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(1) Subunits and units designated to perform special combat missions, such as maintenance of communications and engineering support, and having special technical equipment. Special forces in the armed forces of the USSR include engineer troops, communications troops, chemical troops, radio construction and maintenance troops, motor transport troops, and road troops. The armed forces of other countries have similar special forces. For example, in the USA such units are combat support units.
(2) In the armed forces of the USA, Great Britain, Israel, and certain other capitalist countries, there are special forces designated to destroy important installations deep in the enemy rear, undermine enemy fighting power, perform psychological warfare missions, carry out missions to mislead the enemy, and organize and carry out diversionary and subversion missions and sabotage. The units are staffed with mercenaries who undergo special training, including study of the appropriate foreign language. The mercenaries include many traitors who have fled their countries after committing political or criminal offenses. Special forces were widely used during the US aggression in Vietnam in the period 1964–73.