Special Operations Forces

Through the 1990s

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Kaplan, Robert D. "Special Intelligence." Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1998, 61- 62. []

"For an army that will have to act secretly, unconventionally, and in advance of crises rather than during them, intelligence is critical. Indeed, the growth of Special Forces might be a crude indication of the collapse of any distinction between our military and intelligence services. Yes, the CIA itself might be done away with. What the CIA does, however, will not only grow in importance but also have the support of armed troops within the same bureaucratic framework."

Kelly, Francis John [COL/USA].

1. Vietnam Studies: U.S. Army Special Forces, 1961-1971. CMH Publication 90-23. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1989 (first printed, 1973). Available at:

2. The Green Berets in Vietnam, 1961-71. McLean, VA: Brassey's, 1991. [reissue]

Kelly, Orr. Brave Men -- Dark Waters: The Untold Story of the Navy SEALs. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1992. New York: Pocket, 2003. [pb]

Surveillant 2.6 identifies Kelly as a veteran defense correspondent who has worked for the Washington Star and U.S. News and World Report. Among other things, this work discusses the Marchinko case (see Marchinko and Wiseman, Rogue Warrior) and looks at the past and possible future mission of the SEALs.

According to Yang, FILS 12.5, this work "highlights several intelligence facets of the SEAL story." They "would gather their own intelligence and then act on it.... '[T]he SEALs found they were able to penetrate deep into VC sanctuaries where more conventional forces didn't know enough, or didn't dare, to go.' (p. 136) This ability was tapped" by the CIA, which used "the SEALs special talents through the Provincial Reconnaissance Unit and the Phoenix/Phung Hoang Programs." The book has an "unmistakable air of authenticity." While it "cannot be considered definitive," it is "better than anything else that examines SEAL history before and since the Vietnam War."

Kelly, Orr. From a Dark Sky: The Story of U.S. Air Force Special Operations. Collingdale, PA: Diane, 1996. New York: Pocket, 1997. [pb]

A Library Journal review (via says that "Kelly's narrative is lively, and his mix of broad overview and personal experience makes for smooth reading."

Kelly, Orr. Never Fight Fair! Navy SEALS' Stories of Combat and Adventure. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Never Fight Fair! Inside the Legendary U.S. Navy Seals. New York: Pocket, 1996. [pb]

This book is primarily interviews/oral history with former (and some active) Navy SEALS.

Kelly, Ross S. Special Operations and National Purpose. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1989. [Gibish]

Koren, Henry L.T., Jr. "Congress Wades into Special Operations." Parameters 18 (Dec. 1988): 62-74.

Lenahan, Rod. Crippled Eagle: A Historical Perspective of U.S. Special Operations, 1976-1996. Charleston, SC: Narwhal Press, 1998.

Despite its subtitle, Crear, AIJ 18.1&2, finds that this work "is overwhelmingly an account of the preparations for, conduct of and aftermath of the 1980 effort to rescue the American hostages in Tehran." The author "has used his personal knowledge of the operation in all its complexities and aspects plus a great quantity of material that has been declassified in recent years to write a riveting account."

Locher, James R., III.

1. "Intelligence Support to Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict." American Intelligence Journal 11, no. 1 (Autumn 1989-1990): 13-17.

2. "Interview: James R. Locher, III, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict." Special Warfare 6 (May 1993): 33-35. [Gibish]

3. "Congress to the Rescue: Statutory Creation of USSOCOM." Air Commando Journal 1, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 33-39. []

The author was a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1978 to 1989. He writes that Congress enacted the transformational Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act "over bitter objections" from DoD, but its passage cleared the way for the Cohen-Nunn Amendment and the creation of USSOCOM.

MacCloskey, Monro. Alert the Fifth Force: Counterinsurgency, Unconventional Warfare, and Psychological Operations of the United States Air Force in Special Air Warfare. New York: R. Rosen, 1969.

Petersen: "Cold War focus. Covers mainly non-USAF activities. Not well regarded by some experts."

Marchinko. Richard. Rogue Warrior. New York: Pocket Books, 1992. [pb]

Training and exploits of U.S. Navy SEALS.

Marquis, Susan L. Unconventional Warfare: Rebuilding U.S. Special Operations Forces. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1997.

According to National Journal, 19 Aug. 1997, "U.S. Special Operations Forces have gone from being a poorly funded and staffed organization to an elite military unit.... Marquis follows the political battle that brought back the forces after they were almost eliminated following the Vietnam war." Cohen, FA 77.2 (Mar.-Apr. 1998), finds that the author of this "workmanlike volume ... displays a fine awareness of the peculiar culture of the special operations community." Since calls for the use of these forces are likely in the future, this book has "particular significance."

For Crerar, AIJ 17.3/4, this book provides a nicely done overview of the problems that U.S. unconventional forces faced by the late 1970s, and notes that Marquis tells the story of the effort to rejuvenate those forces in the early 1980s "exceptionally well." The author appears to have had "exceptional entree to the [special operations] community's members" who "were generous with their views." The book is not without minor flaws (especially in detailing the recent history of the special operations forces), but the overall result is "well worth reading."

Bode, History 26.2, sees the book as "a competently assembled partial history of the rebuilding of important military capabilities shed during America's revulsion against 'the Vietnam experience.'" However, there are "gaps that mar her account." Although the mistakes and omissions "are not trivial deficiencies in an authoritative history,... neither should they prevent anyone from reading this book."

McRaven, William H. [ADM/USN] Special Operations -- Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995.

Meyer, John Stryker. Across the Fence: The Secret War in Vietnam. Expanded ed. Oceanside, CA: SOG Publishing, 2011.

Morgan, Paul F. [COL/USA (Ret.)] "Special Operations Intelligence Systems and Technologies." American Intelligence Journal 15, no. 2 (Autumn/Winter 1994): 25-29.

The author addresses several SOF intelligence systems, including information management, communications, and tactical collection systems. "Special Operations missions are intelligence driven and intelligence dependent.... SOF intelligence developments will be light-weight and micro sized. Enhanced power supplies will be needed, equipment will be modular..., systems will be ... common to every theater of operations, all will have reduced signatures, and will be easily transportable, and all efforts will be taken to insure interoperability on the battlefields of the future."

Motley, James B. "Washington's Big Tug-of-War Over Special Operations Forces." Army 36 (Nov. 1986): 16-24.

Niedrauer, Bruce A. "Joint STARS Support to Special Operations Command." Military Intelligence 22, no. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1996): 15-17.

In Operation Joint Endeavor, a Ground Station Module (GSM) was deployed to the Special Operations Command Implementation Force (SOCIFOR) to provide "near-real-time access via satellite communications (SATCOMs) to Joint STARS imagery."

Neillands, Robin. In the Combat Zone: Special Forces Since 1945. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977. London: Orion Books, 1998. [pb]

From publisher: The author is a "military historian and ... former Royal Marine Commando.... He describes the operational successes and failures, advances in military technology crucial to special force effectiveness, and the achievements, challenges, and exploits of a wide range of special force units."

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