William H. McRaven

Last updated


William McRaven
ADM William H. McRaven 2012.jpg
Chancellor of the University of Texas
In office
January 5, 2015 May 31, 2018
Preceded by Francisco G. Cigarroa
Succeeded by Larry Faulkner
Personal details
Born
William Harry McRaven

(1955-11-06) November 6, 1955 (age 65)
Pinehurst, North Carolina, U.S.
Spouse(s)Georgeann Brady McRaven
Children3
Awards Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal (3)
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal (2)
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Navy (official).svg  United States Navy
Years of service1977–2014
Rank US Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral
Unit Naval Special Warfare Development Group
Commands U.S. Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
Special Operations Command Europe
Naval Special Warfare Group 1
SEAL Team 3
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War
  Operation Desert Shield
  Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
  War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Operation Neptune Spear

William Harry McRaven (born November 6, 1955) is a retired United States Navy four-star admiral who served as the ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) from August 8, 2011 to August 28, 2014. From 2015 to 2018, he was the chancellor of The University of Texas System.

Contents

McRaven previously served from June 13, 2008, to August 2011 as commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) [1] and from June 2006 to March 2008 as commander of Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). [1] In addition to his duties as COMSOCEUR, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre (NSCC), where he was charged with enhancing the capabilities and inter-operability of all NATO Special Operations Forces. McRaven retired from the U.S. Navy on August 28, 2014, after more than 37 years of service. [2]

McRaven was named as a possible choice to be nominated as U.S. Secretary of Defense by President-elect Joe Biden. [3] However, Biden nominated retired general Lloyd Austin.

Early life

McRaven was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina. His father, a career Air Force officer, was stationed at Pope Air Force Base, now known as Pope Field, part of Fort Bragg. He has two older sisters. His family moved to Texas while he was in elementary school and settled in San Antonio. McRaven attended Theodore Roosevelt High School where he took part in track. [4] He is the son of Anna Elizabeth (Long) and Col. Claude C. McRaven, a Spitfire fighter pilot in World War II [5] [6] who played briefly in the NFL. [7]

McRaven attended the University of Texas at Austin where he was a walk-on member of the track team, and was a member of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. He graduated in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in journalism, [8] and was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. [9] [10] McRaven holds a master's degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, where he helped establish and was the first graduate from the Special operations/Low intensity conflict curriculum.

Special operations

After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, McRaven was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and volunteered for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S). After six months of training, McRaven graduated BUD/S class 95 in January 1978. Following completion of a six-month probationary period, he received the 1130 designator as a Naval Special Warfare Officer, entitled to wear the Special Warfare insignia. As a Navy SEAL officer, McRaven was deployed to the Philippines. [11] In 1982, as a junior officer, McRaven was assigned to SEAL Team Six under the command of CDR Richard Marcinko but was removed one year later due to McRaven's concerns about military discipline, and difficulties in keeping his sailors in line. Richard Marcinko fired the 27-year-old McRaven in 1983. "He was a bright guy, but he didn't like my rude and crude way," Marcinko said. "If I was a loose cannon, he was too rigid. He took the special out of special warfare." [12] McRaven later returned to his position as a squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group after Marcinko was forced to give up his command of the unit later that same year.

McRaven served numerous staff and command assignments within the special operations community, including platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team Four, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, Executive Officer of SEAL Team ONE, task unit commander during the Persian Gulf War, task group commander in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, commanding officer of SEAL Team THREE, deputy commander for operations at JSOC, commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Group ONE from 1999 to 2001. McRaven earned his Master of Arts degree at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in 1993. McRaven's thesis was titled "The Theory of Special Operations" (republished in 1995 as Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice). [13] [14]

McRaven later served as a staff officer with an interagency coordination focus, including as the director for Strategic Planning in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff, assessment director at U.S. Special Operations Command, on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and the chief of staff at Naval Special Warfare Group 1.

McRaven was the deputy to General Stanley A. McChrystal, and later leader, of a battle group targeting Al Qaeda in Iraq called 'Task Force 714' which proved to be innovative and highly successful. [15]

Georgeann Brady McRaven, McRaven's wife, and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta affix Navy Adm. William H. McRaven's new rank as a Four-Star Admiral at a U.S. Special Operations Command ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida, August 8, 2011 Defense.gov photo essay 110808-F-RG147-355.jpg
Georgeann Brady McRaven, McRaven's wife, and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta affix Navy Adm. William H. McRaven's new rank as a Four-Star Admiral at a U.S. Special Operations Command ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida, August 8, 2011
(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaks with William McRaven, at a reception at the LBJ Presidential Library, in the background, at center, is Carmel Fenves, wife of University of Texas at Austin president Greg Fenves DIG13879dhk 009.jpg
(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaks with William McRaven, at a reception at the LBJ Presidential Library, in the background, at center, is Carmel Fenves, wife of University of Texas at Austin president Greg Fenves

On April 6, 2011, McRaven was nominated by President Barack Obama for promotion from the rank of vice admiral to admiral and appointed as the ninth commander of USSOCOM, [16] of which JSOC is a component.

