Special Forces Gear Logo
Monthly NewsletterSeptember 2012 
In This Issue
Dave's Message
Voice of the Soldier
Word of Truth
The Blue Warrior
Combat Survival
Leading Concepts
Warrior's Wisdom
Special Product Coupon
Aesop's Fables
Embroidered Items
Featured T-Shirts
Special Product Coupon
Quotes & Jokes
Featured Tactical Gear
Featured Items
Featured Watches
Clichs of Socialism
What Has Really Changed?

Newsletter Archive
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

Customer Comments
I am a Cpl. in the Army and just returned from Iraq. I carried my shotgun all year on my back in your shotgun scabbard, and it worked great! I was glad to have it around several times, and it proved to be an easy way to keep the shotgun handy for the squad. Thanks for your great product, and for your support of our troops!!

Cpl. C.R. [omitted]
36th Infantry Div.

Got the T-shirt....IT ROCKS!!!!

Thanks guys
kelly [omitted]

Dear Sir, The Falcon Chest Harness finally arrived to me at Camp Taji, Iraq. Thank You! It is now set up for fitting over my IOTV and Battle Ready!!!

[name omitted]

(already the guys are asking who to order one from, so you might be getting a few more requests!!!).

Dear SF company.

Thank-you for sending another t-shirt it looks great the boys in the unit will want one when they see it. I'll be sending them right to you.

Thanks again.

Another happy customer
Bob Miller

When I was stationed at Camp Pendleton I was in Weapons Company 3/5. The unit made us t-shirts with the 3/5 logo/emblem/crest, "Consumate Professionals". I was honorable discharged in 1999 and the t-shirt has been long-gone. I searched a couple of web site to find a shirt with the logo/emblem/crest but there was no luck. It didn't take me long to search this site before I found what I was looking for. When the shirt arrived it was better than what I expected. I love the t-shirt and wear it with pride and often. Thank you SpecialForces.com

Most Sincerely,
Bryan P.

Thank you!!!

Your Shirts are the best.


Dear SFG,

Thank you for being so prompt with my order, and the refund as well.

I thought a little constructive thoughts were in order.

The "HRT" boot knife is well constructed. I had to "hone" the edge though, both sides,to get it up to spec.

As for the "GI USMC Combat Knife"......Well, it wasn't really a K-Bar, at least not one that I've ever seen. It read "US", and above that it read "Ontario". No worries though, after I used a ceramic sharpening stone on both the small back edge and the full length edge, I'm quite pleased with them both. Oh, I almost forgot, both were very pretty well balanced.

I'll be purchasing again from you in the near future.

Ed Whiteside

Dear Special Forces

I received my order i have to say that is better than i expected! Thank you and you'll hear fom me soon.


They turned out GREAT!!!!!! Thanks. I will be back for other things.


Thanks Folks. As always you have been most polite and professional. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Jack And Melanie Edgar


OMG! That looks awesome! Is there any logo on the front? Can I buy these off the website? I'm sure a lot of SWCC guys are going to want these!

Thank you,

Amanda Van Every


We love the art work. They are awesome. I'll be ordering mine right after this. Thanks for all the work. I am recommending you guys to all the other battalions and ODA's.



Just to let you know all items have been recieved, fantastic quality as all ways.

Cheers Andrew and best wishes for the New Year.

Welcome to the new Special Forces Gear News Letter! Each month we send out a lot of information and great deals, and to make it easier to read, we've written a summary of the longer articles in this email.

Dave's Message



Charles Russell Lowell

Wut's wurds to them whose faith an' truth On war's red techstone rang true metal, Who ventered life an' love an, youth for the gret prize o' death in battle?


To him who, deadly agen Flashed on afore the charge's thunder, Tippin' with fire the bolt of men Thet rived the rebel line asunder? -Lowell.


Charles Russell Lowell was born in Boston, January 2, 1835. He was the eldest son of Charles Russell and Anna Cabot (Jackson) Lowell, and the nephew of James Russell Lowell. He bore the name, distinguished in many branches, of a family which was of the best New England stock. Educated in the Boston public schools, he entered Harvard College in 1850. Although one of the youngest members of his class, he went rapidly to the front, and graduated not only the first scholar of his year, but the foremost man of his class. He was, however, much more than a fine scholar, for even then he showed unusual intellectual qualities. He read widely and loved letters.

He was a student of philosophy and religion, a thinker, and, best of all, a man of ideals-"the glory of youth," as he called them in his valedictory oration. But he was something still better and finer than a mere idealist; he was a man of action, eager to put his ideals into practice and bring them to the test of daily life. With his mind full of plans for raising the condition of workingmen while he made his own career, he entered the iron mills of the Ames Company, at Chicopee. Here he remained as a workingman for six months, and then received an important post in the Trenton Iron Works of New Jersey. There his health broke down. Consumption threatened him, and all his bright hopes and ambitions were overcast and checked. He was obliged to leave his business and go to Europe, where he traveled for two years, fighting the dread disease that was upon him. In 1858 he returned, and took a position on a Western railroad. Although the work was new to him, he manifested the same capacity that he had always shown, and more especially his power over other men and his ability in organization. In two years his health was reestablished, and in 1860 he took charge of the Mount Savage Iron Works, at Cumberland, Maryland. He was there when news came of the attack made by the mob upon the 6th Massachusetts Regiment, in Baltimore. Two days later he had made his way to Washington, one of the first comers from the North, and at once applied for a commission in the regular army. While he was waiting, he employed himself in looking after the Massachusetts troops, and also, it is understood, as a scout for the Government, dangerous work which suited his bold and adventurous nature.

In May he received his commission as captain in the United States cavalry. Employed at first in recruiting and then in drill, he gave himself up to the study of tactics and the science of war. The career above all others to which he was suited had come to him. The field, at last, lay open before him, where all his great qualities of mind and heart his high courage, his power of leadership and of organization, and his intellectual powers could find full play. He moved rapidly forward, just as he had already done in college and in business. His regiment, in 1862, was under Stoneman in the Peninsula, and was engaged in many actions, where Lowell's cool bravery made him constantly conspicuous. At the close of the campaign he was brevetted major, for distinguished services at Williamsburg and Slatersville.

In July, Lowell was detailed for duty as an aid to General McClellan. At Malvern Hill and South Mountain his gallantry and efficiency were strongly shown, but it was an Antietam that he distinguished himself most. Sent with orders to General Sedgwick's division, he found it retreating in confusion, under a hot fire. He did not stop to think of orders, but rode rapidly from point to point of the line, rallying company after company by the mere force and power of his word and look, checking the rout, while the storm of bullets swept all round him. His horse was shot under him, a ball passed through his coat, another broke his sword-hilt, but he came off unscathed, and his service was recognized by his being sent to Washington with the captured flags of the enemy.

The following winter he was ordered to Boston, to recruit a regiment of cavalry, of which he was appointed colonel. While the recruiting was going on, a serious mutiny broke out, but the man who, like Cromwell's soldiers, "rejoiced greatly" in the day of battle was entirely capable of meeting this different trial. He shot the ringleader dead, and by the force of his own strong will quelled the outbreak completely and at once.

In May, he went to Virginia with his regiment, where he was engaged in resisting and following Mosby, and the following summer he was opposed to General Early in the neighborhood of Washington. On July 14, when on a reconnaissance his advance guard was surprised, and he met them retreating in wild confusion, with the enemy at their heels. Riding into the midst of the fugitives, Lowell shouted, "Dismount!" The sharp word of command, the presence of the man himself, and the magic of discipline prevailed. The men sprang down, drew up in line, received the enemy, with a heavy fire, and as the assailants wavered, Lowell advanced at once, and saved the day.

In July, he was put in command of the "Provisional Brigade," and joined the army of the Shenandoah, of which in August General Sheridan took command. He was so struck with Lowell's work during the next month that in September he put him in command of the "Reserved Brigade," a very fine body of cavalry and artillery. In the fierce and continuous fighting that ensued Lowell was everywhere conspicuous, and in thirteen weeks he had as many horses shot under him. But he now had scope to show more than the dashing gallantry which distinguished him always and everywhere. His genuine military ability, which surely would have led him to the front rank of soldiers had his life been spared, his knowledge, vigilance, and nerve all now became apparent. One brilliant action succeeded another, but the end was drawing near. It came at last on the famous day of Cedar Creek, when Sheridan rode down from Winchester and saved the battle. Lowell had advanced early in the morning on the right, and his attack prevented the disaster on that wing which fell upon the surprised army. He then moved to cover the retreat, and around to the extreme left, where he held his position near Middletown against repeated assaults. Early in the day his last horse was shot under him, and a little later, in a charge at one o'clock, he was struck in the right breast by a spent ball, which embedded itself in the muscles of the chest. Voice and strength left him. "It is only my poor lung," he announced, as they urged him to go to the rear, "you would not have me leave the field without having shed blood." As a matter of fact, the "poor" lung had collapsed, and there was an internal hemorrhage. He lay thus, under a rude shelter, for an hour and a half, and then came the order to advance along the whole line, the victorious advance of Sheridan and the rallied army. Lowell was helped to his saddle. "I feel well now," he whispered, and, giving his orders through one of his staff, had his brigade ready first. Leading the great charge, he dashed forward, and, just when the fight was hottest, a sudden cry went up: "The colonel is hit!" He fell from the saddle, struck in the neck by a ball which severed the spine, and was borne by his officers to a house in the village, where, clear in mind and calm in spirit, he died a few hours afterward.

"I do not think there was a quality," said General Sheridan, "which I could have added to Lowell. He was the perfection of a man and a soldier." On October 19, the very day on which he fell, his commission was signed to be a brigadier-general.

This was a noble life and a noble death, worthy of much thought and admiration from all men. Yet this is not all.

It is well for us to see how such a man looked upon what he was doing, and what it meant to him. Lowell was one of the silent heroes so much commended by Carlyle. He never wrote of himself or his own exploits. As someone well said, he had "the impersonality of genius." But in a few remarkable passages in his private letters, we can see how the meaning of life and of that great time unrolled itself before his inner eyes. In June, 1861, he wrote: 


I cannot say I take any great pleasure in the contemplation of the future. I fancy you feel much as I do about the profitableness of a soldier's life, and would not think of trying it, were it not for a muddled and twisted idea that somehow or other this fight was going to be one in which decent men ought to engage for the sake of humanity,--I use the word in its ordinary sense. It seems to me that within a year the slavery question will again take a prominent place, and that many cases will arise in which we may get fearfully in the wrong if we put our cause wholly in the hands of fighting men and foreign legions.

In June, 1863, he wrote: 


I wonder whether my theories about self-culture, etc., would ever have been modified so much, whether I should ever have seen what a necessary failure they lead to, had it not been for this war. Now I feel every day, more and more, that a man has no right to himself at all; that, indeed, he can do nothing useful unless he recognizes this clearly. 


