Special Operations Forces


A - B

Ackerman, Robert K. "Special Operations Forces Become Network-Centric." Signal, Mar. 2003. []

According to Brig. Gen. James W. Parker, USA, director of SOCOM's Center for Intelligence and Information Operations, "[n]etwork-centric warfare proved to be a key enabler for U.S. special operations forces to rout the Taliban in Afghanistan.... These forces were empowered by shared situational awareness and robust communications that allowed them to maximize the effects of air and naval support against Taliban positions."

Aftergood, Steven. "Army Rethinks Unconventional Warfare." Secrecy News, 12 Nov. 2008. []

U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-05.130, "Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare," dated 30 September 2008, defines unconventional warfare (UW) as "'[o]perations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations.... This definition reflects two essential criteria: UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces.'" The manual "presents updated policy and doctrine governing unconventional warfare, and examines its 'three main component disciplines': special forces operations, psychological operations, and civil affairs operations. Appendices include an historical survey of unconventional warfare as well as an extensive bibliography." The 248-page manual is available as a 3.7 mb PDF file at:

Allen, Patrick H. F. U.S. Special Operations Command in Action. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 2002.

Atkinson, Rick. "Special, Not Super." Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2001, A31.

The U.S. Special Forces "are among the best trained, best equipped and best conditioned soldiers of any army in any era.... [But] there are limits to what can be expected of these elite forces." In an unconventional campaign, such as they will be called upon to conduct in Afghanistan, "the ability of the U.S. military to think in unorthodox terms will be as important as valor, tenacity and firepower."

Balasevicius, Tony [MAJ]. "A Look Behind the Black Curtain: Understanding the Core Missions of Special Operations Forces." Canadian Military Journal 7, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 21-30.

"[T]he first step in understanding SOF is to comprehend the core missions they undertake." This article examines "the evolution of these forces during and immediately following the Second World War." It identifies "the SOF's core missions and examine[s] the creation and early development of pioneering units....[A]s the training of these units ... is closely linked to mission requirements, a general examination of this element" is also covered. "The reality is that SOF units are organized, trained and equipped to carry out one of the core missions, and although they have an ability to move away from their field of specialist capability, that ability is, in reality, limited."

Bennett, Richard M. Elite Forces: The World’s Most Formidable Secret Armies. London:  Virgin Press, 2003. 

Peake, Studies 47.3, finds that "[t]here are numerous unit misidentifications, British and American, and the historical details cannot be accepted as written.... Bennet’s topic is timely, but the book is unreliable."

Best, Richard A., Jr., and Andrew Feickert. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and CIA Paramilitary Operations: Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 3 Aug. 2009. Available at:; and at:

A judicious look at the issues surrounding the 9/11 Commission's Recommendation 32, which called for responsibility for all covert and clandestine paramilitary activities to be shifted to the Defense Department.

Bloom, Bradley. "Information Operations in Support of Special Operations." Military Review 84 (Jan.-Feb. 2004): 45-49.

Bohrer, David.

1. America's Special Forces: Seals, Green Berets, Rangers, USAF Special Ops, Marine Force Recon. St. Paul, MN: MBI, 2002.

2. America's Special Forces: Weapons, Missions, Training. St. Paul, MN: MBI, 1998.

Boot, Max. The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

Donnelly, FA 81.4 (Jul.-Aug. 2002), finds that the author "presents a useful collection of case studies chronicling the expansion of American power ... across the globe. If the book has a shortcoming, it lies in Boot's exclusive concern with the operations of U.S. forces abroad." The focus on overseas missions "leads Boot to a slight overemphasis on the virtues of the Marine Corps and its famous Small Wars Manual of 1940." This work is an"important and timely contribution ... to American strategic self-awareness." Berger, et al, I&NS 22.6 (Dec. 2007), note that this work is "devoid of conceptual innovations" but deals with its time span in an "engaging and incisive fashion."

Briscoe, Charles H., et al. All Roads Lead to Baghdad: Army Special Operations Forces in Iraq. Fort Bragg, NC: USASOC History Office, 2006.

Dugat, Air & Space Power Journal 21.4 (Winter 2007), calls this "an eye-opening account" of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is "a superb picture of th[e] war and its aftermath.... Written chronologically, the study covers details down to the hour when the planning stage began.... Some portions seem repetitive, however, and several times the authors' clear recounting of operations makes the summaries unnecessary."

Briscoe, C. H. "Coalition Humanitarian Liaison Cells and PSYOP (Psychological Operations) Teams in Afghanistan." Special Warfare 15 (Sep. 2002): 36-38.

Brown, Bryan D. ("Doug") [GEN/USA] "U.S. Special Operations Command: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century." Joint Force Quarterly 40 (1st Quarter 2006): 38-43. []

The Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, (USSOCOM), traces the early history of U.S. special forces from OSS through the years of ups and downs in terms of attention paid to such forces. Why such inaction? General Brown states that it was due to the fact that "the services did not view Special Operations as vital to national defense, and they could not agree on its substance, funding, or how it would be controlled." The turning point was the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 and the Nunn-Cohen amendment in 1987. Dramatic change has followed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's designation of USSOCOM as the lead element in planning the war on terror.

Brown, David. "SpecOps Chief Wants More Active PSYOPS, Civil Affairs Companies." Air Force Times 63 (24 Mar. 2003): 22.

Gen. Charles Holland (USAF), Commander, Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command, wants to increase the number of active-duty soldiers in civil affairs and PSYOPS units.

Bruner, Edward F., Christopher C. Bolkcum, and Ronald O'Rourke. Special Operations Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom: Background and Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 15 Oct. 2001. []

The issues identified are intelligence support; work with resistance forces; funding, equipment, and organization; personnel retention; and joint and combined operations.

Busch, Briton Cooper. Bunker Hill to Bastogne: Elite Forces and American Society. Dulles, VA: Potomac, 2006. 2007. [pb]

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