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SEAL Team Six and Delta Force: 6 Key Differences

SEAL Team Six and Delta Force: 6 Key Differences

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1. Background

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. By contrast, SEAL Team Six selects its candidates only from within the existing SEAL team units. Even if a candidate doesn’t pass the daunting selection process to become a DEVGRU operator, he will still remain a SEAL.

2. Selection

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.

Known as Green Team, the SEAL Team Six selection process is a six-month course similar to Delta’s OTC, but held only once a year. Some 50 percent of candidates don’t complete the course, but remain part of the SEAL organization. Because DEVGRU operators are all selected from within the SEALs, they will often know the “Green Teamers” from past assignments or training, which will influence how new operators get “drafted” into their eventual squadrons.

3. Training & Operational Capabilities

Delta Force and SEAL Team Six are Special Missions Units (SMU) under the umbrella of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Both specialize in counterterrorism and can be trained in techniques of Close Quarters Combat (CQB), hostage rescue, high-value target extraction, espionage, explosives, marksmanship and other specialized operations. In addition, however, Team Six operators receive training for specialized maritime operations, in accordance with their naval heritage. Because of this reason, the group may be more likely to be tasked with sea-based missions, such as the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, who was kidnapped by Somali pirates on the Indian Ocean in 2009.

4. Culture

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. So while SEAL Team Six operators share a common culture with other SEALs, the diverse background of Delta’s operators means the unit is really its own distinct entity, with a culture all its own. In addition, the vast majority of Delta Force operators are infantrymen (foot soldiers) or have been at some point in their military career. By contrast, SEALs have never been infantrymen, and are not trained as such; they are specifically a maritime special operations force.

5. Media Exposure

Both Delta Force and SEAL Team Six are known for being highly secretive, even within the military, and the public will never know details about the vast majority of what both units do. But in recent years, high-profile successes have thrust SEAL Team Six in particular into the media spotlight. In the wake of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, a list of names of the SEALs involved was even leaked to the press (but never published). This largely unwanted exposure has even extended to Hollywood blockbusters like “Captain Phillips” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” (In the case of Delta Force, the successful—but costly—mission to capture Somali strongman Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu in 1993 was dramatized in the movie “Blackhawk Down.”) What seems clear is that in the current media-saturated climate of 24-hour news networks, social media and government leaks, both units are finding it harder to stay under the radar.

6. Rivalry over high-profile missions

When it comes to the two most admired, most intimidating special ops forces in the game, it’s natural that some rivalry would exist between them. Both Delta Force and SEAL Team Six have successfully pursued high-value targets in the ongoing war on terror, but when it came to the most high-value of them all—Al Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden—it was operators from Team Six that stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. Some on the Delta side complained that Team Six got the go-ahead on Operation Neptune Spear because Navy admirals commanded both JSOC and the U.S. Special Operations Command, and some even blamed the SEALs themselves for courting the spotlight after the raid. But despite any rivalry, and despite the differences between the two units, they’re ultimately both on the same side in the fight against terrorism, and even work together (unofficially, of course) on many missions.

The new season of SIX, continues Wednesdays at 10/9c.

Not officially, anyway. Like 1950s spy novel heroes, their objectives are “secret missions”, classified and hushed. As a special forces group, their name isn’t confirmed or acknowledged by the Pentagon. Overseen by the Joint Special Operations Command, they are protected from scrutiny of any kind. Seal Team 6 has irked NATO and others by supposed use of excessive force and civilian death, but the only entity allowed to investigate such claims is the JSOC itself. According to a former State Department legal advisor, “This is an area where Congress notoriously doesn’t want to know too much.”

There are around 300 troops referred to as ‘operators’ supported by 1500 other members. The original group, formed in 1980 in the wake of a hostage crisis failure, included only 90 soldiers. When they are in action, there are usually two teams of roughly 30 operators.

Cultural differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team Six

With the death of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) at the hands of some secret squirrel frogmen in Pakistan, there came a nationwide interest in who killed OBL. The phrase “Navy SEALs” was quickly released to the public, whether via the White House or the Department of Defense.

