Engaging insider history of the U.S. Army’s undercover special-ops unit known as “The Activity.”
Attention-grabbing profiles, interviews and case histories fortify this work by Smith (The Emperor’s Codes, 2001, etc.), a veteran of the British Army Intelligence Corps. Initially called “Intelligence Support Activity,” one of the most respected (and little-known) undercover branches of the U.S. military was launched after a “major embarrassment,” the CIA’s bungling of a 1980 effort to rescue American hostages in Tehran. An intelligence collective was obviously needed, and the Army recruited pragmatic Special Forces veteran Jerry King to assemble a task force of military experts who would specialize in information-gathering and the clandestine infiltration of enemy territory. After a few mismanaged organizational attempts and the 1981 terrorist kidnapping of NATO General James Dozier, The Activity was formed. The Dozier rescue mission was deemed a success, and King became enthusiastic about the group accepting increasingly complicated, treacherous missions. In doing so, The Activity, boasting upwards of 300 members stationed worldwide, garnered both sharp criticism and broad acclaim from government officials, at the same time acquiring adversaries who wanted nothing more than to chart the group’s demise. Operations spanned Central America, Beirut and, more recently, Afghanistan, ranging from an intricate counter-narcotics maneuver in Bogotá to the jewel in The Activity’s crown, the capture of Saddam Hussein. Because Pentagon officials denied requests for permission to speak to Smith, most of the author’s sources remain confidential. Unfazed by this opposition, he brazenly exposes a military force that continues to prove incredibly effective in the War on Terror and promises an increasingly powerful tool against future threats that place America’s freedoms in jeopardy.
A prideful, patriotic and impassioned account.