Well, Rowan Scarborough is out with an article about Delta Force in the Washington Times today. Stick with me here and we’ll walk through it piece by piece.
“As Navy SEALs bask in the limelight for daring missions, some in the Army are wondering whether the other half of the nation’s counter-terrorism covert warriors – Delta Force – is being upstaged and left in the shadows.”
Not really. I know a couple guys in Army Special Operations who were kind of heated over the whole UBL raid which is really just some understandable professional jealously. I know a lot more people who thought “Act of Valor” was laughable and wonder why the SEALs subject themselves to these types of things.
I don’t know anyone who wishes that Delta Force was getting more publicity – they are supposed to be in the shadows.
“‘All I’ve heard and observed is that he [McRaven] is obviously pro-SEAL and that explains why Delta has been sidelined,’ said a retired Army Green Beret who still conducts special operations as a government contractor.”
I suspect that there is some truth to the rumor that Admiral McRaven favors the home team. But the retired Green Beret should also acknowledge the very incestuous relationships up at Special Forces Command, particularly how Sergeant Majors have been giving their buddies jobs based on friendships rather than merit, going on for many years now. They don’t call it the Sergeant Major Mafia for nothing…
Meanwhile, Delta has not been sidelined. You just don’t hear about their operations.
“SEAL Team 6 has won heaps of public praise since dispatching the world’s most wanted terrorist in May 2011. Months later, real SEALs starred in an action movie, ‘Act of Valor.’ Later this year, Hollywood will release another SEAL-related film on the hunt for bin Laden.”
SEAL Team Six certainly deserves some praise but those of us who come from the USASOC side of the house are happy to let SEALs have movies made about them. Please Hollywood, spare the Rangers, Special Forces, and Delta Force your crappy movies. We could do without them.
Colonel Allard is quoted in the article as well:
“SEALs generally go on missions alone. Delta’s approach, he said, ‘simply means they can get more done the quieter they do things.’
‘Ever since Delta Force was created, they have been the quintessential shadow forces,’ Col. Allard said. ‘That’s not going to change, even with the recent publicity about the SEALs.
‘The SEALs are short-term killers. Delta has a lot of other missions. It shows how well-integrated the Delta Force guys are with the conventional forces. SEALs are compartmented. Delta is not.'”
This is all kinds of wrong. Delta is highly compartmentalized, to the point that operators in different Troops don’t know what each other are up to at times. If Colonel Allard means that Delta is not compartmentalized from the rest of the Army, this is also incorrect. Delta works with Conventional Forces as an exception rather than as a rule.
While I do think that SEALs are somewhat limited in this regard, they have also made great strides over the years. They’ve been doing FID and have conducted successful joint operations, so we can give them some credit for evolving and adapting to the type of warfare we’ve seen in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to a former Intelligence Officer quoted in the Washington Times article: “I would suggest that some of the perceived disparity between Delta and the SEALs is due to cultural differences. SEALs like to be seen. They have a great PR machine. Delta, on the other hand, are very quiet and reserved by comparison. They embrace a culture of secrecy more so than the Navy.”
I think this is actually fairly accurate but deserves to be elaborated on. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t think SEAL Team Six is the blame for all the publicity, rather the White House and the Navy itself is attempting to cash in on recent high profile operational successes.
Like it or not, the public sees the SEALs as the only cool thing going on in the Navy so of course the PR/Recruitment people within that service want to emphasis this aspect of the Navy. BUD/S quitters make great swabbies on Naval ships, according to a SEAL I went to HALO School with.
SEALs certainly do have the reputation for being flamboyant, however I should mention that when working with them I never heard them telling war stories or anything like that. SEALs are not at all quiet professionals, although I did find them to be professionally quiet. Army Special Operations is very different. No one wants to hear you talking about yourself, and those who speak out publicly are often excommunicated.
And then there is this gem:
“One development is clear. SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force have enjoyed a special place under Presidents Bush and Obama. Both units have increased in size – to several hundred Team 6 members and more than 1,000 Delta Force troops.”
I’m not going to comment on the size, strength, and disposition of these two units except to say: WRONG!