Special Operations Forces

Through the 1990s

A - B

Adams, James. Secret Armies: Inside the American, Soviet and European Special Forces. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988.

Valcourt, IJI&C 2.3, says the "title is overly ambitious," since there is "a relative lack of information on the special forces of all nations except the United States.... Despite considerable lip service by politicians and military chieftains..., the units have generally been resented and ignored." The book is "readable" and a "good introduction to the field."

According to NameBase, "Adams ... frequently seems overly enthusiastic, as if he were writing ad copy in a magazine for would-be mercenaries. But ... [he] does manage some credible reporting on Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) and their efforts against the IRA, the war in Afghanistan, and the series of complete screw-ups in Grenada.... Other chapters deal with special forces training and equipment, Charles Beckwith's Delta Force, and Soviet operations. There is also a bibliography with 90 titles, and a 13-page appendix that describes special forces alphabetically by country."

Adams, Thomas K. "The New Mercenaries and the Privatization of Conflict." Parameters 29, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 103-116. []

"[W]hen various entities ... find themselves in need of military or large-scale security services, hiring mercenaries is an obvious recourse.... During the 1990s a number of corporations termed 'international security firms' or 'private military companies' have sprung up to service this demand.... [T]here has been little success in creating international legislation that will prevent the existence of mercenaries, and it may be impossible to do so."

Adams, Thomas K. U.S. Special Operations Forces in Action: The Challenge of Unconventional Warfare. London and Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1998.

Hightower, Parameters 28 (Winter 1998-1999), calls this "an excellent historical treatment of the organizational and doctrinal development of Army Special Operations Forces (SOF), illustrated with operational vignettes of those forces in action.... Adams pulls no punches in pointing out the facts: the Army, when given the opportunity, has consistently attempted to do away with the Special Forces, civil affairs, and psychological operations units."

For Prados, I&NS 15.4, the author "supplies the best account to date of the nadir of Special Forces after the Vietnam war and its regeneration during the 1980s and into the 1990s." The reviewer concludes that "this is a fine study that offers something for observers of intelligence, modern history, and military affairs more generally."

Adolph, Robert B., Jr. "Strategic Rationale for SOF." Military Review 72 (Apr. 1992): 36-46. [Gibish]

Allen, Patrick D. Special Operations Aviation: The Men and Machines of the Elite Units. Osceola, WI: MBI, 1999.

Arostegui, Martin C. Twilight Warriors: Inside the World's Special Forces. New York: St. Martin's, 1997.

Bosiljevec, Proceedings 123.6 (Jun. 1997), finds the focus in Twilight Warriors to be on direct-action raid operations from World War II to the present. Included in his survey are U.S. Special Forces, the British Special Air Service (SAS), Germany's GSG-9 counterterrorist force, and the French GIGN. Nevertheless, he misses the U.S. Navy SEALs and the Israeli special units, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu's old unit, Sayaret Matkal. And the absence from the book of the Son Tay POW rescue attempt "is an inexcusable omission." This book is a "good read and paints a colorful story," but it fails to comes to grips with the broader significance of the dichotomy between the successes and failures of special forces, especially in the United States.

Arquilla, John. From Troy to Entebbe: Special Operations in Ancient and Modern Times. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996.

This is a book of readings on "special operations," beginning with two selections from Robert Graves on the Trojan War and concluding with a selection from Chaim Herzog on the Entebbe raid. Despite the title's suggestion of a sweep across history, the 19th and 20th centuries dominate.

Asprey, Robert B. "Special Forces: Europe." Army 12 (Jan 1962): 56-61.

Bank, Aaron [COL/USA (Ret.)]. From OSS to Green Berets: The Birth of Special Forces. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1986. New York: Pocket Books, 1986. [pb]

On Bank, see Richard Goldstein, "Col. Aaron Bank, Who Was 'Father of Special Forces,' Dies at 101," New York Times, 6 Apr. 2004; and Dennis McLellan, "Aaron Bank, 101; OSS Officer Became 'Father of the Green Berets,'" Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2004.

Barker, Geoffrey T. A Concise History of U.S. Army Special Operations Forces, with Lineage and Insignia. Fayatteville, NC: Anglo-American, 1988. 2d ed. Tampa, FL: Anglo-American, 1993.

Barnett, Frank R., B. Hugh Tovar, and Richard H. Shultz, eds. Special Operations in U.S. Strategy. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press/National Strategy Information Center, 1984.

Motley, Journal of Conflict Studies 6.3 (1986), notes that this book consists of eight papers and accompanying discussion from a 1983 symposium at the National Defense University on "The Role of Special Operations in U.S. Strategy for the 1980s.".The book is "informative, highly-readable, and thoughful."

Beckwith, Charlie A. [COL/USA (Ret.)], and Donald Knox. Delta Force: The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit. New York: Harcourt, 1983. Delta Force. New York: Dell, 1984. [pb] With an Epilogue by C.A. Mobley. Delta Force: The Army's Elite Counterterrorist Unit. New York: Avon, 2000. [pb]

Beckwith was "founder and first commanding officer of Delta Force." The book's "Prologue" covers the White House briefing prior to the launch of Eagleclaw.

Blackstock, Paul W. "Covert Military Operations." In Handbook of Military Institutions, ed. Roger W. Little, 455-492. Beverley Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1971. [Petersen]

Bowden, Mark. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern Warfare. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999.

The author does not focus on the intelligence aspects in this story of the diasterous event in Mogadishu in October 1993. A Publisher Weekly (via reviewer notes, however, that Bowden does ask: "Did the U.S. err by creating elite forces that are too small to sustain the attrition of modern combat?"

Brock, Tony [LT/USN]. "Special Operations Require Special Intelligence Officers." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Dec. 1999, 71-73.

"[T]he intelligence billets within the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community are manned today by a passing parade of new officers who, regardless of rank, lack formal training and experience in special operations."

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