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Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit

Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit

4.3 214
by Eric Haney;

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They are the Army's most elite top-secret strike force. But you won't hear about their heroics on the news, no headlines about them can appear in the papers, and no one—not even their families—can know who they are. First Special Forces Operational Detachment-D—Delta Force, America's supersecret counterterrorist unit. On paper they do not exist,


They are the Army's most elite top-secret strike force. But you won't hear about their heroics on the news, no headlines about them can appear in the papers, and no one—not even their families—can know who they are. First Special Forces Operational Detachment-D—Delta Force, America's supersecret counterterrorist unit. On paper they do not exist, but without them, our lives wouldn't be the same.

In this exclusive behind-the-scenes account, founding member Eric L. Haney, Command Sergeant Major, USA (ret.), takes you into the grueling selection and training process of Delta Force. From learning how to open a padlock with a soda can to rescuing a hijacked airplane, these men are masters of espionage and warfare. They are the anonymous heroes who protect us every day from threats we'll never know existed.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this rapidly changing and dangerous world, U.S. Special Forces are vital to the security of all Americans. CSM Eric Haney is perhaps the World's foremost expert on military special ops. Read INSIDE DELTA FORCE and learn what we are really up against."
—Bill O'Reilly, Anchor, Fox News Channel

"A book that could not be more timely, written by a warrior who knows what he's talking about.."
—James Webb, author of Fields of Fire and Lost Soldiers

“A rousing chronicle of what it’s really like to be a special-ops guy.”

“Compelling memoir...a book that you won’t want to put down.”

“Perfect for military enthusiasts.”
—Kirkus Reviews

Following 9/11, Delta Force, the Army's super-secret counterterrorist arm, received much unsought publicity. Now retired, Command Sergeant Major Eric L. Haney was there in 1977 when the Army launched the elite unit. Inside Delta Force serves not only as an up-close-and-personal look inside a clandestine unit but also as the powerful memoir of a talented and articulate soldier.
Publishers Weekly
Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit by Eric Haney, a founding member of Delta Force, redirects for young adults the contents of his book published in 2002 for adults with the same title (and the basis of David Mamet's forthcoming CBS television series, The Unit). Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The world lives in the shadow of terrorist threat, and even before September 11 bought the reality of that threat home to America, the United States government's elite counterterrorist unit, Delta Force, has been working behind the scenes to combat terrorist activity, particularly hostage rescue, throughout the world. A retired command sergeant major, Haney writes about his personal experience as a member of the inaugural Delta Force unit. An army ranger, Haney was chosen for the grueling selection process on the remote edges of Fort Bragg for the special unit whose existence and mission remains to this day shrouded in mystery. Through part one of his riveting narrative, Haney recounts every torturous step of "selection," while one by one his fellow recruits drop by the wayside and are quickly sent, under a vow of secrecy, back to their home units. Haney is one of the few men left standing after the final challenge. In part two, Haney details Delta Force Operator training, including Close Quarters Battle training where operators storm a room with hostages and terrorists, selectively removing threats through highly-tuned sniper skill. The story is riveting with scenes so vividly described that this book is difficult to put down. The memoir concludes with the final training exercise that officially creates the first Delta unit. Haney gives his readers an exclusive insider's perspective without revealing government secrets or including gratuitous violence, making this a book for adolescents that may end up on their parents' nightstands. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined asgrades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Delacorte, 192p., and PLB Ages 11 to 18.
—Michele Winship
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-An adaptation of the author's adult book with the same title (Dell, 2002). The first part of the book gives an overview of Haney's military career and his association with the force and describes the red tape and planning that was required of those who wished to create a new, secret military unit that officially did not exist. It also includes a description of the physical challenges required of those who were chosen to participate in what was a preliminary round of qualification tests. Those who were successful in all the tests were then eligible to participate in the actual selection process. The second half of the text shows the sometimes brutal challenges the successful candidates were required to complete and details some of the actual training sessions. The narration concludes with the unit being sent on a "dry run" scenario in order to practice newly acquired skills. Black-and-white photos and documents are included in a centerfold. The reading level is not extremely high, but the subject is more likely to be of interest to older readers. This is an excellent choice for students with military interests.-Eldon Younce, Harper Elementary School, KS Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A founding member's memoir of soldiering in the Army's antiterrorism unit. Developed in the late 1970s, the Delta Force is so secretive that it's surprising retired Sergeant Major Haney was permitted to write this account. The narrative's first half describes the qualities required for membership (a combination of Bond-esque savvy and Rambo-esque strength), Haney's "selection," and his training. The selection process demanded physical and mental endurance. Participants had to complete 18-mile and 40-mile marches to qualify for a unit about whose actual activities they had only the vaguest knowledge. Haney, already a happy career soldier, found his niche in this environment. He was comfortable with uncertainty, professional about completing his tasks, and demanding of himself. In training, he learned the skills of an assassin. Delta Force operators practiced storming terrorist-held buildings and shooting terrorists without injuring hostages. Once acquired, these skills took Haney all over the world. The Delta Force planned and attempted a rescue of Iranian hostages that was botched by faulty Navy aircraft. Haney worked on the American Ambassador's security detail in Lebanon just before the embassy there was bombed. He helped rescue missionaries in Sudan, participated in guerilla warfare in Honduras, and stormed the island of Grenada. These exploits, though sensational in their danger, become somewhat rote in the retelling. Whereas the early chapters are driven by the force of Haney's deepening love affair with the Army, later events seem stagnant despite all the derring-do. Once the uncertainty of selection and training are finished, a soldierly professionalism takes over. As Haney putsit, "No posturing, no sloganeering, no high fives, no posing, no bluster, and no bombast. Just a quiet determination to get the job done." That same creed permeates his book: doubts, fears, and emotion are subdued in favor of action. Perfect for military enthusiasts and Hollywood screenwriters

