Blaber's book is a quick and easy read. He uses a series of anecdotes about Delta Force missions and training to lay the groundwork for describing an...moreBlaber's book is a quick and easy read. He uses a series of anecdotes about Delta Force missions and training to lay the groundwork for describing an approach to planning and executing plans that differs from how the "regular" Army does things. Given the material provided, it's hard to argue with his conclusions, but of course, the regular Army commanders who are painted as egotistical blundering idiots aren't around to defend their actions. At face value it's hard to disagree with any of Blaber's positions, but like all things, the truth is likely somewhere in between.
I certainly applaud the common theme he had of getting the opinions and recommendations from numerous sources and especially from the man on the ground. Not believing he could see and know everything from his command post shows real wisdom. Few leaders are willing to trust their subordinates this way, oddly believing that they are in command because the must "know" better, though that is often far, far from the truth. Another equally important lesson Blaber describes is to not to rely too heavily upon technology - he gives several examples where that approach effectively put blinders on higher headquarters, leading to counterproductive decisions.
Blaber summarizes his lessons as:
• Don't get treed by a Chihuahua - don't let your imagination or misunderstanding of facts/events color your decision-making process. • When in doubt, develop the situation - this one was key - take the time to find out more about what's happening rather than going off half-cocked. • Humor your imagination - when developing plans use the brain-storming approach and think outside the box. • It's not reality unless it's shared - information is of no value if it's not shared among the members of your organization/team. Compartmentalization works against understanding, which undermines effective planning or reactions. • Always listen to the guy on the ground - this includes all sources, not just those of your own men. Their proximity to the point of action gives them a perspective that higher headquarters nearly always lack, and thus an understanding of the battlefield that higher HQ should respect.
This book provides a valuable operational history of Operation Anaconda but also valuable lessons for business and life in general.
Very worthwhile reading on the war both from a what-is-happening perspective, and a what-should-be happening perspective in Afghanistan as far as US i...moreVery worthwhile reading on the war both from a what-is-happening perspective, and a what-should-be happening perspective in Afghanistan as far as US involvement is concerned.(less)
This book is described as a "Blackhawk Down" of the Afghanistan war. In some respects that's true - a screwed up mission attempted despite its many (a...moreThis book is described as a "Blackhawk Down" of the Afghanistan war. In some respects that's true - a screwed up mission attempted despite its many (and obvious) flaws, resulting in numerous deaths and casualties. I suppose the most disturbing part of this story is the aftermath when the spin doctors in the US Army declared it a success despite its actual failure to achieve its defined mission. This leads one to wonder if any lessons were learned at the *higher* command levels (there is no doubt they were learned at the tactical level).
The story of how these men fought despite their severe tactical disadvantage and continued to fight despite terrible wounds shows that the spirit that was present in earlier Special Forces soldiers runs deep in this generation's. It is sad, however, to see such valor squandered as was the case on this mission. (less)
We should all be so lucky as to meet someone so committed to learning, bettering himself, and doing right by others as Eric Greitens as described in h...moreWe should all be so lucky as to meet someone so committed to learning, bettering himself, and doing right by others as Eric Greitens as described in his auto-biography, "The Heart and the Fist." He begins his particular journey assisting refugees and the poor through a series of internships / summer job-type endeavors in various Third World nations. He discovers, however, that he and his fellow aid-workers are arriving *after* the crisis that created the refugees. Perhaps after his exposure to boxing in college, he connects the dots and realizes that in order to protect people from becoming refugees or otherwise victims of violence, one needs to be prepared to use their fists - to fight. On that basis he attempts to join a very small and unique brotherhood -the US Navy SEAL's. He illustrates in those chapters how the skills he developed in working with and aiding the downtrodden better enabled him to make allies in the third-world nations in which he was stationed while on active duty.
To bring it all full circle, when he left the Navy, he established an organization that sponsors wounded/disabled veterans learning to help others - The Mission Continues. It gives the veterans important work, keeping them from feeling unwanted / useless after their often-life-changing injuries.
As a companion piece to "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" this is equally compelling reading - in many cases you read the Mujahideen commander's viewp...moreAs a companion piece to "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" this is equally compelling reading - in many cases you read the Mujahideen commander's viewpoint of the battles described in the Soviet book - getting both sides of the story, as it were.
With the exception of IED's which have become more prevalent in Afghanistan, this is also essential reading for anyone in or headed to Afghanistan as it gives the reader direct access to Mujahideen tactics and strategic thinking. Obviously the game has changed somewhat, but there is still value in understanding this material.(less)
An exception look into the operations of the former Soviet Army. Extraordinary in that it appears not to be heavily laden with propaganda, but instead...moreAn exception look into the operations of the former Soviet Army. Extraordinary in that it appears not to be heavily laden with propaganda, but instead is a self-review of their efforts and their effectiveness (or lack thereof). Must-read material for anyone currently in Afghanistan or headed that way - we aren't so different from the Soviets as we may think in regards to our efforts there.(less)
In some ways, this book is the Canadian version of Sebastian Junger's "War" (an *excellent* book - one any student of military history should read). I...moreIn some ways, this book is the Canadian version of Sebastian Junger's "War" (an *excellent* book - one any student of military history should read). It presents the material in a different fashion, however, focusing on actual events of the title's fifteen days (which were spread throughout the unit's deployment - not 15 days in a row). At times it seems like a story of the deaths of the various men (and one woman) who died during the deployment and at times becomes somewhat repetitive in that regard (though it is never tedious). The soldiers, through the author, tell much of their own story, and in that regard there is great value in this material.(less)