But it was those “subject matter experts,” including Sean Naylor, Jeremy Scahill, to name a few, who made sure to correct the media that it was actually the SEALs of JSOC, aka , or simply SEAL Team Six. (On CNN I even heard the mention of “Task Force Blue.” Amazing…)

As the days after settled down, the Internet/blogging community kept asking the same two questions. The first question came from those not in the know, which was simply: “Who is SEAL Team Six?” and the second question was asked by those who were in the know, as well as the entire U.S. Army Special Operations Command:

“WTF – the SEALs? Not Delta? That’s BS!”

To be honest, I was one of those asking the second question. The OBL operation and the choice of the unit lead to the topic: What is the difference between Delta and Seal Team Six? One hundred percent of civilians and ninety-nine percent of the military will tell you that there is no difference, that they are identical. But those who served in the JSOC task forces overseas will all tell you that this is just not so.

Culture Differences

You can tell a lot about a unit by its foundations or its core. Almost all of the SEAL Team Six shooters came from the SEAL teams, while Delta is comprised of personnel from the Ranger Regiment, Special Forces, the conventional Army, and from members of other military branches (there have even been SEAL Team Six members who have vetted for Delta over the years).

For Delta, the majority come from the 75th and Special Forces – two very distinct units with completely different missions and cultures. On the one side, you have members who grew up in a unit whose sole purpose in life was to skull-stomp terrorists with the utmost violence. On the other, you have a unit whose expertise in foreign internal defense and unconventional warfare makes them masters in the art of training, advising, and force multiplying (the way future wars will be fought). Combine these two elements into one, and you have an incredibly versatile unit in your arsenal.

Read Next: SOFREP's 2012 Greatest Hits #2: The Difference between Delta and ST6

This alone is a major difference between these two units.

To give you an example: In the 1980s, when the U.S. was heavily involved with the war in El Salvador, our government sent in Special Forces Operational Detachments-A or “A-Teams” (ODAs) to help organize and train their conventional military. In that same time frame, we also deployed teams from Delta to organize and train the El Salvadorian counterterrorist units. It’s the strong Special Forces backgrounds by many of Delta‘s operators that made that operation possible.

Although the SEALs have been tasked with some foreign internal defense (FID) over the years, none of them really prefer to do it (trust me on this!), and they don’t do it with the same proficiency as Army Special Forces. I personally think SEAL Team Six is a little more one-sided than Delta, because the majority of its members all grew up on the Teams doing the same missions and undertaking the same training.

Just as Special Forces and the Rangers are vastly different from each other, so are the SEALs different from both those units. Culturally, Delta‘s composition naturally leads it to be its own distinct unit, completely separate from others. And on that same side, SEAL Team Six, because of its composition and culture, will always be “another SEAL team” with different capabilities and responsibilities, regardless of its other fancy name: .

Training and Selection

One major difference between both units is the way they select their members. In my opinion, it’s apples and oranges.

Delta‘s selection process is very simple: Twice a year the unit holds a one-month selection course somewhere in the Appalachian mountains. The course attracts over a hundred candidates, primarily from the Ranger and Special Forces communities but from other components as well.

The Rangers and Special Forces soldiers who attend are seasoned, battle-hardened shooters who have already attended numerous grueling selection and training courses. Yet the failure rate is still over ninety percent. Just finishing the course is still not enough, as there is a commander’s review board/interview at the end that determines whether each person should be accepted into the unit or not.

If the candidate is accepted, he attends the six-month Operator Training Course (OTC), which still manages to wash people out who can’t keep up with the stressful training curriculum. (My understanding is that sixty to seventy percent pass.) If you want to get into the specifics on selection and OTC, you can read plenty of books, including Inside Delta Force, Kill Bin Laden, and The Mission, The Men, and Me.

Read Next: The Difference Between Delta Force and SEAL Team Six

SEAL Team Six’s selection process is very interesting. It’s comprised of two parts: The Review and Green Team. The Review portion consists of the SEAL submitting his application for entrance to Team Six, after which his name, team designation, and picture is posted on a wall in a corridor at Dam Neck-and it is up to the individual SEAL Team Six members to give that candidate a check sign or a minus sign to signify whether or not he should be allowed to undertake the selection process.

