Direct action (military)
In the context of military special operations
Special operations
Special operations are military operations that are considered "special" .Special operations are typically performed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does...

, direct action (DA) consists of: "Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities to seize, destroy, capture, exploit, recover, or damage designated targets. Direct action differs from conventional offensive actions in the level of physical and political risk, operational techniques, and the degree of discriminate and precise use of force to achieve specific objectives."

The United States
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 and many allied countries consider DA one of the basic special operations missions. Some units specialize in it, such as Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment
75th Ranger Regiment (United States)
The 75th Ranger Regiment , also known as Rangers, is a Special Operations light infantry unit of the United States Army. The Regiment is headquartered in Fort Benning, Georgia with battalions in Fort Benning, Hunter Army Airfield and Joint Base Lewis-McChord...

, while other units, such as US Army Special Forces, have DA capabilities but focus more on other operations. Unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare is the opposite of conventional warfare. Where conventional warfare is used to reduce an opponent's military capability, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing...

, special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance
Special reconnaissance is conducted by small units of highly trained military personnel, usually from special forces units or military intelligence organisations, who operate behind enemy lines, avoiding direct combat and detection by the enemy. As a role, SR is distinct from commando operations,...

 and direct action roles have merged through the decades and are typically performed primarily by the same units. For instance, while American Special Forces were originally created for the unconventional warfare (UW) mission and gradually added other capabilities, the United States Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

 teams, and the UK Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 and Special Boat Service
Special Boat Service
The Special Boat Service is the special forces unit of the British Royal Navy. Together with the Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group they form the United Kingdom Special Forces and come under joint control of the same Director Special...

 continue to perform a primary DA role, with special reconnaissance (SR) as original missions. SEALs, SAS, and SBS added additional capabilities over time, responding to the needs of modern conflict. Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n Spetsnaz
Spetsnaz, Specnaz tr: Voyska specialnogo naznacheniya; ) is an umbrella term for any special forces in Russian, literally "force of special purpose"...

 are DA and SR units.

Some countries may have standing units for deniable direct action, and others may put together ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

volunteer groups for such missions. Under the US Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

's National Clandestine Service
National Clandestine Service
The National Clandestine Service is one of the four main components of the Central Intelligence Agency...

, there is a Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 that operates without apparent national identification. It is possible that units of the Joint Special Operations Command or the frequently-renamed Intelligence Support Activity
Intelligence Support Activity
The United States Army Intelligence Support Activity , frequently shortened to Intelligence Support Activity or ISA, and nicknamed The Activity is a United States Army Special Operations unit originally subordinated to the US Army Intelligence and Security Command...

 may do ad hoc operations.

Risk factors

DA, conducted by special operations forces, uses a small ground team, possibly with air
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 and naval support
Naval gunfire support
Naval gunfire support is the use of naval artillery to provide fire support for amphibious assault and other troops operating within their range. NGFS is one of a number of disciplines encompassed by the term Naval Fires...

, which maintains a high degree of secrecy about the intended action. It relies on surprise and skill, rather than mass, and has a "hit-and-run
Hit-and-run tactics
Hit-and-run tactics is a tactical doctrine where the purpose of the combat involved is not to seize control of territory, but to inflict damage on a target and immediately exit the area to avoid the enemy's defense and/or retaliation.-History:...

" approach:
  • clandestine
    Clandestine operation
    A clandestine operation is an intelligence or military operation carried out in such a way that the operation goes unnoticed.The United States Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines "clandestine operation" as "An operation sponsored or conducted by governmental...

     approach to the target
  • short, precise, and violent force
  • exfiltration as soon as the objective is completed, making the team's exit as hidden as possible. Direct action is not a suicidal attack.

If the political situation so requires, the DA team may operate completely or partially out of uniform. In some cases, which international law
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

 accepts as a legitimate "ruse of war
Ruse of war
A ruse of war, or ruse de guerre, is an action taken by a belligerent in warfare to fool the enemy in order to gain intelligence or a military advantage against an enemy.-Modern history:* American Civil War General George Meade's General Order No...

", a direct action force may infiltrate to the target area in civilian clothes, but must make some distinguishing insignia
Insignia or insigne pl -nia or -nias : a symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction...

 visible before taking any combat actions. While the entire mission was not completed due to a lack of helicopters, the DA force, in Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

, which was to make the actual attack on the occupied American Embassy in Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, would wear nondescript clothing until they reached the assembly point for the attack. At that time, before using any weapons, they would remove black coverings over American flags, putting them in compliance with having a distinctive insignia or uniform.

