Delta Force

Delta Force

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1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units
Special Mission Unit
A Special Mission Unit , in the United States Armed Forces, is a Tier-One United States Special Operations Command asset. Under the control of the Joint Special Operations Command, they are specially selected and designated units which are tasked with "special missions", sometimes referring to...

. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 as Combat Applications Group. This unit is an elite Special Operations Force
United States Special Operations Forces
United States Special Operations Forces under United States Special Operations Command are active and reserve component forces of U.S. Military...

, and an Army Compartmented Element of the Joint Special Operations Command. Delta Force, along with its Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 counterpart DEVGRU
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

, are the United States' primary counter-terrorism units.

Delta Force's primary tasks are counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

, direct action
Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations, direct action consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy,...

, and national intervention operations, although it is an extremely versatile group capable of assuming many covert missions, including, but not limited to, rescuing hostages
Hostage crisis
A hostage crisis develops when one or more terrorists or criminals hold people against their will and try to hold off the authorities by force, threatening to kill the hostages if provoked or attacked....

 and raids
Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

.

The Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

's highly secretive Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 (SAD) and more specifically its elite Special Operations Group (SOG) often recruits operators from Delta Force.

History


Delta Force was formed after numerous, well-publicized terrorist incidents in the 1970s. These incidents led the U.S. government to create a counter-terrorist unit.

Key military and government figures had already been briefed on a model for this type of unit in the early 1960s. Charles Beckwith, a Special Forces officer and Vietnam veteran
Vietnam veteran
Vietnam veteran is a phrase used to describe someone who served in the armed forces of participating countries during the Vietnam War.The term has been used to describe veterans who were in the armed forces of South Vietnam, the United States armed forces, and countries allied to them, whether or...

, had served as an exchange officer
Exchange officer
An exchange officer is a commissioned officer in a country's armed forces who is temporarily attached to a unit of the armed forces of another country....

 with the British Army's
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (22 SAS Regiment) during the Malayan Emergency
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

. Upon his return, Beckwith presented a detailed report highlighting the U.S. Army's vulnerability in not having an SAS-type unit. U.S. Army Special Forces in that period focused on unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare is the opposite of conventional warfare. Where conventional warfare is used to reduce an opponent's military capability, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing...

, but Beckwith recognized the need for "not only teachers, but doers." He envisioned highly adaptable and completely autonomous small teams with a broad array of special skills for direct action
Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations, direct action consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy,...

 and counter-terrorist
Counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 missions. He briefed military and government figures, who were overtly resistant to create a new unit outside of Special Forces, or change existing methods. Finally, in the mid-70's, as the threat of terrorism grew, Pentagon brass tapped Beckwith to form the unit.

Beckwith had estimated that it would take 24 months to get his new unit mission-ready. In the meantime, the 5th Special Forces Group
5th Special Forces Group (United States)
The 5th Special Forces Group is a United States Army Special Forces unit that was activated on 21 September 1961 during the Cold War.-Unit history:...

 created Blue Light
Blue Light
Blue Light was a unit of the 5th Special Forces Group that existed into the early 1980s.According to Col. Charles Beckwith's memoirs, this counter-terrorist group was formed by U.S. Army Special Forces leadership who disagreed with or felt politically threatened by Beckwith's Delta Force, which...

, a small counter-terrorist contingent which operated until Delta became fully operational in the early 1980s.

On 4 November 1979, shortly after Delta had been created, 53 Americans were taken captive
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 and held in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, Iran. The unit was assigned to Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

 and ordered to covertly enter the country and recover the hostages from the embassy by force on the nights of 24 and 25 April in 1980. The operation was aborted after flying problems and accidents. The review commission that examined the failure found 23 problems with the operation, among them unbriefed weather encountered by the aircraft, command-and-control problems between the multi-service component commanders, a collision between a helicopter and a ground-refueling tanker aircraft, and mechanical problems that reduced the number of available helicopters from eight to five (one fewer than the minimum desired) before the mission contingent could leave the transloading/refueling site.

After the failed operation, the U.S. government created several new units. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as the Nightstalkers, was created specifically for Delta infil/exfil in missions like Operation Eagle Claw. The Navy's SEAL Team Six was created for maritime incidents. The Joint Special Operations Command was created to control and oversee joint training between the counter-terrorist assets of the various branches of the U.S. military.

Organization and structure


The unit is under the organization of the US Army Special Operations Command
United States Army Special Operations Command
The United States Army Special Operations Command is the command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Forces...

 (USASOC) but is controlled by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Command of 1st SFOD-D is a Colonel's
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 billet. Virtually all information about the unit is highly classified and details about specific missions or operations are generally not publicly available. A number of sources including the book Inside Delta Force
Inside Delta Force
Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit is a 2002 memoir written by Eric L. Haney about his experiences as a founding special forces operator in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta the U.S. Army's counterterrorist unit...

by Command Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major
Sergeants major is a senior non-commissioned rank or appointment in many militaries around the world. In Commonwealth countries, Sergeants Major are usually appointments held by senior non-commissioned officers or warrant officers...

 Eric L. Haney
Eric L. Haney
Eric L. Haney is a retired member of the United States Army counterterrorist unit, the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta , more commonly known as Delta Force. In recent years he has been writing on terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and special operations...

 (ret.), suggest the unit's strength ranges from between 800 to 1000 personnel, including the following operational groups:

Detachment designations

  • D – Command and Control (Headquarters)
  • E – Communications, Intelligence
    Military intelligence
    Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

     and Administrative Support (includes finance, logistics, medical detachment, research and development, technology and electronics, etc.)
  • F – Operational Arm (The teams of Operators)
  • Medical Detachment maintains special doctors at Fort Bragg
    Fort Bragg (North Carolina)
    Fort Bragg is a major United States Army installation, in Cumberland and Hoke counties, North Carolina, U.S., mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 census and had a population of 39,457. The fort is named for Confederate...

     and various other bases around the country secretly, to provide medical assistance as needed.
  • Operational Support Troop, or "The Funny Platoon", is the in-house intelligence arm of Delta. They grew out of a long-running dispute/rivalry with the Intelligence Support Activity
    Intelligence Support Activity
    The United States Army Intelligence Support Activity , frequently shortened to Intelligence Support Activity or ISA, and nicknamed The Activity is a United States Army Special Operations unit originally subordinated to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command...

    . They will infiltrate a country ahead of a Delta intervention to gather intelligence.
  • Aviation Squadron, although Delta relies heavily on the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and US Air Force assets to transport them to and from operational deployments and training exercises, within the unit there is a small aviation squadron used for limited in-house air transportation. The aviation squadron consists of twelve AH-6 Attack
    MH-6 Little Bird
    The MH-6 Little Bird , and its attack variant AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor...

     and MH-6 Transport
    MH-6 Little Bird
    The MH-6 Little Bird , and its attack variant AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor...

     helicopters (although this figure may have increased). It is not known if pilots are recruited from the Air Force, 160th SOAR or if they are Delta operators trained as helicopter pilots.
  • Operational Research Section
  • Training wing


Delta Force's structure is similar to the British 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the unit which inspired Delta's formation. In Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, Army Times
Army Times
Army Times is a weekly newspaper serving active, reserve, guard and retired United States Army personnel and their families, providing news, information and analysis as well as community and lifestyle features, educational supplements, and resource guides.Army Times is published by the Gannett...

staff writer Sean Naylor
Sean Naylor
Sean Naylor is a senior writer for Army Times, which is owned by Gannett Company. Born in Calgary, Canada to British parents, Naylor earned a master's degree in international relations in 1990 from Boston University. He then joined Army Times....

 describes Delta as having nearly 1,000 soldiers. Naylor wrote that approximately 250 of those are operators trained to conduct direct action
Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations, direct action consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy,...

 and reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 missions. There are three main operational squadrons:
  • A Squadron

  • B Squadron

  • C Squadron


These squadrons are based on the organization of the SAS "Sabre Squadron" and each contains 75 to 85 operators. Each sabre squadron is broken down into three troops, one Recce/Sniper troop, and two Direct Action/Assault troops, that can either operate in teams or in groups as small as four to six men.
According to testimony given to the House Armed Services Committee on 29 June 2006 by Michael Vickers, DELTA, along with all other Special Mission Units, is scheduled to add an additional squadron and increase in size by one third.

