24 May 2012

The Barracks: TIER-1 Special Operations Units

We are experts in the application of violence...We possess the mindset and will to do what is necessary...we are Tier-1.
That was the dialog spoken in the first real trailer for the reboot of  the Medal of Honor video game series, and since then, the term 'TIER-1' as been associated with American Special Operations units like DELTA Force and SEAL Team Six. Now that a sequel to the 2010 epic video game is being dropped in October where TIER-1 units work together in task forces made up of various global Special Mission Units (SMU), the term TIER-1 will further enter into the common lexicon. But, what does TIER-1 mean and how does it apply to the black operations unit, and what units fall under the banner of TIER-1? FWS will explore TIER-1 and show examples in science-fiction.

What does TIER-1 really mean?
I will freely admit that prior to the 2010 Medal of Honor, I'd never heard of the term TIER-1 associated with the more elite Special Forces units of the United States. At first, before I played Medal of Honor, I believed that Danger Close had coined a new term for an black operations group patterned after DELTA or DEVGRU, but then I played it and believe falsely that TIER-1 was a USSOCOM rating system for Special Operations groups, and it made sense that DEVGRU and DELTA were TIER-1. It was not until I began research on the topic for this very blogpost that I learned the truth from  http://sofrep.com/, and few other sites. It seems that TIER-ONE is not a rating system, like grading of beef, but a SOCCOM funding system, it just so happens that DELTA and DEVGRU fall under the top level of funding. Other groups within that same title of TIER-ONE is the Intelligence Support Activity (AKA GREY FOX), the Air Force's Combat Controllers and Parajumpers, along with the elite Joint Medical Augmentation Unit (JMAU) that medically supports JSOC activities. All of these units work together under JSOC with mixed teams, like Task Force 145 in Iraq when Al-Zarqawi was killed on June 7th, 2006, and ODA teams during the first days of operations in Afghanistan.

DELTA Force and SEAL Team Six: same kind of different?
When news broke about the death of UBL at the hands of TIER-1 special operators, most of us, including myself, believed it was unit similar to Task Force 121 or 145 that had been hunting in Iraq for HVTs. But, upon learning that it was Red squadron from DEVGRU, I was confused on why the SEALS got the mission over DELTA, and how similar these two TIER-1 groups were. So, I read an article over at  http://sofrep.com/, and learned the similarities and differences between DELTA and DEVGRU. The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) known global as DELTA Force and now CAG was formed in 1977, while SEAL TEAM Six, now known as DEVGRU was formed in 1980. The two units were both created by two Vietnam War veterans that were known for their outspoken visionary nature, DELTA had their Colonel Charging Charlie Beckwith and ST6 had Richard "Dick" Marcinko. Beckwin had based large amounts of DELTA on the British SAS whom he served with during an exchange program in the 1960's. Both units have their identities forged in the failed attempted resuce of American hostages OPERATION EAGLE CLAW. While DELTA and Beckwith were directly involved with the operation, Richard Marcinko was part of the naval team consulting on the aborted mission at the Pentagon. In the aftermath, Marcinko lead the charge for his idea to form a special unit within the SEALs for maritime counter terrorism (boats, cruise ships, and oil platforms).
Both of the TIER-1 units have similar organizations, DELTA has around three quadrons of 75 operators that are named A through C, while ST6 uses colors, Red, Blue, Gold, Silver are all assault units, while Grey is Recon, and Black is the boat team, and the training troop is Green. One of the major areas where CAG and DEVGRU differ is in selection. The bulk of recruits into the fold of CAG is from the Army Rangers and the Green Berets, but is open to all members of the branches, and selection is held twice a year in the Appalachian Mountains, and with about 90% fail rate. Once again, the CAG selection process is heavily borrowed from the British SAS.
While over in Dam Neck, ST6 selection is much different, a picture of the applicant is posted on a wall, and current DEVGRU operators cast postive or negative votes on the applicant with a mark on the picture. If the applicant is selected, they are placed into the Green team for six months of training, with a 50% fail rate, after, the rest of the ST6 squads hold a draft to select new members.The ranks of ST6 recruits are from within the teams (a pool of about 2500 members), but some soures say that ST6 selection is open to members of the Marine Corps, only after passing BUD/s.
Because of where TIER-1 units draw their recruits, builds the culture of the unit and the POV of them from other military units. While DEVGRU is drawn from the other SEAL teams, DELTA draws operators from two very different groups, the 75th Rangers and the Green Berets, giving CAG a greater international depth and skill sets in other operations besides direct action missions, which both the ST6 and DELTA operators excel at. On the other hand, if the op is in the water, than DEVGRU is authority.
Since at least the 1993 Mogdishu operation, CAG and DEVGRU have worked with one another in Task Force units, like TF-121, and the relationship between the two at one time was very hostile and frosty, due to the looming shadow of Marcinko habit of alienating people. This has improved when ST6 commanders working hard to change the culture of the unit, and today, the working relationship was described by Sean Naylor in his book Not a Good Day to Die, as being like "a bad marriage on the verge of breaking up." In the public eye, DELTA FORCE would received the lion's share of attention from the mass media, with films like DELTA FORCE, the TV show The Units and various books, however recently, with the death of UBL, the tables have turned, now everyone is talking about DEVGRU.
Here is the source for this material:

