 KOPASSANDHA was renamed Komando Pasukan 
Khussus (KOPASSUS), or Special Commando Force. A 
deliberate effort was made to streamline the special forces, 
focusing on quality instead of quantity. In 1989 the 2,500- 
man KOPASSUS consisted of 1 Group, composed of 11 and 
12 Battalions, stationed in Jakarta; and 2 Group, composed of 
21 and 22 Battalions, in Solo, central Java. The former. 
KOPASSANDHA 2 Group was removed from Special Forces 
command and transferred to the Army KOSTRAD Strategic 
Reserve; the KOPASSUS 3 Group now refers to the training 
unit at Batujajar. KOPASSUS command is held by a 
brigadier-general; groups are commanded by colonels. 

Indonesian Special Forces are additionally tasked with 
anti-terrorist and anti-hijack operations. Their first experi- 
ence in counter-terrorism came in March 1981, when Indo- 
nesian Islamic extremists hijacked a DC-g in Jakarta with 55 
hostages aboard. On 28 March the plane landed in Bangkok 
and the hijackers demanded money and the release of their 
colleagues from Indonesian jails. During the following day 
negotiators and 36 commandos from KOPASSANDHA’s 1 
and 4 Groups flew to Bangkok. During the evening of 30 
March the Indonesian government stalled for time by 
announcing that it would bow to the demands of the hijackers. 
At 0240 hours the following morning the commandos ap- 
proached the aircraft from the rear in single file. Throwing 
ladders on the wings, they quickly blew open the doors. A 
terrorist appeared at the front door and was shot dead; three 
of the four remaining hijackers were similarly dispatched. All 
hostages were freed, with only one member of the assault force 
and the chief pilot being wounded. The entire operation 
lasted three minutes. 

To better deal with counter-terrorist contingencies, De- 
tachment 81 was created in late 1981. Commanded by a 
lieutenant-colonel fresh from training with West Germany’s 
GSG 9g, Detachment 81 falls administratively under Special 
Forces headquarters. Teams from the detachment have been 
rotated through East Timor to give them experience against 
insurgent forces. 

Since 1962 the Special Forces also contain scuba-trained 
elements. Initially trained at the Navy UDT course, the 

Special Forces established their own school at Batujajar in 
1967. At present both of the KOPASSUS combat groups have 
80-man scuba detachments. 

Special Forces training has traditionally been extensive. 
Volunteers are accepted after completing two years of light 
infantry training. A seven-month SF course at Batujajar 
follows, ending with a five-week airborne course. Parachute 
wings are awarded after five day, one night, and one jungle 
jump. Additional qualifications are offered to Special Forces 
graduates, such as scuba, HALO, jumpmaster, and a two- 
and-a-half-month pathfinder course. 

The tough reputation of Batu Jajar has attracted foreign 
students. In 1965 Laos sent 150 pupils for commando 
training, and in 1972 the Khmer Republic sent 60 students. 
Malaysians regularly attend the school. Most recently, a 
contingent of Bangladeshi trainees graduated from basic 
commando training in 1987; a second Bangladeshi 30-man 
group arrived in 1988 for a jumpmaster course. 

Army Airborne 

By 1961 the best units of the three Java-based infantry 
divisions became airborne-qualified to give the government a 
quick response capability. These included 328 and 330 Para- 
Raider Battalions, both from the Kujang Regiment of the 

Indonesian SF insignia: beret badge (top left); chest qualifica- 
tion badge (top right); KOPASSANDHA and KOPASSUS 1 

Group shoulder tab (bottom left); KOPASSANDHA and 
KOPASSUS Headquarters shoulder tab, also worn by Detach- 
ment 81 members (bottom right). 

Siliwongi Division; 530 Para Battalion of the Brawidaja 
Division in east Java; and 454 Para Battalion of the Dipone- 
goro Division in central Java. Elements of 330 Para-Raider 
Battalion were sent in 1963 to the Congo to perform UN 
peace-keeping duties. 

During the Communist coup attempt of 1966 airborne 
infantry played a significant role during fighting within the 
capital. 454 Para Bn. and 530 Para Bn., each numbering 1,000 
men, were brought into Jakarta and sided with the Commu- 
nists. Also loyal to the leftists was the Cakrabirawa Palace 
Guard, a three-battalion airborne regiment charged with 
protecting President Sukarno. 

Aligned against the Communists in Jakarta was 328 Para- 
Raider Bn.; in addition, 530 Para Bn. soon purged itself of 
Communist elements and switched its loyalty over to the 

Following the failed coup attempt, the Cakrabirawa Guard 
was disbanded in mid-April 1967 after Sukarno fled the 
capital. Other airborne units were raised around the country, 
including 100 Para Bn. in Medan, 531 Para Bn. in east Java, 
600 Para Bn. in Kalimantan, and 7oo Para Bn. in Ujang 
Pandang, south Sulawesi. In addition, the airborne Kujang 
Regt. of the Siliwongi Division was augmented in 1967 by 305 
Para Bn., which was immediately sent on operations in west 


KOPASSANDHA 3 Group, 1983, armed with the French LRAC 
89 anti-tank weapon and folding-stock FNC. 

In 1967 the Army’s KOSTRAD Strategic Reserve was 
expanded from a cavalry formation to include amphibious 
and airborne capabilities. As a result, 430, 454, and 530 Para 
Bns. were transferred into KOSTRAD. By the early 1970s the 
KOSTRAD included 17 and 18 Para Brigades, located in 
western and eastern Java respectively. 18 Bde. jumped into 
Dili during the December 1971 East Timor operation. 

Following major reorganization of the Indonesian Armed 
Forces in early 1986 KOSTRAD was divided into two 
divisions. Within the 1st Division is the three-battalion 17 
Para Bde.; 18 Para Bde. is part of the 2nd Division. In 
addition, KOSTRAD assumed control over 3 Para-Cdo. Bde. 
at Ujang Pandang, formerly the KOPASSANDHA 3 Group. 

All KOSTRAD airborne training is conducted at 
KOPASSUS facilities at Batujajar. 

Police Mobile Brigade 
The Mobile Brigade, which began forming in late 1946 and 
was used during the anti-Dutch Revolution, started sending 
students for US Army SF training on Okinawa in January 
1959. In April 1960 a second contingent arrived for two 
months of ranger training. By the mid-1960s the three- 
battalion Mobile Brigade, commonly known as Brimob, had 
been converted into an élite shock force. A Brimob airborne 
training centre was established at Bandung. 

Following the 1965 coup attempt one Brimob battalion was 
used during anti-Communist operations in west Kalimantan. 


Ss : - 

In December 1975 a Brimob battalion was used during the 
East Timor operation. During the late 1970s Brimob assumed 
VIP security and urban anti-terrorist duties. After the 
formation of Detachment 81, counter-terrorist responsibilities 
were removed from the Mobile Brigade. In 1989 Brimob still 
contained airborne-qualified elements. Pelopor (‘Ranger’) and 
airborne training takes place in Bandung and at a training 
camp outside Jakarta. 

Indonesian KOSTRAD insignia: unit shoulder insignia and 
tab (left); beret badge (right). 

Army Special Forces 

On 2 March 1965 the Royal Malaysian Army raised on paper 
an élite unit for ‘special duty’; called the Malaysian Special 
Service Unit, its strength was set at ten officers and 296 men. 
Initial selection was made at Sungai Besi in Kuala Lumpur; 
training was then shifted to Majidee Camp in Johore Baharu. 
Assistance was provided by the British 4oth Royal Marine 
Commando, upon which the Malaysians consciously pat- 
terned the unit. Once training was completed the unit was 
posted to Sebatang Kra near Port Diction. Additional 
trainees were sent to Indonesia in 1968. 

In August 1970 the Special Service Unit was renamed the 
Malaysian Special Service Regiment (MSSR); kept at bat- 
talion strength, the regiment was moved from Sebatang Kra 
to Sungai Udang, Melaka. Aircraft were posted at the new site 
and used to airborne-qualify MSSR members. In 1977 a 
second regiment, 2 MSSR, was raised and stationed at Sungai 

A major reorganization took place in 1981, with 1 and 2 
MSSR being renamed 65 and 70 Commando for a few 
months; the names were soon changed, with the original 1 and 
2 MSSR redesignated 21 and 22 Para Commando respec- 
tively. Both of these battalion-sized formations specialize in 
raiding and amphibious missions. Each regiment has 45 

officers and 1,140 men and is composed of a headquarters 
staff, Administrative Squadron, Support Squadron (Mortar 
Troop, Signal Troop, Boat Troop, and Reinforcement 
Troop), Training Squadron, and four Assault Squadrons. 
Each Assault Squadron has 155 men divided into one Heavy 
Weapons Troop and four Assault Troops. Assault Troops 
(one officer, 35 men) are further divided into ten-man 
operational sections. 

Two more battalions, 11 and 12 Special Service Regts., 
were raised in 1981 with an unconventional warfare orienta- 
tion. Authorized strength for each includes a headquarters 
staff, Administrative Squadron, Support Squadron, and four 
Reconnaissance Squadrons. Reconnaissance squadrons are 
broken into four recon troops of one officer and 19 men each; 
troops are then split into five-man recon sections (section 
commander, section deputy, scout, signaller, and engineer). 
Because of budgetary limitations 12 Special Service Regt. 
reached a strength of only two reconnaissance squadrons 
before its manpower was dispersed to the three other special 
forces regiments. Currently, only a skeleton headquarters 
detachment for 12 Special Service Regt. is maintained. 

In 1981 all four army SF regiments were gathered under the 
Malaysian Special Service Group (MSSG). MSSG_ head- 
quarters is in Kuala Lumpur; all regimental headquarters are 
at Sungai Udang. Command of the MSSG is held by a 
Brigadier; regiments are headed by lieutenant-colonels. 

KOSTRAD paratrooper, 1983; he wears the KOSTRAD unit 
insignia and tab on the left shoulder. 



In addition to the MSSG, the Malaysian Ministry of 
Defence announced in 1986 that it would convert an infantry 
battalion into an airborne infantry battalion. The unit 
converted was 8 Ranger Battalion of the Royal Malaysian 
Ranger Regt., now stationed at Terendak Camp, Melaka. 
The Ministry of Defence has also announced plans to 
airborne-qualify two more battalions by the turn of the 

In 1976, a new Special Warfare Training Centre was 
opened at Sungai Udang, and now conducts all SF and 
airborne courses for the MSSG. These facilities, which contain 
airborne and scuba courses, are considered among the best in 
South-East Asia. Basic special warfare training lasts 12 weeks. 
After completion, students receive airborne training and 
carry out eight parachute jumps, including one night and one 
jungle jump. MSSG students have also co-trained with US, 
British, Australian and New Zealand SF units. 

The Malaysian Army SF are disciplined and well trained. 
Like many other élite units, they will be used in an independ- 
ent tactical role during hostilities. Though they have not been 
tested against a foreign aggressor, the Malaysian SF have 
proved their skills during extended combat experience against 
Malaysia’s own Communist insurgents. 

Air Force Special Forces 

In 1978 the Royal Malaysian Air Force began forming the 
HANDAU (Pertahanan Udara, or ‘Air Force Ground Defence 
Unit’), an airborne-qualified squadron tasked with airbase 
securitv and jungle rescue operations. HANDAU Regimental 


Headquarters is in Kuala Lumpur, with detachments at most 
major airbases; command is held by a lieutenant colonel. The 
initial HANDAU cadre was trained by the Army SF at 
Sungai Udang and posted to Sungai Besi in Kuala Lumpur. 
Until 1986 HANDAU airborne training was conducted by 
the Army; HANDAU now conducts its own parachute and 
commando courses. Some HANDAU personnel have been 
trained in Australia, Indonesia, and the US. 

HANDAU has not been used in combat. A jungle rescue 
team from the force was used in January 1982 to rappel into 
the jungle 20 miles north-east of Kuala Lumpur to rescue the 
Malaysian Foreign Minister from an air crash. HANDAU 
teams have also rescued downed Air Force pilots. 

Navy Special Forces 

The Royal Malaysian Navy formed its own commando unit, 
the PASKAL (Pasukan Khas Laut, or “Special Sea Unit’), in 
1983. The original cadre was trained by PASKA, the 
Indonesian Combat Diver unit. Apart from airborne training 
conducted by the Army SF, PASKAL now conducts its own 
commando courses. During the early 1980s PASKAL partici- 
pated in joint exercises with US Navy SEALs. In 1988 the unit 
took on additional responsibilities for anti-piracy and 
hostage-rescue operations at sea. The battalion-sized forma- 
tion is led by anavy commander and headquartered at Lumut 

An airborne-qualified KOSTRAD officer talks with troops 
dressed in distinctive vertical-striped KOSTRAD camou- 

Navy Base, Perak. Apart from limited operations in eastern 
Malaysia, PASKAL has not been used in combat operations. 

Police Commandos 

On 25 October 1969 the Malaysian Police Field Force began 
forming a special commando unit modelled on the British 
Special Air Service. Known as ‘Vat 69’, the unit received 
initial airborne training in Thailand and commando training 
from the British. Vat 69 is currently at battalion strength, 
including a freefall team. It is headquartered in Kuala 
Lumpur and led by a lieutenant-colonel. As part of the Police 
Field Force, Vat 69 is responsible for special counter- 
insurgency operations, and is Malaysia’s main anti-terrorist 
and hostage rescue force. The unit works closely with police 
field intelligence operatives from the Special Branch. Like the 
British SAS, Vat 69 commandos wear a sand-coloured beret. 
The beret badge is the standard Police Field Force design ona 
black backing. 


Immediately after World War Two the newly independent 
government of the Philippines was threatened in central 
Luzon province by the Communist-inspired Hukbalahap 
(Huk) peasant rebellion. As part of the government’s counter- 
insurgency effort Philippine Army Capt. Raphael ‘Rocky’ 
Ileto, a West Point graduate and former member of the US 
6th Army’s famous Alamo Scouts, proposed the creation of an 
élite army unit to train volunteers in ranger, jungle warfare, 
commando, and reconnaissance techniques. Because Ileto 
envisioned combining the deep-penetration reconnaissance 




Malaysian Special Service beret badges: old-style (left), and 
current issue (right). Note change in spelling to conform with 
new Malay grammatical rules. 

MSSG soldier with CAR-15 rifle. 

Malaysian Special Service beret flashes: (top row) Special 
Warfare Training Centre, 21 Para-Commando, 22 Para- 
Commando; (bottom row) 11 SSR, 12 SSR. 

skills of the Alamo Scouts with the quick-strike capability of 
the US Army’s World War Two Ranger Battalions, the name 
Scout Rangers was chosen. On 25 November 1950 Ileto’s 
Scout Ranger Training Unit was formed. 

Intensive Scout Ranger training at Fort McKinley, 
Manila, produced teams of one officer and four men which 
were assigned to regular infantry battalions, but usually 
operated independently in remote areas for extended periods, 
collecting intelligence and, often, neutralizing targeted Huk 
leaders. In order to consolidate Scout Ranger graduates into 
one compact unit, 1 Scout Ranger Regiment (SRR) was 
activated in 1954. Consisting of one battalion and four 
independent companies, the SRR was heavily involved in 
anti-Huk operations during the mid-1950s, performed 1955 
election security duties in the troubled province of Leyte, and 
fought Muslim rebels in the Jolo and Lanao campaigns. In 
1957 the SRR was dissolved after the major insurgent threat 
was neutralized. 

During the same year the SRTU was disbanded after 
graduating Class 13. Immediately prior to its disbandment 
the SRTU had briefly instituted parachute training at Fort 
McKinley, ranking the Scout Ranger course as one of the best 
in South-East Asia. An Advanced Ranger Training Course 
was continued by a Mobile Training Team within the Army 
School Center. 

On 21 August 1971 President Marcos declared the Philip- 
pines threatened by a Communist rebellion and imposed 
martial law the following month. In response to this threat the 
SRTU was re-established on 8 December 1971 and resumed 
training Class 14 after a 14-year hiatus. The SRTU, however, 


temporarily lost its independent status after it became organic 
to the Army Training Center on 1 July 1974. Scout Ranger 
graduates were assigned to infantry formations and used on 
counter-insurgency sweeps against Communist rebels in the 
northern provinces. Rangers also participated in heavy 
combat against Muslim secessionists in the southern province 
of Mindinao during the mid-1970s. 

On 16 July 1978 the SRTU was removed from the Training 
Center and expanded into a Scout Ranger Group (SRG) of 
five independent companies. Commanded by a colonel, the 
SRG was assigned to the Army’s new Special Warfare 
Brigade. Unlike the earlier Scout Ranger teams, however, the 
new SRG now looked more like a conventional combat 
formation than an unconventional reconnaissance unit. Scout 
Ranger training, which included airmobile doctrine, reflected 
this change. In addition, select members were given airborne 
training. The SRG training component meanwhile broad- 
ened its mission to include courses in Special Operations, Basic 
Ranger tactics, Scout Ranger Orientation, and Platoon 
Leader’s Training. 

The SRG remained part of the Special Warfare Brigade 
until the latter’s disbandment on 16 March 1983. On the 
following day the Group was expanded into the newly 
reactivated 1 Scout Ranger Regiment (SRR) composed 
initially of two battalions, each with three companies, and an 
additional nine independent companies. Command of the 
regiment went to Brig. Gen. Felix Brawner, with regimental 
headquarters at Fort Bonifacio in Manila. A third battalion, 
the Scout Ranger Mountain Battalion, began forming the 
following year and was immediately sent on operations in 
southern Mindinao. Further expansion of the SRR was 
planned in early February 1986, to include a fourth battalion 
and the development of Fort Capinpin outside Manila as a 
training base for guerrilla warfare. 

Scout Rangers after Marcos 

The February 1986 Revolution threw the SRR into Manila’s 
political battles. The regiment was initially ordered on 21 
February to surround on opposition radio station and, on the 
following day, to assault the anti-Marcos rebel headquarters 
in Manila’s Camp Crame. On the evening of 23 February two 
Scout Ranger battalions began to mass for attack, but the 
troops refused to comply with orders. On the morning of 25 
February the SRR announced their loyalty to the anti- 
Marcos rebels, and led a successful assault on the three 
remaining pro-Marcos broadcasting transmitters. 

With the accession to power of the Aquino government the 
SRR returned to fighting the Communist New People’s Army 
guerrillas in the countryside. During the closing months of 
1986 elements of the regiment engaged the NPA around 
Davao, where they formed a rapid insertion unit called Task 
Force Panther. 

On 1 December 1986 the SRR was restructured into a 
National Maneuver Unit. Numbering 2,500 men, the regi- 
ment consisted of four battalions (including one Scout Ranger 
Mountain Battalion) and ten self-sustaining companies. Bat- 
talions consisted of three companies totalling 500 men; 
independent companies ranged from 80 to 100 men. As a 
National Maneuver Unit, the regiment was now eligible to be 
sent on operations anywhere in the Philippines; previously, 
SRR elements tended to remain assigned to one geographic 
location. The regiment was given priority for transport 
aircraft, helicopters, special equipment, and _ intelligence 
support. At the time of conversion to a National Maneuver 
Unit the SRR had two battalions in Bicol, one in northern 
Luzon, and one in Mindinao; two independent companies 
were in northern Luzon, two in the Visayas, one in southern 
Luzon, one in Mindinao, and four were being rotated through 
refresher training. 

In August 1987 Scout Ranger students and instructors took 
part in an abortive coup attempt by Army Col. Gregorio 
Honassan. Since the previous August, however, the Scout 
Ranger School had once again been absorbed by the Philip- 
pines Army Training Command. Scout Rangers at the 
Training Command, therefore, were on detached duty from 
the SRR and the regiment itself was not implicated in the 
coup attempt. On 1 September 1987 the Scout Ranger 
Training Center was returned as an organic part of the SRR. 
Its permanent base is Fort Magsaysay, 70 miles north of 
Manila near Palayan City. By November 1987 the SRR 
consisted of four battalions, 11 independent companies, and 
one fire support company. 

As 1988 opened Ranger elements were involved in all major 
engagements with the NPA. In early December Rangers were 
heli-lifted into Kolocot. On 6 December Rangers involved in 
Operation ‘Red Sphinx’ were inserted on the shores of 
Patalungan Island in Quezon to successfully intercept an 
NPA gun-running attempt along the coast. 

The strains caused by the Communist insurgency tempor- 
arily forced Scout Ranger training to be cut from five months 
to three. By 1989, however, training was increased to six 
months. Training took place at Fort Magsaysay and was 
broken into five segments: individual, team, combat 
manoeuvre, field exercise, and test mission phase. The test 
mission portion usually lasted up to two months and had to 
involve actual contact with enemy forces in order for the class 
to graduate. The intensive training and retraining of the 
Scout Rangers had a positive effect: only 32 Rangers died 

during 99 encounters in 1987, a significantly better casualty 
rate than the Army average. In 1988 only 23 Rangers died in 
166 encounters. What was notable is that almost 95 per cent of 
the encounters were initiated by the Rangers, proving their 
ability to move undetected deep into enemy territory. 

Airborne and scuba training was provided for select 
members of the regiment. Scout Rangers regularly co-trained 
with foreign élite forces. In 1979, for example, the SRG held 
‘Lion’s Den’ joint exercises with the Australian Special Air 
Service. Rangers also train other Philippine military and 
paramilitary forces in Ranger tactics. The SRR’s participa- 
tion in an unsuccessful December 1989 coup attempt led to 
their effective disbandment. 

MSSG member assigned to the Malaysian Army Training 
Centre. He wears an MSSG green beret, subdued cloth wings, 
and a GERAKHAS tab over the left pocket. 


Army Special Forces 

In the latter part of 1950 the Philippine Army organized an 
Airborne Battalion to be employed against Huk bands 
operating in Luzon. Organizational problems proved insur- 
mountable, however, and the battalion was soon converted to 
regular infantry. 

In early 1958 the Army designated a team to work with the 
US Army Special Forces to determine the feasibility of raising 
SF units in the event of renewed insurgency. From 1958 until 
1961 the SF concept was slowly injected into the training 
programme of the Philippine Army; and on 21 December 
1961 11 Special Forces Team was activated under the 
Philippine Army Training School. On 1 April of the following 
year the Team was brought up to strength with select 
personnel, most of whom were graduates of the Advanced 
Ranger Course (attached to the Philippine Army School 
Center as a Mobile Training Team). 

On 25 June 1962 a second SF unit, 1 Special Forces 
Company (Airborne), was activated. Of the first 32 officers, 
182 enlisted men, and 209 trainees, only 13 officers, 72 enlisted 
men, and 29 trainees qualified and were accepted into the 
Group. Whereas 11 SF Team was a training unit, 1 SF Group 
was tasked with internal defence and external employment. 
Training consisted of courses in Special Operations, Ranger, 
Airborne, Communications, Medical, Weapons, Demolition, 
and Intelligence. Later in the year a US Army SF Mobile 
Training Team conducted 20 weeks of training with 11 SF 
Team and 1 SF Company. 

In February 1964 1 SF Co. was used on its first counter- 
insurgency operations in Sulu. The Group was next sent for 

Malaysian PASKAL troops practise storming the beach. 


civic action duty in central Luzon. Philippine Army Head- 
quarters authorized the company to expand to an SF Group 
effective 1 August 1964. The Group was a Task Force-type 
organization, initially composed of 1 SF Company (Air- 
borne), the Parachute Supply and Maintenance Platoon, and 
‘A’ Company, 10 Battalion Combat Team, 1 Infantry 
Division. In March 1965 the Civic Action Center was also 
attached to the SF Group. 

The SF Group was soon plagued by manpower shortages, 
the effect of SF members being sent to 1 Philippines Civic 
Action Group, Vietnam (PHILCAG). The SF Group, as a 
result, had to focus on training new volunteers to refill its 
ranks. In addition, high-altitude low-opening (HALO) free- 
fall parachuting and scuba training courses were initiated for 
select members, producing the first skydivers and combat 
swimmers in the Philippine Army. By June 1966 1 SF Group 
was again declared operational, only to lose half ofits strength 
to the PHILCAG Replacement Unit in July 1967. 

In mid-June 1968 the special forces were thrust into the 
limelight when it was revealed they were training anti- 
Malaysian rebels at a secret ‘camp in Corregidor for in- 
filtration into the contested Malaysian province of Sabah. 
President Marcos claimed the operation was not officially 
sanctioned and put several SF officers under arrest. The name 
‘Special Forces’ was changed to ‘Home Defense Forces’ in 
order to save its integrity and avoid deactivation of the unit. 

Home Defense Forces 

As with the USSF, Home Defense Forces Group (Airborne) 
was divided into operational detachments, or ‘A’ Teams, 
controlled by headquarters elements, or ‘B’ Teams. In August 
1968 a ‘B’ Team and five ‘A’ Teams were sent for disaster relief 
operations after the Mayon Volcano erupted. The remainder 
of the Group concentrated on training missions. In March 
1969 1 HDF Company was operationally attached to Task 

Force Habagat in Mindinao during combat against ‘Black 
Shirt’ rebels. 

Student activism rocked the country in January 1970, and 
the entire HDFG was attached to Task Force Pasig of the 
Presidential Security Command. After a month the Group 
was pulled out, with only 2 HDF Co. left behind to perform 
presidential security duties. In February 1970 the remainder 
of the HDFG was reduced to company strength in conjunc- 
tion with the reorganization plan of the Philippine Army; 
authorized strength was set at 25 officers and 195 enlisted 
personnel. Not until June 1975 was the unit reorganized once 
more into a Group of five operational companies plus one 
headquarters company. HDFG headquarters was at Fort 

The years 1971-75 saw the HDFG involved in heavy 
combat. In June 1971 one ‘A’ Team was attached to 10 
Infantry Bn. as the striking spearhead of Task Force Barnay in 
the north-eastern part of the country. Two ‘A’ Teams were 
dispatched to Task Force Pagkakaisa in the south, and turned 
in excellent performances during battles in Mindinao. On 24 
July 1974, for example, an ‘A’ Team defending the town of 
Nuro successfully withstood attacks by several hundred 
Muslim rebels. Meanwhile, enemy action on the shores of 
Palanan prompted the sealift of one ‘B’ Team and four ‘A’ 
Teams into the vicinity. These teams eventually became the 
striking force of 1/1 Bde., 1 Infantry Division, and in May 
1975 were increased to form 1 HDF Company. 

PASKAL on parade. They are armed with the M-16 and wear 
navy blue shirts and black pants with purple berets. 

Special Warfare Brigade 

In June 1976 the HDFG was made organic to the newly 
activated Philippine Army Training Command. On 16 July 
1978 the HDFG, by then numbering nine companies, was 
absorbed into the new Army Special Warfare Brigade (SWB). 
Other units within the SWB were the Scout Ranger Group, 
Special Operations Group (SOG), and 41 and 45 Infantry 
Battalions. In addition, an Army Aviation Battalion was 
attached to the SWB in October 1978. As part of the SWB the 
HDFG was tasked with training and administering village 
defence units such as the Civilian Home Defense Forces and 
Special Para-Military Forces in the southern Philippines. The 
HDFG was also responsible for civic action programmes in the 
south. These efforts were responsible for bringing in 85 
Muslim ralliers with 75 weapons in 1979. 

The SOG, an urban warfare commando unit numbering 
three companies, was composed largely of HDFG veterans. 
Seven SOG members were sent in 1980 to Nationalist China 
for specialized training. Commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, 
the SOG conducted civil disturbance training for Scout 
Ranger detachments and participated in counter-insurgency 
operations in central Luzon. 

On 1 June 1983 the SWB was disbanded and the HDFG 

was assigned as a separate unit under the Philippine Army 



Malaysian HANDAU recruits receive their blue berets after 
successfully completing commando training. 

Headquarters. The SOG was absorbed into the new Scout 
Ranger Regiment as its 6, 7, and 8 Independent Companies. 

In August 1984 Armed Forces Chief of Staff Fabian Ver 
proposed the creation ofa rapid-deployment airborne brigade 
drawn from the Military Police. Although Ver claimed that 
three battalions had been formed by the following month, the 
brigade, in reality, never progressed past the planning stage. 

During the February 1986 Revolution most of the HDFG 
was in the southern Philippines administering para-military 
forces. The HDFG rear headquarters in Manila’s Fort 
Bonifacio, however, declared its loyalty to the anti-Marcos 
rebels on 25 February. 

In late 1986 the HDFG was briefly redesignated the 
People’s Defense Regiment before reverting back to HDFG. 
On 1 October 1986 the Riverine Battalion (Seaborne) was 
absorbed by the HDFG, thereby expanding its mission and 
capabilities to shoreline defence. 

Since late 1987 one HDFG company has been operating in 
cach of the 12 military regions in a paramilitary training role. 
The Group is generally not tasked with special operations, 
raids, or anti-terrorist missions. Although the “B’ Team 
designation is no longer used, operational detachments were 
still called ‘A’ Teams. ‘A’ Team composition and doctrine 
generally follows that of the USSF. Because of the war, HDFG 
training has been cut from six to four months. Training, 
conducted at Fort Magsaysay, must include airborne quali- 
fication. Cross-training has been conducted with the USSF 


and the Australian Special Air Service. In 1989, the HDFG 
successfully lobbied to revert officially to the designation 
‘Special Forces’. 


