No Room for Error
The Story Behind the USAF Special Tactics Unit
Publication Date: September 30, 2003
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“John Carney is one of the few heroes I have.”
–LT. COL. L. H. “BUCKY” BURRUSS, USA (Ret.)
Founding member and Deputy Commander of Delta Force
When the U.S. Air Force decided to create an elite “special tactics” team in the late 1970s to work in conjunction with special-operations forces combating terrorists and hijackers and defusing explosive international emergencies, John T. Carney was the man they turned to. Since then Carney and the U.S. Air Force Special Tactical units have circled the world on sensitive clandestine missions. They have operated behind enemy lines gathering vital intelligence. They have combated terrorists and overthrown dangerous dictators. They have suffered many times the casualty rate of America’s conventional forces. But they have gotten the job done–most recently in stunning victories in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, which Carney calls “America’s first special-operations war.” Now, for the first time, Colonel Carney lifts the veil of secrecy and reveals what really goes on inside the special-operations forces that are at the forefront of contemporary warfare.
Part memoir, part military history, No Room for Error reveals how Carney, after a decade of military service, was handpicked to organize a small, under-funded, classified ad hoc unit known as Brand X, which even his boss knew very little about. Here Carney recounts the challenging missions: the secret reconnaissance in the desert of north-central Iran during the hostage crisis; the simple rescue operation in Grenada that turned into a prolonged bloody struggle. With Operation Just Cause in Panama, the Special Tactical units scored a major success, as they took down the corrupt regime of General Noriega with lightning speed. Desert Storm was another triumph, with Carney’s team carrying out vital search-and-rescue missions as well as helping to hunt down mobile Scud missiles deep inside Iraq.
Now with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, special operations have come into their own, and Carney includes a chapter detailing exactly how the Air Force Special Tactics d.c. units have spearheaded the successful campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Gripping in its battle scenes, eye-opening in its revelations, No Room for Error is the first insider’s account of how special operations are changing the way modern wars are fought. Col. John T. Carney is an airman America can be proud of, and he has written an absolutely superb book.
Col. John T. Carney Jr., the founding father of Air Force Special Tactics, was the first commanding officer of any such unit. Originally a six-man team known as Brand X, this elite unit now comprises a group of seven squadrons deployed worldwide. In 1996, Carney was presented the U.S. Special Operations Command Medal for his outstanding contributions to the revitalization of special operations, and, in 1997, he was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame. He is now President of the non-profit Special Operations Warrior Foundation providing full college scholarships to over 360 children of Special Operators killed in service to their country. He lives in Tampa, Florida.
Benjamin F. Schemmer is a West Point and Army Ranger graduate, and a former paratrooper. He is the author of The Raid. He has written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times and has long been a frequent lecturer at military command, staff, and war colleges. He lives in Naples, Florida.
“An honest and accurate depiction of U.S. special operations forces, written by the officer who led our most sensitive units on the most dangerous missions.”
–GEN. EDWARD C. MEYER, USA (Ret.)
Former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army
“This page-turner offers a straightforward, insightful view of the evolution of the U.S. Air Force’s heroic but largely unsung Special Tactics units. . . . An exciting, action-packed story by a legendary figure in the Special Operations community, with a co-author and editor who fought hard to win us support to revitalize America’s ‘quiet professionals.’ ”
–GEN. CARL W. STINER, USA (Ret.)
Former Commander-in-Chief U.S. Special Operation Command
Coauthor (with Tom Clancy and Tony Lotz) of Shadow Warriors
“It is the story of bravery, heroism and American ingenuity at its very best.”
–GEN. DUANE H. CASSIDY, USAF (Ret.),
Former Commander-in-Chief U.S. TRANSCOM
and Military Airlift Command