Here again, on July 3, is a sentence which it is well to take to heart, and for all men to remember when their ears are deafened with the cry that war, no matter what the cause, is the worst thing possible, because it interferes with comfort, trade, and money-making: "Wars are bad," Lowell writes, "but there are many things far worse. Anything immediately comfortable in our affairs I don't see; but comfortable
times are not the ones that make a nation great." On July 24, he says:


Many nations fail, that one may become great; ours will fail, unless we gird up our loins and do humble and honest days' work without trying to do the thing by the job or to get a great nation made by a patent process. It is not safe to say that we shall not have victories til we are ready for them. We shall have victories, and whether or no we are ready for them depends upon ourselves; if we are not ready, we shall fail,--voila tout. If you ask, what if we do fail? I have nothing to say; I shouldn't cry over a nation or two, more or less, gone under.

Finally, on September 10, a little more than a month before his death, he wrote to a disabled officer: 


I hope that you are going to live like a plain republican, mindful of the beauty and of the duty of simplicity. Nothing fancy now, sir, if you please; it's disreputable to spend money when the government is so hard up, and when there are so many poor officers. I hope that you have outgrown all foolish ambitions, and are now content to become a "useful citizen." Don't grow rich; if you once begin, you will find it much more difficult to be a useful citizen. Don't seed office, but don't "disremember" that the "useful citizen" always holds his time, his trouble, his money, and his life ready at the hint of his country. The useful citizen is a mighty, unpretending hero; but we are not going to have any country very long, unless such heroism is developed. There, what a stale sermon I'm preaching. But, being a soldier, it does seem to me that I should like nothing so well as being a useful citizen. Well, trying to be one, I mean. I shall stay in the service, of course, till the war is over, or till I'm disabled; but then I look forward to a pleasanter career.


I believe I have lost all my ambitions. I don't think I would turn my hand to be a distinguished chemist or a famous mathematician. All I now care about is to be a useful citizen, with money enough to buy bread and firewood, and to teach my children to ride on horseback, and look strangers in the face, especially Southern strangers.

There are profound and lofty lessons of patriotism an conduct in these passages, and a very noble philosophy of life and duty both as a man and as a citizen of a great republic. They throw a flood of light on the great underlying forces which enabled the American people to save themselves in that time of storm and stress. They are the utterances of a very young man, not thirty years old when he died in battle, but much beyond thirty in hand and heart, tried and taught as he had been in a great war. What precisely such young men thought they were fighting for is put strikingly by Lowell's younger brother James, who was killed at Glendale, July 4, 1862.

In 1861, James Lowell wrote to his classmates, who had given him a sword.  

Those who died for the cause, not of the Constitution and the laws,--a superficial cause, the rebels have now the same, -- but of civilization and law, and the self-restrained freedom which is their result. As the Greeks at Marathon and Salamis, Charles Martel and the Franks at Tours, and the Germans at the Danube, saved Europe from Asiatic barbarism, so we, at places to be famous in future times, shall have saved America from a similar tide of barbarism; and we may hope to be purified and strengthened ourselves by the struggle.


This is a remarkable passage and a deep thought. Coming from a young fellow of twenty-four, it is amazing. But the fiery trial of the times taught fiercely and fast, and James Lowell, just out of college, could see in the red light around him that not merely the freedom of a race and the saving of a nation were at stake, but that behind all this was the forward movement of civilization, brought once again to the arbitrament of the sword. Slavery was barbarous and barbarizing. It had dragged down the civilization of the South to a level from which it would take generations to rise up again.Was this barbarous force now to prevail in the United States in the nineteenth century? Was it to destroy a great nation, and fetter human progress in the New World? That was the great question back of, beyond and above all. Should this force of barbarism sweep conquering over the land, wrecking an empire in its onward march, r should it be flung back as Militiades flung back Asia at Marathon, and Charles Martel stayed the coming of Islam at Tours? The brilliant career, the shining courage, best seen always where the dead were lying thickest, the heroic death of Charles Lowell, are good for us all to know and to remember. Yet this imperfect story of his life has not been placed here for these things alone. Many thousand others, officers and soldiers alike, in the great Civil War gave their lives as freely as he, and brought to the service of their country the best that was in them. He was a fine example of many who, like him, offered up all they had for their country. But Lowell was also something more than this. He was a high type of a class, and a proof of certain very important things, and this is a point worth of much consideration.

The name of John Hampden stands out in the history of the English-speaking people, admired and unquestioned. He was neither a great statesman, nor a great soldier; he was not a brilliant orator, nor a famous writer. He fell bravely in an unimportant skirmish at Chalgrove Field, fighting for freedom and what he believed to be right. Yet he fills a great place in the past, both for what he did and what he was, and the reason for this is of high importance. John Hampden was a gentleman, with all the advantages that the accidents of birth could give. He was rich, educated, well born, of high traditions. English civilization of that day could produce nothing better. The memorable fact is that, when the time came for the test, he did not fail. He was a type of what was best among the English people, and when the call sounded, he was ready. He was brave, honest, high-minded, and he gave all, even his life, to his country. In the hour of need, the representative of what was best and most fortunate in England was put to the touch, and proved to be current gold. All men knew what that meant, and Hampden's memory is one of the glories of the English-speaking people.

Charles Lowell has the same meaning for us when rightly understood. He had all that birth breeding, education, and tradition could give. The resources of our American life and civilization could produce nothing better. How would he and such men as he stand the great ordeal when it came? If wealth, education, and breeding were to result in a class who could only carp and criticize, accumulate money, give way to self-indulgence, and cherish low foreign ideals, then would it have appeared that there was a radical unsoundness in our society, refinement would have been proved to be weakness, and the highest education would have been shown to be a curse, rather than a blessing. But Charles Lowell, and hundreds of others like him, in greater or less degree, all over the land, met the great test and emerged triumphant. The Harvard men may be taken as fairly representing the colleges and universities of America. Harvard had, in 1860, 4157 living graduates, and 823 students, presumably over eighteen years old. Probably 3000 of her students and graduates were of military age, and not physically disqualified for military service. Of this number 1230 entered the Union army or navy. One hundred and fifty-six died in service, and 67 were killed in action. Many did not go who might have gone, unquestionably, but the record is a noble one. Nearly one man of every two Harvard men came forward to serve his country when war was at our gates, and this proportion holds true, no doubt, of the other universities of the North. It is well for the country, well for learning, well for our civilization, that such a record was made at such a time. Charles Lowell, and those like him, showed, once for all, that the men to whom fortune had been kindest were capable of the noblest patriotism, and shrank from no sacrifices. They taught the lesson which can never be heard too often-that the man to whom the accidents of birth and fortune have given most is the man who owes most to his country. If patriotism should exist anywhere, it should be strongest with such men as these, and their service should be ever ready. How nobly Charles Lowell in this spirit answered the great question, his life and death, alike victorious, show to all men..







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Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Special Operations Warrior FoundationSpecial Forces Gear is now hosting
a special section for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) provides college scholarship grants, along with financial aid and educational counseling, to the children of Special Operations personnel who were killed in an operational mission or training accident.

All profits from these items go to the
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Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club

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The Warrior Brotherhood Veterans Motorcycle Club is a not-for-profit (501c3) fraternal organization. It was formed to provide a fraternal organization for qualified military veterans who have served, or are currently serving, in the Armed Forces of the United States or US Allied Nations.  They support Veterans and Active Duty Members in many different ways.  A few of the many causes projects they support are: mailing over 900lbs of care packages to Active Duty Service Members Monthly to Visiting Veterans Homes to put a smile on a Veterans Face.  Please visit them at  www.warriorbrotherhood.com. 


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The Green Beret Foundation provides unconventional resources to facilitate the special needs of our wounded, ill and injured and imparts unique support to the Special Forces community in order to strengthen readiness and uphold Green Beret traditions and values.


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Good Morning,
My name is SSgt Leugers, Joseph and I am the point of contact for the Marine Corps' Tribute to the Fallen Run. It is a special event that we, the Marine Detachment on Fort Gordon, take the lead on. We will run one mile for every Marine and Corpsman that was killed conducting combat operations for OIF / OEF since 2006. Currently we are just under 1500 KIA's and will be running non-stop for 9 days carrying 21 rounds to pay our respects with blood, sweat, tears, and pain. It will commence on October 30th 12pm to November 8th 8am, and will finish with a 21 round salute. During this event we wear Tribute shirts to stand out from the crowd as it is a public event so that people may run with the military members if they so choose to. These shirts however are very expensive so I am reaching out to see if there is any possibility that your company may be willing to donate Olive drab shirts for us to use during this event, and even if you can't thank you for your support just the same.

For More Information Contact Us>>


Veterans Fishing Event  


Hello Paolo,


We just wanted to touch base with you and let you know our 2 day fishing event went great even though it had to be rescheduled to a later date due to our current work load. But we were happy to still be able to get it in and still have good a quality of water to float on as the river was extremely low. As the pictures come rolling in I will be sure to send any over to you that may have your product in them. Below are a few pictures. We added your company name and website to the list that every participant is given in their gift bag. We used the hats, flashlights and utility pouches as door prizes which were all very happily received. The winning fish was a 2.2 lb smallmouth there were quite a few bigger fish on that day but they just couldn't seem to get them boated. A fun time was had by all involved.


Thank you again for your generosity toward our event and allowing us to help promote your product.



Hi I am wondering if Mr Walpole is still alive?

My Dad Sydney Stonehouse was one of the original instructors at Canungra Jungle Warfare Training School, and would have been working alongside Mr Walpole training the troops.

Dad was in the 2/11th battalion in Syria and the Middle East before being sent to Canungra in Queensland.

He used to go undercover in the Middle East disguised as an arabic person and told me he went through Petra with a camel train. Apparently he was taught all the special types of knots the arabic people used to make a camel pack from rope and he said if you made a slip up with tying a single knot they would know you were not a native of the country and slit your throat.

Dad passed away on 4 August 2009.

He was in the Coastwatchers in a group known as "M" Special who were directly under General Blamey. He served in Papua New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, while in M Special. He traveled in the Garfish and the Gato U.S. subs.

At one time they were picked up from their last mission by a sub then transferred to U.S. Patrol boats and taken to a base near Portuguese Timor. Someone on the P.T. boat took photos of the group of  men.

31 had gone onto the island and only 15 came off with my father in command, as the officer in charge (as he was dying of his wounds)  had promoted my father to Lieutenant during an attack on their camp by the Japanese, and asked Dad to take care of the survivors.

Thanks, it would be good if I could track down any of the photos taken of Dad when he was on the P.T. boat. The Australian Army never acknowledged Dad's promotion under fire to Lieutenant.
When he was returned to Australia he only weighed 6 stone. He had gone to the Solomons a healthy fit 14 stone and when picked up by the US subs they were all emaciated. 

Dad said they lost all their rations due to the "Bully Beef" bombers dropping supplies into a coral lagoon where the pressure burst open the supplies. The men lived for three months, on whatever they could find edible in the jungle, mainly bamboo shoots.
They often saw evidence on corpses of the Japanese taking meat from the thighs and buttocks of the dead.

All their clothing had rotted away. 

Before they were picked up, they traded a few necessary washers from their radio with the natives for coos coos  and a small suckling pig that they roasted on a campfire. 

Dad said they were so hungry they could not wait for it to cook properly, and tore into the meat as soon as possible. It was the first meat they had eaten for three months and they were all severely sick from that meal. 
The Army would not let them return to Australia till they had "fattened" them up in Singapore first.