The Philippine Constabulary (PC) was created in the early 
1950s as a supplement to the National Police. As part of the 
Armed Forces of the Philippines, it closely resembles the Army 
in its structure and function. 

During the mid-1960s the PC formed an assortment of 
mobile Ranger units. In December 1967, for example, PC 
Rangers participated in anti-Communist sweeps in San Luis 
and Pampanga during Operation ‘Denial’. These Rangers 
were light infantry units specializing in jungle warfare, but 
lacked the intensive training of the Army’s Scout Rangers of 
the 1950s. 

In 1967 the PC also formed its own Special Forces 
(Airborne) to improve the constabulary’s special operations 
capabilities. Starting with a provisional company at Head- 
quarters level, the force developed into an SF Group of five 
companies: one at the national level and one each for the four 
PC zones prevailing at the time. Long-range plans called for 
one SF ‘A’ Team to be assigned to each province, but these 
plans were cancelled after the Constabulary SF got involved 
in partisan politics during the 1969 elections. As a result the 
SF Group, also known as the SF Brigade, was disbanded. 

In 1972, Brig. Gen. Fidel Ramos took command of the PC. 
A former commander of the Army’s 1 SF Co., Ramos 
encouraged the formation of élite units within the PC. In 
March 1979 one such non-airborne unit, 57 PC Ranger Bn., 


South Vietnam: 

1: Brig. Gen. Doan Van Quang, LLDB, 1966 

2: Private, 81 Airborne Ranger Bn., 1968 

3: Lieutenant Junior Grade, LLDN SEAL, 1971 

e G 
porn vin ub + 

South Vietnam: 

1: Lieutenant, SMS, 1972 

2: Captain, Liaison Service, 1972 

3: NCO, 81 Airborne Ranger Group, 1974 

1: Private, PGT, 1963 
2: Sergeant, KOPASGAT, 1969 
ll O—H SET 3: Sergeant, PASKHAS, 1984 { 8 


1: Major, KOSTRAD, 1983 

2: Private, KOPASSANDHA, 1981 
3: Lieutenant, BRIMOB, 1983 


1: Commando, KIPAM, 1986 

2: Private, Detachment 81, 1989 
3: Major, KOSTRAD, 1989 

— Counc, semis 


1: NCO, Thai Air Force CCT, 1987 
2: NCO, Thai Navy SEAL, 1989 

3: Lieutenant, Marine Recon, 1989 


= fb 
or .S 
jez) he 
=3 5 
a Es 


1: NCO, HANDAU, 1988 

2: Commando, PASKAL, 1988 
3: HANDAU beret badge 

4: PASKAL beret badge 

‘awa il 

1: Lieutenant, SWAG, 1984 
2: NCO, HDFG, 1978 
3: Staff Sergeant, SAE 1986 


1: NCO, SAE 1987 

2: Sergeant, HDFG, 1987 
3: Sergeant, SRR, 1986 

People’s Republic of Vietnam: 
1: Dac Cong paratrooper, 1985 
2: Dac Cong Commando, 1986 
3: Dac Cong insignia 
4: Parachute insignia 

was involved in heavy action against Muslim insurgents in 

In 1983 Ramos formed his own loyal airborne PC unit, the 
battalion-sized Special Action Force (SAF). Included within 
the SAF were former members of the deactivated SF Brigade. 
As the national mobile strike force under the Headquarters of 
the PC, the SAF was tasked with conducting counter- 
insurgency, anti-terrorism, and the training of other PC units 
in specialized courses. Ramos remained close to the SAF, 
conducting several publicity parachute jumps with the unit 
during 1985. During one jump in October of that year he led 
62 SAF commandos into the Bicol garrison with medical 
supplies. The SAF also kept at least one strike company on 
combat operations in the main island groups of Luzon and the 

During the 1986 Revolution the SAF played a significant 
role. The anti-Marcos rebels in the military, led by Ramos, 
were headquartered in the PC’s Manila base, Camp Crame, 
with two companies of the SAF providing them with tactical 
muscle. Armed with anti-tank weapons, the SAF commandos 
were slated to be mobile strike teams if Marcos had 
succeeded in attacking the camp with loyal Army units. 

Following the Revolution the SAF remained close to 
Manila, being used as the PC contingency force in the Metro 
Manila Capital Region. In January 1987 they played a key 
role in conducting the counter-seige against renegade soldiers 
holding the Channel 7 television compound and a hotel in 
Manila. During the failed August 1987 coup attempt by Army 
Gol. Honasan the SAF launched successful ground assaults 
against a rebel-held hotel and radio station in the capital. And 

HANDAU ‘Blue Beret’ Skydiving Team. 

when a top NPA commander escaped from detention in 
Manila’s Camp Crame in November 1988, two SAF com- 
panies were temporarily assigned to guard duty around the 
Camp’s stockade. 

The SAF has also seen combat against the NPA and 
Muslim insurgents in recent years. In October 1987, for 
example, SAF elements were airlifted into Bicol during heavy 
fighting with the NPA; and in January 1989 13 SAF officers 
and 60 enlisted men were rushed to the Mindinao city of 
Zamboanga to retake a PC headquarters captured by reneg- 
ade Muslim policemen. In March 1989 SAF detachments 
were rushed to Zamboanga and Dumaguete to strengthen 
military and police forces in these areas following reports of 
impending NPA attacks. 

The SAF currently is commanded by a PC major and is 
maintained at battalion strength. As of March 1989 it had 
participated in over 50 campaigns in 30 of the Philippines’ 68 
provinces. The SAF conducts numerous training courses for 
its own members as well as for other PC volunteers. These 
include the PC Ranger Course, Basic Airborne, SCUBA, 
Anti-terrorism, and Special Operations Team Training. 

Navy Special Forces 

In 1972, the Philippine Navy created an Underwater Oper- 
ations Unit (UOU) as a counterpart to the US SEALs. The 
unit, led by a Navy commander, was used in Mindinao 
against Muslim rebels in the early 1970s. One July 1973 
operation on Basilan Island earned the Gold Cross Medal for 


HANDAU member with M-203 grenade launcher. Note blue 
beret with Special Service badge on HANDAU flash. His 
rucksack is made from Malaysian camouflage material. 

an UOU officer and 13 men after infiltrating and destroying 
an enemy fortification. 

In 1983 the UOU was renamed the Special Warfare Group 
(SWAG), divided into SEAL Teams. During peacetime the 
SWAG was charged with seaborne rescue and_ salvage 
missions; in combat, with ship infiltration, demolitions, and 
unconventional amphibious operations. The SWAG _ is 
headed by a Navy commander. 

In March 1988 one officer and 13 enlisted men were 
assigned with guarding the prison ship in Manila harbour 
holding renegade army Col. Honnasan. On 2 April, however, 
the SWAG personnel helped Honnasan escape and them- 
selves deserted. The SWAG members were later captured. 

SWAG training lasts six months and, according to official 
Philippine publications, has a 75 to go per cent dropout rate. 
Training includes courses in demolitions, cartography, scuba, 
parachuting, and hand-to-hand combat. As with the US 
SEALs, trainees must undergo a ‘Hell Week’ before entrance 


into the unit. he SWAG regularly co-trains with the US 
SEALs, and together they conduct annual amphibious exer- 
cises codenamed PALAU. 

In addition to the SWAG, the Philippine Marines have 
airborne-qualified detachments, including an airborne Quick 
Reaction Force during the early 1980s. 


In 1967 Maj. Tan Kim Peng was sent to the US for airborne 
and ranger training. Upon his return a Commando Unit was 
activated under his command. By 1971, the airborne- 
qualified unit was expanded into 1 Commando Battalion. 

Because of Singapore’s small size, limiting training facil- 
ities, 1 Cdo. Bn. has been forced to go overseas for much of its 
training. In February 1972 the battalion commander and a 
second officer went to the US for seven months of training; 
after completing Jumpmaster, Freefall, and Freefall Jump- 
master courses, the commander returned to Singapore, the 
second officer remaining to act as liaison for a second group of 
officers arriving in late 1972. At the same time other members 
of the battalion received training from the UK, Israel, and 

In August 1973, six officers and 22 NCOs arrived at 
Lopburi for a six-week jungle warfare course with the Royal 
Thai Special Forces. They were trained in long-range recon- 
naissance techniques during field exercises at Kanchanaburi, 
Sattahip, and Chieng Mai. On 3 November 1973 142 
members of the battalion went to New Zealand for co-training 
with the New Zealand Special Air Service at Whangaparoa 
Camp in Auckland. The students included a platoon of 
regulars, the remainder being national servicemen. The ten 
weeks of training covered basic commando techniques, sec- 
tion and platoon training, and joint exercises with the NZSAS 
acting as aggressors. In July 1974 the Singaporean Armed 
Forces opened a Parachute School at Changi Airport and 
began qualifying all members of the battalion. The four-week 
course included an advanced class in HALO techniques. Nine 
jumps were required for wings to be awarded. 

In mid-April 1989 almost 300 members of the battalion 
participated in Neptune 8g joint exercises with 1 New 
Zealand Infantry Regiment in north-eastern Singapore. 
Commando trainees are also regularly sent to Thailand for 
airborne training. 

A second reservist battalion was raised in the mid-seventies 
as part of Singapore’s 200,000-strong national reserves. 

Singapore’s commandos are disciplined but untested. 
In1974 and again in 1987 the battalion was presented with the 
annual Best Combat Unit award. However, they have yet to 
see combat against either external or internal enemies. In the 
event of war the commandos, like the rest of the armed forces, 
will be used defensively to inflict a prohibitively high cost on a 
foreign invader. 

Commando personnel are identified by red berets with 
metal national insignia pinned on the left side. Singaporean 
wings are worn over the left breast; foreign wings go over the 
right breast. A shoulder insignia bearing a winged dagger was 
worn until the early 1980s; currently, armed forces regulations 
authorize no shoulder insignia. US-style leaf pattern 
camouflage is worn as standard combat dress. 

Police Special Forces 

Concerned about the threat to Thai security after the fall of 
China in 1949, the US helped the Thai Police establish an élite 
airborne cadre in 1950. Tasked with conducting operations in 
remote areas, the 50-man cadre had extensive language skills 
to help it operate among minority hilltribes. In June 1951 the 
cadre became involved in Thai domestic politics when Royal 
Thai Navy rebels kidnapped the Prime Minister aboard its 
flagship, the destroyer Sri Ayuthaya. The rebels positioned the 
flagship across from Bangkok and began shelling Police and 
Army buildings. The élite Police cadre was then put into 
action; a mortar round scored a direct hit, setting the Sri 
Ayuthaya on fire. The Prime Minister leapt from the ship and 
swam ashore, ending the apparent coup attempt. 

That July the powerful Chief of Police, Gen. Phao, seized 
control of Bangkok in a coup d’état. With Phao’s consent the 
US began expanding the Police airborne cadre into a 
paramilitary élite outside the normal Police chain of com- 
mand. The new formation, called the Police Aerial Resupply 
Unit (PARU), specialized in covert operations in isolated 
areas, including long-range reconnaissance, intelligence- 
collecting, and sabotage missions. PARU was commanded by 
a Police colonel and listed—on paper—as subordinate to the 
Border Patrol Police. PARU established an airborne training 
camp at Lopburi, 93 miles north of Bangkok. There it began 

=o se 

recruiting volunteers from the Army, Navy and Police. Three 
US civilian advisors were formally given officer ranks within 
the unit. By the end of 1953 over 300 PARU commandos had 
been trained. During the same year recruiting was restricted 
to the Navy and Police, signalling a growing rivalry between 
the Police and Army. 

PARU forged close links with the Thai royal family. In 
1953 it moved its training camp and headquarters to Camp 
Narusuan at Hua Hin, next to one of the royal palaces. In part 
because of its association with the king, PARU was able to 
send a handful of students annually to the Royal Thai Army 
Officer Candidate School, a privilege previously only exten- 
ded to élite families. PAR U saw action as early as 1952 against 
opium warlords in the north-east. In 1954 it also provided 
training for small numbers of palace guards for the newly 
independent Republic of Vietnam. 

In September 1957 PARU suffered a setback when Police 
Gen. Phao was overthrown in an Army-led coup. Phao’s 
enormous empire was divided, and PARU were threatened 
with disbandment. Because of its royal links, however, PARU 
avoided dissolution. 

PARU operations in Laos 

The unit’s fortunes improved in 1960 with the growing crisis 
in neighboring Laos. Thailand grew understandably concer- 
ned with the situation across its border and in December sent 
two PARU teams to assist during the Royal Lao government’s 

Malaysian VAT 69 members in training. They wear standard 
Police Field Force olive drab fatigue. 


Thai Marine Recon HAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) and 
HALO parachutists. 

successful recapture of Vientiane. In January 1961 PARU 
was assigned to assist pro-government Laotian guerrillas in 
north-eastern Laos. Three groups of five PARU commandos 
were chosen from its Pathfinder platoon and inserted around 
the Plain of Jars to begin training the irregular forces of the 
Hmong hilltribe commander, Lt.Col. Vang Pao. By mid-1961 
99 PARU operatives were in northern Laos. Total PARU 
strength stood at 550 men. At Camp Narusuan PARU was 
training Hmong Special Operations Teams; by 1962 the first 
battalion-sized Hmong Special Guerrilla Unit had been 
trained. In the same year a 30-man cadre from the Laotian 
paramilitary Directorate of National Co-ordination (DNC) 
went to Narusuan for airborne training. 

In 1963 PARU began to come under pressure from 
Thailand’s Army-controlled government. Because of an 
agreement made immediately after the 1957 coup, PARU was 
charged with building a training camp in the northern town of 
Phitsanulok. PARU was to contribute personnel to a joint 
Police-Army Special Battalion to be stationed at the camp, 
with plans for the eventual full integration of PARU into the 
battalion. Command of the Special Battalion went to an 
Army Special Forces officer, with one deputy from PARU and 
one from Special Forces. In 1964 the battalion began offering 
commando and guerrilla training to foreign students. Laotian 
and Cambodian units passed through its courses before 
training ceased in 1975. 

Although some PARU personnel were transferred to the 
Special Battalion, PARU resisted integration and kept the 
bulk of its force at Hua Hin. By the mid-1g60s, PARU had 
expanded its Laotian training mission both in northern Laos 
and at Hua Hin. In addition, select detachments were 


conducting reconnaissance and raids along the northern Ho 
Chi Minh Trail. 

