South African Special Forces: Salary, World Rating & Weapons

The South African Special Forces is a unit under, SANDF, the South African National Defence Force. The capability was established in 1968 in line with the international military trends. Before its formation, there was the need to plan and set up structures that would accommodate techniques tailored to the African context before a core group was formed and trained. Because people don’t speculate about certain things such as details about the Special Forces, we bring you interesting details we are sure you don’t know about the Special Forces.

Here is all you need to know about South African Special Forces.

What’s In a Name?

A lot of people know that the Special Forces are nicknamed Recces but the reason behind it may not be as well known and that is the first on the 10 things you are learning today about South African Special Forces. Originally, the South African Special Forces were called Special Forces Regiments – the Reconnaissance Regiments and this is where the nickname came from.

Getting Into The Special Forces

South Africans are revered for their skills in battle and as such, a lot of people want to join the Special Forces. For example in 1988 by the time the war was coming to a close in Angola, over 100,000 people had applied for the pre-selection interviews so they could try the training cycle held by the Special Forces, but less than 480 people qualified to become Special Forces operators and over 80 of them died in the line of duty.

A fact about the Special Forces that is not common knowledge is that one needs to have graduated from school, speak 2 languages and be between 18 and 28 at the onset of their training.

South African Special Forces 3

Tragedy, Resilience, and Tenacity

The Special Forces have the highest statistical ratio of Killed in Action numbers. On the same tragic note, over 55% of all Special Force operators were wounded in action at one time or the other and some of them on multiple occasions and had to treat and dress the wounds themselves which speaks of their resilience.

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Interestingly, the Special Forces have never had an advantage in terms of numbers over their enemies and are always outnumbered in their engagements and heavily at that.

The fact that their total strength was never over 200 or 250 operators at any given time during the entire period of the Angolan War and that is of all the regiments speaks to their resilience, dedication, and skill more than any other.

South African Special Forces 1


Since the operators need to be equipped during war, they carry kits with them that weigh between 60kg and 80kg and for small team operations or long-distance deployments, the kit can weigh an average of 100kg. The heaviest kit that was ever carried by long deployment or small team operators was 130kg. The best and deadliest weapons are harbored bt the Special Forces for operations and missions. The force also possesses aircraft, fighter jets, armored cars built and designed for war missions.

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Salaries in the Special forces differ with the respective ranks. A Colonel (COL) in the Special Forces earns as high as R648,000. A Lieutenant Colonel (LT COL) earns about R466,000. A Major (MAJ) is said to earn about R360,000. Officers that serve under the forces are no doubt compensated duly for their total commitment towards protecting lives and serving the country.

Although we do not have a breakdown of the salary ranges according to the ranks under the South African Special Forces, we know what it looks and sounds like.

World Rating

The South African Military which is the Special Forces ranks 46th in the world. With regards to local industry, geographical factors, natural resources, SA’s military was significantly ranked putting the Special Forces in a good position.

South African Special Forces are the military entity that has the highest decorations of Bravery Medals in South Africa despite being held to higher standards of awarding of medals. It has held this title since the Second World War ended. Unofficially though, an operator receives bragging rights or an unofficial achievement when he successfully completes a Gunston 500. This involves the operator conducting an operation or mission behind enemy lines. The operator has to walk 500 or more kilometers with full kit. The name Gunston 500 comes from the Surfing Championship with a similar name. During the Angolan war, many of the operators who took part have completed it even more than once, as a matter of fact, many operators have done this.

The Special Forces have come a long way since its establishment in 1972 and its role in the former South West Africa War cannot be doubted as the South Africa Special Forces operators were instrumental in the 30-year long war and especially with limited resources and with numbers being against them. The Special Forces require nothing but the highest from its members as this is the only way to succeed in such conditions.

Quick Facts

One interesting thing to learn from the history of the Special Forces is that both the first and last soldiers to be killed in action in the Angola war formerly known as the South West war as it was beginning and ending were Special Force Operators.

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Andile Smith
Andile Smith
Andile provides articles on anything from Politics, Sports, History and entertainment to funny, creepy and weird. His passion for writing allows him to take what is ordinary and transform it into a real masterpiece. He's a true storyteller with a passion for tech and literature


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