Special Operations: The Divine Sword And Flying Dragons

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May 28,2008: China continues to expand its special operations forces (SOF). There are currently about 8,000 of them. While recruiting and training is centralized, the SOF troops are assigned to the seven military districts, with each one getting about a thousand. Another thousand located in bases with the 15th Airborne Corps (a force of 30,000 troops that supplies a lot of recruits for SOF units). The SOF units in each military region have their own name, and lots of spirit. The Beijing SOF units is called the Divine Sword, Nanjing's is the Flying Dragons, Guangzhou's is the Sword of Southern China, Jinan;s are the Black Berets, Shenyang's are the Furious Tigers, Chengdu's are the Falcons and Hunting Leopards, and Lanzhou's are the Nocturnal Tigers.

At the time of the 1991 Gulf War, the Chinese only had a few hundred commando type troops, and they were intended mainly for long range recon missions. But after seeing what American SOF soldiers did in the Persian Gulf, the Chinese began forming units similar to American Rangers. By the time the 2001 war in Afghanistan came along, the Chinese decided to develop more commandos along the lines of American Special Forces, Delta Force, and British SAS.

Chinese SOF units mainly train and plan for operations against Taiwan. This would include attacks on key targets, as well as kidnapping or killing senior military and political leaders. Some of this would involve Chinese SOF operators who snuck on to the island as tourists or commercial travelers beforehand. Meanwhile, the SOF units also train for counter-terror missions, which includes dealing with particularly troublesome incidents of civil disorder.

China has been recruiting and training SOF personnel heavily for nearly twenty years now. That means they have hundreds of very experienced operators, each with over a decade of SOF experience. Most of the SOF troops, however, are more similar to U.S. Rangers or British Royal Marine Commandos.

 


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