There were two young American lads who they found on the island who had survived a plane crash.

They were badly injured, and Dad's group treated them as best they could,  put them in bush wood stretchers and carried them with them, every time the Japanese were hunting around the island all night long seeking the Commandos.

Eventually the Japanese caught up with the stretcher party and captured them after a vicious battle in which one chap called Thompson broke his gun beating off the Japanese when the gun had hjjammed and he could no longer fire it.

The Japanese made the men dig their own graves, and then an officer beheaded them.

My father had been told the news by a local native of the groups captured, then had climbed a sixty foot tree to check the Japanese patrols numbers and to radio out, asking permission to attack and rescue his men who were being held in a jungle clearing,  but Command in Port Moresby forbid it as they were strictly reconnaissance and their job was too important to risk attacking the Japanese.

He could see what was happening to the captives, and was powerless to go to their aid. This troubled him greatly for many years, along with the memory of having to sit with two of his mates, who had been captured, mutilated (genitals cut off), by the Japanese and were dying of gas gangrene begging their comrades to shoot them, and put them out of their agony.
My mother told me of this when I asked her why Dad sometimes screamed out at night in his sleep. Dad did not often talk of his experiences, and I had to encourage him to talk with me about what he had experienced, so the history of the M Special and what they did, would be remembered.
One fellow Commando told me that my father was delivered to an island with a 65,000 Japanese presence, crossed the island, picked him up, and literally carried him back to the submarine rendevous point, past Japanese sentries in the dark.  

He told me that my Dad carried him so silently that a Japanese sentry whose cigarette butt was glowing in the dark, was unaware that two Aussie Commandos had just been past him. That man was Ron Cream and he said my Dad was a hero who saved his life, when he was alone and sick on that island.
I asked my Father about what Ron had told me, and his reply was that he "Never thought of it like that. It was just a job: They told me to do it, and I did it". 
He was an amazing man, who knew how to kill with his bare hands, had lightning fast reflexes even in his 90's, hated War, and was a man of unshakeable faith in GOD.

His diligent teaching of me as a small child, how to correctly neck roll, and shoulder roll, when he threw me down from his shoulder height, to the lawn, saved my life when I was struck by a speeding vehicle doing more than 50 miles per hour in 1970. I was tossed 35 feet across an intersection from the back of a motorbike and automatically did a neck roll as I hit the bitumen.
Much to the Ambulance crews surprise they found me alive, lying on the roadway, somewhat bruised and with an injured leg from the impact, but certainly not dead, as all the witnesses to the collision thought I would be. 

Dad always told my worried Mother that his teaching me to do proper "rolls" might save my life one day.
I truly believe it did. 

US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Demonstration [1080 HD]
US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Demonstration [1080 HD]
Pilot ejects from F-18 jet at the last second, just before crash
Pilot ejects from F-18 jet at the last second, just before crash
UH-1y Huey Conducts Live Fire
UH-1y Huey Conducts Live Fire

Word of Truth
Survivor Guilt
The Word Of Truth - Alive and Powerful

By Rev G.J. Rako



It is heart wrenching for me to listen to combat veterans' talk about their deep expressions of guilt because they are alive and their buddies are dead, maimed, blind or have lost limbs. The reason this is heart wrenching for me is the fact that this pain is avoidable. This is friendly fire, a self-inflicted wound, and applies to police, and fire fighters as well as the military.


If you are a Christian than you must know that, there are no accidents in the Christian way of life. Everything happens for a reason. If God wanted you in a situation, where some injury would befall your friend, then He intended that test for you. This of course is adversity, but God expects us to grow from suffering and adversity in our lives.

Fear, worry, anxiety, guilt, shame, and self-pity are all sins. They are the worst kind of sins because they can fester and lead to continual sinning. They are sins of arrogance and self-absorption. The Apostle Paul tells us to forget the past and move on. God has a perfect plan for our lives however, the realization of that plan is impossible with all of its potential if we are living in past failures.

Philippians 3:13-14 forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

God's will for your life includes perfect happiness. Advancing in the unique spiritual life of the Church age will bring you knowledge, understanding, peace, joy, contentment and many other spiritual blessings. To attain these things you must make the Word of God a priority in your life.

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

"Hey, preacher, you don't understand, it is my fault that my platoon was shot up and men better than me are dead. "How can I move on?" "I cannot live with myself." Do not put yourself above God. All things work together for good. Notice it says "all things", good and bad, successes and failures. Forget them and move forward.

Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

There is no sin, no failure too great for the plan of God. This is a spiritual issue. God has provided all the spiritual assets you will ever need to deal with this and every problem you will ever face in this life.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

God wants the highest and best for you. You became the son of God the moment you believed in Jesus Christ. Nothing will keep you from what God has for you but your own volition. Either you do not believe His Word or you are stuck in self-pity, and self- absorption through the arrogance of a guilt complex.

Rom 8:31-32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up [as a substitute] for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

We begin by applying the procedure God designed for us in grace to deal with post salvation sins, confession.

I John 1:9 If we confess (name, cite, or acknowledge) our sins to Him(God the Father), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We must begin to focus on eternity and not the things of this world.

Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Eph 1:15-23 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

How encouraging is it to know what is "the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe."

After your silent confession to the Father start learning and knowing the Word of God, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened."

II Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

II Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Romans12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

There is no problem too big for the plan of God! He is there through His Word to allow us to move past any failure (real or imagined) we may ever face. Get over yourself and begin focusing on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory for ever and ever.


Contact Reverend Rako >>  

Blue Warrior
Blue WarriorBlue Warrior



The call we all dread, no it wasn't from my wife or from any other family member. This call came from a partner at work, "Glenn, dispatch is calling Mark on the radio and he isn't answering"! My heart felt heavy, my lungs tightened and I gasped for words. I asked my partner on the phone, where was he at last? I couldn't finish that question before my partner said, dispatch is now reporting witnesses are on scene at the Target store parking lot and they say an officer has been shot in the head.

I hung up the phone without saying another word, and got dressed. My wife asked, what's the matter? It took every fiber of self control to answer her. "I have to go to work, I will call you soon." I knew when I hung up the phone the reality of what I was facing. My children were in the same room as I took the call and when I answered my wife. I could have fell to my knees at that moment with grief but that would have had an effect on my wife and kids everyday as I leave for work.

At the time we lived behind the police station so I arrived within minutes of my partner calling me. As I walked into the lobby of headquarters the Shift Commander was clearly in shock. He was overwhelmed with the emotions as he processed the information he just received. The sobering thoughts that must have raced through his mind as one of his officers was mortally wounded. I don't ever want to know that feeling, and as swat commander I have lost sleep over this thought.

As I looked at the Shift Commander, no words were exchanged but we spoke. He was an old friend; we started our careers together some 12 years earlier. His head sunk and he walked off to gain his composure. That moment began a dark period of anger and hatred unlike anything I have ever experienced.

The officer working the desk that night next to the Shift Commander was a rookie cop, it was his first night. The police radio was streaming with traffic, as the first responding officers, k-9's, evidence technicians and detectives arrived at the scene. The police lobby filled with citizens crying, clearly upset over what they had witnessed, and as I spoke with them I realized they were witnesses to this horrible crime. Although, I was a uniform officer I had previously transferred from the Criminal Investigations Division as a detective. I handled homicides during my criminal investigator tour and all of a sudden my instincts took over. Standing there, behind the police desk, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, I gave the young officer some help and decided to get to work. The number of witnesses was growing so I started separating them and interviewing them. My dark anger fueled my desire to apprehend whoever shot one of our own.

The last word was, he was still alive but not expected to make it through the night. As the hours passed, I found myself still helping with the witnesses, frustrated because I wanted to get to the hospital which made my anger grow deeper. Finally, in the early morning hours I was clear to leave, hell I wasn't even on duty.

The sun was starting to crest the horizon while I drove as fast as I could to the hospital. Knowing he had a beautiful wife and the cutest little girl, I started to think of my family. What would I tell them? How do I keep them feeling safe and confident that dad will always return home from each shift?

My arrival in the hospital lobby provided me some comfort as I was greeted by many other officers from our shift. So many cops in this lobby, the brass was sitting across the room and all I wanted was to see Mark. I made my way to the nurses' station and my timing was a godsend as a nurse approached and stated that a couple of us could visit him. I didn't hesitate and followed the nurse with some officers from my shift in tow.

When we walked into the room a doctor prepared us for what was to come. He won't be with us much by longer, and he won't look as we know him. You see, he was shot in the head by a man wielding a shotgun. I was already prepared; I just wanted him to feel our presence before he left us. I wanted him to know that we, his co-workers had his six (back), that we would revenge this brutal attack, that a reckoning was the only answer for the person guilty of this crime. We followed the doctor passing some of Marks family, my knees weakened as we approached the room. I stood there for a moment, feeling as if I was going to pass out and just that quick we were whisked out of there. I knew something was wrong since we were so hastily asked to leave. I just wanted to hug his family, people I've never met but there was no time for that. Mark passed away shortly after we left the room, leaving a wife and daughter behind.

Driving back to the station, I thought of my family and what I would say to them. By this time all the major news networks in Metro Detroit were all over this story. I was afraid that my kids, from this point forward would be afraid as I left for work, that their anxiety over what happened to Mark would affect them forever.

As I arrived back at headquarters I found a Detective Commander briefing his squad. They had a murder to solve and a cop killer to find. By this time I had been up all night and I remember my thoughts being as clear as ever. I approached the commander, a man that I often didn't see eye to eye with and stated "I am not leaving, so you might as well use me". Before he could answer me three other former detectives walked in and stated the same. They too were off duty, and were only present for the reckoning. At that point, we all had made Mark an unspoken promise.

The entire criminal investigation division was called in to work that day, a couple dozen detectives, and soon after that the U.S. Marshalls would join us. We had a clue to follow up on, find the man driving a red Camaro that witnessed Marks murder.

It wasn't long before we had some tips and the detectives put a name on the wanted list. Timothy Berner, a bank robber with a shot gun, needed a handgun since the weather was changing and the trench coat he was using in the previous robberies was too obvious. Berner pulled up next to Marks cruiser and shot him in the head at point blank range with his shotgun through the passenger window as Mark was completing a report. He then stole Marks department handgun and fled. A nationwide manhunt was to follow.

I spent that weekend, not sleeping and working every moment. Three days later I was ordered home to rest. I knew I needed sleep, I wanted to see my family but I felt guilty, as if I didn't live up to my unspoken promise. The detective sergeant said "go home we need you rested and by the way, put in a slip for overtime." I shook my head as if I was offended, "overtime", you're kidding right?

Home at last, but nobody was around. I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep and finally the emotions caught up to me, I then experienced a little of what his family had been going through since this all started.

A few hours of sleep and my phone awakes me, it's my Captain, "Glenn you have been temporarily reassigned from patrol division to the criminal  investigation division". My motivation to keep that unspoken promise was reignited. I had feared when I left the police station that morning that I  wouldn't get a chance to work this case anymore. The rest of the patrol division resumed normal operations; after all we are a large city and we still had a job to do. I thought for sure I would be reporting to my regular road patrol duties later that night, with no ability to aid in the manhunt. The reassignment was a blessing, since I felt a deep desire to get even, for Marks sake.

