Hell and Gone

Since I’m reading through the rough draft of Henry Brown’s next book (It’s good), I thought I’d go back and review his first, Hell and Gone. Hell and Gone is set just before the opening of Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2003.  The CIA has gotten wind of one of the suitcase nukes that Aleksandr Lebed warned about in the ’90s.  It’s in AQ hands, in Sudan.  Commander “Rocco” Cavarra, a former SEAL, is hired to head a team of soldiers-for-hire to go in and secure the warhead. The team is a Dirty Dozen/band of misfits crew.  There are some serious personality clashes that ring true to an ad hoc unit thrown together at the last minute. On the book’s website, Hank compares the book to “The Expendables.”  I’d argue that it’s better.  The scenario is certainly better thought-out, and involves real-world factions, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Sudanese Janjaweed militias.  The characters also have more in common with real-world veterans than Hollywood stereotypes of mercenaries. The action is well thought-out and engaging.  The final few chapters are well worth the build up, and will keep you flipping pages.  The prose does have a few rough edges, but

The Fallacy of “Combat BZO”

I don’t know who came up with this, or why so many officers and NCOs seem to think it’s gospel, but this is a concept that has to go away. The idea of the “combat BZO,” and I’ll get into BZO (battle-sight zero) in a minute, is that in order to have your weapon properly zeroed for combat, you have to zero it while wearing all your kit, because somehow the kit on your chest and head changes the impact of the round. Anyone with the slightest grasp of basic mechanics should see in a matter of moments how wrong this is.  The zero is a mechanical relationship between the alignment of the sights and the barrel.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If your weapon is properly zeroed, then correct sight alignment, sight picture, breathing, and trigger control will cause the round to impact where it is aimed.  That is all.  If you are off because you’re wearing your kit, it has nothing to do with your gear, it just means that your gear isn’t set up correctly for you to get proper sight alignment, in which case you need to fix your kit.  The whole concept of “battle-sight zero” being

Kindred Spirits, Of A Sort.

First off, I’ve already said my piece on CT elsewhere, so I’ll leave that alone.  I want to keep this blog about military fiction and related subjects. So, while I might be a little behind the power curve compared to some, I finally finished Black Powder, Red Earth, a graphic novel series by Jon Chang, Kane Smith, and Josh Taylor, set in what used to be Iraq in 2019.  The series is four volumes, and the latest one just came out in October.  Finances being what they are, I just got it this month. I’m not a huge comic book guy, but this series drew me in.  The protagonists are ex-JSOC shooters with a PMC called Cold Harbor, which is working for, among others, Ayatollah Sistani in Basran, the Shi’a majority state that formed in south-eastern Iraq.  Their primary missions revolve around foiling an Iranian push to take over Basran as a staging point to go to war with Saudi Arabia. The pacing steadily picks up over the four volumes; the first includes a lot of meetings and making contacts, then the bloodletting steadily ramps up until the fourth volume is pretty much all running and gunning over a single

Ingenuity, Common Sense, and Individual Kit

I got the idea to write this article when I read Nate Morrison’s piece on “Has Gear Evolved? Or Did It Just Change?” ( http://morrison-industries.com/blogs/news/6944242-has-gear-evolved-or-did-it-just-change )  He made some very good points that I grumbled about for the better part of six years in the Marine Recon community, especially involving the impact of kit on combat performance. I didn’t go into a great deal of detail on individual kit in Task Force Desperate, aside from guns and optics, largely because it would have been tedious.  In an outfit like Praetorian, no two operators would likely have the exact same gear, so describing everybody’s different vests and chest rigs would have eaten up page space.  So I left it be. In the real world, however, gear can have a huge impact.  That impact can, under certain circumstances, mean life and death. My first deployment I didn’t do a lot as far as gear went.  I tried a few different configurations during the workup, but I was woefully inexperienced, and largely ended up going with something as close as possible to my Team Leader’s kit.  We all did.  We didn’t have a lot more than regular grunts did at that point. The

PRIMAL likes some Desperation

So, Jack Silkstone, author of the PRIMAL Unleashed series, has put a review up on amazon, and he liked the book. http://www.amazon.com/review/RJOOS34UQ06GB/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00A0OJP7A&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-text The PRIMAL series was one of the first of the “new wave” of military fiction that I picked up, after Jack Murphy‘s Reflexive Fire. It’s good stuff, fast-paced and well thought-out.