All of the books I have reviewed lately have been infantry or special operations, so I really didn’t think Viper Pilot, an autobiography of a modern-day Air Force fighter pilot would offer much in the way of excitement.
I was mistaken.
In an age of low-tech, low-intensity conflicts, dogfights have become all but a distant memory. But while threats facing today’s aviators have evolved, they most certainly have not disappeared. U.S. fighter pilots, the world’s best at air-to-air combat, have shifted their role towards close air support for ground units. And with all those planes in the sky, somebody has to take on the death-defying job of knocking out enemy surface-to-air missile sites.
That job goes to the “Wild Weasels.”
The basic objective of a wild weasel mission is for a team of F-16 pilots to fly over enemy air defense sites, forcing the enemy to fire deadly missiles at the pilots. Once pilots detect the launch – assuming the missile doesn’t kill the pilot – they use teamwork to counterattack and destroy the launchers and radar stations, making the skies safe for other aircrews in the theater. This process was repeated countless times over Iraq – both during the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
If you think that fighter pilots are all glory and no guts, soaring 30,000 feet over the mud and blood of combat, then you haven’t met Lt. Col. Dan “Two Dogs” Hampton. The now-retired author of Viper Pilot has flown over 150 combat missions in just about every combat operation since Vietnam, earning four Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor and the Purple Heart…
Last year, members of the Navy SEAL elite counterterrorism unit set out on the mission America had waited for since September 11, 2001. We were finally going to get Osama bin Laden. Hours later, the leader of al Qaeda was in a body bag, and stories have circulated ever since on how the operation went down.
Considering the secrecy of our top-tier special operation forces, like SEAL Team Six, we were left to guess which of those accounts were accurate – if any truly were.
Former SEAL Matt Bissonnette was not just there, but saw bin Laden go down. Writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen, he published a detailed and accurate account of the battle, No Easy Day.
Although No Easy Day has all the detail and excitement of a Tom Clancy novel, from the near-fatal helicopter crash on insertion to evading the Pakistani air force on the return trip, the author avoids disclosing anything that could be used by the enemy.
The Pentagon claims the author violated nondisclosure agreements and has threatened legal action. Mr. Bissonnette and his lawyers assert that he did not.
That is for the lawyers to decide.
Members of the SEAL community have spoken out about the author’s decision to publish, saying he violated the SEAL Ethos: “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions…”
I am not a SEAL, so I leave that to Bissonnette and his former teammates to work out.
What I can say is that No Easy Day is… [Read the rest at The US Report]
I just wrapped up Outlaw Platoon, by Capt. Sean Parnell (USA, ret.) and have to admit that I have never read a book quite like it.
I have read many memoirs from various wars. While all are interesting, few stand out. Parnell’s account of Outlaw Platoon’s (part of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division) deployment to Afghanistan in 2006 was truly gripping.
Parnell shows the reader just how difficult life as an infantryman in Afghanistan can be; enemy fire can often prove less of a concern than the “allies” and fellow soldiers fighting alongside today’s infantryman. This book lays bare the betrayal, the corruption, the barbaric atrocities (by our enemies), and the international activities (of our so-called allies) so incredible you won’t want to believe it.
The combat scenes are as vivid and intense as I have read. What I got out of Parnell’s (and co-writer John R. Bruning’s) work that I haven’t found in other titles is the platoon leader’s journey from fresh officer to proven combat leader, his focus on unit integrity, and his efforts to keep his platoon human throughout their deployment (not everyone who comes home from war really “comes home”).
Parnell shows that “Mission first, men always” is more than just a cheap slogan; I would give anything to have served with the men of Outlaw Platoon.
If you don’t drive straight to the recruiter after reading Outlaw Platoon, then you aren’t wired right.
I love Tom Clancy books, but Clancy has only talked to those who have “been there, done that.” Brad Taylor has been at the absolute tip of the American military spear, and has lived to write about it.
Taylor spent 21 years in the infantry and Special Forces, including eight years as a commander in Delta Force, the Army’s secretive counterterrorist unit. Taylor’s first-hand experience clearly shows in his writing. Reading his books, one has to wonder: “Which parts are real and which are fiction?”
If what Taylor writes didn’t actually happen, I am sure the real story isn’t far from what’s in his second novel, All Necessary Force.
“Pike” Logan is a former operative for a counter-terrorism agency known simply as “The Taskforce.” The group is so secretive – and effective – that its discovery would scuttle the entire Executive Branch. Now Pike is a private contractor that finds himself right back in the middle of Taskforce business and is the only one who can save the country from a new and (highly possible) terrorist attack.
A recipe of treasonous congressmen, politicians willing to sacrifice soldiers’ lives for their careers, Chinese and al Qaeda operatives, and even a special operations raid during the Vietnam War combine to make All Necessary Force one of the best international thrillers I have read.
Typically, I am reading a dozen or so books at once. All Necessary Force was so good that I had to put them all down. And if you haven’t read the first book in the series, One Rough Man, grab it too.