Finally I get some face time with my family. I just held my kids and tried not to speak of the last couple days events but by now everybody knew. My wife did a great job keeping everything together. I couldn't hide from the kid's questions so I avoided them and quickly changed the subject, luckily they didn't press me on the issue. I couldn't imagine what Marks family was going through at this time. All of sudden my SWAT pager is wringing out with an activation notice.

We got him; Berner is hiding out in a friend's house where he had been staying. Shortly after, my 28 member SWAT team was on scene. Many of these men were from other agencies as this team was comprised of the best officers from all over our county in Metro Detroit. They too had made an unspoken promise as they donned their tactical gear and ready to risk their lives for an officer they never met. My thoughts were clear as I prepared some explosives to breach the front and side doors of the home. I am going to blow these doors down and this man has a reckoning to deal with. Well, we did and he wasn't there. As we headed back to SWAT headquarters we got a report that he was at a different house nearby. Act II followed as we breached another set of doors in house number two. Once again, he was gone. This cat and mouse game went on for some time and our SWAT team spent a lot of time chasing this nut.

Marks murder was aired on "Americas Most Wanted" television show. That show produced some great tips. Berner had traveled to the southern states, robbing banks as he made his way south. The final breach came at an apartment building in Florida. As the SWAT team entered the apartment the sissy shot himself with Marks department handgun. That was bitter sweet, since the SWAT operators wanted a piece of that dirt bag but at least he was dead at the hands of Marks gun. The unspoken promise was delivered that morning by a group of men willing to die to avenge another cop's murder.

This article isn't about lessons learned, defensive tactics or any other law enforcement topic. It's about the unspoken promise that not only I gave Mark back in the hospital, but the promise we all make every time we saddle up in the blue uniform. If ever you meet Mark's fate, we promise not to stop until the unspoken promise is kept.

There were many detectives and officers from our agency that played a tremendous part in Berner's capture. The men on my SWAT team, as they risked their lives time and time again. The U.S. Marshalls, a group of men who are cops under the federal banner, "Americas Most Wanted" television show that spent a couple episodes dedicated to Berner's capture. These men and women, cops and civilians made an unspoken promise. That's what we do, and we would have it no other way.

Every time I draw my weapon and take aim on a target or suspect, I see Marks badge number "76" that is tattooed on my gun hand between my thumb and index finger. It aligns perfectly with my gun sights, a subtle reminder, it represents the unspoken promise I made to Mark. His memory is etched on my hand and his memory lives in my heart forever.

This article is dedicated to Mark, Yvonne & Lily Sawyers.

Stay safe,

Sgt. Glenn French  


About the author

Glenn French, a Sergeant with the Sterling Heights (Mich.) Police Department, has 22 years police experience and currently serves as the Team Commander for the Special Response Team, and Sergeant of the Sterling Heights Police Department Training Bureau. He has 14 years SWAT experience and served as a Sniper Team Leader, REACT Team Leader, and Explosive Breacher.


He is the author of the award-winning book "Police Tactical Life Saver" which has been named the 2012 Public Safety Writers Association Technical Manual of the year. Glenn is also the President ofwww.tacticallifesaver.org.

Glenn has instructed basic and advanced SWAT / Tactical officer courses, basic and advanced Sniper courses, Cold Weather / Winter Sniper  Operations and Active Shooter Response courses, Tactical Lifesaver Course and others. Sgt French served in the U.S. Army. During his military tenure Sgt French gained valuable experience in C.Q.B., infantry tactics and explosive breaching operations.


Survival and Disaster Preparedness

Bug-Out vs Bug-In Food Considerations

One of the biggest issues many people struggle with when planning on a bug-out or bug-in scenario is deciding on how much food they will need to either take with them or have stocked up. First, let's address the issue of bugging-out.

The concept of a Bug-Out is to have with you at all times enough equipment needed to get you back to your Bug-In location in case of a crisis or disaster. Typically designed as some sort of carry bag full of food, ammo, clothing and tools to last you approximately three days (72 hours); for the theory is that most people are never more than three days away from home, even in hostile conditions where check points or borders must be crossed. Other more common uses for a bug-out bag to be deployed is during a black-out, tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster. Your bag should be designed according to your bio-region, which means people more prone to hurricanes should prepare differently than those more prone to wildland fires or earthquakes. Stress during a Bug-Out will increase your calorie consumption and adrenal response because of the urgency to get home to family or friends and this is all the more reason to plan ahead and include in your emergency kit some high quality foods only for bugging out.

According to the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)  recommendations, the pounds per person per day (ppppd) for someone engaged in moderate activity such as hiking during hot days with warm nights to be around 1.5 lbs, which equals roughly 2,500-3,000 calories per day. Once again, these recommendations are based upon region, climate and what type of activity you'll be engaged in. If you have to hike through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky for two days before getting to the lowlands to your bug in location then your requirements would increase to 1.75-2 ppppd which provides 3,000-3,500 calories for warm days and cool mountain nights. Can you get home without any food at all? Of course, but not in optimal condition. You do not know what you're going home to nor do you know what circumstances you'll encounter as you approach (such as resistance or obstacles) that would sap whatever remaining energy levels you had in reserve.

You must take care of yourself when bugging-out, not only for your sake, but for those you love too. What type of food should you pack in your bug out kit? We're all familiar with MRE's and Freeze Dried foods and while they beat a stick in the eye, they're not your best choice for good nutrition. Dehydrated food, the type you can make at home either in a food dryer, your oven or in a hot car on a summers day are one of the most economical and tasty ways to go. Freeze dried foods often require twice the  recommended serving size to satisfy you and have way too much sodium which is not a good thing to have when enduring a stressful state (heart attacks anyone?). You can dry fruits, vegetables and meats at home which provide the best nutrition and taste for a fraction of the cost of freeze dried products. Plus, they're light weight and pack very well. Additionally, if you invest in a vacuum sealer and store your dehydrated foods at a roughly 70o F you can have an 8-10 year shelf life!

Bugging In is the reverse side of the coin. This is the concept of either sheltering-in-place or you successfully escaped the disaster zone and have reached your planned shelter location. This is where prepping comes into play on a larger scale. You will have to develop a bulk ration plan for you and those sheltering with you. And, once again, depending on your region and projected plan of stay, your caloric restrictions will vary. After about three days with little or without our favorite food, people get irritable and whine (I know I do) and caloric cravings and needs increase for a while due to our bodies adjusting to our current diet. With these things in mind bulk rationing for sheltering-in-place should take into consideration a more liberal approach to caloric usage as it's better to have too much than too little when it comes to prepping.

For the day to day, taking into consideration that you're probably not living in a bunker and you'll be able to get out and about within reason a good figure for daily calories would again be 2,500-3,000 which is equal to 1.5-1.75 ppppd. For the winter when heat may be hard to come by if you didn't plan ahead properly 2 - 2.5 ppppd which is roughly 3,500-4,500 calories may be in order as your body burns more calories when it's cold than when hot as it tries to warm itself.

Next, you will break the poundage and multiply that by the number of  people in your party multiplied by the number of days you plan on sheltering-in-place.

__________ X __________ X __________ = ____________
     (days)             (people)             (ppppd)           (total weight)

You can then further break down the poundage per person per day (ppppd) should you be feeling overly analytical. NOLS provides a great starting point for this breakdown as well in their book titled "Cookery", just check out page 8 the section entitle Category Multipliers.

So, let's say you plan on bugging-in for 3 months (90 days) with 5 people through the summer months which would put you at around 1.5-1.75 ppppd (we'll used 1.75) --- 90x5x1.75 = 787.5 total pounds of food rations. It sounds like a lot when you put it in those terms, but it's really not. If you are confident in your bug-in position you can opt for canned goods and grocery store type items which will give you more immediate gratification as you wean yourself off the systems resources. You can then supplement those items with wild game you hunt or trap and dehydrated food stuffs from your garden which will enable you to prolong your supplies. Lastly, consider some type of small livestock animal such as chickens, goats or rabbits as they're sustainable, provide food and can eat left-over food and garden refuse. Livestock animals of this type are the ultimate MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)!



About the author:
Jason Hunt is the President of Frontier Christian University a school that equips people in Biblical survival and preparedness ministries and he's the Chief Instructor at Hunt Survival, Inc. a survival & preparedness training company. He's also the author of The Tribulation Survival Guide.


Leading Concepts

After Action Review (AAR)

  • One of your most important responsibilities as a Leader is to develop your team. To do that effectively, you must use every means available to make sure your Team members actually learn from their activities.
  • People learn best when they "discover" an answer or solution on their own. Learning is most effective when you train and evaluate at the same time.

What is an After Action Review?


An AAR is: a review of events that allows team members to discover what happened during the events, actions, and planning; why it happened, and how to improve the results the next time you perform the same, or similar, task. The purpose of the AAR is two-fold:

  • It allows team members to discover for themselves what happened during the and why
  • It helps team members identify how to improve going forward

What does an After Action Review do for you and your team members?

  • Focus on learning objectives
  • Helps identify strengths and areas needing improvement
  • Emphasize achieving organizational standards
  • Encourages team members to learn from their experiences
  • Allows a number of team members to participate and share common experiences and lessons learned

The AAR is a professional discussion, conducted after each critical activity, which focuses directly on goal accomplishment. It stresses meeting standards and does not determine winners or losers. It involves team members and leaders in the analysis and it links the lessons learned to subsequent and future tasks. It is important to remember that an AAR is not a critique. A critique has only one viewpoint. This does not allow for others' observations, discussion of events, and comments. This means that critiques are less effective than AARs in realizing the most learning from the review of a specific goal, task, or assignment. Moreover, the limited and often biased point of view of a critique prevents the open discussion of events. A critique also prevents team members from learning from their mistakes. AARs are not critiques because AARs do not determine success or failure. When you use an AAR, you avoid lecturing your team members on what went wrong, and this makes it easier for them to learn and develop.


What are the different parts of an AAR?

  • Review what should have happened
  • Establish what did happen
  • Determine what was correct or incorrect with what happened
  • Determine how you should do the task differently the next time

First, you and your team members review the plan to determine what should have happened. Once complete, identify what actually did happen. Here, it's important to include the thoughts and viewpoints of others that may not have directly participated in the mission/task but who observed or were affected by the results. During this step, it's also important to be 'brutally honest' and not fixate on assigning blame for any part deemed a failure. The goal is to improve, not to identify a scapegoat.


The third part of the AAR is very important because this is where you determine what went right and what went wrong with the mission/task. This is when you as the leader/facilitator must be careful and not let the AAR turn into a critique session.


Finally, you and your team must determine how you will perform the task differently next time. You play a critical role in guiding the AAR discussion so that the conclusions reached are technically and tactically sound, morally and ethically straight. You will actually lead your team in determining how to perform the mission the next time to achieve improved results. AARs provide immediate feedback to your Team and reinforce and increase the learning that takes place as a result of the task or event.


What are the three steps in the execution sequence of an AAR?

