List of operations conducted by Delta Force

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This is an incomplete list of operations conducted by Delta Force.

Operation Eagle Claw[edit]

Main article: Operation Eagle Claw
Abandoned, crashed and burned out aircraft at Desert One

Delta's very first tasking began the night after they successfully completed their operational assessment on 4 November 1979 when Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Delta was immediately tasked to rescue the hostages and began training on storming the embassy with a compound mock-up built by military combat engineers at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, while putting together a complex multi-stage rescue operation involving a rigid schedule and demanding helicopter night-flying skills using first-generation night vision goggles. The rescue force was to be inserted by air force special operations C-130s at night to a remote location in the desert outside Tehran called Desert One, and meet up with a group of marine RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, flown in from the U.S.S. Nimitz aircraft carrier staged nearby in the Indian Ocean. The helicopters would then be refueled on the ground at Desert One by refueling specialists using specially-designed fuel bladders inside the C-130s. The refueled helicopters and the rescue force (composed of Delta and Rangers) would then fly to a hidden staging location outside Tehran and hide until the next evening. On the evening of the rescue, Delta would drive to the embassy compound using pre-staged trucks, assault the compound and rescue the hostages, and take them across the street to a soccer stadium where the helicopters would have landed to extract them and take them to a nearby airfield which the Rangers would have assaulted and captured. C-141s would then extract the entire rescue force with hostages and the helicopters would be destroyed and left behind.

The helicopters caused the cancellation of the mission at Desert One, when enough helicopters were lost from attrition due to sandstorms, pilot fatigue, and failed hydraulics that the on-site commanders acknowledged helicopter numbers were below the required minimum for that stage to go forward and recommended to President Carter that the mission be canceled, which he did. As the entire rescue force was leaving Desert One, one of the helicopters crashed into a U.S. Air Force special operations C-130 and in the ensuing explosion and panic the helicopters were abandoned en masse leaving unauthorized mission plans which fell into Iranian hands, ruining any chance of a possible second covert rescue attempt following a brief regrouping period.[1]

Central American operations[edit]

Delta has seen action extensively in Central America, fighting the Salvadoran revolutionary group Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and assisting the Central Intelligence Agency-funded Contras in Nicaragua.[1]

Invasion of Grenada[edit]

A second Delta mission launched in the early daylight hours of the first day of Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada was to assault Richmond Hill Prison and rescue the political prisoners being held there. Built on the remains of an old eighteenth-century fort, the prison cannot be approached by foot from three sides except through dense jungle growing on the steep mountainside; the fourth side is approachable by a narrow neck of road with high trees running along it. The prison offers no place for a helicopter assault force to land. Richmond Hill forms one side of a steep valley. Across and above the valley, on a higher peak, is another old fort, Fort Frederic, which housed a Grenadian garrison. From Fort Frederic, the garrison easily commanded the slopes and floor of the ravine below with small arms and machine gun fire. It was into this valley and under the guns of the Grenadian garrison that the helicopters of Delta Force flew at 6:30 that morning.[citation needed]

The helicopters of Task Force 160 flew into the valley and turned their noses toward the prison. Unable to land, the Delta raiders began to rappel down ropes dragging from the doors of the helicopters. Suddenly, as men swung wildly from the rappelling ropes, the helicopters were caught in a cross-fire from the front, as forces from the prison opened fire; and more devastatingly, from behind, as enemy forces in Fort Frederic rained heavy small arms and machine gun fire down from above. According to eyewitness accounts by Grenadian civilians, a number of helicopters that could, flew out of the valley. In at least one instance, a helicopter pilot turned back without orders and refused to fly into the assault. Charges of cowardice were filed against the Nightstalker pilot by members of Delta who wanted to be inserted, but were later dropped.[2]

Aeropostal Flight 252[edit]

On 29 July 1984 Aeropostal Flight 252 from Caracas to the island of Curaçao was hijacked. Two days later, the DC-9 was stormed by Venezuelan commandos, who killed the hijackers.[3] Delta Force provided support during the ordeal.[4]

