From time to time we like to read books here at Tier Three Tactical, mainly the pop up kind, but sometimes coloring books too!  I have recently finished the book Relentless Strike by Sean Naylor.  It was one of the best in depth looks at the secretive world of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and it’s primary components: Devgru, Delta, 160th SOAR and Task Force Orange.

The author Sean Naylor was a journalist for the Army Times, and has covered the War on Terror since it’s inception, and as such he has a crazy level of access to JSOC personnel, both in it’s headquarters, and to the operators on the ground.

Relentless Strike (Amazon Affiliate Link) starts out covering the debacle of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed Delta rescue of the Iranian hostages in the early 80’s.  It then moves through some lesser known operations, prior to 9/11, highlighting the command’s roles in various manhunts such as the operations against Noriega, Pablo Escobar, and Eastern European war criminals.

Naylor shows how these operations paved the way for the future targeting machine that JSOC would become in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he goes into incredible detail on just how this was accomplished.

We also get a peek into some lesser known units of JSOC such as the Task Force Orange or TFO.  According to Naylor TFO is stationed in northern Virginia and is responsible for conducting advance force operations in areas where JSOC may want to conduct future operations.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

They are primarily intelligence personnel, but they do have some shooters detailed to the unit.  He highlights a few incredible operations that they were able to conduct.

In one such operation, personnel from TFO located an Al Qaeda safe house, made surreptitious entry, and copied all the electronic devices, and photographed documents in the room with no one the wiser.  Talk about balsy!

The book also details the aviation portion of JSOC very well.  Many folks have heard of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), but Naylor goes into detail about the “covered” air assets JSOC uses to work in denied areas.

The term “covered” means that they are civilian style planes that are operated by JSOC personnel, to gain access to areas where US military personnel would not be able to access.   These planes are often times outfitted with intel collecting equipment as well.

The bulk of the book covered JSOC operations in Iraq in Afghanistan, highlighting the incredible expansion in capability they experienced from 2003-2008.  He states that that in 2003 Delta might have turned a target every week, where as in 2006 they might have hit 6 targets a night!

Much of this book is from the perspective of JSOC staff officers, and it is interesting to see the personalities that had such a huge impact on operations.  It often times seemed that US strategic objectives were not accomplished because of personality differences between generals and DC policy makers.

We see this, in the operation to capture Bin Laden in Tora Bora.  It was painfully obvious that policy makers, and senior military officers were more worried about everything other than actually capturing Bin Laden.  As a result, Bin Laden escaped to Pakistan.  Not for long, however.

Final Thoughts 

You should read this book if you want a peak behind a very secretive curtain, into the world of JSOC.  Naylor does a great job extensively researching the book, and he writes about some incredible operations these folks were able to accomplish.