Recruitment


Most recruits come from the Special Forces Groups and the 75th Ranger Regiment
75th Ranger Regiment (United States)
The 75th Ranger Regiment , also known as Rangers, is a Special Operations light infantry unit of the United States Army. The Regiment is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia with battalions in Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield and Joint Base Lewis-McChord...

, but some operators have come from other units of the Army. Since the 1990s, the Army has posted recruitment notices for the 1st SFOD-D. 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 U.S. Army's special operations unit organized for the conduct of missions requiring rapid response with surgical application of a wide variety of unique special operations skills..." The notice states that all applicants must be male, in the ranks of E-4 through E-8, have at least two and a half years of service time remaining in their enlistment, be 21 years or older and score high enough on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is a multiple choice test, administered by the United States Military Entrance Processing Command, used to determine qualification for enlistment in the United States armed forces...

 test to attend a briefing to be considered for admission.

On June 29, 2006 during a session of the Committee on Armed Services; General Wayne Downing while testifying before the house stated that 70% of all Delta operators started their military careers in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Selection process


Haney's book Inside Delta Force described the selection course and its inception in detail. Haney writes the selection course began with standard tests including push-ups, sit-ups, and a 2 miles (3.2 km) run, an inverted crawl and a 100 meter swim fully dressed. The selection candidates were then put through a series of land navigation courses to include an 18 miles (29 km), all-night land navigation course while carrying a 40 pounds (18.1 kg) 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 ended with a 40 miles (64.4 km) march with a 45 pounds (20.4 kg) rucksack over very rough terrain which had to be completed in an unknown amount of time. Haney wrote that only the senior officer and NCO in charge of Selection are allowed to see the set time limits, but all assessment and selection tasks and conditions were set by Delta training cadre. The mental portion of the testing began with numerous psychological exams. The men then went in front of a board of Delta instructors, unit psychologists and the Delta commander, who each ask the candidate a barrage of questions and then dissect every response and mannerism of the candidate with the purpose to mentally exhaust the candidate. The unit commander then approaches the candidate and tells him if he has been selected. If an individual is selected for Delta, he undergoes an intense 6-month Operator Training Course (OTC), to learn counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence techniques. This includes firearm accuracy and various other munitions training.

Training


Operator Training Course: According to the book Inside Delta Force by Eric Haney, OTC consisted of the following events. Although OTC has probably changed since then, it remains around 6 months long.
  • Marksmanship
    • The students shoot stationary targets at close range until they are able to have almost complete accuracy. They will then move on to moving targets.
    • Once shooting skills are perfected, they will move to a shooting house where they will clear rooms of "enemy" targets. At first it will be done by one student, then two at a time, three at a time, and finally four. After the students learn techniques to clear a room, "hostages" are added to the room mixed with the enemies.

  • Demolitions
    • Students learn how to break into many different locks such as cars and safes.
    • Demolition and how to build bombs out of various commonly found materials.

  • Combined skills. The FBI, FAA, and other agencies were used to advise the training of this portion of OTC. Sometimes commercial airliners such as Delta Air Lines
    Delta Air Lines
    Delta Air Lines, Inc. is a major airline based in the United States and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The airline operates an extensive domestic and international network serving all continents except Antarctica. Delta and its subsidiaries operate over 4,000 flights every day...

     would allow Delta to train on their aircraft too.
    • The new Delta Operators use both demolition and marksmanship skills at the shoothouse and other training facilities to train for hostage and counter-terrorist operations with both assault and sniper troops working together. They practice terrorist or hostage situations in buildings, aircraft, and other settings.
    • All trainees learn how to set sniper positions around a building with hostages in it. They learn the proper ways to set up a TOC
      Tactical Operations Center
      A tactical operations center is a command post for police, paramilitary, or military operations. A TOC usually includes a small group of specially trained officers or military personnel who guide members of an active tactical element during a mission....

       and communicate in an organized manner. Although Delta has specialized sniper troops, all members go through this training.
    • The students then go back to the shoothouse and the "hostages" are replaced with other students and Delta Force members. It is known that live ammunition has been used in these exercises, to test the students, and build trust between one another.

