William H. McRaven

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William McRaven
ADM William H. McRaven 2012.jpg
Birth name William Harry McRaven
Born (1955-11-06) November 6, 1955 (age 61)
Pinehurst, North Carolina, U.S.
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1977–2014
Rank US Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral
Commands held 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
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (2)

William Harry McRaven (born November 6, 1955) is a former United States Navy admiral who last served as the ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command from August 8, 2011, to August 28, 2014. Since January 2015, he has served as the chancellor of The University of Texas System.

McRaven previously served from June 13, 2008, to August 2011 as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)[1] and from June 2006 to March 2008 as Commander, 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. Admiral McRaven retired from the Navy on August 28, 2014, after more than 37 years of service.[2]


McRaven is a 1977 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.[3] He is the son of Anna Elizabeth (Long) and Col. Claude C. "Mac" McRaven, a Spitfire fighter pilot in World War II[4][5] who played briefly in the NFL.[6] McRaven attended the University of Texas at Austin on a track scholarship, and was a member of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. He graduated in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.[7] Additionally, 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.

In 2012, McRaven—along with former First Lady Laura Bush, Charles Matthews, Melinda Perrin, Julius Glickman and Hector Ruiz—was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas.[8][9]


Special operations[edit]

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) graduating with class 95 in 1978. As a Navy SEAL officer McRaven was deployed to the Philippines.[10] In 1982, as a junior officer McRaven was assigned to SEAL Team SIX under the command of CDR Richard Marcinko but was pushed out due to McRaven's concerns about a culture of recklessness, military discipline, difficulties in keeping his sailors in line.[11] McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4, deputy commander for operations at JSOC, Commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, Commander of SEAL Team THREE, task group commander in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, task unit commander during the Persian Gulf War, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group

McRaven earned his master’s 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).

McRaven has also 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.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta affixes Navy Adm. William H. McRaven's new rank as a four-star admiral along with McRaven's wife at a U.S. Special Operations Command ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, 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. 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 appointment from the rank of Vice Admiral to Admiral and as the ninth Commander of USSOCOM,[12] 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, including "additional drones and the construction of new special operations facilities."[13] After the Armed Services committee hearings, in late June, McRaven was confirmed unanimously by the Senate for his promotion to four-star admiral and as commander of USSOCOM[14] and took command August 8. The transfer ceremony was led by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Tampa, with Admiral 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."[6]

Operation Neptune Spear[edit]

McRaven is credited for organizing and overseeing the execution of Operation Neptune Spear,[15] the special ops raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. CIA Director Leon Panetta delegated the raid to McRaven who has worked almost exclusively on counter-terrorism operations and strategy since 2001.[15]

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."[16] 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."[16] Years later, 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.[17][18]

In December 2011, McRaven was runner-up for Time Person of the Year for his role in the operation.[19]

Retirement from the military[edit]

In June 2014, it was announced that Admiral McRaven had his request for retirement approved after a 37-year career.[20] Admiral McRaven retired from the Navy on 1 September 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.[21][22]

The University of Texas System (UT System) Chancellor[edit]

Admiral McRaven was selected the lone finalist for the Chancellor of the University of Texas System on July 29, 2014.[23][24] McRaven began this role in January 2015 .[25]

Personal life[edit]

McRaven is the son of a career Air Force Officer.[26] McRaven is married to Georgeann Brady McRaven.[27] They have three children.[28] McRaven attended the 2012 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner as the guest of his fifth grade classmate, Karen Tumulty.[29]

Awards and decorations[edit]

U.S. Navy SEALs Special Warfare insignia.png Special Warfare insignia
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png Naval Parachutist insignia
US - Presidential Service Badge.png Presidential Service Badge
United States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg United States Special Operations Command Badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Legion of Merit with one gold award star
Gold star
Bronze Star Medal with gold award star
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
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
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Unit Commendation with two bronze service stars
National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal
Navy "E" Ribbon
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with three bronze service stars
Afghanistan Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with service star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
United States Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with expert device.svg Navy Expert Rifleman Medal
United States Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with expert device.svg Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal


  • McRaven, William H. (1995). Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare Theory and Practice. Presidio Press. ISBN 978-0-89141-544-2.  (Paperback: ISBN 978-0-89141-600-5)
  • McRaven, William H. (2017). Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 1455570249. 

