The Not So Secret History of America’s Special Operations Forces

Sean Naylor wants to shed light on black ops

The Not So Secret History of America’s Special Operations Forces The Not So Secret History of America’s Special Operations Forces
Enemy gunfire killed Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler during a hostage rescue operation in Iraq earlier this month. Wheeler was part of a joint Kurdish... The Not So Secret History of America’s Special Operations Forces

Enemy gunfire killed Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler during a hostage rescue operation in Iraq earlier this month. Wheeler was part of a joint Kurdish and American Special Ops team that rescued 70 people. He was a career Army man and a Delta Force soldier.

Yesterday, news media made much of the Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee. “We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” Carter said.

To many, this meant the U.S. was putting boots on the ground in the fight against Islamic State. But the Wheeler raid proved — the Pentagon’s semantic gymnastics about “boots on the ground” notwithstanding — what many already knew — U.S. forces have long been fighting Islamic State and other groups in the Middle East.

These forces fight in their boots, on the ground and in secret. They are America’s Special Operations Forces and in the years since 9/11 they have become instrumental in the war against radical Islamism. But few in America know their story or how they operate.

Sean Naylor wants to change that. His new book, Relentless Strike: The Secret History of American Special Operations Command, gives readers a window into the secret world of Wheeler and his fellow soldiers.

Today on War College, Naylor walks us through the history of U.S. Special Operations Forces and explains to us why America’s elite warriors can no longer remain an open secret.

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