In practice, any military force that operates at least partially out of uniform may be considered unlawful combatant
Unlawful combatant
An unlawful combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a civilian who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war. An unlawful combatant may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action.The Geneva Conventions apply in wars...

s. Formally, being out of uniform while approaching a target is considered a legitimate ruse of war, rather than spying
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

, according to the language of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

 of 1949. This continues the language of the Hague Convention of 1907. Countries do not always honor this legal protection, as with the Nazi Commando Order
Commando Order
The Commando Order was issued by Adolf Hitler on 18 October 1942 stating that all Allied commandos encountered by German forces in Europe and Africa should be killed immediately, even if in uniform or if they attempted to surrender...

 of WWII
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, which was held illegal at the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....


The status of guerillas acting under a distinct chain of command, complying with the customary laws of war, wearing at least a distinctive armband or other insignia, and carrying arms openly while in combat, is that they technically are legal combatants, but this, historically, is respected even less than for regular military personnel making a clandestine approach to the target.

Operational techniques

Techniques that minimize the chance of detection during infiltration, attack, and exfiltration are preferred.

There is a blurry line between Special Reconnaissance units that never directly attack a target with their own weapons, instead directing air and missile strikes onto a target, and Direct Action, where the soldiers will physically attack the target with their own resources, and possibly with other support. Some special operations forces have doctrine that allowed them to attack targets of opportunity; Soviet Spetsnaz
Spetsnaz, Specnaz tr: Voyska specialnogo naznacheniya; ) is an umbrella term for any special forces in Russian, literally "force of special purpose"...

, while on SR during a war, were expected to attack any tactical nuclear delivery systems, such as surface-to-surface missiles, that they encountered.


Direct action teams, depending on training and resources, may enter the area of operations in many ways:
  • Infiltration
    Infiltration tactics
    In warfare, infiltration tactics involve small, lightly equipped infantry forces attacking enemy rear areas while bypassing enemy front line strongpoints and isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons.-Development during World War I:...

    : Used when the enemy does not have full view of his own lines, such that skilled soldiers can move through their own front lines and, as a small unit, penetrate those of the enemy. Such movement is most often by night.
  • Tactical ground vehicles: The British Special Air Service pioneered in-vehicle SR, going back to North Africa in WWII. In Desert Storm
    Gulf War
    The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

    , US SR forces used medium and heavy helicopters to carry in vehicles for the Scud Hunt.
  • Helicopter
    A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

    : Using fast disembarking by rope, ladder, or fast exit, at night;
  • Parachute
    A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

    : Typically by night, and using the HALO or HAHO jump technique so their airplane does not alert the enemy;
  • Boat
    A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

    : Across inland water or from a surface ship or even a helicopter-launched boat
  • Underwater
    Underwater is a term describing the realm below the surface of water where the water exists in a natural feature such as an ocean, sea, lake, pond, or river. Three quarters of the planet Earth is covered by water...

    : By swimming or means from a submarine or an offshore surface ship. Some highly trained troops, such as US Navy SEALs or British Special Boat Service may parachute into open water, go underwater, and swim to the target.


To reduce their chance of detection, if the target could be destroyed by demolition
Demolition is the tearing-down of buildings and other structures, the opposite of construction. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for re-use....

 charges, set on a delayed fuse
Fuse (explosives)
In an explosive, pyrotechnic device or military munition, a fuse is the part of the device that initiates function. In common usage, the word fuse is used indiscriminately...

 so the team can exfiltrate before the explosion, this would be far preferable to having to fight their way to the target, place demolition charges, and fight their way out of the now-alerted target area.

Skill with explosives and demolition, therefore, is a critical skill for DA units. They also may employ long-range sniper
A sniper is a marksman who shoots targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the capabilities of regular personnel. Snipers typically have specialized training and distinct high-precision rifles....

 fire. Uniformed forces that kill other uniformed soldiers, firing from cover and never revealing themselves to the enemy force, are in compliance with the laws of war, but, especially if at least part of that operation was conducted out of uniform (e.g., by guerillas), the force is likely to be treated as unlawful combatants.


The team will leave the attack area using any of the means they used to infiltrate, although they will have to deal with the problem of an alerted enemy. Rather than going immediately to the means of exfiltration, they may have prepared a safe house
Safe house
In the jargon of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, a safe house is a secure location, suitable for hiding witnesses, agents or other persons perceived as being in danger...

 or some other hiding place near the target, and make a delayed exfiltration.

Norwegian and SOE attacks on German heavy water production

A series of DA missions during WWII involved Allied sabotage of German heavy water production in Norway
Norwegian heavy water sabotage
The Norwegian heavy water sabotage was a series of actions undertaken by Norwegian saboteurs during World War II to prevent the German nuclear energy project from acquiring heavy water , which could be used to produce nuclear weapons...

