1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (SFOD-D)
Combat Applications Group (CAG), Delta Force
The U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D) 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. 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.
Real world examples of some missions with which Delta is tasked are represented below:
1979 - Worked with the FBI at the Pan American Games in Puerto Rico as part of an anti-terrorist team set up to anticipate possible terrorist activity at the event.
1983 - Participated in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, including the air assault of Richmond Hill prison to free as well as assisting in the seizure of a key airfield.
1984 - Deployed to the Middle East in response to the hijacking of a Kuwaiti Airlines airliner, during which two Americans were killed.
1985 - Again deployed in response to a hijacking, this time to Cyprus in anticipation of an assault on a seized TWA airliner.
1987 - Sent to Greece to secure U.S. Army Col. James "Nick" Rowe in response to reports that Vietnamese communist agents were planning an action against him.
1989 - Successfully rescued an imprisoned U.S. citizen during the opening minutes of Operation Just Cause in Panama and participated in the widespread search for Gen. Manuel Noriega and his advisors.
1991 - Deployed to the Gulf in 1991, both to serve as bodyguards for senior U.S. officers and, later, as part of a massive effort to locate and destroy mobile SCUD launchers in Iraq’s northern deserts.
1993 - As part of Task Force Ranger, took part in numerous operations to apprehend warlord Mohamad Farah Aidid in Mogadishu, Somalia.
1997 - Small advance team sent to Lima, Peru immediately following the takeover of the Japanese Ambassador's residence in January 1997 along with six members of the British SAS.