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt


I am a nomad, son of an ancient line of nomads. The larger part of my family line is made up of the Scots-Irish, a people descended from that peculiar mixture of the Celts of the northern British Isles and the invading Danes and Norsemen. The result was a landless, illiterate, anarchic, and warlike people who were always difficult, if not downright impossible, to govern. They were a race the British Crown rightfully viewed as dangerous rebels, and consequently exiled to the New World by the tens of thousands.

On arrival in the American colonies, these people fled as far as possible from government control, many of them crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains, and migrating from there throughout what eventually became the highlands of the southern United States. They were the original "backwoodsmen" of American history. In their new home these renegade peoples tended to travel together in interrelated clans that also married and bred quite readily with the Cherokee and Creek Indians of the region.

Both sides of my family were landless sharecroppers and mountain people as far back as I can determine. There is no written record of ancestry, for my parents were the first of our people to read and write and to own a little property. Inherited wealth may be something easily squandered, but inherited poverty is a legacy almost impossible to lose.

What did I receive from this lineage? Things I consider to be very valuable: a good raw intellect and a good tough body. A sense of independence and a realization that wherever I am is my home. A sense of humor. A sense of personal honor that results in a touchiness common to our people. We are easily offended and prone to violence when offended. When the only thing you own is your sense of honor, you tend to protect it at all costs.

I inherited a sense of wanderlust and a curiosity about the world. I inherited a warlike attitude; we have always been good soldierly material if properly disciplined and broken in. I inherited a sense of spirituality rather than "religion," which has served me well, especially in trying times. I am self-confident and resilient. My psyche is self-cleansing. I love life.

I grew up in the mountains of north Georgia during the fifties and sixties. It was then part of the "third world," and some say it still is. Electricity came to our home when I was a young boy. Indoor plumbing followed some years later.

Though I have some fair native intelligence, I never received any direction in school and was often an indifferent student. But I loved to read and would consume all my textbooks at the start of the year and then coast after that. I preferred roaming the mountains, hunting, fishing, and exploring.

I would become the first of my family to graduate high school, and for us that was considered a pretty good achievement, as our expectations weren't very high. It isn't that my parents were against education, it's that neither of them had gone further than elementary school and they just didn't have the ability or the understanding to help.

Though we may not have been scholars, we did know how to go into the military. I had grown up listening to the war stories and tales of my family and friends and I was determined to join up just as soon as I was able. I enlisted in the Army in the spring of 1970, while still in high school, with a reporting date immediately after graduation. I fell in love with the Army as soon as I met her.

I became a professional soldier, and that is what I will be until I die. The military is a profession that brands itself on the soul and causes you forever after to view the world and all human endeavor through a unique set of mental filters. The more profound and intense the experience, the hotter the brand, and the deeper it is plunged into you. I was seared to the core of my being.

For twenty years, I served America in the most demanding and dangerous units in the United States Army. As a combat infantryman, as a Ranger, and ultimately, as a founding member and eight-year veteran of the Army’s supersecret counterterrorist arm, Delta Force.

