1 Reconnaissance Commando (South Africa)

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1 Reconnaissance Commando
Active 1972
Disbanded 1997
Country South Africa
Allegiance  Republic of South Africa
Branch  South African Army
Type Special forces
Role Reconnaissance
Part of South African Defence Force
Garrison/HQ Durban
Motto(s) Through Stealth Our Strength
Cmdt Jan Breytenbach

The 1 Reconnaissance Commando was the first South African special forces unit, founded by General Fritz Loots - the founder of the South African Special Forces, and the first General Officer Commanding of the South African Special Forces. He appointed 12 qualified paratroopers (known as "The Dirty Dozen") as the founder members. Included in these 12 paratroopers was Jan Breytenbach, who was placed in command of the Founder Members by General Loots.


Major General Loots and the Chief of the Army, Lt. General Willem Louw realised the need for a South African Defence Force to have a special operations capability, but the Chief of the SADF, General Rudolph Hiemstra resisted. It was not until Admiral Hugo Biermann became Chief of the South African Defence Force in 1972 that the go-ahead was granted.[1]

The unit was originally based at Oudtshoorn in the Cape Province, but was moved to Durban in 1974,[2] where it was formally named 1 Reconnaissance Commando. In the early 1980s, the unit had less than 40 Recce's based at 1RR of which the majority were white. It was renamed 1 Reconnaissance Regiment in 1996, but was disbanded and integrated into 4 Reconnaissance Regiment and 5 Reconnaissance Regiment in 1997.


1 Reconnaissance Commando
From Commanding Officers[3] To
1972 Cmdt Jan Breytenbach 1975
1975 Maj (T/Cmdt) J. C. Swart 1981
1981 Col. E. Olckers 1983
1983 Col. A. Bestbier 1988
1988 Col. G. Keulder n.d.
From Regimental Sergeant's Major To

External links[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/naval-obituaries/9265607/Admiral-Hugo-Biermann.html
  2. ^ "1 Reconnaissance Regiment / 1 Special Forces Regiment". recce.co.za. South African Special Forces Association. Archived from the original on 16 June 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Volume 2, Chapter 3, Sub-Section 69, Paragraph 50". TRC Final Report. SABC. p. 322. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.