The South African Special Forces Brigade, colloquially known as the Recces, is South Africa's principal special operations unit and counter-insurgency elite, specializing in long-range combat reconnaissance as well as unconventional airborne operations. Only about 8% of recruits who undergo South African special forces training pass the course.
The South African Special Forces Brigade has its roots in the Hunter Group, which was formed in 1968 as an elite counter-insurgency unit of the South African Army. The success of this unit culminated in the subsequent formation of five reconnaissance units, known widely as "Recces", during the 1970s. South African special forces carried out a number of combat operations during the Rhodesian Bush War, the South African Border War, and the Mozambican Civil War.
The Special Forces Brigade's current structure is the result of extensive restructuring related to the integration of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) between 1992 and 1996. Elements of the brigade are expanded into two additional groups; though termed "regiments", they consist only of small numbers of operators who are secretive, seldom photographed, and expertly trained. The current regiments include 4 Special Forces Regiment based at Langebaan in Western Cape Province, and 5 Special Forces Regiment based at Phalaborwa in the northern Limpopo.
Special forces are directly under the command of the Joint Operations Division of the SANDF, and unlike other similar forces worldwide, is not a part of the South African Army nor the South African Navy.