Inside Delta Force, Haney | But What For Notes


Inside Delta Force: The Story of America’s Elite Counterterrorist Unit
Eric L. Haney
Blog Post:
Purchase: View on Amazon

Introduction & Inside Delta Force

  • Eric Haney was the first of his family to graduate from high school, and then he went on to join the Army, which was something his family often did, and became a professional soldier
    • He was in the Rangers and Delta Force
  • In the 1970s, terrorist attacks on the US, or US persons outside of the country, became more common, and a Colonel Charlie Beckwith became convinced America needed a solution.
    • In November 1977 approval was given to form the group, using Fort Bragg in North Carolina
  • Quotes
    • Inherited wealth may be something easily squandered, but inherited poverty is a legacy almost impossible to lose.
      • Page vii 

In the Beginning

  • We meet Haney in Ranger training, parachuting out of a plane going through a drill; Eric is leading the drill and is the last out of the plane
  • Once on the ground, he is invited to apply for a new unit – Delta Force. He has recently been fearful that after a career of only having served in combat units, he will be tasked to be a trainer for the remainder of his career, so he signs up on the spot
  • He gets to the camp and everything is less formal, and people are nicer than he is used to, with a standard “have a good ‘un” as their goodbye
  • Sergeant Major Walt Shumate was in charge of the trials to get into the new unit; they took a picture with 163 men before the trials got started
  • They then went through a number of tests
    • Running tests and 18 mile hike
      • They had to carry 40 pounds of weight on the hike, and Haney loaded up his pack slightly above required weight to make sure there was no mistake on the scales (this burned at least one other recruit who was barely too light)
    • They filled out questionnaires, meant to test them psychologically, and tested them when they were tired
    • They did navigation drills, back and forth across mountain ridges, through forests and over rivers, ad nauseum
    • Importantly, in all these drills, the potential recruits were never told what was required in terms of time, where their destination was, when they were behind on time or how far they had remaining to go – meaning you had to give it your best 100% of the time while also pacing yourself from an endurance perspective
      • This was hard on some men that were used to structure, specific goals and targets
  • The last physical test was a forty mile hike, leaving at 0200
    • Haney ended up going the wrong way at a point during the hike and had to do 50 miles total to get to the finish line (which was never defined) – but he did it
    • Throughout the whole ordeal, the officers at different checkpoints were constantly telling you to quit, telling you that it was hopeless and trying to wear you doing psychologically
  • Only 18 of the 163 starting recruits made it through all the tests and 40 mile hike
  • Eric then met a psychologist that was basically an asshole trying to rattle the remaining 18 individuals with questions able made-up accusations from other recruits, amongst other things
  • Eric was accept by the Commander Review board after some heated exchanges , with Colonel Beckwith where Eric let his hotheadedness get the better of him, but that actually resonated well with Beckwith
  • Quotes
    • I would just keep my mouth shut, my eyes and ears open, and respond to whatever came up. It’s the system I’d always used in new situations, and so far it had served me well.
      • Page 20
    • The cadre chief had never been loud or threatening, and he never spoke in a demeaning or insulting manner, but it had been clear he would neither listen to nor tolerate any bullshit.
      • Page 34
    • I would have to be smarter about my route selection because I wouldn’t be able to beat down the mountains. If I tried to assault them, eventually they would overpower me. All I wanted was their indifference. In return I promised to make my passages as unobstructive as I could.
      • Page 50
    • As the truck rumbled off, I looked at the other group, but they were still sitting there. I quickly wondered which of us was going where, and just as quickly dismissed the thought. The men in the other group weren’t my concern, and as for me, I’d know the destination when I got there.
      • Page 52
    • What was the lesson here? Simple. Don’t quit. Never quit no matter what. Keep going until someone tells you to sit down. Keep going as long as you’re able to move, no matter how poorly you think you may be doing. Just don’t quit.
      • Page 55
    • But then I had a revelation: What difference could it possible make if I crossed back and forth over this same mountain until doomsday? A mountain was a mountain, time was time and route selection was route selection.
      • Page 59
    • Commanders come and commanders go. If the unit has decent troops, it will survive. With a good commander, a good unit could prosper; with a bad one, a good unit could hold its own.
      • Page 77

