Delta Force: The Supersecret Unit Behind ‘The Unit’

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.

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.

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.

Delta Force US Troops

Since a typical day is anything but typical for Delta Force soldiers, they train for a myriad of scenarios. Who knows if they might be required to spend a couple hours in the aforementioned sludge pond, then disarm a bomb, then save a busload of children carrying kittens, and be able to convince the bus driver, the kids and the kittens that it is safe to de-board the bus after all is said and done?

Thinking on their feet, mad tactical skills, and charming personalities. What a combination.

Referred to simply as “the Unit” by those who belong, because 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), its technical title, takes too long, it is in fact the group behind the television show The Unit.

Once broadcast on network television and taken off the airwaves in 2009, The Unit followed a group of specially trained operatives (who represented the real Delta Force operatives) on their special and assorted missions. Loosely based on Eric L. Haney’s book, Inside Delta Force: The Story of America’s Elite Counter-terrorist Unit, the show took a peek inside the lives of the Unit members around their deployments and at home.

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As specialized as they are, the Delta Force group is not an autonomous unit. Typically working in conjunction with the Marines or the CIA, or deployed with SEAL Team Six, they coordinate with others to make sure all possibilities are covered and contingencies are planned out.

Thank goodness these men not only like high stress situations, rescuing hostages, and blowing things up, but they are willing to train to the utmost level of their abilities to protect and serve our country.

[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]