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Delta Force: The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit

Delta Force: The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit

4.2 23
by Charlie A. Beckwith, Donald Knox

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The only insider's account ever written on America's most powerful weapon in the war against terrorism


The only insider's account ever written on America's most powerful weapon in the war against terrorism

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
"Delta Force, considered the equivalent of SEAL Team 6, are far more tight-lipped than the SEALs."
Washington Post
"Delta Force is arguably the most effective fighting unit in the world."
The Wall Street Journal
"Absolutely compelling...nations without men like this simply don’t survive."
Los Angeles Times
"The Army’s most elite commando unit."
Armed Forces Journal
"A page turner. ... Hard to put down. ... One of those rare books that military people will annotate and underline and hesitate ever to lend out. ... Beckwith’s candor is extraordinary."
Wall Street Journal
Absolutely compelling...nations without men like this simply don't survive.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.57(d)

Read an Excerpt

It was June of 1962. My wife, two daughters, and I arrived in Southampton, England. The instructions I had received in Fort Bragg requested that my family and I take a bus to London and, after checking into a hotel, to call the headquarters of the Special Air Service (SAS) and receive further information about where and when to report to the unit.

The dock was full of activity; but somehow, amongst the press of debarking passengers and the waiting crowd of homecoming well-wishers, I was found and greeted by an American major. He introduced himself as Bob Kingston and told me he had just completed a year attachment to the British Parachute Regiment. He'd come down to the pier to ten me how useful he thought I'd find my tour with the SAS. I tried to be polite and hear everything he had to say, but my mind was on collecting my luggage, clearing customs, and getting Katherine and the girls London-bound.

Settled into the bus, somewhere beyond the cathedral town of Winchester, I had a chance to think about what Major Kingston had told me. He'd been the second person to rave about the Special Air Service. The first had been Col.I.A. "Boppy" Edwards, the CO of the 7th Special Forces Group.

A few years earlier, Colonel Edwards had gotten together an SAS officer, Lt. Col. John Woodhouse, and between they had shaped an exchange program between the two elite units. The Brits would send the U.S. Army Special Forces officer and a noncommissioned officer; and our Green Berets would reciprocate. A Sergeant Rozniak and I got into the program in 1962. We were selected to spend a year training with the 22 Special Air Service Regiment.

I knew a little about the SAS. I knew thatit shared with the Brigade of Guards a deep respect for quality and battle discipline, but unlike the Guards it had little respect for drill and uniform, in part because it approached warfare in an entirely unorthodox manner. During World War II, in collaboration with the Long Range Desert Group, the First SAS Regiment had conducted raids behind Rommel's lines in the Western Desert on Benghazi, Tobruk, and Jalo. Then after the war, throughout the fifties, the unit had fought with distinction in Malaya. Working in small unit formations, some as small as 4-man patrols, the SAS had penetrated deeply into the Malayan jungle and there had hunted down, fought, and helped defeat a large, well-armed Communist guerrilla force. From this long campaign the Special Air Service had emerged with a reputation as perhaps the free world's finest counterterrorist unit.

This thumbnail historical sketch was all I knew. I had no idea how they assessed, selected, and trained their soldiers. Overflowing with the cockiness of youth, I was a hotshot Green Beret captain with Special Operations experience. I'd served a tour two years earlier in Laos. Our people in Fort Bragg had led me to believe I would lend to the Brits special skiffs and training methods we Yanks had learned. At the same time, I expected to pass along to our community information from the SAS. It didn't always work out that way — certainly not in my case.

In London, the adjutant of headquarters SAS, Maj. C.E. "Dare" Newell, told me he would drive us Monday to the Herefordshire home of the 22 Special Air Service Regiment, Bradbury Lines. Early Monday morning, Major Newell came by and picked us up. It was a hot summer's day, and the green English countryside, especially west of Oxford, looked lush. Toward midafternoon we drove into Bradbury Lines.

It was obvious the regiment had gone to a lot of trouble in making preparations to receive us. Several of the officers and their wives were waiting for us at our new quarters, which were situated directly across the street from the officers' mess. Our rooms were completely furnished, and once we had unloaded our luggage from Major Newell's auto, the wives took Katherine and the girls on a tour of the town that would be their home for the next year.

I felt very comfortable in these new surroundings, even if I was surrounded by men from Cornwall and Wales, Liverpool and Glasgow, whose various brogues, accents, and dialects I would have to learn. I expect they had as much trouble with my Georgia drawl.

After the second day, biting at the bit, I was called up to the regimental commander, Lieutenant Colonel Wilson.

Once the pleasantries were concluded, I was informed I would be going to A Squadron. This was disappointing. I had hoped I would go to D Squadron. It was commanded by a big redheaded Scotsman named Harry Thompson, who had been to the States and understood Americans. In the short time I'd been in Bradbury Lines I'd learned that Thompson was part of the team that had so successfully dealt with the CTs (Communist Terrorists) in Malaya.

A Squadron was commanded by Maj. Peter Walter. A small man and a very sharp dresser, he perceived himself — and was in fact — quite a ladies' man. He'd come up through the SAS ranks, beginning as a sergeant during the Emergency. Walter was a very hard man who had the reputation of being physically and mentally tough. He also wanted you to think he was without scruples. His nickname was "the Rat." At first I wasn't very comfortable with him.

