The man who helped organize and coordinate the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound in 2011, leading to a decisive moment of victory in America’s war on terror, started out as a journalism student at the University of Texas.
Adm. William McRaven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, spoke to veterans and students at an Austin Community College job fair on Friday. He told veterans in the audience, many of whom were about to interview for a job, that they brought skills to a potential employer that civilians don’t: leadership, self-sufficiency, discipline and a work ethic.
“That’s what industry wants,” he said.
McRaven lives in Tampa, Florida, where he oversees special operations for the entire military — including dramatic events such the raid that led to bin Laden’s death. According to Time magazine, it was McRaven who briefed the president in real time as the operation to find bin Laden unfolded.
His journalism degree came in handy in the military, he said.
“People laugh at that initially. They say ‘You have this degree in journalism — is that marketable in the military?’ You have to convey your ideas. Journalism allowed me to do that. Short. Succinct. In the military, that’s very helpful.”
McRaven attended the fair at the behest of his sister, Nan McRaven, an Austin, Texas, resident and a trustee on ACC’s board.
He was raised in a military family. His father was in the Air Force, and the family moved a lot, eventually settling in San Antonio. After McRaven graduated from UT, he went on to become a Navy SEAL in 1977.
Despite his role in capturing and killing bin Laden, McRaven said it’s important to have a “balanced” approach to addressing extremism and conflict in places like the Middle East. “If people think there are easy answers to Syria, they haven’t spent any time in combat,” he said. “You can’t kill your way to victory.”