Thursday, March 12, 2020

Relentless Strike

Finished up an interesting book the other day.

Sean Naylor set out to write a history of Joint Special Operations Command in the GWOT, from the start of things in the immediate wake of 9/11 up to the Abbotabad raid. He found he couldn't do that without going back to the start of JSOC itself, which came out of the failed Iranian hostage rescue mission, Operation Eagle Claw.

The end result is the book Relentless Strike, which details how the machine that was doing multiple raids a night in Iraq was built up over the years.

Experience gained by SFOD-Delta in Columbia and the former Yugoslavia (helping hunt narcoterrorists in the former and war criminals in the latter) was put to use going after al Qaeda and other targets in Iraq.

There's a lot of fascinating stuff in the book about how targets were found and tracked and their networks exposed. Overhead surveillance by drones and manned aircraft turned into games of cat and mouse as targets would change cars and go afoot to throw off tails. Cell phone calls were routinely monitored, and a captured cell phone was a gold mine of intel.

One network of HVT's attempted to avoid surveillance by the expedient of all using a single email address: Write an email, save as draft, and then an ally can log on to the same address halfway around the world and read the message without it ever having been sent and possibly intercepted. Which is great until Task Force Orange hacks the account and is reading the drafts...and watching where people sign into the account from.

It's a pretty good look into the whole history of the organization during the time period*. Recommend.

*And I have to say "history of the time period" since the days of hunting Zarqawi and Bin Laden are now as far in the past as MACV-SOG was when I was in high school, hard as that is to wrap my head around.