Author of Engines of Extinction, Modern American Snipers, Beyond Neptune Spear, and Shaping the World from the Shadows.
@CFG300 Wow... thanks. Between here, Twitter, and Amazon reviews, there's been a nice influx of positive feedback about the book today. I really appreciate it all and it's great to see that it's connecting with readers as hoped.
1 month, 1 week ago on Modern American Snipers: 3/75 Sniper Section
@jjafo521 @Taikei I have no plans at the moment. I actually did have plans at one point to write an ebook similar to Shaping the World from the Shadows and Beyond Neptune Spear only covering CIA SAD/SOG, paramilitary contractors, foreign units, etc. However, that research got repurposed and absorbed by my upcoming fiction series, Engines of Extinction, which will be loaded up with real-world info of that sort.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Episode 128: Chris Martin on Modern American Snipers
@Taikei And I appreciate you saying so. That's a point I've consistently tried to make when discussing the book. I'd like to think there's plenty here for people already interested in snipers (particularly SOF snipers), but also for people more generally interested in special operations, even if they aren't usually drawn to books about snipers.
@ajgamble Thanks -- that's great to hear.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Modern American Snipers: 3/75 Sniper Section
@jjafo521 I haven't had a chance to read his most recent entry for the series yet, but I have read (and enjoyed) the first two. I'd have to double check but I don't recall any mention of recce roots for Raynor in either of those. I do remember the character 'Stitch' did. There was some AFO stuff, and there you'd certainly have officers and recce guys working in tight concert.
Anyway, again, thanks for the kind words and I'm really glad you enjoyed the book. And if it's not too much to ask, it'd be greatly appreciated if you might take a couple minutes to review Modern American Snipers at Amazon when you have a chance (and that goes for anyone else out there too).
The stars and sheer number of reviews not only encourage people on the fence, but also help power Amazon's automated promotional algorithms, which in turn helps the book continue to succeed. Basically any time you really like a book (or whatever), posting a quick review at Amazon is one of the best ways you can help support it, whether you bought it there or elsewhere.
@jjafo521 Thanks -- I really appreciate it. Anyway, while not in the recce/sniper role, Dalton Fury wrote about conducting low-vis ops as a Delta officer in Kill Bin Laden (I'm thinking of the nightclub story). His fiction stuff goes into those sorts of operations as well, which, while fiction, may at least help provide some hints/clues. And all of the guys who go through OTC learn tradecraft that provides them with that basic skillset.
It's really cool to read Jack's take and it's nice to see you guys are enjoying it too. You can work really hard on something, but you never quite know what the reception is going to be until you release it into the wild. Thanks all.
@majrod Thanks -- I appreciate it. As to your question, it's interesting. Part of it comes down to timing. Despite their reputation... or rather, because of their reputation, a unit like ST6 is really tight-lipped (beyond some obvious exceptions) at the moment due to the investigations and controversy. Of course, there's plenty of open-source material. Meanwhile, the Activity remains pretty mysterious, despite its basic existence becoming more widely known and the growing fascination the public has with the unit. Exactly what they're doing and specific details on operations remain quite sparse, although, if you read between the lines you can start to put some puzzle pieces together.
1 month, 4 weeks ago on Chris Martin on Modern American Snipers
@Axeman15 That's great to hear -- I'm really glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the very kind words. If you have a moment, I'd greatly appreciate if you could help spread the word by reviewing it at Amazon as well.
1 month, 4 weeks ago on Why I Wrote “Modern American Snipers,” by Chris Martin
@Jackdes1 Thanks -- I appreciate it! Glad you enjoyed it.
Very cool. I'm extremely proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to play a very minor role in all this.
1 year, 10 months ago on 1,000 Posts Into the SOFREP Story
Excellent work once again, Iassen.
1 year, 11 months ago on After Action Report of HRT Operation in New York
@southernbelle @StormR @JoeL2000 80% of HRT operators have prior tactical experience. The FBI actively recruits military SOF with an eye on fast-tracking them to HRT through their 'Tactical Recruitment Program.' That said, even those guys have to serve as FBI field agents for 1-2 years before they are allowed to try out.
Related to recent news of women being allowed into combat roles in the military, last I knew women are allowed to try out for HRT, although I believe (and this could be old information), only one did and she didn't make it. However, she ended up working with the team in a support capacity.