Preparing the Force

  • Training started with shooting training – they used a submachine gun and a pistol mainly in the assault group – and training around how to assault a room / neutralize a terrorist group in that room without hurting any hostages
    • This was done in the Shooting House, where they could create different scenarios
    • The purpose of this training was to shoot intuitively and accurately without needing to think about taking aim – being able to run into room, neutralize targets, analyze the situation as it unfolds and communicate effectively, all at the same time
    • Training included eventually hitting practice targets with team members playing the hostages, so it was real and you learned to trust each other
  • Training included how to use demolition techniques appropriate for every situation 
  • Training for the snipers involved also learning surveillance, planning, and effective communication around sharing a picture of the full scene accurately
    • The long gun and short gun teams work in combination with each other, and moving information between the groups efficiently is important
    • Being the sniper was hard given the personal nature of the job; you see, study and get to know the target before ever (if you do) pulling the trigger
  • Learning to handle hostage situations on an airplane, on the ground, was one of the harder things to figure out for Delta Force
    • Delta airlines helped them by letting them train on their planes
    • The team gathered data on all types of planes in order to get a consolidated set of materials on all planes, which had information like height from ground, type of materials and location of windows, doors, seats, cargo, amongst other things
  • Fieldcraft – basically clandestine work – was the last part of their training, and they worked with the CIA / FBI to learn these things
  • The last test ahead of being commissioned was evading the FBI while completing field craft missions, and then showing up and running through a 72 hour aircraft hijacking drill followed by a shooting test
  • Quotes
    • Because the reality was, in order to become experts at counterterrorism, we have to first become expert terrorists.
      • Page 91
    • Next we added teammate-down drills: how to pick up a partner’s side of the room if he was shot and incapacitated or his weapon malfunctioned.
      • Page 106
    • Just as there are no old, bold pilots, there are no old, fearless demo men. You have to handle explosives the way you would a large, bad-tempered rattlesnake. You never take the snake for granted and you never, ever, let your attention wander.
      • Page 108
    • He knew our future depended on the goodwill and help of some of the other government agencies, and he was shrewd enough about human nature that he knew how to go about gaining that support. He invited people from the highest and most influential levels of government to come to the unit for a visit or to be a guest speaker.
      • Page 121
    • With that as a given, I can tell you that some of our tactics discussions became pretty heated. If you threw an idea on the table during a skull session, you had to be ready to defend it from all sides.
      • Page 125
    • The job of the negotiator is to make sure that everything has a price. If the terrorists want water – they have to give something in exchange. If they want the the toilets pumped out – they have to give something in exchange.
      • Page 173
    • [Concerning after-action reviews] There is no better way for an organization to improve itself and move forward in a professional manner. But it is a process that must be fundamentally rooted in trust and mutual respect. The very instant it becomes a weapon rather than a lens for diagnostic analysis, the process is dead. 
      • Page 177

Into the Fray

  • As they were finishing training, the Tehran hostage incident was just starting, and given what they had been training for, they were tapped to help
    • Preparing was hard given the logistics, but they eventually came up with a plan that unfortunately included having to use Navy helicopters that were not greatly maintained and with pilots that were not incredibly interested in doing the job
    • They eventually get called out and Haney’s team flies out first to secure the area in C130s and the helicopters are to follow
      • While they were securing the area, they end up taking a bus of people hostage because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time
    • However, then there were some issues with the helicopters due to a dust / sand storm, and only once they were onsite ready to begin it was decided that they would pull out of the mission
    • When leaving, one of the helicopters had issues, causing it to crash on top of the C130 that Haney was in, and the whole thing exploded… 8 were killed in this event, April 1980, but Haney got out relatively unharmed
    • Following that first embarrassment, President Carter visited and spoke with them for encouragement
  • They were now done with training and operating as a combat unit.
    • In order to keep everyone ready, there was a crew on what was called bowstring and they would trade back and forth every so often
    • The bowstring team was always within 20 miles of Fort Braggs and could be ready to deploy in less than two hours
    • The other group was spread out globally on different missions away from the Farm
  • Eric then was deployed to Beirut, where he was helping with security for the ambassador
    • Different militias, essentially Muslim versus Christian (supported by Israel), had carved the city in half but the US ambassador was still operating there
  • Quotes
    • But it became a Delta Force mandate: those who conduct the mission will be the ones to plan the mission.   
      • Page 186
    • But it is important to realize that we have the ability to manufacture our own fate when we want to. We can summon up intestinal fortitude and proceed when things look bad, or we can find plenty of reasons to quit if we don’t want to go forward. 
      • Page 205
    • Think about it! All that was lacking was the guts to try.
      • Page 206, quoting Colonel James Kyle
    • One is no longer allowed the luxury to be quiet. Now one must be militant. One must be a revolutionary. One must strike a blow to imperialism. One must act to show solidarity with the revolution. It is required of us.
      • Page 269, quoting an older man about what has happened since militants took over his village
    • If someone is to perish or be captured and sent to prison – then let it be me. I am an old man. My wife is dead and there is no longer anyone who depends on me for food or a father’s protection. My loss would account for little and I would soon be forgotten. And that, young man, is why I am doing this thing.
      • Page 270, quoting the same an older man 
    • Next, we must realize that military action cannot cure social ills (and terrorism is a symptom of these ills). 
      • Page 331

[ The rest of the book is about his different missions ]