History of Mexican Special Forces (GAFES)

Insignia of Mexico’s Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFES)With the occupation of the northern frontier of Mexico by the Mexican military, I thought it would be interesting to see just who these guys are. What I found was a very proud, highly trained and specialized force that could stand shoulder to shoulder with any Army unit in the world.

The Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces Airmobile Group, GAFE) is a very powerful special forces unit of the Mexican Army’s Special Forces Corps, trained by the world’s special forces.

There are a total of nine battalions, one High Command GAFE unit and one other group is assigned to the Infantry Parachutists Brigade.

Within the structure of the unit there are regular, intermediates and veterans. The regulars usually operate more as light infantry. The intermediates are mainly instructors with medium ranks such as lieutenants and captains, they are also known as the COIFEs, considered by many the Mexican Green Berets. They carry out the most delicate black ops, they are known as the Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales del Alto Mando(High Command GAFEs). The GAFE motto is “Todo por México” (Everything for Mexico).

History of GAFES

It was created in 1986 as the “Fuerza de Intervención Rápida” (Rapid Intervention Force) to provide security for the World Cup soccer games in Mexico City. The French Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) trained the group in special weapon and counter-terrorism tactics. On June 1. 1990, the group adopted its current name.

Eight years later the GAFEs saw action fighting the EZLN guerrillas in Chiapas, Mexico. Nobody knows for sure, except for the army, the operations they carried out.

Nowadays the army special forces continue fighting the war against drug cartels in Mexico. They have successfully captured many big drug leaders such as Benjamin Arellano Felix and Osiel Cardenas Guillen of the Cartel del Golfo.


Since its creation they have received a wide variety of training from different special forces groups from around the world. The Army unified all the knowledge by creating in 1998 the Escuela Militar de Fuerzas Especiales ( Special Forces Military School). Later on changing its name to Centro de Adiestramiento de Fuerzas Especiales (“Special Forces Training Center”), located in the foothills of the Iztaccíhuatl volcano, on May 1, 2002. The basic special forces course lasts 6 months.

The training takes on various forms.

  • Jungle/Amphibious/Combat Diving: Jungle and Amphibious Operations Training Center in Xtomoc, Quintana Roo. Training also takes place in different scenarios in the state of Guerrera.
  • Urban/Intervention: San Miguel de los Jagueyes, La Casa de la Muerte ( Killing House) in Puebla and Temamantla, Estado de México.
  • Mountain: El Salto, Durango and Guerrero.
  • Desert Operations Training Center: Laguna Salada and Baja California
  • Airmobile/Airborne: Air Force base of Santa Lucía, Estado de México and Guerrero.
  • High mountain: Nevado de Toluca, Iztaccíhuatland Pico de Orizaba volcanoes.

Transportation and Weaponery

The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in addition to the MI-17/8, CH-53 Yassur 2000, MD-530F & Bell 212/412 helicopters, make up the air fleet of GAFES.

The weapons preferred are varied. FX-05 Xiuhcoatl, HK G3 assault rifles, M4 carbine, HK MP5 submachine gun, BARRET .50, HK PSG-1, REMINGTON 700 & the Fusil de Precisión Morelos sniper rifles, Remington M1100 tactical, Mossberg 500 shotguns, B-300, RL-83 Blindicide & RPG-7 rocket launchers, HK P7M13, Beretta 92F & Colt .45 pistols, M249SAW light machineguns, MGL Mk-1, and M203 40mm grenade launchers.

Now, any of you right wing nut cases up for a friendly little border war?

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