Ipletweet's Reviews > Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft And Special Ops On The Frontlines Of Afghanistan- And The Path To Victory

Operation Dark Heart by Anthony  Shaffer
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Paige Brizak Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops On The Frontline of Afghanistan-and The Path To Victory by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer
Operation Dark Heart is a memoir about U.S Army Intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony “Tony” Shaffer and his five months in Afghanistan. It explains what happened in Afghanistan and what went wrong while Shaffer was performing his job. While reading this book you are able to visualize everything Shaffer talks about through his clear descriptions and you almost get the sense of being there with him. The book goes through Shaffer’s journey in Afghanistan starting with the first day he got there, and ends with his last tour as a DIA agent. The book talks about some of the most important missions he completed while being overseas, like taking out people who were a part of the Taliban or al Qaeda. Shaffer explains his personal opinions about the people he worked with as well as the different departments of the government. He does not hold back on explaining how he was screwed over by one of the departments he worked for, the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and how it was because of them that he was not able to perform certain jobs because they didn’t allow him to. Shaffer includes some information about his personal life, but the majority of the book is about his experiences in Afghanistan, the jobs he was in charge of, and the people he met along the way. In the second printing of Operation Dark Heart, which is the most popular version, there are many words, sentences, and paragraphs that are blacked out due to the fact that the government felt that many of the things in the book needed to be taken out because they were confidential. There are only a couple hundred of the original books available due to the fact that the DIA and Department of Defense bought most of them so the information wouldn’t be available to the public. Even with the details blacked out, you are still able to understand what Shaffer is talking about even though things have been censored by the government. While reading the book you clearly can see that Shaffer knew how to do his job and get it done correctly and in a quick amount of time. Shaffer was well liked by his collogues and you can sense that while reading the book, but he talked about himself a lot and made himself out to be the best thing that ever happened. Although Shaffer was well liked by his collogues, many of the people who were in higher up positions than he was, seemed to have it out for him. He always talked about how they would scrutinize his every move and if he made the slightest mistake he would get in more trouble than if one of his coworkers made the same mistake that he did. This book is a good and easy read and gives you real and raw information about what really went on in Afghanistan. You get to read firsthand experience and insight about what really goes on during a war.
One of the most interesting parts of this book was when Shaffer talked about an operation he worked on called Able Danger. Able Danger was used to find al Qaeda leaders and follow and investigate them so they could prevent any attacks towards the United States. Shaffer and the other people who worked on Able Danger found two or three cells that later conducted the 9/11 attacks, including a man named Mohamed Atta, the lead highjacker. They were working towards taking them down, but unfortunately they were told to stop because the critics said they didn’t have enough evidence. Shaffer felt “It was devastating: To know we were right, and the critics were wrong…” (p. 175) After they found out Mohamed Atta was the lead highjacker and they were on the right path, Shaffer began to doubt the people he worked for after the September 11 tragedy and thought the work he was doing was useless because it wasn’t even used to stop the bad guys. “I believed-and still believe-that we had it within our means to prevent the 9/11 attacks” (p. 18) and after reading the information about Able Danger and knowing they were on the right path I completely agree with Shaffer. In the beginning of the school year we had talked about 9/11 and how it affected our lives, and to know they had to chance to stop the people who were involved, but were told they had to stop really makes me wonder about our government and the way they conduct things.
We talk about politics all the time in class and there are definitely politics in the military. By reading this book I realized that in the military if you are liked and you do your job well, you get all the good missions, and you get the most recognition. There are many people who might not like you as in all politics, and many will have different opinions about you. If the head guys don’t like you, then they can make your life hell and make it ten times harder for you then they would for other people. Politics in the military and in general are very much alike. In general, you know who you like and you always go with their opinions and the ones with the same opinions and do their jobs similar to each other always stick together. Also, they both try and put their competition down and by reading this book I realized that even who most people’s favorites are, there are always those other people who try and gun for them no matter what.
In all, Shaffer was a hard working and well respected man by his colleagues. He got the jobs he was in charge of done to the best of his ability and didn’t let the fear of dying or anything get in his way. As far as his bias goes he feels he was wrongfully terminated by the DIA because he spoke of Able Danger. He feels that by him speaking out about Able Danger it brought it out and into the open which caused attention to the failure of the government to stop a national tragedy. In his termination they brought up how he misused government funding which caused debt’ “Total alleged loss to the government: less than $300” (p. 270) To me it seems they used any excuse to get Shaffer fired because he spilt their secret, which was not classified information. It also seems that every other person who worked with Shaffer knew that the DIA had it out for him. His colleague, Captain Anderson, had tried to warn Shaffer that the DIA was looking for something on him. He told him “Tony, it seems to me that they’re gunning for you. They want to have something on you” (p. 263)which was true, and why they used a very minuscule amount of debt towards the government, when it is nothing compared to the trillions of dollars worth of debt they have, to get someone fired. I clearly see where Shaffer’s bias of the DIA comes from, and he has every right to feel the way he does about them. They fired a man who was one of the best people they had in special forces over things that they caused and let slip through their fingers. I feel Shaffer was wrongfully fired and that they made a huge mistake of firing him.


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