Delta Force soldiers are selected primarily from the Army Special Operations Command's elite 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces, though members can be selected from other special operations units and conventional forces across the Army and sometimes other military branches.
Key military and government figures had already been briefed on this type of unit in the early 1960s. Charlie Beckwith, a Special Forces (Green Berets) officer and Vietnam War veteran, served as an exchange officer with the British Army's 22nd Special Air Service Regiment during the Malayan Emergency. On his return, Beckwith presented a detailed report highlighting the U.S. Army's vulnerability in not having a SAS-type unit. U.S. Army Special Forces in that period focused on unconventional warfare, but Beckwith recognized the need for \"not only a force of teachers, but a force of doers\". He envisioned highly adaptable and completely autonomous small teams with a broad array of special skills for direct action and counter-terrorism missions. He briefed military and government figures, who were resistant to creating a new unit outside of Special Forces or changing existing methods.
On 4 November 1979, 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken captive and held in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran. Delta Force was tasked to plan and execute Operation Eagle Claw, the effort to recover the hostages from the embassy by force on the nights of 24 and 25 April in 1980. The operation was aborted due to helicopter failures. The review commission that examined the failure found 23 problems with the operation, among them unexpected 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 trans-loading/refueling site.
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 elite force. The recruitment notices 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 applicants must be male, in the grade of E-4 through E-8, have at least two and a half years of service remaining in their enlistment, be 21 years or older, and score high enough on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery to attend a briefing to be considered for admission. Candidates must be airborne qualified or volunteer for airborne training. Officer candidates need to be O-3 or O-4. All candidates must be eligible for a security clearance level of \"Secret\" and have not been convicted by court-martial or have disciplinary action noted in their official military personnel file under the provisions of Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Inside the United States Special Operations community, an \"operator\" is a Delta Force member who has completed selection and has graduated OTC (Operator Training Course). \"Operator\" was used by Delta Force to distinguish between combat personnel and combat support/service support assigned to the unit. Other special operations forces use specific names for their jobs, such as Army Rangers and Air Force Pararescuemen. The Navy uses the acronym SEAL for both their special warfare teams and their individual members, also known as \"special operators\". In 2006 the Navy created \"Special Warfare Operator\" (SO) as a rating specific to Naval Special Warfare enlisted personnel, grades E-4 to E-9. (See Navy special warfare ratings). \"Operator\" has become a colloquial term for almost all special operations forces in the U.S. military and worldwide.
In 1980, Operation Eagle Claw is aborted after a fatal helicopter crash, with the U.S. Delta Force evacuating to their C-130 transports. Among them is Captain Scott McCoy, who, against orders, rescues his wounded comrade, Peterson, from the burning helicopter before the team finally evacuates. McCoy expresses his disgust for the politicians and the military hierarchy that forced the mission to launch despite the risks, and announces his resignation.
Five years later, in 1985 a group of palestinian terrorists hijack American Travelways Airlines Flight 282, a Boeing 707 flying from Cairo to New York City via Athens and Rome. Taking all 144 passengers and crew hostage on the Athens-Rome leg, the New World Revolutionary Organization, led by two terrorists named Abdul Rafai and Mustafa, force Captain Roger Campbell and his crew to fly the 707 to Beirut, where they make demands to the United States government that, if not met, will result in the death of each of the hostages. During the crisis, they segregate the Jewish passengers from the Americans by forcing a reluctant flight purser of German heritage named Ingrid Harding to identify them. A Catholic priest, William O'Malley, joins the Jews in solidarity. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the Jewish hostages are then taken off the plane and transported to a militant-controlled area of Beirut, while a dozen additional henchmen are brought on board.
The flight departs for Algiers, where the terrorists release the female hostages and children. Meanwhile, Delta Force, led by Colonel Nick Alexander and a recalled-to-duty and newly promoted-to-Major McCoy are deployed to resolve the crisis. Once the female hostages are evacuated, they launch their assault, only to discover too late that there are additional hijackers on board. When the Delta Force blow their cover, Abdul kills a U.S. Navy Diver named Tom Hale. He then forces the pilots to return to Beirut and takes the remaining male passengers with him.
Compared to our nation's military history, Delta is relatively young, having been formed in 1977 by its first commander, Col. Charles Beckwith. With the growing threat of terrorism around the world, Beckwith saw a need for a precision strike force within the Army after working with the British Special Air Service (SAS) in the early 1970s.
The Delta Force was implemented to solve a problem. Today they solve problems still, any problem on Earth that arises that is too complicated or daring for any other facet of our armed forces. Delta is phenomenally resourced and generously funded. It is because I understood what it means to be richly funded that I recognize the monumental value of our United States Marines, a force that is asked to perform incredible tasks with an absolute insult of a budget.
But ultimately, ISIS leadership can be replaced; the organization is durable and resilient. ISIS can also use this raid to its advantage. Recruitment and fundraising could rise now that the group is directly engaged with American special forces inside territory declared an Islamic caliphate. Engaging American forces in battle is highly motivating and appealing to many would-be fighters from across the globe.
A4: U.S. and coalition airstrikes inside Syria and Iraq have been very valuable, destroying military equipment, oil infrastructure, key ISIS buildings, and killing many of their fighters. But ISIS has adjusted to those airstrikes, which are fairly limited in number. Improved intelligence on the activities and location of ISIS leaders and their IT equipment, as apparently evidenced by this commando raid, leaves room for additional direct action by U.S. forces. Used with great success in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Army Delta Force, Navy SEALs, and other special mission units may well become a more common feature in efforts to degrade and defeat ISIS. As the ISIS takeover of Ramadi in Iraq demonstrates, ISIS remains a potent force. Without the means to check their advances, ISIS will continue its lethal operations across the region while inspiring fighters abroad to strike at home. Thomas M. Sanderson is a senior fellow and director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
The flight purser, Ingrid Harding, is heavily based on Uli Derickson, who was the purser on TWA Flight 847. Both were Americans of German heritage and were forced by hijackers to segregate Jews from non-Jews through passports.
For nearly four decades, US Army Special Forces carried out clandestine training and operational missions with Colombian forces, including these troops serving on Operation Willing Spirit on July 11, 2006. US Army photo.
A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted four days after the war began found that 72% of Americans supported the invasion while only 25% disapproved. At the time, nine out of 10 Americans believed that U.S. forces would find conclusive evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, with 41% thinking it would be necessary to find the weapons to justify the war.
Over the coming months, coalition forces worked with Kurdish Peshmerga allies to cut off the regime from the north and moved through the south, seizing oil fields and capturing urban centers. Iraq's most critical oil assets were in the Al-Faw Peninsula along the Gulf Peninsula. British and U.S. Marine groups successfully captured the fields and the Umm Qasr port within days of the invasion before Saddam's forces could destroy them, causing a potential ecological disaster.
The land, aerial and amphibious invasion of Iraq had put the Baathist government on the run. A core element of the coalition forces' plans was to quell resistance by eliminating high-value military targets with precision airstrikes. However, the United States also sought to capture and prosecute Iraq's longtime government leaders, so the former regime could be discredited as they prepared to usher in