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No Room for Error: The Covert Operations of America's Special Tactics Units from Iran to Afghanistan Hardcover – November 12, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345453336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345453334
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

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 Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

This is a great book about an ELITE group of Air Force Special Operations Forces.
Marc Findlay
The book also has excellent Notes, Glossary and References sections that make for a useful resource for further reading.
Anyone interested in recent history, politics, or military history would enjoy reading this well-written book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Smith on March 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Col. John T. Carney, USAF (ret.) takes the reader through his professional career and the history of U.S. Air Force special tactics units from the early 1980s through 2002.
Special Tactics, which has operated in most every American military action since Operation Eagle Claw (aka Desert One) in 1980, has its foundations in the Pathfinder units of WW2, and are often known as 'combat controllers.' They are often the first in and the last out.
In a frank and engaging manner, Carney lays out the history of special tactics and their operations, including Eagle Claw, Grenada, Panama, Achille Lauro, Desert Storm, and Somalia, through Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Given his firsthand involvement in the majority of these operations, Carney offers a unique perspective and pulls no punches in his assessment of Air Force and U.S. Special Operations. Nothing is glossed-over and the reader gets the sense that Carney bears more self-imposed crosses than he probably should.
If you are interested in a unique perspective of U.S. Special Operations and Air Force Special Tactics, this book should not be missed.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John B. Alexander on February 4, 2003
Format: Audio Cassette
Special operations forces were all born from necessity, yet always treated as the bastard children of their traditional counterparts. So it was with the creation of the US Air Forces Special Tactics Units. They may not be as well known as the Army's Rangers and Special Forces, or the Navy's SEALs, but they are every bit as important.
Colonel Carney was personnally involved in the creation and development of these critically important units. While they have played in the shawdows of all recent conflicts, the participation of these Special Tactics Units came to the fore during Operation Enduring Freedom. There, in Afghanistan, their courage became legendary as they directed devastating bombing missions that quickly broke the back of al Qaeda and Taliban forces. With other special operations units, they fought on the ground where it gets up close and personal.
This book will give the readers an insight into a world they seldom hear about and a historical perspective of the battles of the Air Commandos - all told from the firsthand perspective of a true American hero.
You will also learn of Col Carney's continued service to the SOF community. Currently he runs the Special Operations Warrior's Foundation which provides scholarship to the children of our fallen comrades.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ray Calafell on November 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am privileged to have received and read an early copy of this book, a timely reminder to all Americans that "Freedom is not Free." Colonel John T. Carney, Jr. (Retired), is President of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a very special charity that provides full scholarships to the children and families of fallen special operations soldiers, sailors and airmen. As a member of a fraternity of men known as "Quiet Professionals," it must have been terribly difficult for him to put into words acts of incredible courage which have heretofore been closely held knowledge among very few people. On the verge of retirement from the Air Force after a disappointing and stalled career, Carney gets a word of advice from an old friend, changes his career track and begins a journey down a lonely road towards the creation of a special Air Force unit that expertly handles air assets during special operations missions. The road for his "Brand X" unit is full of obstacles, but with slow acceptance among some of the Army's Special Forces legends, like Colonel Charlie Beckwith and Lieutenant Colonel Lewis "Bucky" Burruss, he doggedly champions his unit's abilities and repeatedly demonstrates the utility of having a trained combat controller in situ with the Army's Special Forces teams. Having previously been a football coach for the Air Force Academy, Carney's program for his special tactics teams is as tough as any training the services can muster, including HALO, HAHO and scuba training. Skydiving is fun. HALO and HAHO with special operations forces in the dead of night, in all weather conditions, and with 200 pounds of equipment is deadly serious business and not much fun at all.Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roger Warner on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, in the Mekong delta, and in the air, the U.S. military's special operations forces played key roles in Vietnam. After being neglected by the regular military bureaucracy for most of the quarter-century that followed, U.S. special ops forces finally got the appreciation and credit they deserved when a few hundred very smart and superbly-trained men engineered the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. This book is largely about the period in between Vietnam and the post-9/11campaign, and it fills an important gap in the literature. It focuses particularly on the U.S. Air Force's Special Tactics Units, who are an essential part of the larger special ops picture, and who make many missions possible through their extraordinary skils at getting teams in and out of dangerous territory, often at night and without being detected by the enemy. This book is full of revelations, and is highly recommended to anyone interested in the field.
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