Delta Force

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For the computer game, see Delta Force (video game). For the movie, see The Delta Force (film). For the Vietnam War Era Special forces unit see Project DELTA.
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne)
Standard USASOC Patch worn by SFOD-D Members on Class-A Uniforms
Active November 21, 1977-present
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Type United States Special Operations Forces
Role Versatile Special Operations Force, mainly trained for Counter-Terrorism.
Size Unknown
Part of United States Army Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
Garrison/HQ Fort Bragg, North Carolina (35*09'15.71N, 79*04'38.71W)
Nickname "Delta Force"
Engagements Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Gothic Serpent
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Vigilant Resolve

The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) — commonly known as Delta, Delta Force, or the Combat Applications Group by the Department of Defense — is an elite Special Operations Force (SOF) and an integral element of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). It is one of the two US primary counter-terrorist units, the other being Navy DEVGRU. It is composed by the best special operators and soldiers of the Army, who are carefully selected in special processes.

Delta Force's primary tasks are counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and national intervention operations, although it is an extremely versatile group capable of assuming many covert missions, including, but not limited to, rescuing hostages, raids, and eliminating covert enemy forces. Delta Force conducts missions similar to those attributed to the British Special Air Service (SAS), on which it was originally modeled.


[edit] Background

The unit was started by Colonel Charles Beckwith in 1977. Throughout its creation, the unit had the benefit of experience from the British Special Air Service, with which Colonel Beckwith served and trained while on loan through an officer exchange program with the British from 1961 to 1962.

The unit took part in Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue American hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran in 1980. The mission failed due to an overly complex plan, inadequate Special Operations Aviation training for the accompanying aircrews, a collision between a rescue helicopter and a refueling tanker aircraft, and mechanical problems that reduced the number of available helicopters from the initial eight to only five (one fewer than minimum required) before the mission contingent left the refueling site to stage for the attack.

After that failure, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as the "Nightstalkers", was founded and made responsible for the transporting of special forces personnel to and from Areas of Operation.

In 1999, writer Mark Bowden published the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, which chronicles the events that surrounded the October 3, 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.[1] The book, in a short brief, relates Delta Force's involvement in the operations that occurred before the events leading to the battle.[1] The book was turned into a film by director Ridley Scott in 2001.

In 2006, Bowden published another book, Guests Of The Ayatollah: The First Battle In America's War With Militant Islam, which chronicles the events of the Iran hostage crisis. The book contains first-hand accounts of Delta Force's involvement in the failed rescue attempt. An accompanying piece on The Atlantic Monthly's web site contains pictures and interview videos from some of the participants.

1st SFOD-D has also participated in operations in a variety of foreign locations, including in Beirut, Lebanon and extensively in Central America, fighting the Salvadoran revolutionary group Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and assisting the CIA-funded Contras in Nicaragua.[2]

[edit] Overview

The Pentagon tightly controls information about Delta Force and publicly refuses to comment on the secretive unit and its activities.

Delta operators are granted an enormous amount of flexibility and autonomy, similar to their US Navy counterparts in the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group. They will rarely wear any general uniform and civilian clothing is the norm on or off duty.[2] This is done to conceal the identities of these "secret soldiers".[2] When military uniforms are worn, they lack markings, surnames, or branch names.[2] Hair styles and facial hair are allowed to grow to civilian standards in order for the force to be able to blend in and not be immediately recognized as military personnel.[2]

This special status, which sets the force apart from the "regular army," is mentioned in the book Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden (though less so in the film of the same name).[1] Delta operators are allowed a significant degree of latitude in their personal grooming standards.[1] They are allowed to grow their hair longer than what "normal" army regulations would allow.[1]

[edit] Organization

According to the book Inside Delta Force by Command Sergeant Major Eric L. Haney (ret.), the smallest unit is a team, consisting of four to five members.[2] Each team specializes in HALO/HAHO, SCUBA, or other skill groups.[2] The next tier is the troop level, consisting of four to five teams.[2] Squadron level (there are three squadrons) consists of two troops (Short gun-assault and Long gun-sniper) which are broken down into troops and teams as needed to fit mission requirements.[2]

In Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, Army Times staff writer Sean Naylor describes Delta as having nearly 1,000 operators.[3] Naylor wrote that approximately 250 of those are operators trained to conduct direct action and reconnaissance missions.[3] Those soldiers are divided into three squadrons—A, B, and C—with each squadron subdivided into three troops.[3] Two are assault troops while a third troop specializes in reconnaissance and surveillance and is known as the "recce" troop.[3] The remaining soldiers in Delta are highly trained specialists in mechanics, communications, intelligence, and other support activities, on top of a headquarters staff.[3]

Naylor also wrote that Delta maintains an aviation platoon using aircraft painted in civilian schemes and with fake identification numbers, different from the aircraft of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne).[3] This aviation platoon allegedly uses as many as twelve AH-6 and MH-6 Little Birds.[3] A Defense Department Web site also refers to an award given to the Aviation Squadron HQ, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-DELTA (Airborne). [4]

[edit] Recruitment and training

Most recruits come from the United States Army Special Forces and the 75th Ranger Regiment.[5] Personnel must be male, in the rank of Sergeant (E-5) or above and attend a Delta briefing even to be considered for admission. Since the 1990s, the Army has posted recruitment notices for the 1st SFOD-D [6], which many believe refers to Delta Force. The Army, however, has never released an official fact sheet for the force. The recruitment notices placed in Fort Bragg's newspaper, Paraglide, refer to Delta Force by name, and label it "...the Department of Defense's highest priority unit..." [7]. The notice states that all applicants must be 22 years or older, have a general technical score of 110 or higher, and be in the ranks of E-5 through E-8, with at least four and a half years in service.

Such recruits are men with skills such as proficiency in a foreign language or other desirable traits. The selection process is based on the UK SAS model [8][9]. The selection course begins with standard tests including: push-ups, sit-ups, and a three mile run. The recruits are then put through a series of land navigation courses to include an eighteen-mile, all-night land navigation course while carrying a thirty-five pound rucksack. The rucksack's weight and the distance of the courses are increased and the time standards to complete the task are shortened with every march. The physical testing ends with a forty-mile march with a forty-five pound rucksack over very rough terrain which must be completed in an unknown amount of time. It is said that only the highest-ranking members of the Pentagon are allowed to see the set time limits, but all assessment and selection tasks and conditions are set by Delta training cadre.[2][9] The mental portion of the testing begins with numerous psychological exams. The men then go in front of a board of Delta instructors, unit psychologists and the Delta commander who ask the candidate a barrage of questions and will dissect every response and mannerism of the candidate. The candidate will eventually become mentally exhausted. The unit commander will then approach the candidate and will tell him if he has been successful. If an individual is selected for Delta, he will then go through an intense 6 month Operator Training Course (OTC), where they will learn the art of counter-terrorism. This will include firearm accuracy and various other munition training.[2]

The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) highly secretive Special Activities Division (SAD) and more specifically its elite Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits its operators primarily from Delta Force. [10] Joint Army Special Forces and CIA operations go back to the the famed MACV-SOG during the Vietnam War. [11] This cooperation still exists today and is seen in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [12][13]

On many occasions, Delta Force will cross-train with similar units from allied countries such as the Australian Special Air Service, British Special Air Service, Canadian JTF 2, French GIGN, German KSK and Israeli SM, as well as helping to train other U.S. counter-terrorism and national intervention units, such as the FBI's HRT.[citation needed]

[edit] History

[edit] Known operations

Operation Country Year Outcome
Operation Eagle Claw  Iran 1980 Tactical and strategic failure with 8 killed in action
Operation Urgent Fury  Grenada 1983 Decisive victory
Operation Acid Gambit  Panama 1989 Victory
Operation Just Cause  Panama 1989 Decisive victory
Operation Desert Shield  Iraq 1990 Victory[citation needed]
Operation Desert Storm  Iraq 1991 Victory
Operation Restore Hope  Somalia 1993 Success[citation needed]
Operation Gothic Serpent  Somalia 1993 Tactical success, but with 19 killed in action (6 Delta). Strategic failure
Operation Enduring Freedom  Afghanistan 2001 Success, but Osama bin Laden was able to escape
Operation Anaconda
(subordinate operation to OEF)
 Afghanistan 2002 Success[citation needed]
Operation Iraqi Freedom  Iraq 2003 Tactical success
Operation Vigilant Resolve  Iraq 2004 27 US Marines killed in action, failure of action which later led to Operation Phantom Fury

[edit] Delta Force in modern conflicts

Fred Pushies alleges that Delta Force assisted in providing security at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. They supposedly used a mobile command post disguised as a Budweiser delivery truck.

