Archive: Special Operations

In This Case, Rumsfeld Was Right

If there were a musical about the Pentagon today, the opening number and reprise would be "If Rumsfeld Was for It, We're Against It." Witness the portrayal of the reversal of a "controversial" plan by the former secretary of Defense,...

By William M. Arkin | May 22, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (10)

Fighting the War on Terror in the Caribbean and Central America

Is there an actual threat from the region? It's complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 28, 2008; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (68)

Secret Operations: Supporting or Undermining the War on Terroism?

Even semi-autonomous units need to understand that popping some bad guy could hinder far larger objectives.

By William M. Arkin | January 25, 2008; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (59)

U.S. Troops to Head to Pakistan

Beginning early next year, U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units.

By William M. Arkin | December 26, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (135)

Not Your Father's Military

Traditionally, no one expected to make a bundle in the military. Today, the Pentagon is trying to keep special forces commandos from leaving for the private sector with $150,000 bonuses.

By William M. Arkin | October 12, 2007; 08:39 AM ET | Comments (16)

Special Operations Prepared for Domestic Missions

The U.S. Northern Command, the military command responsible for "homeland defense," has asked the Pentagon if it can establish its own special operations command for domestic missions. The request, reported in the Washington Examiner, would establish a permanent sub-command for...

By William M. Arkin | June 22, 2007; 07:32 AM ET | Comments (71)

Boykin Released After Four Years in Captivity

After almost four years in captivity, Lt. Gen. William G. ("Jerry") Boykin, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence for intelligence and warfighting support, is being released from his Pentagon confinement and will retire from the Army. In October 2003, I...

By William M. Arkin | May 23, 2007; 07:13 AM ET | Comments (17)

A National Security Sea Change?

Let me clarify the sea change I identified yesterday in the op-ed by the two generals calling for an end to torture: Beyond the war in Iraq, there are an increasing number of voices, public and private, asking whether we...

By William M. Arkin | May 18, 2007; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (21)

Fighting the "War" Against Terrorists the American Way

A reaction I didn't anticipate in response to my blog yesterday about the super-secret "black" special operations effort and the "war" against terrorism is the mound of e-mail and comments I got asking a really basic question: Is an effort...

By William M. Arkin | March 29, 2007; 08:47 AM ET | Comments (52)

Elite Terrorist Hunters in Iraq

U.S. "black" special operations forces in Iraq have conducted as many as 300 "takedown" operations, an activity that an influential retired general calls "simply magic." The assessment appears in an eight-page trip report written by retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey,...

By William M. Arkin | March 28, 2007; 07:34 AM ET | Comments (135)

Special Operations: Democratic 'Fetish' or False Conception?

With Vice President Dick Cheney in Pakistan this week urging more aggressive action against a resurgent al-Qaeda and pleading for "cross border" authority so that U.S. forces can pursue Taliban and terrorist fighters, the mind naturally gravitates not towards NATO...

By William M. Arkin | February 27, 2007; 09:08 AM ET | Comments (43)

The Secret Team Reorganizes, Again

When President Bush visits Ft. Bragg and Pope air force base in North Carolina for the 4th of July -- that's the scuttlebutt -- he'll likely barbeque and hang with special operations personnel and their families, singing his usual...

By William M. Arkin | June 29, 2006; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (13)

WMD Prep in Washington

Code Name(s) of the Week: Marble Challenge, Focal Point North Korea prepares to test its missile, Iran stiff-arms the West by setting the pace of nuclear negotiations, terrorists obtain enough highly enriched uranium to build a 10-kiloton nuclear device, which...

By William M. Arkin | June 22, 2006; 09:41 AM ET | Comments (62)

Zarqawi's Death and Task Force 145

What are we to make of the death of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? The hopeful view is that the death of this important commander and inspirational figure will deflate the terrorist influence in Iraq. The cynical view is that...

By William M. Arkin | June 8, 2006; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (62)

Inside the Hunt for al-Zarqawi

Is the U.S. military just a hair away from killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq? Last week, readers of an insider military publication have been treated to an unprecedented look inside "Task Force 145," the U.S. special operations group...

By William M. Arkin | May 3, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (30)

Pirates! Just what Pakistan Needs

Since last December, U.S. special operations command headquarters in Qatar has been planning a campaign of expanded clandestine counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. The operations are aimed at an increase in water-borne criminal activity, activity that not...

By William M. Arkin | April 26, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (39)

Don't Worry Osama: We're Busy, and Saving Money!

Code Name of the Week: Inspired Venture  Every year at about this time, we hear rumors of a "spring offensive" along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, as well as new hope in catching Osama bin Laden.  This spring is no different. Pakistan...

By William M. Arkin | April 24, 2006; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (56)

Special Operations: Need to Know

If ever there were a bloody bureaucratic war entailing a high number of paper-cuts, it has been the fight between U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the other Defense Department regional commands, between SOCOM and the Joint Chiefs, between SOCOM...

By William M. Arkin | April 7, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (33)

Able Danger and 9/11 Heartstrings

Under Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone testified before Congress yesterday that 90 people spent some 6,500 hours searching through documents and interviewing people involved in the Able Danger program and that they were unable to find any evidence that...

By William M. Arkin | February 16, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (25)

Special Operations See Stars

Convinced that the Joint Special Operations Command needs more authority and responsibility to fight the war on terrorism, the Pentagon has decided to give the commander of the secretive and expanded organization a third star -- a tangible step toward...

By William M. Arkin | February 15, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (64)

Rumsfeld's New War Plan

U.S. special operations forces for the first time have their own war plan to fight the "global war on terrorism."  Special Operations Command (SOCOM) which until now had always operated "in support of" other commands and other commanders now will...

By William M. Arkin | January 25, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (32)


© 2007 The Washington Post Company