Perilous Options: Special Operations as an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byLucien S. Vandenbroucke

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In the past three decades, the United States government has used special operations repeatedly in an effort to achieve key foreign policy objectives, such as in the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba and the rescuing of American hostages in Iran. Many of these secret missions carried out byhighly trained commando forces have failed. In Perilous Options, Lucien Vandenbroucke examines the use and misuse of such special operations through an in-depth analysis of four operations--the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Sontay raid to rescue POWs in North Vietnam, the Mayaguez operation, and theIran hostage rescue mission. Drawing extensively on declassified government documents, interviews with key decision makers and participants in these episodes, and other primary material, Perilous Options identifies recurrent problems in the way the United States government has prepared and executed such operations. Theserecurrent problems, outlined by key participants in these four special operations, include faulty intelligence, poor interagency and interservice cooperation and coordination, inadequate information and advice provided to decisionmakers, wishful thinking on the part of decisionmakers, andovercontrol of mission execution from outside the theater of operations. Vandenbroucke also explores the extent to which recent efforts to revitalize the U.S. operations capability have addressed these problems, identifying additional changes that can improve the government's ability to plan,evaluate, and execute such operations.

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From Our Editors

Throughout the history of warfare, small battalions of warriors have repeatedly conducted sudden strikes on enemies deep within enemy lines with limited resources. These strikes rely largely on surprise, speed, and maneuver to defeat an often numerically superior enemy. In the past three decades, the United States has repeatedly used s...

From the Publisher

In the past three decades, the United States government has used special operations repeatedly in an effort to achieve key foreign policy objectives, such as in the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba and the rescuing of American hostages in Iran. Many of these secret missions carried out byhighly trained commando forces have failed. In...

Lucien S. Vandenbroucke is a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State. He is a former Brookings Institution Research Fellow.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.57 × 6.3 × 1.02 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195045912

ISBN - 13:9780195045918

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From Our Editors

Throughout the history of warfare, small battalions of warriors have repeatedly conducted sudden strikes on enemies deep within enemy lines with limited resources. These strikes rely largely on surprise, speed, and maneuver to defeat an often numerically superior enemy. In the past three decades, the United States has repeatedly used such special operations in an effort to achieve key foreign policy objectives. Many of these operations carried out by highly trained commando forces have failed. In Perilous Options: Special Operations as an Instrument of U.S. Foreign Policy, Lucien Vandenbroucke examines the use and misuse of special operations through an in-depth analysis of four operations - the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Sontay raid to rescue POWs in North Vietnam, the Mayaquez operation, and the Iran hostage rescue mission. He identifies recurrent problems in the way the United States government has prepared and executed such operations that account for their poor outcomes. These include faulty intelligence, poor interagency and interservice cooperation and coord

Editorial Reviews

"Perilous Options is must reading. The author vividly brings out the lessons of America's special operations in the past. I highly recommend it."--Roy J. Manor, Lieutenant-General USAF (Ret.), Former Commander JCTG, Sontay, 1970