Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October 3rd, 2012

Purchase: Amazon

2012 will be remembered as the year of Navy SEALs autobiogrpahies. In January there was “American Sniper,” the story of Chris Kyle who is America’s sniper with the most confirmed kill in military history. Then there is “Seal of God” about a West Coast SEAL who became a Christian. But no SEAL autobiography has been able to generate so much interests and controversy in a short amount of time as this book, the story from one of the SEALs in DEVGRU (more better known with it’s old name, SEAL TEAM 6) that was involved in the Operation to get Osama Bin Laden. There’s no need to rehearse every detail of that controversy (which is still ongoing and brewing) and surely by writing this book the author has taken a lot of risks. Even as I read other reviews, there is no doubt controversies continues even with how people read and appreciated it (or not appreciate it). I thought some of the reviews of the book tells more about the reviewer’s background and values more than the book itself–no doubt my review will reflect a bit of who I am too, but I hope this review will also cause us to reflect more deeply about the last decade of warfare since 9/11, and about our society/culture and perhaps also the question of God and faith too even if you disagree with me.
I think to fully appreciate a book at times require one to ask how does it relate and fill a niche in relations to other books of the same subject or genre. So I suppose my review will keep that in consideration and from this angle, “No Easy Day” was definitely a different yet fascinating book. For starters, typically in SEALs biography, everyone gives an account of BUD/S (for the “lay” reader, we can call this SEAL boot camp of six months). This book does not, breaking the mold of the canon of SEALs autobiography. That’s because the book goes deeper and further into another world that is rarely mentioned or understood among all the SEALs books out there–the world of DEVGRU, the Navy SEALs highly secretive counter-terrorist group. Sure there is Richard Marcinko’s books, who was the founder of DEVGRU back in the 1980s when it was still known as SEAL TEAM 6. But there is little published in book form from an insider about the 21st Century, post 9/11 DEVGRU. The author describes in one of the early chapters of the book his unexpected physical try-out for DEVGRU, his acceptance into Green Squadron (the selection training in order to enter into DEVGRU’s command) and his acceptance into the team. His description of the selection and elimination process in Green Squadron is fascinating such as how candidates are required to write down whom they think are the five best candidates and five weakest candidates.
Though the author has been deployed around a dozen times this last decade of warfare suprisingly the book does not go into all the blood and gore details of most of his operation prior to the mission to get Osama. You would expect more–but then no doubt that would take away from the main story about the Bin Laden Raid–not to mention that he had to do it all in 336 pages. Readers who have been in the military would have appreciated his account of OIF 1–and things going array in their first mission. It reminds the rest of us in the military that did not serve in a SOF capacity that Navy SEALs are humans also. His account of working with DELTA was also a great insight into the other TIER 1 unit, though I suppose one might get a fuller account with Dalton Fury’s book. Going back to this book, the author also revealed his involvement in the Maersk Alabama hijacking rescue operation and his account of it indicate that this kind of operation was welcomed by the SEALs since it was a break from the routine of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. What I found most intriguing in the author’s account of this operation was the fact that he parachuted into the Ocean with a Navy communication guy attached to him who has never done a parachute jump before. One can imagine how frightening that is–and the thought, “No one back home is going to believe this…” I’ve seen some reviews that complained about all these back story leading up to the Bin Laden raid in the book–you can tell they are pure civilians with no grasp of operational history or biography. But for the readers who are willing to look long and reflect harder, the first half of the book should make you appreciate the incredible amount of sacrifice, skill and dedication of people like Mark Owens who worked so hard to be the best of the best in their job in order to protect us. The account of the amount of sleeping pills these guys take and the weird hours they operate during deployment (what the author calls “Vampire hours”) should make us appreciate the toll it takes on these guys–and we are not even yet discussing about the lives and injury involved in what they do.
Of course, most of the book was devoted to the raid itself. I learn from this account that it was not any one of the existing four squadrons in DEVGRU take took part in the raid but rather a special gathering of different guys who have been around the block that was gathered. From the standpoint of a military biography with an operational history bent, I thought it was good (but not good to those reviewers who are looking for some existentialists need for “feelings” to be described). Here is where I could not put the book down. The description of him being on the helicopter that crash and the amazing description of him almost falling out since he was hanging out with his legs outside the crammed blackhawk. The amazing miracle of the helicopter handing on it’s strongest point on the wall which ended up not causing the rotars to hit the dirt and chaos that would have followed. The raid itself was incredible. Here is where I suppose this review tells more about me than perhaps the author or the book itself. I couldn’t help but to note all the things that went wrong or could have went wrong but turned out to have worked miraculously as something amazing enough to provoke in me an awareness of God’s providence throughout the raid. It’s a reminder that sometimes the bad guys do get their justice here on earth right now–and that skill isn’t enough but the providence of God as well.
Just as interesting as the raid itself is the author’s story of the raid afterwards. His account of Obama and Joe Biden is worth the read. To read of a real member of “Team Six” laughing at the silly things that has been said about them is quite entertaining; he even take on some misconception the ROUGE WARRIOR and the founder of SEAL TEAM 6 himself has said to the media, revealing that Richard Marcinko’s comment about DEVGRU being the most arrogant SEALs might be a little out of touch with contemporary DEVGRU.
Overall this is a good book. It is a historical account of an important part of history–not just the Navy SEALs, the U.S. military, but to close a chapter for so many Americans who have lost loved one since that fateful day on 9/11 and from the two wars stemming from it. If you ever had shed tears on 9/11 or if you have lost people in this long war–I think this book ought to be on your shelf.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »