Doing some research for Direct Action…
Tag Archives: war
Doing some research for Direct Action…
Today I wanted to turn my readers on to a new e-book released today from my buddy and fellow writer, Dan Tharp. Dan has written at a great history of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, Selous Scouts, and Rhodesian Special Air Service in about 60 pages which will help those interested researchers get up to speed on the Rhodesian approach to Counter-Insurgency. This is a great book and comes at a time as more and more people are getting interested in Rhodesia and some of the success stories they had in battling communist insurgents in the 1970’s. This truly is the lost chapter of Special Operations history.
The Lost Chapter of Special Operations History: Rhodesia.
Some of the most explosive combat in Special Operations history is almost completely unknown to the Western World. Everyone knows about Navy SEALs and Green Berets but nobody knows about the deep recce, sabotage, and direct action missions conducted by the Rhodesian SAS. The Rhodesian Light Infantry was a killing machine, participating in combat jumps every night during the heat of the Bush War. The Selous Scouts were perhaps the most innovative and daring unconventional warfare unit in history which would pair white soldiers with turncoat black “former” terrorists who would then infiltrate enemy camps.
US military veteran and historian Dan Tharp covers each of these three units in depth in Africa Lost.
Rick pushed a piece of plywood into position and held it in place for Deckard. While holding a half dozen nails in his mouth, Deckard began nailing the plywood into the wooden frame that they had spent the day constructing. Each of the Liquid Sky members were covered in sweat, their clothes soaked through while they labored in the Australian heat.
Nadeesha weaved her way through the mock up they were building with a clipboard in her hand.
“When you finish with that I need you two to help Paul frame out the dinning room.”
Rick and Deckard looked at each other as she walked off. She was taking her role as foreman a little too seriously. Using the pictures that Ramon was taking of the objective area, they were building a scale model of the rooftop apartment they were going to raid. Once they finished building it they would be running through it for training with guns that shot paint pellets.
Nadeesha kept pushing them to work faster. They still had a mission brief to do and then it was back into the simulator until they didn’t suck anymore.
Deckard finished nailing the plywood in place and then they went to go find Paul.
* * *
Back in the warehouse everyone was relieved to be able to sit in the air conditioning for a while. Nadeesha had just gotten off the phone with Ramon and was now ready to start the brief. A map was laid out on the table alongside some over head satellite photography taken from Google Earth. The next step would be to make a three dimensional model of the city to help conduct talk throughs of the mission.
Bill turned on a tablet and passed it around. It showed a thirty-something Filipino with a goatee and wearing eyeglasses.
“This is our target, Kanor De Jesus. He runs a finance network for the moose limbs. Some of them are targeting the Royal families in the Gulf States so the client wants this guy out of the picture. The problem is that various players, including JSOC, have already tried to kill him. Five botched assassination attempts in the last two years. These days he doesn’t ever leave his rooftop apartment. The building is locked down with security from top to bottom. It would take a battalion of soldiers to fight their way up to the top. He knows there will be another assassination attempt and has taken precautions.”
“For some reason De Jesus just doesn’t sound like a Muslim name,” Zach remarked.
“It isn’t. This guy is a businessman; not a moose limb. His MO is providing financing to individuals and small cells that conduct terrorist attacks back in their home countries. Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, and so on. He has a network that goes out and buys pre-paid cards. You have to show identification to buy the cards, but not to reload them. So De Jesus has some local patsies buy the cards, then he has his men reload them with cash, all the way up to 10,000 dollars which is more than enough to get into the Middle East and run a small scale terrorist operation. Sometimes he will hand out multiple cards anyway.
“The thing is, these attacks he is funding are becoming so frequent that each country’s intelligence services are having a hard time countering them. He is using swarming tactics. Remember those anus bombs?”
“Butt bombs?” Paul asked.
“A couple moose limbs stuck HME,” Bill said referring to Home Made Explosives. “Along with a cell phone detonator right up their poop chute.”
