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One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare

The Wilson Center's Asia Program and Middle East Program present author Linda Robinson, senior international policy analyst at RAND and former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar as she discusses her book, "One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare."

Date & Time

Monday
Oct. 28, 2013
3:55pm – 5:15pm ET

Location

6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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Overview

The Wilson Center's Asia Program and Middle East Program present author Linda Robinson, senior international policy analyst at RAND and former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar as she discusses her book, One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare.

From the publisher: “Robinson has spent much of the last two years in Afghanistan studying the evolution of special ops in their largest and longest deployment since Vietnam…Incorporating on-the-ground reporting and interviews with key players inside the national defense community, Robinson shows how the special operations are becoming the future of U.S. military strategy.”

“Folks within the Special Operations community listen to Linda Robinson, and when they listen to her I listen to them…When you listen to what she has to say and the power of her arguments, it’s hard to argue with her.” —Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command

“Linda Robinson is well-established as one of the leading experts on the U.S. military…Robinson delivers a deeply reported, well-written account of the recent history of Special Forces and how they will likely shape the future of the U.S. military long into the future.” —Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

Selected Quotes

Linda Robinson

"The Special Operations community has been traditionally closed to outsiders, conducting their operations in secret. I worked and tried to persuade, and I think I’ve been largely successful gaining the access to be on the ground, there was no way I could do this book without being out there with those small teams. And I know there were a lot of concerns about [whether] I interfere with the mission, I was certainly another additional security risk… So I knew I represented a burden in that regard. I appreciated all the access, but to me, the only way I could write this account was the good, the bad, and the ugly. And there were plenty of things that were out there that didn’t work, that went wrong, and they’re all in the book. And I feel that it’s really important to try to give an unvarnished portrait. If they’re going to give the access, there’s no point in doing some kind of airbrushed portrait. It’s very important for people to understand what Special Ops can and can't do."

"The reason why I think [Special Operations is] going to be used much more despite their being [a] very small fraction of the overall U.S. military, [a] very small fraction of its overall budget, is the current defense strategic guidance really does call for the use of a small footprint approach to national security. And I think that… technology enables these forces to go out and have an outsized impact, whether it’s a direct action mode or what I see increasingly, is this partnered mode… So you do get to an endgame through a small footprint approach to security. It is not a panacea, it will not work everywhere, but I think the option that it represents is between a big war, which I do not see us engaging in frankly anywhere probably in my lifetime… and the other pole is of course stay home and do nothing."

"There is this saying, if you have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. So, I think this is a real injunction not to see Special Operations forces as a panacea for every conflict in the world. And indeed, I think the point is not to sprinkle Special Ops around like fairy dust. The current deployment is somewhere to 70 countries per year. And it seems to me it’s impossible to expect to have a lasting strategic level effect by that kind of employment of a small force. I think it’s much more important that the command focus on the key areas and figure out how they can have a truly… enduring impact in those places where it matters to U.S. interest."

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Speaker

Linda Robinson

Linda Robinson

Former Public Policy Scholar;
Director, RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy
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Hosted By

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

Middle East Program

The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Read more

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