- Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta
, also known as CAG
- Combat Applications Group
Accounts of this legendary unit often sound like tall tales. Accounts of the first unit composed in 1977 are filled with intrigue.
This account by a man named Eric Haney was interviewed by Maxim magazine: "..days of tough tracking over high ridges, culminating in a one-day, 40-mile race through some of the hardest mountain country I’d ever seen. By the end I felt like someone had beaten my feet with a bat. Of the 163 soldiers who showed up the first day, only 12 of us made it in the end... None of that prepared us for the live-fire drills. We had rooms filled with dummies representing hostages and terrorists. But Beckwith had us take turns subbing in as live hostages. As bad as it was sitting in a chair waiting for the door to bang open and a storm of bullets to fly in, it was even worse to be on the other end, terrified of killing one of your friends. Believe it or not, no one died. It wasn’t that the test taught us accuracy—we already had that. The test gave us confidence. Once you can blow the heads off mannequins millimeters from a friend, you can charge into a room and do the same thing for a group of strangers."
The Delta Force team specializes in counterterrorism and hostage rescue, but more than that, they specialize in combat. They are commonly recruited from the U.S. Army Special Forces and Rangers, but accept personnel from all branches of the military. They fall under SOCOM (Special Operations Command)and are considered a branch of the Army Special Operations Forces.
As in all Special Operations Forces, CAG soldiers are trained in the HALO (High Altitude Low Open) jump, Combat Scuba Diving, rapid insertion, sniper techniques, and counterterrorism. There are two things that set them apart from the Green Berets or Rangers. The first is the level of difficulty.
I knew a Ranger that came back from selection for SFOD, and he passed. But he came back with a broken jaw, and scarred wrists. He didn't like to talk about it.
The first week is an 18 mile forced march through mountain terrain in 4 hours 30 minutes. The marches get steadily harder, the ruck sacks get heavier. In between all this, other activities keep the soldiers exhausted and mentally strained. The process is similar to SFAS (Special Forces Assesment and Selection), but rumored to be much harder. As duly noted by Byzantine, in training the soldier recieves no feedback on their progress. When ordered to move, they are expected to do so until told otherwise. This trains the soldier to think on their feet, in the absence of clear orders.
The other thing that seperates them from the Special Forces SFOA (Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha) is their funding. The Delta Force is rumored to keep equipment most Green Berets would be jealous of. State-of-the-art HALO equipment, high-tech diving rebreathers, communications gear, and any weapon imaginable. The support unit for this group is located deep in Fort Bragg. It is guarded by D-Boys. Young soldiers in training often stumble into the vicinity of this Top Secret facility. They are met by HMMWV's with .50 Cal machine guns loaded on top. They are told, not politely I might add, to turn around and leave the area post haste. They've even been known to fire warning shots at young soldiers who attempt to ask for directions.
As it stands right now, the Delta Force still operates under extreme secrecy. They recruit by taking volunteers, soldiers suggested by various sources, and soldiers with rare skills that might be needed. You must be at least an E-5 SGT (Sergeant) to be recruited in the Army, but I'm sure exceptions can be made. Along with Navy SEALs, the Delta Force is considered to be one of the top-of-the-line elite forces in the world. The Battle of Mogadishu is the most publicly known operation Delta Force has participated in.
Also, Delta Force soldiers aren't required to follow common military grooming or conduct standards. They can sport tattoos anywhere, grow their hair long and wear beards, and rarely wear a uniform unless, of course, they are on mission, and even then they might operate as paramilitary. They often operate under false names, and carry false I.D. cards. A SPC I know was operating pass and I.D. at the gate one time. A man came in. He was huge, bald, and had a thick beard. He handed the SPC his idea, claiming he was a Private (PV2). The specialist looked at him, laughed and remarked, "Man, you ain't no damn PV2!" The man laughed, and said simply, "I know." He got the opportunity to go to the mortar range with some SOF soldiers once. They told him to bring beer. He laughed, until he realized they were serious. He said they would take a mortar, hold 1 - 5 beers on top of it, and drop it in the tube, launching the beer cans in excess of 800 meters. The Special Forces soldier laughed and said, "Hey, it's a waste of a good beer but it's one hell of a good time."