257 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2006
I am Eric Haney's wife. I put my name and bias on the table. If only that were the case with those retired Delta men.
For the record, it should be noted that the only legitimate dispute those men have with the book (all others being verifiable with research) is whether or not Logan Fitch was punched in the nose at Desert One. Fitch says not; that he would have killed any civilian who did that -- despite orders from President Carter not to harm civilians.
In Mark Bowden's book, "Guests of the Ayatollah," Fitch explains the bloody nose he was sporting that night like this: He was attempting to make an Iranian civilian outside the bus stand up. The man refused, so Fitch fired a shot into the ground. When the man stood up and made a move as if to run, Fitch swung his weapon at the man to clobber him with its butt and in the process, raked his own nose with his own gun sight.
Haney wrote that the nose punch happened, in the context of a highly complimentary sentence about Fitch's "leading from the front" (rare for a Delta officer). I've heard that story from other Desert One veterans. Be that as it may, Fitch remembers it differently. But Fitch doesn't dispute Haney's crediting him for saving his life that night by pulling him on board the last C-130 leaving the ground. The other commanders -- including Bucky Burruss -- left on the first plane out, before they knew for sure who was alive or dead from B. Squadron.
There are a number of good books, both academic and personal, on the subject of Desert One. Beckwith's Delta Force; Kyle's The Guts to Try; Bill Daugherty's (CIA hostage in Iran); and now Mark Bowden's.
Neither Beckwith, Kyle, nor Fitch were called traitor for writing their books and articles on Desert One. Fitch's article in Penthouse was merciless on Col. Beckwith. Warranted or not, it had to be heartbreaking for the Colonel at the time.
Nor was Bucky Burruss called a traitor for his chock-full-of-opsec fiction published in 1990, "Mission for Delta." Any person wanting to know how Delta sets up satellite commo or infiltrates a nation or conducts covert snatch ops need only read that book. Interestingly, the main plot of Burruss' book centers around the very mission he has accused Haney of fabricating and denied ever took place: A 1983 CIA sanctioned covert op into Honduras to take out an American Green Beret turned defector. In Burruss' book, the defector/guerilla leader trained at Bragg and was a former friend of the tall, blond, Delta team leader who volunteers for the mission to take him out. Even some of the key names are the same.
Back to Desert One.
Each book on the subject agrees, even Beckwith's, that there was heated discussion about the possibility that the helo pilots didn't have the fortitude to go forward. Beckwith admitted in his book "maybe" having called them cowards that night (p. 313). He also used the term towards B Squadron, for not bringing their weapons out of the inferno. To his credit, Beckwith admitted in his book that he was wrong on all counts, helo and B Squadron, and apologized. For a man like Beckwith, that was an enormous thing. Others should be so gracious.
One smart thing that came out of that tragedy was the realization that Delta needed its own specially trained, specially equipped helo team. The helos DID fail because of the sandstorms and had Beckwith insisted on taking the mission forward, he would have killed the men he had worked so hard to find. Some commanders might have done that anyway. Not Beckwith. God bless him for that. My husband would never have come home.
Another result was the understanding that had B Squadron burned to death, the institutional knowledge they had created would have died with them. So Delta began codifying what they created and learned. Eric Haney was among the original operators who helped create that body of knowledge. It was not handed down to Delta from previous generations in the Army, as is so much else in the military. It was, for the most part, a completely new world explored and developed by those men.
Delta was founded only by Charlie Beckwith and midwifed by the small group of men around him, including Bucky Burruss. Burruss authored a paper justifying to DOD why it would take at least two years to select enough men to bring Delta to operational strength.
One reason it took that long was the kibosh put on recruting from the Rangers by commanders protecting their best men. Beckwith had to fight tooth and nail up the chain of command to get access to the Rangers. (This is from Beckwith's book.) And even after he got formal cooperation, commanders such as Joe Stringham, by then with the Rangers, issued the unofficial dictum that if his soldiers tried out and failed, they would not be welcome back. For many potential candidates, that was a showstopper. Haney took the chance and succeeded. That's Stringham's mad-on with Haney right there. Had Stringham not interceded, Haney and others could have entered Delta selection in April of 78 instead of in September of 78.
Interesting history. When you put Beckwith's book next to Haney's, a more vivid picture of Delta Force comes together. With Beckwith, you get the 100,000 foot perspective of the political infighting in the Army and just how bitterly some factions in the Army truly wanted Delta to fail. You see just how hard Beckwith really had to work to pull the whole thing off and how many people stood against it.
And then with Haney's, you get a personal view of one man's journey through selection and training and the development of strategy and tactics and his love for his comrades. You also see why Haney said that "no other man in the Army" could have done what Charlie Beckwith did in founding Delta Force.
What you do not get from Haney's book is any sense of sniping, jealousy, bitterness, or chest beating. IDF is very much a tribute to comradeship.
We have seen the other side of that story, sadly, from others in Delta.
When writing a personal memoir, one does not have to read the history of others. Desert One is both literally and figuratively burned into Eric Haney's memory. He still carries the scars of that night in the desert on his body. Burns that could have killed him as that inferno did kill other brave men. Haney's book is the first book or article to mention the names of the men who died that night. Beckwith's book didn't. And although Fitch's article was titled, "Death at Desert One," his article didn't mention the names of the dead, either.
When Beckwith wrote his book, he had access to Delta's files. I suppose because his book was more historical in nature. Eric's is personal and that is what makes it such a refreshing perspective. It isn't about HIM, though.
Eric loved some of his comrades and respected all of them. Even the ones who have given him a hard time. Living and dying together in Delta Force creates a bond that spans time, no matter what. That's what we see in his book. That's what the book is truly about.
Thanks again to Logan Fitch. Not for the nose punch debate. For saving Eric's life.
113 of 115 people found the following review helpful
"Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit," by Eric L. Haney, is a gripping book written by one of the organization's founding members. Haney retired from the U.S. Army as a Command Sergeant Major with over 20 years service. Early in the book Haney introduces the reader to Delta Force founder Colonel Charlie Beckwith, who had a vision of "a compact, highly skilled, and versatile unit able to undertake and execute difficult and unusual 'special' missions."
Haney describes in detail how, starting from Colonel Beckwith's vision, Delta Force was created from scratch. An early section of the book describes the torturous tests used on candidates for the newly forming unit. He also reveals the elements that Delta Force's creators drew upon as they shaped the emerging organization. Fundamentally modeled on the British Special Air Service commando organization, the new force drew its research and training from many sources: Secret Service snipers, Delta Airlines, the Department of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Search Teams, a veteran CIA agent, and more, including convicted criminals who provided insights into breaching and demolitions. We get to see how each ingredient is added into the potent mix. This glimpse into Delta Force's "DNA" is absolutely fascinating. Equally gripping is Haney's account of the actual training received by selectees for the new unit; the training includes a detailed espionage exercise that reads like something out of a suspense novel.
A high point in the book is the official "birth" of the new Delta Force as "a fully grown and reasoning predator, armed with fangs and claws and intelligence, able to run and to fight." Haney takes the reader beyond this milestone and into many missions undertaken by himself and other Delta Force operators: the botched attempt to rescue American hostages from Iran, an anti-sniper mission in Beirut, a seagoing countersmuggling operation off the coast of Central America, and more. Particularly interesting is Haney's account of the U.S. invasion of Grenada during the Reagan years; this section of the book includes a particularly powerful description of a combat helicopter assault.
I have read many military memoirs and historical accounts, and this book stands out in a number of ways. Its exploration of the building of a brand new unit from ground up is striking and important. Also significant is the glimpse Haney offers us into what he calls "Mr. Reagan's secret wars in Central America," which the author further notes "were always merciless affairs." The book is very well written; Haney particularly shines in the mode of storyteller. He is equally skilled at describing colorful, heroic personalities and intense scenes of violence and destruction. Haney includes a post-9/11 postscript in which he offers words of encouragement to the reader. I highly recommend this book to those who love military nonfiction.
85 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2006
Be advised that this is a shortened version for "Young Readers" and not the original book written by Eric Haney. This version starts and ends with the Selection process and leaves out the balance of the various training and operations (about 2/3)ontained in the original book. It is a good read for what it is but the full version is much better. The product description does not make clear that this is a different version. This "Young Readers" version in hardback ran 246pp.
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
This book is an incredible look inside the United States' most secretive/covert unit (incidentally they still refuse to admit its existence!) in the military, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-DELTA. This book provides all the background data Beckwith's book (Delta Force) does not cover, plus a lot more in-depth outline and descriptions of Delta selection and advanced training events (Operator Training Course). I found this to be one of the highlights. The book also goes in to first person detail of many operations conducted by Haney while serving in Delta, his insight and participation in these events gives a refreshing look at some of the more know escapades the unit has been involved with like, "Desert One" were he barely escaped with his life. The book also coves little know topics of Delta's operation and employment in Beirut, Grenada, and Honduras, which I found to be quite reveling and intriguing. I must let you know the book does not disclose any national secrets most of the information is over ten years old (as Haney retired from active duty in 1990.), but this work is probably the most current information one will find on this organization. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in special operations, or anyone thinking of given "Selection" a go. I also recommend reading Beckwith's book "Delta Force: The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit".
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2002
Despite the provocative title there is very little insider detail in this book concerning Delta Force. It is simply one man's personal and deliberately vague account of his service with Delta from its early beginnings in the late '70's through the turmoil of the '80's. The author very masterfully tells his story without "spilling the beans" concerning Delta's operations.
This is of course understandable but if you are looking for a real "nitty gritty" look at America's secret counter terror force you will have to look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you want to read a well written account of what Delta is all about and get a taste of what they do this book will not disappoint.
While specifically protective of Delta's secrets this is not some whitewashed PR piece. The author is quick to denounce fools and admit mistakes. His disdain for career-minded politicians and officers is obvious as is his dedication to his men and his country.
The author has a frank, smooth writing style that is very pleasant to read and his insights on what he did for a living are refreshingly thoughtful, mature and even occasionally poignant in a genre that often can be boastful, arrogant and at times shallow. Most authors from inside the special ops community that I've read gave me the impression that they would be hard to like personally but this book's author made me feel like he would be a man I could comfortably introduce to my family and respect not just because he can kick some tail but also because he seems to be a genuine class act all around.
Pass this one by if you want a gritty, "in your face" commando yarn but if you a well written soft-sell on what Delta Force is all about then definitely give this book a try.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2002
This is a book of two halves - the first half is worth 5 stars, the second is worth only 4. Not because of any change in writing style, but because the author had to be less detailed (operational security rules), and because the 2nd half left a bad taste in my mouth (more on this later).
I should state right here that I am not an American, and therefore feel no "patriotic feelings" when reading a book like this. However... I am filled with admiration for people who can live this kind of life, irrespective of nationality. I have read several books on Secial Forces, and was very impressed with the dedication of these particular operators! They all appear to be men of honour and integrity - no Rambo BS, and no physco ....
I found the section on "Selection" interesting, but no different to many similar books on the SAS. The section on operator training, on the other hand, was fascinating! I cannot imagine the dedication required to clear a room (with hostages)in 3 or 4 seconds, and the explanations of the training required to do this was incredible. Fantasticing read so far!
