PDA

View Full Version : Best Special Operation of All Time


Roguish Lawyer
07-13-2004, 16:35
I am nearly finished with Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice, by William McRaven. The author analyzes several successful special operations from WWII, Viet Nam and Entebbe and attempts to draw conclusions regarding what makes a special operation successful. Presumably because he wanted to interview participants in the operations, he did not discuss anything pre-WWII.

Some of the operations discussed in the book are the German assault on Eben Emael, the British raid on St. Nazaire, the Son Tay raid, and the Entebbe rescue.

What do you think the greatest special operation in history was? I've included a poll, but I'm sure I've left out some important operations.

The Reaper
07-13-2004, 17:08
You are focusing on raids.

I think that FID/UW is a better mission to examine.

100 Americans and some support aircraft enabled a Northern Alliance force to defeat a Taliban opponent 10 times their size. I believe that this will go down in history as one of, if not the greatest SOF ops of all time.

On the flip side, 55 American advisors (largely SF) enabled the El Salvadorean government to defeat an externally sponsored insurgency and survive to a peaceful settlement.

Just my .02, Bill McRaven is a good guy and I know him, but I will confess I haven't read his book. Sounds similar to my thesis.

TR

Roguish Lawyer
07-13-2004, 17:28
Originally posted by The Reaper
You are focusing on raids.

I just used the ones from the book. I guess it is no surprise that a SEAL focused on raids, eh?

hoepoe
07-13-2004, 17:31
I gotta go with Entebbe, i don;t know details about the others to make a fair comparison; but even in it's own right it was a work of art.
From the source, then commander of the rescue unit and the only IDF soldier to fall in the raid.

Yoni, RIP.

http://www.yoni.org.il/eng_contents.htm
direct link to details on the raid:

http://www.yoni.org.il/eng_jonathan.htm


Reffering to specwarnet.com:
http://www.specwarnet.com/miscinfo/entebbe.htm

" The rescue at Entebbe is a classic example of a successful special operations. The Israelis used surprise and superior training to overcome their enemies and gain their objectives with a minimum loss of life. It was a logistically difficult mission. Thirty-five commandos in two Landrovers and a Mercedes with four APCs for firepower had to be transported over 2,200 miles and back again with over 100 hostages. The building the hostages were kept in was guarded by seven terrorists and an unknown number of Ugandan soldiers and was reported to be wired with explosives. "

If you have the oppurtunity, see "Operation Thunderbolt" in English.

NousDefionsDoc
07-13-2004, 17:51
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
I just used the ones from the book. I guess it is no surprise that a SEAL focused on raids, eh?

And people say lawyers can't learn anything on discussion boards.:D

I am truly impressed RL. You've come a long way.

The Reaper
07-13-2004, 18:04
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
I just used the ones from the book. I guess it is no surprise that a SEAL focused on raids, eh?

Man has got to go with what he knows. When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems tend to look like nails.

You have to break out of the Tactical and into the Operational or Strategic level of conflict to have an enduring outcome. Take your thinking up a level or two, as it were.

I will admit that Eben Emael was a key objective, but it could have been laid siege to and taken conventionally. St. Nazaire took the dry dock away from the Nazi Battleships, but the Tirpitz would likely have met the same fate as the Bismarck (or been bombed in port) had it stayed in France. The Son Tay raid improved conditions for the POWs, and may have driven the NV to make additional concessions, but did little to end the war on our terms.

All of the ones you listed had little if any enduring effect. When you have a Spec Op decide a war, then you have significance.

Just my .02.

TR

Roguish Lawyer
07-13-2004, 18:09
Do you gentlemen have a view on the greatest raid, viewed strictly from a tactical perspective?

hoepoe
07-13-2004, 18:16
Indeed:

Thirty-five commandos in two Landrovers and a Mercedes with four APCs for firepower had to be transported over 2,200 miles and back again with over 100 hostages. The building the hostages were kept in was guarded by seven terrorists and an unknown number of Ugandan soldiers and was reported to be wired with explosives. "

Keep in mind, any combatants worst enemy was present, lack of intel.

