The Consummate Special Ops Warrior

Admiral McRaven USSOCOM COCWilliam H. McRaven is an admiral in Obama’s Navy. He was a member of Seal Team 3, and oversaw the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

He’s the consummate Special Ops warrior and wants more special ops forces, more drones and, most significantly, more “autonomy” (read, power) to position “his” troops in more places.  He is now lobbying to expand his “freedom” by building a bigger personal arsenal of undercover operatives under his command.

The New York Times refers to his guys somewhat vaguely as “elite units” that “have traditionally operated” in “the dark corners of American foreign policy.”

That shines light on it, doesn’t it? What it says is: forget transparency and accountability. The hidden government is always hiding.

These units, like Special Forces, Delta Force, SEALs, and Rangers, often operate outside the chain of command and, as they become institutionally stronger, tend to dominate military decisionmaking.

McRaven’s ambition represents a takeover of the military by more and more clandestine killer units. They are deceptive, secretive, and are growing in influence. There are no cuts planned in this realm.

Under military governments, these are the units who support the secret police, often engaging in torture and murder with impunity.

They are give a sense of being our supermen, the real chosen people; ordinary rules don’t apply to them.

Democracy is not their “thing.”

At the same time, they operate in a climate of high stress, prone to mistakes, as the military newspaper Stars And Stripes points out:

“The families of all troop operations live with fear, craving every crumb of information they can find about their deployed servicemembers, whether through military channels, Facebook, email or other outlets. Special operations families get less information.

For special operations forces, ranging from Army Special Forces and Rangers to Marine Force Recon to Air Force Pararescue to Navy SEALs, there are no public welcome home ceremonies, no crowds to sing their praises. Even if their missions, such as the raid in which bin Laden was killed, become public, the troops and their families remain anonymous.

Since most of those in special operations forces are recruited from within the services, the average member is older and has a larger family unit than those in other military occupations, according to Special Operations Command Europe commander Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass.”

Officials are attracted to these well-rained, real-plife “action figures” They like the idea of having “badasses” at their beck and call. Like New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, they see special units as their ‘private army,” but, unlike Mayor Mike, usually don’t say so.

JFK gave us the “Green Berets” who were glamorized in movies, with a pop song of their own, only to be later ground up in the Vietnam War like our other forces.

There is a growing fusion between intelligence ops and the military. To watch how this works, just follow Leon Panetta’s career from CIA to The Pentagon.

This command is an army within the army. It has doubled in size since 2001 with an official budget of $10.5 billion that is probably understated. They have at least 12,000 operatives in the field with 66,000 in the command itself and operate in more than 70 countries.

Can you name them? I didn’t think so.

The new Denzel Washington flick Safe House, shot in Cape Town, South Africa, takes us into the nether world of assassins and secret jails at the heart of the Special Ops mission. It’s not pretty.

McRaven is very media savvy with a degree, no less,  in journalism He was the go-to guy by Obama used to put bin laden on ice through an extrajudicial killing. They don’t call it assassination or liquidation, but that’s what it was.

According to the New York Times,

“In February, Mr. Panetta called Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to give him details about the compound and to begin planning a military strike.

Admiral McRaven, a veteran of the covert world who had written a book on American Special Operations, spent weeks working with the C.I.A. on the operation, and came up with three options: a helicopter assault using U.S. Navy SEALs, a strike with B-2 bombers that would obliterate the compound, or a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch.”

Wikipedia reports, “the day before the assault, “Mr. Obama took a break from rehearsing for the White House Correspondents Dinner that night to call Admiral McRaven, to wish him luck.” Thus blessed, he became a runner-up for Time’s Man of the year. He even played football for the NFL.

What a perfect resume to get the full General Petraeus treatment, our latest “hero” in the making

In the media world, including in many Hollywood films and the latest video games, Special Ops gets the Full Monte treatment, despite their well cultivated mad dog, wild man image. Many of these “counter-terrorists” become, in fact, terrorists.

This idealization of killer commandos is nothing new.  Back in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt, known for his exploits as a “rough rider” in the Spanish American War, was ecstatic about their role:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

While the New York Times reports the Admiral wants a freer hand, Fox reports it is already happening with the Pentagon’s Afghan role likely to be expanded with more special ops warriors. (Even, as we are told,  troops there are being “drawn down”!)

With the passage of the NDAA Defense Authorization act, how soon will it before these tactics come home? We are already seeing the militarization of the police in the “homeland” or “Battlefield” or whatever the hell we are living in.

The use of sophisticated sound weapons and infiltration against Occupy protesters is a sign that they are already being targeted as terrorists.

A commitment to more special forces is a commitment to more imperial intervention, and specialized units operating above the law and beyond the law. It’s more secrecy in government with a constant danger of abuse. It promises more secrecy and manipulation.

Our President, as a candidate, opposed bad wars. Now, he hasn’t seen many wars he doesn’t want to get involved in—as long as they can be fought in the shadows.

Who’s going to tell his (Mc)Raven: Never More.

