We’ve all read about US Special Operations in the news and seen them popularized in movies like “Black Hawk Down” (2001), “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012) and “Lone Survivor” (2013). I mean, the Navy SEALs have grown to legendary proportions in recent years.
But this bears the question: Which members of the US Special Operations community are the “best of the best”?
Here are eight of the most elite groups of Special Operators the United States has to offer…
“It takes an incredible amount of skill, physical fitness and courage to carry out some of the Air Force’s most difficult missions. As members of Air Force Special Operations, it’s the job of Combat Control (CCT) specialists to provide command and control and direct air traffic from remote and sometimes hostile areas. These highly specialized experts are trained in a wide range of skills, including scuba, parachuting, snowmobiling as well as being FAA-certified air traffic controllers in order to establish control and provide combat support on missions all over the globe.”
*Excerpt quoted from www.airforce.com.
“To be a part of the 75th Ranger Regiment requires personal excellence across many Soldier and leader attributes. Rangers are more than just physically strong, Rangers are smart, tough, courageous, and disciplined. Rangers are self-starters, adventurers, and hard chargers. They internalize the mentality of a “more elite Soldier“, as the Ranger Creed states and as their intense mission requirements demand.
Rangers are role model Soldiers – mentally, morally, and physically – who use their minds as well as bodies to make sound judgments, reasoned decisions, and ultimately to never quit. Rangers demonstrate discipline both on and off duty, and their Regimental standards are enduring.
When then Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams envisioned the modern Ranger force, he emphasized the professional unit excellence stems from individual Ranger personal excellence and character. He directed that “wherever the battalion goes, it will be apparent that it is the best”. Members of the 75th Ranger Regiment live this charter both personally and professionally every day.”
*Excerpt quoted from www.goarmy.com/ranger/being-a-ranger.html.
THE RECON CREED
“Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone
to be a Reconnaissance Marine,
I accept all challenges involved with this profession.
Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation
of those who went before me.
Exceeding beyond the limitations
set down by others shall be my goal.
Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself
to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life.
Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics —
The title of Recon Marine is my honor.
Conquering all obstacles, both large and small,
I shall never quit.
To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail.
To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure;
To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes
to complete the mission.
On the battlefield, as in all areas of life,
I shall stand tall above the competition.
Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork,
I shall be the example
for all Marines to emulate.
Never shall I forget the principles
I accepted to become a Recon Marine.
Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart.
A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word
and achieve what others can only imagine.”
*Excerpt quoted from www.1stmardiv.marines.mil/Units/1ST-RECON-BN/Mission-Copy/.
“Special Forces have long employed the use of unconventional warfare in enemy territory. Unlike direct action missions, which are generally designed to be quick strikes, unconventional warfare operations can last months, even years.
Unconventional warfare missions allow U.S. Army Soldiers to enter a country covertly and build relationships with local militia. Operatives train the militia in a variety of tactics, including subversion, sabotage, intelligence collection and unconventional assisted recovery, which can be employed against enemy threats.
This training can help the Army prevent larger conventional attacks. And because of deep roots set up by these missions, other Special Forces tactics, like direct action or special reconnaissance, can be launched quickly and seamlessly.”
*Excerpt quoted from www.goarmy.com/special-forces/primary-missions/unconventional-warfare.html.
“The Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Forces – commonly known as SEALs – are expertly trained to deliver highly specialized, intensely challenging warfare capabilities that are beyond the means of standard military forces.
This includes direct action warfare. Special reconnaissance. Counterterrorism. Foreign internal defense. When there’s nowhere else to turn, Navy SEALs are in their element. Achieving the impossible by way of critical thinking, sheer willpower and absolute dedication to their training, their missions and their fellow Special Operations team members.”
“Navy SEALs train and work in all manner of environments, including desert and urban areas, mountains and woodlands, and jungle and arctic conditions. Typical missions may involve insertion into a combat objective by any number of means: parachute, submarine, helicopter, high-speed boat, foot patrol or by a combat swimmer insertion.”
*Excerpts quoted from www.navy.com.
“As one would expect, and hope, details about DEVGRU are classified and unknown to the world. Recent operations such as the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, the rescuing of Captain Phillips and more have jettisoned their name and some details into the public domain, attracting more and more candidates to Naval Special Warfare.
Today’s DEVGRU is as selective and exclusive as ever. Only after someone has become an experienced SEAL are they even considered for this unit. For this reason it’s typical that candidates will already be well into their 30s, producing a more mature operator for this elite group.
Since the men of DEVGRU come from the best operators of the SEAL Teams, it might seem as if DEVGRU is “poaching” from the SEAL community as they attract those with proven and valuable experience. While at a certain level this is true it’s important to understand that DEVGRU doesn’t get all of the top operators. Being that they’re stationed on the East coast limits them only to the candidates willing to relocate.
DEVGRU presents a demanding screening process. Only those who have produced an excellent reputation for themselves, and are in peak physical condition, are allowed to even try. Prior to selection candidates are interviewed by a very discerning board. Records are scanned and reputations checked. If they are “selected” the wannabe DEVGRU operator is put through a demanding training and selection process called “Green Team”.
The training inside of Green Team is of a high operational tempo and extremely demanding. Green Team carries with it an extremely high attrition rate. Candidates are constantly observed and scrutinized by DEVGRU instructors. Imagine being put into the highest pressure training scenarios known to man while having your every move observed by demanding and seasoned Tier-one operators. Stressful!
Besides the stress of constant observation there’s the matter of life and death. The job of a SEAL isn’t exactly “OSHA” compliant. The demands of war require all Special Operations forces to train and operate on the periphery of human existence. And the intensity and high-risk training conducted by DEVGRU is at the highest. From BUD/S to Green Team the SEAL Teams suffer serious injuries and sometimes deaths.
So only after a rigorous selection process and six months of dangerous training and constant observation will someone, who was already a Navy SEAL, be accepted into an operational squad within DEVGRU. It is literally “The Best of The Best.””
*Excerpt quoted from specialoperations.com.
“Though Delta Force generally chooses its candidates from within the Army—most Delta operators come from the 75th Ranger Regiment or the Special Forces—the group also selects individuals from other branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, National Guard and even Navy SEALs.”
“Delta Force is thought to hold its selection twice every year, in the spring and fall, at a one-month course somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains. More than 100 candidates undergo a grueling regimen of exercises that test physical fitness, endurance and mental strength. Between the course itself and the commander’s review board/interview at the end, more than 90 percent of candidates are not selected. Those who do pass these hurdles enter an arduous six-month Operator Training Course (OTC), which some 30-40 percent can fail to complete; the others are transformed from raw recruits to trained Delta operators.”
“Given that operators in Delta Force come from different military branches (even, in some cases, from DEVGRU), they bring different missions and cultures to the unit. Even the two main Army groups that join Delta, the Rangers and Special Forces, bring different cultures, missions and training backgrounds—and they retain these after joining Delta Force. Operators can even be awarded medals from their respective branches of the military while serving with Delta.”
*Excerpts quoted from www.history.com/news/history-lists/seal-team-six-and-delta-force-6-key-differences.
“The Special Activities Division (SAD) is the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) covert paramilitary operations unit. They are one of America’s most secretive and lowest profile special ops organizations.
The Special Activities Division, sometimes referred to as the ‘Special Operations Group’, is made up of Paramilitary Operations Officers. CIA Paramilitaries are typically ex-military personnel and veterans of military special operations units such as the Green Berets or Marine Force Recon. SAD also recruits from within the Agency. Regardless of background, SAD operators undergo extensive specialized training.”
*Excerpt quoted from www.americanspecialops.com/cia-special-operations/.