Now onto the 2nd half... obviously the author couldn't go into too much detail about any specific operations, so this section is not as detailed as the first half of the book. This made for good (4 star) reading, but still left me wanting more! I found the second half of the book fairly disconcerting, though.... not through any fault of the author, but rather because of the nature of the operations, and how seldom the operators actually KNEW exactly what they were doing. Maybe I felt this more as a non-American.... the U.S clearly has the most powerful military force around, and we would all like to think that when they deploy it is for a good reason! Not all that long ago there was another country with an awesome Army that was "directed" by lunatics.... WWII was the consequence. I am not suggesting that the people runnning the US are anything like Hitler, just trying to explain why I feel it is so necessary for the people directing any powerful military force to have GOOD reasons for sending troops into action.
There are a number of missions described in this book where you get the distinct impression that the CIA and/or politicians where using Delta to further their own selfish ends rather than because the US had any moral right to be involved in the situation. This left me feeling distinctly dirty.... these honourable men were getting "used", and often hurt/killed, to perform what was basically a dishonourable mission. I had the strong wish that some U.S President would have the guts to say to Delta "OK, we have these ...politicians and career-minded paper-pushers who are actually hurting the country more than any terrorist- take them out!!" Reading this made me feel angry... the Delta operators deserve to get their orders from people of higher integrity....
On the whole, I recommend this book highly - it's good to know that there are people like this defending the planet from bad guys, and it's educational to discover that not all the bad guys are non-American.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2006
No sober, rational person could read Inside Delta Force and come away with the opinions voiced by reviewer Clark Kent above.
Add that to the fact that Kent's only other review is for an already-out-of-print book by Bucky Burruss, the lead dog in the attack on Haney, and it doesn't take a covert operative to suspect collusion between Clark Kent and the attack team.
Haney is far from the first writer to cover the subject of Delta Force. He is simply one of the most gifted. That's why his book continues to captivate.
The founder of the unit, Charlie Beckwith, published his infinitely more detailed (weapons/tactics) book in the early 1980s. Logan Fitch, one of the men in the Tampa "expose", also authored an article on Desert One back in 1984 -- just a few years after the bodies were buried -- and both weapons and tactics were still in use.
Burruss himself filled two books of fiction with every mission Delta had ever undertaken in 1990. But those books came and went like the haboob that doomed Desert One. Professional jealousy is no small motivator for Mr. Burruss. How could it not be?
There are two primary differences in those books and Haney's. First, those books were written by officers who, with the remarkble exception of Col Beckwith, seem to believe they alone owned the Delta franchise and should profit from it. All of those books were also written within 4-8 years of the missions they covered.
Haney's book was written 15 years after his life in Delta Force and covered missions some 20 years in the past. Most had been covered before, by Beckwith and others. The prose is eloquent, gracious, and never boastful. His book was the first to list the names of the NCOs who did the dying at Desert One and at the Beirut Embassy Bombing and he heaped praise upon them and upon his beloved Col, Charlie Beckwith.
Throughout the book we see a man with a deep, abiding respect for his comrades. In the case of the men who spoke against him in that stew of self-serving gossip, jealousy and anger wrongly dignified as news, that respect seems ill-placed.
Was it coincidence that this public tirade followed closely on the heels of Haney's public stand against the Bush adminstrations position on torture and its prosecution of the war? Hardly. Now with the "Revolt of the Generals" in full swing -- Zinni, Swannack, et al coming out with much stronger language calling for Rumsfield's resignation, we can expect similar vitriol to be directed at them.
Inside Delta Force remains a primer about a man who used the force of his own intelligence to discern right from wrong -- and continues to do so today.
That's what I call a super man.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2006
If a single ability can be said to distinguish a combat veteran from a raw recruit, it is the ability to hit his target while under fire. Delta troops spend more time practicing accurate fire under every conceivable situation in a month than any other professional soldier spends in a life time. This small unit consumes MILLIONS of rounds of ammunition. When they see a target, they shoot and kill it nearly every time. This stacks the odds of survival, of vanquishing the enemy, in their favor by a ratio of easily 10:1--and probably a lot more. No wonder the Rangers pinned down in Mogadishu were heartened by the arrival of a small Delta contingent. At last soldiers who brought the fight to the enemy instead of enduring unremitting enemy pressure.
Acquiring such skill and the confidence it engenders, results in a major reorientation of how you conduct close quarter combat. You no longer cower when "outgunned," you attack--and win.
This excellent book describes how this top secret force of irregular operatives was formed, how it trains, and a bit of what it has accomplished. Some of their feats border on the incredible, proving that if you want to do something well, select the absolute best, and then train them beyond any level of skill of any possible adversary. The book also describes the antipathy of tradition commanders to the hippy-like Delta culture of free-wheeling soldiering, where the first order of business is to be an effective killing machine, with encumbering military discipline falling far down the list. All the discipline resides in completing the mission. Thus, Delta forces accept assignments only as goals, without the usual long list of how desk-bound planners want them to achieve it. (President Jimmy Carter's travesty of ordering a Delta rescue mission in which he micromanaged every detail of the incursion and personally ordered our troops in hostile Iran not a to use lethal means (!!!) is the opposite pole of that philosophy.)
The book is a must-buy for those fascinated by the trade-craft of special operations. It goes far to explain how superb selection and training can result in extraordinary performance, but not just the physical skills. Also required is a high order of street smarts, aggressiveness, and the determination to get the job done regardless of Command niceties--and egos. A great read and one that-once again-makes one proud to be an American.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2005
I've never served in the military, but I have great respect for those who follow that kind of life. I also have great interest in history, military strategy and tactics, and behavior in combat situations. I therefore checked out the following special-forces-related books from the library: Rogue Warrior, by Marcinko, Combat Swimmer, by Gormly, and Inside Delta Force, by Haney.
Marcinko's book is a classic testosterone-driven, adolescent Hollywood adventure story. I mean that in a (mostly) good way. The author's focus is on himself, on his grand escapades, and his ability to destroy his enemies, whether at war or in the chain of command. It makes for a fun read, although I never knew how much Marcinko might be inflating his exploits.
Gormly is in many ways the anti-Marcinko. Of course they knew each other, and Gormly goes into some detail about inheriting Marcinko's SEAL team and getting the house back in order. But more than that, Marcinko represents the unihibited ego, breaking all the rules and doing whatever he wants. Gormly is all about responsibility and chain of command. Don't get me wrong; he's not at all boring, but definitely comes off as a stiffer sort of character. I'd rather work for Gormly (more job security; less likely to get killed unexpectedly) but I'd rather have a beer with Marcinko (though too much of that, and you probably increase your chances of getting killed unexpectedly).
Haney strikes somewhat of a balance. He's more individualistic than Gormly, but more disciplined than Marcinko. He's also the best writer of the three, with a good mix of gritty reality and genuine philosophical reflection. That's probably why I liked his book the best. Marcinko's book is a fun ride, like a blockbuster action movie, but in the end didn't leave me with much to think about. After reading Gormly's book, I admired the man a great deal but didn't particularly like him. Haney provides all the adventure but he's clearly more of a thinker than the other two, and I can imagine a long, fascinating evening's conversation over a bottle of scotch.
I suspect that you would find all three types of individuals (and many more) in the military, and you probably need all of them to get the job done. All three memoirs are highly entertaining and quick reads. Which you prefer probably depends to some extent on your own personality.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2002
Well written and well paced, this is the best spec ops non-fiction work I have ever read. Haney was in the first group of Delta Force members back in the 70's. I've read Beckwith's book (he was the original unit commander), which tended to focus on organization/planning, but this gives a much more down and dirty perspective on being in SFODD.
It has the obligatory training stuff, but Haney also talks about some of Delta's operations. A first as far as I know, though he is very careful not give out any info that might compromise a active team (in terms of entry patterns, etc)
I hope the author will consider writing some "fiction" books (ala Marcinko or Bob Mayer) down the line because not only can he write...he's got some very good stories to tell.