  • Trade Craft – During the first OTC's and creation of Delta, CIA personnel were used to teach this portion.
    • Students learn different espionage-related skills such as dead drops, brief encounters, pickups, load and unload signals, danger and safe signals, surveillance and countersurveillance.

  • Executive Protection – During the first OTC's and creation of Delta, the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service
    Diplomatic Security Service
    The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service is the federal law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique...

     and the United States Secret Service
    United States Secret Service
    The United States Secret Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency that is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The sworn members are divided among the Special Agents and the Uniformed Division. Until March 1, 2003, the Service was part of the United States...

     would advise Delta in this portion of training.
    • Students take an advanced driving course learning how to use a vehicle or many vehicles as defensive and offensive weapons.
    • They then learn techniques developed by the Secret Service and DSS on how to cover a VIP and diplomatic protection missions.

  • Culmination Exercise
    • A final test that requires the students to apply and dynamically adapt all of the skills that they have learned.


Although these are the main skills taught in every OTC, no OTC classes are ever exactly the same.

Delta Force has occasionally cross-trained with similar units from allied countries such as the Australian Special Air Service Regiment
Australian Special Air Service Regiment
The Special Air Service Regiment, officially abbreviated SASR but commonly known as the SAS, is a special forces unit of the Australian Army...

, New Zealand Special Air Service, British Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

, Canadian Joint Task Force 2
Joint Task Force 2
Joint Task Force 2 is an elite Special Operations Force of the Canadian Armed Forces primarily tasked with counter-terrorism operations...

, French GIGN
Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale
The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, commonly abbreviated GIGN , is a special operations unit of the French Armed Forces. It is part of the National Gendarmerie and is trained to perform counter-terrorist and hostage rescue missions in France or anywhere else in the world.The GIGN was...

, German KSK
Kommando Spezialkräfte
The KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte is an elite military unit composed of Special Operations soldiers from the ranks of Germany’s Bundeswehr and organized as such under the Division Spezielle Operationen . The unit has received many decorations and awards from both NATO and its affiliates...

, Israeli Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal is a special forces unit of the Israel Defence Forces , which is subordinated to the intelligence directorate Aman. First and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, conducting deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines to obtain strategic intelligence, Sayeret Matkal is also...

 and Polish GROM
GROM
GROM is one of five special forces units of the Polish Armed Forces. It was officially activated on July 8, 1990...

. They cross train and deploy with US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). And they have helped train other U.S. counter-terrorism units, such as the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team.

Uniform


The Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 tightly controls information about Delta Force and publicly refuses to comment on the highly secretive unit and its activities. Delta operators are granted an enormous amount of flexibility and autonomy. To conceal their identities, they rarely wear a uniform and usually wear civilian clothing both on and off duty. When military uniforms are worn, they lack markings, surnames, or branch names. Civilian hair styles and facial hair are allowed to enable the members to blend in and avoid recognition as military personnel.

The Term "Operator"


Inside the United States Special Operations community, the term "operator" describes one specific individual—a Delta Force member who has completed selection and has graduated OTC (Operators Training Course). “Operator” was first used by Delta Force to distinguish between “operational” and “non-operational” personnel assigned to the unit. Other special operations forces
United States Special Operations Forces
United States Special Operations Forces under United States Special Operations Command are active and reserve component forces of U.S. Military...

 use specific names to describe their jobs (Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Pararescuemen, USCG MSRT-DAS Team); "Operator" is the specific term assigned to Delta’s operational personnel. However, since the early 2000s other special operations forces have adopted the term “operator.” SEALs have unofficially referred to themselves as operators since the Vietnam War. Author and Navy SEAL Gene Wentz makes many references to fellow SEALs as operators in his 1992 book titled "Men In Green Faces" (ISBN 9780312950521), which is about the SEALs in Vietnam.

