Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Naylor’s ‘Relentless Strike’: the real thing

Here’s a Best Defense guarantee: If you are interested in what this blog covers, you will be fascinated by Foreign Policy contributing editor Sean Naylor’s "Relentless Strike," his new history of the Joint Special Operations Command.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.18.56 AM
Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.18.56 AM

Here’s a Best Defense guarantee: If you are interested in what this blog covers, you will be fascinated by Foreign Policy contributing editor Sean Naylor’s Relentless Strike, his new history of the Joint Special Operations Command.

Naylor has an unusual problem for a writer: He knows too damn much. I sensed this especially in his asides. Take this, on page 430: “By 2008, the military had surpassed the Agency’s ability to place case officers under nonofficial cover abroad.” In some books, that would be a whole chapter. Here it’s a parenthesis.

Seven pages later there is an account of the attempt in July 2014 by Delta Force operators to fly deep into Syria to rescue several hostages, including two Americans. When they landed, the found the hostages had been moved. I don’t recall knowing anything about this.

Here’s a Best Defense guarantee: If you are interested in what this blog covers, you will be fascinated by Foreign Policy contributing editor Sean Naylor’s Relentless Strike, his new history of the Joint Special Operations Command.

Naylor has an unusual problem for a writer: He knows too damn much. I sensed this especially in his asides. Take this, on page 430: “By 2008, the military had surpassed the Agency’s ability to place case officers under nonofficial cover abroad.” In some books, that would be a whole chapter. Here it’s a parenthesis.

Seven pages later there is an account of the attempt in July 2014 by Delta Force operators to fly deep into Syria to rescue several hostages, including two Americans. When they landed, the found the hostages had been moved. I don’t recall knowing anything about this.

I’ve studied the U.S. military for about a third of a century, but I learned some new terms here, such as:

–“Aztec”: Delta’s ready unit

–CNOS: Delta’s cyber arm

–DAP: an armed version of the UH-60 Black Hawk (but yes, had heard of MH-60, different name for same thing)

–TF 17: the JSOC component focussed on Iran’s Quds Force. Not clear to me: How much direct action there actually has been. (It was mentioned in one of General McChrystal’s books, but kind of obscurely.)

Meanwhile, here is an article about another corner of Spec Ops — the Secret Service’s counterassault team.

Image taken via Amazon.com

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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