Close brutal combat puts a callous layer on each individual who undergoes the experience. With some men, their souls become trapped inside those accrued layers and they stay tightly bound up within themselves, unable or unwilling to reach outside that hard protective shell.

For others, the effect is just the opposite. That coating becomes like a looking glass, highlighting and magnifying the things that are really important in life. Every sensation becomes precious and delicious. Even the painful ones. Sometimes especially the painful ones. I feel that's what my experiences have done for me.

I hate the destructiveness and waste of warfare, but I love the sensation of it. In combat, mankind is seen in absolutes—at his very best or his very worst. There are no in-betweens. No one has a place to hide.

War has also taught me that each one of us contains every ingredient of the human recipe. By varying measure we are all cowards and brave men, thieves and honest men, selfish and selfless men, malingerers and champions, weasels and lions. The only question is how much of each attribute we allow—or force—to dominate our being.

In combat, there are no winners. The victors just happen to lose less than the vanquished. One side may impose its will on the other, but there is nothing noble or virtuous about the process. People are killed and maimed, homes and communities are destroyed, lives are shattered, families are broken apart and scattered to the wind—and just a few years later, we can barely remember why.

Above my desk is a picture taken in 1982 of B Squadron, my old Delta unit. It is one of the very few group photos ever taken within our organization. It shows a group of hardened Special Operations combat veterans. In the course of the next decade, nearly every man in that photo would be wounded at least once, some multiple times. Many were maimed or crippled for life. A number would be killed in action. All of us are freighted with the memories of those times and events, and all of us are better men for the experience.

This is my story of that perilous yet fascinating world, as seen through my eyes and lived in my skin, told as honestly and faithfully as I can. I can do no more than that.

And in honor of my fallen comrades, I can do no less.


During the 1970s, the United States became the favorite whipping boy for any terrorist group worthy of the name. They had come to realize that American interests could be struck with practical impunity throughout the world, and as the decade unfolded, the pace and severity of those assaults quickened. America, the Gulliver-like giant, had sickened of warfare in Vietnam and was both unable and unwilling to slap at the mosquitoes of terrorism.

For years, famed Special Forces officer Colonel Charlie Beckwith had been the lone voice crying in the wilderness about the terrorist threat facing the nation, and what it would take to effectively confront that threat. He had seen the need within the U.S. military for a compact, highly skilled, and versatile unit able to undertake and execute difficult and unusual "special" missions.

Modeled along the lines of the British commando organization, the Special Air Service (SAS), such an element would be the surgical instrument that could be employed at a moment's notice to execute those tasks outside the realm of normal military capability.

It was Charlie's tenacity that finally won the day and set the wheels in motion that would ultimately bring such a unit into existence. But creating that organization and bringing it to life within the hidebound hierarchy of the Army was a task not dissimilar to electing a pope.

As a rule, armies hate change—and no one hates change more than the ones who have benefited most by the status quo: the general officers. Now and then, innovative thinkers do happen to wear stars on their collars, and Colonel Beckwith's loud and persistent calls for a national counterterrorism force had found the ears of two such men: Generals Bob Kingston and Edwin "Shy" Meyer.

Kingston was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and he readily saw the possibilities of the type of force Beckwith was proposing. But he knew that presenting the idea through Army bureaucracy was like walking in a minefield—it could be killed in a thousand different ways. To make headway would require someone with horsepower and a mastery of the military political system, and Shy Meyer was that man.

General Meyer was serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, and rumor had it that he would soon become the Chief Beckwith and Kingston floated their idea of a counterterrorism force to Meyer and immediately realized they were preaching to the choir. Meyer, too, had entertained ideas along that same line, and now the three men enthusiastically shared their thoughts on the subject. The need was evident, but creating a force from whole cloth was going to be extremely difficult.

First they had to determine what types of missions their fictional unit would be tasked with, because the mission dictates a unit's size. With that they were able to build a Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E), which outlines unit configuration, rank structure, and arms and equipment. The completed TO&E allowed them to forecast a budget for both start-up and annual costs.

Once their "straw man" was complete, from his position in the Pentagon, Meyer started digging, looking for the places to extract the money and the men for the outfit. It may come as a surprise, but the Army does not just have men hanging around and unemployed. Every unit has a manpower quota, and every soldier is assigned to a unit, even if he doesn't work there. But sometimes there are units that are alive on paper but not actually in existence at the time, with the men allocated to those paper units being used elsewhere. Meyer found enough of those slots to man their dream organization, and he uncovered a source of untapped money to breathe life into it.

