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William H. McRaven

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William H. McRaven

William H. McRaven
Birth name William Harry McRaven
Born (1955-11-06) November 6, 1955
Pinehurst, North Carolina, U.S.[1]
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1977–2014
Rank Admiral
Commands held U.S. Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
Special Operations Command Europe
Naval Special Warfare Group 1
SEAL Team 3

Persian Gulf War

Operation Enduring Freedom

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 retired 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. He previously served from June 13, 2008, to August 2011 as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)[2] and from June 2006 to March 2008 as Commander, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR).[2] 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. After retiring from the military, Admiral McRaven will begin his role as the next chancellor of The University of Texas System. The Admiral is a 1977 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.[3] He retired from the Navy on August 28, 2014, after over 37 years of service.

Early life and education

McRaven was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and spent most of his formative years in San Antonio, Texas, where he graduated from Roosevelt High School.[4] He is the son of Anna Elizabeth (Long) and Col. Claude C. "Mac" 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 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.[8] 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.[9][10]


Special operations

McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as deputy commander for operations at JSOC, Commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, Commander of SEAL Team 3, 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, and SEAL platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4.

McRaven's thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School was titled "The Theory of Special Operations".

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.

On April 6, 2011, McRaven was nominated by President Barack Obama for appointment to the rank of admiral and as the ninth Commander of USSOCOM,[11] 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."[12] 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[13] 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."[7]

Operation Neptune Spear

McRaven is credited for organizing and executing Operation Neptune Spear,[14] 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.[14]

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."[15] 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."[15] 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.[16][17]

In December 2011, McRaven was runner-up for Time Person of the Year for his role in the operation.[18]


In June 2014, it was announced that Admiral McRaven had his request for retirement approved after a 37 year career.[19] Admiral McRaven retired from the Navy on 1 September 2014.

University of Texas Chancellor

Admiral McRaven was selected the lone finalist for the Chancellor of the University of Texas System on July 29, 2014.[20][21] McRaven will begin his role in January 2015. He will have a $1.2 million annual salary.[22]

Personal life

Admiral William McRaven is married to Georgeann Brady McRaven.[23] They have three children.[24] McRaven attended the 2012 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner as the guest of his fifth grade classmate, Karen Tumulty.[25]

Awards and decorations

Special Warfare insignia
Naval Parachutist insignia
Presidential Service Badge
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
Navy "E" Ribbon
National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal
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
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
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Navy Expert Rifleman Medal
Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal


In Media

  • Dirty Wars, a 2013 American documentary featuring McRaven revisiting the site and survivors of the Khataba raid to apologize.
  • His 2014 commencement address for the University of Texas at Austin received over 2,500,000 views on YouTube.[26][27][28]


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

  1. ^ "Nominations Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, First Session, 112th Congress". Committee on Armed Services. 
  2. ^ a b "Joint Special Operations Command Change of Command" (Press release). USSOCOM. June 13, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ "McRaven confirmed as new UT system chancellor | Army Times". Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  4. ^ Heath, Christopher (May 3, 2011). "Navy SEAL behind bin Laden mission hails from San Antonio".  
  5. ^ Mac McRaven obit,
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Levesque, William R., "SOCom gets new commander in ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa", St. Petersburg Times, August 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-09.
  8. ^ Christian, Carol (May 3, 2011). "Head of unit that killed bin Laden has Texas ties".  
  9. ^ "The lowdown on higher education".  
  10. ^ "All Hail the Texas Exes’ 2012 Distinguished Alumni".  
  11. ^ "Flag Officer Announcements". Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs). April 6, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ Turse, Nick, "A Secret War in 120 Countries: The Pentagon's New Power Elite", CounterPunch, August 4, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  13. ^ Ahearn, Dave, "Editor's Perspective", Special Operations Technology, July (9: 5). Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ a b Mazzetti, Mark; Cooper, Helene; Baker, Peter (May 2, 2011). "Clues Gradually Led to the Location of Osama bin Laden p. 2,3". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ "Judicial Watch v. DoD, 13-cv-1343 (JDB)" (PDF).  
  17. ^ McConnell, Dugald (February 11, 2014). "'"Admiral's e-mail on photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse: 'Destroy them. CNN. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  18. ^ Gellman, Barton (December 14, 2011), "William McRaven: The Admiral", Time Magazine 
  19. ^ "McRaven Approved for Retirment". June 2014. 
  20. ^ "UT System Expected to Name New Chancellor on Tuesday". July 2014. 
  21. ^ "University of Texas Picking William McRaven As New Chancellor". July 2014. 
  22. ^ "UT regents confirm McRaven as next system chancellor - Austin Business Journal". 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  23. ^ "The full interview with the 2011 Texan of the Year, Bill McRaven | Dallas Morning News". 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  24. ^ "The Quiet Professional | The Alcalde". Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  25. ^  
  26. ^ William H. McRaven (2014). University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address. Austin, Texas. Retrieved 2014-05-23. 
  27. ^ William H. McRaven (May 23, 2014). University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address - Admiral William H. McRaven. Austin, Texas. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  28. ^ Paul Caron, ed. (May 26, 2014). "Ten Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training (transcript)". Retrieved May 27, 2014. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Stanley McChrystal
Commander of Joint Special Operations Command
June 2008 – June 2011
Succeeded by
Joseph Votel
Preceded by
Eric T. Olson
Commander of United States Special Operations Command
August 8, 2011 – August 28, 2014
Succeeded by
Joseph Votel
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