“These fuckers have lots of practice playing butt darts so I’m sure it wasn’t that big a deal. They almost killed the intelligence minister of Jordan a few months ago with one of those attacks. The other went off and killed a bunch of people in Riyadh during Ramadan.”
“Killing their own people,” Zach remarked. “Fucking savages.”
Deckard said nothing. He wasn’t at all surprised. That was how groups like Al Qaeda operated. Muslim or not, you, your wife, and your kids were going to be turned into corpses if you didn’t believed in AQ’s bronze age worldview.
“The thing about these pre-paid cards is that they are an easy way to transport large sum of money across international borders and they are completely untraceable. It allows terrorists to access funds in ways that would set off trip wires otherwise. If they were moving cash around in some other manner it would get picked up by banking software and red flagged by American and foreign agencies.
“There was also an IED that injured a Saudi prince a couple months back. The scale of the attacks is increasing while the duration between them is decreasing. De Jesus is handing out these pre-paid cards to moose limb motherfuckers like it is going out of style. But this is what really has the client freaked out,” Bill said as he grabbed the tablet and flipped to a new picture.
“This guys works for the People’s Liberation Army with the General Staff Development’s Third Department.”
“The what?” Rick asked.
“Uh, its like China’s version of the NSA.”
“Not really,” Nadeesha chimed in.
“Well, then tell us knuckle draggers what the fuck this guy represents.”
“He goes by the name Dai Kexue, a mid-level executive with a state owned manufacturing consortium. His real name is Major Shen Banggen.”
“And what does he do for Red China?” Rick asked again.
“He facilitates certain programs and projects, only a few of which we know anything about. We do know that the Third Department is invested in securing China’s cyber infrastructure and protecting its national security but it isn’t anything like the NSA. The Third Department takes a more holistic approach to national security calledinformatization. This means that their cyber security initiatives work in tandem with China’s efforts to secure its place in the global marketplace, continue its economic growth, and compete commercially.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Paul asked, clearly frustrated.
Deckard leaned forward and began to speak.
“It means that Major Banggen is tasked with ensuring that China has total information dominance for political, economic, and military purposes. Baggen is clearly working with De Jesus as part of a Chinese shaping operation. They are facilitating outcomes in the Middle East that they feel are favorable to China and dis-favorable to the United States.”
“I still don’t get it,” Paul said rolling his eyes.
Nadeesha blew air through her teeth.
“It means we have to kill De Jesus,” Deckard said.
“You should have just said that in the first place.”
“You guys can go bone to bone and see who is bigger later on,” Bill told them. “Nadeesha has been compiling the intel that Ramon has gathered so far and will brief you on the general layout of what you will find on the roof top of the Aquino building when, and if, you make it there.”
* * *
They slept in cots right there in the warehouse. The team was cut off from the rest of the world and kept in isolation. The technician who ran the simulator would bring them food in the morning and other odds and ends they requested.
Bill woke the team up at nine in the morning. Using replica M4 rifles that shot paint ball pellets they began clearing the mock up that they had begun constructing the previous day. Most of De Jesus’ apartment was framed out but it still needed some work. Still, they were just familiarizing themselves with the floor plan. Bill only set up a few paper targets inside for them to shoot at.
Deckard had to give it to Bill, as unprofessional an outfit as it was, Liquid Sky had a pretty squared away training plan for this mission. He was using the crawl, walk, run method to train up the team and prepare them for their mission in the PI. The simulator, the mock up, using the kit they would have on the mission, it all made sense and greatly increased their probability of success.
After a few hours in the mock up, Bill called them back to the warehouse before they got burned out and lazy running through the wooden structure again and again. The human mind reached the point of diminishing returns after a while.
Then it was right back into the simulator.
Bill was the first one to stick the landing on the rooftop. Deckard was the second but was still hit or miss. Then Paul made it in the next couple simulations. Zach made the landing once, but just barely. Rick still had a big goose egg for a score in the simulator that night. It was early in the morning when Bill decided they were done for the night.
They were getting better.
At least they had a high degree of confidence that their target wasn’t going anywhere.
