How Do the Delta Force Remain So Elite?

Sebastien Roblin

Key point: The selection and training process serves a greater purpose than just ensuring physical strength.

Just how much torture is a person willing to undergo to get a prestigious job? Given that an average of 250 resumes are submitted for every job position in the United States, one would assume quite a lot.

But there’s writing endless resumes—and then there’s running forty miles at night on an uneven forest trail while lugging a fifty-pound rucksack—with more weight added upon achieving each waypoint.

And to even get into the application pool for that particular job, you first have to master the art of willingly jumping out of a perfectly functional airplane.

This refers, of course, to the admission process for the U.S. Army’s top commando unit.

Eric Haney described the experience of one of the long-distance hiking in his book Inside Delta Force:

“I had covered just slightly over thirty miles by now, but still had more than twenty to go. It was getting more and more difficult to do speed computations in my head. My hands were tingling from the rucksack straps cutting into my shoulders, pinching the nerves and arteries, and restricting the blood flow to my arms.

I was bent forward against the weight of the rucksack. It felt like I was dragging a train behind me, and my feet hurt all the way up to my knees. I don’t mean they were just sore, I mean they felt like I had been strapped to the rack and someone had beaten the balls of my feet with a bat. I tried to calculate the foot-pounds of energy my feet had absorbed so far today, but I had to give up the effort. I only knew that the accumulated tonnage of all those thousands of steps was immense. And it was only going to get worse.”

Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta—or “Delta Force”—remains cloaked equally in official secrecy and popular legend. 

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