Because of heavy casualties suffered in combat since 1961, 
PARU was seriously weakened by the late 1960s. After a 
retraining programme, PARU was rebuilt by mid-1969 into a 
joo-man battalion composed of ten detachments. In addition, 
the unit had an air and sea rescue section; the former was 
inserted into Laos to recover bodies from an aircraft crash in 

In the early 1970s, Thailand became concerned with 
Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge insurgency, and PARU teams 
were sent on cross-border reconnaissance operations into 
enemy-held sections of the Khmer Republic. 

Following 1975, Thailand’s attention turned to the threat 
from its own Communist insurgency. In late 1976 PARU 
joined with the Border Patrol Police on operations against left- 
wing guerrillas along its southern border with Malaysia. 

Since the late 1970s PAR U’s missions have been limited. As 
new members were inducted into the force, many of its 
experienced Lao veterans have been removed. This height- 
ened tensions between young and old PARU members, 
prompting a December 1986 revolt at Camp Narusuan. As a 
result of this incident PARU veterans have been retained in 
the unit. Since then, PARU has seen limited action against 
separatist bandits in southern Thailand during June 1988. 

Border Patrol Police 

In addition to PARU, Border Patrol Police (BPP) units 
contain substantial numbers of airborne and ranger-qualified 
personnel. As early as September 1960 US Army SF in 
Okinawa trained ten BPP students in ranger tactics. Two US 
SF Mobile Training Teams arrived in Okinawa during 

March and April 1961 to train 60 more BPP members. By 

1964 the BPP was being retrained and expanded for counter- 

Plaque outside company headquarters of the Thai Marine 
Recon Battalion’s Amphibious Reconnaissance Company. 

insurgency (CI) operations. US Army SF provided 12-month 
CI courses for 500 picked BPP members in 1964. The BPP 
numbered over 3,000 by that time, many of them airborne 
trained. The BPP expanded to over 8,000 men by mid-1969, 
with virtually all of its members trained as a CI force. BPP 
elements, together with PARU, operated in north-western 
Thailand in the late 1960s against Communist terrorists and 
opium warlords. The BPP also provided instructors for the 
training of Laotian irregulars inside Laos and in Thailand. 

BPP operations against CTs and Malaysian-based 
Communists continued into the 1970s. In the 1980s, heliborne 
BPP units fought against the opium warlord Khun Sa’s Shan 
United Army in the Golden Triangle region. 

Army Special Forces 

In 1953 the first US Army advisors arrived in Thailand to help 
the Royal Thai Army set up an airborne formation. In that 
year Camp Erawan was established at Lopburi for the 
fledgling parachute unit. The site had been previously 
occupied by the PARU, which had since moved down to Hua 
Hin. In the same year Capt. Tienchai Sirisumpan, a company 
commander in the King’s Guard Regiment, was sent as one of 
the first foreign students to US Army Ranger training at Fort 
Benning, Georgia. Tienchai returned to Thailand the follow- 
ing year and was given command in 1955 of the newly 
designated Airborne Ranger Unit. In 1956 the Rangers were 
used together with the BPP on operations along the southern 
border with British Malaya. During the following year, the 
Unit secured the capital as Police Gen. Phao was overthrown 
by Army commander Field Marshal Sarit. 

By that time, the Rangers had expanded into an Airborne 
Ranger Battalion numbering 580 men divided into 26 
detachments. Over the next few years the paratroopers 
conducted field operations throughout the northern pro- 
vinces, identifying loyal village leaders in the event of a 
Communist insurgency similar to the ones growing elsewhere 
in South-East Asia. 

The deteriorating situation in Laos soon commanded the 
attention of the Rangers. In July 1959 interpreters from the 
Rangers were sent to Vientiane to begin assisting the Laotian 
army. These forces were temporarily assigned to Headquar- 
ters 333, Thailand’s command unit for missions in Laos. 
Meanwhile, the Laotian 2° Bataillon Parachutiste was sent in 
November to Lopburi for refresher training. The Laotian 1°* 
Bataillon Parachutiste arrived at Lopburi in mid-1960, but 
was rushed back after the 2 BP rebelled and took over the 
capital. In 1961 radio operators and other specialists were sent 
from the Ranger Battalion to assist the Lao army. 

In 1963 the Airborne Ranger Battalion was expanded and 
renamed the Special Forces Group (Airborne). Composed of 
six companies, the new Group was tasked with unconven- 
tional warfare behind enemy lines, psychological warfare 
operations, counter-insurgency missions, and the raising of 
village defence units. 

The Royal Thai Special Forces (RTSF) resumed the 
training of Lao military units in 1965 when parachute and 
infantry battalions arrived for refresher training at Camp 
Erawan, Lopburi. In the same year the first two RTSF 

Thai Marine Recon static line parachutists wearing leaf 
camouflage fatigues. 

training teams were sent to northern Laos to train local forces. 
One Thai sergeant was captured from these teams in May, 
and was not to be released until 1974. RTSF recon teams also 
started operating along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 

1966 to 1975 

In 1966, US Army SF units arrived in Lopburi and began 
working extensively with the RTSF. By that time an RTSF 
Special Warfare Center had been established at Camp Narai, 
Lopburi, with 1 and 2 SF Groups (Airborne). The Special 
Warfare Commander was Col. ‘Tienchai; SF Groups were 
commanded by colonels. In addition, 1 Airborne Battalion, 
commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, and the Quartermaster 
Aerial Resupply Company came under SWC command at 
Camp Erawan. The Airborne Battalion’s mission was to 
provide airborne infantry reinforcements for the Army’s 
conventional units. 

The RTSF’s Laotian missions continued through the late 
1960s, with liaison and mobile training teams assigned across 
Laos. One team was with the Nam Bac garrison when it fell in 
January 1968; all personnel were rescued after evading enemy 
patrols for a week. The RTSF also assigned men to 1 Long 
Range Reconnaissance Troop of the Royal Thai Army 
Expeditionary Division, Vietnam, from 1969-1971. 

By 1971 the widening war in South-East Asia provided the 
RTSF with more training missions. The RTSF already ran 
the Special Warfare School at Lopburi, which included 
airborne training facilities and a ranger course modelled after 
the US Army Ranger School. By this time the RTSF training 
facilities were considered among the best in Asia. 

The RTSF stayed involved in Laos, training Lao personnel 


Thai Marine Recon team prepares to jump with wardogs. 

at Lopburi until 1973 and occasionally sending teams on 
reconnaissance operations inside Laos. Other RTSF person- 
nel manned the Special Battalion at Phitsanulok, which 
trained foreign students and conducted cross-border oper- 
ations. The RTSF also provided men for the Palace Guard in 
Bangkok. In addition, RTSF Mobile Training Teams 
spanned Thailand, conducting civic-action projects and 
training local anti-Communist militia. 

In 1972 the SWC had expanded further with the creation of 
3 SF Group (Airborne). Also in the SWC were 1 and 2 SF 
Groups, the Special Warfare School, 1 Airborne Battalion, 
the Quartermaster Aerial Resupply Company, the Psycho- 
logical Operations Battalion, and the Long Range Reconnais- 
sance Company. The Special Warfare Commander was Maj. 
Gen. Tienchai. 

In the final years of the Vietnam War, Thailand was 
confronted with hostile Communist movements in both Laos 
and the Khmer Republic. RTSF teams were used on recon 
operations in Khmer Rouge-held territory along the northern 
half of the Khmer border. No RTSF personnel were lost on 
these missions. 

RTSF post-Vietnam 

By 1977 4.SF Group (Airborne) had been raised to strength at 
Phitsanulok after the Special Battalion was fully absorbed by 
the RTSF. In the same year 1 Airborne Battalion was taken 
from the SWC and put under the command of 31 Regiment, 
1st Division (King’s Guard). In the late 1970s the RTSF was 
involved with training local village militia units during the 


height of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) insur- 
gency. RTSF teams also conducted cross-border operations 
into Cambodia to gain intelligence on CPT training camps set 
up by the sympathetic Khmer Rouge regime. 

The RTSF stayed active as a training unit in the early 
1980s. Besides helping raise Thai paramilitary militia, the 
RTSF also provided assistance to the anti-Communist Cam- 
bodian resistance as early as 1979, with expanded pro- 
grammes for the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front 
and the National Sihanoukist Army since 1982. Among other 
recent missions of the RTSF have been operations along the 
Cambodian border (prior to October 1987 co-ordinated 
through Army Operations Center 315), missions along the 
Laotian border (previously under AOC 309), and strikes 
against Burmese opium warlords. In the mid-1980s the RTSF 
trained members of Task Force 838, am élite unit that oversees 
the activities of the Cambodian resistance along the Thai- 
Cambodian border. 

In July 1982 the four Special Forces Groups under the SWC 
were renamed 1, 2, 3, and 4 Special Forces Regiments of 1 
Special Forces Division (Airborne). At the same time the 
entire 31 Regt. of the 1st Division, which controlled 1 
Airborne Battalion co-located at Camp Erawan, was redesig- 
nated 31 Airborne Regt. 1st Division. The regiment is 
currently headquartered at Lopburi, with one airborne 
battalion rotated through Camp Erawan. 

In 1984 the Special Warfare Command was established at 
Lopburi to co-ordinate all Thai Army élite units. With 
external threats to Thailand’s security from Cambodia, Laos, 
Vietnam and Burma, the Command is given responsibility for 
waging war outside the borders of the country. The Special 


Warfare Command is also known as 5 Army Region, marking 
it as a lieutenant-general’s command equal to the four 
geographical Army Regions. 

While not prone to involvement in Thai domestic politics, 
the RTSF dispatched 11 helicopter-loads of paratroopers to 
Bangkok during a September 1985 coup attempt. Their 
intervention was largely symbolic, however, since the govern- 
ment was already well in control by the time they arrived. In 
May 1986 the RTSF was again poised for intervention in 
Bangkok when Army commander-in-chief Arthit appeared 
ready to launch a coup. 

Although minor counter-terrorist missions were assumed 
by units of the paramilitary Rangers (not to be confused with 
ranger graduates of the RTSF Special Warfare School) in 
August 1984, the RTSF is responsible for responding to major 
terrorist incidents and hostage-rescue situations. In 1989 
RTSF counter-terrorist missions were handled by Task Force 
go, based in Lopburi. 

The RTSF maintains links with SF units around the world. 
Several joint training exercises are conducted annually with 
the US Army Special Forces. Exchange training*programmes 
are held with the Australian SAS and the South Korean SF, 
among others. In addition to training their own personnel, the 
RTSF provides instructors for Royal Thai Army Ranger 
courses located at the SWC, the Infantry Training Center, 
and the Cavalry Training Center. All RTSF members must 
be graduates of the nine-week course. 

With over three decades of combat experience, the RTSF 
today stands as one of the most capable élite forces in Asia. In 
1989 the RTSF fielded two full divisions. The Special Warfare 






Command and the SWC remain at Lopburi. 1 SF Division is 
headquartered at Camp Erawan, with one of its regiments at 
each of Lopburi’s three military camps: 1 SF Regt. at Camp 
Pawai, 2 SF Regt. at Camp Narai, and 3 SF Regt. at Camp 
Erawan. 2 SF Division moved its permanent headquarters to 
Chieng Matin early 1988, having been temporarily quartered 
at Lopburi over the previous year. The division has two 
regiments: 4 SF Regt., formerly the Special Battalion, at 
Phitsanulok, and 5 SF Regt. at Chieng Mai. The Long Range 
Reconnaissance Company, Airborne Resupply Battalion and 
Psychological Operations Battalion, which seconded person- 
nel in 1988 to the Displaced Persons Protection Unit along the 
Thai-Cambodian border, are also at Camp Erawan. 

Marine Recon 

In 1965 the Royal ‘Thai Marine Corps formed a reconnais- 
sance company with the mission of conducting ground and 
amphibious reconnaissance and special operations. On 27 
November 1978, the company was expanded into the Recon 
Battalion. The battalion currently consists of one headquar- 
ters company with an attached platoon of wardogs, one 
amphibious reconnaissance company, and two V-150 patrol 
vehicle companies. The unit is headed by an RTMC 
lieutenant-colonel and is based at Sattahip. 

A handful of Marine Recon members saw combat when 
sent to Laos as part of volunteer Bn. Cdo. 619 which fought on 
the Plain of Jars in 1972. As a unit, companies from the 
battalion are assigned to the RTMC regiments as needed. 

Thai Marine Recon anti-terrorist team, 1988. 


One company was attached in 1989 to an RTMC Task Force 
at Chanthaburi for operations along the Thai-Cambodian 

Recon personnel are airborne-qualified at the RTMC 
parachute school at Sattahip; eight jumps are made, includ- 
ing one night and two water jumps. Recon personnel must 
also attend the three-month amphibious reconnaissance 
course at Sattahip covering land and sea tactics. 

Navy SEAL 

The Royal Thai Navy SEALs trace their origin back to the 
first Thai combat diver unit created in 1956. In 1965 the unit 
was expanded and re-organized with US Navy assistance. 
Three years later the unit was again re-organized with US 
Navy assistance, splitting personnel between an Underwater 
Demolitions Team and a SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Team. 

UDTs are assigned salvage operations, obstacle clearance, . 

and underwater demolitions; the SEALs, reconnaissance and 
intelligence missions. 

Thai SEALs undergo six months of intensive training at 
Sattahip. All members are airborne-qualified; parachute 
training is conducted at the RTMC Airborne School or Army 
Airborne course at Lopburi. Additional special warfare 
courses are provided by the RTSF at Lopburi. The SEALs are 
headed by a navy commander and consist of 144 officers and 
men divided into SEAL Teams 1 and 2. Each Team is further 
sub-divided into four smaller reconnaissance teams. 

Thai SEALs have been used to gather intelligence during 
periods of heightened tension along Thailand’s borders. In 
December 1978, for example, recon teams were sent to the 
Mekong River during skirmishes with the Pathet Lao. The 
SEALs also participate in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of 

Air Force Special Forces 
The Royal Thai Air Force has a combined SF unit within 201 

Thai Marine Recon Battalion shoulder insignia. 


Sgn. (Helicopter), 2 Wing, at Lopburi. The unit, numbering 
less than 100 men, is responsible for para-rescue, combat 
control missions, and anti-terrorist operations around air- 
ports. In early 1988 a heliborne detachment rescued a Thai 
fighter pilot shot down along the border during hostilities with 
Laos. During April-May 1988, 43 members from the unit 
held ‘Badge Tram 88’ field exercises in Thailand with a US 
Air Force Combat Team. 

Socialist Republic of 


As part of its expansion efforts in the late 1950s, the People’s 
Army of Vietnam (PAVN) sent students to both the USSR 
and China for airborne training. These cadres returned to 
Vietnam in 1958 to form the nucleus of a parachute unit. The 
unit was not used in any combat activity either inside North 
Vietnam or in neighbouring countries. 