After lunch they drove out to a nearby airfield with their parachutes and wingsuits. A small prop plane took them up. It was basic familiarization with their equipment. Some of them, like Deckard, had hundreds if not thousands of jumps but never used a wingsuit before. It wasn’t exactly standard issue after all.
As they waited for the plane to spin up, Deckard heard Zach and Paul talking about how they wished Nadeesha was coming along so they could sabotage her parachute and be done with her once and for all. Liquid Sky wasn’t like a military unit. It wasn’t a brotherhood. It was like the mafia. Everyone was guilty and that guilt was the only thing that bonded them together. That and fulling their own self-satisfaction. For drugs, for money, for pussy, whatever it was.
Finally the pilot indicated that he was ready for the first lift. They set their altimeters and got on board. They quickly rose to 12,000 feet. When Bill opened the door the air that rushed in was damn cold. They would have to glide to their drop zone.
Tucking his limbs in, Deckard dived out the door of the plane then extended his arms and legs to begin tracking forward. With his arms swept back and his legs fully extended he could feel the lift being generated by the wingsuit. He was tracking several meters forward for every meter that he dropped. With the rest of the Liquid Sky team, he glided towards the drop zone.
As they dropped in altitude it really became possible to see how fast they were moving in relation to the terrain below. With a wing suit a jumper could get going up to a hundred and twenty miles an hour. That became apparent as the shrubs and desert of the Australian outback below blasted by. At four thousand feet they deployed their parachutes.
These were much smaller parachutes than the military used. The T-10C static line parachute and MC-5 HALO parachute had to be able to carry two entangled jumpers to the ground, with all of their combat equipment. By contrast, civilian parachutes did not have any such requirements and were true sport parachutes. They deployed faster and dumped altitude faster. The margins for error were also much smaller.
A MC-5 had 3,000 square feet of material in the parachute. Their civilian parachutes had about 500 square feet. [fact check].
The reality was that they would be deploying their chutes about 500 feet above the target. That wasn’t a small margin of error, it was no margin of error. They knew this. There were no high fives or woots when they touched down on their drop zone. Everyone knew that had been child’s play.
* * *
That night was spent diving through Manila in the simulator.
They had perfected the variables at this point. The jump altitude was finalized, the approach path was on target, now they just had to learn to compensate for the variables that they couldn’t control, like wind speed. They also had to have split second timing when it came to deploying and steering parachutes. They only had about ten seconds from the time they pulled to the time they were hitting the deck on top of the Aquino building.
Bill was hitting the rooftop about half of the time. Deckard was hitting it about the third of the time, but he was quickly getting used to the wingsuit’s aerodynamics. Zach and Paul were still hit or miss. Rick hadn’t stuck a single landing.
It was the eleventh simulation that night. Deckard zoomed over metro Manila, letting the gold lit buildings guide his way. He had every landmark, every hit point memorized by now. Crossing the river was his first heads up, then the oval shaped One Rockwell East Tower told him he was getting closer.
The ground was coming up to meet him. He was gliding and dropping at the same time. Running out of air, running out of time. It had to be perfect.
He cruised over the helipad on the top of the Roxas building, just a hundred over the roof. The Petron Mega-Plaza passed on his right flank. He shifted his legs to steer left. Next he blasted right between the Four Seasons and the Grand Soko Makati. Suddenly he was over Velasquez Park.
This was it. Reaching back, he yanked out his pilot chute and released it into the wind. The parachute deployed, the pulleys on the simulator lowering him from a freefall position to a vertical position as if he were really under canopy. The Aquino Building was right at his foot tips.
Only under canopy for a few seconds, he steered as close to the center of the building as he could with his toggles and yanked down on them at the last moment to brake. The suspension lines on the simulator suddenly went slack, dropping Deckard to the warehouse floor to simulate a real landing.
The screen froze.
Chalk up another touchdown. In the VR goggles, the other jumpers were listed as they hit their assigned dropzone. Bill, Zach, and Paul all made it to the top of the building. Rick was still shitting the bed.
“Rick,” Bill bellowed in the empty warehouse. “Unclip from the simulator and de-kit. You’re done.”
