(ASK) How well trained are the pla special forces?


Good post plawolf.

Actually there's also another very huge and important factor not mentioned and it's the rates of incidents and situations that are beyond control and generally don't get detected until encountered upon. This especially apply to issues pertaining to terrain, and these often seemed to be bigger nemisis to special operators than enemies generally.

From the several stories and accounts that I have read, here are some examples, and keep in mind these occurred to some of the most rehearsed, disciplined, experienced, professional established operators:

- SAS from the Iranian Embassy Seige: one operator got tangled while rappelled outside the window. Not sure if it's the same operator or another who got caught in the curtain blaze after they tossed in the flashbang.

- SAS from Desert Storm: Bravo 2-0. The troop was deployed to search and destroy Iraqi SCUDs, but drop zone, if I recalled, was much farther than originally planned due to sandstorm. Not sure if their communication systems also failed, but not only they had to abort their mission, but also only one escaped? They lost a member due to hypothermia very early(they dropped in at night), and the rest eventually got caught or some members went separate ways or something. Don't remember the details much, but yea read it up.

- Black Hawk Down: Still no one knows how or why Blackburn fell off while fastroping to this day, but that was probably the first mishap that somehow some could argue, have certain, perhaps game-changing consequences to the outcome to the rest of the operation. If he had not fallen off, perhaps everyone would have really left as an entire convoy as planned? We could include some other logistics or events which changed things if we want, but at the end of the day, it didn't remain as the original short operations they hoped it would be.

- I think it's Operation Anaconda, but at least the events depicted in Lone Survivor(based on true story and I remember reading it from Time's magazine while I was waiting for my appointment at my doctor's clinic that time), they encountered locals, and their radios did not work at all in those mountains, which prevented their extractions. And as depicted in the film, the Chinook full of SEALs dispatched for an attempted rescue of their stranded comrades were shot down. This is also not to mention the team that was deployed originally were geared for recon and FO, not actual firefights. The rule of thumb generally for SOFs is to execute a mission and achieve the objects like a scalpel and avoid unnecessary firefights. Destroying enemy forces generally is only when necessary. And contrary to most conventional beliefs, SOFs, even DA operators, are so trained and possessed all those traits, trainings and qualifications and skills for the purpose of achieving much greater successes in achieving their missions, reducing unknowns with rehearsed appropriate responses, and coming back out alive, not to have a field day against enemy forces. You will never really hear about a SOF team decided to rack some kill counts before leaving a scene.

- Killing Bin Laden: They lost a chopper because it was too low or something which caused its crash. Operation went flawlessly otherwise, but this showed that the only thing that went wrong was something that they couldn't account for.

- Failed rescue attempt of that Islamic State hostage. Delta operators carried out a hostage rescue attempt flawlessly with no losses. Only issue was that the hostage was rotated away long before they arrived

- There's also another incident of another failed hostage rescue attempt recently which led to the loss of the hostage. It's also Syria related. If I recall right, what fked up the entire mission was one IS fighter had too much fluid. He went out to pee and then saw the approaching chopper. The hostage was lost.

In essence, these incidents proved that generally SOF units, no matter how reputable, are still threatened with these random things that could totally change an operation. These events of course or such mission failures also could not be used to describe their competency, as for situations like Bravo 2-0 or the Seal Team, their competency practically couldn't have influenced anything of the situation at all if we think about it.

Having established that, we can now hold everything constant and introduce some new factors: If the opposing forces had advantageous conditions to their situation, things become even more risky. And in the Lone Survivor case, technological failure and terrain cost the operation success. That happened to the SEAL Team, and had those mountains been within Chinese territories, and the Opfor hunting the SEAL Team had been Chinese troops who's got gears and communication equipment that can broadcast, then instantly a Chinese troops vs SEAL skirmish fight would decisively been a Chinese victory. Yet we would still agree that won't have meant the SEALs were lesser neither. And probably if we switch things around and kept the Talibans in its respective roles and replace the SEALs with Snow Wolf, a similar outcome to SEAL might still have emerged. Ambushes and bloodbaths would not change who you put in it if the characters are irrelevant.

Finally, I do believe that different military philosophies could affect how different troops would react to a same situation and then have their distinctive way of doing things pertaining to their style, which would probably still be competent but too different from their counterparts that it becomes non-comparable. And this again still couldn't speak for their competency.

In essence, the point of all this is that mission successes are sometimes not due to quality of troops, but due to uncontrollable factors, therefore making operators irrelevant in missions which had a scenario sentenced for failure from the start. Therefore in those cases, how good the SOF team is won't even be relevant.
 
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kwaigonegin

Colonel
Good post plawolf.

Actually there's also another very huge and important factor not mentioned and it's the rates of incidents and situations that are beyond control and generally don't get detected until encountered upon. This especially apply to issues pertaining to terrain, and these often seemed to be bigger nemisis to special operators than enemies generally.

