United States Special Operations Forces

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Overview

In October and November of 2001, small numbers of soldiers from the Army Special Forces entered Afghanistan, linked up with elements of the Northern Alliance (an assortment of Afghanis opposed to the Taliban), and, in a remarkably short period of time, destroyed the Taliban regime. Trained to work with indigenous forces and personnel like the Northern Alliance, these soldiers, sometimes riding on horseback, combined modern military technology with ancient techniques of central Asian warfare in what was later described as "the first cavalry charge of the twenty-first century."

In this engaging book, two national security experts and Department of Defense insiders put the exploits of America's special operation forces in historical and strategic context. David Tucker and Christopher J. Lamb offer an incisive overview of America's turbulent experience with special operations. Using in-depth interviews with special operators at the forefront of the current war on terrorism and providing a detailed account of how they are selected and trained, the authors illustrate the diversity of modern special operations forces and the strategic value of their unique attributes.

From the first chapter, this book builds toward a set of recommendations for reforms that would allow special operations forces to make a greater contribution to the war on terrorism and play a more strategic role in safeguarding the nation's security. Along the way, the authors explain why special operations forces are:" Distinguished by characteristics not equally valued by their own leadership" Strategically crucial because of two mutually supporting but undeniably distinct sets of capabilities not found in conventional forces" Not to be confused with the CIA and so-called paramilitary forces, nor with the Marines and other elite forces" Unable to learn from the 1993 failed intervention in Somalia and the national-oversight issues it revealed" Better integrated into the nation's military strategy and operations than ever before but confused about their core missions in the war on terror" Not "transformed" for future challenges as many assert but rather in need of organizational reforms to realize their strategic potential

Despite longstanding and growing public fascination with special operators, these individuals and the organizations that employ them are little understood. With this book, Tucker and Lamb dispel common misconceptions and offer a penetrating analysis of how these unique and valuable forces can be employed to even better effect in the future.

Columbia University Press

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What People Are Saying

Robert Andrews

David Tucker and Christopher J. Lamb throw useful gasoline on the heretofore smoldering debate over the future of warfare and how best to use America's special operations forces. The flare-up will enlighten.

Robert Andrews, former Green Beret and CIA officer and the current deputy under secretary of defense for counterintelligence and security

James R. Locher III

This book shoots to the top of a short list of books on special operations that actually illuminate well beyond the mesmerizing missions of these critically important forces. Many-including myself-will challenge the authors' powerful case for reform in some respect, but no one who cares about special operations can afford to miss their insider insights and strategic reasoning.

James R. Locher III, former assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict

Robert Andrews

David Tucker and Christopher J. Lamb throw useful gasoline on the heretofore smoldering debate over the future of warfare and how best to use America's special operations forces. The flare-up will enlighten.

James R. Locher III

This book shoots to the top of a short list of books on special operations that actually illuminate well beyond the mesmerizing missions of these critically important forces. Many-including myself-will challenge the authors' powerful case for reform in some respect, but no one who cares about special operations can afford to miss their insider insights and strategic reasoning.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231131902
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 8/16/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,155,234
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Tucker is an associate professor in the Department of Defense Analysis and codirector of the Center on Terrorism and Irregular Warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He has also served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.

Christopher J. Lamb is a senior fellow with the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University. His prior positions in the Departments of Defense and State include deputy assistant secretary of defense for resources and plans, deputy director of the State Department's interagency task force for military stabilization in the Balkans, and director of policy planning in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

List of TablesPrefaceIntroduction1. Special Operations Forces and the War on Terrorism2. Selection and Training3. History4. Somalia5. Roles and Missions6. Special Operations Forces and the Future of Warfare7. Restructuring Special Operations ForcesConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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