“What do you mean I’m done?” Deckard could hear the voices talk back and forth before he flipped up his goggles.
“Exactly what it sounds like. You are not hitting the dropzone. You’re done.”
“That’s fucking bullshit.”
“What’s bullshit is that the most cherry fuck on this team is hitting his targets and you aren’t,” Bill said referring to Deckard. “I said, fucking de-kit!”
Deckard flipped up his goggles in time to see Rick unclip from the simulator and unceremoniously drop his goggles and parachute on the cement floor. Tearing off the wingsuit he tossed it and stormed outside, the heavy metal door slamming shut behind him.
“Nadeesha!” Bill yelled. “Kit up and get in the simulator. The rest of you are done for the night.”
Nadeesha looked up from the folding table where she had been going over intel reports and working on the layout of the objective.
“You waiting for a second invitation sweet pea? Kit the fuck up. You’re in for an all nighter.”
“What the hell is this,” Zach said in shock. “You’re taking Rick off the team for some squall?”
“I need pipe hitters on my objective, but that pipe hitter can’t even get to the objective. If Nadeesha can get her piss flaps to the top of the fucking building than a squall trigger puller is better than no trigger puller.”
“She does intel not operations,” Zach said as if Bill needed reminding.
“She only has to be operational for all of five minutes on target and I don’t have time to find someone new. Ramon has the remote devices on batteries to watch the target but he is now busy working logistics for our infil and exfil.”
Apparently Nadeesha didn’t need to be told twice. By the time Deckard had unclipped from the suspension lines and shrugged out of his parachute, Nadeesha was already set to go in what had been Rick’s simulator station.
“So since you don’t think she is up to it,” Bill told Zach. “I want you to brew a fresh pot of coffee for her.”
Then he turned to the technician working the computer.
“Feed her a cup after every five simulations once she starts getting tired. I want her going all night. She has a lot of catching up to do to get up to speed with the rest of us.”
Deckard unzipped his wing suit and set it down next to the parachute. Nadeesha was being pulled up by the pulleys into the free fall position. The VR goggles were down over her eyes. The wing suit was going to need some further adjustments for her smaller frame but they would work that out later. Rick wasn’t that tall to begin with.
Fuck that dude anyway.
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.
Good news, the draft and first edit of the novel are in the can. Now it is with a proof reader/editor for review! In the meantime, I will be posting a few excerpts…
The Iridium satellite phone was picked up on the first ring.
“Nam?” the man answered in his native language. For a moment he was confused as to where he was and who he was talking to.
“It is a Gulfstream V. The paint job is gray but there are no commercial labels or official seals. The tail number is N44982,” the caller told him.
“Good work Arturo,” the Arab thanked him while committing the information to memory.
The Mexican intelligence official had become his go between with the Jimenez cartel and himself. It was now clear that the CIA would be of no use to them. They were perfectly happy to see the Jimenez cartel liquidated. The Arab worked for vested interests who were determined to ensure that this never happened. If Jimenez went down, there was no telling how many of the drug corridors would collapse if the American set off some kind of domino effect. They had to nip this problem in the bud.
The Arab smiled. He was good at troubleshooting these types of problems.
“You are sure he is on this flight?”
“Yes,” Arturo said. “My contact in the federales personally saw him board this plane just before the pilots made an illegal take off from Cancun. I would have left the problem in your hands but before I could intervene our air force sent up a couple fighters.”
“Did you have them stand down?”
Fear clenched the Arab’s gut. On one hand if the Mexican Air Force shot down the jet it would save him the trouble, the job would be complete. On the other hand, he would be stuck with seven mad men that he would need to find a way to get rid of.
“No, I was too late but somehow they managed to avoid the fighters. The Air Force is still trying to figure it out. It may have been some type of radar cloaking.”
“But you are sure they are returning to Gran Cayman?”
“Almost certain. My sources indicate that the island was their stop off point on their way to Cancun and they were heading back in that direction when they dropped off the radar.”
“I will call you when it is finished.”
“I would appreciate that my friend,” the intelligence agent sounded uneasy. “Jimenez grows…impatient.”
