A.B. Gayle's Reviews > Warrior Training - the making of an Australian SAS Soldier

Warrior Training - the making of an Australian SAS Soldier by Keith Fennell
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it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, shelf-23

NOTE: There is a Kindle edition that contains both this and the one he wrote of his actual experiences in the SASR.

I came across this book while conducting research for my current WIP "Truth+Lies" which will feature an ex-SAS guy and a guy who claims to be.

There is apparently an unwritten rule in the Australian SAS not to write books about their exploits. In fact, some say they don't even tell anyone except their immediate family that they are a part of the elite unit, preferring to be vague about their roles. "If you say you're SAS, you probably aren't."

While serving, their faces are usually covered in photographs and Christian names or nicknames are all they're referred to by.

As far as I can tell, only two ex SAS members have written first-hand accounts of their time with the special forces, Terry O'Farrell's Behind Enemy Lines: An Australian SAS Solider in Vietnam covering the Vietnam conflict and Keith's books.

The first book he wrote Warrior Brothers - My Life In the Australian SAS tells of what happened on active duty mainly in Afghanistan. This later book backtracks, covering his training and also his transition back to civilian life after the other book "finishes".

Both aspects are well worth reading. I gather this book was submitted to the Regiment prior to publishing and got their stamp of approval.

Probably because it almost acts as a recruiting filter and will either inspire or deter others who may be interested in following his footsteps. They're pretty big footsteps, too. At 21, he was one of the youngest ever to be selected and performed above average in all the tests. From what he writes, this was because being fit and strong had been a large part of his life from early childhood. He also possesses a few other ingredients he sees as crucial: self-belief and determination to reach his goals.

Since leaving the service he's finally managed to find a place in civilian society by turning these strengths into new goals. He's done Arts and Creative Writing courses at Wollongong Uni which must have not only helped him write the books, but also formulate the motivational talks he gives to groups as diverse as the Auckland Warriors NRL team and corporate business.

He also encourages his children to do the best they can, is involved in his local surf club, preparing those who want to go to State Carnivals and just generally gets out there and tries to extend himself and everyone he comes across to make the most of their physical potential.

The book has been written in an easy to read style and is imparted in a sufficiently humble tone that you don't get the impression that it was Keith Fennell's army, but he was just one of many like him.

This humility alone would have made the book get the stamp of approval from the powers-that-be. They would have also been happy that he didn't attempt to expose faults in the system even though they are sure to exist.

Warrior Training is a positive look at a Regiment the author loved, still loves and feels deserves respect.

There were a few quotes that resonated:
I don't gauge my success by comparing myself to others. Those who do are often left bitter and fail to reach their potential. I compete with myself, because then the potential for growth is infinite; I am not bordered by those above and below.
My experiences, training and relationships have shaped my life, but the way I reflect on these things allows me to grow and progress with confidence. Not everything I attempt works out, but I give everything I attempt the same level of commitment."
And another
Life is full of pessimists, people who say something can't be done. And even if they're right and you fail - so what? Those who embrace their dreams and come up short have not truly failed. Failure belongs to those who didn't have the courage to step over the starting line."
This advice is doled out between harrowing tales of gruelling physical trials and almost inhumane treatment over 72 hours of simulated enemy interrogation.

One story resonated of some men quitting because they were given a seemingly impossible command to run back to base when they were all dead on their feet. The remaining ones who grudgingly obeyed to the best of their ability were picked up by transport less than half a kilometre down the road. In other words, 500 metres was the difference between those who made it through and those that didn't.

"No such word as can't." and "Giving up is not an option." All cliches, that helped the author survive and prevail, but they really apply to everyone.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 13, 2013 – Shelved

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