Black Ops? Special Mission Units? TIER-1?
Like most things in life, there are many terms for the same thing, and when it comes to the world of TIER-1 SMUs, the terms start flying. Okay, as near as I can figure it, TIER-1 is a funding system for USSOCOM, placing specialized elite units, like ST6 and DELTA at the top, which also share the title of 'Special Mission Units' or SMUs. While Black Operations is not a name of a specific unit, but a term used for deep cover, denial everything kind of mission, like the IMF units seen in the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible films. The best example of recent was OPERATION: NEPTUNE SPEAR, where a combined Special Mission unit mostly made up of the TIER-1 DEVGRU operators from Red Squadron, went on a completely classified Black Ops mission. 

Post-TIER-1 Life: CIA Special Activities Division (SAD)/Special Operations Group (SOG)
There are many names for the special agents of the CIA that carry out operations of all types in the field: Core Collectors, Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers. But, despite the fancy names, some of the sources for these CIA SAD/SOG agents is former TIER-1 operators. One of the best cases for the flow of former TIER-1 operators into the ranks of the CIA, was MSGT William "Chief" Carlson. I came to know Mr. Carlson after he was killed during an ambush in Shkin, Afghanistan on October 25, 2003 with an former ST6 operator, Chris Mueller, and displayed bravery of the highest caliber under enemy fire. Oddly, he was officially listed by the CIA as a contractor, which seems one way that the CIA puts former TIER-1 into the field.  

United States TIER-1 Special Operations Units


Year Established: 1977

-AKA: Combat Applications Group (CAG), 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), the Group, and the Unit.

-Number of Operators: 800-1000

-Unit Role: Counter terrorism, hostage rescue, covert strikes and training, Wetwork of HVTs, and CQC, close protection of VIPS.

-Recruits From: 75th Rangers, Green Berets, and the Army at large.

-Operation Known For: The battle of Mogadishu (1993)



Year Established: 1980

-AKA:  Navy Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU)

-Number of Operators: around 200 (?)

-Unit Role: Maritime Counter terrorism, hostage rescue, covert strikes and training, Wetwork of HVTs, and CQC. close protection of VIPS.

-Recruits From: SEAL Teams and rumored, Marine Corps.

-Operation Known For: Operation NEPTUNE SPEAR (2011)

Intelligence Support Activity

Year Established: 1981

-AKA: GREY FOX, the Activity, CENTRA SPIKE, Task Force Orange

-Number of Operators: Unknown

-Unit Role: The military intelligence service that provides actionable information for TIER-1 and CIA units.

-Recruits From: Unknown

-Operation Known For: The killing of Pablo Escobar and Operation Anaconda

-Notes: The origin of this unit began during the planning of another attempt to rescue the American hostafes in Teran in 1980, it was called Field Operations Group. This unit is mentioned in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, when  term "ISA Phone Snipers" is used during Team METAL's attempted rescue for Alena Borisovna in Berlin.

Other SOF units under the 'TIER-1' title


-Year Established: Unknown

-AKA: Joint Medical Augmentation Unit

 -Number of Operators: Unknown

-Unit Role: In-flight trauma care

-Recruits From: The US Army

-Operation Known For: None

-Notes: According to limited information, the JMAU are specially outfitted MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft for in flight trauma care and surgeries. Some sources say that JMAU personnel collected DNA during the operation in Tora Bora to confirm if UBL was killed in 2001.

Air Force 24th Special Tactics Squadron

-Year Established: 1990

-AKA: 24 STS

-Number of Operators:

-Unit Role: Providing SAR operations (PJ), critical weather information (SOW), and CAS (CCT)

-Recruits From: Air Force

-Operation Known For:

-Notes: The 24th STS of the US Air Force is made up for three different types of special operators: Pararescue, combat controllers, and special operations weathermen, and normally place their operators within larger JSCO task forces, like Task Force Ranger (Somalia '93), Task Force 121 (Iraq 2003-2007) and Task Force 145, who killed Al-Zarqawi on June 7th, 2006. I've read a few accounts of the Parajumpers training, and honestly, I think it ones of the hardest selections and training in the whole of JSOC units.

