Linda Robinson


Robinson, Linda. "The Future of Special Operations: Beyond Kill and Capture." Foreign Affairs 91, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 2012): 110-122.

The author argues that the future of special operations does not rest with "the direct approach" ("dramatic raids and high-tech drone strikes") but rather with "the indirect approach" ("a cryptic term used to describe working with and through non-U.S. partners to accomplish security objectives, often in unorthodox ways").

Couch, Proceedings 139.10 (Oct. 2013), calls this article "concise, factual, and a superb guide for a congressional staffer -- or anyone else for that matter -- who wants to know what's ahead for SOF post-Afghanistan."


Robinson, Linda. "Inside the 'New' Special Operations Forces." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 135, no. 7 (Jul. 2009): 26-33.

This is an excellent, concise look at the state of SOF today'. Robinson's comments on the changing interface between SOF and conventional forces are particularly noteworthy. Many things depend on an individual's point of view, but to imply that Mulholland's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was first into Afghanistan in 2001 is to take cheerleading too far.


Robinson, Linda. Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. 2005. [pb]

According to DKR, AFIO WIN 46-04 (13 Dec. 2004), this work "chronicles the role of the U.S. Army's Special Forces over the past 15 years and its operations in Somalia, the first Gulf war, the Balkans, Afghanistan and the Gulf again.... Robinson provides a good backgrounder on a type of military operators that are likely to have increasing importance in America's 21st century conflicts." Keiser, Proceedings 132.1 (Jan. 2006), expresses disappointment over "the absence of endnotes and references." Nevertheless, the author "presents a first-class examination" of Special Forces soldiers.


Robinson, Linda. "Men on a Mission: U.S. Special Forces Are Retooling for the War on Terror. Here's Their Plan." U.S. News & World Report, 11 Sep. 2006, 36-38.

The comments of Director of the Center for Special Operations Lt. Gen. Dell Dailey and SOCOM Commander Gen. Doug Brown stress the importance of both "black" (hunter-killer) and "white" (training and civil affairs) special operations.


Robinson, Linda. "The Men in the Shadows." U.S. News & World Report, 19 May 2003, 16-20.

"[S]pecial operations forces in Iraq played a key role in America's emerging model of precision, lightning-fast warfare. With the premium it puts on the use of real-time intelligence, pinpoint weapons targeting, and rapid transition from attack mode to stability operations, this new style of warfare plays perfectly to the unique skills America's special operators have been honing for years.... [In Iraq,] America's most elite fighting forces ... helped change not only the pace and prosecution of the war ... but the way America will fight an enemy force in the future."

[MI/Ops/Iraq & SpecOps/00s]

Robinson, Linda. One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare. New York: Public Affairs, 2013.

Couch, Proceedings 139.10 (Oct. 2013), says this work "is highly readable and paints a compelling picture of SOF in the 2010-12 timeframe." Robinson offers "a series of ground-truth, factual vignettes that provide a glimpse into the personal as well as the policy."


Robinson, Linda. "Plan of Attack." U.S. News & World Report, 1 Aug. 2005, 26-34.

The article reports the creation of the "National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism," signed on 3 March 2005 by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Myers. The document is described as "a comprehensive new plan for the war on terrorism." The article includes two sidebars: L.R., "A Few Real Good Friends," p. 31, discussing U.S. counterterrorism allies; and Linda Robinson, with graphic by Rod Little and Stephen Rountree, "Rooting Out Terror," pp. 32-33, detailing "some of the principal [joint and multinational] military exercises that the Depertment of Defense is sponsoring in 2005."


Robinson, Linda. "The Propaganda War." U.S. News & World Report, 29 May 2006, 29-31.

The author uses a draft of the Pentagon's "strategic communications roadmap" to discuss the "effort to get America's message out and to counter the terrorists' highly effective use of communications media."

[MI/Ops/Iraq; Terrorism/00s/06]

Robinson, Linda. Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008.

Freedman, FA 88.1 (Jan.-Feb. 2009), comments that while the author's "attention is set on the high-achieving general and his steely focus on the task at hand," she also "does a good job of setting the scene and explaining the many factors that let the first glimmers of light into what had been unremitting gloom."


Robinson, Linda. "Walking Point: The Commandos Taking the Lead in the War on Terrorism Suddenly Have Some New Rules." U.S. News & World Report, 18 Oct. 2004, 46-50.

"In a rare visit to SOCOM [Special Operations Command] headquarters in Tampa, U.S. News was given a detailed briefing on SOCOM's new structure and missions, as [Gen. Bryan "Doug"] Brown prepares to make his special operators the point of the spear in the terrorism war." Includes sidebar: "The View from the Inside," pp. 48-49.


Robinson, Linda, and Brian Duffy. "At Play in the Fields of the Spies." U.S. News and World Report, 29 Nov. 1993, 37.

This article reports the resignation of a CIA case officer (named as Mark McFarlin) and the disciplining of other CIA officials in connection with antinarcotics activities in Venezuela. Apparently, the head of the Venezuelan national guard, with whom the case officer was working, was a drug trafficker. This article is based on a DEA internal report leaked to U.S. News. (Question: Does this reflect a DEA effort to nudge the already politically crippled CIA out of the war on drugs?)


Robinson, Linda, and Kevin Whitelaw. "Seeking Spies: Why the CIA Is Having Such a Hard Time Keeping Its Best." U.S. News and World Report, 13 Feb. 2006, 35-41.

This is not an unsympathetic look at the difficulties facing the politically and institutionally diminished CIA (my characterization, not the authors, but one to which their presentation certainly points) and its Directorate of Operations (now the National Clandestine Service). But it is, nonetheless, basically a downbeat assessment. By downbeat I mean that the challenges so clearly delineated by this lengthy article are of sufficient magnitude that the authors', "If the D.O. can somehow manage to....," essentially tells the story. Includes side-bar, L.R., "No NOC-NOC Jokes," p. 40.

[CIA/00s/06/Gen & Components/NCS]

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