How does Delta Force work?
Delta Force:The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D), commonly referred to as Delta Force, Combat Applications Group (CAG), “The Unit”, Army Compartmented Element (ACE), or within JSOC as Task Force Green, is an elite special operations force of the United States Army, under operational control of the Joint Special Operations Command. The unit is tasked with specialized missions primarily involving counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, direct action, and special reconnaissance, often against high-value targets. Delta Force and it’s Navy counterpart, DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6), is the U.S. military’s primary Tier 1 Special Mission Units tasked with performing the most complex, classified, and dangerous missions directed by the National Command Authority.
Consider a special operations force that’s trained to the highest level in the United States military. The force is armed with cutting-edge weaponry, well-funded and answers only to one man. How can a group — trained as professional assassins and approaching the status of mercenaries — be reeled in if the U.S. government won’t even confirm that the group exists? Does such a force make the United States safer or more vulnerable? It’s questions like these that swirl around the United States’ most elite tactical combat group, the Delta Force.
The Delta Force
But there’s writing endless resumes—and then there’s running forty miles at night on an uneven forest trail while lugging a fifty-pound rucksack—with more weight added upon achieving each waypoint.
And to even get into the application pool for that particular job, you first have to master the art of willingly jumping out of a perfectly functional airplane.
This refers, of course, to the admission process for the U.S. Army’s top commando unit. Eric Haney described the experience of one of the long-distance hiking in his book Inside Delta Force. “I had covered just slightly over thirty miles by now, but still had more than twenty to go. It was getting more and more difficult to do speed computations in my head. My hands were tingling from the rucksack straps cutting into my shoulders, pinching the nerves and arteries, and restricting the blood flow to my arms. Report Advertisement
I was bent forward against the weight of the rucksack. It felt like I was dragging a train behind me, and my feet hurt all the way up to my knees. I don’t mean they were just sore, I mean they felt like I had been strapped to the rack and someone had beaten the balls of my feet with a bat. I tried to calculate the foot-pounds of energy my feet had absorbed so far today, but I had to give up the effort. I only knew that the accumulated tonnage of all those thousands of steps was immense. And it was only going to get worse.”
Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta—or “Delta Force”—remains cloaked equally in official secrecy and popular legend.
Technically an elite counter-terrorism Special Missions Unit, Delta Force has been involved in virtually every major U.S. military action since the 1980s—whether attempting to rescue political prisoners from a fortified prison in Grenada, nabbing Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, hunting Scud missiles behind Iraqi lines, battling Somali warlords, assassinating ISIS leaders, and even assisting Mexican marines in a deadly gun battle that saw the capture of drug kingpin “El Chapo.”
And one can only speculate about all the missions that remain classified.
The unit’s existence remains ritually unacknowledged by the U.S. government, despite its organization and aliases (a common one is “Combat Application Group” (CAG)) being reasonably well-documented in books by former members and its exploits celebrated in movies like Black Hawk Down and television series like The Unit.
Delta Force was founded by Colonel Charles Beckwith, who had served in the 1960s as an exchange officer with the British Special Air Service while it was engaged in a grinding but successful counterinsurgency campaign against Communist guerillas in Malaysia.Report Advertisement
Beckwith was one tough cookie. During his stint commanding SAS troops in the jungle, he nearly died from a bacterial infection. Then, while commanding Green Berets in Vietnam he was struck by a .50 caliber slug—and survived after being triaged as a lost cause.
These experiences left their impression on the Georgia native, who went on to devise the rigorous “Q-Course” used to train the Green Beret special operations forces of today.
Delta Force Movie
Delta Force is often referred to as Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. It’s also known as the Combat Applications Group (CAG). While it often draws its ranks from the Army Special Forces (the Army Green Berets) and shares Fort Bragg, N.C., headquarters with them, it isn’t an Army Special Forces detachment. Delta Force is a unit unto itself, composed of members from all branches of the military.
They’re not called soldiers, but operators and are said to shun the traditional philosophies of military life. They wear civilian clothes. They work for whoever needs them — for the Army, the FBI, and the CIA. Mark Bowden, author of the book “Blackhawk Down” — for which he interviewed several Delta Force members — famously said of the operators, “They are professional soldiers who hate the Army” [source: Military.com].
It must be said that neither the United States government nor the military officially acknowledges the existence of Delta Force. To this end, almost all of the information contained in this article is unsupported by any official reports from the United States. It’s only in recent years that vague references by the government to the group’s existence have been allowed to go uncensored. These references have turned up in transcripts from Congressional hearings and biographies of high-ranking military leaders.
