Blue Light had been disbanded, and Delta Force continued to train to respond to terrorist threats around the globe. They would soon get their chance at real action. In November of 1979, Iranian students broke into the American embassy in Tehran and seized the Americans working there, kicking off a hostage crisis that lasted for 444 days. For Delta, the hostage situation would culminate in Operation Eagle Claw, another devastating growing pain for America’s counterterrorism efforts.
Back in 5th Special Forces Group, the members of Blue Light were a bit disappointed. Looking back on his experience in Blue Light, the unit’s sergeant major said, “It was fun, but frustrating to be told ‘we don’t need you anymore.'” However, Special Forces was not bowing out of counterterrorism completely. Out at Mott Lake, a new course run by 5th Special Forces Group was established—Special Operations Training (SOT)—which was not really a counterterrorism course, but an advanced weapons course. For a long time it was run by 5th Group, but it was later absorbed by the Special Forces school house, the JFK Special Warfare Center. Colonel Mountel “was trying to capture the application of precision force developed by Blue Light,” Roger said, which was based on lessons learned from the Son Tay raid.
Regional commanders expressed a desire for an in-extremis force that would be forward-deployed to respond to emergency situations. Det-A, a 10th Special Forces Group element, forward-deployed to Germany and was given a counterterrorism mission on top of their normal responsibilities: to conduct unconventional warfare behind enemy lines in the event that the Soviets came charging through the Fulda Gap and into Western Europe. Later, Charlie Company, 1st battalion, 7th Group, stationed in Panama, and 1st Group, stationed in Okinawa, also received the in-extremis mission. Today, each Special Forces Group has a company assigned to a direct-action mission called the Commanders In-extremis Force (CIF), which can conduct counterterrorism missions.
Colonel Charlie Beckwith and Colonel Bob Mountel might have been rivals while they were in the military, but both officers left a powerful legacy for today’s special operations soldiers, and gave America the beginnings of a very robust counterterrorism capability.