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A look at the origin story of the best and deadliest forces in the US military




A U.S Paratrooper from 4/25th Infantry Division looks on as other members of his unit make a jump from a C-17 Globemaster as part of exercise Talisman Sabre on July 8, 2015.
A U.S Paratrooper from 4/25th Infantry Division looks on as other members of his unit make a jump from a C-17 Globemaster as part of exercise Talisman Sabre on July 8, 2015.
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

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The Special Operations Forces are the most elite soldiers in the U.S. military and the subject of Mark Moyar’s new book, “Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America’s Special Operations Forces.”

These special units started off as small appendages to the conventional armies of World War Two, but today, they are the popular soldiers in the U.S., with several branches and a total of 70,000 troops.

The Special Operations Forces have produced some of America’s most beloved heroes, but have also struggled to survive as a unit.

In “Oppose Any Foe” Moyar, a historian, delves into the Special Operations Forces’ origin story and the way they carved out their role within the military. He also addresses the times they’ve been misused or misdirected by Commanders in Chief.

According to Moyar, past Presidents have deployed the Special Operations Forces based on uninformed or romanticized notions of them, and that this ultimately harmed the elite troops.

Larry Mantle talks to Moyar about these struggles and how the Special Operations Forces can become a crucial supporting arm of the military rather than continue to be used as independent strategic actors.

Guest:

Mark Moyar, director of the Center for Military and Diplomatic History in Washington, DC, and author of “Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America’s Special Operations Forces” (Basic Books, 2017); he tweets @MarkMoyar