Jeffrey Denning: When you were in Delta Force, were any of your friends and neighbors aware of what you did for a living? If not, how difficult was it to live, in essence, a double life? And while you’re at home, do your neighbors know what you do for a living, or do they just assume you’re in one of the SF Groups at Bragg?
It’s ridiculous to think that you can serve in a Tier 1 unit like Delta or ST6 and not have friends that know you are there. Your buddies before you were selected typically remain your buddies even when your name is removed from the Army’s official roles to operationally protect your identity. It’s just not that big of a deal and your friends are usually supportive and happy for you.
Balancing profession and family is no different in Delta than any other unit in the military. You may have been first through the breach on a target in Fallujah 24 hours ago and took the million dollar shot, and now staring at a stack of bills that need to be paid, worrying about the leak in the roof, while struggling to check 6th grade math homework. It’s this normalcy, the innate human desire to simply be a good husband and father, not wanting to let your family down just as much as your teammates – that keeps things in perspective.
Very rarely does the neighborhood know a Delta operator lives nearby. Operator families typically keep together and are resistant to outsiders simply as an operational matter. Hard to keep the secret at a backyard barbeque or game of poker with neighbors. Unit members, including their spouses, are trained in specific techniques to conceal membership in Delta. It usually starts with changing the subject. Operators don’t wear military uniforms at home, don’t advertise their military service on their truck bumpers, license plates, Facebook, or in the flower beds, and are generally just considered private citizens who simply shun block parties. They aren’t necessarily rude introverts by nature, but bottom line, regardless of the nosey neighbor, your best line of defense is to never leave your cover story.
JD: Since there’s not a lot known about what specific advanced training Delta operators go through, some have asked you if you receive training that teaches you how to control your nervous system and like reactions? Is that even possible? And will you describe how your innate physical and physiological makeup impact the way you process emotion? Are you, at the height of your abilities, very dialed into your feelings? Somewhat?
I never received any training in how to control my nervous system and reactions. I was born with that, as was everyone else in Delta. Like in any profession, some guys are more Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne than others. Some are better working near teammates; some are more comfortable operating alone. We get nervous and we react, just like every other human being. I wouldn’t characterize any of us as being dialed in to our feelings, rather, dialed in to our commitment to the nation and to each other. Emotions on target are dangerous. When your buddy drops like a rag doll next to you, uncontrolled emotions can compromise the mission, put the rest of the force at greater risk, and potentially create an international incident. There are no special emotions instructors at Delta, but there is a tried and true, very-unique selection and assessment process that is historically very accurate about the type of guy that will enter Delta’s ranks.
Read the rest of the interview over at Gun.com!