International TIER-1 Units
Like America, the global community faces terrorism and the need for black operations, and to response there is a long list of specialized  units. US TIER-1 operators do train and work with other nation's TIER-1 units, like the British Special Boat Service in A-Stan during Tora Bora in 2001.Part of the upcoming sequel to 2010's Medal of Honor, Warfighter, will be involvement of international TIER-1 units. Those units are listed below are confirmed in the game, and in keeping with the real-world approach to the game, our TIER-1 groups have worked with these units, what is interesting, is the absence of the French GIGN CT unit, which was featured in COD:MW3.
  • British SAS (one of the oldest SOF units in the world)
  • South Korean UDT
  • Polish GROM
  • The Canadian JTF-2
  • The Norwegian FSK/HJK
  • The Swedish S SOG
  • The Aussie SASR
  • Deutschland KSK
  • The Russian Spetznas
  • The IDF Sayeret Units (thanks to reader Angry Bell for the heads up!)

The TIER-1 Groups of The Israeli Defense Force
Despite the smaller size of the Israel, it as been able to amass the world's best military, and has no less than 24 Special Forces units called 'Sayeret' or RECON in Hebrew. Some are similar to US SOF units, like Unit 669 and Sayeret Shaldag of the IAF is about the same as the Air Force Parajumpers, and the CCT, along with the Israeli Navy having their SEAL-like unit, the Shayetet 13. When it comes to TIER-1 SMUs, the IDF seems to have about five, and it was seven until more recently when some TIER-1 SMUs that performed CT operations in the Gaza Strip were disbanded. The Israeli mirror of DEVGRU seems to be Shayetet 13 (pictured left) that performs maritime CT/assault operations, and the closest to CAG is the Sayeret Matkal, who became famous after airplane rescue mission in Africa, Operation Thunderbolt in 1976. This unit even takes the same motto and elements after the British SAS, who DELTA Force is also patterned after. Even the CIA SAD/SOG unit has an several IDF mirror units, the recently formed Maglan Unit, that is involved with operations behind enemy lines, and the Egoz Recon Unit, and secretive Kidon unit which is the "offensive assassination" arm of the Mossad. These units only reinforce the plain and simply fact that you don't fuck with Israel.

TIER-1 Groups in Science Fiction 
Most of the current generation of science-fiction creators, like me, have grown up during the rein of the Rambo/Schwarzenegger types of elite special soldiers, and this has colored our view of how the best-of-the-best are suppose to be like.
To me, the archetype of all TIER-1 operators was created the moment Snake Plissken entered into our lives. This tough-baked, burned-out badass was borrowed from the 'Man with no Name' of the Serigo Leone appeared to be able to handle most threats all while playing it cool. For better or worse, this is how most TIER-1 operators have been projected into science fiction as a general role, and mostly show the 'one-man-against-an-army' popular in the 1980's action films. To 'future-up' the central idea of the most elite special operators, sci-fi uses the idea of genetic alternated and/or cybernetic enhancements to create super-soldiers, seen in with the SPARTAN-II program and FOXHOUND. There has yet to be a realistic portrayal of TIER-1 based on the current real-world examples in a science-fiction novel or film. Then we come to the other sin that most sci-fi writiers committ about TIER-1 units, the names. No real SMU is going to name themselves, "Black Ops" or "Whiskey Company", oddly, I always thought that Escape from New York got it right with Special Forces units like 'Texas Thunder'.

Examples in Sci-Fi

Noble Team from HALO: Reach
It is no secret that I love the HALO universe, and my second favorite game of the series was 2010's REACH. Unlike much of the HALO games, save for HALO WARS, where there was only one SPARTAN-II, John-117, in Reach, we see an entire team. Noble team was highly specialized  comprised of experienced operators that are able to operate in the field with minimum support, and this was a mix of SPARTAN-II/III supersoldiers work together with different skills to achieve difficult missions. This is one of the better examples of a military sci-fi TIER-1 team, however, it does fall into the pattern of MSF creators using supersoldiers as the most elite SOF operators instead of 'normal' highly trained soldiers.