There were four troops in A Squadron, and I would command Three Troop. I was taken by Major Walter to A Squadwo Headquarters where I was introduced to my temporary troop sergeant, "Gypsy" Smith. Sergeant Smith then escorted me- to Three Troop's billets.

Although the camp was World War II vintage, it showed now of its age. Bradbury Lines was, in fact, growing old graciously. The grounds and gardens were meticulously maintained by a crew of gardeners. The barracks had been recently painted on the outside a dazzling white with blue trim.

Straight lines, square comers, yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full. That's what I'd been taught. That's what I knew. I was a captain in the United States Army. Straight lines. Square comers. Yes, sir! No, sir! Three bags fall!

I walked into Three Troop's wooden barracks. The long room was a mess. It was worn and dirty. Rucksacks (called Bergens) were strewn everywhere. Beds were unkempt, uniforms scruffy. It reminded me more of a football locker room than an army barracks. Two of the troopers — I never learned if it was done for my benefit or not — were brewing tea on the floor in the middle of the room...

Meet the Author

U.S. Army Colonel Charles A. Beckwith was the founderand first commanding officer of Delta Force. For his service,he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star,Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart. He is interred in the FortSam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.

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Delta Force: The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read...very informative and interesting. You won't be able to put the book down. See how The Unit began and how they perfected their craft.
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funreaderJH More than 1 year ago
This book is a detailed account of both the inspiration for and circuitous path of the creation of Delta Force and the internal military politics/jealousies which had to be overcome to permit the creation of Delta Force. After Delta Force is operational, the book covers the attempted hostage rescue of the American Embassy in Iran. When read in conjunction with Inside Delta Force by Eric L. Haney, the reader will have an appreciation for the soldiers who conduct these type of operations and even have an understanding of what happens behind the scenes in crisis situations in today's world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for anyone interested in what goes on in the Special Forces community. Col. 'Chargin' Charlie Beckwith takes you through his tours of duty and how after serving with the SAS realized America needed to be able to go after terrorist. His insight brought us Delta Force even though many in our government didn't see the need for it. He takes you through it's birth all the way to the mission in Iran. You won't want to put it down. Thank God Charlie had the vision to protect us all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really shows you the inner workings of what it took to build up delta force. How many people didn't want to have an organization like this and wanted it to fail. It shows in detail what happenned at Operation Ricebowl. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know about counterterrorist groups. It gives a good detail about what it takes to be in this elite unit. The chapters keep you going and at the end of each chapter you want to know more. A very good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly inspirational. A must for anyone interested in the origin and development of Delta. Two thumbs up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank god for men like him. He knew what needed to be done, years before anyone else. He also knew how to do it. I would feel safer if he were still in the army
Guest More than 1 year ago
I do not normally express my opinion in these online reviews; however, those who chose to review this book negatively are so wrong that I felt I needed to say something. Perhaps Col. Beckwith can be a touch self-aggrandizing, but he tells an excellent story that sheds light on a very mysterious and secretive unit. If he left out details, it was because he had to. If you don't like his lingo, like using the term green beret, well all I can say is that he is a man who would know the appropriate terms for members of his own profession. If a former special forces officer with combat experience who dedicated his life to special ops and founded america's most elite special operations unit wants to call men in his former unit green berets, I think he has earned the right. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Col. Beckwith and I thoroughly enjoyed his book. I simply could not put it down. I recommend it to all who are curious about special operations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am sorry that Col. Beckwith chose to glorify himself rather than the men he led. I am an avid reader of special forces history and think he could have done a much better job of describing what was done and how it was\is done as well as the future of the unit. To tell half a story is worst than not telling the story at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i have read many military books, and i feel the authur should have stuck with soldiering. beckwith uses phrases in his book that anyone who knows the correct phrase cringe, such as 'gree beret', which is HEADGEAR, not a type of soldier....for shame
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am sorry to spill the beans but Col. Beckwith's account of his 'single handedly' created, trained and developed an American SAS-style unit does not do it for me. I think his account of the failed rescue in Iran is in my view an effort to pass on responsability for his own failures
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. Very intense and informative.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what I was expecting from this book. I enjoyed it though. The author, Colonel Beckwith, obviously is one tough soldier. He gives a complete overview of how the Delta Force was established by himself. Respectfully, the Colonel does not go into too many details about current Delta Force missions. I respect that, but as an interested reader, it is disappointing. I do recommend the book. It is worth the expense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very in-depth and informative book about the US Army's secret force. What makes it so interesting is that it is a book on a topic there is very little information about. I feel that very few information should be reveiled on this subject, because the success that comes with combat situations nowadays is all about secrecy,the element of surprise
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must read for anyone interested in elite special operations units and counter terrorisim. A detailed history on the creation of the U.S. Army's elite counter terrorism unit, Delta Force. A suprising look at inter army politics and jealousies regarding the formation of Delta ( ie: attempts by some in the U.S. Army to destroy Delta before it got started). Excellent descriptions of selecting and training of the first operators of the unit. An excellent book !