Special Operations


Taillon, J. Paul de B. The Evolution of Special Forces in Counter-Terrorism. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001.

Cronin, Joint Force Quarterly 29 (Autumn-Winter 2001-2002), notes that the author "describes a specific tool of response to terrorism, military missions by British and American forces.... The chapter on U.S. capabilities is more fluently written than that on their British counterparts; however, the comparison of the historical development of their respective operational doctrine is insightful. The culture of each nation's forces is described in the context of low-intensity conflicts.... The Americans do not fare well by comparison.... The book's conclusions are sound but general."

Tucker, David, and Christopher J. Lamb. United States Special Operations Forces. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

From publisher: In this book, "two national security experts and Department of Defense insiders put the exploits of America's special operation forces in historical and strategic context." This "overview of America's turbulent experience with special operations ... illustrate[s] the diversity of modern special operations forces and the strategic value of their unique attributes."

Tyson, Ann Scott. "Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is Key To Pentagon Plan; Conventional Tactics De-Emphasized." Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2006, A1. []

The Defense Department's latest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) "concentrates on ... defeating terrorist networks; countering nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; dissuading major powers such as China, India and Russia from becoming adversaries; and creating a more robust homeland defense.

"Central to the first two goals is a substantial 15 percent increase in U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF), now with 52,000 personnel, including secret Delta Force operatives skilled in counterterrorism. The review calls for a one-third increase in Army Special Forces battalions...; an increase in Navy SEAL teams; and the creation of a new SOF squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles to 'locate and target enemy capabilities' in countries where access is difficult. In addition, civil affairs and psychological operations units will gain 3,500 personnel, a 33 percent increase, while the Marine Corps will establish a 2,600-strong Special Operations force for training foreign militaries, conducting reconnaissance and carrying out strikes."

Tyson, Ann Scott. "Study Urges CIA Not To Cede Paramilitary Functions to Pentagon." Washington Post, 5 Feb. 2005, A8. []

According to senior defense officials on 4 February 2005, a study contracted by the Pentagon and carried out by McLean-based Booz Allen Hamilton "has concluded that the Defense Department should not take charge of the CIA's paramilitary functions." The study considered how to act on the 9/11 commission's recommendation "that lead responsibility for covert and clandestine paramilitary operations be ... consolidated under the ... Special Operations Command.... The study's conclusion ... reflects an emerging consensus among current and former defense, military and intelligence officials that it is more logical for the CIA to retain its relatively modest paramilitary force."

Tyson, Ann Scott, and Dana Priest. "Pentagon Seeking Leeway Overseas: Operations Could Bypass Envoys." Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2005, A1. []

According to administration officials, "[t]he Pentagon is promoting a global counterterrorism plan that would allow Special Operations forces to enter a foreign country to conduct military operations without explicit concurrence from the U.S. ambassador there."

U.S. Air Force. "Special Operations." Air Force Doctrine Document 2-7. 16 Dec. 2005. []

From "Summary of Revisions": "As America continues to engage in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), AFSOF [Air Force Special Operations Forces] have had to shift from a platform-based to a capabilities-based model that can accommodate a GWOT-oriented campaign."

U.S. Government Accountability Office. Special Operations Forces: Several Human Capital Challenges Must Be Addressed to Meet Expanded Role. Washington, DC: Jul. 2006. [GAO-06-812] [Available at:]

This is a valuable report that provides detailed information on U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF). It documents both the growth in SOF from 2000 to 2005 and the difficulties they face in meeting recruiting goals in the coming years. The GAO notes that "the Special Operations Command [SOCOM] cannot provide assurances ... that currently planned growth in the number of personnel for the Command's headquarters will meet, exceed, or fall short of the requirements needed to address the Command's expanded mission....

"[F]unding for [SOCOM] has increased from more than $3.8 billion in fiscal year 2001 to more than $6.4 billion in fiscal year 2005. In addition, the Command received more than $5 billion in supplemental funds from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2005.... The President's fiscal year 2007 budget request for [SOCOM] is $8 billion....

