Title Changes

So, I’ve come to realize that “Alone and Unafraid” really fits the storyline of Book 3 better than Book 2. This is largely because of the shift that happened in writing Book 2, which also drastically changed the third volume. So now I’m trying to figure out the new title. Some options: Bug Hunt Door Kickers Unlimited Proxy War Raiders Between Two Rivers High Value Targets Honestly, “Target Deck” almost fits, but Jack Murphy already used that one. Thoughts?

Human Terrain: Tribes

by Breach-Bang-Clear Contributor at Large and Valued Minion Peter Nealan, author of Task Force Desperate. This one talks about human terrain and negotiating it for tactical and strategic advantage, if not operational survival outside the wire. Tribes While it may seem, on the surface, that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Wars?  Try battles in the same war) are winding down, anyone who has been paying attention knows that the GWOT is just moving to a new phase.  It didn’t start on 9/11, and it’s not ending in 2014.             That means we’re going to still be fighting Salafist and Shia jihadists for a very long time.  The following falls under the heading of “Know Thine Enemy.”             Most parts of the world where Islam holds sway is very tribal.  These tribes often go back thousands of years; part of our fumble in dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years was not understanding at best, or flat-out ignoring at worst, the nature and power of these tribes.  Steven Pressfield [author of the brilliant books The Warrior Ethos, The Afghan Campaign and The Profession and many others] published a series of videos a number of years ago, entitled

Alone and Unafraid Snippet 3

            Night fell over Kirkuk with the usual mingling of the call to prayer with honking car horns, sirens, and sporadic gunfire.  There hadn’t been any IED blasts for a few days, and that night was as quiet as ever, aside from the shooting.  Of course, in Iraq, shooting wasn’t necessarily a surefire way of knowing that somebody was getting fucked up.  These people, and I include the Kurds in this, had a scary disregard for the laws of gravity.  They fired weapons into the air to celebrate all sorts of things.  Weddings, births, funerals.  It made it really difficult sometimes to tell when something was going down, or somebody was just really happy, and decided to chance getting one of their own rounds back the hard way.             We waited until the sun was well down and the bulk of the populace had gone inside before we went to work.  Just because we were in technically friendly territory didn’t mean we necessarily wanted a lot of people see where we were going, much less how.             Bob and Little Bob headed out first, to go retrieve the vehicles we would be using.  They were a little special, and so

Jund al Sham

On December 23rd, a new Salafi jihadist group announced its formation in the Syrian city of Homs. Calling itself Jund Al Sham, or “Soldiers of the Levant,” it announced its purpose to wage jihad in Syria. From the SITE translation of their statement: “After the hoards of the al-Assad gangs, and their Rafidah [Shi’ite] allies, united and attacked Muslims in Syria, it became incumbent upon the monotheists from among the Sunnis who chose the path of jihad and fighting the disbelievers in all their forms and types, to unite on supporting the truth with harmony and love among each other, while rejecting disbelief, and demanding a goal without deviation or backing out ….” In the initial reports, the identity of the emir of the group, who goes by the kunya Abu Suleiman Al Mujahir was unknown. (Kunyas are honorifics in Arabic, usually derived from the name of the man’s eldest child. They are also used as aliases by jihadists.) From Al Akhbar English, it has been learned that Al Mujahir (The Immigrant) is a man named Khaled Mahmoud, a former leader of Fatah Al Islam. Fatah Al Islam is a Salafi jihadist group that was started in November 2006, in the

Reflecting on the Iraq War, Ten Years On…

I was in USMC recruit training the day Coalition Forces crossed the line of departure into Iraq. I was still there — almost ready to graduate the day that “major combat operations” came to an end. A year-and-a-half later, as a newly minted Recon Marine  I deployed to Iraq for the first time. Within two weeks of our arrival in-country, the first shots had been exchanged between the insurgents and Marines of 1st Recon Bn. It didn’t slow down much for the rest of the deployment. A lot of words have been written, spoken or shouted about the war, most of them coming from people who were never there — by individuals who never experienced the dust, the heat, the threat, or the frustration. Some of us have spoken up and voiced our stories, but the vast majority of what is said is from those with no experience; from those who presume to know all there is to know. I am not here to tell my story; there is very little about it that is much different from the stories told by the thousands of other soldiers and Marines who saw combat in Mesopotamia. Instead, I am going to look at

Alone and Unafraid, Snippet Two

Mr. Haas was waiting for our guest when we walked into the safehouse.  I couldn’t tell if the guy looked relieved or even more terrified when he saw Haas standing by the door. I suppose Haas was kind of scary, at least if you don’t deal in scary for a living.  He was a thin, hatchet faced man with pale skin, pale eyes, and black hair that always seemed to be immaculately combed, even out here.  He usually wore a suit, and tonight he was wearing slacks and a white shirt with a black tie.  It seemed a little incongruous in this setting, but it was just kind of his way.  I’d never seen him wear the khakis, polo shirt, and ball cap ensemble that Nick had dubbed the “CIA starter kit.” Of course, Haas wasn’t CIA, at least not anymore, if he ever had been.  We hadn’t ever heard which three-letter agency he’d worked for before he became a spook-for-hire.  Of course, Haas was a cypher to us because he wasn’t one of our spooks.  He was on our employer’s payroll, not ours. The year before, in the ending phases and aftermath of the East Africa job, Praetorian Security’s

No Shit There I Was: Hallucinating on Patrol Phase

The Basic Reconnaissance Course consists of generally four phases: Land Nav, Amphib, Recon Skills, and Patrolling.  Depending on the class, these can be in just about any order.  My class, 1-05, had Patrol Phase as the final phase. All four phases can be plenty brutal in their own right, but Patrol Phase takes it to a level most students haven’t experienced before.  For eight days, students move around Camp Pendleton with the equivalent of an R&S ruck, coming to around 75-90 lbs, performing just about ever basic reconnaissance mission, while each student cycles through each patrol billet.  There are lots of hills climbed, hills fallen off of, brush broken, and cactus shin-checked.  Oh, and if you’re lucky you might get 2 hours of sleep per day. By the time we inserted late Monday night, we’d already been up all day doing mission prep.  It wasn’t until the second night that the fun really started.  Now, I’m going to be honest, the timeline gets a little blurry from here on out. Read more: http://sofrep.com/18194/no-shit-there-i-was-hallucinating-on-patrol-phase/#ixzz2NiRr7qVB

Iraq Isn’t Exactly Over

While the media and many news sites cover the violence in Mali and Syria, it bears mentioning that there are still al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups operating within Iraq itself.  Violence increased with the withdrawal of US troops last year, and the al-Qaeda involvement in the Syrian civil war has highlighted the fact that the organization we fought for almost nine years is far from dead.   On March 11, a suicide bomber in Dibis, northwest of Kirkuk, killed three people and wounded 165, mostly school children at a nearby girls’ school.  On the 7th, two gunmen and an Iraqi policeman were killed in a firefight in Ramadi.  A third gunman, suspected to be al-Qaeda, was arrested.  The three had planted an IED on the road to Anbar University, and had two more in their possession. Read more: http://sofrep.com/18137/iraq-isnt-exactly-over/#ixzz2NRCZzich

Alone and Unafraid Snippet One

There have been some requests, so here it is.  Bear in mind, this is still the rough draft, so there will probably be some changes before the final version. ***             After enough time in hostile environments, you begin to develop a sixth sense for what the military calls the “atmospherics” of a place.  Your mind starts to pick up on all the little cues that tell you that you’re in a relatively safe area, or somewhere that things are about to go very, very bad.  You can look at the young men loitering on the street and figure out if they’re just being lazy, or getting ready to start a riot or trigger an ambush.             We hadn’t even been on the ground in Kirkuk for a day, and that sense was already going gangbusters.             Even before Jim and I got in our Bongo truck and rolled out of the Kurdish quarter at about 0200, there was a sense of impending violence in the air.  The safehouse we had set up was as deep in Kurdish territory as you could get in this divided city, but there really weren’t any hard and fast barriers in Kirkuk.  An IED