The timing of the publishing of these two books and their being reviewed by the NYT is indicative that the psyop is totally out of control, according to Dr. Steve Pieczenik during his appearance with Alex Jones Thursday, May 12, 2011. Can the timing be some way of rewarding these guys for dirty jobs well done?'The Heart and the Fist' and 'Seal Team Six'
By ERIC GREITENS and HOWARD E. WASDIN
Reviewed by MICHIKO KAKUTANIhttps://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/book ... &ref=books
Two new memoirs by former members of the Navy Seals, “Seal Team Six” by Howard E. Wasdin and “The Heart and the Fist” by Eric Greitens, are very different in tone.
Books of The TimesMuscle Memory: The Training of Navy Seals Commandos From left, Howard Wasdin and Stephen Templin, authors of “Seal Team Six,” and Eric Greitens, of “The Heart and the Fist.”
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Published: May 8, 2011
They are America’s Jedi knights
: the elite of the elite, an all-star team of commandos, “tier one” special operations warriors given mission-impossible
assignments in the most dangerous parts of the planet. A week ago, when Seal Team 6 took out public enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden
, Jon Stewart hailed its members as real-life “X-Men,”
ABC compared them to Superman
, and Newsweek described them as “the coolest guys in the world,”
working “anonymously and without public recognition.” Each year, according to the Navy Seals Web site, about 1,000 men start Seals training, and usually about only 200 to 250 succeed. Basic training includes the infamous “hell week”: five and a half days in which candidates sleep only a total of four hours and must run more than 200 miles, and do physical training for more than 20 hours per day. And after years of more training, only a fraction of experienced Seals members go on to join Seal Team 6, a secret unit created after the failed attempt in 1980 to rescue American hostages in Iran and tasked mainly with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency assignments.
SEAL TEAM SIX
Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper
By Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin
Illustrated. 331 pages. St. Martin’s Press. $26.99.
THE HEART AND THE FIST
The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy Seal
By Eric Greitens
Illustrated. 309 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $27.
Members of Team 6 have reportedly hunted down war criminals in Bosnia, engaged in some of the fiercest battles in Afghanistan, and in 2009 they took down three Somali pirates and rescued an American hostage with just three bullets.
By coincidence there are two new memoirs by former Seals members: “Seal Team Six” by Howard E. Wasdin, a Team 6 member who was seriously wounded in the battle of Mogadishu in 1993
; and “The Heart and the Fist” by Eric Greitens, a former Rhodes scholar who joined the Navy Seals in 2001 (and who was not a member of Seal Team 6). Although the two volumes could not be more different in tone — Mr. Wasdin’s narrative is visceral and as action packed as a Tom Clancy thriller; Mr. Greitens’s is more philosophical and big picture oriented — both are coming-of-age stories that, like earlier Seals books, recount the ordeal of basic underwater demolition training in grueling detail.
Both books will also leave readers with a new appreciation of the training that enabled Seal Team 6 to pull off the Bin Laden raid with such precision, making its way into the heavily secured compound, killing the terror mastermind with two shots, scooping up a gold mine of intelligence and making a getaway despite one downed helicopter.
Just as important as the tactical lessons in specific skills (like sniper surveillance, sentry removal, intelligence gathering), both authors emphasize, are practice, teamwork and stress and endurance training, which help equip members of the Seals with the emotional ability to manage fear and the muscle memory and instinct to grapple with any sort of contingency and physical threat.
“Seals are frequently misunderstood as America’s deadliest commando force,” Mr. Greitens writes. “It’s true that Seals are capable of great violence, but that’s not what makes Seals truly special. Given two weeks of training and a bunch of rifles, any reasonably fit group of 16 athletes (the size of a Seal platoon) can be trained to do harm. What makes Seals special is that we can be thoughtful, disciplined and proportional in our use of force.”
Mr. Wasdin too underscores the members ability to find “the appropriate level of violence required by the situation, turning it up and down like the dimmer on a light switch,” adding, “You don’t always want the chandeliers on bright.”
