Special Operations



Dozier, Kimberly. "Special Operations Troops Learn the Art of Gathering Evidence to Aid the Anti-terror Fight." Associated Press, 4 Jan. 2012. []

"Special operators of all types are learning" how to gather evidence "at Fort Bragg's Special Warfare Center.... The coursework is similar to the CIA's ... training center called The Farm, and is at the brainchild of Green Beret Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick, a veteran of elite special operations units and a long stint on loan to the CIA.... The school is also an illustration of how special operations and intelligence forces have reached a less-contentious coexistence."

Geraghty, Tony. Black Ops: The Rise of Special Forces in the C.I.A., the S.A.S., and Mossad. New York: Pegasus, 2010.

Peake, Studies 55.2 (Jun. 2011), finds that the author's "39-page introduction ... nicely summarizes the entire book," of which "five of the seven chapters" are devoted to Special Forces (SF) in the United States. Geraghty "shows how SF units have ... developed into a major force in the contemporary battle against terrorism. It is well documented and well worth reading."

Gillespie, Robert M. Black Ops, Vietnam: An Operational History of MACVSOG. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011.

From publisher: "Without doubt the most unique U.S. unit to participate in the Vietnam War,... MACVSOG participated in most of the significant operations of the conflict." Peake, Studies 56.3 (Sep. 2012) and Intelligencer 19.3 (Winter-Spring 2013), notes that the author "doesn’t alibi the failures, but he does explain that they were inherently the result of the political and military strategy imposed on forces in the country." This "is a well-documented, well-told account."

Mazzetti, Mark. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth. New York: Penguin, 2013.

Bergen, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2013, finds that, in this "deeply reported and crisply written account," the author "documents the militarization of the CIA and the stepped-up intelligence focus of Special Operations forces." While recounting "the important shifts in the architecture of the U.S. military and intelligence communities," this work "also reveals the many eccentric characters who emerged during this era of shifting portfolios and illustrates another important theme of the book: the privatization of intelligence operations, which were traditionally a core government function."

For Orzetti, Proceedings 139.12 (Dec. 2013), the author provides "a thoroughly researched and thought-provoking portrait of ... the most consequential shift of the American national security complex since the Cold War." Freedman, FA 92.5 (Sep.-Oct. 2013), "Mazzetti describes in compelling detail the agency's turf battles with the Pentagon, its awkward relations with its Pakistani counterpart, and its reliance on a motley collection of freelancers and private contractors." Willing, Studies 57.3 (Sep. 2013), comments that while the book "is not a negative screed,... it does little to acknowledge the CIA's successes or to offer historical context."

Seeger, Studies 57.4 (Dec. 2013), says the author's "writing style is clear and concise, and his access to senior officials in the US government is obvious." However, he "selects his research material ... in large part to support" a biased viewpoint. "[F]or anyone outside the IC, the book simply reads like a list of failures in Washington and in the field.... [T]his litany of failures tends to obscure other stories -- discussed but covered less thoroughly in The Way of the Knife -- that underscore that fact that good leaders can cooperate to resolve bureaucratic conflict. These stories do not receive equal treatment within Mazzetti's discussion of failures and bureaucratic conflict."

Pushies, Fred J. MARSOC: U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command. Osceola, WI: Zenith, 2011. [pb]

From advertisement: "In 2006, the U.S. Marines officially became part of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) with the creation of the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC)."

Robinson, Linda.

1. "The Future of Special Operations: Beyond Kill and Capture." Foreign Affairs 91, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 2012): 110-122.

The author argues that the future of special operations does not rest with "the direct approach" ("dramatic raids and high-tech drone strikes") but rather with "the indirect approach" ("a cryptic term used to describe working with and through non-U.S. partners to accomplish security objectives, often in unorthodox ways").

Couch, Proceedings 139.10 (Oct. 2013), calls this article "concise, factual, and a superb guide for a congressional staffer -- or anyone else for that matter -- who wants to know what's ahead for SOF post-Afghanistan."

2. One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare. New York: Public Affairs, 2013.

Couch, Proceedings 139.10 (Oct. 2013), says this work "is highly readable and paints a compelling picture of SOF in the 2010-12 timeframe." Robinson offers "a series of ground-truth, factual vignettes that provide a glimpse into the personal as well as the policy."

Urban, Mark. Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the Secret Special Forces War in Iraq. New York: St. Martin's, 2011.

Martin, Proceedings 137.9 (Sep. 2011), finds that this "stirring history" takes "the reader inside the culture of the British and U.S. Special Forces units that performed 'black' or covert operations during the Iraq war." Urban "tracks British Special Air Service and Special Boat Service operators as they work alongside their American Delta Force counterparts." This is "a gritty tale of the war."

Whitlock, Craig.

1. "U.S. Expands Secret Intelligence Operations in Africa." Washington Post, 13 Jun. 2012. []

"The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project."

2. "Contractors Run U.S. Spying Missions in Africa." Washington Post, 14 Jun. 2012. []

The U.S. military "has largely outsourced" its "spying operation" in Africa "to private contractors. The contractors supply the aircraft as well as the pilots, mechanics and other personnel to help process electronic intelligence collected from the airspace over Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic."

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