Secret Armies Of The Night

Sidelined for years, U.S. special forces are changing the way America fights. An exclusive look at how they fared in the war in Iraq and how they're remaking the military

Nearly everyone at U.S. central command agreed that the sprawling Faw oil-refining and -shipping facility on Iraq's southeastern coast was a must-seize first-night target in the war on Baghdad--almost as important as killing Saddam Hussein. Capture it early, went the thinking, and the next Iraqi government at least had a chance of getting back on its feet. Ignore it, and Saddam might blow up the facility, flooding the nearby Persian Gulf with crude, compromising Iraq's economy and shutting down critical water-desalination plants all along the Arabian Peninsula.

But veined and dotted with pipes and pumps and meters, Faw was also...

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