If the SEAL is accepted, he attends the six-month Green Team. Green Team is very similar to Delta‘s OTC and is held once a year. Fifty percent do not complete the course. At the end of Green Team, the graduates are part of a draft process that is held by different representatives from the squadrons. Because SEAL Team Six are almost fully comprised of SEALs, many of the Green Teamers and the SEAL Team Six members know each other from past assignments or training. It’s in this process that the graduates get “drafted” into their respective squadrons.

NOTE: I mention that almost all members of SEAL Team Six are SEALs and not all because SEAL Team Six is rumored to be open to members of the Marines as well, as long as they have attended BUD/s (they don’t need to attend SQT). I don’t have any concrete information whether any are actually on the team.

Operational Capabilities

Both units operate in the same spectrum of special operations, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, direct action, and counter-proliferation. Most of the time they can be interchangeable with one another. Both units have been widely known to conduct exchange programs with one another.

The team that I worked with in Iraq had a SEAL Team Six sniper attached to them. He defended an Iraqi police station from being overrun by insurgents during the Battle of Mosul, in 2004, from a hotel rooftop. To answer your question, yes, he was a badass. In a place like Iraq where most of the combat was conducted in urban and close quarters environments, you really can’t tell the difference between a Delta operation verses a SEAL Team Six operation.

Afghanistan has shown to be a different case. Many times during an assault against an objective in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, a simple clandestine HVT (high-value target) snatch-and-grab operation can turn into a major ambush. When this happens, the operation just turned conventional.

There is no “special” way to react to an ambush or contact that is taught only to SOF units and kept hidden from other units. React to ambush is a basic infantry battle drill, and when the shit hits the fan, you better believe a Delta operator will be doing the same thing an 11-Bravo private from the 101st is doing on an Afghan objective somewhere else.

Here is where some of the cultural differences play a major part in how both units operate.

The vast majority of Delta are infantrymen by Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), or were infantrymen at some point in their careers. SEALs are not and never were infantrymen, nor have they ever spent time training as infantrymen they are a maritime Special Operations force that focuses on direct action and special reconnaissance.

To put it best, my good friend, a squad leader with the Rangers, who has hit countless objectives side-by-side with SEAL Team Six expresses that the unit is incapable of making the switch from operators to basic infantry grunts when the need to do so arises. It’s not a fault of the unit, but simply a by-product of where the shooters were “raised.” (During my time in Afghanistan, I never was on an Afghan objective with SEAL Team Six, although I did get my feet wet in Iraq with Delta.)

As this became an issue, especially with the resurgence of the Taliban en masse circa 2008, JSOC commanders created a very symbiotic relationship between SEAL Team Six and the Rangers. The two units complemented each other and have had a very close relationship in Afghanistan ever since.

Hope this paints a non-classified picture of the fundamental differences between AFO Neptune and AFO Wolfpack. See what I did there?

One team, one fight. Tombstones don’t have unit designations.

Editor’s note: This article was written by Iassen Donov.

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In the News – 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

SEAL Team 6, officially known as United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), and Delta Force, officially known as 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), are the most highly trained elite forces in the U.S. military.

Both are Special Missions Units (SMU) under the control of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), they perform various clandestine and highly classified missions around the world. Each unit can equally perform various types of operations but their primary mission is counter-terrorism.

So what’s the difference between the two? Delta Force recently took out ISIS bad guy Abu Sayyaf in Syria DevGru took out al Qaeda bad guy Osama Bin Laden a few years ago. Same-same, right?

WATM spoke with former DEVGRU operator Craig Sawyer as well as a former Delta operator who asked to remain anonymous to uncover 5 key differences between the two elite forces.

