This page outlines some of the TV documentaries which provide an insight into the selection, assessment and training processes of the various elite and special forces found across the globe.

General Elite and Special Forces Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Special Forces 2012 1 (7) A seven episode documentary about some of South East Asia’s Special Forces, including: Malaysia GGK; Thai Marine Recon; Philippine Force Recon; Sri Lanka LRP; Philippine Scout Rangers; Beijing Special Combat Brigade; and Taiwan Marine Recon.
Ultimate Soldier Challenge 2013 1 (6) Ultimate Soldier Challenge matched US Special Op units against the most elite forces from around the world in a head-to-head competition that is a showdown of strength, smarts and strategy.
No Man Left Behind 2016 1 (6) To be trapped behind enemy lines is every soldier’s worst nightmare: a situation they all train for, few experience, and even fewer survive. No Man Left Behind dramatises the stories of real-life war-heroes whose contribution to the war effort becomes a pure battle for survival against all odds.
Special Forces: Untold Stories 2002 1 (4)
  • Episode 1: The Royal Dutch Marines, Terror Strikes Twice.
  • Episode 2: British SAS.
  • Episode 3: The Green Berets: Vietnam – The Battle of Lang Vei.
  • Episode 4: GSG-9: Jihad in the Fatherland.
Ancient Discoveries 2002 6
  • S06E07: Ancient Commandos (2009).
  • S06E08: Ancient Special Forces (2009).  
Ancient Black Ops 2014 1 (10) From Ancient Greece to the frozen North, rulers have always needed their elite troops. Each episode details the intricate complexity of the elite troops who performed the assassination missions and how they worked.
British Elite and Special Forces Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
The Paras 1983 1 (7) A BBC TV documentary series about British Parachute Regiment recruits of 480 Platoon undertaking their basic training at the Depot of the Parachute Regiment at Aldershot Garrison between January and June 1982.
Commando 2002 1 (8) This four-part series tells the true story of Churchill’s band of brothers – an unorthodox mix of misfits and buccaneers who operated outside the normal rules of warfare.
Commando: On the Front Line 2007 1 (8) Young men undergo training to become Royal Marine Commandos.
Royal Marines Commando School 2014 1 (8) Behind the scenes of one of the most arduous basic military training programmes in the world.
The SAS Story 2008 (1) A history of the British Special Air Service.
 The Story of the SAS 1999 (1) A potted history of the Special Air Service, Britain’s elite fighting force.
SAS: The Real Story ? 1 (4) A comprehensive history of the SAS, revealing compelling true-life Boy’s Own stories of grit and heroism.
Para Platoon 2014 1 (7)
  • For the first time in 30 years, camera crews have gone inside the regiment’s training camp to follows the fresh-faced recruits as they find out what it takes to earn the coveted maroon beret.
  • For the seven-part series, the cameras follow a platoon of young men from their arrival at the Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, through to their final Pass Out Parade seven months later.
  • When filming began there were 34 recruits – but by the end of the course, only eight of those are left to take their first step into the British Army.
Australian Elite and Special Forces Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Commando  2013 (1) 
  • Commandos follows a small group of ordinary Australians who take part in one of the toughest military selection programs on the planet.
  • Filmed over a physically and psychologically gruelling 6 week period, this intense selection programme is designed to identify potential candidates for the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments – an extremely specialised, combat capable Australian Special Forces Unit.
Battle for the Golden Road 1985  (1) 24 days in the lives of a hundred and one servicemen, as they endeavour to join the Australian SAS Regiment; when it happened and as it happened. 
SAS: The Search for Warriors 2010 1 (2)
  • ABOUT 15 minutes into the SBS documentary most viewers will find themselves feeling sorry for the soldiers who made a conscious decision to put their minds and bodies through what could only be described as state sanctioned torture.
  • The SAS selection course is the toughest job interview in the world and 25 years after the last selection documentary Battle for the Golden Road was made, Prospero Productions spent three weeks in the Western Australian bush producing an epic.
  • Fewer than 20% of those who embark on the quest will make it through to the start of the reinforcement cycle and 12 months of intense training to qualify for the sand coloured beret and winged dagger badge of the Australian SAS Regiment.
US Elite and Special Forces Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Navy SEALs BUDS Class 234 2000 1 (6)
  • First aired in October 2000, ‘Navy SEALs: BUDS Class 234’ was a 6-part series for the Discovery Channel that followed 83 candidates of Class 234 in their efforts to become US Navy SEALS. After 6-months of training only 25 students graduated, 17 of the original 83 and 8 roll-ins (students from previous classes).
  • A fascinating insight, and eye-opening experience, into the selection and training process for one of the US military’s Special Forces units. You WILL feel the pain after watching the physical and mental challenges these candidates are faced with.
Army Ranger School 2001 (1)  A 50 minute documentary produced for the History Channel which followed class 10-00 through the three rigorous phases of the US Army’s Ranger School
Surviving the Cut 2010 1 (6), 2 (6) Aired between 2010 and 2011, and with unprecedented access, ‘Surviving the Cut’ showcases the extreme physical and mental strength required of candidates committed to making it as a special forces diver, a Marine sniper, an Army Ranger, an Air Force pararescue member or a bomb specialist, among other units.
Hell and Back: Special Ops Ranger   2012 (1)  A 1-hour documentary produced for Discovery Channel which, for the first time, took a look at the special operations training course of the 75th Ranger Regiment known as the Ranger Assessment and Selection Programme (RASP).
Inside the Secret World of America’s Elite Warriors: Navy SEALs  1998 1 (4)  Originally produced for The Discovery Channel, the four 50-minute programmes (including In Harm’s Way, Hellweek, Direct Action!, and The Silent Option, which won an Emmy® Award for ‘Best Cinematography’) provide an intimate and revealing look at the inner workings with this deadly commando force.
Inside the Green Berets 2007  (1)
  • In a remote outpost in south-central Afghanistan known as Firebase Cobra, a group of Americans stand in the breach between the rule of law and the rule of terror.
  • They are Green Berets, part of an elite division of the US Army Special Forces, charged with protecting local civilians from the wrath of the Taliban.
  • These elite soldiers navigate an unforgiving landscape, never certain from one minute to the next if they will make it back to the base alive.
  • For this film, the Pentagon waived their 48-hour limitation on embedded media and allowed the National Geographic Channel to chronicle the lives of these war-hardened Americans for ten days.
  • But their window will be tragically cut short by the costliest IED (improvised explosive device) explosion so far in the war in Afghanistan—killing two soldiers, wounding five others and injuring the NGC crew.
Inside Special Forces 2003 (1) A 1-hour National Geographic Special documentary which took a behind the scenes look at the US Army’s Special Forces.
Canadian Elite and Special Forces Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Canada’s Commandos  2016  1 (2) W5 delivers an exclusive look at Canada’s Special Forces and the war against ISIS. 
German Elite and Special Forces Documentaries
Title First Aired Season(s) (Episodes) Synopsis
Hartetest Extrem 2013 1 (2), 2 (10) Provides an outline of some the elite and special forces training for the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), including: EOD; Bunddeswehr Commando Course; Parachutist; and Mine Clearance.
Combat Swimmers – The Secret German Navy Division 2016 (1)   The documentary follows 120 aspiring candidates undergoing the gruelling screening test for the German Navy’s Special Forces Command (Kommando Spezialkräfte der Marine). Of the 120 applicants who started only 7 passed.

 

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