Operations and covert actions


The majority of the operations assigned to Delta are classified and may never be known to the public. However, details of some operations have become public knowledge. There have been many occasions that Delta have been put on standby and operational plans developed but the unit was stood down for various reasons. Known operations and deployments include:

Operation Eagle Claw


Delta's very first tasking began the night after they successfully completed their operational assessment on 4 Nov. 1979 when Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Delta was immediately tasked to rescue the hostages and began training on storming the embassy with a compound mock-up built by military combat engineers at Eglin AFB, FL, while putting together a complex multi-stage rescue operation involving a rigid schedule and demanding helicopter night-flying skills using first-generation night vision goggles. The rescue force was to be inserted by Air Force special operations C-130s at night to a remote location in the desert outside Tehran called Desert One, and meet up with a group of Marine RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, flown in from the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier staged nearby in the Indian Ocean. The helicopters would then be refueled on the ground at Desert One by refueling specialists using specially-designed fuel bladders inside the C-130s. The refueled helicopters and the rescue force (composed of Delta and Rangers) would then fly to a hidden staging location outside Tehran and hide until the next evening. On the evening of the rescue, Delta would drive to the embassy compound using pre-staged trucks, assault the compound and rescue the hostages, and take them across the street to a soccer stadium where the helicopters would have landed to extract them and take them to a nearby airfield which the Rangers would have assaulted and captured. C-141s would then extract the entire rescue force with hostages and the helicopters would be destroyed and left behind.

The helicopters caused the cancellation of the mission at Desert One, when enough helicopters were lost from attrition due to sandstorms, pilot fatigue, and failed hydraulics that the on-site commanders acknowledged helicopter numbers were below the required minimum for that stage to go forward and recommended to President Carter that the mission be canceled, which he did. As the entire rescue force was leaving Desert One, one of the helicopters crashed into a U.S. Air Force special operations C-130 and in the ensuing explosion and panic the helicopters were abandoned en masse leaving unauthorized mission plans which fell into Iranian hands, ruining any chance of a possible second covert rescue attempt following a brief regrouping period.

Central American operations


Delta has seen action extensively in Central America, fighting the Salvadoran
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

 revolutionary group Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front is, since 1992, a left-wing political party in El Salvador and formerly a coalition of five revolutionary guerrilla organizations...

 and assisting the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

-funded Contras
Contras
The contras is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's FSLN Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship...

 in Nicaragua.

Operation Urgent Fury


A second Delta mission launched in the early daylight hours of the first day of Operation Urgent Fury
Invasion of Grenada
The Invasion of Grenada, codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, was a 1983 United States-led invasion of Grenada, a Caribbean island nation with a population of about 100,000 located north of Venezuela. Triggered by a military coup which had ousted a four-year revolutionary government, the invasion...

 in Grenada was to assault Richmond Hill Prison and rescue the political prisoners being held there. Built on the remains of an old eighteenth-century fort, the prison cannot be approached by foot from three sides except through dense jungle growing on the steep mountainside; the fourth side is approachable by a narrow neck of road with high trees running along it. The prison offers no place for a helicopter assault force to land. Richmond Hill forms one side of a steep valley. Across and above the valley, on a higher peak, is another old fort, Fort Frederic, which housed a Grenadian garrison. From Fort Frederic, the garrison easily commanded the slopes and floor of the ravine below with small arms and machine gun fire. It was into this valley and under the guns of the Grenadian garrison that the helicopters of Delta Force flew at 6:30 that morning.

The helicopters of Task Force 160 flew into the valley and turned their noses toward the prison. Unable to land, the Delta raiders began to rappel down ropes dragging from the doors of the helicopters. Suddenly, as men swung wildly from the rappelling ropes, the helicopters were caught in a cross-fire from the front, as forces from the prison opened fire; and more devastatingly, from behind, as enemy forces in Fort Frederic rained heavy small arms and machine gun fire down from above. According to eyewitness accounts by Grenadian civilians, a number of helicopters that could, flew out of the valley. In at least one instance, a helicopter pilot turned back without orders and refused to fly into the assault. Charges of cowardice were filed against the Nightstalker pilot by members of Delta who wanted to be inserted, but were later dropped.