In 1962 the unit was expanded into Lu Doan Nhay Du 305 
(305 Airborne Brigade) with a strength of 1,400 officers and 
men; minus headquarters and support personnel, this number 
allowed for only two understrength battalions. However, by 
setting the unit at brigade strength, the paratroopers were 
theoretically authorized a larger TO&E and higher-ranking 
officer cadre than a standard PAVN infantry regiment; 
following normal PAVN practice, command of the brigade 
was probably held by a lieutenant-colonel. The brigade was 
based near Hanoi and conducted airborne training exercises 
from air force An-2, Li-2, and I]-14 transports. Weapons as 
large as 12.7mm anti-aircraft artillery and 82mm mortars 
were also dropped during training. Many jumps were held at 
night to avoid interception by US fighter aircraft. 

In 1964 the brigade began to lose strength as paratroopers 
were transferred to non-airborne sapper units. In 1966 a 
prisoner captured near Nha Trang, who had himself received 
airborne training in the USSR and was a former officer in the 
brigade, revealed that most of 305 Abn. Bde. had been 
dispersed to sapper formations during the previous year. The 
brigade continued™0n paper until finally dissolved in 1968; it 
had never been used in combat. 

The 305 Dac Cong (‘Special Task’) Command, also known 
as 305 Sapper Command, was officially created in 1967 as an 
administrative umbrella for PAVN special operations units. 
The Dac Cong traced their lineage from the Viet Minh 
demolition soldiers of the First Indochina War. By the mid- 
1960s, however, the Dac Cong more closely resembled assault 
or shock troops akin to the British Commandos and US Army 
Rangers of World War Two. 

In practice, 305 Sapper Command directly controlled the 
Sapper Training School at Xuan Mai 50 miles south-west of 
Hanoi, and a small number of reserve special operations 
detachments. The Xuan Mai facilities had previously been 
the headquarters of 338 Division, the initial PAVN in- 
filtration division into South Vietnam. 

The vast majority of Dac Cong formations fell under the 
operational control of PAVN field units. After the PAVN 
shifted in 1965 from a heavy infantry division TO&E toa light 
division concept, sapper elements were attached to each 

division, regiment, battalion, and company. The sappers were 

soon treated in North Vietnamese publications as the élite of 

the PAVN. Being privileged units, they were entitled to better 
pay and rations. Sapper training lasted up to one year. 

Dac Cong in Tet 

During the 1968 Tet Offensive, PAVN and VC Dac Cong units 
saw extensive action while spearheading attacks on targets 
within major population centres, including attacks by the VC 
C-10 Sapper Battalion against the US Embassy in Saigon. 
Despite such highly publicized sapper attacks, the Commu- 
nist forces, especially the Viet Cong, were decimated. Follow- 
ing Tet the Dac Cong underwent extensive expansion as the 
PAVN assumed greater direct involvement in the war in 
South Vietnam. Although some Dac Cong units specialized in 
urban warfare and underwater demolitions, the bulk of them 
were used as reconnaissance, demolitions, minefield- 
breaching, and shock detachments. 

By late January 1973 the PAVN had over 12,000 Dac Cong 
assigned to the war in South Vietnam. Most were grouped 
into understrength battalions and, occasionally, regiments. 
Battalions numbered only 150-200 men; regiments averaged 
about 600 men. Viet Cong Sapper Battalions, composed in 
part of PAVN regulars, numbered only 100 men. In addition, 
126 Naval Sapper Group of 500 men and the DMZ Sapper 
Group of 1,500 men were located in South Vietnam’s I Corps. 

Dac Cong battalions and groups were usually assigned to a 
military front or military region in South Vietnam. Dac Cong 
regiments were either attached toa PAVN infantry division, a 
military frent, or a military region. In addition, 429 Sapper 
Command Headquarters—the Dac Cong reserve for attacks on 
the region around Saigon—controlled 29 Sapper Regt. and 
seven other sapper battalions. 

In 1974 Dac Cong units remained active in South Vietnam, 

Thai Air Force Combat Control Team unpacks a motorcycle 
after parachuting into an ‘enemy-held’ airfield during 
BADGE TRAM 87 Exercises. 

including the 21 October attack by naval sappers on the Hoa 
An Bridge linking Bien Hoa and Saigon. The sappers floated 
two rafts loaded with explosives down the Dong Nai River; a 
rope between the rafts wrapped around a bridge pillar and 
knocked down two spans. During the 1975 spring offensive on 
Saigon, the Dac Cong were in the forefront of every PAVN 
attack. 27 Sapper Division was targeted on Tan Son Nhut 
Airbase in mid-April. ‘ 

Operations in Laos and Cambodia 
During the Second Indochina War Dac Cong units were also 
active in Laos and Cambodia. Lao operations, known in 
PAVN vernacular as Internationalist Mission C, were some of 
the most spectacular Dac Cong operations of the war. In March 
1968, for example, a detachment from 305 Dac Cong Com- 
mand spearheaded an assault on a US-manned radar station 
on Phou Pha Thi mountain in north-eastern Laos. Scaling the 
5,000-foot sheer cliffs of Phou Pha Thi on ropes, the Dac Cong 
took the radar base by surprise and killed a dozen Americans. 
Other operations in Laos include an August 1967 raid on the 
southern town of Saravane; a 1969 rocket attack against the 
Muong Soui garrison, killing one American; and a February 
1970 assault against the main Lao government outpost on the 
Plain of Jars. PAVN Dac Cong also trained counterparts in the 
Pathet Lao. 

In Cambodia, 100 Vietnamese sappers were responsible for 
a spectacular January 1971 attack on Phnom Penh’s Pochen- 
tong Airbase, destroying virtually the entire Cambodian Air 
Force. Dac Cong also launched the abortive October 1972 raid 
on an armoured vehicle park in the northern outskirts of 


Thai Air Force Combat Control Team member with a 
Blowpipe missile during BADGE TRAM 87 Exercises. 

Phnom Penh. 367 Sapper Group, also known as 367 Sapper 
Regt., continued operations against the Cambodian govern- 
ment in 1973, including an April rocket attack on Phnom 
Penh itself. The regiment left its base north of Phnom Penh 
and Cambodia in late 1973. While attached to the PAVN 5 
Division the regiment spearheaded the offensive on Tay Ninh 
in March 1975. PAVN Dac Cong trained Khmer Communist 
sappers until 1974. 

During the height of the Second Indochina War Dae Cong 
missions even extended into Thailand, including January 
1972 deep-penetration attacks on Utapao and Udorn Air- 
bases by teams from 305 Dac Cong Command. Following the 
fall of Saigon in 1975 a large influx of Soviet equipment and 
advisors changed the PAVN into an increasingly conven- 
tional, modern armed force. As part of this change the massive 
Dac Cong corps that had existed at the end of the Second 
Indochina War started to be streamlined into a smaller special 
operations force. 

During the December 1978 PAVN blitzkrieg across Cam- 
bodia Dac Cong units were again in action. In the early 
morning of 2 January 1979 two teams crossed the Tonle Sap 
River by rubber boat in an attempt to kidnap Cambodian 


Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The sappers were spotted and all 
but one were killed. 

Shortly after the invasion of Cambodia the PAVN reor- 
ganized the Dac Cong Command at Xuan Mai into three 
brigades, believed to be numbered 113, 117, and 198. Each 
brigade contains airborne, seaborne, and long-range recon- 
naissance detachments. 117 Brigade is known to have rotated 
through Cambodia during the mid-1980s, and was probably 
involved in attacks against Cambodian resistance bases in 
March 1985. Dac Cong forays against Thai-based resistance 
camps have also been alleged. . 

In addition to the three Dac Cong brigades, specialized Trinh 
Sat (‘Reconnaissance’) detachments are assigned to PAVN 
infantry divisions and military regions. These detachments 
have seen action in Cambodia; for example, a recon team 
from PAVN 302 Division, 479 Front in Battambang Province 
was pictured in an August 1986 PAVN publication. PAVN 
often uses the terms Dac Cong and Trinh Sat interchangeably in 
its publications. 

Such publications have also on occasion featured photos of 
amphibious commandos with scuba gear and rubber in- 
filtration boats. These forces have been variously identified as 
belonging to ‘Group X’ and ‘Group 10’, and it is unknown if 
they are assigned outside the Dac Cong formations previously 


In 1953, a Burmese military mission was sent to Israel to study 
the feasibility of training airborne instructors; six officers and 
three other ranks departed for training the following year. At 
the same time a similar agreement was reached with the US. 
Israeli and US advisory groups visited Burma over the next 
few years to help construct an airborne school. At the end of 
1956 the school was established at Hmawbi, 26 miles north- 

. west of Rangoon. Two years later a group of US instructors 

arrived to help run the first parachute course at Hmawbi, 
which began in May of that year with an initial intake of 150 

In 1958 the airborne school included two airborne assault 
companies. An Airborne Battalion was also established in that 
year at Hmawbi. By 1961 the airborne school was able to 
assume full responsibility for parachute training, and foreign 
assistance ceased. 

The Airborne Battalion was used on several operations in 
the north against the Burmese Communist Party during the 
late 1960s and early 1970s. Currently it is a national reserve 
unit. Airborne qualification originally included five day 
jumps and one night jump. This was later increased to 16 
jumps, though it has recently been reduced to six jumps. 

The Pilates 
South Vietnam: 

Ar: Brig.Gen. Doan Van Quang, LLDB, 1966 

In August 1964 Brig.Gen. Doan Van Quang was given 
command of the LLDB, a position he held for the next five 
years. He wears the green LLDB beret, with the distinctive 
LLDB badge adopted in 1964—this was similar to the ARVN 

Airborne badge except that the wingtips curved inward 
instead of out. Cloth LLDB wings are worn over the right 
pocket; though none are worn on this uniform, honorary US 
jumpwings were awarded to all members of the LLDB and 
worn over the left pocket. The standard LLDB insignia is 
worn on the left shoulder. Besides the olive drab fatigues seen 
in the plate, photographs exist of Brig.Gen. Quang wearing an 
ARVN Airborne leaf camouflage uniform with matching 
patrol cap. Like the US Army SF LLDB members wore a mix 
of uniforms including olive drab fatigues, leaf pattern and 
tiger-stripe camouflage. 

Az: Private, 81 Airborne Ranger Bn., 1968 

As Project DELTA’s fast reaction force, 91 Airborne Ranger 
Battalion was lightly equipped for mobile strike missions. 
When the designation was changed to 81 Airborne Ranger 
Battalion the unit remained outfitted as a light infantry force. 
Based on a 16 June 1968 photo, this commando prepares for a 
sweep of the suburbs north-west of Saigon. He wears Bata 
boots, a US M1 steel helmet, M1952 armour vest, and M1956 
pistol belt with M26 grenades. LLDB insignia is worn on the 
left shoulder; though not visible, LLDB wings went over the 
right pocket. 

Ag: Lieutenant Junior Grade, LLDN SEAL, 1971 
The uniform and equipment of the LLDN SEALs strongly 
reflected the influence of the US Navy SEALs. This Vietnam- 
ese wears tightly-tailored tiger-stripe fatigues and US jungle 
boots. The black beret and bullion beret badge were worn by 
the entire LLDN. Colour variations of the patch on the right 
pocket distinguished subordinate units within the LLDN: a 
red patch was worn by SEALs, green by Boat Support 
personnel, orange by the EOD Team, and light blue by UDT 
members. In 1971 the red SEAL version added the words Haz 
Kich to the upper right. LLDN SEAL wings, based on US 
Navy jumpwings, are worn over the right pocket. A subdued 
US Navy SEAL qualification badge over the left pocket 
indicates SEAL training in the continental United States. 
Members of the Coastal Security Service, South Vietnam’s 
other amphibious special operations unit, used ‘sterile’ uni- 
forms and equipment while on missions to North Vietnam. 
Between missions, Vietnamese Navy elements within the CSS 
wore ared embroidered Vietnamese Navy cap badge (regular 
Vietnamese Navy personnel wore a yellow cap badge). 

South Vietnam: 

Br: Lieutenant, SMS, 1972 

When the SMS was formed from elements of the LLDB the 
green LLDB beret was replaced by the red STD beret with the 
standard ARVN Airborne badge. (Groups 11 and 68, which 
were later absorbed into the SMS, briefly wore black berets in 
the late 1960s but soon changed to red.) Subdued rank 
insignia are worn on the collar of the ARVN Airborne leaf 
camouflage uniform. ARVN Airborne wings are worn over 
the right pocket; US jumpwings, awarded while a member of 
the LLDB, over the left pocket. On the left shoulder is the 
official SMS ‘dragon’ insignia. 

Bez: Captain, Liaison Service, 1972 

In the field the Liaison Service employed the same mix of 
friendly and enemy items used by MACV-SOG. Between 
combat missions Service members initially wore JGS insignia 
on the left shoulder and the Liaison Service patch on the right 

Philippines SAF practise rappelling, 1987. 

pocket. After the Service was absorbed into the STD in 1968, 
only members of the STD headquarters were permitted to 
wear the JGS insignia on the left shoulder. As a result, the 
Liaison Service shifted their distinctive insignia to the left 
shoulder. (Other subordinate units of the STD, i.e., the SMS 
and Long Thanh Training Center, also wore their distinctive 
insignia on the left shoulder.) ARVN Airborne wings are 
worn over the right pocket; a LRRP qualification badge, 
awarded to graduates of a course at Long Thanh, over the left 
pocket. (A badge of the same design was awarded to other 
ARVN LRRP units for courses at other training centers.) The 
camouflage is a lightweight ARVN copy of the British. World 
War Two ‘Windproof pattern, used by some French para- 
troop units in Indochina and later passed on to the ARVN 
Airborne. (The Liaison Service did not use a ‘standard’ 
uniform, part of a conscious attempt by the STD to disguise its 

B3: NCO, 81 Airborne Ranger Group, 1974 
After the dissolution of the LLDB the 81 Airborne Ranger 


Group was the only ex-LLDB component to retain the green 
beret and LLDB beret badge. The LLDB shoulder insignia 
was replaced by a new 81 Airborne Ranger Group patch. 
(Several unofficial tabs were often worn above this patch to 
denote specialized companies within the Group.) Because 
airborne training for the Group shifted from Nha Trang to 
Tan Son Nhut, LLDB wings were replaced by standard 
ARVN Airborne wings. 

‘The Group was used as fast reaction shock force during the 
final years of the war and was outfitted like standard ARVN 
Airborne and Ranger battalions. This commando, pictured 
immediately prior to a heliborne insertion in December 1974, 
wears ARVN Airborne leaf camouflage with a cotton maga- 
zine bandolier and M1956 pistol belt. 