From the several stories and accounts that I have read, here are some examples, and keep in mind these occurred to some of the most rehearsed, disciplined, experienced, professional established operators:

- SAS from the Iranian Embassy Seige: one operator got tangled while rappelled outside the window. Not sure if it's the same operator or another who got caught in the curtain blaze after they tossed in the flashbang.

- SAS from Desert Storm: Bravo 2-0. The troop was deployed to search and destroy Iraqi SCUDs, but drop zone, if I recalled, was much farther than originally planned due to sandstorm. Not sure if their communication systems also failed, but not only they had to abort their mission, but also only one escaped? They lost a member due to hypothermia very early(they dropped in at night), and the rest eventually got caught or some members went separate ways or something. Don't remember the details much, but yea read it up.

- Black Hawk Down: Still no one knows how or why Blackburn fell off while fastroping to this day, but that was probably the first mishap that somehow some could argue, have certain, perhaps game-changing consequences to the outcome to the rest of the operation. If he had not fallen off, perhaps everyone would have really left as an entire convoy as planned? We could include some other logistics or events which changed things if we want, but at the end of the day, it didn't remain as the original short operations they hoped it would be.

- I think it's Operation Anaconda, but at least the events depicted in Lone Survivor(based on true story and I remember reading it from Time's magazine while I was waiting for my appointment at my doctor's clinic that time), they encountered locals, and their radios did not work at all in those mountains, which prevented their extractions. And as depicted in the film, the Chinook full of SEALs dispatched for an attempted rescue of their stranded comrades were shot down. This is also not to mention the team that was deployed originally were geared for recon and FO, not actual firefights. The rule of thumb generally for SOFs is to execute a mission and achieve the objects like a scalpel and avoid unnecessary firefights. Destroying enemy forces generally is only when necessary. And contrary to most conventional beliefs, SOFs, even DA operators, are so trained and possessed all those traits, trainings and qualifications and skills for the purpose of achieving much greater successes in achieving their missions, reducing unknowns with rehearsed appropriate responses, and coming back out alive, not to have a field day against enemy forces. You will never really hear about a SOF team decided to rack some kill counts before leaving a scene.

- Killing Bin Laden: They lost a chopper because it was too low or something which caused its crash. Operation went flawlessly otherwise, but this showed that the only thing that went wrong was something that they couldn't account for.

- Failed rescue attempt of that Islamic State hostage. Delta operators carried out a hostage rescue attempt flawlessly with no losses. Only issue was that the hostage was rotated away long before they arrived

- There's also another incident of another failed hostage rescue attempt recently which led to the loss of the hostage. It's also Syria related. If I recall right, what fked up the entire mission was one IS fighter had too much fluid. He went out to pee and then saw the approaching chopper. The hostage was lost.

In essence, these incidents proved that generally SOF units, no matter how reputable, are still threatened with these random things that could totally change an operation. These events of course or such mission failures also could not be used to describe their competency, as for situations like Bravo 2-0 or the Seal Team, their competency practically couldn't have influenced anything of the situation at all if we think about it.

Having established that, we can now hold everything constant and introduce some new factors: If the opposing forces had advantageous conditions to their situation, things become even more risky. And in the Lone Survivor case, technological failure and terrain cost the operation success. That happened to the SEAL Team, and had those mountains been within Chinese territories, and the Opfor hunting the SEAL Team had been Chinese troops who's got gears and communication equipment that can broadcast, then instantly a Chinese troops vs SEAL skirmish fight would decisively been a Chinese victory. Yet we would still agree that won't have meant the SEALs were lesser neither. And probably if we switch things around and kept the Talibans in its respective roles and replace the SEALs with Snow Wolf, a similar outcome to SEAL might still have emerged. Ambushes and bloodbaths would not change who you put in it if the characters are irrelevant.

Finally, I do believe that different military philosophies could affect how different troops would react to a same situation and then have their distinctive way of doing things pertaining to their style, which would probably still be competent but too different from their counterparts that it becomes non-comparable. And this again still couldn't speak for their competency.

In essence, the point of all this is that mission successes are sometimes not due to quality of troops, but due to uncontrollable factors, therefore making operators irrelevant in missions which had a scenario sentenced for failure from the start. Therefore in those cases, how good the SOF team is won't even be relevant.
I have to respectfully DISAGREE. Are you saying training is unimportant? because that's what it sounds like to me. Any professional soldier or SF operator is not going to cop out by saying the wind or an ant hill or sandstorm caused mission failure.

Like you said there are a million things unforseen that can go wrong in any mission HOWEVER that is the very reason WHY training and skillsets are so important so you can use those things to at least mitigate your situation when SHTF.

In those examples you gave I would say training and experience is probably the very reason why the outcomes were not as bad as it turned out to be in spite of the circumstances. At least some made it out alive and took out a lot of enemy forces along the way.
 
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I have to respectfully DISAGREE. Are you saying training is unimportant? because that's what it sounds like to me. Any professional soldier or SF operator is not going to cop out by saying the wind or an ant hill or sandstorm caused mission failure.

