Special Forces Command (Turkey)

The Special Forces Command (Turkish: Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı), nicknamed Maroon Berets (Turkish: Bordo Bereliler) because of their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations unit of the Turkish Armed Forces made up of volunteers rigorously selected from all branches of the Armed Forces. The OKK may be considered as the Turkish counterpart of the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets).[2]

Special Forces Command
Turkish: Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı
Shoulder patch of the Special Forces Command
Country Turkey
BranchGeneral Staff
TypeSpecial Forces
RoleUnconventional warfare
Special operations
Combat Search and Rescue
Nickname(s)Maroon Berets
Bordo Bereliler
Motto(s)"Death Comes With Us"
"One Dies, Thousand Rises"
ColorsMaroon      (claret red)
MarchAlay Marşı (Regiment March)
Brigadier General Ömer Ertuğrul Erbakan
Korkut Eken
Engin Alan
Zekai Aksakallı


The unit was founded in 1992. as a special forces brigade under the name Hususi ve Yardımcı Muharip Birlikleri, succeeding the Special Warfare Department (Turkish: Özel Harp Dairesi). It was deployed to have powers to perform covert operations behind enemy lines for intelligence gathering and command operations. Due to the changed military situation after the 1990s, in 1992, their name changed to "Maroon Berets" (Turkish: Bordo Bereliler). Its current color and name comes from designator of the new unit, Kaşif Kozinoğlu which was fan of Turkish football club Trabzonspor.[3]

The OKK came into the public spotlight when they captured the PKK terrorist organization leader Abdullah Öcalan in Kenya. The identities of MB personal is classified. Unlike other special operations teams, MB Officers are battle hardened and are constantly operating and are active in the war on the PKK in the southeastern Iraqi border region of Turkey and even cross-border action into Northern Iraq.

Role in 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt

A key figure of the coup was brigadier general Semih Terzi, who was Deputy Commander of the Special Forces at the time and the highest ranking field commander during the coup attempt. He led a team of roughly 40 special forces operatives in an attempt to secure Special forces Headquarters and organize attacks against government agencies and the parliament. The attempt ended in failure, when senior master sergeant Ömer Halisdemir, a noncommissioned officer (NCO) with the Turkish military’s Special Forces Command (OKK), shot and killed Semih Terzi, demoralizing and disrupting command and control of the rebels.[4][5]


The Special Forces are not aligned to any of the three branches of the TAF, receiving its orders directly from the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey.[6][7] Although considered a brigade-level formation, as of 2017, this includes non-combatant units and administrative duties personnel as well, the combatant size of the OKK is not greater than 500.[8] The Maroon Berets, along with Su Altı Taarruz (Underwater Offence) and Su Altı Savunma (Underwater Defence), is one of three special units of the Turkish military.

Combat Search and Rescue (M.A.K.)[9]

Despite the units name Combat Search and Rescue (Muharebe Arama Kurtarma - M.A.K.), its duties aren't limited to search and rescue, but also focuses on unconventional warfare and military intelligence. It numbers around 100 personnel organised after a 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force) Sabre Squadron and is considered to be the best unit in the Turkish Armed Forces. Not much is known about M.A.K. other than, unlike the OKK, it draws member from all branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc), unlike the OKK, which only draws it's manpower from army units.

Special Aviation Group

Special Aviation Group provides helicopter support for command's missions. The helicopters have been modernized and can operate in night/day, integrated and in sync.[10][11][12]

Training and recruitment

Only Army officers and NCOs only are eligible to join this the OKK. Linguistic skills in at least one foreign language is a plus for admission.[13]

The OKK training period which lasts around 2.5 years, during which potential candidates undergo training in martial arts, close quarters combat (CQC), biological/chemical/nuclear warfare, parachuting, diving, sniping, demolition, counter-terrorism, search and rescue, stealth seek and destroy, reconnaissance and survival.[14]

Trust Shot training program

The Trust Shot (in Turkish "Güven Atışı") is a part of the MB's training program. It is exercised on the last month of the training and is to ensure that the soldiers can trust each other with their lives. The Trust Shot consists of two members of a squad standing next to paper target boards, while another member fires on the targets with a handgun while walking towards them from 15 m (49 ft) away. During the exercise, the men standing next to the targets are not allowed to move or wear body armor. They are one of the few special operations teams in the world to perform the trust shot.[15]


Maroon Berets
PistolsHK USP, SIG P226, SIG P229, Sarsilmaz Kilinc 2000 Mega, Sarsilmaz Kilinc 2000 Light, Glock 17, Glock 19
Assault RiflesM16 rifle, M4A1, Heckler & Koch HK416, MKEK MPT-76, AKM, IMI Tavor TAR-21, G3A7
Sniper RiflesKNT-308, Sako TRG, CheyTac Intervention, Dragunov sniper rifle, Barrett M82, Accuracy International Arctic Warfare, MKEK JNG-90, M110, McMillan Tac-50


  1. Uslu, Emrullah (July 10, 2008). "Tackling the PKK: New Directions for Turkey's Special Forces". Terrorism Monitor. Jamestown Foundation. VI (14): 9–11. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  2. Pike, John. "Turkey - Special Forces Command, General Staff Headquarters (Ozel Kuvvetler Komutanligi - O.K.K.)". www.globalsecurity.org.
  3. https://www.haber61.net/spor/neden-bordo-bereli-oldular-h101683.html
  4. https://www.wsj.com/articles/coup-plotters-targeted-turkish-president-with-daring-helicopter-raid-1468786991
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-02-02. Retrieved 2018-02-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. askerenes.blogcu.com/ozel-kuvvetler-komutanligi/1756260
  7. "Onlar TSK'nın bel kemiği - Sayfa 8 Sabah - Fotohaber - Gündem - 05 Eylül 2015 Cumartesi". sabah.com.tr. Archived from the original on 2015-10-06. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  8. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/tu-army-okk.htm
  9. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/tu-army-okk.htm
  10. "HELICOPTER AVIONICS MODERNIZATION - Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc". tai.com.tr. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  11. "HELİKOPTER MODERNİZASYON PROGRAMLARI - TUSAŞ-Türk Havacılık ve Uzay Sanayii A.Ş." tai.com.tr. Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  12. "Türkiye'nin yeni Karaşahini: T-70 Helikopteri". kokpit.aero. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  13. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/tu-army-okk.htm
  14. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/tu-army-okk.htm
  15. "TSK: Öyle bir atış şekli yok, 'güven atışı' var - Hürriyet Gündem". hurriyet.com.tr. Retrieved 2015-09-05.

Further reading

Media related to Special forces of Turkey at Wikimedia Commons

  • Lale Sariibrahimoglu, 'Live-fire exercises shine spotlight on Turkey's special forces,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 January 2004
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