Academic journal article Military Review

Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops

Academic journal article Military Review

Elite Warriors: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting Troops

Article excerpt

ELITE WARRIORS: 300 Years of America's Best Fighting s by Lance Q. Zedric and Michael E Dilley. 272 pages. Pathfinder Publishing, Ventura, CA. 1996. $22.95.

Elite Warriors provides a survey of famous and obscure special warfare units. The authors' definition of "elite unit" is based on a unit's mission, which is generally atypical of the unit's parent branch, and personnel, who often receive specialized training or are recruited for particular skills. The broad definition applies to a multitude of units. The services have a tradition of creating ad hoc specialized units, then dissolving them when their narrow missions are complete, only to reinvent the wheel in the next crisis.

Because the authors cast their net so widely, they provide only a cursory examination of each unit mentioned. However, certain lessons do emerge. For example, the services prefer to recruit new units for special missions rather than using existing ones. Colonial-era units were often elite only when compared with their parent militia. The old militia was essentially a home guard and manpower pool, whose most promising men were recruited for provincial units. Today's Special Warfare Command comprises elaborately and expensively trained personnel, but it is still often treated as a manpower pool for special missions. Although existing teams could have handled the mission, the Son Tay prison camp raiders were recruited from the US Army's Special Forces Command. …

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