Long before there was the Delta Force, another counterterrorism unit was born. The first counterterrorism unit in the United States was called “Blue Light.”
In his book, ” Delta Force, the first unit is talked about by former Green Beret Colonel Charlie Beckwith. Beckwith served with the British Special Air Service as an exchange tour. He had the idea to start a dedicated counterterrorism unit, much like the SAS, but the top brass did not receive it well.
To them, the hierarchy was already set, and they saw no reason for Delta to leave its place within the U.S Army Special Forces. Even though the Delta Force title fell under the Army Special Forces Operational Detachments, they really did not operate there.
The titling was more of a cover for their actual jobs. As proposed, Delta would also have direct contact with the president’s office through the DOD. If that weren’t enough to ruffle feathers, Delta could also recruit anyone that showed interest, even Green Berets.
Creation of Blue Light
In true political form, Special Forces introduced their own unit while Delta was getting up and running. Though a temporary unit, its creators wanted it to be permanent.
Thus Blue Light was born and filled with commandos from the 5th Special Forces Group’s 2nd Battalion. They would train and prep to be real-world counterterrorism ready with Colonel Bob “Black Gloves” in charge.
Their training pushed their skill and limits through airborne and dive training, plus weapons courses. The belief was that since Green Berets were already highly trained, they would be ready faster.
Delta Coming Up
While Blue Lights training was underway, Beckwith was training and designing the founding members of Delta. Though he knew that Blue Light could take over, and his vision would never happen.
Tom Clancy and John Gresham said in their book, “Special Forces: A Guided Tour of US Army Special Forces,” that Blue Light really was not set up for success. They were trained only for contingencies, while Delta trained for everything.
Delta Force and Blue Light were both based out of Fort Bragg, NC. At the end of the 1970s, Delta Force was ready, and Blue Light was disbanded.
Beckwith offered to let the Blue Light commandos try out for Delta. Only four made it onto the unit. The rest either retired or went to other units.