TWA Flight 847[edit]

In June of 1985, TWA Flight 847 hijacked out of Athens, Greece by Ayatollah Khomeini sympathizers. They demanded to land in Beirut. Delta Force was ordered to assist to save the passengers and to overtake the hijackers.[5]

Operation Round Bottle[edit]

Delta planned an operation for three teams to go into Beirut, Lebanon to rescue Westerners held by Hezbollah, but the action was terminated when negotiations appeared to promise to deliver the hostages in exchange for arms. The operation was ultimately aborted in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times story that revealed the Iran–Contra affair.[6]

Operation Heavy Shadow[edit]

In his book Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden suggests that a Delta Force sniper may have killed Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. There is no hard evidence of this though and credit is generally attributed to Colombian security forces particularly the Search Bloc.


Before Operation Just Cause by US forces took place, there were key operations that were tasked to Special Operations Forces. Operation Acid Gambit was an operation tasked to Delta to rescue and recover Kurt Muse held captive in Carcel Modelo, a prison in Panama City. Another important operation that was assigned to Delta was Operation Nifty Package, the apprehension of General Manuel Antonio Noriega.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm[edit]

Delta force operatives behind Iraqi lines during the Gulf War 'scud hunting'.

Delta was deployed during Desert Storm to the region and tasked with a number of responsibilities. These include supporting regular army units that were providing close protection detail for General Norman Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia. Army relations' officers tried to play down Schwarzkopf's growing number of bodyguards.[citation needed] Delta was tasked with hunting for SCUD missiles alongside the British Special Air Service and other coalition special forces.

Operation Gothic Serpent[edit]

On 3 October 1993, members of Delta Force were sent in with U.S. Army Rangers in the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia codenamed Operation Gothic Serpent.

They were tasked with securing several of Mohammed Farah Aidid's top lieutenants, as well as a few other targets of high value. The mission was compromised after two MH-60L Blackhawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs. This resulted in an ongoing battle and led to the deaths of five Delta operators (a sixth was killed by mortar fire some days later), six Rangers, five army aviation crew, and two 10th Mountain Division soldiers. Estimates of Somali deaths range from 133 by an Aidid sector commander[7] to an estimate of 1500 to 2000 by the US Ambassador to Somalia.[8] Two Delta operators Master sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant first class Randy Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for the actions they took and the sacrifice they made to help protect the life of Durant and the crew of Super Six Four (callsign of one of the crashed Black Hawks). They were the first soldiers to posthumously receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. In 1999, writer Mark Bowden published the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, which chronicles the events that surrounded 3 October 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.[9] The book, in a short brief, relates Delta Force's involvement in the operations that occurred before the events leading to the battle.[9] The book was turned into a film by director Ridley Scott in 2001.

Operation Uphold Democracy[edit]

Further information: Operation Uphold Democracy

Counter-terrorist training[edit]

In January 1997, a small Delta advance team and six members of the British SAS were sent to Lima, Peru immediately following the takeover of the Japanese Ambassador's residence.[10]

Seattle WTO[edit]

Members of Delta Force were involved in preparing security for the 1999 Seattle WTO Conference, specifically against a chemical weapon attack.[11]

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit]

Delta force operators disguised as Afghan civilians.

Delta Force was involved in the offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.[12] Delta Force has formed the core of the special strike unit which has been hunting High Value Target (HVT) individuals like Osama Bin Laden and other key al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership since October 2001, the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. One such operation was an airborne assault supported by the 75th Ranger Regiment on Mullah Mohammed Omar's headquarters at a Kandahar airstrip. Although Delta Force's mission was a failure in capturing Mohammed Omar, the Rangers had captured a vital strategic airstrip.[13] Other battles Delta was involved in during the early stages of the war are the Battle of Tora Bora and Operation Anaconda . The strike force has been variously designated Task Force Sword, Task Force 11, Task Force 20, Task Force 121, Task Force 145 and Task Force 6-26. Delta Force have increased operations in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. "The Navy’s SEAL Team 6, sometimes called Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU; the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force; the 75th Ranger Regiment; the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron; plus elements from other even more secret units and intelligence organizations" has killed or captured more than 2,000 enemy insurgents in Afghanistan against the Haqqani network, which is a strong faction of the Taliban.[14]

