The 1st Raider/Paratrooper Brigade, is a brigade-sized formation of elite Greek light infantry and special operations forces. The formation is more commonly referred to as the Raider Forces, and a soldier belonging to the Brigade a Raider.
The nucleus of the Raider units was the Sacred Company, a Free Greek unit of commandos attached to the Allied 1st Special Air Service (1 SAS) Brigade during the Second World War. Its members consisted of mainly officers and NCOs who had fled to North Africa after the fall of Greece to Axis forces. After its formation in 1942, the Sacred Company, also known as the Sacred Band, along with a unit of Free French troops and British commandos, formed the basis of L Detachment, a component of the SAS which specialised in hit-and-run raids on Axis airfields, ports and fuel dumps throughout North Africa.
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The Sacred Company was later transferred to the Greek theatre of operations, where they recaptured several eastern Aegean islands from Axis forces. After the liberation of Greece from German occupation, a proposal was made for the reformation of the Hellenic Armed Forces under British guidance. This proposal included the establishment of a small, highly-trained, special warfare unit.
When the Greek Civil War broke out in 1946, the Greek Government decided to form a special warfare unit, primarily to help Greek royalist and British forces capture territory which was still in the hands of communist-inspired guerrillas. The Mountain Raider Companies or LOK, were formed on 20 January 1947 and began operations almost immediately in Greece’s mountainous terrain. Beta Raider Squadronwas formed at Vouliagmeni, Athens in August 1947 and took part in Civil War operations in Thessaly, Central Greece, Epirus, West Macedonia and Euboea. Delta Raider Squadron was established at the port city of Volos, Thessaly in December 1947 and operated in all regions of Greece during the Civil War. Epsilon Raider Squadron was formed in April 1949 and took part in Civil War operations until December 1949. By 1949, the LOK squadrons were so successful against the communist insurgents that the Raider Forces Command was expanded to two brigades. Gamma Raider Squadron, also formed in 1949, was redesignated as an amphibious-capable unit in 1963, while Alpha Raider Squadron, disbanded at the end of the Civil War, was reactivated in 1968, and later re-formed as an amphibious unit in 1974, after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
n the late 1960s, the Greek Central Intelligence Service (KYP), and the CIA became secretly involved with training and arming the Lokatzides. A tool of the KYP and CIA, a LOK detachment played a part in the coup d’état of 1967 by storming and securing the GES, the Army General Staff buildings at Cholargos, Athens.
After the fall of the Papadopoulos regime, and the establishment of a democratic republic in 1975, the LOK were dismantled and re-formed as the Raider Forces, and placed under the command of the Hellenic Army’s Special Forces Command.