THE HISTORY 1972 – 1991
The first South African Special Forces unit, 1 Reconnaissance Commando, was established in the town of Oudtshoorn, Cape Province on 1 October 1972. On 1 January 1975, this unit was relocated to Durban, Natal, where it continued its activities as the airborne specialist unit of the special forces.
Later, five additional Reconnaissance Commandos were formed:
- 2 Reconnaissance Commando (Citizen Force) – was established in Johannesburg. It was later retired due to rationalisation and the discontinuation of the Citizen Force unit concept.
- 3 Reconnaissance Commando (consisting of former Rhodesian Selous Scouts) – was established in Phalaborwa. An attempt to integrate this unit into the South African Military was largely unsuccessful. The unit was disbanded in 1981, and the limited number of remaining personnel were incorporated into the other Special Forces unit.
- 4 Reconnaissance Commando, specialising in seaborne operations, was established in the coastal town of Langebaan, Cape Province.
- 5 Reconnaissance Commando was established at the Duku-Duku camp in Natal, but was later moved to Phalaborwa in the Transvaal province.
- 6 Reconnaissance Commando (consisting of former Rhodesian Special Air Service) – was established in Durban. An attempt to integrate this unit into the South African Military was largely unsuccessful. It was disbanded in 1981, and the limited number of remaining personnel were incorporated into the other Special Forces units.
On 1 January 1981, a re-organisation of Special Forces took place, as part of which the Reconnaissance Commandos and other special forces were transformed into an independent formation, directly under the command of the (then) South African Defence Force (instead of the South African Army). As part of the re-organisation, the various Reconnaissance Commandos were also given the status of regiments. In the latter part of the same decade, a Special Forces headquarters and a Special Forces stores depot were also added to the Special Forces structure.