Vice Admiral Named JSOC Head

Navy Vice Adm. William H. McRaven became the highest ranking Navy officer to be assigned to Fort Bragg on Friday.

He took command of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) from Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. McRaven is a three-star admiral.

JSOC brings together the Army, Navy and Air Force's most secretive counter-terrorist forces. McChrystal, who had been in command since October 2003, will become director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.

McRaven's last assignment was as the commander of Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany. He previously was JSOC's deputy commanding general for operations, and reportedly has been in charge of task forces to capture Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

McRaven holds one of three three-star positions at Fort Bragg. The others are the commanders of the 18th Airborne Corps and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The JSOC and corps commanders deploy overseas.

An Army officer had always commanded JSOC since its founding in 1980. Navy and Air Force officers served as deputy commanders and chief of staff.

Five JSOC commanders -- Carl Stiner, Gary Luck, Wayne Downing, Peter Schoomaker and Doug Brown -- went on to become four-star generals.

The command was formed in 1980 as part of the military's response to the failed attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran earlier that year. Hostage-rescue and counterterrorist forces existed in the armed services, but there was no command to bring them together on a single mission.

McRaven is the author of the 1995 book "Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare, Theory and Practice," which analyzed eight commando raids since World War II.

He has been commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, commander of SEAL Team 3, task group commander in the Middle East, task unit commander during the first Persian Gulf War, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group and SEAL Platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4.

He has been assigned to the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council at the White House.

While at the NSC, he helped draft the National Security Strategy, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, and the U.S. Hostage Policy.

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