 Delta Squad from Star Wars: Republic Commandos
This is yet another supersoldier SPECOPS unit, however, like Noble Team, this clone trooper unit works together in a small team that has greater depth than its fewer commandos.
Despite Delta squad having a dumb name, each one of these commandos behave like a team, and use different skills to achieve impossible objectives in various conditions, like VBSS and direct assault.During these clones development on Kamino, Jango Fett asked for the Cuy'val Dar, one hundred Mandalorian warriors to come to Kamino and train the new Grand Army of the Republic, along with 75 commandos of the new army. Another interesting points about Delta Squad was that Star Wars created a continuing history of the unit after the events of the game, taking Delta through the Galactic Empre. I was impressed by this game for the original XBOX, and still have it to this day, I enjoyed the RAINBOW 6 level squad AI and commands, and having a real Star Wars shooter game with an elite SMU. Oh, and their armor was bitching. There has been rumors for years that Star Wars: Republic Commandos will get a next-gen remake or even a sequel.

MACOs from Star Trek: Enterprise

 There is no much in the way of canon history for the Military Assault Command Operations and its operators that were seen in the season 3 and 4 of Star Trek: Enterprise. When the Star Trek wiki, Memory Alpha first started up, I created a fictional history of the EM-33 Plasma Pistol where the first use of the MACOs and the EM-33 was during a hostage rescue in 2145. I am thinking of posting it...
Anyways, it is assumed that the MACOs came the United Earth military, which is separate from Starfleet, and were trained in both endo and exo atmospheric combat on Earth and on Luna. Their skillset, what was gleaned from the show, was focused on CQC, hostage rescue, assault, and demolition. Unlike the Starfleet piss ant security personal, the MACOS wielded special DEW EM41 modular carbines, and the EM-33 pistol with a stun setting, along with batons for melee fighting, and a future stun grenade. Also, in contrast to the Starfleet personal, MACOs wore some sort of fatigues in a all-terrain digital camo pattern, and trained hard in hand-to-hand and marksmanship. I was deeply impressed by the decision of the producers of Enterprise to show such a hardline military unit on a Star Trek show, and to do it so well. The MACOs were a well-done example of a futuristic TIER-1 unit complete with realistic tensions between them and the pussy Starfleet security officers. There is no information on the MACOs after the formation of the Federation in  2161.

7th Kommando from the Battletech universe
Within the ranks of 'Mech units in the vast Battletech universe, few are better known than the Wolf' Dragoons mercenary unit. Not only was the Wolf's Dragoon featured the pen-and-paper game but, in the two Xbox Mechwarrior video games. Within the large mercenary unit is the 7th Kommando special mission unit,which works with Wolfnet, the intelligence arm of the Wolf's Dragoons, but also operates lone wolf (couldn't resist!) as the special forces arm of the larger unit performing intelligence gathering missions, targeted strikes, and infiltrations.
A big thank you to reader Angry Bell gave FWS for the heads up on this one.  I hate to admit it, I had forgotten about the more infantry and Special Oeprations side of the Battletech universe!

Emperor's Royal Guard from Star Wars
To this day, besides Boba Fett, the Royal Imperial Guard is my favorite figure of the Star Wars universe, and if I were to dress up in cosplay, than this would be these elite warriors of the red.the Imperial Guard were designed for one purpose, the close protection detail of the Imperial Emperor, and only a few were needed to assure protection. These badasses in red are not carbon copies of that Mandalorian, but drawn from the ranks of normal human Imperial military units later after the Empire was formed, but originally were formed out of the Red Guard, successor to the Senate Guard seen in the Phantom Menace.  The Guard were heavily trained on Yinchorr in all formers of combat, including piloting a TIE fighter, and were loyal to the Emperor to a fault. It is rumored that Royal Guardsmen are deployed to combat Stormtrooper units in special red armor to keep up their combat kills. The steer amount of money lavished on the Royal Guard alone would make them a TIER-1 unit.

The Rebel Alliance SpecForce Infiltrators from the Star Wars RPG
This is the only ground military unit of the Rebel Alliance that the Stormtroopers fear, according to the West End Games Sourcebook for the Star Wars RPG, and unlike a number of other elite TIER-1 groups, the SpecForce Infiltrators are biologically unmodified. This group seems based on the French resistance of World War II, the CIA SAD teams, and the close quarters battle skills of CAG or DEVGRU coupled with excellent marksmen skills. Much is made about the nearly legendary ( not a reference to Barney Stinson) skill of these operators to kill stormtroopers, however, it seems from the films, that they can't for shit...odd. The Star Wars wiki mentions that the Infiltrators were disbanded after the Battle of Endor, and the Fall of the Imperials.