5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

Have a seat across from Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili for just a few seconds and you will see a floor plan pop up pretty quickly. His manners and casual smile, the way he bends forward while speaking, and last but not least, of course, his affection for Starbucks DoubleShot energy drinks make him the typical – almost archetypal – 30-year-old soldier. busy, eager and always ready for the next task, the next challenge. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will be able to clearly see the details that color the world in this simple sketch. However, to cover the entire site, you have to travel around 15,000 miles.

“I always wanted to be a soldier,” says Dzamashvili, who sits in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade on a warm September morning. “When I was a kid, I always thought it would be cool to be a soldier in the American Army.”

These words, and indeed his affinity for the Army and America as a whole, are repeated so often and with such calm conviction that he could almost double himself as a motivational speaker One that may specialize in writing simple daily mantras for busy professionals to read on their daily journey. Instead, Dzamashvili is a state-certified doctor who only joined the army last year, in early 2018. It is a commitment that serves him as a gift for the country that offers him opportunities that he would never have had in his home country Georgia – a tiny, still emerging country at the interface between Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

US Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili speaks to a colleague at his desk in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade.

(Photo by Mr. Ramin A. Khalili)

“Honestly,” says Dzamashvili, “the reason I wanted to be an American soldier is because America gave everything to my family.”

The first 5,000 miles

“When I was born in Georgia,” says Dzamashvili, who dates back to the late 1980s, “it was still part of the USSR. This was just before the USSR split, so there was instability and upheaval .. . there was a persistent. ” fight for power. “

In this atmosphere of decline, Dzamashvili’s father, Constantine, tried to escape when he asked for help from a friend who lived in Chicago in the early 1990s. Political and cultural conflicts in the country at that time hardly more than four million people had led to the collapse of living conditions and in some cases to the fundamental application of the law. And so Constantine, a neurologist by profession, hoped that America could offer security to his wife, son, and young twin daughters.

“My father waited on bread lines for hours to feed the family,” says Dzamashvili. “When he came here it was for a better life.”

But there was a catch to this opportunity. To pay for his family’s move to America, Constantine first had to travel alone to the United States to save enough money. He slept with the same buddy in Chicago for a year – he kept restarting his medical career at age 40 – before moving the rest of the family to Illinois.

Dzamashvili of his father says, “He was out there for a year while we were still in Georgia, until he passed all of his boards and started his residency program that would fund us to come here.”

And so, at the age of five, Sergo was finally in the place he wanted to be all the time … at least for a while.

Return to Georgia

For Sergo, it all started with his grandfather – his father’s father. He was the catalyst, the starting point. He died when Konstantin was late in his teens, so Sergo never had a chance to meet him, but he had pictures – souvenir tapes from Georgia.

“I would always hear stories about his bravery,” says Sergo, “about what kind of man he was. From the beginning I was always fascinated – how he stood there in his [military] Uniform with all these medals. “

These images, coupled with Sergo’s newfound affinity for the United States, stayed with him during his formative years and led to his entry into medical school, which he eventually attended at David Tvildiani Medical University in Georgia.

US Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili (foreground right) conducts Army Warrior Tasks (AWT) exercises during the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt.Raul Pacheco)

The decision to both leave home (go back, so to speak) and reconnect with family roots was disheartening to say the least, as Georgia had the same political instability from Dzamashvili’s youth to the rise of pro-democratic forces in power in the midst 2000s. The tiny, emerging country was still moving – similar to Sergo at that time – through his youth.

In medical education itself, however, there was contrasting comfort. It found that the university Dzamashvili chose was not only highly recommended by family friends who practice medicine in Chicago, but was specially designed for regional students who ultimately wanted to enter medical professions in the United States. To that end, all of the university’s textbooks were written in English, and the total cost of schooling was much less than medical education in the United States – all of the perks his father didn’t have about a decade earlier. Ironically, in 2014 Georgia would become the home of the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Georgia, a sub-command of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research of the USAMRDC.

“My return to Georgia really gave me this perspective,” says Dzamashvili. “There was a long time my family wouldn’t return even though we had a chance to return in the 90s.”

Just twelve years after touching down in the American heartland – and just a few years after becoming an American citizen – Sergo was back on a plane at the age of 17 for a new and different journey.

