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April 5, 2010

Delta Force

The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit
Col. Charlie A. Beckwith (Ret.) - ISBN - 9780380809394

This book, by the founder and first commanding officer of Delta Force is quite interesting; not especially well written or edited, it is still worthwhile for those curious about Delta. His candor adds considerably to the book, and his honorable reportage is beyond reproach.

He covers a lot of territory, beginning with the Green Berets and his "learning tour of duty" with the precedent setting force, SAS (the British Special Air Service Regiment; the first dedicated counterterrorism unit in the world.) This is followed by his decade long effort to establish a comparable entity within the U.S. Army. The discussion wanders, and includes considerable activity, some of it trivial and of no particular interest to the average reader.

Still, he gives the complete story, including the disastrous Carter administration policy--implemented by retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, who, as director, gutted the CIA and in large measure authored the still extant problems we have with critical, foreign intelligence. He removed "spies" from the equation, and forbid dealing with "corrupt people." (Of course his program still permitted CIA agents to deal with honorable, pleasant, reliable, "nice" people amongst the cadre of leaders and acolytes of the most vile countries in the world.) Needless to say this led to the complete lack of accurate and timely intelligence for the entire U.S. military and foreign policy establishments. Brilliant ! Especially so when it came, not much later, to Operation Eagle Claw, which was designed to extract the embassy hostages from Iran. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After butting heads for a very long time he was finally permitted to begin the establishment of Delta, but was still stiff-armed by the other forces within the military, most notably the Navy Seals, the Army Rangers. They made the claim that Delta was a duplication of efforts within their purview, which was not true. Just a turf battle. When overruled they prevented any of the men within their units from applying for Delta. When overruled again they complied . . . but reluctantly.

Eventually, however, the force was established, trained and ready. Their first assignment was Eagle Claw, which was a catastrophic failure. Beckwith deals with the intricacies of the planning, practice and mis-execution of the mission. He discusses both the reasons for failure and the implementation of the correctives which followed. He retired shortly thereafter, ending a military career of over 30 years.

He did, however, go on to discuss the Mogadishu disaster, and provides a similarly informative postmortem. Unit function was superb, but a combination of intelligence failure and a chicken-s**t cop out by Bill Clinton authored tragic events reminiscent of Kennedy's failure to support the Bay of Pigs invasion decades before. This time there were 18 Americans dead (their corpses dragged thru the streets--on international T.V!), 84 wounded, and hundreds of Somalis killed; civilians and terrorists alike. This failure ignited even more terrorism, inasmuch as the U.S. appeared spineless and cowardly. (This was, you'll recall, the predecessor of the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole--also on Clinton's watch--which emphasized our unwillingness to deal with terrorists.)

Finally, with problems ironed out, interagency dilemmas and disagreements resolved, Delta went on to become a cutting-edge organization; probably the best anti-terrorism unit in the world. Inasmuch as their "black-ops" are under everyone's radar, little additional information can be discussed, but his legacy (he died in 1994) lives on in the formidable force he shepherded into existence; a superlative force in the armamentarium of the United States military.

Unfortunately, the CIA situation hasn't improved very much. We still have huge holes in our intelligence network, thanks to reprehensibly cautious Washington liberals, and the continuing residuum of the disastrous Carter presidency . . . soon to be displaced as the worst in history by that of King Barack.

Posted by Curmudgeon at April 5, 2010 1:39 PM