FOXHOUND from the Metal Gear games
Elements of the very elite ninja-like black-ops FOXHOUND unit are bordering on fantasy and completely unrealistic for a TIER-1 SOG, however, its presentation and popularity make it one of the more well known fictional TIER-1 units.
The big issue I have with FOXHOUND and the Metal Gear in general is, while Solid Snake is very cool and has some real-world SPECOPS skill, the vast majority of FOXHOUND's operators are completely non-military. With colorful characters like Vulcan Raven, and Psycho Mantis, FOXHOUND  would be closer to the Manson family than elite black-ops unit!

Ghost Brigades from the Old Man's Universe
I give John Scalzi much credit for his followup to the Old Man's War, he explored the most elite unit in all of the Colonial Defense Force, the SPECOPS Ghost Brigades in full loving detail. From the text, the Ghost Brigade members are inducted differently than the normal recruits into the CDF, the Ghosts are nearly completely reliant on the Brain-Pal for communication, due to it speed over tradition oral. Unlike the elderly recruits of the normal military service, the Ghosts are 'born' into military service, with bodies created from former CDF members that died in training, and their DNA is used to construct new soldiers without the benefit of knowing their past lives, hence the name. It is an interesting point that Scalzi brings up, even within a  military organization of supersoldiers and nano-based weaponry, there still is the need for SPECOPS, and this speaks to the hostilities of the Universe that Scalzi has created. He needs to write more Old Man War books.

The Storm Troopers of the Imperial Guard from Warhammer 40K
Even with the Space Marines and the vast legions of the Imperial Guard, there is a specialized unit of normal human soldiers, the Storm Troopers. These warriors are drawn from the orphanages of the Schola Progenium, and brainwashed to the highest degree to worship the cult of the Emperor. Unlike the millions of Imperial Guardsmen, the Stormtroopers are from every world of the Imperium, and are a much lighter force than the heavy elements of the Imperial Guard or the Space Marines, using jumpships for lightning quick-strike tactics outfitted in light powered armor. Adding to uniqueness of the Stormtroopers, is their use of the Hellgun, a much more powerful Lasgun not normally issued to standard Guardsmen, and can draw power from a backbag. Given the oddness of the Warhammer 40K universe,   

The TIER-1 Interviews for the Medal of Honor game

Part One "Wolfpack":


  1. Reading this, I felt I had to throw in a few older science fiction TIER-1 teams. The one that come to mind are the 7th Kommando (part of the Wolf Dragoons in Battletech). Now that I'm writing this, I'm blanking on the other one.

    Also, I was curious why Sarayet Matkal was not included. They are the Israeli Special Forces that is the equivalent of Delta and the SAS. Decades ago, they used a selection process similar to DEVGRU. However, starting in the 1980s, they moved to a more formalized program of selecting from their candidate pool.

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  2. Thanks Angry Bell for the headsup...I am researching the 7th Kommando right now, I will revise the blogpost with the new group along with the IDF Sarayet Matkal. You are completely right, the Sarayet Matkal is a TIER-1 SPECOPS unit of the first order, and one of more busy groups in the world of CT until recently. I cannot believe I forgot them! I had that group on the list, and I lost it, and had most have forgot it...old age I guess. Thanks for catching that one, Angry Bell! Always great to have great readers!

  3. The DCS ( defense Clandestine Services) is not new, just got a new name same old people. Except now, much darker the level one staff, have recruited level 2 to recruit outside the entire group. So these new highly educated well training individuals are not aware as (NOC's) they are the dark ones who many do not even know each other or what private firms, from Entertainment to Oil companies who they really work for.

    It is now so separated and compartmentalized not even congress, of the DOD top staff even know what the hell is going one, not rouge but super secret and super dark. Like the old ISA this new group of men and woman of many backgrounds and nationalities are Global and only a very select few know what is going on. When a "Sweep" mission is decided by a select few, the team is put together for TNG, and Operational C3I status target selected and off they go and complete the mission. No one knows of the status once the person or persons are terminated and evidence gone. Off they go back to work awaiting new assignments. Keeping this dark, and untouchable by DOD and the oversight committees gives great Global access to complete a assignment without knowledge.

    Funding, TNG, members, superiors are never disclosed, true identities are never ever revealed once you say yes to join, your dental is changed as well as your finger prints alter to the point of never being able to ID you. Weapons are modified as never to point to USA. Finally a quasi military secret unit that can operate without impunity both in US and all over the World. They are the best of the best and sacrifice more than you will ever know. They when killed will never get a star on the Langley wall since they are truly Unknowns. God Bless them and the USA

    1. what does TNG stand for? I am aware of SCD (new ISA cover) but not TNG

  4. It has always interested me were these people come from to commit themselves totally to the cause, body and soul, even more than the operators in DELTA, DEVGRU, or SAD. True deep-cover covert intel/wetwork agents are a breed apart for the people I see in line at the Starbucks, and the amount of stress these people are under everyday while infield would break most of us into pieces.
    Thanks for the comment!

