Spec Ops

William H. McRaven, Author
William H. McRaven, Author Presidio Press $27.95 (402p) ISBN 978-0-89141-544-2
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
In this well-organized and deeply researched study, McRaven analyzes eight special operations. Six are from WWII: the German commando raid on the Belgian fort Eben Emael (1940); the Italian torpedo attack on the Alexandria harbor (1941); the British commando raid on Nazaire, France (1942); the German glider rescue of Benito Mussolini (1943); the British midget-submarine attack on the Tirpitz (1943); and the U.S. Ranger rescue mission at the Cabanatuan POW camp in the Philippines (1945). The two post-WWII examples are the U.S. Army raid on the Son Tay POW camp in North Vietnam (1970) and the Israeli rescue of the skyjacked hostages in Entebbe, Uganda (1976). McRaven--who commands a U.S. Navy SEAL team--pinpoints six essential principles of ``spec ops'' success: simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed and purpose. For each of the case studies, he provides political and military context, a meticulous reconstruction of the mission itself and an analysis of the operation in relation to his six principles. McRaven deems the Son Tay raid ``the best modern example of a successful spec op [which] should be considered textbook material for future missions.'' His own book is an instructive textbook that will be closely studied by students of the military arts. Maps, photos. (June)