J.J. Johnson's Reviews > SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

SEAL Team Six by Howard E. Wasdin
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Jan 21, 2012

it was ok

I can't say I LIKED the book, as I have serious moral reservations about the military in general, and snipers in particular. That said, I do think it's important to listen to different points of view and experiences. I respect the sacrifices Wasdin made, and his bad-ass hard work. And I appreciate that the book felt like a fairly honest accounting of his career.

I don't have any expertise on most of what he talks about, so I'll take his word for it in terms of what parachutes, knives, MREs, and scopes are best, what training was like, and his experience in real world ops.

There were some points when I felt like his 'factual' explanations were really more personal justifications for his actions (especially a few times in his account of Somalia), but again, I respect his point of view, even when I don't agree with him.

I had a hard time when Wasdin talks about "the liberal media", which I tend to feel is a gigundo cop-out from addressing the issues the 'big lib' media raise.

AND, it's a small point, but having lived in Australia, I found it laughable how Wasdin justified shooting kangaroos when training with the Australian military. Dude, if you want to shoot roos for practice, just be honest about it. Don't tell me it's because they are vicious animals who can disembowel a man with their claws and because they eat the grass on cattle stations. Roos were in Oz long before cattle (first in best dressed), and saying they can claw you is like saying a deer could maim you with its antlers. Sure, it COULD happen, but it almost never does. Mostly they just hop around minding their own bidnazz.

Anyway. For this peacenik bleeding heart liberal, it was an interesting if very disturbing read.
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James As a former operator, I would love to understand your "reservations" about snipers? I'd be interested in your comments on, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History -By Chris Kyle

J.J. Johnson Hi James,

I haven't read American Sniper by Chris Kyle, but I'll check it out.

I mean no disrespect with my "reservations" ~ which are that I'm a Quaker and a general peacenik; my "reservations" are of the (perhaps hopelessly) idealistic, "War isn't good", "Let's not hurt people" variety.

That said--- (1.) I admit I am a hypocrite in that I haven't made a total personal commitment to non-violence. This is in the sense that, God forbid, someone tried to hurt my family-- I doubt I would stand back and be passive! I would try to stop that motherfracker any way I could. (But I also don't go around picking fights.) So mine is, admittedly, more an idealistic than practical view. (And I know my idealism is granted, at least partly, from my privileged life of personal, non-war-zone, safety.)

(2) speaking as the person I am, with the experiences and life I'm in, I have a hard time imagining being a sniper. I can only imagine, obviously, but for me, there feels like a difference between preemptive sniping versus defending oneself in battle. I would be interested in your view on this? As I understand it, it takes a very specific profile of person to be a special ops operator. As for snipers, I can understand the logic of sniping, and I can accept that it might cost fewer lives in the long term, but when I try to put myself in an operator's boots ... I have a hard time. For me, it would be far too difficult to compartmentalize my emotions, my doubts, my nerves, my empathy, my own ideals, in order to make rational decisions. And

(3) I do live in the real world, and although I *can* envision nations and communities --with adequate resources-- one day NOT engaging in war, I know that's not how it is, now or in the past. I have no doubt that my own freedom and privilege is intricately connected to U.S. and allies soldiers' sacrifice, honor, and skills, from the American Revolution, WWII, through to the fight against Al Queda. I do my best not to take that for granted, and I respect it, even if I don't understand or agree with every aspect of it.

So, that's what I mean by my "reservations." Does that make sense?

Cheers, j.j.

J.J. Johnson P.S. I stand by my kangaroo assertion. If you're hunting them for food and hide, fine. But blowing the poor buggers away because they're "vicious" and eat cows' food is problematic. Imho.

James J.J.,

I don't think I'll comment on the kangaroos. I don't believe I have much of a leg to stand on in that battle, I like to choose my fights wisely and I believe you have me out gunned there ;)

I also admit that I do not have much experience with Quakers even given where I grew up. I am more familiar with the Amish but I do not understand the differences and similarities between the two, though I wouldn't mind learning.

I can sum up my feelings and experiences as an operator with an analogy.

\\ You are in your family home, you have set your deadbolt locks, your alarm system and taken every precaution you can take to protect your family. Yet you know someone is outside your window. You know they mean your family harm, but do not know when they will take advantage of an opportunity. Do you wait for them to catch you off guard? Perhaps wait until your husband takes out the trash? Or wait for your kids to go to the bus stop? Or do you open your window and throw bricks at them?//

You are correct, operators are generally a different breed of soldiers. Quiet professionals if you will. Generally, we understand the higher situation, have looked at all the angles and possibilities. We have looked at the impacts of our actions, and we choose to live with them regardless of the ramifications of the public, family and God. Films depict us as life takers, we believe ourselves to be live protectors. Our motto of the Special Forces is De Oppressor Libre, Latin for To Free the Oppressed. In general most of us signed on in the beginning for those perimeters, but in the end, it's about protecting our family. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen that perhaps we have not ever met but have a common bond and love for them. Preemptive is a word to describe what we do, but if I shoot a man planting a bomb in the street, is that truly preemptive? Or has he already initiated an attack? If I shoot a man that is hauling explosives to another man to build a car bomb, is that preemptive or has the intentions already been announced? By the time they actually initiate the actual attack, Americans, my brothers are already dead, maimed and a dozen others close to those will be shattered for life. I encourage you to meet a Gold Star wife. A wife that has lost her husband in war, and the impacts on the children, family and friends. It is one of the most horrific duties I have ever had to deliver that news to a comrades wife. That is what we prevent.

I did not plan to write a dissertation. However if you are interested in having this conversation in a non-public forum I'd be happy to continue.

Have a great day.

J.J. Johnson Very interesting ~ this gives me tons of food for thought. Thanks for the dissertation. ;)

One thing's for sure: I'd flunk out spec ops training the day BEFORE it started!!! Kangaroos, on the other hand ... I'm pretty comfortable handling those.

In seriousness, though, I am grateful for your service and sacrifices, and I appreciate learning more about your point of view.


Peter Snipers do save a lot of lives..., they don't just take lives...!

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