  5. The post by ANONYMOUS is actually completely incorrect. The farthest up the covert chain it goes with the DoD/JSOC is "Orange" (not usually ever referred to as Gray Fox or Task Force Orange etc etc by those in the DA elements on-site with them). The Orange SIGINT/HUMINT teams are as high up as it gets, period. Even SAD/SOG loans out their "shooters" over their own (from the FARM)in order to bust through the infinite amount of red tape needed to deploy at such a heavy op tempo.... (trust me i know as i worked support det sometimes for said groups...but never saw them tho--i was just a tech for *some* of their joint readiness ex at Haliburton, Bragg, and Belovoir)...I am an old man now, but as a pivate sec contractor, I still run into these outstandingly unique individuals all the time. And if you guys asked them, they'd say you all know MORE than enough about them. We've leaked more than enough SIGINT data to break OPSEC for our enemies ten times over since the infamous OBL raid (which btw even I was called to be on standby once the intel jackpot was brought back, but never got called in....grrrr..bummer. I flew 36 hrs for nothing). Point is, don't believe what your read. SAD/SOG is not "the best" in Tier 1 SMUs, and the same can be said for the others. In fact, Orange is the only one that really has the right to claim that title (which they wouldn't). They are basically an amalgamation of Delta, Agency "Paramops" or Paramilitary operations officers(nickname for SOG among the Tier 1 personnel)and on-call, high-level, multi-functional and assymetric compartmented linguists. PERIOD. You wanna know the best to settle your little debates online? Look no further. Not even most other Tier 1 elements know their true names. They don't get dentals and prints changed tho (as they don't NEED to when there are temporaries given before pre-op so they remain "sterile" for each DA). Orange don't get recruited by SAD, the SAD are recruited into Orange, as Orange gets their first...SAD did not arrive at Saddam's farm before Orange and same with UBL. We were told SAD/SOG was on-site because the news can't say "ISA" was there doing an SR (surveillance/recon) for months and months before Neptune Spear was greenlit. Just fyi, folks...I am retired now so i can say all this without repercussions but I just wanted you guys, the fans, to finally get it right if you wanna hand out credit to anyone.

  6. Task forceGreen, thanks for the info. I've read Michael smith's book Killer Elite and know the ISA are truly an elite squad of professionals. It would be an awesome book if one of these operators were to write one, but doubt it would ever happen.

  7. Look at the hell that ST6 shooter is getting for his book on Neptune Spear...

  8. Maybe it is good to mention Chatol, an off-shoot from Israeli Kidon, secretive and specialised in lone operators.

  9. One of the International Tier-1 units you missed out on the list is NZSAS. You mentioned SAS and SASR. Although a small country, the New Zealand Special forces (NZSAS) have contributed massively to the international community since its creation in 1955. They have been especially active in Afghanistan, costing them the lives of two of its members in 2011.

  10. Its a rare occurence I hear anything about ISA, well I guess Call of Duty picked up on it..... Recently but I heard about this legendary group through some stuff about 1st SFOD-D and it caught my attention a number of years back but couldnt find a lick of information on it! I suppose thats a good thing, OPSEC is so compromised these days its not even funny :O Quiet Professionals all these Tier 1 groups are, I've met one or two and let me tell you they wouldnt DARE compromise OPSEC just to satisfy my interests, pick up chicks, get glory, etc. Only time I've ever heard even the tip of the ice berg about an elite unit is in books or by a guy whos been there, but I usually never ask directly. I can tell the fakers a mile away though, just ask them some questions about their MOS, previous units, etc. hehe.


  11. Sometimes I think that TIER-ONE operators writing books can be a good thing, and allow the public to see into the world of shadows. I especially enjoyed 'Kill Bin Laden' by Dalton Fury, and 'Black Hawk Down' of course It is amazing the amount of information about the black operations soldiers online today...I can remember many years ago, that region of the book store was limited to just a few titles.

    1. Read the upcoming book (coming at the beginning of summer i think) called "Beyond Danger Close: The Secret Wars of Mexico"...its all Tier 1 operators who turned to being PMCs (contractors) for a firm in CA and are now doing joint SOF operations there and fighting the Zetas, Venezuelan paramilitary groups who train the cartels, and lastly, even the Iranians that have shown up (the IRGC).
      I read a preview...amazing...Ridiculously intense firefights and its just totally astounding how gnarly these guys are. They are down there on a joint DOD/MexGov contract to smokecheck these bad guys ASAP and the book chronicles all the true events! All the PMC contractors are former CAG/DevGru, SASR, SBS/SAS, JTF2, ODA, TF Orange/Gray Fox, and even some SOG (CIA SAD/SOG). Check it out!! Amazing.
      If you are interested, the guy I got the preview from was on youtube and his title was "Dennis R" (try to see if he has a channel). PM him and he'll give you details on the ebook's release date and cost. Its worthwhile. It is just an astounding story.

