The moments after the second plane hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, America’s elite special operations units knew they were going to war.

As the country’s national mission force, Joint Special Operations Command is always on call to respond to any contingency, whether it’s hostage rescue, counterterrorism, a nuclear crisis, or traditional special operations missions.

Composed of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Development Group (formerly known as SEAL Team 6), and the “Nightstalkers” of the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, among other units, JSOC trains for the hardest scenarios.

On the morning after the attacks, those units were preparing to avenge a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil. But first, they needed the operators to do it.


We Need You Back

9/11 September 11th Attacks
(Photo by Ryan Remiorz/Reuters)

In the months leading up to the terrorist attacks, several senior Delta Force operators decided to retire or leave. Combat-experienced and highly skilled, these operators found work in the private sector or continued their service in other departments or agencies.

As the Twin Towers collapsed, Delta Force knew that this wouldn’t be an easy fight. JSOC is always focused on the strategic level, and investing too many resources against terrorism could leave it unprepared for a war with a near-peer adversary, such as China or Russia.

So an effort was made to bring highly skilled commandos in good standing back from retirement. Senior enlisted leaders from Delta Force went across the U.S., holding small recruiting sessions.