Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice
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Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Vice Adm. William H. McRaven helped to devise the strategy for how to bring down Osama bin Laden, and commanded the courageous U.S. military unit that carried it out on May 1, 2011, ending one of the greatest manhunts in history. In Spec Ops, a well-organized and deeply researched study, McRaven analyzes eight classic special operations. Six are from WWII: the German comma...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 1st 1996 by Presidio Press (first published May 1st 1995)
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"Spec Ops--Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice" by William H. McRaven.

Quite often, books about special forces are heavily based on anecdote and action. They still explain and illuminate the tasks and missions of special forces, if the reader pays attention to the details and connects all the dots. William R. McRaven eschews that approach and makes the case for special forces in his book "Spec Ops", a book he penned while commander of Seal Team 3 in the 1990s.

By appl...more
“Spec Ops by William McRaven uses a case-study methodology for illustrating his six-principles of special operations. Most of the case studies used occurred in WWII, although he also includes one from Vietnam and one of a terrorist airplane hijacking involving Israeli citizens. In the case studies, McRaven analyzes in what ways the operations were successful, and in what ways the operations could have been improved.

I would like to compare the raid on bin Laden's compound, which McRaven was the a...more
Jack Silkstone
Vice Admiral William McRaven is a bit of a legend in the Special Ops world. The current head of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been leading, planning and directing SEAL Team Ops since Jesus was playing fullback for Nazareth.

Word on the street is he played a pretty key role in the death of Bin Laden. He may not have pulled the trigger but it was his command that planned and executed the Op. Panetta, former head of the CIA, is said to have handed Operation Neptune's Spear over to McRa...more
Bas Kreuger
Very interesting book on special ops. The analytical way Mc Raven has written the book makes it both very readable and informative and gives a lot of insight in where, when and how special erations may be used in the modern world with its opaque threats appearing seeminly from nowhere.
A country cannot have only special forces, that is also very clear from the book, as they don't have that much staying power. A mixture of conventional forces for more mundane tasks and special forces for those ope...more
Overall an interesting read from the angles of military history and from the point of view of theory development. The author states that "first and foremost a theory must have the power to explain" and it must also be timeless, it should not change with technology or philosophy. I should be able to explain success or failure in modern and historical operations.

To summarize the book, the author, in the attainment of his masters degree, sought to develop a theory of special operations. In his vie...more
Referenced in several accounts of Operation Neptune Spear, the SEAL Team Six raid on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden, the book is a study by Admiral William McRaven, head of US Special Operations Command, as he outlines a theory of military specials operations used in direct actions.

The theory is that successful special operations share six attributes: Simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed, and purpose, that when present through the appropriate phase of the operation (plannin...more
McRaven and this book were mentioned in The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden. As a military master's thesis, it's definitely out of my normal reading. It develops a theory of special operations, complete with case studies, a graph, and a detailed analysis of each operation, including such questions as "was it worth it?" It's super detailed about military strategy and history and is sometimes fascinating reading, though also chock-full of detail that the layperson like me does not really ne...more
For an aficionado of spec ops, this is a must-read. For others, like myself, it is an interesting explanation of a theory of spec ops as well as an analysis of 8 different spec ops. A bit technical at times, but mostly very readable. The main drawback, for me, was a lack of information about the aftermath of each operation. Of course, as a development of a theory of spec ops, the book is not concerned with such trivial things as aftermath. Neither does it make any judgment regarding the morality...more
A must-read for anyone interested in military history. McRaven outlines general principles for special operations and uses these principles to evaluate eight case studies. Most examples are from WWII, two from Vietnam, one the Israeli raid to rescue hostages from Entebbe, Uganda. The accounts make good stories, but are also detailed and presentation of each raid treated to analysis. There are sections that are rather dry, but overall the book is informative, enjoyable, and intellectually stimula...more
This book was written by a Navy Seal, former CO of a Seal Team and XO of a Special Warfare Group. Great guy and a great book. He discusses in detail a series of "special operations" and then evaluates why it was successful or not. From this he establishes a set of rules to guide Spec Ops planners as they prepare to send men into harms way.
May 12, 2011 Trice marked it as interested-in
Shelves: military
Referenced in an article in The Atlantic titled "From Roman Legions to Navy SEALs: Military Raiding and its Discontents" http://www.theatlantic.com/internatio...
Really great information but also super dry. But...better too dry than sexed up for the sake of it. Great history and well researched.
Ken Schoville
Dry analytical look at various missions. Reads like a textbook for a war college.
read book, met author, great!!
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“After the war, Manor returned to New York University and finished his degree in 1947. Later that year he became an instructor at the air tactical school at Tyndal Field, Florida. Following that assignment he went to Maxwell Air Force Base at Montgomery, Alabama, and helped organize the squadron officers’ school, staying on to teach the first class. He departed Maxwell for the Tactical Air Command air-ground operations school at Southern Pines, North Carolina.” 0 likes
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