Aeropostal Flight 252


On 29 July 1984 Aeropostal
Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela
Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela, normally referred to as just Aeropostal, is a flag carrier and the national airline of Venezuela also an airline based in Torre Polar Oeste in Caracas, Venezuela. It operates domestic services and international services in the Caribbean...

 Flight 252 from Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

 to the island of Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 was hijacked. Two days later, the DC-9
McDonnell Douglas DC-9
The McDonnell Douglas DC-9 is a twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliner. It was first manufactured in 1965 with its maiden flight later that year. The DC-9 was designed for frequent, short flights. The final DC-9 was delivered in October 1982.The DC-9 was followed in subsequent modified forms by...

 was stormed by Venezuelan commandos, who killed the hijackers. Delta Force provided support during the ordeal.

Achille Lauro Hijacking



President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 deployed the Navy's SEAL Team Six
United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group , commonly known as DEVGRU and informally by its former name SEAL Team Six , is one of the United States' four secretive counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units .The vast majority of information about DEVGRU is highly classified, and...

 and Delta Force during the Achille Lauro hijack
MS Achille Lauro
MS Achille Lauro was a cruise ship based in Naples, Italy. Built between 1939 and 1947 as MS Willem Ruys, a passenger liner for the Rotterdamsche Lloyd. It is most remembered for its 1985 hijacking...

 to Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 to stand-by and prepare for a possible rescue attempt to free the vessel from its hijackers.

Operation Round Bottle


Delta planned an operation for three teams to go into Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, Lebanon to rescue Westerners held by Hezbollah, but the action was terminated when negotiations appeared to promise to deliver the hostages in exchange for arms. The operation was ultimately aborted in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 story that revealed the Iran–Contra affair.

Operation Heavy Shadow


In his book Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden
Mark Bowden
Not to be confused with Mark Bowden, U.N. Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia.Mark Robert Bowden is an American writer and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he is a 1973 graduate of Loyola University Maryland...

 suggests that a Delta Force sniper may have killed Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

n drug lord Pablo Escobar
Pablo Escobar
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was a Colombian drug lord. He was an elusive cocaine trafficker and rich and successful criminal. He owned numerous luxury residences, automobiles, and even airplanes...

. There is no hard evidence of this though and credit is generally attributed to Colombian security forces.

Operation Just Cause


Before Operation Just Cause
United States invasion of Panama
The United States Invasion of Panama, code-named Operation Just Cause, was the invasion of Panama by the United States in December 1989. It occurred during the administration of U.S. President George H. W...

 by US forces took place, there were key operations that were tasked to Special Operations Forces. Operation Acid Gambit
Operation Acid Gambit
Operation Acid Gambit was a plan to retrieve Kurt Muse, an American civilian living in Panama and widely reported to be a CIA operative from the Carcel Modelo, a notorious prison in Panama City...

 was an operation tasked to Delta to rescue and recover Kurt Muse held captive in Carcel Modelo, a prison in Panama City
Panama City
Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of the same name. The city is the political and administrative center of the...

. Another important operation that was assigned to Delta was Operation Nifty Package
Operation Nifty Package
Operation Nifty Package was a United States Navy SEALs-operated plan conducted in 1989 designed to capture Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. When Noriega took refuge in the Vatican embassy, deafening music and other psychological warfare were used to convince him to exit and surrender himself.The...

, the apprehension of General Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm


Delta was deployed during Desert Storm
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 to the region and tasked with a number of responsibilities. These include supporting regular Army units that were providing close protection detail for General Norman Schwarzkopf
Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf KCB , also known as "Stormin' Norman" and "The Bear", is a retired United States Army General who, while he served as Commander of U.S. Central Command, was commander of the Coalition Forces in the Gulf War of 1991.-Early life:Schwarzkopf was born in Trenton, New...

 in Saudi Arabia. Army relations' officers tried to play down Schwarzkopf's growing number of bodyguards. Delta was tasked with hunting for SCUD missiles
Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

 alongside the British Special Air Service and other coalition Special Forces.

