am 11. Juli 1998
The author, a Navy SEAL officer, provides a theory of special operations to explain how small, elite units consistently defeat larger forces. "The theory states that special operations forces are able to achieve relative superiority over the enemy if they prepare a simple plan, which is carefully concealed, repeatedly and realistically rehearsed, and executed with surprise, speed, and purpose." He tests his theory against eight historical examples of special operations. These show how special operations units are able to reduce their area of vulnerability (a function of mission-completion over time) and reduce what Clausewitz termed the friction of war (the will of the enemy, chance, and uncertainty) through the moral factors of courage, boldness, intellect, and perseverance. The author identifies certain principles that must be adhered to for success by special operations forces. These are simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed, and purpose. The historical examples clearly illustrate these principles and show the pitfalls of ignoring them. It is noteworthy that the author provides a definition of special operations which differs from official U.S. doctrine: "Operations conducted by forces specially trained, equipped, and supported for a specific target whose destruction elimination, or rescue (in the case of hostages) is a political or military imperative." The book is an excellent primer for special operations soldiers and a wake-up call for conventional force leaders.
am 28. April 1998
This book does for special operations warfare what B. H. Liddell-Hart did for conventional warfare. It is a complete theory on the way in which modern special operations should be conducted. The six examples of successful operations outlined in the book demonstrate the theories he presents, and he evaluates the success (and occasional failure) of the operations in a clear and understandable manner. As a textbook, it is a comprehensive, scientific guide for all special forces trainees, personnel, and commanders. As a general interst book, it is easily understood by those who have some familiarity with military terms and procedures. The book would be of little interest to the casual reader who is only mildly interested in the military; it is a book of theory and application written for those who are in or are familiar with the miltary. However, few other books are as clear a guide to the conduct of warfare as this book is. It is designed to be, and is, a comprehensive textbook on special operations. It should be, in my opinion, required reading for anyone making policy for armed forces, and for anyone in or associated with special forces.
am 18. März 1999
William McRaven's book is a text that could be considered "a general and special theory" of special operations. The author defines special operations, then outlines key criteria to consider in planning and execution. Then, he tests the criteria against eight case studies to determine to determine why, and to what degree, each op succeeded or failed. Not content with secondary sources, Captain McRaven personally interviewed surviving particpants, and did "terrain walks" at several battlefield locations. His combination of historical research and special operations theory is a work that is superb military theory as well as concise history of special operations. The book is clearly aimed at SOF personnel, and those who work with them. However, anyone with an interest in special operations should read this book. For myself, I found it to be excellent background material for my work with special operations forces.