It is common knowledge that warfare has greatly evolved in our times: from the strategic to the operational and tactical levels, from training and equipment to mission statements and structure. Indeed, literally every facet of warfare has seen close to a complete doctrinal overhaul.

A good number of countries across the globe have firsthand experienced the effects of this military evolution. Since the end of WWII, military engagements have grown smaller in scope; they have also become more rapid. International humanitarian law, the body of law that governs war, has also become stricter. The resultant atmosphere has created a world that trembles at the mention of an interstate military confrontation.

Individual military operations, save for those sanctioned by the UN, have striven to great lengths to keep a low engagement profile. Nations have opted to greatly minimize the size of their fighting units and accelerate the development and capabilities of the individual soldier — both in equipment and skill. Effective battle units have become smaller and more versatile. They have acquired delicate battlefield maneuverability and the ability to maintain a zero trace signature.

And the name that we give to these small fighting units, whose respective nations have invested in and greatly developed, is Special Operations Forces.

A member of the Kenyan Army 40th Ranger Strike Force.

Africa has been lagging behind in the development of Special Operations Forces, compared to the rest of the world. However, in the last few decades, this is drastically changing due to mutating threat matrices. Al-Qaeda affiliated extremism and terrorism, coupled with a number of sociopolitical related skirmishes, has caused an accelerated demand for specialist security personnel to deal with them.

This article will delve into the state of Special Operations Forces in Africa. It will look at their funding, training, operations and accomplishments.

SOF units in Africa have been around for close to 40 years. Starting in the 1970s some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa took the initiative to invest in Special Ops development.

Of late, other African countries have found themselves developing SOF capabilities. In some countries SOF capabilities have grown greatly. Other countries are still trying to figure out the basics, from funding and training to areas of application.