  12. Very interesting, and worth a look! It is amazing how getting a piece of the operational pie can led to mission failure, just look at the failed 1980 Iran Hostage mission.

  13. This isn't at all correct. The four Tier 1 counter terrorist and special mission units of the USA are DEVGRU (Seal team 6), SFOD-D (Delta Force), the Air Force 24th STS and the FBI HRT

    1. The FBI hrt don't go under the military tier funding level.

  14. I was reading the fictional Tier 1 and didn't see anything about the Ghost from Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon.

  15. I should have included them on the list, honestly, and I may reedit the blogpost and add this group. Thanks for the heads up!

  16. To the Author of the blog. Your only partially right on some of your facts and you should have looked into more or did more research. I know or knew both Charlie Beckwith and Dick Marcinko. It was at because of the disaster at Eagle one that Dick came up with the end product Seal6 or DEVGRU. While in six inception at the O-ring of the Pentagon ST6's predecessor was MOB-6. Seal6 and Delta were always training together while Dick and Charlie were in command. They had many competitions and Six bought many rounds of beer for Charlie and his guys. But I digress if you would have read any of Dick's books especially his first one you would have known that tad pole! In fact the cold shoulder between Delta and 6 was because of commanders that preceded their founders. Thanks goodness that was short lived once JSOC and USSOCOM was founded this then allowed elements of all the services special operations units to work and train together. All in all good article and went in the right direction, you just needed to research a little deeper and talk to those who are old frogs and troopers. Those old shoot and looters could have filled in the gap! "Sine Pari"

    1. Your only PARTLY right. MOB-6 (ST6/DEV/new cover) was NOT always cross-training. There WAS a rivalry, and this I know for a FACT (and no, for PERSEC for my father's friends, I won't explain how I know this). But it went on all the way until late 90's and even they would have spats about who go the right ops (and even OPTEMPO) during initial phases of OEF1's execution/infil in 2001-2.
      You should research a little deeper yourself, brother....NO OFFENSE INTENDED MIND YOU. But I have met TF Orange guys (former, but still) I know a few things, and as I try to be modest, I know you are not completely correct about a lot of what you said. Always be careful before correcting others

  17. Some of the meat of the blogpost came from SOFREP.com article on DEVGRU and CAG history post-9/11, along with the book "Not a Good Day To Die", along with "Black Hawk Down". One of the perils of being a REMF like myself, the world of Tier-One operations is too black to see clearly, and given the limited and unconfirmed data that exists, makes this a difficult topic to research. FWS is committed to getting it right and being a resource for MSF authors and creators. Thank you for the input, and reading the article. Pamwe Chete

  18. I was also reading the article like Anonymous from July 6, and was waiting for, then wondering where the SGC was from the Stargate Series.

  19. Totally. I often wonder if the United States as something similar, being raised in the UFO mythology. Could we have stargtes and secret space fleets?

  20. Don't forget the shadow marshals in killzone, they act like the cia sad sog or something in that nature.

  21. The Shadow Marshals were very cool in the first game (the only KILLZONE I've played), and I should have added them, especially now that they are in the latest game

  22. P.s. U did forget the 75th ranger regiment reconnaissance company.( belief to have entered jsoc in '07)

  23. While I do believe that the 75th Rangers are part of the Special Forces community, I do not believe they are "Tier One" in terms of the funding level to be considered that. While their combat recorder and training are up to the level, especially since members of CAG do funnel through the Rangers. FWS will be discussing the Rangers in a upcoming blogpost about Special Forces

    1. I was talking about ranger recon. Which joined jsoc in '07

  24. Ah! Then you are correct, sir! Ever since your comment, I've decided to finally write the SOF blogpost...thanks for the intel.

  25. Question, how does the emperor's royal guard count as tier 1? Not to insult the guard but they just guard the emperor, if the like did something else then I would understand, but they don't to my knowledge.

  26. The Royal Guard is a very small, select unit that performs on the key tasks of many real-world TIER-One units, close protection of VIPs. I based the selection of the Royal Guard on the information in my vintage 1980's West End Games Imperial Sourcebook, which talked about the selection process of the Guard and the expanded duties of the Guard. There is a combat rotation of the Royal Guard that is sent out within a stormtrooper armor to sharpen their combat skills. And as I said above, in the real-world USSOCOM explanation of the "Tier-One" status, the Royal Guard are at that funding level.

