At first look, both units Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 are equal, but there are some key differences between them. SEAL Team 6 vs. Delta Force, first, officially known as United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), and second, officially known as 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), are the most highly trained elite special operations forces in the US military.
Both are Special Missions Units (SMU) under the control of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), they perform various clandestine and highly classified missions around the world. Each unit can equally perform various types of operations but their primary mission is counter-terrorism. Both are considered as Tier 1 units.
So what’s the difference between the two elite SOF units? So far, Delta Force operators took out one of the ISIS master chiefs, a guy named Abu Sayyaf in Syria. In the last months of 2019, Delta operators were the main force in the killing of the ISIS leader al-Baghdadi; Seal Team 6 took out al Qaeda infamous leader Osama Bin Laden a few years ago. Same-same, right?
A former DEVGRU operator Craig Sawyer, who spoke to WATM, as well as a former Delta operator who asked to remain anonymous, agreed to reveal 5 key differences between the two elite special operation forces.
Delta Force is a U.S. Army outfit that primarily selects candidates from within their own special forces and infantry units (U.S. Army Special Forces, 75th Ranger Regiment, etc.). However, they will also select candidates from all branches of service, including the National Guard and Coast Guard if they are good enough to pass the screening.
SEAL Team 6 selects candidates exclusively from the U.S. Navy’s SEAL team community. If a candidate does not pass the grueling selection process they will still remain part of the elite SEAL teams which are considered as Tier 2 units.
“It’s a matter of can candidates quickly process what they are taught and keep up,” Sawyer says.
Both units have the most sophisticated equipment and are highly trained in Close Quarters Combat (CQB), hostage rescue, high-value-target extraction, and other specialized operations. The difference is the extensive training SEAL Team 6 operators have in specialized maritime operations, given their naval heritage.
“Each unit has strengths and weaknesses, neither is better or worse,” according to our Delta operator source.
Delta Force operators can be vastly diversified in their training background since they can come from various units across different military branches (including DEVGRU). Delta operators will even be awarded medals of their respective branch of service while serving with the Army unit.
“No matter what your background is, everyone starts from zero so that everyone is on the same page,” says our former Delta operator.
SEAL Team 6 operators come from the SEAL community, and while the training is intensified and more competitive, they all retain their roots in familiar SEAL training and culture.
“Candidates have proven themselves within the SEAL teams,” Sawyer says. “It’s a matter of learning new equipment, tactics, and rules of engagement.”
Generally speaking, both units are equally capable of executing all specialized missions that JSOC is tasked with. Again, because of DEVGRU’s extensive training for specialized maritime operations, they are more likely to receive missions like the rescue of Captain Phillips at sea. Delta’s known and successful missions include finding Saddam Hussein and tracking down Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
“These are two groups of the most elite operators the military can provide,” says Sawyer.
5. Media exposure
Members of both units are known as “quiet professionals” and are notorious for being massively secretive. Unfortunately, with today’s social media, 24-hour news coverage and leaks within the government, it can be difficult to keep out of the media no matter what steps are taken to ensure secrecy. While both units carry out high profile missions, SEAL Team 6 has gained much more notoriety and (largely unwanted) exposure in the media in recent years thanks to government leaks and Hollywood blockbuster films such as Zero Dark Thirty (photo above).
“We are very strict with our quiet professionalism. If someone talks, you will probably be blacklisted,” says our former Delta operator.
The key differences between these elite special operations units doesn’t give a clue which unit is “better” or who might do the job better. Both units are highly capable and in order of comparison of Seal Team 6 vs. Delta Force, we could say it is not comparable in the way the most people want to see it. You may have your favorite, but the truth is that both units are the most lethal teams on the planet.