Hagel pointed out in his Thursday speech that McRaven also has "literally written the book on Special Operations." Indeed, McRraven's 1995 book, "Spec Ops," is the standard text on the subject.
I think if you ask ADM McRaven he would tell you that his book with 8 case studies and very good principles for conducting raids does not provide a theory of special operations writ large and in fact only covers the direct action side of special operations as noted here.
For his book, McRaven interviewed many of the key participants in the raids that he examined, and he traveled to the sites of the operations.After a careful investigation of each raid, he identified six common principles that had made these operations a success: repetition, surprise, security, speed, simplicity and purpose.
Yes, I used his book in my class on UW and SOF for policy makers and strategists because it is an important contribution but it cannot be called the standard text on the subject. Brian Pettit's book
Going Big by Getting Small: The Application of Operational Art by Special Operations in Phase Zero provides a more comprehensive approach to the full range of special operations from surgical strike to special warfare (though I despise the use of the term Phase Zero). I also think Chapter 2 of the 5th edition of US National Security: Policymakers, Processes, & Politics (by Sarkesian, Williams, and Cimbala) gives a very useful overview of modern special operations.
But the real foundation for special operations and specifically the special warfare side of special operations lies in the ARIS project - Assessing Revolutions and Insurgent Strategies which can be accessed at this link:http://www.soc.mil/ARIS/ARIS.
If you have not read, synthesized and internalized the lessons in the ARIS project then you really cannot be a practitioner of special operations.
CasebookV1S.pdfOriginal Version referred to as Volume I by the ARIS project. Primary research responsibility Paul A. Jureidini, Norman A. La Charite, Bert H. Cooper, and William A. Lybrand. Special Operations Research Office The American University, Washington D.C., December 1962.Casebook on Insurgency and Revolutionary Warfare, Volume II 1962 - 2009http://www.soc.mil/ARIS/ Casebook%20Vol%202%20%2004-27- 12S.pdfThis Casebook provides a summary of twenty-three insurgencies and revolutions; the goal of the book is to introduce the reader to modern-style irregular and unconventional warfare, as well as to act as an informational resource on these particular cases. While not trying to provide an in-depth analysis of any case, our intent was to provide enough background material and description of the revolution to allow comparisons and analysis of broader ideas and insights across this broad spectrum of cases.
Human Factors Considerations of Underground in Insurgencies, 2d Edition, 2013, http://www.soc.mil/ARIS/
HumanFactorsS.pdfUndergrounds in Insurgent, Revolutionary and Resistance Warfare, 2d Edition, 2013,http://www.soc.mil/ARIS/ UndergroundsS.pdfIrregular Warfare Annotated Bibliography, http://www.soc.mil/ARIS/ IWAnnotated_BibliographyS.pdf