Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (SFOD-D)
Applications Group (CAG), Delta Force
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.
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.
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.
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.
world examples of some missions with which Delta is
tasked are represented below:
- 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
- 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
- Deployed to the Middle East in response to the hijacking
of a Kuwaiti Airlines airliner, during which two Americans
- Again deployed in response to a hijacking, this
time to Cyprus in anticipation of an assault on a
seized TWA airliner.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- As part of Task Force Ranger, took part in numerous
operations to apprehend warlord Mohamad Farah Aidid
in Mogadishu, Somalia.
- 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.