The U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), more commonly referred to as Delta Force, was founded as a special forces anti-terrorist unit in the 1970s. Many specifics of this unit are not well known, as their training and missions are officially labeled as secret by the U.S. government. Most information that exists on the Delta Force, comes from memoirs of retired soldiers.
A new recruit or enlistee cannot just apply for Delta Force. A soldier must already be enlisted in the army and be male. He must be a pay grade E3 to E7, or O-2 or O-3. Volunteers must provide a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and score a General Technical test score of 100 or higher. Volunteers must also take the Army Physical Fitness Test and score a minimum of 229 points. Eligibility for a secret level security clearance is also mandatory. Preference is given to soldiers who also show above-average intelligence and an affinity with at least one foreign language.
Occasionally the 1st SFOD-D recruits for officers at the Captain, Major and Lieutenant Colonel levels. Officers must be U.S. citizens, a volunteer, and already a Captain or Major in rank. The officer must already be airborne qualified, and have at least a secret clearance. Officers must have a minimum of two active years left of service. The applying officer must also be a college graduate. Physical test requirements for officers include passing the Army Physical Fitness Test and scoring 75 points or higher in each category for 22- to 26-year-olds.
All applicants to Delta force must be airborne qualified or volunteer for airborne quality. There are six phases of intense training. The first phase is the Special Forces Qualification Course and beyond intense physical and mental training, it stresses unconventional combat and tactics and beginning foreign language immersion training. Phase two starts with individual skills and lasts 13 weeks including small unit tactics, survival skills, and further language and cultural training. Phase three is Military Operation Specialty training and lasts 15 weeks. The specific job assigned is based on what the volunteer tested most highly for and shows the most aptitude in. Phase four is advanced language training. This training takes 14 weeks, and in addition to language training, also includes warrior skills, such as close combat skills. Phase five is the collective training phase, where in a four-week exercise soldiers are dropped into realistic combat situations where they are forced to prove they've mastered combat skills. Phase six is deployment to a new unit.
- Spec Ops: United States Special Operations Command
- "Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit"; Eric Haney; 2002
- Spec Ops: Special Forces Qualifications
- Photo Credit military truck image by Ian Danbury from Fotolia.com
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