2 years ago on Successful HRT Hostage Rescue in Alabama: SOF Breakdown
There is/was a movie in development about Delta's involvement in the Atlanta prison riot. Mark Bowden is/was producing it: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/wb-locks-up-deal-prison-122882
That incident took place in '87 I believe. A few years later HRT actually did breach and take down FCI Talledega after another uprising by Cuban inmates. Ex-HRT operator James McGee wrote a book about it: http://phaselinegreen.com/
@Txazz @dmalert Well, I always envisioned a three-part series, two of which have now been published. I hope to write the third part at some point, but I'm busy with about five other projects at the moment. But hopefully before too long (if Jack and the boys will have me back that is)... ;)
"According to my sources within the FBI, the last hostage rescue conducted by the HRT was in Puerto Rico."
This is what has me most interested. I knew the HRT had operated extensively in Puerto Rico but was only aware of them taking part in a series of high-risk drug raids and the sort. I'd definitely be interested in learning more about the rescue.
@dmalert No worries. Actually, the HRT just celebrated its 30th anniversary last month. The FBI released a couple press releases and the following video:
@dmalertHRT is heavily based on Delta and basically came into existence when it was determined that Delta couldn't and shouldn't be used in a wide variety of potential terrorist situations on domestic soil. Most HRT operators are former military SOF (who are fast tracked to HRT), but there have been examples of guys with no military backgrounds making the cut as well. They extremely well funded and trained and are basically the nation's civilian equivalent to Delta and ST6.
@Tweeder There are a few books out there by ex-HRT operators and its founder, Danny Coulson. The common knock used to be that all they ever did was train and rarely conducted actual operations, but people used to say the same thing about the SMUs too. It seems as though their pace of operations has ratcheted up as it has for the nation's other special operation capabilities post 9/11. I'm sure we'll learn much more in the days ahead.
BTW, another excellent piece Iassen. Interesting notes on the inside info...
@QuietProfessional @Recon6 Good catch. Thanks.
2 years, 2 months ago on Beyond Neptune Spear: The (Open) Secret History of SEAL Team Six (Part 4)
@Frosty Thanks man -- I appreciate it.
2 years, 3 months ago on Beyond Neptune Spear: The Secret History of SEAL Team Six (Part 6)
@jct95 I'd have to do a bit of digging. I'm pretty sure this info is out there (in part) but I can't place it off the top of my head.
@Old PH2 The third one will be more of the same but also a bit different. I need a bit of a breather before I tackle it. And thanks.
@jct95 Thanks man -- I appreciate it.
@FoCar Thanks man. And yeah, the plan is for a three-part series. I have a pretty firm idea of what and how for the last part, but I haven't really got cracking yet, at least in terms of actually writing.
2 years, 3 months ago on Beyond Neptune Spear: The History of SEAL Team Six (Part 5)
@Magicmuffin The following are not my words; they are taken from 'Fearless', in which a ST6 operator is quoted as explaining it thusly:
"Guys will say they're going to get out and do something else, but honestly, the reason guys don't go, the only reason a SEAL from the regular teams won't go to Green Team, is because he's afraid of failing. Because if you fail out of Green Team, then you're automatically ranked in the SEAL teams as not good enough to be at DEVGRU -- and, some of us might say, not good enough to be a SEAL. If you don't go, you've never been ranked. Oh, you can still think you're a hotshot at the regular team level, but that's only because you've never been tested at the next level."
That's just one insider's opinion and I'm sure others would likely disagree. Nevertheless, combined with the fact that it's pretty much a 50/50 proposition even for the motivated guys who successfully screen, it's a bit of a gamble to take that chance considering the potential damage to your reputation. Also, I believe Pharrer, in his less... eccentric days... explained that if you fail, it also seriously derails your career.
@chris16 Check the comments for Part 4 that ran last Tuesday. We went back and forth on that a bit.
@jct95 It's safe to assume there is some additional training, but exactly what/how hasn't been explained in detail to my knowledge -- at least nothing recent. One would have to be trained as a sniper, certainly, if they haven't already (and perhaps, even if they have already, since they'd likely be a few years removed from that training). There are other skills required as well, but just how formalized the process is to become an ST6 sniper, etc. I really can't answer.
@zezema535 Thanks -- I appreciate it.
@jct95 @JackMurphyRGR Yep -- it can be kind of interesting to speculate about, but ultimately we just end up talking in circles about things we don't and can't fully understand.
And yes, I'm definitely looking forward to the Life of Duty feature on the Spooner brothers. Check out the aforementioned Adam Brown feature if you haven't already.