“This ends today. You will hear from me soon.”
The Arab terminated the call and set the phone down.
In the muffled interior of the garage he could hear his seven charges initiating their prayers. The chants to Allah reverberated off the walls, filling the garage with their religious incantations. The Arab winced, his fingers tracing the thick scar tissue on his forearm. In the Caribbean heat it felt like the scars were tightening up on him. Soon it would be time for more plastic surgery to relieve the pain. The scars were a constant reminder of who he had been in a past life.
The Arab packed away his satellite phone and edged around the side of the Toyota van towards the prostrated Muslim extremists.
They are beating the war drums again for the attack on Iran. Reports are that sometime after the IAEA report (no doubt bought and paid for) comes out on the 9th that we will see Israel initiate the strike and “drag” the US into the conflict. I’m banking on sometime between 22NOV and 28NOV based on ambient light illumination levels, with the new moon happening on 25NOV with 0% illumination as ideal conditions for stealth aircraft and other bombers.
Today I have another exclusive interview, this time from former team mate, Jeremy Rodriguez. When I was a Team Leader in Weapons Squad in Ranger Battalion, Jeremy was one of my privates. After I left to go to Special Forces, Jeremy remained with the platoon for several more rotations. I think this interview will be an eye opener for many people who don’t really know or understand what life in Ranger Battalion is really like.
Please introduce us to your background and what prompted you to join the Army?
I was a normal kid raised in a very conservative family in north Texas. I wrestled growing up for different schools and leagues. I will never forget what brought me to the military and that was my sophomore year in high school and watching those planes fly into those towers. Even if we were to go to war again to this day I would have no problem fighting for this country again.
Did you sign on with a Option 40 (Ranger contract) or volunteer while in basic training or airborne school? Why did you want to become a Ranger?
When I knew I wanted to fight for this country I knew I wanted to do something in special operations although I had no IDEA what special operations was other than watching Black Hawk Down.
All potential Rangers must pass the Ranger Indoctrination Program, or RIP, a type of selection course that separates the men from the boys. What was that experience like for you?
HAHA it was horrible. I went through RIP in the dead of winter which they totally used against us. Rather than just the usual “smoke” us all day and make us exhausted they used the weather against us. Stand in formation for hours upon hours in the freezing ran in nothing but pts and then Cole Range was a total mind fuck. The mind games were much more overwhelming than the pt. The only cover we had for sleep was the cover we shared with our ranger buddy and what little sleep we had.
I will say one thing though…. RIP was a million times easier than being a new private in Ranger Battalion with a spawn of Satan as a team leader.
How is Ranger battalion different from other infantry units?
This was something that I never EVER had a clear answer to but people always asked me until I left active duty and got into a national guard infantry unit. Its very simple… discipline!!! Its as easy as that. You discipline your men if they cant take it or conform they quit or get kicked out.
What duty positions did you hold in battalion and for how long? What responsibilities did each entail?
My entire career in Ranger Battalion was spent in a weapons squad which I enjoyed more than anything. I knew weapons squad inside and out (thanks to a hard ass team leader) and I honestly loved it. I went from an ammo bitch to a gunner to a machine gun team leader. I also went from being a Stryker driver to a gunner to a TC [Tactical Commander or Tank Commander], which honestly was probably one of my favorite jobs. On my last deployment I was in charge of a Carl Gustav team Which was also an amazing job since I was probably the only one in the platoon that knew the Gustav inside and out.
Where were you deployed and what type of missions did you conduct with your platoon?
I deployed three times once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq. I conducted a number of different types of mission but my most memorable was from my last deployments and do what we called “call outs” and shooting Gustav rounds into these houses that didn’t comply.
What type of training did you conduct in Ranger battalion? How much of it was quality training that you felt equated to what you saw on the battlefield?
I will say the training in battalion was rough and sometimes didn’t always make sense, but looking back now it makes all the sense. Those hard training missions that lasted forever and pushed you beyond what limit you thought you had and brought you together as a platoon squad and team meant was battalions gravy. Some of the training was just a suck fest and ALOT of it was related to combat operations.