But it’s nearly impossible to keep a force so deadly and made up of the stuff of legends entirely under wraps. Since its inception in 1977, stories of the Delta Force’s exploits and missions have leaked out, little by little, eventually forming a brief sketch of the unit. In 1993, Delta Force came under the microscope when its operators were among those who fought and died in a failed operation to remove a Somali warlord. And in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983, reports of two missions by Delta Force — one failed and one successful — have become common knowledge [source: SOC].
But the group has been criticized for undertaking missions that are on the fringe of regular laws governing the military. This causes some to worry that the Delta Force has more power and less accountability than any military organization in a free democracy should. Delta Force is funded out of secret government accounts, away from the public eye, and is believed to answer only to the president.
But others claim that its purpose — maintaining the United States’ role as a leading power and as the world’s police force — necessitates the lack of restrictions and accountability surrounding its activities.
In the next section, we’ll look at how the Delta Force is structured.
Delta Force 2
Beckwith was convinced the Army needed an even more elite direct action unit with the mental and physical fortitude to operate independently at length in the field. Furthermore, he emphasized that the unit should only be composed of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) who had already proven their skills in the field.
Today, Beckwith’s vision still informs Delta Force’s selective training regimen. To even qualify for the Delta Operator Training Course (OTC), Delta recruits must possess years of experience, with qualification for parachute operations, a “Secret” security clearance, and a clean disciplinary record. Reportedly, these requirements mean that three-quarters of Delta Force recruits are sourced from the Army’s two other primary Special Operations units: the 75th Ranger Regiment—which often engages in larger-scale operations behind enemy lines—and the Green Berets, who specialize in embedding with, training and leading local forces in foreign countries.
The Operator Training Course itself places heavy emphasis on perfecting marksmanship—especially in hostage-rescue contexts. Several facilities are maintained solely to practice hostage rescue scenarios in realistic environments ranging from large civilian buildings to airliners and warships. Delta trainees also receive instruction in demolitions, lock-picking, and even bomb-making techniques. They are trained by CIA operatives in espionage techniques from shadowing persons of interest to transmitting intelligence via dead drops and even aggressive “tactical driving”—yes, the kind you thought was only a fantasy reserved for action movies.
Delta Force Game
The Delta Force is one of two military outfits in the United States charged with counterterrorist operations. Like the other, the Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), Delta Force can deploy at a moment’s notice. But unlike DEVGRU, Delta Force doesn’t officially exist.
In the 1970s, the world began to see an outbreak of extremism. Groups like Germany’s Red Army Faction and the Palestinian Liberation Organization introduced new words into the global vocabulary — words like terrorism and hijacking. As a response to the sudden and widespread emergence of terrorist ideologies, United States Army Colonel Charles Beckwith proposed that the government create a small, skilled tactical team capable of responding with quick and deadly force to terrorist activities [source: SOC].
In 1977, Beckwith assembled the force and recruited from the Green Berets, the Army Rangers, and the Airborne divisions. Beckwith created a grueling training course based on that of the British Special Air Service (SAS) — an elite commando unit capable of carrying out highly specialized missions. Beckwith spent a year in an exchange program with the SAS and was inspired by his experience [source: SOC]. He used the group as a model, and today Delta Force and SAS still serve side-by-side and exchange members in their cross-training programs. In 1996, Delta Force operators and SAS members stormed the home of the Japanese ambassador to rescue him from hostage-takers in Lima, Peru.
Delta Force recruits are selected based on the special skills they possess, like exceptional marksmanship. It’s reputed that Delta Force recruits must show 100 percent accuracy in shooting from 600 yards, and 90 percent accuracy at 1,000 yards [source: VFW Magazine]. Beckwith also created a 40-mile hike as an endurance test to separate the truly capable from those who had simply managed to remain in training to that point. This method is taken directly from the SAS.
Delta Force holds nationwide recruitment drives several months out of the year, culminating in two selection processes, one in the spring and one in the fall. Following the monthlong selection process, recruits who make it through move on to the training process, which is believed to last six months.
Delta Force is separated into three combat squadrons — A, B and C — along with a support squadron, signal squadron, aviation platoon and a “funny platoon” — the intelligence-gathering outfit of the Delta Force, rumored to be the only special operations platoon to include women.
Is Delta Force higher than Navy SEALs?
It is often compared to the U.S. Navy SEALs, SEAL Team 6 or DEVGRU, which is considered the maritime counterpart of the U.S. Army Delta Force. The two serve as the primary counter-terrorism special-ops in the United States Armed Forces.
Is Delta Force the most elite?
“Delta Force.” Both are elite, super-soldiers held in the highest regard for their specially-trained combat skills and endurance on and off the battlefield; they are the best of the best.
How do you get into Delta Force?