Delta Force in Iraq

I recently found this picture floating through the ether of the internet where some dude on a web forum was insisting that the shooters in the picture were simply Delta Force re-enactors playing dress up.  I’m going to have to disagree with this assessment and here is why.

Based on the equipment seen here, I’m guessing that this photo was taken around 2005.  During this time frame I was in Ranger Battalion executing strike operations with my platoon, so I’m not completely ignorant of the type of missions that Delta was conducting at this time.

First off, check out the background.  If this isn’t Iraq it must be Camden, New Jersey, because I can’t think of anywhere else that resembles this.

Back then no one had PVS-15s (dual-tube night vision goggles) except for Tier One and the odd couple floating around here and there.  I believe we had a couple of them in my platoon but that was it.  The HK 416 alone narrows this operator down to one of two units who fielded this gun at that time.  Delta or MARSOC.  The presence of the PEQ-2 laser looks old school to us now but gives another hint as to the time frame that this picture was taken.  Nobody had the LA-5 SOPMOD II infrared laser.

There are also some subtle details that I don’t think the average person would pick up on.  Take for instance the Garmin Fortrex GPS unit on this soldier’s wrist and the Suunto  compass hanging from his kit.  These are navigation aids that would become very important when hunting High Value Targets (HVTs) through the labyrinthine urban sprawl of Baghdad or Mosul.

Then there is the blue t-shirt under the uniform and the flexcuffs slipped into the pants pocket.  Delta isn’t to concerned with Army uniform regulations but I think the real reason for the blue shirt is because of how fast he had to roll outside the wire.  When my platoon worked Time Sensitive Targets there were times when we peeled out so fast that I didn’t know where we were going until we were already outside the wire and had to navigate the streets on the fly.  The operator pictured above was probably working out in the gym or eating in the chow hall when he got the word that they had to roll and threw his kit over whatever he was wearing.  The flexcuffs probably got jammed in his pockets on the way out the door.

I hope this has given a little perspective to those outside the SOF community and given everyone something to think about before casting judgement on what pictures are or are not real.  It’s possible, but unlikely in my opinion, that the operator pictured belongs to another Tier One unit, but he certainly isn’t a re-enactor having some fun at our expense.