JOB OPPORTUNITY: I’m cleared hot to make 2-4 new hires as the managing editor of SOFREP.com. I need SOF veterans who can write and will be able to commit to 10 posts a month after a trail period. My ideal candidates for this job are in order of priority, an AFSOC vet (PJ, CCT, JTAC), a former 160th SOAR pilot, a former MARSOC Marine, and an Allied SOF veteran (SAS, SASR, KSK, Folgore, Commandos, ect…). I would also be interested in bringing on one additional US Special Forces veteran. Priority goes to those who are willing to write under their real name and publish their military credentials. This adds validity, accountability, and journalistic credibility. I will need a DD214 and sample of your writing. Extra points for those with a strong background in academic research and/or journalism. This is a paid position of course and the writers who really bring the heat will definitely be looked at for a raise in pay. Check out SOFREP.com to see the type of content we publish.
Tag Archives: research
Today I thought I would share with you guys some of the sources I used when researching the background data I needed when writing Target Deck. I put a high premium on realism but since these are novels I’m writing what I often do is take elements that are very real and combine them in ways in which I can only speculate may be happening but could never prove. I’m also guilty of kicking everything up by several orders of magnitude, this is action-adventure we’re talking about here. However, for those interested in the real life issues that you might encounter in the novel and would like to get the real deal, I can recommend a few places to start looking.
Amexica by Ed Vulliamy and El Narco by Ioan Grillo were two books which I found very helpful when trying to penetrate the world of Mexican drug cartels and get some situational awareness not just of how the mechanics of the cartels function but the cultural overlay that exists south of the border around the drug plazas. Both of these books attempted to do what Roberto Saviano did with not just exposing but understanding the Italian mafia in his brilliant book Gomorrah. All three of these books include some great investigative journalism and hands on accounts of life inside organized crime.
Borderland Beat provided some great background by publishing fascinating information about the cartel wars that would have otherwise remained obscure if not completely unreported. For instance, I found some great tidbits about the Office of Bi-National Intelligence, an interview with perhaps my favorite military analyst, Robert Bunker, the cartel’s clandestine communications network, and information about US Special Operations planning to capture/kill a cartel boss.
Narco blog has some interesting information as well after filtering it though a language translator for us gringos.
Daniel Hopsicker is one bad ass mofo as far as I’m concerned. We need more hardcore journalists like him who are out there dropping some bombs on official collusion between drug cartels and “the authorities” on both sides of the border. His blog, Madcowprod was invaluable to me as I tried to understand how the criminal underground works as a globalized system of drug smuggling and money laundering. Click your heels three times and repeat after me, “there are no American drug lords.”
Old school investigative journalist Sy Hersh also came through and helped fit together some puzzle pieces. His article, “Our Men in Iran” is a must read. Did you know that the US government has been training an Iranian terrorist group on US soil as a Nevada Department of Energy facility? When people ask me which parts of my books are fact and which parts are fiction, I simply remind them that the creepy parts are the most realistic.
While writing Target Deck I also cultivated a number of my own sources of information regarding what is going on down in Mexico. This proved to be invaluable and helped steer me in the right direction. For instance, I found out that the so-called Fast and Furious scandal is really just a drop in the bucket. The weapons that ATF allowed to “walk” across the border is nothing compared to the military hardware that the cartels are hijacking in transit as the US government ships them to Mexico under the Merida Initiative. It’s some heavy shit getting stolen too, AT4 anti-tank rockets, M203 grenade launchers, ect… We’ve heard nothing about this on the news thus far.
For those looking for a one stop shop and get the inside line on the cartels, I can’t recommend this article from Small Wars Journal enough. It sums up much of the above information.
My non-fiction article about Special Operations weapons and employment is now live for the Amazon Kindle.
For years a highly dubious “Weapons Report Card” allegedly written by an American soldier serving overseas has been making the rounds on the internet. Unfortunately, this report card is highly inaccurate and full of misconceptions. In this 3,700 word article written by a former Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, the weapons used by American Special Operations forces are examined and reported upon. Rather than an all inclusive, comprehensive report, this article gives a good thumb nail sketch of the wide variety of weapons currently used by US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a special focus on exotic weapons and cutting edge systems in the process of being integrated into service. Contains seven photographs from the author’s collection, including the bizarre “Chimera Gun” that an Iraqi soldier built in his home from spare parts!
An invaluable resource for researchers, enthusiasts, and those with an interest in the military.
M4: The M4 rifle is a shortened M16 carbine and is by far the most common weapon found in the hands of US forces today. Special Forces troops carry the M4 and utilize the new SOPMOD 2 package which includes the EO Tech 553 holographic reflex site, LA-5 infrared laser, foregrip, the M3X visible bright light (tactical light) and associated accessories. Also included is the Elcan Spector telescopic sight which is adjustable from 1 power to 5 power via a throw lever on the side of the optic. While this is an interesting idea, nearly all Special Forces troops leave these sights in their card board boxes to collect dust and simply use to EO Tech 553. We felt that the Elcan was a little bit too much and perhaps over engineered. Now, if we had been facing long range engagements in Afghanistan, rather than precision raids in Iraq, maybe we would have felt differently. Along with the EO Tech, the LA-5 is much smaller than the PEQ-2 and together these are the most valued items in the SOPMOD kit.
M9: The M9 Beretta pistol is essentially the military version of the civilian 92F. I never cared for the pistol due to the double action trigger and poor placement of the decocking lever. Another failing of this weapon is that it is chambered for the 9mm round. Most of us would have preferred a .45 caliber hand gun. The manner in which this pistol is carried may be unfamiliar to some so I will explain here. To load the pistol, the slide is locked to the rear, a loaded magazine is inserted, and the slide is released to chamber the first round. The decocking lever is then depressed to safely drop the hammer. Next, the decocking lever is switched back up into the fire position. Special Forces do not consider the decocking lever to be a safety and do not use it as such. The weapon is considered to be safe while on fire with a round in the chamber due to the fact that it has a double action trigger. At this point, the pistol is safely holstered.
As I mentioned above, I never cared for the double action trigger, it makes sight alignment difficult with such a long squeeze needed before the hammer drops. Rumor has it that some Special Forces soldiers have taken apart the trigger mechanism and cut the springs to make for a shorter trigger pull. I never did this myself, but one hears things. Of course, it is highly illegal under military law for an operator to go inside and make modifications to his weapon in this way.