How many parachute jumps do you think you conducted while in Battalion? What did you usually jump with?
38 jumps in battalion. Ehhhh I hated jumping. I’ve jumped almost damn near everything except a mortar. Being with a weapons squad and also with an AT squad. I’d say most of my jumps toward the end consisted of my m-4 and things I needed for my gun team. Extra barrels, tri-pod, swivel, 7.62, LSA, and other things for a heavy weapon.
Any advice for cherry jumpers out there?
I HATEEEED JUMPING… and I’m insanely scared of heights but its as simply as this. If you die from a jump you’ll never know…cause you’ll be dead. AND STAY AWAY FROM MY CHUTE WHEN IM FALLING OR ILL KICK UR ASS WHEN I LAND.
What weapons and equipment did you typically carry on missions? What did your packing list consist of and how did it change as you matured as a soldier?
I laugh when I read this question coming from you because I remember my first mission ever with you. You made me carry 1000 7.62 rounds in an assault pack in a three man team. I will never forgive you for that hahahaha, and I will always remember the look on your face when you yelled at me for sucking on that mission then grabbing my assault pack and thinking it would be lite then seeing your face when you realized “Holy fuck this is heavy”. As a ammo bitch and machine gun TL I carried an M4 and various other things for the gun. Lube tr-pods rounds you name it. As I matured as a soldier I realized I could condense my packing list to my needs and more importantly my teams needs but also travel light. I quickly learned I HATED being cold and no matter what I carried some sort of quick cold weather gear and I also learned that just because the OPORDER says the mission will take this long it doesn’t mean so… so I always had some extra snacks for me and my team which always helps for long days. The modern soldier will also never forget his batteries hahaha.
If you can, please summarize your deployments and give us a thumb nail sketch of what each was like:
First Iraq deployment to Mosul. Mostly driving and maintaining a Stryker. A mix of day and night missions and the heat inside of those Strykers during the day was insane. Second deployment was something different. I hurt myself in Afghanistan and didn’t recover as fast as I would of liked. Third deployment was spent in Iraq Samara providence and consisted of all helo mission and a lot of call outs and a lot of walking. A thumb nail sketch of a combat deployment could never do justice, I’ve written a lot about those 3 and if you desire my notes I’ll give them to you.
I recall that during the deployment we were on together that you drove a Stryker armored vehicle. How would you rate the Stryker?
The Stryker was an amazing vehicle and I fell in love with it. I knew that vehicle inside in out by the time I left battalion. I’ve seen that thing go through hell and back and with a good crew its unstoppable.
What was the average day like for you in Ranger battalion? Deployment and in garrison, work and recreation?
An average day differed from where I was in my career. As a new private and average day was going to be me getting smoked for hours proving myself and being a sponge and taking in all knowledge of a weapons squad. As I grew more senior and proved myself battalion was whatever you made it. You wanted to learn anything you had the chance to. Deployment were great, I called them a vacation from garrison. Work was tough but that’s the point you are an Airborne Ranger…. your gonna do some hard work.
I know we had some good times back in the day, tell us what is the funniest and most absurd moment that stands out in your mind?
HAHA Jack we had some insane times and some of those I don’t think I should type out, but if you really want me to get with me later and Ill send you a separate message.
What is the most dangerous moment that stands out in your mind? Any missions that were particularly hairy?
I remember only ONE situation I was very worried about… A mission on my last deployment in the Samara area going to a house in the middle of nowhere. As we walk up to this house (that we later found out was rigged to blow) we start to find caves dug into the ground. Holes big enough to drive a truck into. At first we found one in the area but then we found we were surrounded by these things and there was movement and lights coming from in them. We quickly fell back and called for fire.
What was your opinion of the quality of leadership in Ranger battalion? (You can feel free to be brutally honest here since I was your team leader for a time, but I’m also interested in what you thought of the higher echelons).
