Cover image for The perfect soldier : special operations, commandos, and the future of U.S. warfare
The perfect soldier : special operations, commandos, and the future of U.S. warfare
Dunnigan, James F.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Citadel Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 306 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
U262 .D866 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Fox news analyst, Dunnigan, examines the role of the U.S. special forces in the changing face of military action today. Tracing the history of the most highly trained and deadly forces from all around the world and throughout the ages, he reveals the lineage of these perfect soldiers' back to the prehistoric age of the hunter society. At once a fascinating history and a brilliant analysis of the constant battle to master modern warfare, this volume is an insider's view into the world's best soldiers and the future of ground combat.'

Author Notes

James F. Dunnigan has written more than 100 books and articles about warfare and diplomacy. A resident of New York City, he is a military analyst for MSNBC and has been a consultant to the State Department, the CIA, and the Army War College.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A leading U. S. military analyst offers a timely and useful survey of the history of special operations. Dunnigan (How to Make War; The Next War Zone; etc.) claims a history for commando missions going back to Neolithic hunting parties, and names the famous raid on Troy, in which Greek soldiers hid themselves inside a wooden horse, a "classic commando operation." His relatively speedy discussion of elite forces in the centuries leading up to the Second World War is somewhat uneven, as he tends to claim every small, highly-skilled category of soldiers (such as the English longbowmen and the German Stosstruppen-storm troops-of WWI) as part of the Spec Ops lineage. When he gets to the WWII ("a Golden Age for commandos") and after, however, he provides a valuable roster of major special operations forces (including Soviet Spetsnaz and British SAS). Joining this are fine and comprehensible narratives of their roles in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Falklands, the first Gulf War and most recently the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Throughout the book, he also weaves in analysis of the influence of early elite forces on the development of their more numerous contemporaries. This is perhaps not an indispensable history, but it is certainly a valuable one. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1 "Send Me Your Best Men ..."p. 1
Things You Need to Knowp. 4
Afghanistan and the Perfect Soldiersp. 9
A History of Innovation and Military Effectivenessp. 12
2 Commandos Through Historyp. 14
Fellowships and Royal Guardsp. 14
Legends and Realityp. 15
Primary Groupsp. 17
Hunters and Commandosp. 18
The Heroes of Legend Were Realp. 19
Tribal Commandosp. 21
Send Me Your Best Men for a Special Missionp. 22
Armies of Commandosp. 23
When Being the Best Isn't Good Enoughp. 26
The Grenadiersp. 29
Commandos on Horsebackp. 30
Mamelukes and Janissariesp. 31
The Lessons of the Pastp. 32
Wilderness Wisdomp. 34
Major Robert Rogers's Rules for His Rangersp. 35
Fighting Toward the Futurep. 44
3 Out of Africa and into the Trenchesp. 46
Stosstruppen and Special Unitsp. 51
Undefeated in Africap. 59
Why Every Nation Doesn't Have Commandosp. 62
4 Raiders, Guerrillas, and Peacemakersp. 63
Marines as Peacekeepersp. 63
Marines as Raidersp. 66
Reeling in the Raidersp. 68
Raiders from Abovep. 71
Airborne Qualifiedp. 73
The Guerrilla Revolutionp. 75
5 The Golden Age: Commandosp. 79
British Storm Troopersp. 79
Commando Trainingp. 81
Commandos in Actionp. 83
Commandos Underwaterp. 85
Battles in the Surf Zonep. 86
Long Range Desert Groupp. 88
Popski's Private Armyp. 90
Special Air Service During World War IIp. 91
The Origins of the U.S. Special Forcesp. 93
The Origins of the Green Beretp. 94
U.S. Army Rangersp. 95
U.S. Marine Commandosp. 99
The Makin Mistakep. 100
Sneaking in by Airp. 102
German Commandos: The Brandenburgersp. 104
Russian Commandosp. 105
Royal Marine Commandos After World War IIp. 106
U.S. Ranger Companies in Koreap. 107
6 The Golden Age: Elite Troopsp. 108
Paratroopers in Search of a Missionp. 108
Russia's Parachute Armyp. 111
The American Airborne Armyp. 113
The American Amphibious Armyp. 116
Guerrilla Wars and Commandosp. 119
7 Shadow Wars and the Threatp. 143
Covert Commandosp. 143
How to Create a Successful Guerrilla Movementp. 146
How to Defeat a Successful Guerrilla Movementp. 149
How to Fight Guerrillas and Winp. 154
8 Special Forces and Vietnamp. 161
The Special Forcesp. 162
The Green Berets Go to Vietnamp. 166
The Special Forces and the Mountain Tribes of Vietnamp. 169
The Secret War in Laosp. 176
The North Vietnamese Strike Backp. 180
Psychological Warfarep. 180
The Secret War in Cambodiap. 181
The Other Commandos of Vietnamp. 183
LRRP Rulesp. 185
Lessons of Vietnamp. 187
New Thinking After Vietnamp. 188
9 Spetsnaz and Sappersp. 190
Spetsnazp. 190
Spetsnaz in Afghanistanp. 193
Russian Special Assault Unitsp. 194
North Vietnamese Sappersp. 195
10 Afghanistan: The First Commando Warp. 200
Myths and Realities of the Afghan Warp. 203
The Afghan Way of Warp. 207
Commandos With Big Bombsp. 209
Stumbling onto Successp. 210
Timeline for the Taliban Takedownp. 213
Casualtiesp. 220
Where Have All the Smart Bombs Gone?p. 221
What Speaks Louder Than Bullets?p. 223
Task Force 11 and the Commando Olympicsp. 226
The Drug Gangs of Afghanistanp. 228
Drone Feverp. 230
Bombing Afghanistan with Informationp. 233
The Eyes Up Therep. 237
Why Afghanistan Had to Be a Commando Warp. 238
11 The Perfect Soldiersp. 242
Perfect Soldiers Everywherep. 244
Marinesp. 246
Paratroopersp. 248
SOCOM and Special Operations Doctrinep. 249
Hearts and Mindsp. 260
Rangersp. 262
Special Forcesp. 265
Peace Commandosp. 270
U.S. Air Force Special Operations Commandp. 272
SEALsp. 275
SEAL Team Sixp. 276
Delta Forcep. 277
LRSU, Son of LRRPp. 281
Commandos Around the Worldp. 281
Special Air Servicep. 287
Blunting the Sharp Endp. 287
Commando Carrierp. 289
Finding Natural-Born Killersp. 290
Survival of the Deadliestp. 292
Train as You Fight, Fight as You Trainp. 294
Where the Operators Arep. 296
Perfect Soldiers of the Twenty-First Centuryp. 297
Indexp. 299