Night fell over the desert.

U.S. Air Force aircraft soared overhead, lowering their ramps and emptying their cargo into the night sky. Vehicles were heavy dropped on pallets while operators assigned to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta parachuted out into the darkness, conducting a military free-fall jump. Hitting their assembly area below, the operators quickly got their vehicles into operation and navigated approximately 40 kilometers across the desert until they reached their objective area.

The unit, commonly known as Delta Force or by one of any number of intentionally mundane acronyms, is the Army’s premier counterterrorism unit. Its members are drawn largely from the Ranger Regiment and Special Forces before being trained in the operational art of surgical raids, tubular assaults, close reconnaissance, and a dizzying area of specialized skills needed for raids like the one they conducted this night. The mission profile is called HDBT—hardened and deeply buried targets—which includes missile silos or underground nuclear bunker complexes in countries such as Iran.

That night, the operators struck quickly when they arrived at their target, using surprise, speed, and violence of action to breach a massive vault door to a bunker, assault inside the facility, and recover a warhead from a fully functional SCUD-B launcher. The operation went down like clockwork, but this was just a training exercise—one that took place at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). It was just one part of preparations for a larger operational plan, one that will be carried out if Delta ever gets the green light in the event the U.S. government decides to topple the government of Iran.