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America's most secret Special Forces unit does t even have a name. Formed as the 'Intelligence Support Activity', it has had a succession of incuous titles to hide its ferocious purpose. It exists to 'undertake activities only when other intelligence or operational support elements are unavailable or inappropriate'. Translated from Pentagon-speak, this means operating undercover in the world's most dangerous places, penetrating enemy organizations including Al Qa'eda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 'The Activity' combines the spy work of the CIA with the commando/SAS role of the Green Berets. It t only provides the intelligence on the ground - it translates it into 'direct action'. This is the unit that located Saddam Hussein. It is w dedicated to the hunt for Osama bin Laden. From its creation, in the wake of the abortive Iranian Hostage rescue mission, to the rescue of hostages and the killing of terrorist leaders, this is the untold story of America's secret soldiers.
Michael Smith is the defence correspondent of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH. He served with the British Army Intelligence Corp for many years before leaving to join the BBC. He lives near Henley with his wife and family.