Operation Gothic Serpent


On 3 October 1993, members of Delta Force were sent in with U.S. Army Rangers
75th Ranger Regiment (United States)
The 75th Ranger Regiment , also known as Rangers, is a Special Operations light infantry unit of the United States Army. The Regiment is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia with battalions in Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield and Joint Base Lewis-McChord...

 in the conflict in Mogadishu
Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

, Somalia codenamed Operation Gothic Serpent
Operation Gothic Serpent
Operation Gothic Serpent was a military operation conducted by special operations forces of the United States with the primary mission of capturing warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid...

.

They were tasked with securing several of Mohammed Farah Aidid's top lieutenants, as well as a few other targets of high value. The mission was compromised after two MH-60L Blackhawk
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System competition in 1972...

 helicopters 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. Estimates of Somali deaths range from 133 by an Aidid sector commander to an estimate of 1500 to 2000 by the US Ambassador to Somalia. In 1999, writer Mark Bowden
Mark Bowden
Not to be confused with Mark Bowden, U.N. Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia.Mark Robert Bowden is an American writer and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he is a 1973 graduate of Loyola University Maryland...

 published the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War is a 1999 book by Mark Bowden that chronicles the United States Army Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Delta Force, Navy SEALs, and UN forces attempt to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu and the...

, which chronicles the events that surrounded the 3 October 1993 Battle of Mogadishu. The book, in a short brief, relates Delta Force's involvement in the operations that occurred before the events leading to the battle. The book was turned into a film by director Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott
Sir Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. His most famous films include The Duellists , Alien , Blade Runner , Legend , Thelma & Louise , G. I...

 in 2001.

Operation Allied Force


1995-1998 Former Yugoslavia:
1. Dignitary protection
2. Target aquisition
3. War criminal surveillance

Counter-terrorist training


In January 1997, a small Delta advance team and six members of the British SAS were sent to Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, Peru immediately following the takeover of the Japanese Ambassador's residence
Japanese embassy hostage crisis
The Japanese embassy hostage crisis began on 17 December 1996 in Lima, Peru, when 14 members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement took hostage hundreds of high-level diplomats, government and military officials and business executives who were attending a party at the official residence of...

.

Seattle WTO


Members of Delta Force were involved in preparing security for the 1999 Seattle WTO Conference
WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999
The WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 was a meeting of the World Trade Organization, convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, USA, over the course of three days, beginning November 30, 1999. A week before the meeting, delegates admitted failure to agree...

, specifically against a chemical weapon
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 attack.

Operation Enduring Freedom



Delta Force was involved in the offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 in 2001. Delta Force has formed the core of the special strike unit which has been hunting High Value Target (HVT) individuals like Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 and other key al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 and Taliban leadership since October 2001, the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. One such operation was an airborne assault
Operation Rhino
Operation Rhino was a raid by the United States Army Rangers on several Taliban targets in and around Kandahar, Afghanistan during the early stages of the Afghanistan War...

 supported by the 75th Ranger Regiment on Mullah Mohammed Omar
Mohammed Omar
Mullah Mohammed Omar , often simply called Mullah Omar, is the leader of the Taliban movement that operates in Afghanistan. He was Afghanistan's de facto head of state from 1996 to late 2001, under the official title "Head of the Supreme Council"...

's headquarters at a Kandahar airstrip. Although Delta Force's mission was a failure in capturing Mohammed Omar, the Rangers had captured a vital strategic airstrip. The strike force has been variously designated Task Force 11
Task Force 11
-World War II:During World War II, Task Force 11 was a United States Navy aircraft carrier task force in the Pacific theater.TF 11 was originally formed around , then her sister ship until she was disabled by a Japanese torpedo in January 1942, then Lexington again for the Battle of the Coral...