. Operation Grouse successfully delivered, by parachute, four SOE
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

-trained Norwegian soldiers. They were intended to act as an advanced reconnaissance and guide party for the next group of British personnel, who would actually carry out the demolitions at the Rjukan
Rjukan is a town and the administrative center of Tinn municipality in Telemark . It is situated in Vestfjorddalen, between Møsvatn and Tinnsjå, and got its name after Rjukanfossen west of the town. The Tinn municipality council granted township status for Rjukan in 1996. The town has 3 386...

 in the Telemark
is a county in Norway, bordering Vestfold, Buskerud, Hordaland, Rogaland and Aust-Agder. The county administration is in Skien. Until 1919 the county was known as Bratsberg amt.-Location:...

 area of Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...


Operation Freshman, the next phase, was a disastrous failure. Two teams of Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

, carried in towed Airspeed Horsa
Airspeed Horsa
The Airspeed AS.51 Horsa was a British World War II troop-carrying glider built by Airspeed Limited and subcontractors and used for air assault by British and Allied armed forces...

 gliders, either were killed in crashes, or captured, tortured, and executed under the German Commando Order. A followup, Operation Gunnerside, successfully parachuted in another six Norwegian soldiers. The combined teams were able to place demolition charges in the plant and make their escape.

As is not uncommon for DA, a followup bombing mission completed the destruction of the plant.

Prisoner of war rescue raids in the Philippines

The US command had become increasingly concerned that the Japanese intended to kill all prisoners, and already had been alerted to several killings. They executed multiple rescue raids. Documents and prisoner interrogation
Interrogation is interviewing as commonly employed by officers of the police, military, and Intelligence agencies with the goal of extracting a confession or obtaining information. Subjects of interrogation are often the suspects, victims, or witnesses of a crime...

 subsequently proved that the concern was fully justified.

A combination of Filipino guerillas, Alamo scouts
Alamo scouts
The Alamo Scouts was a reconnaissance unit of the Sixth United States Army in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II...

 (6th US Army Special Reconnaissance force) and US 6th Ranger Battalion paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

s carried out a successful DA raid on the Cabanatuan prison camp
Raid at Cabanatuan
The Raid at Cabanatuan was a rescue of Allied prisoners of war and civilians from a Japanese camp near Cabanatuan City, in the Philippines...

, destroying the Japanese guard force and freeing the prisoners. As is frequently done in DA, the infiltration was in phases: the guerillas were already in the area, but the Alamo Scouts came in early, and were guided to the target area by the local fighters. Reconnaissance of the camp provided information to finalize the final raid, which was deferred a day due to a larger enemy presence.

The Rangers parachuted to a landing zone a distance from the camp, aware they would need to crawl to their final jump-off points. Another method often used in DA was to provide a distraction to the defenders, in this case with a low-level pass by a fighter aircraft. The guards were looking to the sky when the Rangers rushed the camp.

After the guards were neutralized, the rescue force ran into another problem common in prisoner rescues: many prisoners were confused or so terribly afraid that they needed to be forcibly removed. Others were sick and unable to walk. Nevertheless, the rescue was successful.

The Raid at Los Baños
Raid at Los Baños
The raid at Los Baños in the Philippines, early Friday morning on 23 February 1945, was executed by a combined U.S. Army Airborne and Filipino guerrilla task force, resulting in the liberation of 2,147 Allied civilian and military internees from an agricultural school campus turned Japanese...

 was also a success. Prior to the attack, Filipino guerillas had established clandestine communications with prisoners, and had precise information about the camp. This was a considerably larger operation for a larger number of prisoners, with a much stronger Japanese presence in the area.
Operations began, as is often typical, with reconnaissance. 11th Airborne’s Provisional Reconnaissance Platoon jumped in and linked up with guerillas. Two days later, they marked the drop
Drop zone
A drop zone is a place where parachutists or parachuted supplies land. It can be an area targeted for landing by paratroopers, or a base from which recreational parachutists and skydivers take off in aircraft and land under parachutes...

 and landing zone
Landing Zone
A Landing Zone or "LZ" is a military term for any area where an aircraft can land.In the United States military, a landing zone is the actual point where aircraft land...

s, and then killed the gate guards, as a guerilla regiment encircled the camp and attacked Japanese they could see.

Next, a paratrooper company jumped into a marked drop zone, linked up with additional guerillas, killed the remaining guards, and secured the prisoners.

The remainder of the paratroop battalion moved, by water using amphibious tractors, to a point 2 miles from the camp. They would land and then move to the camp, and take the prisoners onto the vehicles.

A fourth phase protected the actual escape, diverting the remaining Japanese troops with a strong force including artillery and tank destroyers. Additional guerilla units formed ambushes to stop Japanese reinforcements from moving into the area. 2,147 former Allied POWs and internees were rescued. Two guerillas and two paratroopers were killed, and a small number wounded.

Afterwards, the Japanese retaliated by killing 1,500 Filipinos, who were not involved in the raid and rescue. The Japanese commander was later convicted of war crimes and hanged.

Israeli raid on Soviet radar used by Egypt

In 1969, Israel became aware that Egypt was using an advanced Soviet radar. Originally, an air attack was planned to destroy it. The air attack was cancelled, however, and the mission assigned to helicopter-carried Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal is a special forces unit of the Israel Defence Forces , which is subordinated to the intelligence directorate Aman. First and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, conducting deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines to obtain strategic intelligence, Sayeret Matkal is also...

 special operations troops, who believed they could capture the radar, and return at least significant pieces.

In Operation Rooster 53
Operation Rooster 53
Operation Rooster 53 was an Israeli military operation during the War of Attrition to capture an Egyptian P-12 radar system. Often referred to as merely Operation Rooster, it was carried out on December 26 and 27, 1969...

, the raiders quickly suppressed the local security, and then began taking apart the radar to return critical components for technical intelligence
Technical intelligence
In a pure military context, Technical Intelligence is intelligence about weapons and equipment used by the armed forces of foreign nations .The related term, scientific and technical intelligence, addresses information collected at the strategic level.Technical intelligence is intended primarily...

 analysis. After consultation between the ground special operations soldiers and the helicopter pilots, they packaged the entire radar and successfully carried it as external loads on their CH-53
CH-53 Sea Stallion
The CH-53 Sea Stallion is the most common name for the Sikorsky S-65 family of heavy-lift transport helicopters. Originally developed for use by the United States Marine Corps, it is also in service with Germany, Iran, Israel, and Mexico...

 helicopters, operating at the edge of the helicopters' lift capability

Attempted prisoner of war rescue in North Vietnam

Operation Ivory Coast
Operation Ivory Coast
Operation Ivory Coast was a failed rescue mission conducted in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War by United States Special Operations Forces and other elements of the U.S. Military....

 was a long-range US raid, in 1970, to rescue POWs believed to be held in the Son Tay prison camp. The rescue force, of 56 Army Special Forces personnel plus Air Force special operations personnel, flew clandestinely from Thailand into North Vietnam, while Naval aircraft conducted diversionary activities.

Although the ground force fought a sharp engagement with North Vietnamese and a never-identified, probably foreign unit, near the camp, they took no casualties (other than a broken ankle from a hard landing). The prisoners had been moved to other camps, but the raiders successfully exfiltrated.

Even though the raid failed in its specific purpose, its tactical execution was near perfect. It did have a significant strategic effect on the North Vietnamese, who became concerned about other raids behind their lines and reallocated significant resources to internal security

US prisoner in Panama rescued by Delta Force

During the 1989 invasion of Panama, one of the many objectives was to free Kurt Muse, an American suspected, by the Panamanians, of working for the CIA. Operation Acid Gambit
Operation Acid Gambit
Operation Acid Gambit was a plan to retrieve Kurt Muse, an American civilian living in Panama and widely reported to be a CIA operative from the Carcel Modelo, a notorious prison in Panama City...

 was one of the few acknowledged operations by the US Delta Force
Delta Force
1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta is one of the United States' secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units. Commonly known as Delta Force, Delta, or The Unit, it was formed under the designation 1st SFOD-D, and is officially referred to by the Department of Defense...


The DA force landed on Modelo prison at night, carried by light MH-6 special operations helicopters. AH-6 helicopter gunships suppressed potential snipers on nearby building, while AC-130 fixed-wing gunships put heavy fire into other military buildings of the complex. The Delta operators secured the roof, and a team fought to Muse's cell, where they blew down the door and rescued him.

During the exfiltration, one of the MH-6 helicopters crashed, wounding everyone besides Muse
. Taking cover, they signalled to one of the gunships, and were soon retrieved by an armored personnel carrier from the 5th Infantry Division extracted Muse and the retrieval team.