"[SOCOM] is comprised of special operations forces from each of the military services. In fiscal year 2005, personnel authorizations for Army special operations forces military personnel totaled more than 30,000, the Air Force 11,501, the Navy 6,255, and the Marine Corps 79. Roughly one-third of special operations forces military personnel were in DOD's reserve components, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force Reserve, and the Army and Air National Guard." [footnotes omitted]

U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM]. History and Research Office. United States Special Operations Command, 1987-2007. MacDill Air Force Base, FL: Apr. 2007. [Available at:]

A 143-page document, this history of SOCOM includes sections on "Founding and Evolution of USSOCOM"; "Major Operations: 1987 to 2001"; operations in "Global War on Terrorism."

U.S. Special Operations Command. "USSOCOM Posture Statement 2007." MacDill Air Force Base, FL: Apr. 2007. [Available at:]

From "Executive Summary": "USSOCOM has three simple and enduring priorities: Winning the Global War on Terror; Ensuring the Readiness of Special Operations Forces; and Posturing SOF for the Future." The document gives the number of active SOF (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) as 37,518, with 2,426 reservists, 3,729 in the National Guard, and 1,780 civilians, for a total force of 47,911. In FY 2007, USSOCOM was funded at approximately $6.2 billion.

Vistica, Gregory L. "Military Split on How to Use Special Forces in Terror War." Washington Post, 5 Jan. 2004, A1. []

There is a "fierce debate" among military and intelligence officials "over when and how elite military units should be deployed for maximum effectiveness." At Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's direction, "secret commando units known as hunter-killer teams have been ordered to 'kick down the doors' ... all over the world in search of al Qaeda members and their sympathizers." However, the U.S. military "may have missed chances to capture" Mohammad Omar and Ayman Zawahiri "during the past two years because of restrictions on Green Berets in favor of ... the Delta Force and SEAL Team Six," termed Special Mission Units.

Walter, John. The World's Elite Forces: Small Arms & Accessories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.

This work offers an illustrated guide to the weaponry of the world's special forces.

Waugh, Billy, with Tim Keown. Hunting the Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier's Fifty-Year Career Hunting America's Enemies. New York: Morrow, 2004. Hunting the Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Soldier's Fifty Years on the Frontlines against Terrorism. New York: Avon, 2005. [pb]

From "In remarkable detail [Waugh] recounts his participation in some of the most important events in American Special Operations history, including his own pivotal role in the previously untold story of the CIA's involvement in the capture of the infamous Carlos the Jackal."

Clark comment: Did Billy Waugh do all the things he chronicles in his book? I am assured by those who know more about him than I do that Waugh has done so much that there would be no need for him to make up the stories told here. If he had not already been a Special Forces legend, going to war in Afghanistan in 2001 at the age of 72 would have established a special place for him in the pantheon of real-life action figures. It is doubtful that we would want Waugh sitting in Washington making policy; but as a warrior in the field, it is good thing that he is on our side.

Weiner, Rebecca Ulam. "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing." Legal Affairs (Jan.-Feb. 2006). []

"In recent years, private contractors have increasingly taken on important military functions, operating in some 50 countries.... They provide security to civilian aid workers, other contractors, and even military forces. They train local armies for combat, develop future American soldiers..., and interrogate prisoners. At times, they've engaged in combat. During the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the U.S. has relied heavily on their support -- private contractors make up a workforce of about 20,000, double the British troop presence."

Zimmerman, Dwight Jon, and John D. Gresham. Beyond Hell and Back: How America's Special Operations Forces Became the World's Greatest Fighting Unit. New York, St. Martin's, 2007.

From publisher: This book offers "[a]n inside look at seven of the most harrowing and significant Special Operations missions," from Vietnam to Iraq.

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