Cr. Private, PGT, 1963 

Prior to 1986 the Indonesians had a tradition of developing 
distinctive camouflage patterns for each of their élite forces. 
Nowhere is this more evident than with the Air Force Special 
Forces. The PGT wore indonesia’s first camouflage uniform in 
a spot pattern first developed by the US forces during the 
World War Two Pacific campaign, then adopted by the 
Dutch during Indonesia’s fight for independence, and finally 
used by Indonesia’s élite units. The pistol belt is of US design. 
Rank insignia are worn on shoulder loops. Metal Air Force 
jumpwings are worn over the left pocket, an Air Force Special 
Forces insignia on the left shoulder. The weapon is the Belgian 
G-3, standard issue to the Indonesian Armed Forces during 
the early 1960s. As was the authorized practice at the time, the 
unit designation is worn over the right breast. 

C2: Sergeant, KOPASGAT, 1969 

After the expansion of the PGT into KOPASGAT, the Air 
Force paras changed their spot camouflage to a unique 
pattern reminiscent of Belgian camouflage. KOPASGAT also 

Philippines Scout Ranger insignia: beret badge (left, top); 
chest qualification badge (left, bottom); unit shoulder insig- 
nia (right). 

began using an orange beret with a distinctive badge. Above 
the cloth Air Force jumpwings is an embroidered Air Force SF 
qualification badge, similar to the Army Commando quali- 
fication insignia except that the wings are bigger and the word 
‘Commando’ is on the bottom instead of the top. The Air Force 
SF unit insignia, identical to that of the PGT, is on the left 
shoulder; rank insignia are worn on shoulder loops. The 
weapon is the Soviet AK-47. A commando dagger is worn on 
the Indonesian pistol belt. The unit designation is printed ona 
tab over the right breast. 

C3: Sergeant, PASKHAS, 1984 

After KOPASGAT underwent re-organization into 
PASKHAS a new camouflage pattern was briefly adopted by 
the group before the entire armed forces switched to British 
Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) in 1986. The orange 
beret was retained, but with a new Air Force SF badge. 
Subdued rank insignia are worn on the upper sleeve, and a 
name tag above the right pocket, replacing the unit designa- 
tion. Air Force jumpwings and an Air Force SF qualification 
badge, both subdued, are worn over the left pocket, and a 
subdued Air Force SF group insignia on the left shoulder. The 
weapon is the M-16; an Indonesian bayonet is worn on an 
Indonesian pistol belt. Currently, both the M-16 and folding- 
stock FNC are used by PASKHAS. 


D1: Major, KOSTRAD, 1983 

KOSTRAD paratroopers and para-raiders wore the spotted 
Indonesian camouflage pattern during the mid-1960s (see 
C1); by the late 1960s a US ‘maple leaf camouflage, 
developed by US forces during World War Two, was issued. 
Two further patterns were in use by the early 1980s: a dark 
vertical stripe seen on the helmet cover, and a ‘brush-stroke’ 
camouflage similar to the British Denison pattern seen on this 
figure’s jacket. By 1984 the KOSTRAD were the first in 
Indonesia to begin wearing British DPM camouflage, two 
years before the rest of the Armed Forces standardized on this 
pattern. On the left shoulder is the KOSTRAD insignia with 
a ‘KOSTRAD*’ tab; Indonesian airborne wings are worn over 
the left breast, a name tag over the right pocket, and 
embroidered rank on the collar. 

De: Private, KOPASSANDHA, 1981 

The uniform and insignia of the Indonesian Army SF changed 
little between 1958 and 1986. This KOPASSANDHA com- 
mando wears the red beret and beret badge originally 
adopted by the RPKAD in 1958. The camouflage, first used 
by the RPKAD in 1964, is known as the ‘Special Forces 
Pattern’. The sleeves have been cut and sewn to appear rolled 
up, a common practice in the Indonesian SF. Army airborne 
wings and the Army SF qualification badge over the left 
pocket and Para-Komando unit insignia on the left shoulder 
were retained since the days of the RPKAD. A Para- 
Komando tab is occasionally worn on the left shoulder. A 
name tag is worn over the right pocket. During the 1981 
Woyla rescue operation the KOPASSANDHA commandos 
wore their red berets and SF camouflage with British body 
armour. Although the standard KOPASSANDHA weapon 
from 1977 to 1981 was the M-16, the Woyla rescue force was 
issued the H&K MP5. 


D3: Lieutenant, BRIM OB, 1983 

Although an élite formation, BRIMOB wears its black beret 
slanted to the left, an Indonesian practice reserved for non- 
combat units. The Police beret badge is of the same design as 
the centrepiece on the Police airborne wings worn over the left 
pocket. A Pelepor badge is worn on the right shoulder, a 
BRIMOB insignia and sub-unit designation tab on the left. 
The black Indonesian pistol belt, based on the US design, has 
a holstered gmm Pindad (an Indonesian-made copy of the 
Beretta) on the right side. BRIMOB members wore the 
Indonesian spot camouflage pattern during the early 1960s 
(see C1); British DPM is now worn on jungle operations. 


Er: Commando, KIPAM, 1986 

This KIPAM amphibious commando wears the newer issue 
British DPM camouflage pants with an older issue KIPAM 
camouflage jacket similar in pattern to the British Denison 
smock. A Korps Komando (Marine) beret badge is worn on 
the standard purple Marine beret. A Marine Corps insignia is 
worn on the right shoulder, the KIPAM unit insignia and tab 
on the left shoulder. Over the right pocket are a name tag and 
a cloth US Navy SEAL qualification badge; On the right side 
are KIPAM and KIPAM HALO qualification badges; to 
avoid overcrowding, Marine jumpwings have been omitted 
from the uniform. The ‘Marines’ tag over the pocket reflects 
the current practice of wearing service affiliation on the left 

Apart from specialized gear such as underwater swimming 
equipment, KIPAM commandos are outfitted with standard 
Marine Corps items. The AK-47 is the Marine weapon of 
choice due to its reliable reputation in muddy conditions. Also 
used by the KIPAM is the Belgian FNC made under licence in 

a! o 

SAF anti-terrorist team dressed in US leaf camouflage and 
armed with H&K assault rifles. 

E2: Private, Detachment 81, 1989 

After major re-organization of the Armed Forces in early 1986 
all élite units were ordered to standardize with British DPM. 
KOPASSUS, however, still continues to use its older issue 
‘Special Forces Pattern’ uniform during training cycles. The 
red beret, beret badge, and SF qualification badge have all 
remained identical since RPKAD days. The subdued unit 
shoulder insignia is also of the earlier design, except that the 
attached tab has changed from ‘Para-Komando’ to 
KOPASSUS. On the right shoulder, red numbered squares 
are used to distinguish Groups 1, 2, and 3; KOPASSUS HQ. 
personnel and Detachment 81 commandos wear a red square 
with the letter ‘M’, an abbreviation for ‘Headquarters’ in 

The Indonesian-made version of the Belgian FNC, seen 
here, and the US M-16 are current issue in KOPASSUS. 
Detachment 81 also uses the H&K MP5. British body armour 
was initially used by the detachment, with a modified version 
offering better crotch protection ordered after a serious 
casualty was sustained during the Woyla operation. German 
and US body armour are also used at present. Stun-grenades 
are imported from England. 

£3: Major, KOSTRAD, 1989 

All members of KOSTRAD wear a green beret with distinc- 
tive metal badge; those belonging to KOSTRAD airborne 
units add a small metal Army jumpwing to the front of the 
beret. A cloth KOSTRAD insignia (same design as the beret 
badge) and KOSTRAD tab are worn on the left shoulder. On 
occasion, a red tab bearing the battalion number is added 
above the KOSTRAD tab. Rank is worn on the shoulders, or, 
in this case, on a chest tab. 


Philippines Special Forces i insignia: chest aaa badge 
(left); unit shoulder insignia (right). 


Fr: Sergeant, Thai Special Forces, 1989 

From 1957 to 1959 the Thai Airborne Rangers wore an olive 
drab beret; in 1959 a maroon beret was adopted, with a 
padded Royal Thai Army beret badge in both cloth and 
bullion versions. Despite the proliferation of unofficial insig- 
nia, the number of official insignia for the Thai SF is quite 
small. Subdued Army wings are worn above the left pocket; 
both domestic and foreign qualification badges, such as the 
subdued Ranger qualification badge seen here, go above the 
right pocket. Graduates of the LRRP course occasionally 
wear a triangular LRRP patch on the right pocket; distinctive 
insignia for the Special Warfare Command and Special 
Warfare Center are worn on the left pocket. (The insignia for 
the Special Warfare Command is seen on the sign in the 
background; the ‘U’ stands for ‘Unconventional Warfare’.) 
Rank insignia, patterned after the US system, are worn on the 
shoulder, and subdued name tags occasionally over the right 

The Thai SF have used literally dozens of camouflage 
patterns over the years, including several different copies of 
US leaf, British DPM, and US World War Two ‘maple leaf 
patterns. The Thai tiger-stripes seen here are one of the most 
common in the SF. In addition, olive drab fatigues in several 
styles are also issued. The magazine pouches and US-style 
pistol belt, suspenders, and jungle shoes are all of Thai 
manufacture. The M-16 is common issue in the Thai SF; also 
used are the CAR-15, H&K MP5, and Thai-made versions of 
the G-3 and H&K 33. 

F2: Special Colonel, Thai SF, 1988 

The Royal Thai Army has several different working and 
service dress uniforms, including long-sleeve brown shirt and 
slacks; olive drab short-sleeve shirt and slacks; olive drab 
jacket and slacks similar to the US Army; and dress whites. 
This Thai SF Special Colonel wears yet another version 
consisting of a short-sleeve white shirt and brown pants. A 
padded bullion Royal Thai Army badge is worn on the 
maroon beret. On the left pocket are bullion Thai Army 
jumpwings; over the pocket, metal US Army wings and a 


metal Thai Army Ranger qualification badge. A badge 
awarded to Thai Army Command and Staff course graduates 
is on the right pocket. On the collar are metal infantry 
insignia; metal rank insignia are on the shoulders. British 
Army jumpwings are worn on the right shoulder. A black 
plastic name tag is occasionally worn over the right pocket. 

F3: Captain, PARU, 1971 

As the first élite airborne unit in Thailand, PARU adopted a 
distinctive black beret in the mid-1950s. No official beret 
badge existed, although photos from 1961 show PARU 
commandos wearing metal Police airborne wings on their 
berets. After the BPP received counter-insurgency training in 
the mid-1960s the entire BPP began wearing the black beret 
with metal BPP beret badge. PARU is now distinguished by a 
maroon beret flash. 

The figure, based on a photograph of a PARU officer 
assigned to the Special Battalion at Phitsanulok, has broken 
normal rules of insignia placement: Thai Police wings and US 
jumpwings are worn over the left pocket; Thai Army 
jumpwings and Thai rigger wings are on the right. The badge 
on the right pocket is for graduates of the Royal Thai Army 
Command and Staff course. Rank insignia, similar to the US 
system, are worn on the right collar, a Police collar badge on 
the left collar. No official PARU unit insignia is worn. PARU 
is issued standard Thai Army weapons and equipment. 


G1: NCO, Thai Air Force CCT, 1987 

The Thai Air Force CCT wears a black beret with padded 
bullion Air Force insignia. On operations they are outfitted 
much like the Thai Army Special Forces. This man wears 
Thai tiger-stripes with US-style web gear. He carries a 
silenced H&K MP5; the unsilenced version is also used by the 
Team. Though not seen on this figure, members of the CCT 
often wear non-Air Force qualification badges, such as 
Marine Recon wings, over the right pocket. 

G2: NCO, Tha Navy SEAL, 1989 

The Royal Thai Navy SEALs currently wear a leaf 
camouflage uniform with matching beret. Active members of 
the SEAL Team wear the SEAL qualification badge on the 
left side; Navy jumpwings are shifted over to the right side to 
provide a balanced effect. (Qualifications which draw extra 
pay, such as the SEAL qualification, are worn on the left.) 
The standard SEAL weapon is the M-16. 

G3: Lieutenant, Marine Recon, 1989 

The RTMC Recon Battalion is issued US-style leaf 
camouflage. The matching US Marine camouflage cap has a 
Thai Marine Corps globe-and-anchor insignia stencilled on 
the front. The Recon Battalion insignia on the left shoulder 
features a skull with crossed oars. The current recon quali- 
fication badge is on the right side; Navy airborne wings are on 
the left. Subdued rank insignia, which were standardized for 
all Thai Armed Forces utility uniforms in late 1988, are worn 
on the collar. 


H1: NCO, MSSG, 1988 

Since 1971 a distinctive Malaysian camouflage uniform has 
been worn on combat operations. Although a matching jungle 
hat is issued to other units of the Malaysian Army, the SF 

normally wear their green beret on operations. The cap badge 
has been worn since the creation of the MSSR in 1970; it 
underwent slight modification in 1988 (see 13). Various beret 
flashes are worn to distinguish sub-units within the MSSG. A 
subdued name tag is worn over the right pocket. A subdued 
“Gerakhas’ (a contraction of ‘Gerak Khas’, or ‘Special Service’) is 
worn over the left pocket. Subdued jumpwings are over the 
left pocket. Officers wear British-style rank on the shoulders. 

The US-style pistol belt, made in Malaysia, is normally 
worn with a commando dagger on the left side. The 
ammunition pouches and suspenders are made in Malaysia. 
In addition to the M-16 the MSSG uses the CAR-15, H&K 
33, and G-3. The US-style jungle boots with anti-pungi sole 
protectors are made in Malaysia. 

He: Lieutenant, SW TC, 1983 

MSSG working dress is standard Malaysian Army issue. To 
set apart the MSSG, a ‘Gerakhas’ (‘Special Service’) tab is 
worn on the left shoulder and light blue lanyard on the right 
shoulder. Until 1985 jumpwings were worn on the left 
shoulder; metal or bullion Malaysian Army wings are now 
worn over the left pocket; 8 Ranger Battalion wear identical 
wings with a red cloth background; foreign wings, such as 
those depicted from the US, go over the right pocket. A 
removable plastic name plate is worn over the right pocket. 

H3: MSSG shoulder insignia 

On green service dress uniforms members of the MSSG HQ. 
and Special Warfare Training Centre wear the standard 
Army HQ insignia on the right shoulder and cloth MSSG 
panther’s head insignia on the left shoulder; members of the 
MSSG combat regiments wear only the panther patch. 


Ir: NCO, HANDAU, 1988 

HANDAU commandos wear a light blue beret with MSSG 
beret badge on an Air Force flash (see 13). Malaysian 
camouflage fatigues are worn on operations, with subdued 
cloth wings over the left pocket. AHANDAU tab is occasion- 
ally worn over the left pocket; a name tag goes over the right. 
A light blue lanyard is worn on working and service dress. No 
other official HANDAU insignia are worn. 