2 years, 3 months ago on Beyond Neptune Spear: The (Open) Secret History of SEAL Team Six (Part 4)
@jct95@JackMurphyRGR Honestly, I'll be quite surprised if we get reliable information suggesting that DEVGRU has well and truly moved 'ahead' of Delta in some sort of National Missions Force pecking order. I could easily see the two units being viewed as essentially interchangeable for the types of ops we typically associate with both, but ahead? That's a bit hard for me to fathom based both on my research and what I've heard from sources I trust on such matters.
And in terms of high profile/priority ops, other than the UBL raid, what could possibly be considered more high profile/priority than a hostage rescue mission to save an American ambassador? Even though it didn't come to that, that's what Delta was (reportedly) sent over to do. Along with what I mentioned above, that fact has me skeptical that some sort of pecking order revision has taken place inside JSOC.
There is destined to be some fluidity at any given time based on who's running the show and who their favorites might be, but I'm doubtful of an institutional shift.
But again… it's all speculation.
Either way -- we probably won't get any solid open source information on the subject for a while yet… Not until sometime later in 2013, anyway… ;)
@jct95 @JackMurphyRGR My best understanding is any outward (and probably some inside) perception of 'top dog' is primarily down to luck of the draw in terms of AO first and foremost, along with perhaps a bit of politics (which are fluid), rather than which unit is considered more capable. Both units are supremely capable.
And while the UBL raid and the fact that ST6 has gotten the bulk of the hostage rescue taskings in recent years (i.e. the ops we're most likely to hear about in detail) might have shifted perceptions somewhat, I'm guessing those assignments can largely be explained by AO, rather than an assessment at JSOC that 'DEVGRU is better than Delta at DA or HR' or whatever.
Honestly, I'd even take the DEVGRU operator's claims in his open letter to SOFREP with a grain of salt. The squadrons of both units are said to be heavily compartmentalized, so they might not always know everything going on inside of their own unit, let alone the other one. And as such, it's probably impossible for an individual from either one to accurately gauge who is getting the juiciest ops at any given time.
Off the top of my head, of the six recent rescues I'm thinking of, half took place outside of Afghanistan, but two of those were obvious ST6 mission (both at sea). The other (Octave Fusion in Somalia) is more interesting in terms of tasking. Was an ST6 squadron already in place, operating out of Djibouti at the time, or were they in the States when they got the assignment? The answer to that might provide some clues as to the current pecking order (or not).
Then again, within the past few days it's been reported that when Ambassador Stevens was first known to be missing and was feared taken captive, a Delta squadron was immediately sent over from the States, so it's not like Delta have been rendered the B team or anything when it comes to high-priority hostage rescues.
I'll have to admit that I don't know if there is any sort of rotation in place for such an emergency or if they are both on call simultaneously. For example, was it simply Delta's turn or was the squadron given the nod ahead of an ST6 squadron that was also on call? Apparently with UKSF, the SAS and SBS take turns, and whoever is up at the time gets sent. But you'd think an ST6 squadron would have to be ready as well, just in case an urgent maritime operation came up.
Anyway, I'm just rambling now... ;)
@LauraKinCA @unclesam319 Fearless is an amazing read and it has serious crossover appeal (as in, recommendable to friends and family who might otherwise be uninterested in ST6, etc.).
There's also a 25-minute Life of Duty feature about Adam Brown that's definitely worth checking out.
@jct95 Thanks. Tied into Jack's reply -- these are classified units we're talking about, so it's important to take everything reported/written about them with a grain of salt -- including my ebook, which due to its open source nature is completely reliant on the reporting of others. I owe a great deal to Sean Naylor and his ilk -- along with Iassen and Jack, among many others. I did my very best to synthesize what I feel is most credible and bring it together in one cohesive piece, although I'm not going to claim its 100% accurate. In fact, I can almost guarantee some of the details are off and I try to make that clear in the text. That's not to say I don't stand behind the work -- I feel it's solid and my goal was to present an overview as good as you're going to find of this type, but its just the nature of the beast. And perhaps just as well.
Excellent piece Iassen. Thanks for sharing.
2 years, 3 months ago on Our Fallen Heroes: Bob Horrigan
@OldRGR I do agree that's a very interesting topic, and one Jack has written about, and, I expect, will continue to explore. I do plan to write a third and final part of 'The (Open) Secret' series, and I've seen a handful of requests concerning potential topics. All of them tempt me to share what the planned topic is, but I'm going to keep than a (closed) secret for a while longer. At least until it really starts to take shape...
