When looking at Iran’s 65th Airborne Special Force Brigade, you might notice a few striking features similar to U.S SOF units. For example, the Iranians’ yellow enlisted chevrons seem a lot like the yellow chevrons on the old Army greens. Additionally, before the Iranian Revolution, their unit insignia looked a lot like the De Oppresso Liber crest that signifies the United States Army Special Forces.
The distinctive green beret worn by the Iranians may not be the same shade of green worn by today’s U.S. Army Special Forces, but Iranian special operators wear green for a reason — they were trained by Americans.
In the 1960s, the United States sent four operational detachments of Army Special Forces operators to Iran to train the Shah’s Imperial military forces. The Mobile Training Teams spent two years in-country as Military Assistance Advisory Group Iran. Before they could even get to Iran, the soldiers had to pass the Special Forces Officer course at Fort Bragg, then learn Farsi at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Only then would they be shipped to Iran to train Iranian Special Forces.
Although it has been a long time since the 65th was a part of the Imperial Iranian Special Forces, the unit survived the Iranian Revolution 0f 1979 and made it through the brutal Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. It is now called 65th NOHED Brigade (which is just a Farsi acronym for “airborne special forces”).
The unit’s missions are very similar to the ones the U.S. Special Forces trained it for in the 1960s. The unit performs hostage rescue, psychological operations, and irregular warfare missions; it also trains for counter-terrorism missions both inside and outside of Iran. Furthermore, it now advises the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as they fight for the Iran-dominated Assad regime in Syria against a fractured rebellion.
Inside the Iranian military, the unit is known as the “powerful ghosts.” The nickname stems from a mission undertaken by the 65th in the mid-1990s. The unit was tasked to capture buildings around Tehran from the regular military; it was able to achieve the mission in under two hours.
The 65th’s current training includes endurance, survival, and combat training in desert, jungle, and mountain environments. Additionally, the unit conducts parachute and freefall training, as their erstwhile American allies taught them so long ago.
This article was written by Blake Stilwell and originally published on We Are The Mighty.