It was his painful childhood in Florida and Georgia with a bully of a stepfather, Mr. Wasdin says, that prepared him for the worst of Seals training and, later, actual combat, teaching him how to control his “thoughts, emotions, and pain at an early age” as “a matter of survival.” He recalls that his stepfather “would mercilessly beat me with a belt,” when he failed to pick up every pecan that fell from the trees onto their family’s driveway: “Didn’t matter if any had fallen since I had picked them all up. It was my fault for not showing due diligence.” He worked picking watermelons for his family and learned to drive an 18-wheeler. He signed up to do Search and Rescue for the Navy at 20, after running out of money to keep paying for college.
Mr. Greitens took a very different path to the Seals. Growing up in Missouri, his big fears were that he’d “been born at the wrong time” — that “the time for heroes” might have passed — and that he might miss his “ticket to a meaningful life.” He attended Duke University, won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford and earned a Ph.D., writing a dissertation on humanitarian movements and relief work.
Over the years Mr. Greitens would work in refugee camps in Croatia, visit aid projects in Rwanda and meet Mother Teresa in India. He became an “advocate for using power, where necessary, to protect the weak, to end ethnic cleansing, to end genocide” but wondered how he could “ask others to put themselves in harm’s way” when he hadn’t done so himself. At 26 he signed up with the Navy, turning down offers to stay on at Oxford and a lucrative consulting job.
Although Mr. Greitens does an evocative job of describing the hell of training and the valor of the comrades he served with in Iraq, much of his book is concerned with the evolution of his larger vision of public service. And readers specifically interested in the Seals experience will get a better sense of their tradecraft and day-to-day training from Mr. Wasdin’s “Seal Team Six” (which was written with Stephen Templin, an associate professor at Meio University in Japan, whom he met years ago during Seals training).
In that book Mr. Wasdin (known as “Waz-man” to his colleagues, “Casanova,” “Little Big Man” and “Sourpuss”) lays out his own account of the battle of Mogadishu in harrowing detail — an account that in terms of sheer drama rivals passages from Mark Bowden’s 1999 best-seller “Black Hawk Down” and that reminds the reader how easily a mission can go south. Mr. Wasdin also offers adrenaline-laced memories of other assignments, like detonating an unexploded Tomahawk missile in Iraq during the first Gulf war and the toll that constant travel and dangerous secret missions took on his family life.
Along the way readers are treated to some highly tactile descriptions of the sorts of singular skills members of the Seals must acquire. Mr. Wasdin writes about training with live ammo and conveys his experience of “drown-proofing” (in which he swam two lengths of a pool with his feet and hands bound). This is how he describes the proper application of camouflage: “When painting the skin, it’s important to appear the opposite of how a human being looks: Make the dark become light and the light become dark. That means making sure the parts of the face that form shadows (where the eyes sink in, etc.) become light green and the features that shine (forehead, cheeks, nose, brow and chin) become dark green.”
Mr. Wasdin recounts how he learned, as a sniper, to calculate wind speed and direction, and how he customized his green aviator gloves by dying them black and cutting off the tips of the trigger finger and thumb on the right side. He also recalls how he knew, before an official mission briefing, when an assignment was going to involve travel to a dangerous war zone. Some Navy planes, he notes, have “jet-assisted takeoff (Jato) bottles on them” for “getting in the air a lot quicker, a good thing to have when people are shooting at you.” If you saw your plane was outfitted with Jato bottles, he says, you knew your “destination wasn’t going to be good.”
The attention to detail Mr. Wasdin learned as a child — “making sure that not one single pecan remained on the ground” so as to avoid a whipping from his stepfather — would help keep him safe in the Seals. It would help protect him “from getting shot or blown up” and insure that he never had a parachute malfunction.
Preparation, practice and precision, Mr. Wasdin notes, are equally important — something the Bin Laden Seals team well knows, having meticulously rehearsed its raid at a full-scale replica of the Bin Laden compound built at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. “The more you train in peace,” writes Mr. Wasdin, “the less you bleed in war.”