You might not agree with me Jack but I’ve thought about this a lot. Standing there and looking up sometimes it never made sense but not standing here looking back I can see why we did what we did and why it came down from the level it did. BUT I will say this…. There was several times where everyone was like “WTF IS GOING ON AND WHY THE FUCK” but I think it was all to keep us on our toes.
How did the insurgents fight? What were their tactics and what types of weapons did they typically carry?
Their “tactics” outside of the IED was almost none…The shoot and just pray to hit something and get away with it seemed like their way of fight. Honestly…cowards.
At the end of the day how effective, or ineffective, do you feel Ranger battalion is as a fighting force on the battlefield? What did they bring to the fight, or fail to bring to it in your opinion?
Ranger battalion will kick your door in punch you and your family and the face and feel no remorse. That’s the point of a Ranger Battalion and damn well should be. War ain’t pretty and Rangers don’t give a fuck. You use the words fight so I will assume you mean FIGHT… Ranger Battalion brought the FIGHT to the fight… then overran it and destroyed it and left no fight to be had… again the point of Rangers.
Are there any tips and ticks of the trade that you can share with us that you won’t find in any book or military manual?
Take care of every man next to you and care just as much about their life as you do about yours. I’ve experienced a bad leader in a time of combat and by bad leader I don’t mean tactically I mean over his men… you don’t want to be in his shoes. His men hate him and could care less about taking that extra step to saving his life. Hard to say it and its hard to hear but its true… don’t be that guy.
Are there any misconceptions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or about Ranger battalion that you would like to clear up for the public?
I haven’t heard any rumors and don’t really listen to these types of things.. If you wanna experience some shit then go find out yourself
How did you part ways with Ranger battalion and what did you do afterwords? Why did you decide to leave?
Real simple. I left for my family and simply because I didn’t want to end up as crazy as I knew I already was
Feel free to share any final thoughts about your time in the military, about war, or life in general:
I’m at a loss for words… I could never sway a man into war but at the same time I could never talk him out of honoring his country and/or those before him…Your heart will make those decisions.
Thanks for a great interview Jeremy!
In conducting research for the first short in a series I am writing (more about that later) I came across this website: ModernForces.com
I have to confess that I never really “got” reenactments before. I had heard stories about Civil War reenactors starving themselves and spooning with each other in their confederate war camps in the name of authenticity. I had a SERE instructor who was a great guy, but his descriptions of the Rev War reenactments he participated in, namely sleeping in a lean to’s in January, sounded pretty nutty.
Studies and Observations Group, or SOG, was highly classified during the Vietnam War. In fact, not much information about them was available at all until the 1990’s. Reading between the lines, I suspect that there is still a fair amount of activity that SOG was involved in that has not been made publicly available. There are a couple of books out and some grainy photos released, but the Modern Forces website really brings history to life.
The attention to detail is pretty amazing and I’m sure the people involved spent a lot of time putting together the uniforms and equipment to such a high degree of historical accuracy. The full color images and close in shots of the equipment used really gives an idea of how SOG operated, a perspective you don’t really get from the older 1960’s era photography. When you have the chance I highly recommend taking a look at the pictorials in the SOG section of the website. A few Vietnam veterans who served in SOG have also contacted the website and provided exclusive photographs and interviews, a must read for anyone researching Special Forces units and missions during the Vietnam War.
Take a look at Modern Forces: MACV-SOG
In a past post I showed some pictures of our compound in Iraq in 2010, where we lived in CHU’s. CHU’s are Compartmentalized Housing Units imported to Iraq from Italy. Basically they are micro-trailer homes, or a really high end whack shack, depending on your point of view. Still, that is pretty good living compared to Afghanistan in 2004 where as a dozen troops, we were crammed into a GP Medium tent. In this picture you can see my bunk, with the jumbo sized duffle bag sitting underneath (jumbo sized for transporting dead hookers of course!), and my SR-25 sniper rifle laid out on my shooting mat.
Okay, okay, let me explain the crucifixes… We built those to sling our combat gear over. The shoulder straps of your body armor rest on the lateral portion and your helmet sits up on the vertical piece at the top. This way your gear is always ready to go at a moments notice.