  • Plan
  • Prepare
  • Conduct

As a leader, you must know these three steps in order to derive the maximum benefit from the AAR process. The first thing you must do is develop a plan for your AAR. Without one, you may fail to provide your team with the needed. As a part of the planning stage, there are certain steps you must take:

  • Establish an objective for the AAR
  • Review the action plan
  • Identify the participants and their roles
  • Select the meeting location and time
  • Assemble AAR tools-something to record the information gathered, i.e. overhead or marker board
  • Draft an AAR plan

It is important that you begin the plan by establishing what you want to accomplish. You should also review the action plan and identify who will attend. Select your location and ensure that it is large enough to accommodate the size of the group. Determine whether or not you will require meeting aids, i.e. overheads, markers, marker board. The final step in the planning process is drafting the AAR plan and preparing to conduct it.


How do you prepare for an AAR?

  • Review the objectives of the mission or task (mission/plan)
  • Execute the mission or task
  • Organize the AAR site
  • Collect the information-report on the mission/task accomplished
  • Organize the AAR meeting

Your preparation for conducting an AAR actually begins before you set out to achieve your goals or tasks! Your notes and preparation must start from the beginning and continue up to the actual AAR. Focus on actions and events related to the key objectives and keep good notes during execution phase. Be sure you clearly know and understand the standards that must be met to achieve success.


Once the task is complete, identify and prepare the AAR meeting location and assemble your resources. Finally, ensure that you organize and review what you are going to say and do during the AAR. A discussion outline is a way to organize your notes and observations in an orderly sequence.


AAR Discussion Outline

  • Introduction and Ground rules
  • Review of the plan and what should have happened
  • Summary of what did happen
  • Discussion of key issues
  • Discussion of how to improve or maintain performance; identification of strengths and areas needing improvement
  • Summary and conclusion

A discussion outline helps organize your thoughts and determines what direction you want the discussion to take in order to achieve the desired results. Once you develop an outline, you should prepare open-ended, specific questions that will lead the discussion in the direction you want it to go. Lastly, you should review the outline thoroughly prior to conducting the AAR.


The Final Step!

What important points should you cover when conducting an AAR?

  • Restate the goals and objectives
  • Seek maximum participation
  • Generate discussion
  • Determine how to perform the next time

The first thing you should do is restate the mission and orient on the key objectives. This brings the AAR into focus for all participants and tells everyone what should have happened during the mission. Ensure that you receive comments from all the participants. Maximizing participation makes for a successful After Action Review. The way to increase participation is to stimulate discussion among your team members. Use the following techniques to help stimulate the discussion.

AAR Discussion Guides:

  • Ask leading and thought-provoking questions
  • Ask why it happened-be sure to fix problems, not blame.
  • Ask how they could have done better
  • Record pertinent information

Phrase the question in such a way that the information discussed is what you want brought out. Prepare yourself to ask follow-up questions to elicit additional information. Involve team members and if possible, anyone else who played a role in the accomplishment of the mission or task. Spread your questions around so that everyone in your team participates. Good questions can help determine what went right and wrong during the mission. You can discuss errors by asking why the team made certain decisions and what alternative decisions they could have made.


Keep this part of the AAR positive and be careful not to embarrass your team. This is when the AAR can disintegrate into a critique session if the leader is not careful. You can avoid this problem by entering the discussion only to guide it back on track when necessary. Keep the team oriented on the by facilitating and asking questions to keep everyone focused.


The last part of conducting the AAR is to determine how you should perform the task differently next time. You do this by continually summarizing and linking the lessons learned to future and related missions, tasks, and events. You need to determine what happened, why it happened, and what the team can do differently next time to improve performance and raise standards. Conclude the AAR by listing those areas that you and your team need to work on. By the end of the AAR, your team should clearly understand what was good, bad, and average about the outcomes and their individual performance and contributions.

Lead the way!



About the author:
Dean Hohl has been leading teams and coaching individuals professionally since 1993. From '88 - '92 Dean served with 3rd Ranger Battalion during which he helped in the removal of Manuel Noriega in 1989 when he parachuted onto a hostile Panamanian airstrip.

He graduated Ranger School with honors earning one of two distinguished "Merrill's Marauders" awards; an award earned only by two each class and chosen by his peer group for demonstrating exceptional teamwork, leadership, and communication under long periods of stress and pressure - often the result of days without food or sleep - throughout the entire 72 day course. Dean completed his Ranger service with honor at the rank of Sergeant.




Warrior's Wisdom

"When making plans," Churchill once remarked, "it as well to take into account those of the enemy." This maxim connotes the vital importance of military intelligence gathering and evaluation.
A classic case of failing to observe this maxim was the Falklands War of 1982. The Argentinians indubitably achieved strategic surprise by seizing the islands when they did-but then they fatally miscalculated the determination of the British response. Despite a considerable period for counter-invasion preparations, they failed to make the islands impregnable against the British Expeditionary Task Force.
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Aesop's Fables

A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of Oxen. The Axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly; whereupon the Oxen, turning round, thus addressed the wheels:  "Hullo there! Why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry out."


Those who suffer most cry out the least.

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Quotes & Jokes

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.  

By William Ernest Henley

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.


He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"


These quotes should enforce the need for us all
 to guard against deception
 especially during this critical election yea
The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. It is a melancholy truth that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood.
- T Jefferson

We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and  prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.  
-David Rockefeller,
founder of the Trilateral Commission,
 in June 1991

"Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have."
- Richard Salant,
former President of CBS News

The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, so what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes... They pull the strings... AND WE DANCE.  
-John Swinton,
 former chief-of-staff for the New
  York Times, in an address to fellow journalists

When you control opinion, as corporate America controls opinion in the United States by owning the media, you can make the [many] believe almost anything you want, and you can guide them.  
- Gore Vidal
 from The Golden Age

The great mass of people ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one. What luck for rulers that men do not think.  
- Adolf Hitler
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Clichs of Socialism
"If government doesn't relieve distress, who will?"
President Grover Cleveland, vetoing a congressional appropriation of $10,000 to buy seed grain for drought-stricken Texans, may have given us all the answer we need to this clich:
        "The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune...Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood."
         No doubt many of the congressmen who voted this appropriation were sincerely asking, "If the federal government does not save these poor Texans, who will?" President Cleveland had only to veto the measure and write an explanation. But we private citizens have no power beyond reason and suasion. What, then, might we have said? This would be one honest answer: "I am not clairvoyant and, thus, do not know who willrelieve these people. However, I do know that Texans acting on their own initiative and with their own resources will take care of themselves better than they will be taken care of by any number of politicians imitating Robin Hood and applying the theories of Karl Marx."
        The question, "If government does not relieve distress, who will?" is illogical. No one can ever answer, who will? Thus, the clich-maker wins his implied point without a struggle-unless one lays claim to clairvoyance or exposes the fakery of the question.
        Every reader of these lines can prove to himself, by reflecting on personal experiences, that the relief of distress is an unpredictable event. Time after time, each of us with no preconception, has observed distress and then taken steps to relieve it-with his own income!
        Prior to the nineteen thirties, before the federal government assumed responsibility for "relief," no one could have foretold who would come to whose rescue; yet, since 1623, there is no record of famine or starvation in this country. Among a people where the principles of freedom were more widely practiced and government more limited than elsewhere, there has been less distress and more general well-being than history had ever recorded. Societies saddled with bureaucracy have no record of coming to the aid of free societies; it has always been the other way round.
        Charity is a personal virtue. When government does not undertake police grants-in-aid-"relief"-millions of adults stand as guardians against distress. Their available charitable energy is totally at work observing distress in its neighborly detail, judging and coming to the rescue with the fruits of the labor of each charitable person. And on occasions of major disaster, there has been a voluntary pooling of individual resources, often extravagant.
        What happens when government takes over? Charity gives way to politics. Funds coercively collected are dispensed to individual according to group, class, or occupational category. This has no semblance of charity; it is the robbery of Peter to pay Paul. Further, when government constructs a feeding trough and fills it with fruits forcible extorted from the citizenry, it creates new claimants and aggravates the problem it set out to solve.
        It is not only the so-called "relief" projects that are based on this same tired clich, but most other cases of government intervention in our society: "If the government doesn't level mountains and fill valleys, drain swamps and water deserts, build highways over waters and seaways over land, subsidize failure and penalize productivity and thrift, send men to the moon and promise the moon to mankind, and a thousand and one other projects-if the government doesn't do these things, that is, force taxpayers to do them, who will? And more often than not the answer is that probably no one in his right mind would ever think of doing such things-at his own risk, with his own money. Eventually, a time might come when some ingenious person would see a way to do one or more of these jobs, in hope of profit, and would take the chance. But there is no way to determine in advance who that pioneer might be. The most that can be done is to leave men free, for only among free men do pioneers emerge. Freedom affords every opportunity, in charitable enterprises or on the market, for the best-not the worst-to rise topside. 
L. E. R. 
What Has Really Changed?
What's free about Free Enterprise? 
Sept. 1963-Aug. 1964
-- double the light and power for every penny you spend for electricity.
-- 15,000 added miles in an automobile tire.
-- clothing that lasts longer, looks better, launders more easily.
-- safer, more convenient home refrigeration at a fraction the cost of the      old-fashioned method.
-- orange juice is cans the year 'round, instead of oranges only during short seasons.
-- lawn mowers you don't have to push.
-- new plastics, better metals, synthetic fabrics which make hundereds of things last longer.
-- better machinery such as new Warner & Swasey Turret Lathes which help make scores of products  better at lower cost.
-- yes, and years added to many lives, by modern drugs developed by enterprising drug companies.
Incentive? The search for profit, which spurred these and a thousand other improvements-and in the process created millions more jobs.

So hadn't we better look with a hard cold eye at many people who are trying so hard (and too successfully) to attack profit and take the freedom out of free enterprise?

Naval Aviation Nicknames
From Fifi to Rhino, and everything in between

The one that started it all. Grumman's FF-1 became FiFi among naval aviators who flew it. These three, flying with a Reserve squadron, were redesignated SF-1 for scout/fighter, a typical downgrade in designation at the time for aircraft no longer having the leading-edge performance necessary for a fighter. U.S. Navy photo
A restored F4U Corsair at the 2006 Warbirds over Wanaka airshow in New Zealand. The 14 feet of nose in front of the pilot earned it the nicknames of "hog" and "hose nose." The inverted gull wings inspired "bent-winged bandit." It's flying characteristics with respect to carrier landing and generally tricky handling earned the sobriquet "ensign eliminator." It was nevertheless perhaps the greatest naval fighter of World War II, and also served well in Korea. Photo by thomas.g
Scooter, Spad, Ford, FiFi, and Willy Fudd are among the many nicknames given to U.S. Navy aircraft over the past 100 years. Like family pet names, some are endearing, some cute, and some, well, every pack has its cur. None of the pet names were official, but awarded by the pilots and crews who flew them. Until World War II, the U.S. Navy, as well as the Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation, did not name aircraft types, but used a letter-number designation. Our English cousins, on the other hand, named their aircraft types, but did not have a military designation system. Gradually, American aircraft companies began naming their products, because as any salesman knows, it is far easier to sell a Helldiver than an SB2C.

Fifi from Grumman

A Grumman TBM-3E Avenger. The first "Turkey" from Grumman was a solid and durable performer during World War II and after. Photo via Citats
The first U.S. Navy airplane with a nickname was Grumman's first fighter, the FF-1. This 1932 open-cockpit biplane did not have an official title, but FF looks and sounds like "Fifi" and the airplane was cute enough to have the name stick. Three types of fighter later, Grumman began naming them after cats. The F4F Wildcat was first, although the British were already calling the exported version Martlet (a type of seabird). The follow-on F6F Hellcat became the most widely built U.S. fighter airplane ever (12,275 built with more than 11,000 in a two-year period) and shot down more enemy aircraft than any other, but never acquired a nickname. Navy ace Gene Valencia (23 victories) liked the Hellcat so much he said, "If it could cook, I'd marry it." Endearing, but not a nickname. On the other hand, the Hellcat's contemporary, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, was easily recognized by its inverted gull wings and long nose, and its pilots called it the Hog and Hose Nose, among other things. There is no actual animal called a Bearcat (Grumman F8F), but a mountain legend says, "'Tis the front of a bear at one end, the front of a mountain lion at t'other and it can't urinate, defecate, or fornicate so is the meanest critter on Earth." The following Grumman fighters - Tigercat, Panther, Cougar, Jaguar (only two built), and Tiger - also did not acquire pet names.

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Israel's Heavy Armored Personnel Carriers
Heavy metal

A column of IDF AFVs. The nearest vehicles are Puma combat engineering vehicles, the distant ones are Achzarit heavy APCs. Photo by merdi

Unlike some armies, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) does not need to airlift equipment all over the globe. Israel's wars come right to the doorstep.  So the IDF has been able to develop super-heavy fighting vehicles converted from obsolete tanks, providing unprecedented armor protection to foot soldiers.


The IDF's Combat Engineering Corps training aboard M113 "Zeldas." The shortcomings of the M113 were one spur to the development of heavy armored personnel carriers. Israel Defense Forces photo
Dismounted infantry has trouble keeping up with tanks, and is vulnerable to shell fragments and machine guns.  One solution was the armored personnel carrier (APC), a "battle taxi" armed with rooftop machine guns. The first APCs were "half-tracks," basically trucks with rear axles replaced by caterpillar tracks. Their thin armor and lack of overhead protection led American GIs to call them "Purple Heart boxes."


Israel acquired 3,500 surplus half-tracks, using them in the 1956 and 1967 wars after most armies had upgraded to fully-enclosed boxes such as the M113. Made of welded aluminum, the M113 could "swim" in water, propelled by its tracks. Aluminum armor kept out bullets and shell fragments, but was easily penetrated by rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The U.S. sent Israel over 6,000 M113s. They were nicknamed "Zelda," Hebrew slang for an American Jewish girl. In the 1973 war, they suffered painful losses.




The first of the IDF's heavy armored personnel carriers, Achzarits were built from the captured hulls of Soviet-made T-54/55 tanks. Photo by gkirok
In the 1967 and 1973 wars, Israel captured hundreds of Soviet-built T-55 tanks, many abandoned intact by Arab crews.  Refitted with new guns, engines and fire control, they equipped reserve brigades. But they had serious design flaws, particularly with respect to the cramped turret (Russian tank crews were selected from the shortest 5 percent of draftees).


Most armies would have discarded these vehicles as scrap metal, but the thrifty IDF found a different solution.


Beginning in 1987, some 276 T-55s were rebuilt by removing the turret and constructing a compartment for 10 troops. The bulky Russian diesel engine was replaced by a compact power pack, leaving space for a passageway to a rear exit door. The exterior was covered with reactive armor that defeats RPGs and early ATGMs. Named Achzarit ("Cruel One") the 48.5 ton vehicle carries four roof-mounted 7.62 mm machine guns.


Nagmash'ot, Nagmachon, Nakpadon and Puma


Nagmachon heavy APC at the LIC 2004 exhibition. Derived from the British Centurion tank, this example has the distinctive "doghouse" replacing the turret. Photo by Fresh Military & Security Forum, Israel via MathKnight
Similar rebuilds gave new life to hundreds of obsolete IDF Centurion tanks. This late 1940s British tank, re-gunned, re-engined, and up-armored in IDF service, was nicknamed Sh'ot, meaning "whip." The Sh'ot earned a place in Israeli armored corps history during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when fewer than 100 Centurion tanks of the Israeli 7th Armored Brigade repulsed a Syrian attack, destroying almost 500 Syrian tanks and armored vehicles in the Valley of Tears on the Golan Heights.


By the 1980s, as Centurions were replaced by new Israeli-designed Merkava tanks, they were rebuilt as infantry carriers. Weight saved by removing the turret was invested in belly armor to meet the growing mine and IED threat. Weighing 57.3 tons, with a crew of 12 (driver, commander and 10 passengers) and powered by an American 750 hp

Nakpadon heavy APC at the LIC 2004 show. The Nakpadon is considered the most heavily armored of Israel's Centurion-based heavy APCs. Photo by Fresh Military & Security Forum, Israel, via MathKnight
AVDS-1790-2AC diesel engine, Nagmash'ot (1983) was followed in quick succession by Nagmachon (mid-1980s) and Nakpadon (1990s) with advanced reactive armor and massive side-skirts. Some Nagmachons are fitted with a distinctive non-rotating "doghouse" studded with vision blocks for a forward observer.


Puma, not to be confused with a new German infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) of the same name, is a combat engineer vehicle that is also built on the Centurion chassis. It entered service around 1991.


Early models retained the Centurion's Horstmann coil-spring suspension and 750 hp diesel. Later models have the improved suspension and 900 hp power pack of the Merkava, providing a road speed of 28 mph (45 kph).


Puma APC during training of the 601st Battalion of the Israel Engineering Corps The Puma armored engineering vehicle/APC is also built on the Centurion chassis. Photo by Udodelig
The crew includes commander, driver, gunner, and five sappers who can dismount to plant explosives or clear obstacles.


The gunner's "Overhead Weapon Station" carries a remote-controlled 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun.  Three additional machine guns can be fitted at the roof hatches. A 60 mm mortar can be fired from inside the troop compartment.


Puma can be fitted with mine plows and rollers, as well as the Rafael "Carpet" system, a pack of 20 short-ranged rockets with fuel-air explosive warheads that can blow a 100-meter gap into a minefield in less than a minute.


The survivability of the super-heavy APC was proven in the 2006 Lebanon war, where the IDF faced advanced Russian anti-tank missiles.  Fourteen Achzarits and Pumas were hit, but only seven troops were killed.




Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, maneuver around an Israeli Namer during the Maneuver Battle Lab's Ground Combat Vehicle assessment at Fort Bliss, Texas. The Namer was originally rebuilt from early Merkava tank chassis, but today they are being constructed by General Dynamics Land Systems in the United States. DoD photo by 1st Lt. Tyler N. Ginter
Namermeans "tiger" or "leopard" in Hebrew.  Weighing 66 tons, this big cat is the most heavily armored APC ever built. About 130 are currently in service.  Early versions were converted surplus Merkava Mk. I tanks, but new production vehicles are assembled by General Dynamics in Lima, Ohio, and then shipped to Israel for installation of weapons and the secret composite and reactive armor.


Namer carries a crew of 11: commander, driver, gunner and eight troops. The gunner's remote-controlled weapon station can be fitted with a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun, or 40 mm grenade launcher.  Four external video cameras provide 360-degree vision.


Future versions will carry a 30 mm automatic cannon and the Rafael Trophy active protection system.  Namer is under evaluation for the U.S. Army's Ground Combat Vehicle program.





U.S. Army Rangers: Leading the Way for 70 Years

United States troops of the Ranger Battalion in training with British Commandos, somewhere in the United Kingdom. U.S. Rangers performed their first raid alongside British Commandos at Dieppe in 1942. National Archives photo

Back in the Age of Muskets (1600-1850), every military commander knew that peasants made the best infantry: stolid, inured to hardship, and conditioned to obey their social superiors. But armies also needed soldiers of a different kind - agile, aggressive men, able to think fast and act with little supervision - for raids, night fighting, and other "special" missions. The best of these soldiers were recruited from professional hunters, gamekeepers, foresters, and frontiersmen. In German, they were called Jger; in French, Chasseurs; in English, Light Infantry; or in Britain's American colonies, Rangers.


Benjamin Church who is considered the First American Ranger. Engraving courtesy of the New York Public Library
During the North American Colonial Wars, English colonists slowly learned to combine the superior lethality of their firearms with the irregular tactics of their Native American adversaries. Col. Benjamin Church of the Plymouth Colony in New England formed the first American Ranger company during King Philip's War (1675-1678), later leading it on expeditions against the French and their native allies in Maine and New Brunswick.


As the global conflict between French and British empires escalated in the 18th century, Maj. Robert Rogers of New Hampshire organized a militia regiment of nine companies (about 600 men) on the New England frontier. It became renowned as "Rogers' Rangers," America's first real special operations forces (SOF) unit.


Today's U.S. Army Rangers trace their historic lineage to this unit, which was active during the French and Indian Wars. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress authorized eight companies of sharpshooting riflemen, commanded by Dan Morgan and known as the Corps of Rangers.


Francis Marion built and led another famous Revolutionary War Ranger element known as Marion's Partisans, continuing the fight against the British long after the Continental Army had been driven from South Carolina. Marion became known as "the Swamp Fox" for his ability to melt away into the Carolina swamps after attacks on the British.


Interestingly, the Queen's York Rangers, a reservist unit of the Canadian Forces, raised by Rogers himself to fight the American rebels in 1776, also claims descent from Rogers' Rangers. Rogers' Rangers specialized in winter raiding, fighting several skirmishes on snowshoes. In 1759, Rogers codified his system of irregular warfare in "28 Rules of Ranging," still preserved in the standing orders given to soldiers in U.S. Army Ranger School.


Highlights of Rogers' rules include:


John S. Mosby during the Civil War. Library of Congress photo
2. ... if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men ...


3. ... encamp ... on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.


10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded ..., let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening ...


21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form an ambush to receive them ...

Veterans of Rogers' Rangers fought on both sides in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

In the American Civil War, the most famous irregular unit was Virginia's 43rd Battalion of "Partisan Rangers," led by "the Gray Ghost," Col. John Singleton Mosby. Although he opposed secession, Mosby volunteered as a private in the Confederate Army at the outbreak of hostilities. Impressed with his ability as a scout, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee's cavalry commander, promoted him to lieutenant, and in 1863 sent him to organize a mounted unit operating behind Union lines in northern Virginia, which became known as "Mosby's Rangers," "Mosby's Raiders," and ultimately "Mosby's Confederacy."

In the decades after the Civil War, the U.S. Army saw little need for specialist Rangers. "Small wars" were left to the U.S. Marine Corps, while the Army prepared for the next "big war." There simply was no interest within the U.S. military for unconventional warfare and units from 1865 until the start of World War II. However, World War II would provide a fertile venue for unconventional soldiers with their own ways of fighting, especially the Rangers.


