Special forces emerged in the 20th century, with considerable growth in the field during the Second World War. However as early as the 11th century, Chinese strategist Lü Shang spoke of the recruitment of highly talented and motivated men to elite units.

Special forces refers to the branch of an army comprised of highly trained individuals who perform missions that are usually unconventional and risky. These soldiers will be the best trained in an army, generally have superior equipment, and are often recognized as an army within an army.

Lieutenants and captains are eligible for selection as special forces officers. Language training is encouraged, and language ability is a primary criterion for selection. In the United States, special forces officers must be able to speak at least one foreign language. They may work with any number of individuals from other cultures, so cultural awareness is being increasingly fostered. Often, the presence of foreign soldiers in countries is resented, and cultural insensitivity can have a great and negative effect on operations.

Next: What does a Special Forces Officer do?

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