Blue Light was a counter-terrorist subunit of the 5th Special Forces Group that existed into the early 1980s.
According to Col. Charles Beckwith's memoirs, this counter-terrorist group was formed by U.S. Army Special Forces leadership who disagreed with or felt politically threatened by Beckwith's Delta Force, which existed outside the Special Forces hierarchy. He stated that the unit was disbanded when Delta Force went operational.
Beckwith's memoir, Delta Force, reports that commanders of the 5th Special Forces Group were asked by top brass of the Pentagon to quickly organize a Green Beret counter-terrorist unit to fill in until Delta Force was fully operational; Beckwith estimated it would take two years. Blue Light and Delta had a somewhat adversarial relationship for those two years. The traditional Special Forces leadership felt that they could handle counter-terrorist duties within the Special Forces community (with Blue Light). Delta existed outside of that bureaucracy, with a direct line to top US Department of Defense (DOD) brass and the President. Delta therefore represented a political threat in the minds of some Special Forces commanders.[who?] Nevertheless, Delta went on to complete its initial certification exercise in July 1978, and Blue Light was deactivated shortly thereafter. Allegedly, no Blue Light member applied to Delta nor was asked by Delta to do so. Blue Light S-2, Capt. Tim Casey, was later one of the intelligence officers assigned to JTF 1–79 which commanded the ill-fated Eagle Claw.
Origin of name
Blue Light may have been a randomly generated code name, or may be a reference to American radar officer's slang, in which "to bluelight" can reportedly be used as a verb, meaning "to detect a contact with radar," thus metaphorically suggesting the ability to discover the enemy's hiding place. Founding member Gary O'Neal postulated in his book, American Warrior, that the Col. Montell used the name because it was the name of an undercover OSS mission in France during World War II.
In the 1990 American action film Die Hard 2 Major Grant's U.S. Army Special Forces team is referred to as 'Blue Light' the counter-terrorist response unit.
- Beckwith, Charles. Delta Force, Avon Books, 2000. (Mass market paperback; original work published 1983.) ISBN 0-380-80939-7
- Rod Lenahan's book Crippled Eagle:A Historical Perspective, Narwhal Press; 1 edition (1 July 1998), ISBN 978-1-886391-23-9
- "American Warrior:', G. O'Neal, Pg. 142.
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