As Navy SEALs bask in the limelight for daring missions, some in the Army are wondering whether the other half of the nation’s counter-terrorism covert warriors — Delta Force — is being upstaged and left in the shadows.
“All I’ve heard and observed is that he is obviously pro-SEAL and that explains why Delta has been sidelined,” said a retired Army Green Beret who still conducts special operations as a government contractor.
A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command, where Adm. McRaven is now the top officer and the second SEAL in a row to lead the force, declined to comment. “There are some units we do not discuss,” he said.
SEAL Team 6 has won heaps of public praise since dispatching the world’s most wanted terrorist in May 2011. Months later, real SEALs starred in an action movie, “Act of Valor.” Later this year, Hollywood will release another SEAL-related film on the hunt for bin Laden.
A SEAL team added to the hype in January by rescuing American hostage Jessica Buchanan from a band of pirates in Somalia.
By comparison, when Delta Force and conventional ground troops hunted down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, found him a spider hole and flew him to Baghdad in a special ops “little bird,” the covert unit received far less media focus and garnered no starring role in a movie.
In fact, the most famous movie involving Delta Force is 2001’s “Black Hawk Down,” which depicted a failed 1993 mission that led to a U.S. retreat from Somalia.
Delta also played the principal role in the painstaking hunt for Iraq’s most violent terrorist leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi. The Bush administration put out few details about how Zarqawi was found in a hideout north of Baghdad, and Delta remained in the shadows.
But the Obama administration provided on background rich detail about the killing of bin Laden and has aided Hollywood in its movie production.
So much information flowed from the administration that two weeks after the raid, Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged leakers to shut up.
“We are close to jeopardizing this precious capability that we have, and we can’t afford to do that,” Adm. Mullen said. “This fight isn’t over. … It’s time to stop talking.”
He said Delta was created in 1979 to often fight alongside conventional forces, as it did in the Saddam hunt.