From Publishers Weekly
Colonel John T. Carney Jr. is the first commanding officer of the U.S. "special tactics" units. Ably assisted by West Point graduate and veteran Ranger Schemmer, he has written a timely book that's part memoir and part history. Carney was an air force officer whose career was going slowly until he was assigned to Combat Control School. A descendant of the WWII pathfinders the men who jumped first and marked the way for paratroopers the combat controllers were an overlooked bunch in the air force. Stationed on a base in Texas, the hardworking Carney turned his lackluster command into a top-flight outfit that soon got noticed. Nicknamed "Brand X," Carney managed to get his command attached to the new Delta Force only after a lot of infighting among the services. After even more rigorous training, the combat controllers were an integral part of the failed rescue attempt of the U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980. Carney pulls no punches in strongly criticizing official stories of the success of Operation Urgent Fury, which liberated Grenada. By 1989, when American forces overthrew Manuel Noriega in Panama, the special forces had learned even more from their operations and acted more in unison, even though some army units still didn't want any of Carney's men attached to their units. (Carney is quick to point out how these units foundered when his men were kept out of action.) Carney's men were used to locate Iraqi Scuds during the Gulf War with varying success; operations in Somalia and Haiti, among others, reinforced the need for special operations units such as those Carney describes. His dramatic tales place special operations history in perspective, particularly as the war in Afghanistan has been led by special forces units. Of America's 277 combat deaths in six major operations since 1980, 36% were special forces.
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Carney participated in the disastrous 1980 special-ops mission to rescue American diplomats in Teheran. By that year, Carney had redirected his career from coaching football at the Air Force Academy to organizing the service's "combat control" units--the specialists who set up airstrips in hostile territory. Carney did so in Iran and gives here (with the help of professional writer Schemmer) his eyewitness account of what went wrong when Delta Force arrived at his improvised airstrip. His point in baring problems he experienced (he also flays with equal force the deadly mistakes made during the 1983 invasion of Granada) is to illustrate lessons learned and the increasing reliance on special-ops units by the U.S. military. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved