- The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D) unit, otherwise known as Delta Force, was involved in the US’s successful raid on the compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
- The highly secretive unit – comprising about 1,200 operators – recruits mainly from other Special Forces units like Army Rangers and Green Berets.
- The unit was started in 1977 under Col. Charles Beckwith, who saw the need for a force that could mobilize quickly to fight unconventional threats.
- Beckwith envisioned a force like the British Special Air Service, or SAS, which he served with as an exchange officer in 1962.
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The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D) unit, otherwise known as Delta Force, is a highly selective, extremely secretive unit under the Joint Special Operations Command.
Since its inception in 1977, it has been involved in several high-profile and high-risk operations, like the 1993 mission in Somalia that inspired the movie “Black Hawk Down,” as well as classified operations the public will likely never know about.
Here’s what is publicly known about Delta Force.
Delta Force is the Army’s secretive, elite special operations group. Along with the Navy SEALs, it is the most highly trained special operations force in the US military and the world.
Delta Force, headquartered at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, draws candidates from throughout the military, including the Coast Guard and National Guard, but mostly selects from the Army. Many of the operators likely come from the Army Rangers and the Green Berets.
Beckwith saw the need for a force that could mobilize quickly to fight unconventional threats – a force like the British Special Air Service, with which he served as an exchange officer in 1962.
Delta Force’s operations are often secret, but we do know that the unit was involved in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Delta Force was famously involved in the 1993 operation to capture Somali militia leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu and the subsequent effort to rescue Army pilot Michael Durant after his helicopter crashed during the mission.
Five Delta operators were killed in that incident, as well as 14 other US troops. Several hundred Somali fighters and civilians were also killed.
Delta was also involved in a failed effort to retrieve hostages from the US Embassy in Iran in 1980.
Delta Force has been heavily involved in the war in Afghanistan and both Iraq wars and was instrumental in capturing Saddam Hussein.
Delta pulled out of Iraq when US forces there left in 2011, but it has been a consistent presence in the fight against ISIS in the country, Wesley Morgan wrote in The Washington Post in 2015.
There were approximately 1,200 Delta Force operators as of 2017.
Delta Force, also called The Unit or Task Force Green, is a counter-terrorism Special Missions Unit under Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC.
The military doesn’t officially acknowledge Delta Force, but its existence is well known. Many of its operations are classified and will likely never be known to the public.
In addition to physical qualifications, Delta Force operators must be psychologically fit to conduct gruelling operations.
After recruits pass the physical and psychological portions of the assessment, they are taught skills like marksmanship and covert trade craft – CIA tactics like dead drops and other espionage methods – during a six-month Operator Training Course, former operator Eric Haney says in his book, “Inside Delta Force.”
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