I strongly advise taking the time to read the rescue details on Yoni's site. whether the greatest SO mission or not, this was one hell of a mission; to sneak into a far away land and impersonate the president; rescue the hostages and return with only one loss of life
(of a soldier) is impressive and very gutsy. 9i recall a civilin stood up and was killed too...)

It is because of iron balls like this that Israel stands today.

I don't think one mission can be singled out as "the greatest"....

Hoepoe

The Reaper
07-13-2004, 18:21
Of the above listed, I would probably pick Skorzeny's rescue of Mussolini as the most significant, as it had the potential to recover an ally and turn the course of a war.

TR

hoepoe
07-13-2004, 18:35
TR

How are you?

Very interesting indeed and with great consequence.

Skorzeny's biography

A dirty nazi, but indeed a good soldier.

http://auschwitz.dk/skorzeny.htm


Hoepoe

The Reaper
07-13-2004, 18:52
Originally posted by hoepoe
TR

How are you?

Very interesting indeed and with great consequence.

Skorzeny's biography

A dirty nazi, but indeed a good soldier.

http://auschwitz.dk/skorzeny.htm


Hoepoe

Doing well, thanks.

Consequences were not as great as they could have been, but the potential was there.

I think that Skorzeny would have been successful in any army that recognized his nerve and talent and gave him an opportunity.

His loyalty exceeded his humanity and sense of justice though, and his post war record is sullied.

Heck of a warrior, though.

TR

QRQ 30
07-13-2004, 19:37
Originally posted by The Reaper
Of the above listed, I would probably pick Skorzeny's rescue of Mussolini as the most significant, as it had the potential to recover an ally and turn the course of a war.

TR I agree TR. To me Skorzeny was the ultimate commando. Allied forces deployed mass resources on account of him similar to the effect of SOG on the NVA.

NousDefionsDoc
07-13-2004, 20:23
Well, if we're being all strategicalful and what not, I'm going to go with a few:
1. The Doolittle Raid
2. The whole A bomb thing, from R&D through deployment
3. The 'Stan that Reaper was talking about before - I think this is going to have far reaching change for a long time to come. Not to mention that their sucess allowed us to open a 2nd front as soon as conventionals could be deployed.

Raids (from an operator view)
1. Skorzeny's op
2. The Raid (Son Tay) second only because there weren't any prisoners. However in my view as a shooter it was a complete sucess once they opened the cells and exfilled without a loss.
3. Entebbe - 3rd because they lost a future PM of Israel. Yoni was, from all accounts I read, a true warrior.

Roguish Lawyer
07-13-2004, 20:35
Originally posted by NousDefionsDoc
Well, if we're being all strategicalful and what not, I'm going to go with a few:
1. The Doolittle Raid
2. The whole A bomb thing, from R&D through deployment

Next thing you know, you're going to be listing tank battles too. LMAO

NousDefionsDoc
07-13-2004, 20:40
Originally posted by Roguish Lawyer
Next thing you know, you're going to be listing tank battles too. LMAO

I am prepared to defend my choices lawyer boy. I just can't do it until Friday. The connection here is too slow.:D

Roguish Lawyer
07-13-2004, 20:43
Originally posted by NousDefionsDoc
I am prepared to defend my choices lawyer boy. I just can't do it until Friday. The connection here is too slow.:D


LOL

My point is that I haven't heard much discussion about fixed-wing "special operations" other than nice CAS. But you probably knew that. Nothing gets by a recon man! :eek: :lifter :p

Max_Tab
07-13-2004, 20:49
If we're talking raids, how about the SAS take down of Princess Gate. Been a long time since I studied up on it, that should deffinately be up there.

My choice as the best was Entebbe, for all the reason's already listed.

brownapple
07-13-2004, 21:53
Raids?

I would vote for Cabantuan. Executed with a minimum of advance notice, daring, highly successful.


But I do agree that Raids are a poor choice of "best" SOF operations.

MACV-SOG's operation are a far better and more effective use of SOF.

The initial operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban are another.

Training in Central America is another.

The Special Forces presence in Thailand since 1961 has had a significant effect on stabilizing and maintaining an ally.

And let's not forget OSS operations and the Jedburg teams.

"Best"? There isn't a "best". There are missions that are successful. A lot of them.