Homecoming, part II

When you ask him how Georgians speak – ask about the language they use, the way they speak, the casual slang terms they use – Dzamashvili quickly makes it clear that Georgia is a unique one and is unique unity. a highly competitive identity that he clearly still respects.

“Georgians have their own language,” he says quickly, almost as a shrewd but gentle reproach to those who believe that the country is in some way hampered by its turbulent past. “They have their own alphabet, everything – so essentially I had to relearn how to read and write when I went back to school.”

Dzamashvili’s university stint would last six years before he graduated in 2013. By this point, he had not only mastered the rigors of initial medical training, but also had a poignant understanding of the country he was born in (“the people there are very hospitable,” he says) and a better understanding of the government’s democratic efforts (“I see hope,” he says) and, in terms of cultural differences, had also found that Georgia has significant culinary flaws compared to the US (“I missed burritos there,” he says).

US Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili, assigned to HHC’s 21st Signal Brigade, conducts M9 weapons qualification as part of the 21st Signal Brigade competition for Best Warrior 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt.Raul Pacheco)

Dzamashvili landed back in Illinois and eventually passed his medical exams, shadowed professional doctors, and even conducted clinical research at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital. However, when it came time for residency training, instead of waiting a year for the Loyola University of Chicago or the University of Illinois at Chicago, he opted for another path: the US Army.

“Screws are waiting,” says Dzamashvili about his way of thinking at the time. “I will join the army. I was always told that the quickest way to get into the army was to report myself anyway, so I didn’t mind reporting for a couple of years as long as I entered the medical field. “

Desire to meet fate

Now, after thirty years and medical training efforts on two different continents, Sergo Dzamashvili is both a doctor and a member of the US Army. His first assignment is here at Fort Detrick. His unique qualifications have spawned an understandable willingness to move forward – some kind of nibble – as he has, in fact, already begun entering the army medical profession. take the necessary steps to become a doctor. But if you think that the man who has waited almost three decades for his dream to come true has a little time in the waiting room, then you don’t know Sergo.

“My ultimate goal is to practice medicine in the army,” says Dzamashvili. “I want to give that back. I want to serve at least eight years in order to return all service time. “

How long it will take to achieve this remains to be seen. It should come as no surprise, however, that Dzamashvili attempted to draw the arc of his military medical career even before completing his training. Even now that he is working as a HR specialist in the S-1 office until his next assignment, he finds out every day in every shift what so many others would like to welcome in their own lives: meaning, belonging and being satisfied with a job that really makes sense.

In the end – if these types of stories can come to an end – Sergo Dzamashvili’s service career is really just beginning. It would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that Dzamashvili has already led several lives although it wouldn’t be that difficult to say that this is also the truth. In every respect, his currently constructed life’s work is already an impressive achievement a soldier who combines a desire to serve America with the talent required to make lasting impact.

Not bad for a typical 30 year old.

Dzamashvili says: “If I don’t do anything else in my life, I can always say that I was a soldier. That’s how I see it. If there’s nothing else I can do, I’ll always know that I’ve served my country. “

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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WATM spoke with formerꃞVGRU operator਌raig Sawyerਊs well as a former Delta operator who asked to remain anonymous to uncoverਅ key differences between the two elite forces.

1. Selection

Delta Force is an Army outfit that primarily selects candidates from within their own special forces and infantry units. However, they will also select candidates from all਋ranches of service, including the National Guard and Coast Guard.

SEAL Team 6 selects candidates਎xclusively from the Navy&aposs SEAL team community. If a candidate does not pass the grueling selection process they will still remain part of the elite SEAL teams.

"It&aposs a matter of can candidates quickly process what they are taught and keep up," Sawyer says.

2. Training

Both units have the most sophisticated equipment and are highly trained in਌lose Quarters Combat (CQB), hostage rescue, high value target extraction, and other specialized operations. The difference is the extensive training DEVGRU operators have in specialized maritime operations, given their naval heritage.

"Each unit has strengths and weaknesses, neither is better or worse," according to our Delta operator source.

3. Culture

Delta Force operators can be vastly਍iversified in their training background since they can come from various units across different military branches (including DEVGRU). Delta operators will even be awarded medals of their respective branch of service while serving with the Army unit.

"No matter what your background is, everyone starts from zero so that everyone is on the same page," says our former Delta operator.

DEVGRU operators come from the SEAL community, and while the training is intensified and more competitive, they all retain their roots in familiar SEAL training and culture.

"Candidates have proven themselves within the SEAL teams," Sawyer says. "It&aposs a matter of learning new equipment, tactics, and rules of engagement."

4. Missions

Generally speaking, both units are equally capable of executing all specialized missions that JSOC is tasked with. Again, because of DEVGRU&aposs extensive training for specialized maritime operations, they are more likely to receive missions like the rescue of Captain Phillipsਊt sea. Delta&aposs known and successful missions include finding Saddam Hussein and tracking downꂫu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

"These are two groups of the most elite operators the military can provide," says Sawyer.

5. Media਎xposure

Members of both units are known as "quiet professionals" and are notorious for being massively secretive. Unfortunately, with today&aposs social media, 24-hour news coverage and leaks within the government, it can be difficult to keep out of the media no matter what steps are taken to ensure secrecy. While both units carry out high profile missions, SEAL Team 6 has gained much more notoriety and (largely unwanted) exposure in the media in recent years thanks to government leaks and Hollywood blockbuster films such as Zero Dark Thirty (photo above).

"We are very strict with our quiet professionalism. If someone talks, you will probably be blacklisted," says our former Delta operator.

For more detailed differences between these elite forces਌heck out this SOFREP article.

Why Delta Force was chosen over SEAL Team 6 for the operation to kill the leader of ISIS

Why did American commanders choose Delta Force over SEAL Team 6 to conduct the operation that killed the leader of ISIS?

Many are bound to speculate that the SEAL option was quietly put aside because of the never-ending drama emanating from the Naval Special Warfare (NSW). And the problems in the SEAL community aren’t restricted in the “White” SEAL teams – “White” teams are the acknowledged SEAL teams that aren’t part of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

The Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), also known as SEAL Team 6, has had its fair share of issues – issues that came in to the forefront in the immediate aftermath of the last high-profile operation of the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

Operation Neptune Spear, the raid to kill or capture Usama Bin Laden, was conducted by DEVGRU’s Red Squadron. Soon after UBL was dead, an account of the raid appeared in the form of a book written by Mark Bissonnette (he wrote it under the pen name of Mark Owen). Soon thereafter, the “Shooter’s” (Robert O’Neil) account emerged and brought an additional wave of bad publicity on DEVGRU and the NSW community.

And then reports about DEVGRU’s alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan emerged. Couple the above with the recent high profile cases in the NSW community, for example, Chief Gallagher’s war crimes trial, drug issues in SEAL Team 10, SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon withdrawal from Iraq – which was made public by SOCOM on Twitter, highlighting the utter lack of confidence in the SEAL community to discipline its own, and it’s only reasonable to assume that American commander shunned away from the ST6 option because of the inability of the unit and the SEAL community to avoid embarrassing incidents.

A plausible, and even desirable, reason for many in the SOF community. But that wasn’t why Delta was chosen for the operation.

Ever since America has been engaged in two simultaneous conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, JSOC has decided to divide the pie between its two Direct Action Special Mission Units (SMU). DEVGRU got Afghanistan, Delta got Iraq. This, of course, doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a transfusion of elements from the two units between the two Areas of Responsibility (AOR). But Delta has had the lead in Iraq (and Syria) since March 2003.

Read Next: The Washington Times on Delta Force, Here We Go Again.

Another reason why Delta was chosen for the operation is directly related to the above: battlefield familiarity. Delta shooters have been fighting ISIS alongside their Kurdish and Iraqi allies for close to five years. After multiple combat rotations in the theater, they have gained an invaluable understanding of how the terrorist organization functions and its operational and tactical peculiarities. That doesn’t mean that DEVGRU wouldn’t be able to pull this mission off – SMUs are designed, after all, to be ready for any contingency anywhere in the world. But rather it delineates the relationships that Delta has been nurturing in the region and the great work it has been doing. A work that began in late 2015.

