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The Command: Deep Inside the President's Secret Army (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Marc Ambinder , D. B. Grady
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has proven to be the most lethal weapon in the president's arsenal. Shrouded in secrecy, the Command has done more to degrade the capacity of terrorists to attack the United States than any other single entity. And counter-terrorism is only one of its many missions. Because of such high profile missions as Operation Neptune's Spear, which resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, JSOC has attracted the public's attention. But Americans only know a fraction of the real story.

In The Command, Ambinder and Grady provide readers with a concise and comprehensive recent history of the special missions units that comprise the most effective weapon against terrorism ever conceived. For the first time, they reveal JSOC's organizational chart and describe some of the secret technologies and methods that catalyze their intelligence and kinetic activities. They describe how JSOC migrated to the center of U.S. military operations, and how they fused intelligence and operations in such a way that proved crucial to beating back the Iraq insurgency. They also disclose previously unreported instances where JSOC's activities may have skirted the law, and question the ability of Congress to oversee units that, by design, must operate with minimum interference.

With unprecedented access to senior commanders and team leaders, the authors also:

  • Put the bin Laden raid in the larger context of a transformed secret organization at its operational best.
  • Explore other secret missions ordered by the president (and the surprising countries in which JSOC operates).
  • Trace the growth of JSOC's operational and support branches and chronicle the command's mastery of the Washington inter-agency bureaucracy.
  • By Marc Ambinder, a contributing editor at the Atlantic, who has covered politics for CBS News and ABC News, and D.B. Grady, a correspondent for the Atlantic, and former U.S. Army paratrooper and a veteran of Afghanistan.


Editorial Reviews

Book Description

The U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has proven to be the most lethal weapon in the president's arsenal. Shrouded in secrecy, the Command has done more to degrade the capacity of terrorists to attack the United States than any other single entity. And counter-terrorism is only one of its many missions. Because of such high profile missions as Operation Neptune's Spear, which resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, JSOC has attracted the public's attention. But Americans only know a fraction of the real story.

In The Command, Ambinder and Grady provide readers with a concise and comprehensive recent history of the special missions units that comprise the most effective weapon against terrorism ever conceived. For the first time, they reveal JSOC's organizational chart and describe some of the secret technologies and methods that catalyze their intelligence and kinetic activities. They describe how JSOC migrated to the center of U.S. military operations, and how they fused intelligence and operations in such a way that proved crucial to beating back the Iraq insurgency. They also disclose previously unreported instances where JSOC's activities may have skirted the law, and question the ability of Congress to oversee units that, by design, must operate with minimum interference.

With unprecedented access to senior commanders and team leaders, the authors also:

    Put the bin Laden raid in the larger context of a transformed secret organization at its operational best. Explore other secret missions ordered by the president (and the surprising countries in which JSOC operates). Trace the growth of JSOC's operational and support branches and chronicle the command's mastery of the Washington inter-agency bureaucracy. By Marc Ambinder, a contributing editor at the Atlantic, who has covered politics for CBS News and ABC News, and D.B. Grady, a correspondent for the Atlantic, and former U.S. Army paratrooper and a veteran of Afghanistan.

About the Author

Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at the Atlantic, a former White House correspondent for National Journal, and has covered politics and policy for CBS News and ABC News.

D.B. Grady is a correspondent for The Atlantic. He is a former U.S. Army paratrooper and a veteran of Afghanistan. 


Product Details

  • File Size: 178 KB
  • Print Length: 70 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0076QVQLI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,022 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only for those with a critical eye... July 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ambinder and Grady attempt to reveal some of the activities of JSOC and in doing this they turn up some amazing information on previously undisclosed operations and activities, however, they also slip up more than once. This critique is intended as professional, rather than personal criticism but it is needed criticism. Because of OPSEC, not every incorrect statement made in The Command can be corrected. This may sound like a cop out and maybe it is. It is also certain that the following is not a full critique as the author is not aware of every program and mission mentioned in Ambinder and Grady's work and can't comment on it one way or the other.

Some of the mistakes in The Command could be corrected with a careful reading of open source materials such as Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo. Take for instance the statement that Delta Force was "...in Panama where it allegedly pursued Pablo Escobar." Pablo Escobar was allegedly pursued by Delta Force in Pablo's home country of Colombia. However, Delta Force did participate in the 1989 invasion of Panama.

