Guide Soldiers of Misfortune

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The survivors made their dismal way home, leaving the hostages to molder in captivity for another nine months.

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Never again! The result was an all-out Pentagon effort to build a formidable covert capability to fight terrorism, rescue hostages and carry the war to clandestine enemies wherever they challenged American interests. The story of that effort is told by Steven Emerson, a senior editor of U.

Alas, the title is a sad irony. Far from secret, hardly warriors, the new team made a mess of things from the beginning. A single heartening success - the rescue, with United States help, of Brig. James Dozier from a Red Brigade hideout in Italy in - was followed by a string of failures. The bombing of the United States Embassy and the Marine barracks in Lebanon never should have happened and went unpunished afterwards.

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The hijackers of a T. Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama, to rescue the C. Buckley died after a year of torture in captivity.

Emerson's carefully documented effort to sort out the secret history of this effort is no academic exercise. The operational failures and occasional small successes were matched by a growing covert mentality in really efficient secret team could not only confound the enemy, but evade the scrutiny of Congress and the press. Careful students of the Iran-contra affair will find many suggestive new details in ''Secret Warriors'' about its origins in the C. But Mr.

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Emerson's real subject is how the Pentagon, trying to learn from the disaster at Desert One, got so little in return for its trouble and its money. What went wrong? The Pentagon did its best, spared no expense, assigned some of its most promising young officers to the task, and even abandoned its most time-honored standard operating procedures to cut a path through the red tape.

In the case of one small elite group code-named Yellow Fruit, the Army jettisoned all the red tape, spinning the unit off into an orbit of its own.

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As described by Mr. Emerson, the group's leaders abandoned the perils of operations for the pleasures of unvouchered funds. A string of courts-martial eventually ended the boondoggle. Other failures were more prosaic, the doing of bureaucratic jealousy, confusion of purposes, official timidity when action was called for and action when caution would have been better.

David Bax helped save 35 aid workers in a Mogadishu firefight. So why did they turn against him?

Emerson has no quarrel with official insistence that the country ''desperately needs a special operations capacity'' but nowhere suggests what the country needs this capacity for. The Very Best Things — Categories : singles Filter band songs Songs of the Iraq War Songs about the military Anti-war songs Songs based on actual events Songs written by Richard Patrick songs Song recordings produced by Josh Abraham Rock ballads s rock song stubs.

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