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit]

This photo was taken in Mosul during Uday and Qusay's last stand. Delta Force Operators can be seen in front of 1st BDE 101st A/B DIV soldiers wearing MICH helmets.

One of several operations in which Delta Force operators are thought to have played important roles was the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[15] They allegedly entered Baghdad in advance and undercover. Their tasks included guiding air strikes, and building networks of informants while eavesdropping on and sabotaging Iraqi communication lines.[citation needed] They were instrumental in Operation Phantom Fury in April 2004 when they were attached to USMC companies,[16] usually as snipers.[citation needed]

Delta was present in the siege in Mosul where Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed, and were involved in the hunt and eventual capture of Saddam Hussein. It was a task force consisting of a Delta Force troop and a Ranger platoon that captured Saddam Hussein. Delta was also on the ground north of Baquba on 7 June 2006 surveilling a compound where Al-Zarqawi had been staying. After a long manhunt, Delta had Zarqawi in their sights and had called in an airstrike.[17]

Objective Medford[edit]

On 8 June 2004 Delta Force's A Squadron along with Army's 160th SOAR (Night Stalkers) carried out a raid to save foreign workers at a compound near Ramadi. The kidnappers were caught off guard and surrendered immediately. The mission was a complete success.[18]

Rescue of American hostage Roy Hallums[edit]

On September 7, 2005, Delta Force operators rescued Roy Hallums, an American contractor who was kidnapped on November 1, 2004, and an Iraqi captive.[19]

2012 Benghazi Attack[edit]

During the 2012 Benghazi attack Two JSOC operators(one Delta Force operator) along with five CIA personnel accompanied Glen Doherty to aid the besieged Benghazi Embassy compound, after commandeering a small jet in Tripoli by paying the pilots $30,000 and forcing them to fly the team to Benghazi. After fierce fighting, the rescue team including the two Delta operators assisted in evacuating the surviving diplomatic staff to the main Embassy in Tripoli. For their courage and bravery, one of the Delta Operators, Master Sergeant David R. Halbruner, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, while the other, a Marine attached to Delta, was awarded the Navy Cross.[20]

Capture of Abu Anas al-Liby[edit]

Abu Anas al-Liby was arrested in Tripoli, Libya on 5 October 2013 by Delta with the assistance of FBI agents, operators from the CIA's Special Activities Division, and most likely, Intelligence Support Activity SIGINT teams[citation needed]. He was arrested and removed from Libya.[21]

Release of American POW Bowe Bergdahl[edit]

Army prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to Delta Force operators in a prisoner exchange on May 31, 2014.[22] Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban on June 30, 2009.

Capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala[edit]

On the weekend of June 14 to June 15, 2014,Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by Delta Force, along with, most likely nearby, a small contingent of elite Intelligence Support Activity operators, who tracked Ahmed Abu Khattala, by SIGINT and HUMINT capability on a consistent basis, in a covert mission in Libya with the assistance of FBI agents who made the arrest.[23]

2014 northern Syria raid[edit]

On 4 July 2014, two dozen Delta Force operators, along with SIGINT and assault elements from the Intelligence Support Activity, were inserted via 160th SOAR into northern Syria, in an attempt to find captured journalist James Foley and other American hostages.[24][25] According to witnesses, after destroying anti-aircraft weapons the ISA shooters, SIGINT/HUMINT team members, and Delta operators assaulted an ISIL base. The base was destroyed and all ISIL fighters killed at the cost of one American wounded during the insertion. There were no hostages present. The above account and other details of the raid have emerged from witnesses who spoke with a member of a Syrian opposition activist group, who identified himself as Abu Ibrahim al Raqaoui. Raqaoui told the information to Reuters in an interview via Skype from inside Syria. His group also posted witness accounts of the raid on Facebook soon after it took place. The posts, which were viewed by Reuters, have since been taken down. James Foley would later be executed on video and the operation revealed by the Pentagon.[26]

