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Combat Applications Training

by
author image Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott has been writing on international politics, local news and culture since 2004. He has written articles, op-eds, columns and edited for student organization presses and blogs, including the Roosevelt Institution Defense and Diplomacy blog. In 2005 and 2006 Scott attended the Journalism Education Association national conferences. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Davis.
Combat Applications Training
Delta Force training exercise at military base. Photo Credit Warrick Page/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Army's Combat Applications Group -- more commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, CAG or The Unit -- is the best-trained counterterrorist special operations unit within the United States military. The majority of CAG's operational information, including training details, is classified, though there are a number of reliable public sources.

Recruitment And Selection

CAG recruits the majority of its operators from the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces. Soldiers from these two units in particular have already been taught much of the combat skills required of CAG members. CAG operators are primarily enlisted men between the pay grades of E-4 through E-8, are at least 21 years old, and must be male.

The selection process for the unit is similar in nature to Special Forces selection. Candidates are tested on the standard Army physical fitness test, swimming ability, land navigation and ruck marching. Additionally, candidates are tested psychologically and screened in extensive and high-stress interviews.

Training

Once candidates have been selected, they proceed to CAG's operator training course. At OTC, candidates spend their time training in counter-terrorism technical drills. These training events consist of firearms and marksmanship training, demolitions, driving, espionage and protective skills. The emphasis is on training as close to real-combat situations as possible -- with firearms even containing live ammunition.

History

The unit was created in 1977 by Army Col. Charles Beckwith in response to the multitude of terrorist attacks against Americans. Delta's structure was influenced by the Britain's counter-terrorist Special Air Service. The unit's first major publicized operation in 1980 was the attempted rescue of American embassy hostages in Tehran, also known as Operation Eagleclaw. Unfortunately, the operation ended in failure due to two of the helicopters used by the unit crashing before reaching their target. Other CAG operations include the 1983 rescue of political prisoners held in Grenada in Operation Urgent Fury; the U.S. mission's removal of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega; and action during both Gulf Wars, in Somalia and Afghanistan.

Mission

Combat Applications Training
Delta Force is part of the Special Operations Forces element in the war on terror. Photo Credit John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

CAG's primary mission is counterterrorism, specializing in hostage rescue, covert espionage, reconnaissance, high-value target protection, and operations against barricaded targets. Its combined expertise in diverse methods of employing weapons, intelligence gathering and tactics makes CAG well-suited to this task. In addition to these tactics, CAG operators also learn to specialize in various modes of mission mobility, including scuba diving and high altitude low opening -- or HALO -- parachuting procedures. CAG has also been known to perform security work within the United States, such as its presence at the Seattle World Trade Conference in 1999.

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