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A commando is a soldier or operative of an elite light infantry or special operations force often specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting or abseiling.Originally "a commando" was a type of combat unit, as opposed to an individual in that unit.
It is also possible the word was adopted into Afrikaans from interactions with Portuguese colonies. During the "Great Trek", conflicts with Southern African peoples such as the Xhosa and the Zulu caused the Boers to retain the commando system despite being free of colonial laws.
The officer commanding an Afrikaans kommando is called a kommandant, which is a regimental commander equivalent to a lieutenant-colonel or a colonel. Also, the word became used to describe any armed raid.
The Oxford English Dictionary ties the English use of the word meaning "[a] member of a body of picked men ..." directly into its Afrikaans' origins: 1943 Combined Operations (Min. During this period, the Boers also developed guerrilla techniques for use against numerically superior but less mobile bands of natives such as the Zulu who fought in large, complex formations.
However, the term commando is sometimes used in relation to units carrying out the latter tasks (including some civilian police units). After the Dutch Cape Colony was established in 1652, the word was used to describe bands of militia.
Commandos differ from other types of special forces in that they primarily operate in overt combat, front-line reconnaissance, and raiding, rather than long range reconnaissance and unconventional warfare. The first "Commando Law" was instated by the original Dutch East India Company chartered settlements and similar laws were maintained through the independent Boer Orange Free State and South African Republic.
Other British units, such as the SAS, led to the development of many international special operations units that are now typically referred to as commandos, including the Pakistani Special Services Group, the Indian MARCOS, and the Jordanian special forces.