Danny Schechter writes for Al Jazeera, Progressive Radio Network and his News Dissector blog. He made the film Plunder the Crime Of Our Time. Please email comments to

25 Comments on "The Consummate Special Ops Warrior"

  1. You people just love to speak with a mouthfull of freedom against those who protect our values of democracy worldwide. If you like muslims so much, why don´t you go to Irak, Afghanistan, Irán or
    Siria with this brave men? They are the real Anonymous, and not does ciberwankers who would shit in their pants at the sight of a mosk. You praise whistleblowers who threatten our national security, and criticize the heros who risk their lives for it, becouse their methods aren´t “legal”; then why you support those anachronical hippies that ilegally occupy our homeland? I´m glad to know our secret ops have them in their target, but if we know it, occupiers will surely know too… so screw the surprise factor. Anyway, Jesus will soon come as a thief in the night and will put them in their place, so they stop raping inocent people and get theirselves a job: that could be a real CHANGE for them.

    • I did actually go to Iraq. 2 tours with the Army Infantry. Nice try though, and I must note that your trolling is getting slightly more subtle.

      “Jesus will soon come as a thief in the night”
      Like a rapist? I had no idea Bedroom Intruder was about Jesus!

      • In an increasingly crazy world, trolls must struggle between subtelty and plain madness. Jesus is the heavens secret op, and will stealthy screw our ass holes: expect him.

      • Hadrian999 | Feb 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

        I miss the Zam Zam from when i was in iraq that and the 1 dollar cuban cigars

        • Jin The Ninja | Feb 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

          next time i’m at the persian grocery i am going to look for it. curious to try it now.

          • Hadrian999 | Feb 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

             it is awesome but dont drink it to fast, the stuff we had in iraq was really really carbonated and if u drank it to fast it would kill your stomach

          • Jin The Ninja | Feb 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

            lol, noted.

    • This was an amusing trolling attempt, though obviously not done on the level of a Special-Ops troll.

      Still, I give extra points for “Jesus will soon come as a thief in the night…”

      Ummmmmm, Jesus….thievy, thievy Jesus!

    •  I assume from your poor spelling and lack of forethought as to use spell check, that you aren’t very smart and most likely prone to anger problems. I can tell you that most of your poor relationships are your fault by either your own doing; ie your anger, or by choosing other people who aren’t very intelligent either to consort with.
      I know that the army super hero’s seem really cool and, yes they make great sacrifices for what they believe in, but since the same can be said of the “enemy” that claim doesnt really hold much water.
      Try and be a better person. Stop justifying the deaths of people you’ll never know because these superhero’s fill a void in your ego. You’re not a five year old anymore. Grow up. Stop yelling at people on the internet and start making friends. Try and be smarter, you’ll be glad you did.

      • I pitty the man who replys by ridiculizing his adversary´s lack of education or means to hide it, and anger is the only rightfull answer when you see your beloved country fall in anarchy and godlessness. And what if my aquaintances aren´t rich? We catholics don´t believe that money equals virtue. And the obvius difference between our Super Heroes and our enemys is that our Super Heroes are fighting for us, while our enemys are fighting against us; you think is the same to love or hate America, and i´m the stupid one? Why don´t you read the Bible instead of mocking those who support those who defend your right to be patronizing?

    •  English is not your 1st language I assume.

    • Get off your xbox, Call of Duty isn’t real Amilcar. I know people like you believe that the western world are the “good guys” but that simply isn’t true. These people aren’t protecting you, they’re protecting their military empire. They don’t give a shit about you, however it’s profitable to tell you that they care, while they travel the world killing people who were no threat to you at all.

      When are you going to start calling your president the fuehrer? Can’t be far off surely.

      Fucking brainwashed American Nazi.

  2. That link sent me to a page with what looked like T-shirts for sale, one of them gloating over the killing of Osama. Very tasteful assholes. Navy Seals 1, Osama O or something. Not even a month after taking out Osama a chopper loaded with Seals crashed and all on board died. Glorious

  3. Hadrian999 | Feb 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |

    autonomous military units are a bad idea, for military action to work everyone involved has to be working towards the same goal, troops up to officers and officers up to diplomatic levels, if the groups involved aren’t pulling the same direction all you wind up with is a mess

  4. I would much rather see our military operate with surgical precision in small units in undisclosed missions than in large-scale disastrous wars that destroy other countries’ infrastructures and create huge amounts of hostility from generations of people.  Obama’s shadow wars have been way more successful than Bush’s war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  

  5. Personally it makes far more sense to take that kind of special ops out of the hands of the military and put it under the FBI. If they are acting in a law enforcement matter, a solid understanding of the law should be required.
    Military for wars and of “UNARMED” assistance during natural disasters.
    When it comes to policing and upholding the law, that should be left to properly trained police officers.
    The military needs to relearn it’s place,  basically shrink right down, be quite and do nothing much of anything until there is war. It worked for an actual world war that was over in five years and this noisy grossly expensive version proved to be complete screw ups in Iraq after ten years.
    Personally today’s US military leadership is looking pretty crapping compared to the one from world war two. When it comes to pushing buttons and blowing the crap out of something they seem to just barely be able to hold their without target the people, too often but when it comes to managing a zone of conflict the seem completely corrupt and incompetent, losing billions and wasting ten times more.

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