commando

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commando,

small, elite military raiding and assault unit or soldier. Although the word was coined in the Boer War (1899–1902), the role is as old as battles themselves. In 1940, when the British organized a number of such units, the term came into wide use. Made up of hand-picked volunteers, specifically trained for dangerous work, these units were employed in missions throughout World War II, including the raid on Field Marshal Rommel's headquarters (1941). The U.S. Army's Ranger battalions were also popularly called commandos. After World War II the British army's commandos were disbanded, but the British Royal Marine Commandos were employed in the Korean war and the Suez operation, and the elite Special Air Service has engaged in extensive action against the Irish Republican Army and other nonstate-sponsored commandos. The United States has active commando, or Special Operations, units, including the Navy Seals and the Army's Rangers, Green Berets (Special Forces), and Delta Force. Some of these forces were used in the Vietnam WarVietnam War,
conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. The war began soon after the Geneva Conference provisionally divided (1954) Vietnam at 17° N lat.
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, the Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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, operations in Afghanistan (2001), and numerous counterinsurgency operations. Soviet commandos (Spetsnaz) fought in the Afghanistan WarAfghanistan War,
1978–92, conflict between anti-Communist Muslim Afghan guerrillas (mujahidin) and Afghan government and Soviet forces. The conflict had its origins in the 1978 coup that overthrew Afghan president Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan, who had come to power by ousting
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. Israel and Vietnam have particularly proficient commando units. Commandos today often use special weapons, such as satellite communications, silenced small arms, exotic explosives, and delicate sensors.

See also guerrilla warfareguerrilla warfare
[Span.,=little war], fighting by groups of irregular troops (guerrillas) within areas occupied by the enemy. When guerrillas obey the laws of conventional warfare they are entitled, if captured, to be treated as ordinary prisoners of war; however, they are
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.

Bibliography

See J. Adams, Secret Armies (1987); M. Klare and P. Kornbluh, ed., Low Intensity Warfare (1987).

commando

1. 
a. an amphibious military unit trained for raiding
b. a member of such a unit
2. the basic unit of the Royal Marine Corps
3. (originally) an armed force raised by Boers during the Boer War