William McRaven is the retired Navy admiral who was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the U.S. Navy Seal raid in 2011 that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
On Thursday, August 16, McRaven penned an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he defended former CIA director John Brennan. McRaven said it would be an honor to follow in Brennan’s footsteps, and he called on Trump to revoke his security clearance too. You can read the full op-ed here.
Here’s what you need to know about William McRaven:
1. McRaven Says Trump Has ‘Embarrassed’ and ‘Humiliated’ Us and Uses ‘McCarthy-Era Techniques’ to Try and Suppress His Critics
McRaven’s op-ed in the Washington Post is short and to the point. He is outraged by Trump’s move to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance, and he comes to Brennan’s defense by calling him “one of the finest public servants I have ever known…He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.”
McRaven says that it would be “an honor” to have his own security clearance revoked. He writes, “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”
He adds that Trump has been using “McCarthy -era tactics” to try to “suppress” his critics — but, McRaven says, it won’t work. “The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be,” he concludes.
2. McRaven Said His Operation to Take Down Bin Laden Was ‘A Simple Plan…Exercised With Surprise, Speed, and Purpose’
In 2011, McRaven planned and oversaw the SEAL team operation that ended in the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. McRaven briefed then-president Barack Obama on the plan, and then oversaw the operation, jumping in with last-minute changes as needed.
When one of the stealth helicopters carrying the SEAL team crashed inside bin Laden’s compound, McRaven — who was watching, leading, and narrating the events on the ground — said calmly, “We will now be amending the mission.”
McRaven was also the one who announced to the White House that bin Laden had been killed.
3. McRaven Literally ‘Wrote the Book’ on Special Operations
McRaven is the author of “Special Ops,” a 1995 book which is still being used as a textbook. The book includes close examinations and break-downs of famous special operations throughout modern history — and interviews with the key players in some of the operations.
“Special Ops” looks at the British sailors who used midget submarines to attack a Nazi battleship, the Tirpitz, in 1943. It also examines the 1943 Nazi rescue of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who was being held captive by anti-Fascists. And it studies the 1976 on Entebbe that freed Israeli hostages held in Uganda by Palestinian terrorists.
McRaven was also instrumental in setting up the special operations curriculum at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
4. McRaven Wrote a Self-Help Book Urging Everyone to Make Their Beds
In 2014, McRaven gave a speech to the graduating class of the University of Texas in which he set out the 10 pieces of advice that would help them to change the world. You can watch video of his speech here.
What was the number one tip? Start every day by making your bed. “If you want to change the world, start out by making your bed,” he told his audience. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task, and another.”
After the speech went viral, McRaven decided to write a book about his experiences and advice for young people setting out in life. The book does, of course, include detailed advice about how, and why, to make your bed.
5. McRaven and His Wife, Georgeann, Married Shortly After College and Have Three Children
McRaven was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina. His father was an air force commander. When McRaven was a boy, the family moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he grew up and attended high school. He was an enthusiastic athlete and scuba diver who was always interested in joining the military.
McRaven went to the University of Texas on a track scholarship and majored in journalism. While there, he met Georgeann Brady. The two started a relationship and married soon after college. The two have three children together.