Here's what it's like when Special Forces raid a compound

Few groups in the U.S. military are as revered as Army Special Forces. They slip into other countries and work with the locals to build up friendly forces and take down enemies. Here’s what it looks like when they strike a compound.

1. Operators prepare for the insertion, rehearsing if possible, before getting into their vehicles or transportation.

Fast rope training GULFPORT, Miss. Miss. Army National Guard Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conduct fast rope insertion training as part of Operation Emerald Warrior, a multinational, joint force training exercise April 30, at the Combat Readiness Training Center. The training ensures the units are trained and ready for any state emergency or combat mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

2. The soldiers then move to the target area. Walking allows them to move up quietly, but riding in ground vehicles or helicopters can allow them to strike quickly without warning.

Special Forces candidates riding into training raid

Special Forces candidates ride to a compound during training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin P. Morelli

3. The Special Forces soldiers insert as quickly as they can, trying to get into a combat footing before the enemy can respond to their arrival.

Special Forces soldiers fast rope into a target during a training mission

Special Forces candidates fast rope out of a UH-60 Blackhawk during training. Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin P. Morelli

4. The soldiers then move to their entry point and prepare to breach.

A US Special Forces soldier places an explosive charge on a door.

A Special Forces soldier attaches a breaching charge to a door during training. Photo: US Army Visual Information Specialist Ruediger Hess

5. Once they’re through the door, they start securing the target buildings.

Special forces soldier secures building entrance during training

Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Silas Toney

6. Multi-story buildings in a compound have to be searched floor-by-floor. Whenever possible, they try to work from the top down.

US Army special Forces secure a stairwell during training in Germany

Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Silas Toney

7. Soldiers pull security on the perimeter so the enemy can’t come in behind the SF team.

US Army special forces pulls security during a training mission rehearsal

Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Silas Toney

8. Most of the operators carry rifles, but they bring some larger weapons like the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle with them to destroy enemy vehicles or shoot through some walls.

US Army special forces soldier fires a carl gustav recoilless rifle during training

Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin Morelli

9. Once the compound has been taken, soldiers have to pull security to prevent an enemy counterattack while the team is still on the ground.

US special forces pulls security during an advising mission in Afghanistan

Photo: US Army Spc. Sara Wakai

10. After searching the compound for intelligence and weapons, the operators will make their way back out of the compound.

Special forces candidates move from the target to the waiting blackhawk

Special Forces candidates maneuver out of a compound during training. Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin P. Morelli

11. If an enemy has been taken captive, they’ll be removed with the team back to the helicopter or vehicles.

US Army special forces move a captive during training

Special Forces operators drag a simulated captive off an objective during training. Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Silas Toney

12. The security teams stay at the edges of the compound until the last possible moment so the team remains safe from a counterattack.

US Army Special forces guard a compound during a shura

Photo: US Army Sgt. Daniel Love

13. When they make it back to their transportation, the SF operators will leave the compound.

Special Forces Soldiers climb onto a blackhawk during raid training

Special Forces candidates climb into a Blackhawk helicopter as they depart a compound at the end of a training mission. Photo: US Army Sgt. Justin P. Morelli

14. The team will then study any intelligence they’ve collected and question any prisoners taken in the operation. The new intelligence will generate new missions and raids.

NOW: The definitive guide to US special ops >

OR: Here’s what it looks like when paratroopers jump out of a helicopter >

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