Like you said there are a million things unforseen that can go wrong in any mission HOWEVER that is the very reason WHY training and skillsets are so important so you can use those things to at least mitigate your situation when SHTF.

In those examples you gave I would say training and experience is probably the very reason why the outcomes were not as bad as it turned out to be in spite of the circumstances. At least some made it out alive and took out a lot of enemy forces along the way.
Like you, I agree that training can only improve things. What I meant is, for some situations that's literally doomed from the start, putting someone, no matter how good, won't make any difference.

For example the guy who had to pee. Nothing could've changed the outcome at all, since they killed the hostage before they even got close. The other one is the lost of SEALs on the Chinook. These couldn't have been prevented. These are all very tragic incidents, and these are situational things operators can't do too much of sometimes because it's completely out of their control to even have a response to. Therefore because these mission failures are due to environmental, technological, non-man/operator-made error, it doesn't make the SOF operators any less. However the same time often these are also things SOFs can't prepare for.
 
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kwaigonegin

Colonel
Like you, I agree that training can only improve things. What I meant is, for some situations that's literally doomed from the start, putting someone, no matter how good, won't make any difference.

For example the guy who had to pee. Nothing could've changed the outcome at all, since they killed the hostage before they even got close. The other one is the lost of SEALs on the Chinook. These couldn't have been prevented. These are all very tragic incidents, and these are situational things operators can't do too much of sometimes because it's completely out of their control to even have a response to. Therefore because these mission failures are due to environmental, technological, non-man/operator-made error, it doesn't make the SOF operators any less. However the same time often these are also things SOFs can't prepare for.
True, certain things cannot be prevented no matter what you do but my contention was the more trained and more prepared you are, you mitigate the amount of these 'chance' occurances.

SF operators usually go in with no backup behind enemy lines so they must prepare for both the 'expected' and the 'unexpected".

As an example in training they shoot a LOT. Even someone who is already a marksman and a sharpshooter... is it to necessary hone their skill? not so much but rather just to sharpen their muscle memory. Also the physical aspect is only a very very small part of the entire regiment. The mental aspect is key. You have to be prepared mentally in all circumstances including sacrificing one self for the sake of the mission.

Somebody who is not well trained mentally for example may choose to run when things go awry causing a mission failed as oppose to say someone sacrificing themselves which enable a mission success later on.
 
True, certain things cannot be prevented no matter what you do but my contention was the more trained and more prepared you are, you mitigate the amount of these 'chance' occurances.

SF operators usually go in with no backup behind enemy lines so they must prepare for both the 'expected' and the 'unexpected".

As an example in training they shoot a LOT. Even someone who is already a marksman and a sharpshooter... is it to necessary hone their skill? not so much but rather just to sharpen their muscle memory. Also the physical aspect is only a very very small part of the entire regiment. The mental aspect is key. You have to be prepared mentally in all circumstances including sacrificing one self for the sake of the mission.

Somebody who is not well trained mentally for example may choose to run when things go awry causing a mission failed as oppose to say someone sacrificing themselves which enable a mission success later on.
I absolutely agree with you. They've always mentioned, that's why they practiced so much (they even said SFOD can shoot from both hands), it's literally muscle memory as you've mentioned. the judgements are also automatic too. and i also remember they said that's where their training comes into play. they do everything like reflex because war is so fast pace and chaotic, they may not even know what's happening at all. it's very cognitively demanding, hence training is their survival skills which keeps them alive or reduces their death and mission failure.

i kinda even wondered if SERE training would've helped the Jordanian pilot at all..
 

Equation

Lieutenant General
i kinda even wondered if SERE training would've helped the Jordanian pilot at all..
I doubt it, the Jordanian forces does not have a reliable special units to retrieved down pilots behind enemy lines. Plus he was in a desert terrain with little vegetation to hide and drinkable water source to survive. In the end he was caught and burned alive without mercy from his cowardly captors.
 

advill

Junior Member
One should avoid underestimating the Special Forces of any country. A few nations' professional units may not want to reveal what actually they can do and where they have conducted their operations for reasons of secrecy or wanton "black outs". This could be the case of the PLA Special Forces. The US and some other countries are open societies and a few recent ops of their Special Forces are known. The problem is revealing too much, or recording such activities (TV News etc.) could be detrimental, and will be intelligence collection plus points for their potential adversaries.
 
One should avoid underestimating the Special Forces of any country. A few nations' professional units may not want to reveal what actually they can do and where they have conducted their operations for reasons of secrecy or wanton "black outs". This could be the case of the PLA Special Forces. The US and some other countries are open societies and a few recent ops of their Special Forces are known. The problem is revealing too much, or recording such activities (TV News etc.) could be detrimental, and will be intelligence collection plus points for their potential adversaries.
The other invalid comparison I see a lot of laypeople make is comparing SOFs like comparing sports cars or who can shoot better or something. The truth is, they can't do that type of silly comparison. Some troops may specialize purely on CT and some on DA or military missions. And if you try to compare them with a very general mission like shooting straight or even rescuing hostages from some ragtag guys with guns, they will execute their missions just as good.
 

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