Under the guise of the Expeditionary Targeting Force (ETF), JSOC elements redeployed in Iraq in the closing months of 2015. The ETF was autonomous, comprising of shooters from Delta, Rangers, aviation support from the 160 th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160 th SOAR), a military intelligence detachment, and an assortment of enablers. Its goal was simple – take the fight to ISIS give them no rest, no quarter.

Drawing from the McChrystal playbook, which devastated Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) during the Iraqi insurgency, the ETF and its Kurdish allies began a surgical campaign that has since resulted in the killing (direct or indirectly) of approximately 25,000 ISIS fighters.

Operation Kayla Mueller was commanded by JSOC’s departing deputy commander Major General John W. Brennan Jr.

Training and Selection

One major difference between both units is the way they select their members. In my opinion, it’s apples and oranges.

Delta’s selection process is very simple: Twice a year the unit holds the one-month selection course somewhere in the Appalachian mountains. The course attracts over a hundred candidates primarily from the Ranger and SF communities, but from other components as well.

The Rangers and SF soldiers who attend are already some battle-hardened seasoned shooters who have attended numerous grueling selection and training courses previously. And yet the failure rate is still over 90%. Even just finishing the course is not enough as there is a commander’s review board/interview at the end that determines if this person should be accepted into the unit.

If the candidate is accepted, he attends the 6-month Operator Training Course (OTC) which still manages to wash people out who can’t keep up with stressful training curriculum – I understand 60-70% pass. If you want to get into the specifics on selection and OTC, you can read plenty of books including Inside Delta Force, Kill bin Laden, and The Mission, The Men, and Me.

Read Next: The Washington Times on Delta Force, Here We Go Again.

SEAL Team Six’s selection process is very interesting in my opinion. It’s comprised of two parts: the Review and Green Team. The Review portion consists of the SEAL submitting his application for entrance to the team. After which his name, team designation, and picture are posted on a wall in a corridor at Dam Neck and it is up to the individual members to give that candidate a check sign or a minus sign to signify if he should be allowed to undertake the selection process.

If the SEAL is accepted, he attends the six-month-long “Green Team.” Green Team is very similar to Delta’s OTC and is held once a year. Fifty percent do not complete the course. At the end of Green Team, the graduates take part in a draft process held by different representatives from the squadrons because SEAL Team Six members are almost all SEALs — many of the Green Teamers and the Team Six members know each other from past assignments or training. It’s in this process that the graduates get “drafted” into their respective squadrons.

NOTE: I mention that “almost” all members of SEAL Team Six are SEALs and not “all” because the Team is rumored to be open to members of the Marines as well as long as they attend BUD/S (they don’t need to attend SQT). I don’t have any concrete information if any are on the Team.

SEAL Team 6 vs. SEAL Teams


Regular SEALs select candidates out of BUD/w and SQT – most come from the street or Big Navy. DEVGRU selects from the most outstanding SEALs that have at least 5 years of operational experience.


Regular SEAL training focuses on their main mission – direct action. DEVGRU training has a wider scope and includes counter-terrorism (tremendous focus on CQB).


There are many fewer members of DEVGRU than regular SEALs and the JSOC budget is a lot more generous than that of SOCOM. Hence, DEVGRU personnel can use additional (often, expensive) training from world-renowned experts in a wide range of subjects: from breaching to hand-to-hand combat to precision shooting.

SEAL TEAM 6 – DEVGRU’s Red Squadron (Photo: Pinterest)


Navy SEALs are often organized into Task Forces and work for the combatant commanders in a particular area. Their main focus would be Special Reconnaissance and Direct Action. DEVGRU personnel often work more independently and focus on a global scale when it comes to counter-terrorism. This is why they are used in denied areas, such as Yemen and Somalia, to attack HVT (High-Value Targets), such as major terrorists.

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