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Archive for November 9th, 2013

On a Saturday before Veteran’s Day, what better read for our country’s latest military veterans than a work that relates to our decade plus war–Osama Bin Laden.

Manhunt Bin Laden

This a thoroughly well researched book by a CNN journalist who was able to interview Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan during the 1990s.  Despite the raid to kill Osama being perhaps the biggest news of our decade, much of the back story is still little known by the general public.  The author did a good job telling the story of the ten year search for the world’s most wanted man, focusing mainly on the characters of politicians, high ranking military officers and senior level intelligence officials.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find a “grunt’s view” of the SEALs who did the actual operation, and to date No Easy Day is the only raiders’ account.  But the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden goes further back in time, before the first SEAL step on Osama’s compound that fateful day in 2011.  What this book did well was describing the difficulties, personalities and dedication of those involved in the hunt of Bin Laden.

Prior to this book I was not aware that the infamous event of the biggest loss of CIA officers and contractors a few years back in Aghanistan was part of the team hunting Osama.  The author captured the determination of the team after this incident, making the hunt very personal with the deaths of their colleagues:  Some even decided not to move on to other tasks in the CIA, forgoing advancement in their careers in order to be part of the mission.

Of course the telling of the 10 year hunt for Osama also has some of its disappointment and frustration such as Bin Laden’s escape in Tora Bora, with much of what we know about it coming from the Delta Force commander on the ground name “Dalton Fury.”

From this book I also changed my view of General McChrystal, which I had a rather negative view of in the past.  Through the book, I got to appreciate McChrystal’s contribution in enhancing the capabilities of our country’s special operation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which indirectly contributed to the success during the operation to raid Osama’s compound.

The book also captures the political aftermath of the raid, in particular the relationship with Pakistan.  You don’t have to like Obama as president to appreciate the incredible difficulty the man has to face and the responsibility before him.

If there is a criticism I have with the book it is with with the author’s epilogue and his confidence that Al Qaeda is dying down.  While I believe Al Qaeda has suffered much strategic defeat in the last few years, I think it’s also evolving to become a more dangerous, de-centralized entity that makes it harder to track and combat.  And we’re not even beginning to consider copy cats, lone wolves and other like minded terrorists groups such as the Taliban.  Think of Major Hasan, Boston Marathon bombing and Bengazi.

Radical Islam is a threat and the author thinks that it can’t be compared to the threat of the Nazis and Communism since it doesn’t effect Europe like the way both ideologies have in the past.  My question is, why is what is going on in Europe the measure of what is dangerous?  September 11th itself was an attack on America.  My second question to the author would be whether or not he has considered the incredible growth rates of Islam in Europe already and it’s growing problems with the West’s multiculturalism?

I did get emotional reading about the day Americans found out about the raid, how CIA director left the White House surprised to hear the cheers of a spontaneous American crowd celebrating the news.  Since 2001, for over a decade America has been at war since 9/11.  It’s not only Afghanistan and Iraq but all around the globe from the Philippines to Africa.  Some of those lives lost or injured are those I served with or have known.  Like many people, it’s the memory of that day watching the news on September 11th, 2001 that the death of Bin Laden has brought some closure.  Of course complete justice will be with God one day but sometimes he allows “poetic justice” to take place this side of eternity in this case.

Definitely a worthwhile book.

Order it on Amazon!

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