The military is full of professional jargon and SOF is certainly no exception. With the growing interest in Special Operations, I hear a lot of terminologies used to describe us which makes me cringe. The worst part is that some of these terms are thrown around so often that they become an institution in and of themselves and I find myself using them as well.
The Tier designation is commonly referenced as a type of ranking in books, video games, and folks on the internet daily. Usually, people are using Tier One to imply Delta Force and SEAL Team Six. The problem is that Tier One is not a ranking system and the Tier status refers to the level of funding a unit gets. There is a reciprocal relationship, the high-priority units get the most funding, so these are the Tier One units. However, I find that this term gets thrown around by people without understanding its meaning.
I remember seeing ads for the video game, Battlefield 3, on the subway that asked, Are you ready for Tier One? It was the type of thing that was written by those outside the SOF community, as I’ve never heard someone who served in Delta or ST6 refer to themselves or their unit as Tier One.