, Task Force 20
Task Force 20
Task Force 20 is a designation that has been used by at least two United States Department of Defense units.-United States Navy:Task Force 20 is one of the task force designators assigned to the United States Fleet Forces Command in the Atlantic, and was previously one of the task force designators...

, Task Force 121
Task Force 121
Task Force 121 is an example of the United States' 'Joint Task Force' concept of conducting special operations. TF121 is a multi-service force commanded by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Gregory L. Trebon. The spearhead of the force is a forty-man team made up of operators from the U.S. Army's...

, Task Force 145 and Task Force 6-26
Task Force 6-26
Task Force 6–26 is a United States Joint military/Government Agency unit; originally set-up to find "High Value Targets" in Iraq in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This Special Operation unit is very similar to Task Force 121 which was created to capture Saddam Hussein and high rank...

. The Delta Force have increased operations in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. "The Navy’s SEAL Team 6, sometimes called Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU; the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force; the 75th Ranger Regiment; the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron; plus elements from other even more secret units and intelligence organizations" has killed or captured more than 2,000 enemy insurgents in Afghanistan against the Haqqani
Haqqani network
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group fighting against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan. Originating from Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence during the 1980s Soviet war in...

 network, which is a strong faction of the Taliban.

Operation Iraqi Freedom



One of several operations in which Delta Force operators are thought to have played important roles was the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. They allegedly entered Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 in advance and undercover. Their tasks included guiding air strikes
Forward air control
Forward air control is the provision of guidance to Close Air Support aircraft intended to ensure that their attack hits the intended target and does not injure friendly troops. This task is carried out by a forward air controller . For NATO forces the qualifications and experience required to be...

, and building networks of informants while eavesdropping
Eavesdropping
Eavesdropping is the act of secretly listening to the private conversation of others without their consent, as defined by Black's Law Dictionary...

 on and sabotaging Iraqi communication lines. They were instrumental in Operation Phantom Fury
Operation Phantom Fury
The Second Battle of Fallujah was a joint U.S., Iraqi, and British offensive in November and December 2004, considered the highest point of conflict in Fallujah during the Iraq War. It was led by the U.S...

 in April 2004 when they were attached to USMC companies, usually as snipers.

Delta was present in the siege in Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 where Uday
Uday Hussein
Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti , was the eldest son of Saddam Hussein from his first wife, Sajida Talfah. He was the brother of Qusay Hussein. Uday was for several years seen as the heir apparent of his father; however, Uday lost his place in the line of succession due to his erratic behavior and...

 and Qusay
Qusay Hussein
Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti was the second son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He was appointed as his father's heir apparent in 2000.- Family :...

 Hussein were killed, and were involved in the hunt and eventual capture of Saddam Hussein
Operation Red Dawn
Operation Red Dawn was the U.S. military operation conducted on 13 December 2003 in the town of ad-Dawr, Iraq, near Tikrit, that captured Iraq President Saddam Hussein, ending rumours of his death. The operation was named after the 1984 film Red Dawn. The mission was assigned to the 1st Brigade...

. It has been reported that Delta was on the ground north of Baquba on 7 June 2006 surveilling a compound where Al-Zarqawi had been staying. After a long manhunt, Delta had Zarqawi in their sights and had called in an airstrike
Airstrike
An air strike is an attack on a specific objective by military aircraft during an offensive mission. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, attack helicopters, and others...

.

See also


  • List of special forces units
  • Delta Force in popular culture
    Delta Force in popular culture
    The special operations unit commonly known as Delta Force has been used often in popular culture;- Books :* In the novel Ice Hunt by James Rollins, Delta Force is a major antagonist, trying to wipe out the entire ice base...

  • List of Delta Force members
  • Central Intelligence Agency
    Central Intelligence Agency
    The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

    's Special Activities Division
    Special Activities Division
    The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

  • Task Force 121
    Task Force 121
    Task Force 121 is an example of the United States' 'Joint Task Force' concept of conducting special operations. TF121 is a multi-service force commanded by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Gregory L. Trebon. The spearhead of the force is a forty-man team made up of operators from the U.S. Army's...


External links