Airbornelawyer
07-13-2004, 22:54
I will place myself somewhat outside the consensus by noting that (a) I don't consider the Gran Sasso raid to be even the best German special operation of WW2, much less all countries/all time, and (b) Skorzeny is overrated. Much of his reputation is due to his own wartime and post-war self-promotion and most of his unit's successes were probably more the result of people like Adrian von Fölkersam than Skorzeny himself. But von Fölkersam, an experienced special operator who joined the Waffen SS from the Brandenburgers, got himself KIA in January 1945, so no autohagiographies from him.

When I have time I will pull together some of the documents I have on Brandenburg special ops in the Low Countries, the Baltics, the Caucasus and the Greek Isles, which for professionalism in planning and execution put Skorzeny to shame.

Attached is a shot from the aftermath of Unternehmen Leopard, the recapture of Leros in the Dodecanese Islands after the Italians changed sides and handed the islands over to the British. The assault on Leros is probably too big too qualify as a special operation - it involved primarily a regular airborne battalion, a Brandenburger airborne company and a Brandenburger coastal hunter company (German equivalent of the SBS) - but this force, at a cost of about 70 KIA, retook the island in 4 days, capturing 3,200 British and 5,350 Italian troops. Pictured are a coastal hunter (Küstenjäger), regular sailor, a Brandenburg para, and a Luftwaffe para from the 1st Battalion, FJ Regiment 2.

Huey14
07-13-2004, 23:00
The Pebble Island raid would have to be one of the more interesting raids from my POV. Mountain Troop, D sqn, 22SAS.

The assault destroyed six Pucaras, four Turbo-Mentors and a Skyvan transport before the party withdrew.


One Argie was killed, two SAS wounded minorly.

Morters, 203s, 66s and naval fire was used to supress the Argies.

Seemed to go pretty well.

Hognose
07-14-2004, 00:14
... it was an influential raid indeed, but I think you have to count the SAS men (& aviators) who were lost doing a ship-to-ship helicopter transfer off South Georgia, as casualties.

A Sea King went in in heavy seas and quite a few good men lost their lives.

-nose

Tuukka
07-14-2004, 13:19
Originally posted by Hognose
... it was an influential raid indeed, but I think you have to count the SAS men (& aviators) who were lost doing a ship-to-ship helicopter transfer off South Georgia, as casualties.

A Sea King went in in heavy seas and quite a few good men lost their lives.

-nose

Pebble island raid took place on the 14/15th of May, the accident which claimed the lives of a large number of SAS men took place on the 19th of May.


Regarding raids, i would also add the GSG-9 operation "Firemagic" in Mogadishu, 1977, aided by two SAS operators.

CommoGeek
07-14-2004, 15:11
For fixed-wing "raids" one could argue in favor of Doolittle's raid, 617 SQDN's Dambusters in the Ruhr, the British at taranto, and the mission that downed ADM Yamamoto. I'd have to go with the last since it had the greatest impact in that particluar war.

Some of JEB Stuart's foray's could be listed due to their propaganda value and the # of troops they tied up looking for them.

On the naval front, submarines in WWII did some pretty nice missions that could be listed.

Overall, I'd say the "best" is one that combined high-risk with high-reward and that shaped history. For this, I'd nod to SOF in A-Stan.

mz73t
11-01-2005, 22:10
What are your thoughts on the SOF operation that resulted in the termination of Uday and Qusay Hussein? It meets the “raid” criteria, and also had a significant strategic impact.

Can you imagine if it did not occur and the Hussein brothers had managed to escape Iraq, whereabouts unknown? How much would that have changed the course of GWOT history, in terms of the power plays among key AQ players, and the resulting impact on U.S. operations?

It seems that it is overlooked, since this occurred relatively early in the war.

The Reaper
11-01-2005, 22:46
What are your thoughts on the SOF operation that resulted in the termination of Uday and Qusay Hussein? It meets the “raid” criteria, and also had a significant strategic impact.

Can you imagine if it did not occur and the Hussein brothers had managed to escape Iraq, whereabouts unknown? How much would that have changed the course of GWOT history, in terms of the power plays among key AQ players, and the resulting impact on U.S. operations?

It seems that it is overlooked, since this occurred relatively early in the war.