U.S. Rangers defend a captured gun position at Arzew Harbor, Algeria, during fighting in North Africa. The picture was taken at dawn after a night of fighting. National Archives photo
In 1940, after the heroic evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk,
Winston Churchill ordered the creation of volunteer raiding units that could strike back at the edges of Nazi-occupied Europe. He chose the name "Commando" for these units, recalling the Afrikaner mounted riflemen of the Boer War. When the first U.S. troops were sent to England in 1942, volunteer units were formed to train and fight alongside the Commandos, and the historic title of "Ranger" was revived for these battalions. William Orlando Darby, a young lieutenant colonel of artillery, was chosen to lead the first of the Ranger battalions, which stood up in May 1942 in Northern Ireland. The Operation Torch landings in North Africa, on Nov. 8, 1942, were the first major U.S. operations in the European theater; the 1st Ranger Battalion was part of the landing force. Darby's Rangers led the way at Arzew, a port on the Algerian coast, conducting a difficult night assault to seize Vichy French gun batteries.


10th Special Forces Group
The 60th anniversary of the formation of the United States' first Special Forces Group

Col. Aaron Bank acts as jumpmaster during a 10th Special Forces Group airborne training operations over Bad Toelz, Germany, in the early years of its existence. USA JFK Special Warfare Museum (Aaron Bank Collection)



"We had no precedent, no manuals. Herb Brucker and I developed our own program - the Army left us alone."

-Col. Aaron Bank, USA (Ret.), first commander of 10th Special Forces Group

Authorized on June 19, 1952, and based in Fort Carson, Colo., 10th Special Forces Group is America's oldest Special Forces unit. Activated at the height of the Cold War, its original mission was to plan and train for guerrilla operations in the communist bloc nations of Eastern Europe in the event that the Cold War turned hot. Since then 10th SFG's mission has expanded to include combat, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, and humanitarian missions. Though its primary area of operations is Europe as part of Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), 10th SFG also conducts operations in the Middle East and Africa.


Col. Aaron Bank, first commander of 10th Special Forces Group and founder of the U.S. Special Forces. U.S. Army photo
Tenth SFG began as a squad-sized unit commanded by Maj. (later Col.) Aaron Bank. Even its name, 10th SFG, was part of a Cold War disinformation effort. Though the first unit of its kind, the decision was made to name it the 10th, implying to the Soviets that there were nine other SF units. Of his recruiting, Bank later recalled, "We didn't just take the Airborne, but the cream of the Airborne - the hard-bitten troopers who were willing to take calculated risks and face challenges that conventional units need never be concerned with." Volunteers included men who had served in the OSS, 1st Special Service Force, and the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), better known as Merrill's Marauders, all units formed during World War II. Thanks to the Lodge-Philbin Act of 1950 that authorized the recruiting of foreign nationals, offering them U.S. citizenship after two years of honorable service, Bank was able to recruit dispossessed Eastern Europeans living in Western Europe. This helped establish the language and culture capability that has since become a hallmark of Special Forces.


Tenth SFG is also responsible for Special Forces' distinctive headgear. Two men are credited as being the "Fathers of the Green Beret," then-Captains Herb Brucker and Roger Pezzelle. In 1953, Bruckner had as his inspiration the berets worn by the British SAS and Parachute Regiment, respectively. Bruckner designed a distinctive green beret and in 1954, Pezzelle's command became the first SF unit to wear the unauthorized headgear. Despite having to pay for the green beret out of their own pockets, soon every SF soldier was wearing the distinctive headgear. The green beret became an official part of the Special Forces uniform when President John F. Kennedy authorized it in 1961.


In November 1953, 10th SFG was divided, with half the soldiers deployed to a base in Bad Tolz, West Germany, and the other half remained at Fort Bragg, becoming the core of 77th SFG, later 7th SFG. During the same period, 10th SFG emerged briefly from the shadows, appearing in episode TV448 of the Army's documentary television program The Big Picture, which the service produced regularly between 1951 and 1964.


Tenth SFG has a long history of operations on the African continent. Their first mission, covert, occurred in 1960. On July 1 of that year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (now Zaire) got its independence from Belgium. By autumn, the country had plunged into civil war, putting at risk thousands of European and American lives. Tenth SFG received orders to covertly send a team to assist in the evacuation. Then-1st Lt. Sully H. de Fontaine was handed the mission. De Fontaine selected five volunteers: Vladimir Sobichevsky, George Yosich, "Pop" Grant, Charles Ernest "Snake" Hoskins, and Stefan Mazak. Sobichevsky would retire after 37 years with the rank of colonel, Yosich would retire a command sergeant major after 28 years of service, and Hoskins and Mazak would be killed in action in Vietnam, with Hoskins earning a posthumous Medal of Honor. Coordinating their part of the operation with Belgian paratroopers, who would hold the international media's attention, over a period of nine days De Fontaine and his team successfully evacuated 239 refugees without suffering a single casualty. De Fontaine would retire in 1976 after 37 years of service with the rank of colonel.


10th Special Forces Group
10th Special Forces Group


Tenth SFG's tradition of secrecy continues to this day. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the Boston Herald reported that its "penchant for secrecy is so exacting the base publicist didn't know the unit had gone to war until they were on their way home from Operation Desert Storm."


Tenth SFG has recently returned to Africa. Members of the unit are presently participating in the search to find and neutralize the terrorist Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army.




Medal of Honor: Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller 

Special Forces soldier Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller was killed Jan. 25, 2008, after volunteering to serve as point for a night security patrol in Afghanistan. He is a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. U.S. Army photo

The damage assessment patrol composed of eight Special Forces operators and about 15 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers was about to conduct its search of the fortified enemy position that had just been destroyed when the quiet pre-dawn gloom was shattered by a battle cry: Allah Akbar!


The shout - "God is great!" - came from the shadowy figure of an insurgent just 20 feet away who had suddenly stepped out from behind a boulder. As if on cue, the mountainside in front and on both sides of the patrol erupted in AK-47, PKM heavy machine gun, and rocket-powered grenade (RPG) fire, driving the men to the ground. Mission leader Maj. Robert Cusick, who was near the rear of the patrol, later said, "It was almost like standing in the middle of all the fireworks on the Fourth of July." As the hail of enemy gunfire descended on the group, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, in the point position, shot and killed the insurgent with a burst from his squad automatic weapon (SAW). Shouting for the rest to fall back, Miller began laying covering fire.


Then, Miller did something that surprised both friend and foe - he charged. Approximately 40 insurgents were dug into positions immediately above and around him. Another force, later estimated to contain at least 140 - possibly as many as 200 insurgents - was dug in farther up the slope.


Miller ignored the odds. To buy his comrades time to retreat out of the kill zone, he was taking the fight to the enemy.


Twenty-four-year-old Miller was born on Oct. 14, 1983, in Harrisburg, Pa., the second of eight children born to Maureen and Philip Miller. Before he had even reached his first birthday, young Robert was a kid on the go. He began walking at age seven months and was soon driving his mother to distraction, dragging chairs around so he could clamber up onto countertops.


U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller was killed by Taliban insurgents Jan. 25, 2008, while protecting his Operational Detachment-Alpha 3312 teammates during combat operations near the village of Barikowt, Nari District, Konar province, Afghanistan. He was a member of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. Afghanistan photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Corey Dennis
When he was five years old, his family moved to the western Chicago suburb of Wheaton, Ill., where he grew up. Miller was active in the Boy Scouts and participated in a wide variety of school and summer sport activities, including baseball, basketball, track, gymnastics, and band. By the time he entered senior high school, he was a star gymnast and co-captain of the team, at one point helping lead it to a fifth-place finish in the state tournament.


Named after his grandfathers, both World War II veterans, Miller grew up hearing military service stories of his father, grandparents, and ancestors going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. His first friends were Cambodian refugees and their tales of atrocities committed by the brutal, communist Pol Pot regime had a major impact on him. Given the family's history and the way that Miller acted whenever a military subject came up in conversation, Maureen knew that it was only a matter of time before her son joined the service. Her only real question was: Which branch?


That answer came in 2003, shortly after the family moved to Oviedo, Fla., just northeast of Orlando. By this time, Miller was a freshman at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, but after completing that first year, he decided he wanted to become a Green Beret. In August, he enlisted in the Army as a Special Forces trainee. After graduating from Infantry Basic Training and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., in January 2004, he entered the Special Forces Qualification Course, graduating in September of that year. He graduated from the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course in March 2005. On Sept. 30, 2005, after his graduation from the Special Operations French Language Training Course, he was promoted to sergeant and received the coveted Special Forces Tab. That same day he was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. Two years later, beginning in August 2006, he spent nine months deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


During this deployment, which lasted from August 2006 through March 2007, Miller displayed a keen interest in Afghans and their culture. Though he had received a "D" in high school Latin, Miller had a gift for languages and soon learned the local tongue, Pashto. He shared tea with the locals and gained their trust to the point where he was allowed to join them in playing buzkashi, the Afghan version of polo, in which the ball is the headless carcass of a goat and goals are scored by hurling the carcass across the goal line.


Miller returned from this deployment in late March 2007 and upon his return to the United States, took advantage of his leave to catch up on things with family and friends. Among the new decorations on his chest were two Army Commendation Medals for valor during combat. But, when pressed by his mother to talk about what happened during his deployment, he downplayed things, telling her he "was bored a lot of the time." In addition to visiting his parents, he returned to his hometown of Wheaton, where he attended the wedding of one of his high school buddies and visited his high school coaches and his high school girlfriend. After his furlough was over, Miller entered Army Ranger School and, upon successful completion of the grueling two-month leadership course, received his Ranger Tab.


Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller in Afghanistan. Miller, just 24 when he died, was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. U.S. Army photo
In October 2007, he was back in Afghanistan, this time as a weapons sergeant in Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 3312 stationed at Forward Operating Base Naray in Konar, or Kunar province.


Konar province, located in northeast Afghanistan about 50 miles north of the Kyber Pass, is one of the most dangerous regions in the war-torn country. Its mountainous terrain, rugged even by Afghan standards, and strategic location along the Pakistan border have historically made it an ideal refuge and power base for insurgents and others living outside the law. One such insurgent stronghold was the Gowardesh Valley. For two years, Afghan National Army forces had tried, and failed, to wrest control of the valley away from the well-armed and well-fortified insurgents who had built its defenses to a point where they nicknamed it "the Valley of Death."


In late January 2008, ODA 3312 and a unit of ANA soldiers were briefed on a combat reconnaissance mission designed to root out safe havens located in the ridges of a part of the valley known as Chen Khar. They would be supported by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that would provide real-time reconnaissance and A-10 Warthogs and F-15E Strike Eagles assigned combat air support duty. As darkness fell on the night of Jan. 24, Cusick and his combined force got into their up-armored Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMVs) and headed north into the valley.


The road they were on was bordered on their left by a steeply rising slope, and on their right, by the Gowardesh River. A snowstorm had recently swept through the valley, dropping more than a foot of snow, making driving even more treacherous. Twice the convoy had to stop and explode road-blocking boulders. The positions of the boulders told the men that they had not fallen, but had been placed on the road, a typical insurgent ambush tactic. After the first such encounter, Miller, the only one of the Special Forces members who spoke Pashto, was ordered to assemble an ANA team, clamber partway up the slope, and shadow the convoy as it slowly advanced.


Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller. U.S. Army photo
They reached their objective, a suspected insurgent compound, without incident. Miller and his ANA troops fanned out and took up security positions while the others searched the compound. It was at about 1:00 a.m., Jan. 25, when a report came in from the UAV controller, who had spotted a group of about 15 to 20 insurgents beginning to gather in a fortified position on the other side of the river who were preparing to attack. Miller immediately jumped into his GMV's turret and swung into position the vehicle's Mk. 19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. Within seconds Miller and his troops were exchanging fire with the insurgents. Because it was still dark, he was able to clearly see the enemy's muzzle flashes and identify for the joint tactical air controller (JTAC) the insurgent positions. The JTAC quickly plotted their grid coordinates and relayed the information to two Warthogs and two Strike Eagles flying above. They responded with four strafing runs and three precision-strike bomb drops. At one point during the air strikes, Miller's grenade launcher broke down and he was unable to repair it. This forced him to move to the vehicle's M240B machine gun mounted on the rear of the GMV, where he renewed his suppressive fire.


When return fire from the enemy positions ceased, Cusick assembled a battle damage assessment team composed of eight Special Forces operators and about 15 ANA troops. Miller would take the point position and lead the ANA troops. Cusick and the other Special Forces operators would bring up the rear. All the Special Forces men were wearing portable communications units complete with headsets so they could maintain contact. To reach the site, the team had to advance several hundred feet down the valley, cross the Gowardesh Bridge, and then double back to the enemy's position. It was shortly after the team reached the site that the hidden insurgent emerged, shouted, and all hell broke loose.


Miller's initial charge knocked out a couple of enemy positions, temporarily eliminated ground fire from the right flank, and succeeded in drawing to himself the bulk of enemy fire. As soon as he heard that the rest of the team had found cover, Miller began ducking and dodging along the steep, broken terrain, shooting and calling in enemy locations. Suddenly, an insurgent off to Miller's right rose and fired at the Green Beret. A bullet hit him in the upper torso between the top of his armor and his right armpit. Miller turned and fired a burst from his SAW, killing his attacker. At about the same time, Cusick fell, seriously wounded by a bullet that hit him near the left collarbone.


Ignoring his own wound, Miller started crawling forward, continuing to fire at the enemy. The SAW is a man-portable machine gun with a high rate of fire, and the most powerful weapon a foot patrol can bring into battle. But its distinctive muzzle flash in the predawn hours made Miller an easily identifiable target and the focus of return fire so intense that at times he was completely obscured by the smoke, dust, and debris from the impacts of the small arms, machine gun, and RPG fire on the ground around him.

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor posthumously to the parents of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, father Phil, and mother Maureen Miller, Oct. 6, 2010, during a ceremony in the White House. Miller received the honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on Jan. 25, 2008, displaying immeasurable courage and uncommon valor, eventually sacrificing his own life to save the lives of his teammates and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers. U.S. Army photo by D. Myles Cullen
Though the distance between Miller and the rest of the team was not great, it was enough of a space that for all practical purposes Miller was single-handedly taking on the enemy. Yet he refused to back down even after he started running low on SAW ammunition and had thrown his last grenades. Then, 25 minutes after he had charged up the slope, Miller's SAW went silent. The Special Forces operators called out to him, and tried to raise him on their communications units. But their attempts were in vain. At some point, a bullet had entered his left side, just above his body armor, mortally wounding him.


The rest of the team, meanwhile, had managed to get into protected positions, return fire, and radio for help. At different times, they tried to recover Miller's body, but enemy counter fire was too intense. An hour and 45 minutes later, a quick reaction force arrived, accompanied overhead by helicopter gunships, medevacs, and other air assets. Seven hours after the battle had begun, the fighting was over, the insurgents in the immediate area had been dealt a crippling blow, and the body of Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller was on its way home. The after-action report credited Miller with killing more than 16 insurgents and wounding at least another 30, but more importantly saving the lives of the rest of the team, because his action gave them the time to find cover.


On Oct. 6, 2010, in a ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, and presented the decoration to his parents, Philip and Maureen. Of the four Afghanistan conflict Medals of Honor awarded to date, three were given to men who fought in Konar province.


Medal of Honor Citation

Oct. 6, 2010


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism while serving as the Weapons Sergeant in Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3312, special Operations Task Force-33, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan during combat operations against an armed enemy in Konar Province, Afghanistan on January 25, 2008. While conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol through the Gowardesh Valley, Staff Sergeant Miller and his small element of U.S. and Afghan National Army soldiers engaged a force of 15 to 20 insurgents occupying prepared fighting positions. Staff Sergeant Miller initiated the assault by engaging the enemy positions with his vehicle's turret-mounted Mark-19 40 millimeter automatic grenade launcher while simultaneously providing detailed descriptions of the enemy positions to his command, enabling effective, accurate close air support.


Following the engagement, Staff Sergeant Miller led a small squad forward to conduct a battle damage assessment. As the group neared the small, steep, narrow valley that the enemy had inhabited, a large, well-coordinated insurgent force initiated a near ambush, assaulting from elevated positions with ample cover. Exposed and with little available cover, the patrol was totally vulnerable to enemy rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapon fire. As point man, Staff Sergeant Miller was at the front of the patrol, cut off from supporting elements, and less than 20 meters from enemy forces. Nonetheless, with total disregard for his own safety, he called for his men to quickly move back to covered positions as he charged the enemy over exposed ground and under overwhelming enemy fire in order to provide protective fire for his team.


While maneuvering to engage the enemy, Staff Sergeant Miller was shot in his upper torso. Ignoring the wound, he continued to push the fight, moving to draw fire from over one hundred enemy fighters upon himself. He then again charged forward through an open area in order to allow his teammates to safely reach cover. After killing at least 10 insurgents, wounding dozens more, and repeatedly exposing himself to withering enemy fire while moving from position to position, Staff Sergeant Miller was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His extraordinary valor ultimately saved the lives of seven members of his own team and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers. Staff Sergeant Miller's heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty, and at the cost of his own life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.




Special Warfare ATV Training


Teaching proper rock-crawling technique in an LTATV. Photo courtesy of Chris Haines


At first glance, a walk through Chris Haines' motorcycle/all-terrain vehicle (ATV) adventure company in Lake Elsinore, Calif., appears similar to some other high-end off-road specialty facilities: well-organized work areas flanked by neat rows of racing and off-road motorcycles; a collection of saddle-seat ATVs; and a neatly parked assortment of Kawasaki side-by-side two-seat and four-seat ATV models. A background of mechanical activity surrounding some of the platforms adds an air of urgency to the modification efforts under way.


But it isn't long before the eye catches a few unique discriminators, like the framed American flag that had previously flown over a special operations compound in Afghanistan or the challenge coins displayed beside Haines' desk.

"I've been in off-roading for a good part of my life and I've had the off-road business for 26 years," Haines explained. "I've raced in the Baja 1000 '20-some' times and won the thing 13 times. So I guess with the experience that I had, the special operations folks kind of searched me out. They wanted somebody to train them to ride and drive off-road. They interviewed me and asked if I wanted to help train their operators in the field."

Haines said that he originally started doing that training with the saddle-seat models, adding that the introduction of the Kawasaki Teryx 750 side-by-side Light Tactical ATV (LTATV) into Naval Special Warfare (NSW) inventories in the 2008 time frame led to an expansion of his training role to encompass the creation of pre-operation documentation and other supporting manuals for vehicle operation as well as the development of an additional training course covering mechanics training.


Haines noted that the majority of his motorcycle training activities currently involve both U.S. Army Special Operations Forces and elements of the British SAS, and that NSW was just starting to move into the motorcycle arena as well.


Driving and operations training on the LTATVs emphasizes troubleshooting and repair in the field as well as advanced driving skills. Photo courtesy of Chris Haines
"But Naval Special Warfare's main focus is on [the LTATVs] at this point," he said.


Along with his NSW training activities on the West Coast, Haines also travels to the Virginia Beach area to provide training in that area as well.


For the LTATVs, Haines offers one-week courses of instruction for both operation/driving and mechanics. The operation/driving training typically takes place in the Mojave Desert while the mechanics training takes place in a classroom at the Lake Elsinore facility.


Walking into the shop area, Haines pointed to several Kawasaki Teryx vehicles equipped with a series of military modification kits.


"When we first started training with the saddle-seat ATVs for the rider training, they started talking about introducing these [Teryx] things," he said. "And I bought this one and we'd take it along on the saddle-seat trainings in the desert. They would look at it, try it, and talk about it, and so we started evolving all those [kits] to make it what it is now."


Past a row of civilian off-road and land speed racing bikes, the latter category including a 405-horsepower model capable of speeds of 240 mph on the salt flats, Haines entered the main classroom area used for both motorcycle and side-by-side mechanical training.


"Last week we had 12 students with six of these [Teryx] machines in here," he said. "We dismantled them, put them back together, and went through all kinds of troubleshooting scenarios. We also have these bench motors where we can show the guys how to take the engines apart and put them back together - the whole deal.


"When we started this training they gave us some requirement guidelines," Haines recalled. "So we started with the requirements for their operators and then tried to introduce some new things. I think part of the reason they hired me was so that I could pass along all the things my eyes have seen in '20-some' years of doing this stuff, where maybe I could educate them on things to watch out for in the desert, how to read the terrain, how to get out of a tough spot, how to jury-rig things in the field to get out of there, and those kinds of things that you learn over the years."

Characterizing the results as "unique skill sets," he added, "You can go to classes that someone like me puts out, but there are no other places where you can learn some of those things unless you are doing it for a good part of your life. I mean, how can you tell somebody about some of those things unless you've lived it?"

He continued, "It's also important to know that we are constantly evolving the courses with the feedback that we get from the students, because it is really important to us to teach information that is pertinent to what these guys do. So at the end of each course, we do a full critique where we get their input on what they thought of the course, what they learned, and anything they might have wanted to learn a little more about. Then each time that we get this information we are able to tweak the course going forward a little bit here and there to make it exactly what these guys need."


Asked if he could offer a general example of the kinds of changes that have taken place within the course, he replied, "For instance, on the mechanical side of it, we had a lot of requests for how to troubleshoot in the field and if they had a problem how quickly they could evaluate the problem, fix the problem, and get going in the field. So we put a lot of focus on that now. That's because a lot of the time 'The Team Guys' are way far away from the main base where they might have the Seabee mechanics. These guys are out there on their own. They may not need to know how to change the pistons in the motor because they're never going to do that. But if they are in the field and the belt goes bad, the valves get tight, or the thing doesn't want to start, they need to know how to deal with it in the field and get going."


The feedback mechanism is also reinforced by a supporting follow-up communications environment.


"Along with all of the digital documentation, they have all of our contact information," Haines said. "And sometimes our secretary walks out into the shop and says, 'Hey there's a guy on the phone from Afghanistan who wants to talk to you.' And they're calling on satellite telephones for advice about a particular issue. And we welcome those calls."


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