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Name: McRaven, William
Current Position: Previous Commander

The mastermind of the raid that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden has served since August 8, 2011, as commander of the highly secretive United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. USSOCOM ensures the readiness of joint special operations forces and, as directed by civilian authority, conducts operations worldwide. At present, U.S. Special Forces are said to be active in about 120 nations worldwide, where they conduct assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

Born November 6, 1955, in San Antonio, Texas, William McRaven graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1973 and earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, which he attended on a track scholarship, in 1977. The military life was in his blood, however, as his father, Colonel Claude McRaven, was an Air Force colonel who flew British Spitfires during World War II and played two seasons for the Cleveland Rams of the NFL.
Bill McRaven chose the Navy for his career, first in the Navy ROTC program in college and then as a career Navy officer. In 1991, he was assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School, where he earned a Master’s Degree with a thesis titled, “The Theory of Special Operations.” He also helped establish, and was the first graduate of, the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict curriculum.
Upon graduation from UT in 1977, McRaven married his college sweetheart, Georgeann Brady, signed up for Navy SEAL training and deployed to the Philippines. Although he was fired in 1983 from his position as squad commander at the Navy’s new Naval Special Warfare Development Group, McRaven’s career continued on its upward trajectory, and he won a chance at platoon command in SEAL Team Four. From then onward, he moved steadily up the ranks, through various command and operational roles, including task unit commander during the Persian Gulf War; task group commander in the U.S. Central Command; commander of SEAL Team Three; and commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group One.
In 2001, however, McRaven sustained serious injuries during a parachute jump, and had to sit on the sidelines in the months immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. While recuperating, McRaven served at the National Security Council as the first Deputy National Security Adviser for Combatting Terrorism, where he was the principal author in 2006 of the government’s National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. Returning to more active duty even before that document was published, McRaven engaged in numerous special operations, all of which are shrouded by the veil of government secrecy.
McRaven was promoted to high command in 2006, serving in Stuttgart, Germany, as commander of the Special Operations Command Europe from June 2006 to March 2008. He was also named director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre, where he was responsible for improving NATO Special Operations Forces. He was promoted again in June 2008, when he took over as the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (“JSOC”) headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he remained until June 2011. At JSOC McRaven greatly increased the frequency of raids in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, which were often carried out at night and caused controversial civilian deaths, leading McRaven to order the use of bright-white spotlights on AC-130 gunships during nighttime raids to minimize casualties.
In 1996, he published a book, based on his M.A. thesis, titled Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice. McRaven is a qualified diver, parachutist, demolition expert and submersible pilot.
William McRaven: The Admiral (by Barton Gellman, Time Magazine)
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