Could Delta Force Have Saved the U.S. from the War in Afghanistan?

A United States Special Forces operator is an incredible soldier. Each candidate goes through a rigorous selection and training process. After completion, they are capable of fighting anywhere in the world under any conditions, and are the most lethal and force multiplying tools the U.S. military has at its disposal. One 12 man team of operators has the ability to train and lead an army of 200 men. While these soldiers are of the most prestigious and capable in the world, one other group stands above them.

1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta (Delta Force) is made up of the best soldiers in the world. While their existence has not been officially recognized by the American government, these shadow warriors were the first ones to take the fight to the enemy in Afghanistan. In Dalton Fury’s book Kill Bin Laden, the author outlines not only what it takes to be a Delta Operator, but the types of tasks Delta is capable of carrying out.

Delta, along with the CIA, was the first ground force to enter Afghanistan after 9/11. Their task was gargantuan: capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. The difference between Delta and conventional forces is that Delta works from the bottom up. Operators plan their own missions and submit them to their higher ups for review. After much planning, Delta decided the best way to achieve the objective was to enter from Pakistan and cut off Bin Laden’s escape route from the Tora Bora cave complex. The plan may have worked, but Washington turned them down. Al-Qaeda was able to cross the border into Pakistan and aside from the occasional sighting by a Predator drone, has all but disappeared.

Delta works fast and is meant to handle situations that no other unit can. Speed is essential and the chain of command is considered a burden. Had their operation not been turned down, Bin Laden and many top Al-Qaeda figures may be facing justice. While aggravating, this is not the first time Delta has been denied the opportunity to do their job. If you are going to hire a man to do something that few others are capable of, you cannot question his methods.

As we come upon the 10th anniversary of military engagement in Afghanistan, this retrospective look on what the U.S. could have done better is vital. Had the armchair generals in Washington allowed these professionals to operate within their own esoteric parameters and left bureaucracy at the door, neither a troop surge nor the 10 years we have spent fighting this uncertain war in Afghanistan may have been necessary.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Joseph Sarkisian

Joseph graduated with a Master of Science in international relations from the University of Massachusetts Boston and was an intern at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. He completed his BA at Arizona State University in political science as well as studied Arabic language, terrorism/counterterrorism, and religion. Joseph also lived in Egypt where he studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo in 2007. Joseph was the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Government, a teaching assistant in his department, and teaches a class on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. His main areas of interest are the Af/Pak region, Iran, Syria, and other current foreign policy issues.

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