Next they spent months "what-iffing" their paper unit. They had to be able to anticipate every objection to their creation in advance and have a sound, well-thought-out response to every question. Allies were sought. Powerful and influential generals who could block the formation of the unit were sounded out as to their feelings on the idea. Nothing was ever presented to anyone as a proposal, it was much too early for that. For the time being they just wanted to know who were the friends and who were foes.

But when the more powerful generals realized that a new unit wouldn't intrude on their turf or siphon money from their budgets, they gave their nods of acceptance, if not approval. With that, the trio of Kingston, Meyer, and Beckwith were ready to present their plan. The formal proposal for a national counterterrorism force was presented at the Fort Benning Infantry Conference in the summer of 1977. With all the details and political machinations completed in advance, the proposal was duly approved, and it was recommended to the Chief of Staff of the Army that such an organization be formed immediately. By that time General Meyer was the Chief.

1st Special Forces Operational Detachment—Delta was given offficial life on 21 November 1977 by order of Headquarters, Department of the Army. When Beckwith was chosen to command the new outfit, he immediately set to work. He handpicked a few staff members, found an old derelict building in an out-of-the-way spot on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and started the struggle to midwife his baby.

It would not be an easy birth.

Meet the Author

Eric L. Haney, Command Sergeant Major, USA (ret.), served for more than 20 years in the United States Army's most demanding combat units. Today Haney lives and writes in the relative peace and quiet of Marietta, Georgia.

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Inside Delta Force 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 214 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haney's candidness about his feelings regarding carrying out these missions was a surprising benefit Most career soldiers make it a point to mask their true feelings about a certain situation or mission, but Haney lays it all on the table It gives the book a certain authenticity that you won't find in other reads I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a realistic and grounded perspective on this elite fighting unit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be entertaining and insightful. I enjoyed getting Mr. Haney's perspective on the military and the inner workings that send our troops into combat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling and Interesting Memoir. I enjoyed INSIDE DELTA FORCE by Eric Haney. This narrative details Haney's experiences as an Army Ranger who enlisted in the Army right out of high school, through his experiences in selection for the very newly formed and (then) highly secretive Delta Force, and his experiences as an Operator. I enjoyed the day-to-day experiences he relates about the selection process, his training, the things he learned, the interactions with military officers and ultimately, his personal views about the war on terror. While the book relies heavily on the development of Delta Force, and Eric Haney's experiences through that process, it also contains explanations and circumstances surrounding both well-known and never-released-to-the-public world events that the government called upon Delta Force to execute. There's something fascinating about the makings of a Spec Ops warrior, and as I enjoy fiction about these elite warriors, I also found this nonfiction account to be highly engaging. Haney has a real gift for relaying a sensory-rich setting and the emotions connected with the memories. He pays fitting tribute to fine Operators who died, both in the line of duty and from causes incident to age. Because the memoir is written so cleanly from Haney's personal experiences, after reading it, I feel like I heard him recount his involvement and history as friends lingering over a beverage. I'm impressed with the clarity of the writing, the conciseness of the storytelling, and the pacing that carries the reader through years of military history. Highly recommended to fans of military nonfiction, as well as fans of military fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a former soldier, I appreciate the fact that these men are at the absoslute top of their game. Mr. Haney tells an escellent tale and tells it well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book and entertaining, we always hear about seal team six but delta force is the most shadowy counter terror unit of them all, well worth the money
VicCT More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the work that our special forces cadres perform. Eric Haney has a smooth flowing writing style that makes his memoir read like a novel. He makes a nostalgic recollection of selection and his early assignments, makes a detailed and blunt assessment of his activities in Lebanon, then makes a horrifying and chilling description of the invasion of Grenada. The climax of the memoir truly is novel-like, and made me put the book down to contemplate whether it was the truth or a falsehood. I lean towards thinking that it was false. Nevertheless, his description of guerrilla warfare in Honduras was the most disturbing part of the work. Overall, if you are remotely interested in the most understudied period in American history (from the fall of Saigon to 9/11) this book will give a unique glimpse into the era.
Haines Wendell More than 1 year ago
Best book ever, at least in my time
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It was a fun read, no dull parts throughout the book.
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