Other elements of The Command take some careful scrutiny to recognize as being somewhat off target. The authors detail Admiral McRaven's approach to the Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq and how JSOC had to adapt to the new Iraqi legal system. Ambinder and Grady make it out as if JSOC intelligence analysts, Delta Force operators, and SEAL Team Six members routinely provided testimony to Iraqi judges in order to secure warrants for High Value Targets. In reality, this was a very rare event. More often, a member of Iraqi Counter-Terrorist forces would provide the testimony on behalf of JSOC. This is one way that JSOC was able to mitigate the Status of Forces Agreement.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Way better than Clancy and Woodward February 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The authors have provided a lot of perspective on special operations and how it has evolved as the center of the war on terror (or what ever we are calling it now). It reads a little like the reference books of Tom Clancy but rather than focusing on the sexy guns and technology angle it provides a thoughtful rundown of the policy and practices that were developed, piloted, and institionalized. My favorite part of the book is the critique of Woodward's assertation that a technological leap forward had a big role in turning the tide in Iraq. While it gently chides this particular view, the whole book stands in significant contrast to the typical "analysis" that gets published. It gives a good look at the people and practices, which at times is a little sobering. The authors could have inserted more political views at those points but instead leave much of the thinking to the reader. Somehow that lends their book more credibility in my view.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong history, with a few distractions February 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Best summary quote, from the book: "Whatever your view of the Iraq campaign or of war itself, and whatever your tolerance for the often nebulous morality of special operations missions, it behooves you to understand how this type of unconventional warfare evolved and what it means as the U.S. military faces significant spending cuts."

This is definitely a must-read on JSOC and Special Ops. It provides very up-to-date information on the successes and falterings in the evolution of JSOC. The blow-by-blow approach of both frontline and political "back office" parallel perspectives is revealing in that it provides both context and fact. That said, It's a bit easy to get lost in the timeline and lose storyline perspective. A simple visual timeline would have strengthened the author's in-depth and painstakingly researched history of the organization. As it is, I sometimes get lost in trying to recall what was going on at the time around the world.

As for point-of-view, the book is very nonpartisan and neither points fingers nor apologizes for US global actions covered in the story. This can be disorienting at times, as you're not sure whether to view the information in a positive or negative light. But I believe it was the correct approach, in that the book remains informative to your own opinion. One criticism on voice is that the authors aren't consistent with one. The book changes from first person "let's discuss this" banter to treating the reader like an onlooker in a documentary. It's not crippling, but it called attention to itself a few times.

The book manages to explain not only how JSOC evolved buy also why it became the force it is now and is well fortified with examples, current media reference and historical perspective. Well worth the read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive February 16, 2012
By David J
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Clearly written by an astute and well connected author with well placed sources.
The speed at which JSOC is now obtaining, processing and acting on intel is particularly insightful.
In contrast to previous reviewers, I think the lack of overt political editorialising is refreshing.
Well worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, up-to-date, and an engaging read. April 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having read dozens of "such books" in the past few months for research, THE COMMAND is one of the most on-point, up-to-date and relevant books on the world of Special Operations I've come across. My only lament is that, in order to highlight, circle and underline the important bits, I have to print it out.

The chapters are breathtakingly short and quick paced, with no loss to the amount of information presented. The style and clear outline makes for a digestible read, and the book is full of lines that will make one step back and check outside for unmarked cars parked across the street.

For the price and length there's no excuse not to check this book out, especially if Joint Special Operations Command, Special Forces, Black Ops and the like are up your alley.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Awesome analysis! The authors do a great job at discussing a subject we hardly ever hear about. An enjoyable read.
Published 6 days ago by Mike
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot on their history.
disappointed that this was just another modern war novel and not much on the history of havoc before everyone was a navy seal sniper. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Rick L. Roller
4.0 out of 5 stars Success breeds an empire
I had no idea how lateral and up ward the SOF community has morphed into what it is today. Great job keeping an eye on AQ.
Published 1 month ago by Jaeger
5.0 out of 5 stars You will be glad you read this
Having worked in submarines with SEAL units and MACV-SOG during Vietnam, I was not happy to see SOF getting so much publicity. I was afraid the same might happen to Delta. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wrk33n
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting for someone outside the business, a confirmation for those...
The book was a little short. This kept it from going into more detail on specifics within the organizations that would have been interesting as well a more into capabilities of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael C. Slusher
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information
I was surprised at the amount of Classified information and history of JSOC. The book is hard to follow though because it jumps from 2011 to 2001 to 2005, etc. constantly.
Published 3 months ago by Rob Kornegay
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative
I would recommend this book as standard reading for anyone intrested in this subject. Good reading for those inclined to know more.
Published 3 months ago by Rob
1.0 out of 5 stars Fellating the Commanders
I am sure the authors did exactly what they were paid to do. But the book doesn't have anything to do with reality. Read more
Published 4 months ago by JayTee
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but....
It is not that deep, nor secret.
well written, full of facts and references intends to give a journalists point of view of one of the most secretive organizations ever. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Armando Hamel
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok...
Book is ok. There are some factual inaccuracies, but it does a decent job on discussing the general evolution of the command.
Published 5 months ago by Andrew S. Glenn
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