  27. Just realised that u didn't add the space marines or odsts. P.s. Hav fun w/ sci fi special forces.

  28. Reason why i brought up odsts as a tier 1 unit was that they select from the best in the unsc ( excluding Spartans). & do counter-terrorism stuff & is funded at a tier 1 level m.

  29. I would like sooooo much more info about your touches on the ISA (TF ORANGE, or The Activity). I have had the honor of having a whispered conversation (where the poor guy couldn't reveal ANYTHING other than that I was correct about his unit). PLEASE do a larger piece and send me an email about it. I am writing a book about my time with these guys, please contact me at Rohdrunner@hotmail.com

  30. Where are the Marine Raiders, MarSOC and /or Force Recon? The Marine Raiders being the oldest special forces of the US military.


  31. The USMC Special Operations units were included in my general SOF blogpost. While members of JSOC, the USMC SOF units are not TIER-One

    1. Thanks for your reply.

      MarSOC gets it's funding from USSOCOM. While Force Recon gets it's support / funds from the Marine Corps' budget. But they are SOC, along with other MC units.

      Also, the Marine Corps is the only US military force, capable of projecting 3D battle on it's own, without having to request help / support from another service branch.

    2. "Assigned to the secretive world of spies and saboteurs were 51 Marines who served with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services to engage in behind-the-lines operations in North Africa and Europe from 1941 to 1945. These OSS Marines served with partisan and resistance groups in France, Germany, Yugoslavia, Italy, Austria, Albania, Greece, Morocco and Egypt; on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia; in Rumania; and in North and West Africa. Ten of these OSS Marines also served with forces in Ceylon, Burma, Malaya and China."

      Inscription for a picture.
      "Marines from the London Detachment, normally serving at the American Embassy in London, traveled north to Scotland for a seven-week commando training course before setting off into battle during World War II. - Photo Courtesy of Col. Roy J. Batterton"

      Marines were doing all the Tier 1 type missions going back to the 1940s. To a Marine, it's just a mission to be done.

      When USSOCOM was established by the Nunn-Cohen Act in 1987, the Marine Corps declined to contribute forces to the new joint entity. There were a number of reasons, including the Marine Corps’ belief that becoming involved in SOCOM, or even running it (it had been suggested that SOCOM be placed under Marine Corps command), would interfere with the Marine Corps’ flexibility and maritime capability. There was also a good deal of distrust toward Special Operations at the time, with the debacle at Desert One still in everyone’s mind.

      This did not mean that the Marine Corps was uninterested in Special Operations. In 1983 Secretary of Defense Weinberger issued a memo, in which he directed the comprehensive review and improvement in the organization of Special Operations Forces. The memo went out to each service, instructing them to “assign special operations forces and related activities sufficient resource allocation priority.” In other words, “Let’s get a little more concentration on this area.” In accordance with Secretary Weinberger’s instructions, on September 14, 1984, Commandant Kelley assigned Lt. Gen. Al Gray (later to become Commandant himself) to conduct a study of Marine special operations capabilities, and to come up with suggestions to improve them.

      The review went at II MAF (Marine Amphibious Force) Headquarters at Camp Lejeune, NC, from November 19th to December 17th of that year. The end result was a document entitled “Examination of Marine Corps Special Operations Enhancements.”

      The review went over the Marine Corps’ history with Special Operations, both as a whole, in specific units, and as individuals. There is a considerable history of Marines conducting what would be considered Special Operations missions, even outside of the Marine Raiders and Marine Parachutists. (Both units were disbanded before the end of WWII, though their successors in the Amphibious Recon Companies continued on.) Marines had regularly conducted amphibious raids and rescue missions of civilians and prisoners.

      Also a little know fact the Navy SeALs used Marine Raider tactics and lessons learned from raids they preformed during WW2.

  32. these "special forces" are just overhyped by the media as if they are supermen.. witness the uselessness of delta force supermen in somalia mogadishu..

    read the real application of special forces or commandoes in real war , like WW2 and desert storm.. They are niche player and usually taking too much resource from combat line units and totally useless against enemy line units..

  33. I can give you the information that France has also Tier1 units:

    - Commando Hubert (from French Navy Commando Marines) which is for combat divers, all men are already Comandos Marine (special forces) and most are HALO jumpers. The combat diver qualification is the most difficult stage in the french army, soldiers from this unit are highly qualified because they are the SOF unit who can do the most.

    - Service Action (or Action Division) are the DGSE commandos. They are a secret unit and all information are classified.

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