I wish I could remember where I heard about this book, The Mission, The Men, and Me. I was reading some training blog and they were talking about trimming weight from their packs and this book was mentioned. So of course I bought it and read it immediately. The book isn’t really about trimming gear, not that I thought it was, but what I got was so much more.
In the survival community there are so many different factions it is mind blowing. From porch snipers to those who produce their own energy and food, it can be a daunting task to find common ground when communicating to all of us. What we all may have in common is a mindset that we want to live to fight and/or live another day. What this book offers is a mindset of true elite survivalists. Most of us are not cut out to be high speed operators who save the world, but I bet a lot of you wish you could be. Oh if we knew then what we know now, many would be a better version of ourselves. Part of this book is about being a better version of Americans.
So the book is titled, ‘The Mission, The Men, and Me’, lessons from a former Delta Force Commander. The author is Pete Blaber. He was an Army Lt. Colonel in Delta Force operations that led long range recon missions in the early days of the Afghan War. It was called Operation Anaconda and there are a lot of different versions of who, what, and how the operation went and was orchestrated by. During my reading I did the search thing, looking for more background on the history of this time. I was slightly dismayed by the spin that I found online. No surprise really, everyone has their own version of war. Where this book shines is in the way it puts you there, with all the situations failures and successes.
Part One and Two of the Book
So back to the mindset thing. How does one become an elite warrior? Determination, genetics, and blind luck. Not what you expected? Let me explain. Determination is the one that stops most people. Wanting something and the will to make it happen can be worlds apart. Life can get in the way, family can get in the way, your own physical and mental limitations can stop you dead in your tracks. You just gotta want it and put all other things aside. Hence the genetics thing. Not everyone is built to be able to haul loads on little sleep and think clearly when taking fire. Not all can focus on a task, see it through, and then move on. Conversely, how many of you can change direction instantaneously and not wig out, and do it continually without losing sleep? OK, the losing sleep thing might not be fair, because all of those with lives hanging on every decision they make, lose sleep over it. It’s in the book.
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The luck thing. Life, training, injuries, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, all can cut short your hopes and dreams. Think of your own life and those you have shared that life with, how many bad things have happened that caused those people to change course? Now think about those who have made it to that elite level of fitness and willingness to sacrifice it all for what they believe is right. You are ready to read this book.
This book is about those who have made it to that level and are throttling it. The book starts out with Pete talking about how he got to be in Delta Force. From his early days, to those who helped him get his priorities straight, hence the title, you will find many pearls of wisdom and funny stories. The one thing that I loved about the beginning chapters was these guys ability to brainstorm. So many people are unwilling to let their imagination go and think outside the box, because of the fear of being ridiculed. Some bad ideas lead to good ones, never forget that. That idea that seems bad now may have validation later on. At all times look at history to gain some perspective when deciding on which tactic might work best. Even though tech has changed, humans have remained very much the same. Remember that as you read the next ¾ of the book. The attitude that ‘management’ has at times, to resolve a problem, is based on using that new widget, not on common sense. How does that relate to preparing? Knowledge vs. gear. Gear is great when applied properly, but without an end game, it is just stuff.
One thing all these soldiers have in common is patience. The patience to do their homework and the humble nature to listen to locals. Lt. Col. Blaber talks about, ‘developing the situation’ throughout the book. We can all improve upon our life by following his advice. As the book progresses you will understand what this means in your day to day life. Building trust among soldiers takes time and everyone must prove themselves. What is a little different about this storyline is that many of these men don’t work together all the time, like you expect in many military scenarios. They are brought together to get a mission done and have worked with each other in the past sometimes. Which makes the story just that much more incredible. Why do people sign up for this stuff? The answer is simple and as old as time itself, somebody has to make things right.
The Mission Is Set
Pete Blaber and his teammates are sent into alien territory to destroy an enemy that thinks it is invincible in its stronghold. This team did not buy into that mindset. The area is known as the Shahi Knot, an area that many foreign invaders have lost their lives trying to take. The book has some great pictures and maps that will help you understand what our men were up against. As the book tells the story you will inevitably get pissed off. Many chapters explain the obstacles that are these brave men face when trying to finish the job. That job is to find and capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and his followers. They come up with a well thought out plan, that keeps getting poked with holes from superiors who think they know better or want to use larger assets.
Flash forward to current events and look at the debate about how to defeat or dislodge IS forces. Boots on the ground vs. cruise missiles and daisy cutters. There is no absolute formula despite what defense contractors and their civilian puppets might tell you on T.V. everyday. Sometimes you just need some hardened grunts with an M4 and a rucksack full of ammo, who are willing to lay it all on the line.
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As you progress through parts 3 & 4 of the book you will taken into a world that few people can imagine. Most of it deals with the planning, the re-planning and gathering of intel, constantly. Coordinating with other units, SEALS, CIA, SOF, and their corresponding chain of command. At times you will wonder how anything works out, but it always comes down to someone just doing it and possibly getting their ass chewed later. As long as the men come back and the mission has some success, the rest is just footnotes on a report.
Putting The Iron Into The Fire
Crawling over rocks, through snow, for days just to get into position to attack. Then waiting some more for the weather be just right and for last minute changes in the plan to materialize. Then the battle starts and the plan becomes fluid, that is when you see what you are made of. Like most all battles, lives are lost and all people involved are changed forever. I will not say more about the actual fight, you need to read it yourselves, plus I hate being a spoiler. Just remember that this is one battle in a war that has been raging for over a decade now, with no end in site. Just when we thought it might be winding down, it just keeps going. The world has no shortage of bad people causing problems, so my guess is we will not see peace in our lifetime.
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Every time you see someone in uniform say hi or shake their hand, buy them lunch. They all have the guts to sign on the dotted line to put themselves in harm’s way so we can sleep easier at night and try to have faith that our kids future will be safer than it might be today. Let us all help that brighter future along by staying engaged, especially with the next generation, and being prepared for whatever comes our way. If you get a chance, I recommend that you read “The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander”
“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.” -Patrick Henry
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