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


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
References in periodicals archive ?
When he left the base on Wednesday night, he was presented with a unique hand-turned wooden replica Fairbairn-Sykes Commando dagger.
The instructors' drive and enthusiasm will help instil our ethos of 'life in all its fullness' and we are looking forward to seeing each class flourish under the watchful eye and support of Commando Joe's.
Jason Chappell, who is Mr September in the Go Commando charity calendar (above), |is now director of the Coventry-based graphics design company, Elitegraphix (below)
HONOUR: Honley's Jake Whitwam, who has passed out as a Royal Marine Commando
The winner of the Commando medal was chosen by his comrades in a ballot.
Part-time Afghan Local Police (ALP), trained by 45 Commando, will now provide security for the area.
MR T WYKE, Normanby * * * * * * AS a father of a Royal Marine serving in 42 Commando, I must register my strongest objection to your story.
He added, "The lives of the commando team were put in danger, but they showed exceptional professionalism.
Throughout his life David showed the qualities of the Commando Spirit, he had a great personality and was a friend to everyone.
Local television and other sources said they heard big explosions and gunshots during the commando raid.
The tour will leave RM Condor, the home of 45 Commando in Arbroath, take in the west coast of Scotland, the Defence School of Transport in Leconsfield, Yorkshire, and the Royal Marines Reserves Unit in Newcastle, before heading back to Arbroath.
Metin Gurak, chairman of the Communication Office with the Turkish General Staff, said that Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) desired to recruit fully professional personnel in its commando brigades.