May 2015 Raid on Deir Ezzor[edit]

On the night of May 15, U.S. special forces launched a raid on Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. After being geolocated using SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) from another JSOC Tier 1 unit specializing in clandestine low-visibility intel harvesting utilizing human intel as well (HUMINT),the objective of the raid was to capture the head of financial operation of ISIS Abu Sayyaf. He was killed when he engaged in a firefight with U.S. forces. The raid captured Sayyaf's wife, Umm Sayyaf, along with records of ISIS operations.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Haney, Eric L. (2002). Inside Delta Force. New York: Delacorte Press. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-385-33603-1. 
  2. ^ Cole, Ronald H. (1997). Operation Urgent Fury: The Planning and Execution of Joint Operations in Grenada 12 October – 2 November 1983. Joint History Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Washington, DC. p. 62. 
  3. ^ Castro, Janice; Thomas A. Sancton; Bernard Diederich (13 August 1984). "Terrorism: Failed Security". TIME. 
  4. ^ Offley, Edward (2002). "Chapter 13 – Going to War I: Realtime". Pen & Sword: A Journalist's Guide to Covering the Military. Marion Street Press, Inc. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-9665176-4-4. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Smith, Michael (6 March 2007). Killer Elite. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-36272-2. 
  7. ^ "Interviews — Captain Haad | Ambush in Mogadishu | FRONTLINE". PBS. 3 October 1993. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Interviews — Ambassador Robert Oakley | Ambush in Mogadishu | FRONTLINE". PBS. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Bowden, Mark (1999). Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Berkeley: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 0-87113-738-0. 
  10. ^ John Pike (16 January 2003). "Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta". Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Rick Anderson (22 December 1999). "News: Delta's down with it". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "September 2003 Engineer Update". [dead link]
  13. ^ Norton-Taylor, Richard; Borger, Julian; Harding, Luke (27 November 2001). "Revealed: how bungled US raid came close to disaster". The Guardian (London). 
  14. ^ "JSOC task force battles Haqqani militants". Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "W:\pmtr\ventura\#article\noonan.vp" (PDF). Retrieved 11 August 2012. [dead link]
  16. ^ Dorell, Oren; Zoroya, Gregg (9 November 2006). "Battle for Fallujah". USA Today. 
  17. ^ MacLeod, Scott; Powell, Bill (11 June 2006). "Zarqawi's Last Dinner Party". Time. 
  18. ^ "Hostage Rescue — Iraq". 8 June 2004. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  19. ^ JASON STRAZIUSO The Associated Press (2012-02-03). "Hostage rescues: When hope runs out, U.S. elite troops go in - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  20. ^ Scarborough, Rowan (25 January 2014). "Delta Force commando awarded second-highest military honor for Benghazi rescue". Washington Times (The Washington Times, LLC). Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
    "GO 2013–73" (PDF). Official Department of the Army Publications and Forms. United States Army. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
    Scarborough, Rowan (16 November 2013). "Delta Force Marine awarded Navy Cross for fight at CIA annex in Benghazi". Washington Times (The Washington Times, LLC). Retrieved 25 January 2014. The Times can now report that one of the Delta Force members was an Army soldier and the other a Marine Raider.
    The soldier was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Marine received the Navy Cross for heroism.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Jun 3, 2014. "Touch and go on Bergdahl release until very end". Sandusky Register. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  23. ^ "U.S. captures Benghazi suspect in secret raid". Washington Post. June 17, 2014. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Abu Sayyaf, key ISIS figure in Syria, killed in raid -". CNN. Retrieved 2015-05-17.