2 years, 3 months ago on Beyond Neptune Spear: The (Open) Secret History of SEAL Team Six (Part 3)
@jct95 @DavidGrega I would imagine there's some overlap in capabilities -- along with some complementary skills. If you'll recall, there was at least one operator from the Activity embedded with one of the Operation Anaconda AFO teams that largely consisted of ST6 and Delta snipers. That probably wasn't too out of the ordinary.
2 years, 4 months ago on Beyond Neptune Spear: The (Open) Secret History of SEAL Team Six (Part 3)
@DavidGrega Thanks David.
1) It seems likely there is (or at least was) some degree of overlap in capabilities (in both directions). But really, all three are JSOC SMUs these days and are intended to work in concert. I would guess the element that most often supports ST6 by performing Activity-type tasks would be the Activity itself...
2) Not sure, although I think the sorts of things you are talking about would have more likely been handled by the CIA.
And once again, as a general disclaimer there may be others here who can answer these questions much better than I can. I'll always answer them to the best of my ability based on my research and understanding (with some (hopefully) educated speculation), but I make no promises...
@jct95 Budget allocations, hiring restrictions, the need to build the ranks immediately, and the fact that these guys already posses the skills they are being hired for are all reasons the CIA might have primarily brought ex-Tier 1 guys on as contractors following 9/11.
Honestly, I'm not sure it matters. The aforementioned books authored ex-SMU and CIA officers make it pretty clear that the paramilitary contractors weren't given any less responsibility or deference than the staff guys.
My best understanding (again based on incomplete research on a subject that is not well understood) is that while Ground Branch is quite small, it needs to have skills within its ranks that run the gamut of SOF capabilities (with something of an emphasis on UW). And as such, guys are hired (either as staff or contractors) from a wide range of SOF backgrounds to cover their bases. Paramilitaries and missions can then be matched up on a case-by-case basis.
And honestly, the CIA doesn't really need its own in-house version of Delta or DEVGRU. Why? Well, increased cooperation and Title 10/50 fluidity mean that Delta and DEVGRU basically ARE the CIA's de facto direct action force, at least when a situation requires it. That's been true in some ways for decades, but probably more so now than ever.
@jct95 The actual evidence suggests otherwise... The SAD/SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers whose backgrounds have been detailed in any way post-9/11 have primarily been non-Tier 1 -- Spider/'Greg' was ex-Force Recon, Johnny Michael Spann was an ANGLICO Marine, other Paramilitary Operations Officers described in books by Bernsten, Crumpton, Shroen, etc. were Army Special Forces and so on.
And in fact, almost all of the ex-Delta guys who have been known to operate for the CIA post-9/11 ('Dusty', 'Chief,' etc) did so as contractors.
And that actually makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons I don't feel like going into just now. But in brief the CIA's paramilitary capabilities had faded to near non-existance by the time of 9/11 despite all the internet rumors/profile that describe(d) them as a superstar collection of former Delta/ST6 operators (the remnants at the time were described inside the Agency disparagingly as 'forty forty-year-olds').
After 9/11 the CIA got (back) into the paramilitary business in a big way and needed people who could execute that mission and they needed to hire them quickly. The way budgets were allocated it was much easier/quicker to hire those types as contractors -- not to mention the fact that Tier 1 guys already have a large % of the relevant training they would have to undergo in the lengthy process to become actual Paramilitary Operations Officers (who also are supposed to have college degrees, by the way).
Again, take everything I say with a grain of salt as well. But the credible open source information suggests that CIA SAD/SOG is more about unconventional warfare than direct action and recruits with that fact in mind.
@jct95 Black are the recce/sniper troop(s). Gold, Blue, Red, and Silver are all essentially interchangeable assault squadrons. They may have their own distinct personalities in some ways, but they fill the same role and they all choose their new operators out of Green Team in an NFL-style draft, so it's not like any individual squadron should have more experience or talent than the others. Red was chosen because they were available (both for the run-up in the States and then the actual mission) as they had recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan.
CIA SAD/SOG was briefly considered, but really, as much as people like to suggest think there's another, even more elite group of shooters above even Delta/DEVGRU, to the best of my knowledge, such a unit doesn't exist. (And I'm not so sure I'd make the claim that DEVGRU is more effective than Delta. One could perhaps make an argument that they are equally effective, but 'more effective' is pretty bold. And I'd speculate that quite a lot of factors had to be just perfectly aligned for DEVGRU to get the nod ahead of Delta for the UBL tasking.)
