Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America’s Special Operations Forces, by Mark Moyar (Basic, 432 pp., $30)
Today the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) are the most deployed and most famous elements of the entire armed forces, their exploits incessantly chronicled not only in the news but also in movies such as Zero Dark Thirty and Lone Survivor. But it is a safe bet that few people outside SOF know much about its history. It is, indeed, hard to think of any books that cover the subject; the volumes that exist, such as Mark Bowden’s first-rate works Black Hawk Down and Guests of the Ayatollah, tend to be accounts of one battle or one episode that refer only in passing to the backstory of the forces involved.
The prolific military historian Mark Moyar, who has served as a consultant to the U.S. Special Operations Command, has now stepped forward to fill this gap with this badly needed volume. It does not break much new ground for students of the subject — it is based primarily on published works — but it will serve as an invaluable and highly readable overview of SOF’s history not just for those newly joining its ranks but also for anyone who seeks to know more about these glamorous and little-understood forces. Not the least of its virtues is that it will introduce a wider audience to such SOF legends as Aaron Bank (founder of the Army Special Forces), Charlie Beckwith (founder of Delta Force), Richard Marcinko (founder of SEAL Team Six), and Arthur “Bull” Simons (leader of the Son Tay raid in 1970 to free American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam).