A founding member’s memoir of soldiering in the Army’s antiterrorism unit.
Developed in the late 1970s, the Delta Force is so secretive that it’s surprising retired Sergeant Major Haney was permitted to write this account. The narrative’s first half describes the qualities required for membership (a combination of Bond-esque savvy and Rambo-esque strength), Haney’s “selection,” and his training. The selection process demanded physical and mental endurance. Participants had to complete 18-mile and 40-mile marches to qualify for a unit about whose actual activities they had only the vaguest knowledge. Haney, already a happy career soldier, found his niche in this environment. He was comfortable with uncertainty, professional about completing his tasks, and demanding of himself. In training, he learned the skills of an assassin. Delta Force operators practiced storming terrorist-held buildings and shooting terrorists without injuring hostages. Once acquired, these skills took Haney all over the world. The Delta Force planned and attempted a rescue of Iranian hostages that was botched by faulty Navy aircraft. Haney worked on the American Ambassador’s security detail in Lebanon just before the embassy there was bombed. He helped rescue missionaries in Sudan, participated in guerilla warfare in Honduras, and stormed the island of Grenada. These exploits, though sensational in their danger, become somewhat rote in the retelling. Whereas the early chapters are driven by the force of Haney’s deepening love affair with the Army, later events seem stagnant despite all the derring-do. Once the uncertainty of selection and training are finished, a soldierly professionalism takes over. As Haney puts it, “No posturing, no sloganeering, no high fives, no posing, no bluster, and no bombast. Just a quiet determination to get the job done.” That same creed permeates his book: doubts, fears, and emotion are subdued in favor of action.
Perfect for military enthusiasts and Hollywood screenwriters.