Thursday, December 16, 2010


A READER WRITES: "Hi, I just came across your blog yesterday and I find it very entertaining. Recently I've been reading a lot about the Army, specifically Rangers and Delta Force. Now, word on the web is that for Delta, life expectancy of an operator drops to about 49% in the span of 6 years, that one can only be in Delta for around 6 years due to becoming mentally drained, and, if you're one of the lucky half to survive all 6 years, your physical health rapidly deteriorates in the process.

"I can't say that I believe or disbelieve these statements because they do appear to hold some degree of sense, however, as I'm sure you know, the Internet is very unreliable in general, let alone about something as secretive as Delta.
So I come to you, since it would seem to have a knowledge on this sort of stuff but also have connections to people who may possess some degree of awareness on the subject.
"In other words, do you by any chance know whether or not any of that is true?"
"Thank you for your time, -J.A."


Dear J:
I don't know where you're getting this six-year statistic from; the sergeant-major in my last operational unit was in CAG from mid-eighties until late nineties - more than ten years. I've known several guys like that.

Now I can't say much about Delta because I wasn't in the CAG but I can assure you The Unit is VERY physically challenging but not necessarily more than any other combat arms MOS - just in different ways. They don't have the mind-numbing, daily grind of back-breaking, soul-killing tasks. Hell, they have support choagees to tote & carry their bags; they don't even clean their own weapons.

Soldiering is hard work no matter what outfit you're in - at least as hard as professional football, lumberjacking or rodeo cowboying. Unless you take a bad wound, our long-term injuries tend to be knees, lower back (working & marching with 80+ lbs worth of kit starts to wear on you after ten or twenty years in the harness).

I knew a guy who retired as Command Sergeant Major, 82d Airborne Division. Charlie Thorpe went from private to First Sergeant in A Co/1st 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, with only a two year break to do drill sergeant duty. The man was harder than woodpecker lips. I guarantee you a tour as a grunt in Division is as hard if ot harder on the body than a tour in Special Operations.

Me? I was still on a Special Forces Operational Detachment at age 45 - still loading ammo cans up onto the GunVee, still jumping out of planes & helicopters, still running around with 80 lbs worth of lightweight gear strapped to my body. Nowadays my back & my knees are talking to me, let me tell you. My ears are blown out, I've got this weird skin rash I picked up in Bosnia, have more dead friends than living and I have to deal with the demons inside my skull.

Other than that I'm ready willing and able to drive on for the next 20 years - going into my third year of contracting and let me tell you I'll take a hard-charging paratrooper or Marine lance corporal on my team any day over a whining, spoiled rotten prima donna Spec Ops guy who's got better things to do than bust ass on a job that more often than not includes mundane tasks like pulling maintenance on the vehicles or maybe doing the obligatory goat-grab with your indig' counterparts.

Answer your question?

Thank You For Your Support,
-Sean L.

Answer your question?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. In one of the "other branches", neighbor of mine was Force Recon, then he was drafted to teach marksmanship. That led to him eventually being a DI. They forced him to go to work as a recruiter and that was what burned him out on the Corps. He can still do push ups with the best of them, I wouldn't want to fight him, and recently turned 50. Paper cuts probably kill as many careers as strenous physical training.

  2. But Stormbringer, doesn't the fact that you have more dead friends than living kinda say it all?

  3. God don't want him and Hell won't take him!
    There is no way to know the future.
    If you are afraid to die, don't do it.

  4. The day-to-day life of the frontline Combat Infantry Rifleman, is long and grueling. They suffer the constant grind and attrition more deadly than an Elite Trooper. The Elite Trooper doesn't live on the line as long as the average Rifleman. The Elite Troop, is taken off the line for rest and re-fit, when the mission is over. The Rifleman stays until rotation or when their combat effectiveness has been deminished by 30%-40% casualties over the long haul. All Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, the elite Troop or the common line Rifleman, all risk their lives daily........the initial question about short lifespans of the Elite, should be directed to the average Troop on the line or guarding and driving supply convoys.....The 34th US Regiment, was eroded to just about nothing in Korea. The list is endless.....15,000 US tank losses in WWII. Or the US Bomber Command in the European Theater....18,500 Aircraft lost the number of crews killed was greater than all the USMC losses in the Pacific.

  5. Hi, I'm a high school student interested in joining pecial forces. Do you know really anyway to sort of prepare your self physically and mentally for Indoc and the training?

  6. Charlie Thorpe was my 1st sgt in the mid 80's. thanks to him, now I'm a helicopter pilot. He was the toughest soldier that I ever met.

    1. Thorpe was my 1st Sgt with A/1/325. He was, and probably still is a stud. I agree, tough as nails. He did do the Thorpe gravely ass chew when I ETS'd. Told me I'd be "on da soup line" if I got out. I looked him up when I got done with med school and told him that he was full of crap

    2. Thorpe was my 1SG as well, First time I met him he yelled out of his office door to get a hair cut then watched him almost drown in Turkey back in 85' when he was pulled into a drainage ditch by his chute re-inflate on the DZ Same jump took out the Div CO when he got pulled into a gama goat and broke his K-pot. Great 1SG and an awesome leader.

    3. Yeah, I was in turkey with you.

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