Delta Force: The Supersecret Unit Behind ‘The Unit’

Becky Padilla - Author

Feb. 25 2016, Updated 9:21 a.m. ET

Delta Force is one of the United States Army’s top covert units (although you might not think it’s that covert with all of the television shows and movies that have come out of Hollywood about it). Its focus and main purpose of existence is counter-terrorism operations; however, it is capable of handling any number of intricate or dangerous missions.

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In the late 1970s, Colonel Charles Beckwith returned to the United States after training with the British Special Air Service (SAS) and realized the U.S. did not have its own unit that specialized in counter-terrorism tactics like the SAS did. Unfortunately, there was a growing terrorist threat in the world and this was the type of unit that would be beneficial to respond to these types of threats. Thus was born the Delta Force. Since then, Delta Force has become known as one of the top covert military groups around.

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As NBC reported most recently, it was brought to light that Delta Force was involved in the rescue of 70 hostages that were about to be executed by their Daesh (or ISIS) captors. Sadly, Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler of Delta Force was killed during the mission, but all of the captives were brought home alive. Pretty phenomenal work for a unit that is not officially acknowledged on the books.

To reference a popular meme, “One does not simply become a Delta Force member.” The training is physical, demanding, ongoing, dangerous, and sometimes just plain gross (hours in a sludge pond, completely still, as unidentified things swim around you?) but necessary. Most Delta Force members are recruited from other special forces units, most notably the 75th Ranger Regiment, as they want trained, ready individuals to come on board. And not only must Delta Force soldiers be in top physical condition, but their mental, psychological, and social abilities must be exemplary, as well.


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