Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice
by Adm. William H. McRaven
REVIEWED BY SID HEAL
I first read this book as a new captain in charge of our department’s Special Enforcement Bureau. It was recommended because the author expanded and explained some of the most critical concepts of special operations. Although the title alone will put the pontificating pundits of policing practices into an apoplectic fit, the more astute and open-minded will appreciate the penetrating insight of a true warrior/scholar and the applicability in law enforcement special operations.
The first part of the book focuses on identifying and explaining six essential principles for special operations success. All but two of these are already codified in the “nine principles of war.” The other two, speed and repetition, are especially critical for achieving success in the challenging and unforgiving circumstances of special operations. McRaven explains the importance of the six principles and provides historical examples for each.
If I had one caveat on this book, it would be that the science focus in the early chapters will challenge those looking for an easy read. The later part of the book reads like a novel, with ample detail illustrating why the principles are sound and how they’ve been applied in the past. That said, readers will be missing the essence if they gloss over the science in favor of stories. The cheapest lessons are purchased with study.