In his confirmation hearings, McRaven "endorsed a steady manpower growth rate of 3% to 5% a year" and favored more resources for USSOCOM. After the Armed Services committee hearings, in late June, McRaven was confirmed unanimously by the Senate for his promotion to full Admiral and assignment as commander of USSOCOM [17] and took command August 8. The transfer ceremony was led by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Tampa, with ADM Eric T. Olson also in attendance, two days after the Wardak Province helicopter crash which cost 30 Americans, including 22 SEALs, their lives. With several hundred in attendance, Panetta spoke of sending "a strong message of American resolve [and] ... carry[ing] on the fight". [7]

Operation Neptune Spear

McRaven is credited for organizing and overseeing the execution of Operation Neptune Spear, [18] the special ops raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. CIA Director Leon Panetta delegated operational & execution decisions on the raid to McRaven, who had worked almost exclusively on counter-terrorism operations and strategy since 2001. [18]

According to The New York Times, "In February, Mr. Panetta called then-Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to give him details about the compound and to begin planning a military strike. Admiral McRaven, a veteran of the covert world who had written a book on American Special Operations, spent weeks working with the CIA on the operation, and came up with three options: a helicopter assault using U.S. Navy SEALs, a strike with B-2 bombers that would obliterate the compound, or a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch." [19] The day before the assault, President Obama "took a break from rehearsing for the White House Correspondents Dinner that night to call Admiral McRaven, to wish him luck". [19]

A June 2013 Freedom of Information request revealed that on May 13, 2011, McRaven sent email titled "OPSEC Guidance / Neptune Spear" that instructed redacted recipients that "all photos [of UBL's remains] should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately" or "get them to" a recipient whose identity was redacted. [20] [21]

In December 2011, McRaven was runner-up for Time Person of the Year for his role in the operation. [22]

Retirement from the military

In June 2014, it was announced that Admiral McRaven had his request for retirement approved after a 37-year career. [23] Admiral McRaven retired from the U.S. Navy on September 1, 2014. During the last few years of his career he was also Bull Frog, the longest serving Navy SEAL still on duty, having succeeded his SOCOM predecessor Eric T. Olson in the title. [24] [25]

The University of Texas Chancellor

Admiral McRaven was selected as the next chancellor of the University of Texas System in July 2014. He was appointed on January 5, 2015. [26] [27]

The Trump campaign transition team considered McRaven as a potential candidate for National Security Adviser. [28]

On May 31, 2018, McRaven stepped down from his position as chancellor of the university, [29] due to chronic health issues and a desire to spend more time with his family. [30]

Disputes with President Trump

"Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency."

William McRaven, open letter to President Donald Trump, August 16, 2018 [31]

In August 2018, McRaven expressed support for former CIA Director John O. Brennan, whose security clearance had recently been revoked by the Trump Administration. He authored an open letter to President Donald Trump in The Washington Post entitled "Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President", in which he affirmed his regard for Brennan, his former colleague, and offered criticism of the decisions and personal behavior of President Trump. [31] McRaven said of Brennan, "He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question ... except by those who don't know him." Of Trump, McRaven wrote, "Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation." [32]

In a November 18, 2018, interview on Fox News, Chris Wallace mentioned McRaven's name. Trump called McRaven a "Hillary Clinton fan" and accused McRaven of being a fan of former President Barack Obama. McRaven later told CNN, "I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else. I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times." [33] One media source noted that Trump's ire seemed to be rooted in "McRaven’s criticism that the president’s rhetoric toward the press is the 'greatest threat to democracy' in his lifetime". [34]

On October 17, 2019, McRaven published an op-ed in The New York Times with the headline "Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President", arguing that if Trump did not demonstrate leadership, he was to be replaced. He elaborated his position in a CNN interview the same day, saying that Trump was undermining domestic institutions and damaging America's international standing, especially with respect to the treatment of the Kurds during the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria. [35]

Upon the February 2020 dismissal by the president of Joseph Maguire for having briefed congressional intelligence committee members about emerging evidence of foreign efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, McRaven authored a guest editorial in The Washington Post in which he declared that, "As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil." [36]

Personal life

McRaven is the son of a career Air Force officer. [37] McRaven married Georgeann Brady McRaven, then a fellow undergraduate at the University of Texas, in 1978. [38] [39] They have three children. [40] McRaven attended the 2012 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner as the guest of his fifth grade classmate, Karen Tumulty. [41]

Awards and decorations

Award ribbons and badges

United States Navy Special Warfare insignia.png
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg
1 golden star.svg
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
1 golden star.svg
Bronze Star ribbon.svg
Defense Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
1 golden star.svg
1 golden star.svg
1 golden star.svg
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation ribbon.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement ribbon.svg Combat Action Ribbon.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg
National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal ribbon.png Battle Effectiveness Award ribbon, 1st award.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Southwest Asia Service Medal ribbon (1991-2016).svg
Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon.svg Legion Honneur GO ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) ribbon.svg
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg United States Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with expert device.svg United States Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with expert device.svg
U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia-redone.png
US - Presidential Service Badge.png United States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg

Award and badge names

Naval Special Warfare insignia
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
w/ two bronze oak leaf clusters
Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with one gold award star Bronze Star Medal with gold award star Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with three gold award stars Joint Service Commendation Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon Navy Unit Commendation with two bronze service stars
National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal Navy "E" Ribbon National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with three bronze service stars Afghanistan Campaign Medal Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon Legion of Honor [42] Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) Navy Expert Rifleman Medal Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia
Presidential Service Badge United States Special Operations
Command Badge

Additional awards

In media

Bibliography

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References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the United States Navy document: "Admiral William H. McRaven".

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Military offices
Preceded by
Stanley McChrystal
Commander of Joint Special Operations Command
2008–2011
Succeeded by
Joseph Votel
Preceded by
Eric Olson
Commander of United States Special Operations Command
2011–2014
Academic offices
Preceded by
Francisco G. Cigarroa
Chancellor of the University of Texas System
2015–2018
Succeeded by
James Milliken