In Media[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Navy document "Admiral William H. McRaven".

  1. ^ a b "Joint Special Operations Command Change of Command" (Press release). USSOCOM. June 13, 2008. Archived from the original on July 14, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Navy SEAL behind bin Laden mission hails from San Antonio". KENS. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ "McRaven confirmed as new UT system chancellor". Army Times. Associated Press. August 21, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Claude McRaven Obituary - Austin, TX - Austin American-Statesman". Austin American-Statesman. 
  5. ^ Lloyd, Jennifer R. (August 2, 2014). "Adm. McRaven will bring fearlessness, humble nature to UT System". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Levesque, William R. (August 9, 2011). "SOCom gets new commander in ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-08-09. 
  7. ^ Christian, Carol (May 3, 2011). "Head of unit that killed bin Laden has Texas ties". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  8. ^ "The lowdown on higher education". Austin American-Statesman. Cox Media Group. May 8, 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  9. ^ "All Hail the Texas Exes’ 2012 Distinguished Alumni". The Alcalde. May 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  10. ^ Gal Perl Finkel, A NEW STRATEGY AGAINST ISIS, The Jerusalem Post, March 7, 2017.
  11. ^ Mazzetti, Mark; Kulish, Nicholas; Drew, Christopher; Kovaleski, Serge F.; Naylor, Sean D.; Ismay, John (June 6, 2015). "SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines". New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Flag Officer Announcements". Defense.gov (Press release). Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs). April 6, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  13. ^ Turse, Nick (August 4, 2011). "A Secret War in 120 Countries: The Pentagon's New Power Elite". CounterPunch. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  14. ^ Ahearn, Dave (July 2011). "Editor's Perspective". Special Operations Technology. 9 (5). Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  15. ^ a b Whitlock, Craig (May 4, 2011). "Osama bin Laden dead: Hamas condemns killing of bin Laden". The Washington Post. London. Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  16. ^ a b Mazzetti, Mark; Cooper, Helene; Baker, Peter (May 2, 2011). "Clues Gradually Led to the Location of Osama bin Laden". The New York Times. p. 2,3. 
  17. ^ "Judicial Watch v. DoD, 13-cv-1343 (JDB)" (PDF). Judicial Watch. January 31, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  18. ^ McConnell, Dugald (February 11, 2014). "Admiral's e-mail on photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse: 'Destroy them'". CNN. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  19. ^ Gellman, Barton (December 14, 2011). "William McRaven: The Admiral". Time Magazine. 
  20. ^ Wright, Austin (July 1, 2014). "McRaven Approved for Retirement". Politico: Morning Defense. Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Longest Serving Navy SEAL Passes on Legacy Title". United States Navy. August 26, 2011. 
  22. ^ Caruso, Robert (July 14, 2014). "Opinion: The Legacy of Adm. William McRaven". United States Naval Institute. 
  23. ^ Hamilton, Reeve (July 25, 2014). "UT System Expected to Name New Chancellor on Tuesday". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  24. ^ Vertuno, Jim (July 29, 2014). "University of Texas Picking William McRaven As New Chancellor". Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  25. ^ "UT regents confirm McRaven as next system chancellor - Austin Business Journal". Bizjournals.com. 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  26. ^ https://www.utsystem.edu/chancellor/biography
  27. ^ "The full interview with the 2011 Texan of the Year, Bill McRaven". Dallas Morning News. 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  28. ^ "The Quiet Professional". The Alcalde. Texas Exes. June 24, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  29. ^ Parker, Kathleen (May 1, 2012). "The unknown celebrity". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  30. ^ William H. McRaven (2014). University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address. Austin, Texas. Retrieved 2014-05-23. 
  31. ^ William H. McRaven (May 23, 2014). University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address - Admiral William H. McRaven. Austin, Texas. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  32. ^ Paul Caron, ed. (May 26, 2014). "Ten Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training (transcript)". Retrieved May 27, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Stanley McChrystal
Commander of Joint Special Operations Command
Succeeded by
Joseph Votel
Preceded by
Eric Olson
Commander of United States Special Operations Command