It would appear that Saddam and his family were not the center of gravity of the conflict in Iraq.

TR

Pete
11-02-2005, 05:30
I picked the Cabanatuan Raid in my mind, read through all the posts and then came back and picked it.

It was interesting to read through the posts. A person's pick can be shaded by his country and background. Also Raids, FID, UW, air operations and lets not forget Recon could impact a situation in different ways.

This would be a great subject to go over at the GB club over a few beers.

Might even get those Recon guys to open up and tell a few of their stories. For the day to day, drudge work of finding out what "The Man" wants to know I give Recon an overall vote.

That's my soft spot.

Cincinnatus
11-03-2005, 16:28
Before reading any of the responses, I picked Entebbe, for it's imagination, daring and what it did to burnish the Israeli image of invulnerability and their ability to reach well beyond their borders.

After reading the responses, I've got to go w/ TR's suggestion of A'stan.

AL, I'd LOVE to learn of the Brandenburgers exploits, when you have a chance, please do post regarding these.

Sneaky, hoepoe, agree re: the high regard for Yonni. "Yonni's Letters" was an interesting read that really served to show the humanity of a great warrior. There've been stories that Yoni was not killed by a sniper shot as is widely believed, but in a shoot out mano a mano with the head tango. Anybody know anything more on this?

RL, great thread. I need to go back and reread the book.

miller0331
11-03-2005, 18:51
Wow! So many great responses and nice support of opinions. These are good examples of raid carried out by many different types of units but like someone said "any operation carried out successfully is a great op...".

I would discount parachute assault on Eben Emal as being just that, an airborne assault preceding an invasion and not a raid. Also, airborne units are not true special operations units (I hope not to offend any one here, but they're just light infantry with a high esprit de corps and a different way to get to work).

I would have to chose the Son Tay raid as being one of the most interesting due to all the factors from planning a joint service operation and in getting the Raider force to their target and the raid on Entebbe as being one of the most imaginative (I see ghosts of Sterling's SAS here...).

The deal on Son Tay is that it was one of the first actual joint service operation that was successful across the board (even though it failed to bring the POWs home due to poor intelligence and group think...). It was put together and executed in a short amount of time with some of the best talent in the military at the time (Simons, Manor, Sydnor, Meadows...). They set a precedence for todays SOCOM.

I would go on but I'm at my real job so I will leave my .02 cents here... Will continue later...

Good discussion though...:munchin

cback0220
11-03-2005, 18:58
What about operation Nimrod, the SAS rescue of the hostages in the Iranian embassy in London?

Here is a link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Embassy_Siege

The Reaper
11-03-2005, 19:01
What about operation Nimrod, the SAS rescue of the hostages in the Iranian embassy in London?

Here is a link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Embassy_Siege

That would be Max Tab's comment back in July about the SAS rescue at Princess Gate.

TR

Specat572
11-03-2005, 20:37
The Operations on the list, as well as the most recent ones conducted over the last few years and even those still yet to come are all without question the best ops ever. No one was like the one before.

I will add that from personal experience that the Operation where the number of Team members you leave with is the same that you return with is always a nice one.

De Oppresso Liber

QRQ 30
11-03-2005, 20:52
There was a Ukranian soldier in CoA 10th SFGA while I was there. He infiltrated across the Czech Border, walked to the Ukraine to visit his mother before she died and walked back. IMO that fits the Military definition of Special Operations and was special.

His name was Rosniuk, RIP, he died boarding a plane for RVN in 1967.:lifter

cback0220
11-03-2005, 22:45
That would be Max Tab's comment back in July about the SAS rescue at Princess Gate.

TR

Oh, did not see that, thought it could be added to this list.

Sanwald
11-08-2005, 03:24
Malayan Emergency-British and Malay Government defeat of Communist Insurgents -1948-1960. Demonstrates how Military and political forces must be coordinated and focused to defeat an insurgency.

G
11-14-2005, 17:50
Two to add to the list of all-time great ops:

Assault on the Japanese Embassy in Peru 22 April 1997

Also, assault on Air France 8969 26 Dec 1994, Marseilles - prevented a 9/11 style use of the plane to fly into the eiffel tower.



G

The Reaper
11-14-2005, 19:25
Two to add to the list of all-time great ops:

Assault on the Japanese Embassy in Peru 22 April 1997

G

Have to disagree with you on that one.

Charlie Foxtrot, and they got lucky.

TR

G
11-14-2005, 23:20
Hi TR

Now you've got me interested.

In what way were they lucky? Bad plan / prep / execution?

If there is anything you can tell without breaking OPSEC, I'm keen to hear!

Regards

G

brownapple
11-27-2005, 01:24
The deal on Son Tay is that it was one of the first actual joint service operation that was successful across the board (even though it failed to bring the POWs home due to poor intelligence and group think...). It was put together and executed in a short amount of time with some of the best talent in the military at the time (Simons, Manor, Sydnor, Meadows...). They set a precedence for todays SOCOM.


I'm not sure that I would call July to November a short amount of time...

wet dog
05-04-2011, 21:49
Bump.

RAIDS

1. LTC Mucci and the 128 Rangers and aprox 250 guerrillas to rescue the victims of the Bataan Death March and others.

2. Mussolini Rescue, could take the first place position because of the potential of other effects of the war.

3. Son Tay Raiders

---------BT------

Special Operation(s) that Effected Change

1. A-stan, a bunch of SF guys on horseback doing in a few months what the Soviets could not do in many years.

2. Special Forces, South America circa, late 70's, 1980 - 1990.

3. VACANT - To Be Seen, I hope in my lifetime. Perhaps the saving of our own country and the preservation of our Constitution.

---------BT-------

Might I add. The United States has always placed an extreme value on the lives of our fellow captive warriors. As early as our Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Alamo, WWI, WWII, we have conducted rescue raids.

I pray we always do.

JohnIll
07-21-2012, 01:57
http://sofrep.com/9277/problem-in-gambia-send-two-sas-dudes/

I know this thread is old but, I think this is 1 of the most impressive Ops I have read about.

2nd (of couse) to what the Special Forces did in Afghanistan :D



SF in the STAN did what the ENTIRE Russian Military might couldn't do... Including the Army's that invaded throught history before the Russians....

Guymullins
07-21-2012, 11:42
Of course I wouldnt dream of promoting my book on this site, so I will put a link up where you can read a bit about this raid. In short, the South Africans executed an airborne assault on a heavily fortified SWAPO base camp 250km behind enemy lines. 367 paratroopers assaulted the camp of about 3500 enemy. The South Africans sustained 3 KIA and 1 MIA, the enemy in excess of 1000 KIA and many WIA.
A Cuban tank and APC column of more than 20 vehicles arrived when the battle was almost over to reinforce their SWAPO comrades. The lightly armed SA paratroopers, ( at this time at half strength due to half the force having already been extracted) with a little help from some jets, wiped out the armor with small arms and RPGs. The raid neutralized SWAPO at a crucial time in the war and forced them to compete in democratic elections instead of allowing them to sieze Namibia through the barrel of the gun as their leader had sworn to do. Namibia has remained a democratic capitalist country to this day, instead of the Communist Dictatorship it would have become.
http://www.namibweb.com/chap13.htm
If you really feel the need to know all about the operation, you will find my book on Amazon as The Battle for Cassinga by Mike McWilliams published by the UK Military publishing house Helion.
This raid was called "One of the most successful, daring airborne operations of all time." By Lt.Col Robert Brown of Soldier of Fortune.
Now, I am not saying it was the best, but it bears consideration.

greenberetTFS
07-21-2012, 11:43
11th Abn Raid at Los Banos.........:lifter

My old outfit the 11th Abn Div was de-activated in Germany in 1958,3 months later I was transfered to the 10th at Bad Tolz....

A large number of civilian prisoners had been detained by the Japanese on Luzon,
mostly in internment camps scattered throughout the island. The largest of these was located on the campus of the Agricultural College of the Philippines at Los Baños, some forty miles (64 km) south-east of Manila...General Douglas MacArthur had tasked the 11th Airborne Division with rescuing the Los Baños internees on 3 February, but the division's ongoing combat operations around the Genko Line left it unable to divert any resources at that time...All that could be accomplished during February was to gather information, primarily through liaison with the guerilla groups operating in Southern Luzon and around Los Baños. Maj. Gen. Swing and his command staff were briefed daily by the officer working with the guerilla groups, Major Vanderpool...From the guerillas and a few civilians that had escaped the camp, Vanderpool established that it was surrounded by two barbed-wire fences approximately six feet tall. Several guard towers and bunkers dotted its perimeter, each containing at least two guards. Prisoners left each morning under armed guard to gather food supplies and firewood from a nearby town...Vanderpool was informed that the camp's population consisted of American civilians in three distinct groups: Protestant missionaries and their families; Roman Catholic nuns and priests; and professional workers such as doctors and engineers, and their families. The latter group included several hundred women and children. While all the inmates appeared to be in good health, many had become weak from food rationing.

On 20 February, Maj. Gen. Swing was finally able to release sufficient troops for a raid on the Los Baños camp, and a four-phase plan was devised by Major Vanderpool and the divisional staff officers...The divisional reconnaissance platoon would travel across a nearby lake and move to the outskirts of the camp, securing a large adjacent field as the drop zone for a company of paratroopers. Having landed, the paratroopers would eliminate Japanese resistance in the area, secure the camp, and prepare for its evacuation. Fifty-four amphibious Amtracs would transport two additional companies of paratroopers to the lake shore, where a beachhead would be established while the Amtracs continued to the camp to evacuate its occupants. Simultaneously, a task force consisting of a reinforced infantry battalion, two battalions of heavy artillery and a tank destroyer battalion would advance down Highway 1 towards Los Baños to interdict any Japanese attempts to interfere.

Assisted by a group of guerrillas, on the night of 21 February the divisional reconnaissance platoon made their way to the lake and collected ten canoes. Despite navigational difficulties, the platoon came ashore near Los Baños at 02:00 the following morning, and after securing the paratroopers' drop zone, concealed themselves in the jungle near the camp...During the afternoon B Company of the 1st Battalion, 511th PIR was transferred to the airfield from which they would be deployed, while the rest of the battalion rendezvoused with the Amtrac convoy...At 07:00 on the morning of 23 February, B Company took off in ten C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft, arriving over their drop zone shortly afterwards....As the first paratroopers landed, the reconnaissance platoon and the supporting guerilla fighters opened fire on the camp's defences, using Bazooka rounds to penetrate the concrete pillboxes, and then entered the camp to engage its garrison. The paratroopers soon joined the battle, and by 07:30 the Japanese guards had been overcome and the internees were being rounded up and readied for evacuation...At the lakeshore the 511th's other two companies had secured their beachhead, and the convoy of Amtracs reached the camp without incident. Priority during loading was given to the women, children and wounded; some of the able-bodied men walked alongside the Amtracs as they returned to the beach. The first evacuation convoy left the camp at approximately 10:00, with B Company, the reconnaissance platoon and the guerrillas remaining behind to provide a rearguard. By 11:30 all of the civilians had been evacuated, and at 13:00 the Amtrac convoy returned for the rearguard, with the last paratroopers leaving the beach at approximately 15:00...Meanwhile on Highway 1, the taskforce that had been deployed to protect the operation met heavy Japanese resistance and suffered several casualties, but was able to block Japanese forces that advanced on the camp, before retreating back to American lines...The raid had been a complete success, liberating 2,147 civilians...This gave them their nick name "The Angels"...:D

Big Teddy :munchin

mojaveman
07-21-2012, 15:27
My favorites:

The seizure of Fortress Eben Emael, Mussolini's rescue (how many people can you fit in a Fiesler Storch?), the raid on Entebbe.

Not listed; the Rangers assualt on the German positions above the cliffs at Point Du Hoc immediately before the opening of D-day.

Recent operations; the American assisted assualt on the Japanese embassy in Peru. The tunnel and explosives were brilliant.

Dusty
07-21-2012, 16:08
Any operation Bob Howard was involved with at CCN.

Brush Okie
07-21-2012, 17:02
We will probably never hear about the best operations that took place because they were done so well.

On the list of SOF operations the SAS operation in Oman late 60's to 70's

Of the ones listed the Entebbe raid is probably my top pick due to the logistics involved and the daring of it. Israel had very little resources but pulled it off anyway.