2012 Rank: 6
Commander, US Special Operations Command
Before the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, few outside America’s special operations community knew McRaven, and he preferred it that way. But when members of SEAL Team 6 raided bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, McRaven — then the commander of Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. — earned his place in the spotlight. A highly decorated SEAL combat veteran, he has long been a mover and shaker in the special operations world. His 1996 book “Spec Ops” is a must-read on special operations theory and practice. A native Texan who survived devastating injuries from a parachute collision in 2001, he took the helm of Tampa, Fla.-based US Special Operations Command a month after the bin Laden raid. He has since maintained a high-profile speaking and public engagement schedule, and is a regular at Washington conferences and think tank events. He has pushed to give SOCOM more control of the military’s 66,000 special operators and staff — a number slated to rise to 72,000 by 2015 — but has met resistance from lawmakers wary of taking power away from combatant commanders. Still, the mission sets and public profile of special operations forces have increased in recent years, and McRaven — who some say has political aspirations once he retires — has become their eloquent spokesman.
Special Ops Intelligence Afghanistan Policy Middle East Navy