12: Commando, PASKAL, 1988 

PASKAL is identified by its purple beret with Navy beret 
badge (see 14). Malaysian camouflage fatigues are worn on 
operations; working and dress uniforms are standard Navy 
issue. Weapons and equipment are the same as for the MSSG. 
Subdued cloth Malaysian Army wings are worn over the left 
pocket of the combat uniform; metal wings are worn on 
service and dress uniforms. No other official Paskal insignia 
are worn, 

13: HANDAU beret badge 

HANDAU wears the standard MSSG gold metal beret badge 
on a Royal Malaysian Air Force flash. ‘The motto ‘Chepat Dan 
Chergas’ (‘Quick and Active’) was changed in 1988 to ‘Cepat 
Dan Cerpas’ following grammatical changes in the Malaysian 
language. During the same year slight changes were made to 
the panther’s head after the King of Malaysia requested that it 
be made to look more ferocious. 

Philippines Navy SWAG team practising amphibious in- 
filtrations. They are dressed in an assortment of leaf 
camouflage and olive drab fatigues. 


I4: PASKAL beret badge 

In deference to the training received from the MSSG, the 
initial cadre of PASKAL commandos wore the MSSG beret 
badge. Currently, the Royal Malaysian Navy cap badge in 
gold metal is worn as a beret badge. The inscription reads 
‘Allah and Muhammed’. 


Ji: Lieutenant, SWAG, 1984 

Based on a 1984 photo, this SWAG commando wears a black 
knit balaclava, olive drab fatigues, and US web gear. A belt of 
M-60 ammunition is draped around the neck. As is standard 
Philippine military practice, the service affiliation is printed 
over the right pocket; name, rank and serial number are 
printed above the left pocket. These pocket tabs come in 
various colours, most often black printing on a light green 
background. On occasion, they are sewn in black thread 

Commanding Officer of Singapore’s 1 Cdo. Bn. holding the 
1987 Best Unit Award. He wears Singaporean and Israeli 
jumpwings. Note Thai Army jumpwings on several of the 
other officers. The Commandos wear a metal National 
Armed Forces insignia on red berets. 


directly onto the uniform. Although SWAG unit insignia 
exists, it is not worn on the combat uniform. 

Je: NCO, HDFG, 1978 

In 1977 the HDFG began wearing the distinctive “Seven 
Colours’ camouflage uniform seen here. The rucksack is of 
indigenous manufacture. An ‘Airborne’ tab is worn on the left 
shoulder, a ‘Ranger’ tab on the right. Army wings are worn 
above the left pocket; above them is a cloth ‘Mindinao 
Campaign’ badge signifying a combat tour in the southern 
Philippines during the height of the Mindinao insurgency of 
the early 1970s. 

J3: Staff Sergeant, SAF, 1986 

During the February 1986 Revolution SAF commandos were 
pictured in a variety of camouflage uniforms, including US 
leaf, Philippine tiger-stripes, and Philippine leaf variants such 
as the one pictured here. A distinctive SAF winged sword 
metal beret badge is worn with a red flash on a black beret. A 
‘Special Action Force’ tab is worn on the left shoulder, a ‘Ranger’ 
tab on the right shoulder. Cloth Constabulary jumpwings are 
worn over the left pocket. To distinguish anti-Marcos troops 

from Marcos loyalists, rebel units such as the SAF wore the 
Philippine flag upside down, or else shifted it from the right 
shoulder to the left shoulder or left pocket. 


K1: NCO, SAF, 1987 

Since the 1986 February Revolution the SAF has occasionally 
been deployed on combat operations. On one such occasion, 
during the reinforcement of Bicol in 1987, a squad of well- 
equipped SAF commandos posed for publicity pictures. US 
leaf camouflage fatigues are worn with SAF black berets and 
metal SAF beret badges. A Philippine flag is worn on the right 
shoulder, with ‘Special Action Force’ tabs on both shoulders. On 
occasion SAF unit insignia are worn on the left shoulder or 
right pocket. As with the rest of the Armed Forces, the CAR- 
15 assault rifle and M1956 web gear are of US origin. The 
initials “AFP” (‘Armed Forces of the Philippines’) have been 
stencilled across the suspenders. The rucksack is of indigenous 

Ke: Sergeant, HDFG, 1987 

In the mid-1980s the HDFG began to phase out the ‘Seven 
Colours’ camouflage in favour of US-style leaf camouflage. In 
late 1987 the HDFG stopped wearing camouflage and began 
issuing olive drab jungle fatigues. The HDFG sergeant 
depicted wears an olive drab beret with the current em- 
broidered beret badge. On the left shoulder a ‘Special Forces’ 
tab is correctly worn at the top, with an ‘Azrborne’ tab in the 
middle, and a subdued HDFG unit insignia (same design as 
the beret badge) at the bottom. On the left pocket is a Special 
Forces qualification badge; above the pocket are cloth 

Vietnamese Dac Cong team dressed in green-based PAVN 
camouflage with matching soft caps, 1986. 

Philippine Army jumpwings. On the right shoulder is an 
embroidered Philippine flag, officially replaced in mid-1988 
by an embroidered seal of the Armed Forces of the 

k3: Sergeant, SRR, 1986 

The Scout Rangers are renowned for their relaxed uniform 
code; modifications are in fact the norm rather than the 
exception. Taken from a photo, this sergeant wears an all- 
black fatigue uniform, the unofficial trademark of both the old 
and current Scout Ranger Regiments. Also common are olive 
drab fatigues and US leaf pattern camouflage. Insignia 
placement on this figure only partially follows official regu- 
lations. The ‘Ranger’ tab is on the left shoulder and metal 
Ranger qualification badge (the same design used by the SRR 
in the 1950s) on the left pocket are correctly positioned. 
However, the Scout Ranger unit insignia normally placed on 
the left shoulder has been shifted to the right shoulder in place 
of the standard Philippine flag. The unit insignia is also 
occasionally seen on the right pocket. 

The black beret is official issue to the Scout Rangers, a 
holdover from the SRR of the 1950s. The woven beret flash is 
of the same basic design as the unit shoulder insignia. Other 
insignia, such as the metal Ranger qualification badge, are 
occasionally worn as unofficial beret badges. The pistol belt 
and suspenders are of US origin; the rucksack is of indigenous 
manufacture. The weapon is a US M-14. 


People’s Republic of Vietnam: 

L1: Dac Cong paratrooper, 1985 

This Vietnamese paratrooper, taken from a 1985 photo in the 
official Army journal, is one of six Dac Cong commandos 
boarding an An-g for a training jump. He wears a ribbed 
Soviet paratrooper helmet and PAVN canvas and rubber 
combat shoes. The parachute is the Soviet D-5, with a Z-5 
reserve on his chest. Camouflage has been in wide use among 
Dac Cong units since 1984. The green-based version seen here is 
issued to commando elements operating in jungle regions; a 
brown-based variant (see L2) is in use in dry regions such as 
those found in Cambodia. In addition, old ARVN Airborne 
leaf camouflage material has been re-cut into uniforms 
according to PAVN standards. 

Le: Dac Cong Commando, 1986 

From a 1986 photo in the official PAVN journal, this Dac Cong 
commando is identified as part of 302 Division, known to be 
operating in Siem Reap, Cambodia, at the time. He wears 
the short-sleeve, brown-based Dac Cong camouflage outfit 
with matching cap, appropriate for the dry terrain of north- 
western Cambodia. Because the Dac Cong operate primarily 


Two views of a Burmese paratrooper, 1989. Equipment 
consists of old US issue and South Korean-made copies. 
Metal sergeant’s insignia are on the shoulders; below these is 
the cloth, Airborne Battalion patch. (Courtesy Myanmar 
Embassy, Washington) 

on short-duration missions in conjunction with infantry 
sweeps, this commando is lightly equipped with only a Soviet 

L3: Dac Cong insignia 

In January 1983 the PAVN began issuing new branch and 
specialist insignia. The Dac Cong wear collar insignia of thin 
stamped metal worn on red collar tabs bearing a dagger above 
a satchel charge. No distinctive insignia were previously worn 

by the Dac Cong. 

L4: Parachute insignia 

305 Parachute Brigade never developed its own distinctive 
jumpwings; not until 1982 were insignia created for para- 
qualified Dac Cong personnel. Parachute insignia were initially — 
described in a January 1983 PAVN publication as ‘an aircraft 
with a fully opened parachute’. In July 1983, they were 
described again as an ‘aircraft wing with an opening para- 
chute’. When finally issued, the para insignia was of thin 
stamped metal worn on light blue collar tabs bearing an 
aircraft wing above an opened parachute. 

Dac Cong practise martial arts techniques; they are dressed in PAVN camouflage with matching caps. 

Notes sur les planches en couleur 

Ax Béret LLDB, écusson de 1964; écusson LLDB sur l’épaule gauche; brevet 
LLDB au-dessus de la poche droite. Az écusson d’épaule LLDB, bottes Bata, 
sinon équipement courant de fabrication ameficaine. Ag Béret et badge LLDN. 
L’écusson rouge sur la poche identifie les SEALS dans les LLDN; brevet SEAL 
vietnamien au-dessus de la poche droite, écusson de qualification SEAL de US 
Navy au-dessus de la poche gauche. 

Bx Béret rouge STD avec écusson des unités aéroportées ARVN; uniforme des 
unités aéroportées ARVN et écussons en sus de l’écusson de dragon SMS sur 
l’épaule gauche. Bz Premier uniforme de camouflage des unités aéroportées, tel 
que le portérent les unités conduites par des Frangais au début des années 
cinquante, avec insigne sur l’épaule gauche du Service de Liaison; écussons de 
qualification des unités aéroportées et de LRRP a gauche et a droite de la 
poitrine. Bg Seule cette unité a conservé le béret vert aprés le démembrement du 
LLDB. Notez l’écusson sur l’épaule du Groupe de Chasseurs 81 aéroporté, sur le 
camouflage de “‘feuillage” de cet ARVN aéroporté. 

Cx Uniforme de camouflage des Etats-Unis de style Seconde Guerre mondiale, 
avec écusson des Forces Spéciales de I’Aéronautique indonésenne sur I’épaule 
gauche, brevet sur l’épaule droite, le titre de l’unité a droite sur la poitrine; notez 
le fusil Gg. C2 Nouveau béret et écusson et nouveau camouflage de style belge 
uniques a cette unité. Cg Un troisieéme modéle de camouflage fut briévement 
adopté aprés que cette unité ait été renommée pour la seconde fois, et un nouvel 
écusson de béret. Les titres de l’unité a droite sur la poitrine furent alors 
remplacés par le nom du soldat. Notez l’insigne “peu voyant’ des Forces 
Spéciales sur l’épaule gauche. 

Dx Trois types de camouflage furent portés au début des années quatre-vingts 
par cette unité — un modéle ancine de “‘feuille’’ des Etats-Unis, un modéle a 
rayures veritcales sombres (comme sur la couverture du casque), et le modéle de 
style britannique (comme sur la veste) ~ dans des combinaisons variées. Notez 


Ax LLDB Baskenmiitze; 1964—Abzeichen; LLDB linker Schultertreifen; LLDB 
Fliigelabzeichen tiber der rechten Tasche. Az LLDB Schulterabzeichen, Bata- 
Stiefel, sonst die standardmaBige amerikanische Ausriistung. Az LLDN 
Baskenmiitze und Abzeichen. Rotes Taschenabzeichen laBt die SEALS 
innerhalb der LLDN erkennen; vietnamesische SEAL Fliigelabzeichen tiber 
der rechten Tasche, US Navy SEAL Qualifizierungsabzeichen tiber der linken 

Bx Rote STD-Baskenmiitze mit ARVN Luftlandetruppen-Abzeichen; ARVN 
Luftlandetruppen-Uniform und-abzeichen mit Ausnahme des SMS Drachen- 
abzeichens auf der linken Schulter. Bz Anfangliche Luftlandetruppen- 
Tarnuniform, die von den franzésisch-gefiihrten Einheiten in den frithen 50ern 
getragen wurden; auf der linken Schulter ist die Liaison Service- Insignie zu 
sehen; LRRP and Luftlandetruppen-Qualifikationsabzeichen auf der linken 
und rechten Brustseite. Bg Nur diese Einheit behielt die griine Baskenmiitze 
nach der Auflésung der LLDB. Zu beachten ist das Schulterabzeichen der 81 
Airborne Ranger Group aufdem ARVN Luftlandetruppen “Blatt”-Tarnzeug. 

Cx Amerikanische Tarnuniform aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg mit Abzeichen der 
Indonesian Air Force Special Force auf der linken Schulter sowie Fliigelab- 
zeichen auf der linken Brustseite und Einheitsbezeichnung auf der rechten 
Brustseite; zu beachten ist das G3 Gewehr. Cz Neue Baskenmiitze und 
Abzeichen sowie im belgischen Stil gehaltenes Tarnzeug, das nur bei dieser 
Einheit zu finden war. Cg Ein drittes Tarnzeugmuster wurde nach der zweiten 
Umbenennung der Einheit mit einem neuen Baskenmiitzenabzeichen vortiber- 
gehend eingefihrt. Zu beachten ist die “gedampfte” Special Forces Gruppenin- 
signie auf der linken Schulter. 

D1 Drei Tarnzeugstile wurde zu Beginn der 80er Jahre von dieser Einheit in 
verschiedenen Kombinationen getragen: das friihe amerikanische “Blatt’’- 
Muster, das dunkle, vertikal-gestreifte Muster (aufdem Helmtiberzug) und das 


Pécusson KOSTRAD et le titre sur l’épaule gauche. Dz Béret et écusson du 
RPKAD de 1958, uniforme de camouflage du RPKAD de 1964, insigne d’unité 
de Para-Komando sur l’épaule gauche, brevet “Armée” d’unités aéroportées et 
écusson de qualification des Forces Spéciales a gauche sur la poitrine. Dz Usage 
peu courant du béret penchant a gauche, que l'on ne voyait que dans les unités 
qui ne participaient pas au combat. Ecusson sur le béret de la police et ailes sur 
la poitrine; écusson Pelepor (Chasseur) sur lépaule droite, écusson Brimob 
(Brigade Mobile) et désignation de l’unité a gauche. 