There are some ex-Tier 1 CIA paramilitary officers and contractors, certainly, but CIA SAD/SOG is not an all-star grouping of the best of the best operators recruited from Delta and ST6. The available evidence suggests that in reality CIA paramilitaries come from a wide range of (mostly) special ops backgrounds, also including plenty of former recon marines, Rangers, non-JSOC SEALs, and especially Army Special Forces. And that actually makes sense as CIA SAD/SOG seems to be more UW-centric than DA-focused.
And the evidence also suggests they more often team up with other forces (American SOF or otherwise) than conduct unilateral (kinetic) operations. That is, the ex-Delta CIA paramilitary might be more likely to be on a raid with a Delta team than a dedicated CIA team.
So while I'm sure the CIA could bring together a very effective group of operators to carry out a raid, you'd have to think the nation's first choice for such a mission would have to be Delta or DEVGRU, who are at the top of their games for precisely that sort of mission, and prepare for it (and conduct it) on a daily basis. CIA leadership basically admitted as much when they decided to bring JSOC in during the UBL planning process.
Disclaimer: All of the above is for entertainment purposes only and is largely speculation based on incomplete research... ;)
Yeah -- the UBL raid was exceptional even among 'big' ops simply due to the target individual. Pulling guys from different troops was described as very unusual if not unique. But I'd agree with your assessment -- although personally I wouldn't be too worried about the Rangers keeping quiet. Heck, their precise involvement in the aftermath of the UBL raid wasn't fully detailed until 'No Easy Day.'
But I'd guess any op of this sort that's 'big' or 'important' enough where you're going to fly a team in from the States (or wherever) to conduct it rather than use elements already in place will likely remain JSOC territory.
@FoCar @OPR Saw this a few weeks ago. O'Neill's speaking engagements are being directed by the same firm that handles Stanley McChrystal's.
@Old PH2 @LauraKinCA Thank you. Also, with Smashwords I believe it shows you revisions and allows you to pick a newer or older version -- I'm not positive about that, but I think that's how it works. I also get a bigger % cut from them, but it just makes sense for me to focus on Amazon. They're way bigger than all other retailers of ebooks (I'll seriously sell more copies in a day there than at all other retailers combined over a month), and by directing people to Amazon, it helps get the ebook listed higher in their search results, and that perpetuates sales, and so on in an endless loop.
@Jaycel Adkins 1. This is something that Ambinder/Grady commented on in The Command. Based on nothing but speculation, I'd guess that, if they haven't already, in the near future they will be somewhat freed up to concentrate on those 'truly special' missions again due to 1) some slowing of operations inside the war zone(s), and 2) the ascension of units like the Rangers who have proven very effective conducting HVT raids themselves. That said, I think if a particular target or raid is considered important enough, even if relatively 'simple,' it'll still probably go to JSOC (think UBL).
2. I don't recall that myself, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. There are probably others here who can better answer that question.
@JackMurphyRGR @LauraKinCA Will do.
@Old PH2 @LauraKinCA I have no plans of editing either one any further. Consider them complete.
With the Delta one, I recently republished it to include an 'Also by' page with a link to the new one, and I used that as an opportunity to update it with a few things that have come out since I originally published it. Information about these units is always trickling out/coming into focus. I like the fact that it's so easy to update the text with self-published book within hours so that it can always have the most updated information for a reader at the time of purchase. I know other people might not like that idea because it doesn't seem as if it's ever truly finished. Two different philosophies.
However, I did request to Amazon to make the Delta one available for people who have already purchased it to update it to the latest version (still being processed), and I will eventually do that with the ST6 ebook too (and other than the 'pinned down' thing, all that has been changed has been very minor -- a couple small typos that slipped through). So if you buy them now, even in the relatively unlikely event that I make further changes, you will be able to update them to the latest version down the line, free of charge.
@LauraKinCA 'Pinned down' was the initial assessment but that was disputed by a report from journalist Rowan Scarborough. In hindsight I remember reading the report, but it slipped my mind when I put the piece together originally. After Canopylight's reminder, I actually went in and edited the text based on the newer/better information. So the version currently for sale at Amazon, iTunes, etc. has the 'pinned down' claims removed (along with an added bit of information regarding what was apparently taking place prior to the RPG strike). The text here at SOFREP hasn't been updated, however, because Jack is busy enough to fill the schedules of ten men and I didn't want to bother him with every little change to the text I've made for the ebook version (and I've made more than a few since originally submitting it to SOFREP).
Here's Scarborough's report in the Washington Times: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/10/fatal-seal-mission-was-not-a-rescue/