In his book Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden suggests that a Delta Force sniper may have eliminated Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. There is no hard evidence of this though and credit is generally attributed to Colombian security forces.

On August 8, 1993 members of Delta Force were sent in with U.S. Army Rangers and Navy SEALs in the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia on which the movie Black Hawk Down was based. They were sent in to secure several of Mohammed Farah Aidid's top lieutenants, as well as a few other targets of high value. The mission was compromised after two UH-60 Blackhawks were shot down by RPGs. This resulted in an ongoing battle and led to the death of five Delta operators (a sixth was killed by mortar fire some days later), six Rangers, five Army aviation crew and two 10th Mountain Division soldiers.

In January 1997, a small Delta advance team and six members of the British SAS were sent to Lima, Peru immediately following the takeover of the Japanese Ambassador's residence.[14]

Members of Delta Force were also involved in preparing security for the 1999 Seattle WTO Conference, specifically against a chemical weapon attack.[15]

Delta Force was also involved in the offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 [16].

Though the Mullah was not present, some papers and computer disks were said to have been seized in the raid. Critics[who?] later alleged that the second unit was unnecessary, claiming that it was very large and uncoordinated. As a result, they say, the defenders were alerted early and the number of friendly casualties was in fact higher than reported. According to the book Shadow Wars by David Pugliese, Delta operators wanted a quiet insertion method which was denied as command opted for a combined Ranger assault. Taliban fighters apparently ambushed the team when they were extracting and several Delta operators were severely wounded.

One of several operations in which Delta Force operators are thought to have played important roles was the 2003 invasion of Iraq[17]. They allegedly entered Baghdad in advance, undercover, along with SEALs from DEVGRU. Their tasks included guiding air strikes, and building networks of informants while eavesdropping on, and sabotaging, Iraqi communication lines.

Delta Force has formed the core of the special strike unit which has been hunting High Value Target (HVT) individuals like Osama Bin Laden and other key al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership since October 2001, the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. It has been variously designated Task Force 11, Task Force 20, Task Force 121, Task Force 145 and Task Force 6-26.

[edit] See also

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e Bowden, Mark (1999), Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, Berkeley: Atlantic Monthly Press, ISBN 0-87113-738-0 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Haney, Eric L. (2002). Inside Delta Force. New York: Delacorte Press. pp. 325. ISBN 9780385336031. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Naylor, Sean (2006), Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, Berkeley, ISBN 0425196097 
  4. ^ Washington Headquarters Service, Department of Defense, Joint Meritorious Unit Awards.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Mountaineer. SFOD-D seeking new members. Fort Carson, Colorado: Mountaineer (publication). January 16, 2003.
  7. ^ "Fort Bragg's newspaper Paraglide, recruitment notice for Delta Force". Retrieved on June 28. 
  8. ^ Adams, James (1987). Secret Armies. Hutchinson. p. 102. "The course itself was loosely based on what Beckwith, Meadows (who had also served at Hereford) and others had learned from the British and Germans" 
  9. ^ a b Beckwith, Charlie A (1983). Delta Force. Harcourt. 
  10. ^ Waller, Douglas (2003-02-03). "The CIA Secret Army". TIME (Time Inc).
  11. ^ SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam by John L. Plaster
  12. ^ Haney, Eric L. (2002). Inside Delta Force. New York: Delacorte Press
  13. ^ Efran, Shawn (producer), "Army Officer Recalls Hunt For Bin Laden", 60 Minutes, CBS News, October 5, 2008.
  14. ^ Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta
  15. ^ News: Delta's down with it (Seattle Weekly)
  16. ^ September 2003 Engineer Update
  17. ^ W:\pmtr\ventura\#article\noonan.vp

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 35°9′8.13″N 79°4′36.61″W / 35.1522583°N 79.0768361°W / 35.1522583; -79.0768361 (Delta Force (1st SFOD-D))

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