Ex Pantalons de distribution ancienne des KIPAM, veste britannique nouvelle- 
ment distribuée de camouflage DPM, béret de fusilier marin et écusson; Insigne 
du Corps des Fusiliers marins sur l’épaule droite, insigne KIPAM a gauche; 
différents badges de qualification KIPAM et USN SEAL sur la poitrine. Ez Le 
camouflage “‘modéle des forces spéciales” démodé, le béret rouge et le badge de 
qualification des Forces Spéciales sont encore utilisés, bien qu’officiellement 
toutes les unités de forces spéciales indonésiennes portent maintenant le 
camouflage britannique DPM en combat. Les carrés rouges sur l’épaule droite 
portent les numéros de groupe, ou “M” pour le quartier général et le 
Détachement 81. Notez le fusil FNC de fabrication locale. Une armure pour se 
protéger le corps britannique, des Etats-Unis et allemande est utilisée pendant 
les operations. Eg Béret et écusson KOSTRAD, portés avec le brevet Armée 
pour les unités aéroportées. L‘écusson est répété en tissu sur l’éapule gauche, 
parfois sous une barre rouge portant le numéro du bataillon. 

F1 Béret de 1959; brevet thai et étranger et €cussons de qualification a gauche et 
A droite sur la poitrine respectivement; le camouflage a rayures de tigre thai est 
Pun des modeéles les plus courants sur plusieurs modéles thais et étrangers. F2 
Mélange peu courant d’uniformes blanc et brun; béret courant des Forces 
Spéciales avec écusson Armée; brevet thai et des Etats-Unis, badge thai de 
qualification des Chasseurs et (sur la poche droite) écusson de gradé des cours de 
l’Ecole d’Officiers sur la poitrine; notez également le brevet britannique sur la 
manche. F3 Béret noir de la Police de la Frontiére et écusson, avec piece de 
parachutiste rouge foncée. 

Gi Béret et écusson de l’Aviation, autrement luniforme et l’equipement 
ressemblent a celui de Forces Spéciales de l’Armée. Notez le Heckler & Koch 
MPs silencieux. Gz Béret et uniforme spécial de camouflage “‘ feuilles” des 
SEALS. G3 Insigne du bataillon sur l’épaule gauche d’un uniforme au style trés 
américain; badge de qualification de fusilier marin de reconnaissnace a droite 
sur la poitrine, brevet naval a gauche. 

Hx Béret des Forces Spéciales avec uniforme de camouflage malais; plusieurs 
écussons de couleur distinguaient les unites mais toutes portaient Yécusson de 
calot des Forces Spéciales et la désignation Forces Spéciales a gauche sur la 
poitrine. Hz Désignation sur l’épaule gauche des Forces Spéciales et aiguillette 
bleue pale sur l’epaule droite identifiant le MSSR quand il est en uniforme 
standard de l’armée. Hg Les régiments du groupe MSS portaient cet écusson sur 
l’épaule gauche. 

In Ces commandos de I’Aéronautique portent I’écusson MSSG sur des bérets 
bleus clairs avec un écusson de I’Aéronautique. La désignation HANDAU fut 
quelquefois portée sur I’uniforme de camouflage malais, sur l’épaule gauche, et 
un nom sur la droite. I2 Béret de commando naval, écusson de la marine, 
uniforme courant de l’armée, brevet, et équipement. Ig Détail de l’écusson 
HANDAU du béret — écusson courant du Groupe MSS sur une piéce avec fond 
de l’Aéronautique. 14 Ecusson PASKAL sur le béret de cette unité de la marine. 

Jz Désignation de l’arme a droite sur la poitrine; nom, rang et numéro a gauche. 
‘Aucun insigne d’unité SWAG r’était porté sur Yuniforme de combat. J2 
Camouflage dit en “sept couleurs” de 'HDFG 4 partir de 1977; Titre 
“Aéroporteé” sur ’épaule gauche, “Chasseur” sur la droite. Brevvet de l’armée, 
a gauche sur la poitrine et écusson de la campagne de Mindanoa. Jz Uniforme 
de fabrication locale, l’un des diflérents modéles de camouflage utilisés, avec 
béret SAF et écusson, titres “Force Spéciale d’Action” et “Chasseur” sur les 
épaules gauche et droite. Les troupes rebelles portaient un écusson aux couleurs 
nationales inversées, ou le firent passer du bras droit au gauche ou sur la poche. 

Kx Uniforme et équipement US standard, avec béret SAF et insigne. K2 Les 
HDFG changérent en 1987 l’uniforme de camouflage US contre des uniformes 
verts unis. Des insignes HDFG sont brodés sur le béret et les désignations ci- 
dessous sur la manche. Kg Les “Scout Rangers” sont connus pour avoir des 
uniformes de combat d’une grande variéte; le noir est populaire. Liinsigne de 
Lunité est porté ici par erreur sur l’épaule droite au lieu de la gauche; le béret 
noir de Punité le méme badge. 

Lx Camouflage avec ombres vertes et marrons largement utilisé depuis 1984 
dans les unités de Dac Cong; le parachute et le casque sont soviétiques. L2 
Soldat de la 302éme Division operant au Cambodge, il porte l’'uniforme de 
camouflage dont la couleur de fond est marron. Lg Badge de col de 1983, porté 
sur un écusson rouge par le Dac Cong. L4 Badge de 1983 de 1983 porté sur un 
écusson de col blue pale par les troupes du Dac Cong qui ont regu leur brevet de 

britische Muster (auf der Jacke). Auffallend ist das KOSTRAD-Abzeichen und 
—Bezeichnung auf der linken Schulter. D2 RPKAD-Baskenmiitze und- 
Abzeichen von 1958, RPKAD-Tarnuniform von 1964,.Fallschirmjager- 
kommando-Einheitsinsignie auf der linken Schulter; Fliigelabzeichen der 
Luftlandetruppen der Armee und Special Forces Qualifikationsabzeichen auf 
der linken Brustseite. Dz Ungewohliche Verwendung der nach links zeigenden 
Baskenmiitze. Mankonnte dies sonst nur bei Einheiten sehen, die nicht 
kampften. Polizei-Baskenmiitzen-Abzeichen und _ Brustfliigelabzeichen; 
Pelepor (Ranger) Abzeichen auf der rechten Schulter, Brimob. (Mobile 
Brigade) — Abkiirzung, die aufdem Abzeichen angebracht und links davon mit 
der Einheitskennzeichnung versehen war. 

Er Alte Ausgabe der KIPAM Hosen, Neuausgabe der britischen DPM- 
Tarnjacke, Marine-Baskenmiitze und -Abzeichen; Marine Corps-Insignie auf 
der rechten Schulter, KIPAM-Insignie links; verschiedene KIPAM und USN 
SEAL Qualifikations-Abzeichen auf der Brust. Ez Veraltete Tarnbekleidung 
im Muster der “Sondereinheiten”, rote Baskenmiitze und Qualifikationsab- 
zeichen der Special Forces werden immer noch verwendet, obgleich alle 
indonesischen Sondereinheiten nunmehr britische DPM-Tarnbekleidung im 
Einsatz tragen. Rote Quadrate aufder rechten Schulter besitzen Gruppennum- 
mern oder “M”, was Hauptquartier und Abteilung 81 bedeutet. Bemerken- 
swert sind die dort hergestellten FNC Gewehre. Britischer, amerikanischer und 
deutscher Kérperschutz wird bei Einsatzen getragen. E3 KOSTRAD- 
Baskenmiitze und -Abzeichen, die zusammen mit kleinen Armee- 
Fliigelabzeichen der Luftlandeeinheiten getragen wurden. Das Abzeichen 
wurde im Stoffauf der linken Schulter wiederholt. Gelegentlich war es unter der 
rechten Klappe mit der Bataillonsnummer zu sehen. 

Fx Baskenmiitze aus dem Jahre 1959. Thaildndische und auslandische Fligel- 
und Qualifikationsabzeichen auf der linken und rechten Brustseite; thailandis- 
che Tigerstreifen-Tarnbekleidung ist eine der haufig benutzten auslandischen 
und thaildndischen Muster. F2 Eine ungewohnliche Mischung aus weifen und 
braunen Uniformen; in der Regel Special Forces-Baskenmiitze mit Armeeab- 
zeichen; thailandische und amerikanische Fliigelabzeichen, thailandisches 
Ranger-Qualfikationsabzeichen auf der Brust. Zu bemerken sind ebenso die 
britischen Fliigelabzeichen auf dem Armel. Fz Schwarze Baskenmiitze der 
Border Police mit Abzeichen und kastianenbraunes PARU-Abzeichen. 

G1 Baskenmiitze und Abzeichen der Air force; die restliche Uniform und 
Ausriistung ist der der Army Special Forces ahnlich. Auffallend ist die 
schallgedampfte Heckler & Koch MP5. G2 Besondere Baskenmiitze im 
“Blatt’-Tarnmuster sowie Uniform der SEAL. G3 Bataillionsinsignie auf der 
linken Schulter einer sehr im amerikanischen Stil gehaltenen Uniform. 
Reconnaissance Marines Qualifikations-Abzeichen auf der rechten Brustseite, 
Marinefliigelbzeichen links. 

Hr Baskenmiitze der Special Forces mit malaysischer Tarnuniform; ver- 
schiedene Farbabzeichen unterscheiden die Einheiten, alle tragen jedoch das 
Miitzenabzeichen der Special Forces und deren linke Brustseiten- 
Kennzeichnung. Hz Linke Schulterkennzeichnung der Special Forces und 
hellblaue, rechte Schulterkordel zur Erkennung der MSSR in der 
standardmaBigen Armee-Uniform. Hz MSS Gruppenregimenter tragen dieses 
linke Schulterabzeichen. 

Ix Diese Air Force-Kommandos tragen das MSSG-Abzeichen auf hellblauen 
Baskenmiitzen mit dem Air Force-Abzeichen. HANDAU-Kennzeichnung 
wurde manchmal auf der linken Brustseite der malaysischen Tarnuniform 
getragen und der Name auf der rechten. Iz Baskenmiitze des Naval Com- 
mando, Marineabzeichen, standardmafige Army-Uniform, Fliigelabzeichen 
und Ausriistung. Ig Teilausschnitt eines HANDAU Baskenmiitzenausschnitts — 
standardmaBiges MSS Gruppenabzeichen der Air Force Futterabzeichen. 14 
PASKAL Einheitsbaskenmiitzenabzeichen der Navy. 

Jx Dienstkennzeichnung auf der rechten Brustseite, Name, Rang und Diest- 
nummer auf der linken Brustseite. Aufder Kampfuniform wurden keine SWAG 
Einheitsinsignien getragen. J2 “Siebenfarbiges” Tarnzeug der HDFG aus dem 
Jahre 1977; “Tuftlandetruppen”-Bezeichnung auf der linke Schulter, “Ran- 
ger” aufder rechten. Aufder linken Brustseite, Army-Fliigelabzeichen und das 
Mindanao Campaign Abzeichen aus den joer Jahren. J3 Am Ort hergestellte 
Uniform, wobei einer der verschiedenen Tarnmuster benutzt wurde, mit SAF- 
Baskenmiitze und -Abzeichen. “Special Action Force’’- und “Ranger”- 
Bezeichnungen sind auf der linken undrechten Schulter zu sehen. Die 
rebellischen Truppen trugen ein umgekehrtes, nationales Flaggenabzeichen, 
oder sie trugen es nicht auf dem rechten, sondern aufdem linken Arm oder auf 
der Tasche. 

Kx StandardmaBige amerikanische Uniform mit SAF -Baskenmiitze und- 
Insignie. K2 Im Laufe von 1987 veranderte sich die HDFG von amerikanischen 
Tarn- auf schlichte, griine Uniformen. Die HDGF-Insignie ist auf die 
Baskenmiitzen und unter die Armkennzeichnung gestickt. Kg Scout Rangers 
sind fiir die groBen Uniformsunterschiede bekannt. Schwarz ist sehr beliebt. Die 
Einheitsinsignie wurde hier verkehrt getragen; auf der rechten, anstelle der 
linken Schulterseite. Die schwarze Einheitsbasenmiitze besa das gleiche 

Lx Seit 1984 wird bei den Dac Cong Einheiten ein in Griin- und Brauntonen 
gehaltenes Tarnmuster haufig getragen; der Fallschirm und der Helm stammen 
aus der Sowjetunion. L2 Soldaten der 302 Division im Einsatz in Kambodscha. 
Sie tragen eine braune Tarnuniform. Lg Kragenabzeichen aus dem Jahre 1983 
wurden von den Dac Cong auf dem roten Streifen getragen. Lg Abzeichen aus 
dem Jahre 1983 wurden auf dem hellblauen Kragenstreifen der qualifizierten 
Fallschirmtruppen der Dac Cong getragen. 


A series of books on the history, organisation, 
appearance and equipment of famous fighting 
men of the past and present; and on other 
aspects of military history which demand fuller 
and more flexible coverage than appropriate 
within our established Men-al-Arms series. ‘The 
Elite titles cover subjects as diverse as the Ancient 
Greek city armies and the Western and Warsaw 
Pact forces of today, in the popular Men-al-Arms 
format but with extended text and captions, 
about 50 photographs and diagrams, and 12 full- 
colour plates. 

Ex The Paras: British Airborne Forces 

E2 The US Marine Corps since 1945 

E3 The Vikings 

Eq US Army Special Forces 1952-84 

E5 Soviet Bloc Elite Forces 

E6 French Foreign Legion Paratroops 

E7 The Ancient Greeks 

E8 Israeli Defense Forces since 1973 

Eg The Normans 

E10 Warsaw Pact Ground Forces 

E11 Ardennes 1944: Peiper and Skorzeny 

E12 Inside the Soviet Army Today 

E13 US Army Rangers 1942-87 

E14 The British Army in the 1980s 

E15 The Armada Campaign 1588 

E16 NATO Armies Today 

E17 Knights at Tournament 

KEN CONBOY was educated as an 
undergraduate at Georgetown University and 
took his graduate studies at Johns Hopkins 
University. He also studied at Sophia University 
in Tokyo. He is the Deputy Director of the Asian 
Studies Centre, a Washington based think tank, 
which studies US strategic and economic policy 


An unrivalled source of information on the 
history and appearance of the world’s fighting 
men. Each 48-page book includes some 40 
photographs and diagrams, and eight pages of 
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Key units and weapons systems of goth century 
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E18 Israeli Elite Units since 1948 

_E1g The Crusades 

E20 Inside the US Army Today 

Ear The Zulus 

E22 World Special Forces Insignia 

E23 The Samurai 

E24 The Old Contemptibles 

E25 Soldiers of the English Civil War 
(1): Infantry 

E26 Tank War Central Front 

E27 Soldiers of the English Civil War 
(2): Cavalry 

E28 Medieval Siege Warfare 

E29 Vietnam Airborne 

Ego Attila and the Nomad Hordes 

E31 US Army Airborne 

E32 British Forces in Zululand 

E33 South-East Asian Special Forces 

towards South-East Asia, and he has travelled 
extensively in that region. Ken Conboy has 
published widely on the military forces of South- 
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series on the wars in Laos and Cambodia. 


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