For more than 25 years, Delta Force has quietly kept Americas deadliest enemies at bay. The units movements are so secretive, in fact, that Army brass wont officially acknowledge it even exists. The U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of two of the U.S. government's principle unit tasked with counterterrorist operations outside the United States (the other being Naval Special Warfare Development Group).
Delta Force was created by U.S. Army colonel Charles Beckwith in 1977 in direct response to numerous, well-publicized terrorist incidents that occurred in the 1970s. From its beginnings, Delta was heavily influenced by the British SAS, a philosophical result of Col. Beckwith's year-long (1962-1963) exchange tour with that unit.
Accordingly, it is today organized into three operating squadrons, all of which (A, B, and C) are subdivided into small groups known as troops. It is rumored that each troop, as the case with the SAS, specializes in HALO, SCUBA, or other skill groups. These troops can each be further divided into smaller units as needed to fit mission requirements. Delta also maintains support units which handle selection and training, logistics, finance, and the unit's medical requirements. Within this grouping is a little known, but vital technical unit which is responsible for covert eavesdropping equipment for use in hostage rescues and similar situations.
The unit is headquartered in a remote section of the U.S. Army's sprawling Fort Bragg, North Carolina. General Braxton Bragg was born in 1817 in Warrenton, North Carolina. As a 20-year-old he graduated from West Point and served in the Seminole and Mexican wars. When he was kicking Mexico's ass, his unit provided backup for the future president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis-who later made Bragg a Confederate general during the Civil War.
Bragg may have been a strategical genius, but everyone hated him. Several generals tried to get him relieved of his command, and one even challenged him to a duel. Nathan Bedford Forrest refused to serve under him, called him "a damned scoundrel," and threatened to kill him. Bragg was also crazier than a shaved rat in a coffee can. At one point he held two positions at one time: company commander and company quartermaster. As commander, he requested supplies from himself. As quartermaster, he refused his own requests. No kidding. Why did we name a fort after a deranged, hated lunatic? Because he died before we could make him president. James Dunnigan and Donna B. Tabor, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg historian, had nothing to do with calling Braxton Bragg a "deranged, hated lunatic." Let's just make that clear.
Reports of the compound indicate that no expense has been spared, including numerous shooting facilities (both for close quarters battle and longer range sniping), an Olympic-sized swimming pool, dive tank, and a three-story climbing wall. Yet, as lavish as these accouterments may seem, they all serve vital roles in training counterterrorists. As units such as Delta do not get to choose when and where they will be needed. As such, they must train for any eventuality. These skills are enhanced by the unit's participation in an ongoing exchange and training programs with foreign counterterrorist units, such as (as might be expected) Britain's 22 SAS, France's GIGN, Germany's GSG-9, Israel's Sayeret Matkal/Unit 269, and Australia's own Special Air Service Regiment. Such close cooperation with other groups provides innumerable benefits, including exchanges of new tactics and equipment as well as enhancing relations that might prove useful in later real-world operations.
Delta troopers are also equipped with the most advanced weaponry and equipment available in the U.S. special operations arsenal. A significant portion of their gear is highly customized and cannot be found anywhere but in Delta's lockers. An early example of this was a specially-constructed HAHO parachute rig which were been adapted to permit jumpers to keep their hands at their sides during the descent rather than above their heads. This alteration prevents the loss of functioning which can occur as a result of prolonged flight time in such an unnatural position.
The vast majority of the unit operatives come from the United States' elite Ranger battalions and Special Forces groups, however candidates are drawn from all branches of the Army, including the Army Reserve and National Guard.
Those initially selected are usually chosen in one of three ways. The first of these is in response to advertisements posted at Army bases across the country. The second method is by word-of-mouth, or personal recommendation from sources whose opinions are important to Delta screeners. Finally, on occasion the unit will require the skills of individuals who might not fall into one of the first two categories.
If, in the instance that Delta's commanders feel that an individual would make a valuable addition to the team (for example someone who speaks an obscure language or possesses hard-to-come by technical skills), a representative from Delta will be dispatched specifically to interview that person.
Delta Force, is one of the U.S. special missions units primarily focused on the counter-terrorism mission. Delta has been through a few name changes over the years, and even though it will likely always be known as Delta, it was recently renamed the Combat Applications Group (CAG) and is now officially known as Army Compartmented Elements (ACE).
Though Delta is primarily a tier-one counter-terrorist unit, specifically directed to kill or capture high value units (HVU) or dismantle terrorist cells, Delta remains extremely flexible and can engage in direct action missions, hostage rescues, and covert missions working directly with the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as high ranking protective services of our senior leaders during visits in war torn countries. Delta is under operational control of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) though administratively supported by the Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).
Compared to our nation's military history, Delta is relatively young. The type of missions the Delta has been involved with over the past few decades are classified but some have been de-classified and noted publicly in media reports and books written by Delta Operators.
Operation Eagle Claw - In 1980, during the Iran Hostage Crisis a failed attempt at a rescue due to aviation equipment/operator error led to the death of eight Americans; as a result the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment was created.
Operation Urgent Fury - Grenada prisoner rescue from the Richmond Hill prison. Operation Just Cause - Panama invasion to capture Noriega and protect some 35,000 Americans living in Panama. Countless Hostage Rescues around the world.
Gulf War - Iraq invades Kuwait and the US-led alliance defeats Saddam Hussein and his Army, pushing them back into Iraq. Operation Gothic Serpent - Part of the Battle of Mogadishu (1993) where U.S. helicopters were shot down and two Delta Operators SFC Randall Shughart and MSG Gary Gordon were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their efforts that day. War in Afghanistan -Within a month of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Special Forces operators aided in defeating and dismantling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Battle of Tora Bora - A massive joint engagement to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. Operation Red Dawn - Locating and capturing Saddam Hussein.
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