Contemporary World Issues

International Elite Counter-Terrorism Units

Today, terrorism is an active threat around the world. With the recent attacks in Mumbai, India; the need for elite counter-terrorism units is even more crucial than ever. Throughout the world, governments and militaries comprise small elite tactical units for the sole purpose of dealing with terrorist threats.

Different Countries, Same Purpose

Across the globe, many countries have their own elite team tasked with the duty to neutralize terrorist threats. For example, the Bitish unit tasked with counter-terrorism is the S.A.S. or Special Air Service. In Germany, the GSG-9 is responsible for eliminating terrorist threats. And the list goes on and on.

United States Counter-Terror Forces

The U.S. has three main units soley responsible for counter-terrorism. The first, and probably most well-know are the Navy SEALs. SEALs are tasked with unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, and special reconnaissance. They specialize in operating on, in or underwater. However they spend an equal amount of time in deserts, jungles, and artic conditions. DEVGRU, also known as "SEAL Team 6" is an elite team of experiences Navy Seals that participate in clandestine operations around the world. The second unit is the SFOD-D, or Special Forces Operations Detachment Delta, best known as the Delta Force. Specializing in CQB/hostage rescue, assasination/arrest of enemy leadership, unconventional warfare, and reconnaissance on sensitive targets. The third little is known about, it is the CIA Special Activities Division (SAD). It has been known to work with both Delta and DEVGRU teams on top-secret, clandestine operations where the U.S. needed as little involvment as possible. SAD is a paramilitary organization, which means all who are apart of the unit are ex-military or from within the CIA. They are best known for sabotage, hostage rescue, and general counter-terrorism. Many SEALs, Delta operators and SAD operatives are known to have grown out head and facial hair to blend in with the enviroment. They usually use weapons not associated with the U.S., most of the time the infamous Kalashnikov AK-47. 

British S.A.S., The Pioneers or Modern Counter-Terror Tactics

The British Special Air Service was established in 1941 as a special purpose infantry division. But over the years, and with the growning number of terrorist related acts, the squad has adapted to its role as Britains Elite Counter-Terror unit. The group came into public view during the rescue of hostages at the Iranian Embassy in London in April of 1980. The team stormed the building with sub-machine guns, killed five of the six terrorist, captured one, and rescued all hostages but one who was killed by a terrorist during the assault. The S.A.S. are infamous for their use of brutal tactics. In the assault on the Iranian Embassy, two terrorists dropped their guns and took out a white flag to surrender. But the S.A.S. allegedly took the two remaining terrorists, shoved them against the wall and shot them. A sign to the world that terrorism wont be dealt with lightly. The S.A.S. also made famous the H&K MP5 sub-machine gun.

GSG-9, Germany's Elite

The roots of the GSG-9 links directly to the Munich Massacre in 1972 when eight members of the militant-Palestinian group, Black September, took eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Lack of resources and planning contributed to the subsequent failure of rescuing the hostages, who were all executed by the gunmen after the half-baked assault by ill-trained German police was carried-out. The unit was established in 1973 by Lt.Col. Ulrich Wegener. The group was formed to make sure the German government would be ready for another terrorist act in the future. They have vast experience in hostage rescue and neutralizing terrorist threats. Their most well known mission occured in 1977, in which Palestinian terrorists took a commercial airliner and landed it in Mogadishu. They terrorists had 86 hostages. GSG-9 stormed the plane from the front and rear exits and rescued all three terrorist and capturing one. S.A.S. was present in Mogadishu but only as spectators.

Weapons and Resources

Heckler & Koch

Without the weapons designed for todays Elite units, much of what they do and train to do would be wasted. Perhaps the most famed weapons company of the counter-terror scene is Heckler & Koch, most commonly refered to as H&K. They designed the icon of counter-terrorism, the MP5 sub-machinegun, which is used widely around the world as the primary weapon for many CQB squads. There are over 25 variants of the MP5 in use today. They've also designed the famous MP7 sub-machinegun, G3 series rifles, G36 assault rifle, PSG-1 sniper rifle, and the USP series of handguns. All of which are used by counter-terror units across the globe. In 2005, they designed the HK416, an improved version of the M4/M16 class of weapons, a standard for U.S. troops since Vietnam. The gun was implemented for use by the Delta Force, and other units around the world.


ArmaLite is responsible for the design of the AR15, which was sold to Colt Firearms and transformed into the M16. The M16 is the second most recognizable 20th century weapon. It is the primary infantry weapon for the U.S. and 15 other NATO affiliated countries. It is the most produced gun in its caliber and has been the primary rifle for the U.S. military since 1964. The M16 has 5 different variants (A1,A2,A3,A4), including the M4, which is a shortened version of the M16A2. The M4 has achieved a favorable status among counter-terrorist units across the globe. The reason being that many units are confined to Close-Quarters Combat or CQB. The M4's shortened length, easily-adjustable stock, customablility, and accuracy provide an excellent platform to fight terrorism in any condition. ***Picture - starting from top - M16A1, M16A2, M4, M16A4***

Further Reading...

Work Cited

n.a., "Delta Force." American Special Operations. 09 Dec 2008. U.S. Military. 10 Dec 2008

n.a., "United States Special Operations." 11 Dec 2008. U.S. Special Forces. 11 Dec 2008 <>.

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