Killing of Osama bin Laden

On 1st May 2011, Red Squadron from the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's elite Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as DEVGRU, undertook a covert mission to capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

, acting on intelligence suggesting that he was located at a compound in Abottabad, deep inside Pakistan. Launching the mission from neighbouring Afghanistan, US helicopters flew across Pakistani airspace at very low altitude to avoid radar detection, and the DEVGRU operators were delivered to the courtyard of the compound, descending from ropes. After a brief firefight, bin Laden was located and killed by the US forces. The forces then retreated, taking bin Laden's remains with them, and they were back in Afghan airspace before the Pakistani forces could respond to the unknown disturbance. Bin Laden's body was immediately taken to a US Navy ship and buried at sea, to guard against the possibility that his grave could become a shrine or a focal point for unrest. The whole operation inside Pakistan was monitored from Washington in real time by the Obama administration, and lasted for 40 minutes in total. Subsequent revelations of the success of this bold and daring operation were to draw praise from across the political spectrum and from around the world.

Physical destruction of propaganda facilities

Direct action has been used, or planned and not authorized, against radio and television facilities used for propaganda, or even for tactical coordination, in several operations. During the 1989 US invasion of Panama, special operations teams removed critical components from a television station, doing minimum damage. They did so, however, a day into the operation; greater speed would have had greater effect

In 1994, during the Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

, part of the requests to UN military headquarters from the on-scene commander, MG Roméo Dallaire
Roméo Dallaire
Lieutenant-General Roméo Antonius Dallaire, is a Canadian senator, humanitarian, author and retired general...

, included seizing a broadcast facility, which he considered the chief inciter of violence. He was told such action was outside his authority

Another multinational operation, NATO SFOR
The Stabilisation Force was a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was tasked with upholding the Dayton Agreement. It replaced the previous force IFOR...

 in Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 was operating under peace enforcement
Peace enforcement
Peace enforcement is a practice of ensuring peace in an area or region. Part of a three part scale between peacekeeping and peacemaking, it is sometimes considered to be the midpoint. Peace enforcement is different from peacemaking where options, possibly including force, are used to bring...

, not peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 rules of engagement
Rules of engagement
Rules of Engagement refers to those responses that are permitted in the employment of military personnel during operations or in the course of their duties. These rules of engagement are determined by the legal framework within which these duties are being carried out...

. It was cleared, in 1997, to neutralize Serb radio-television facilities.
. It should be noted that taking control of television falls under the mission of information operations as well as direct action.

In the section "Physical Destruction Operations in Task Force Eagle: The Seizure of Bosnian-Serb Radio/Television Towers," a Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) analyst observed that after the Bosnian civil war, few broadcast media remained, but were extremely influential. "In May 1997, the North Atlantic Council granted authority to SFOR to take actions against any media undermining the peace accords."

"During the early summer of 1997, a power struggle erupted between the rival factions of the Bosnian Serb leadership...The struggle caused a split within state television, with journalists and editors from the Banja Luka studio deciding to split away from [one faction] direction after [its leader] manipulated a broadcast on SFOR searches in police stations. SFOR and OHR tried to exploit these developments to their advantage..." offering to keep the stations open if the faction reduced its inflammatory propaganda, but continuing to do so would result in military action. The propaganda continued, such as accusing SFOR of using "low-intensity nuclear weapons," during the 1995 attacks on VRS positions around Sarajevo, Gorazde, and Majevica in 1995. In another propaganda piece, Serbian Radio Television (SRT) showed alternating images of WWII German Army and present-day NATO forces while the commentator drew the comparison, likening SFOR soldiers to a Nazi occupation force. NATO officials have expressed concerns that such "venomous propaganda" threatens the safety of the NATO-led peace operations force."
Eventually, "under the authority of the GFAP and orders from the NATO Council and the Office of the High Representative, SFOR seized four SRT transmission towers, considerably reducing the footprint of SRT. The seizure of these towers was a physical destruction mission in that SFOR targeted the TV transmitter towers for neutralization, which is a condition achieved by physical destruction operations...On October 1, 1997, TFE units executed the physical destruction operation, securing the Bosnian-Serb television/radio transmitter complexes on Hill 619 in Duga Njiva, Hill 562 near Ugljevik
Ugljevik is a municipality and town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The municipality located in the eastern foothills of Mount Majevica, in picturesque countryside, where wondrous and beautiful mountain starts descending towards the flatlands of Semberija, to which it is tied more than any other...

, Trebevica (near Sarajevo) and Leotar. In pre-dawn raids, SFOR French, Polish, Scandinavian and American soldiers secured the sites and immediately fortified them against anticipated resistance."

"At Hill 619, US Engineers operating Armored Combat Excavators (M-9 ACE) constructed protective berms for the troops, and cleared fields of fire, while other engineers emplaced a triple-standard concertina barrier around the site. At Hill 562, 200 Bosnian-Serb protesters staged a 15-hour confrontation in which the protesters hurled rocks and attacked with clubs, damaging several vehicles.
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