Saturday, August 28, 2010

MWSA on Elemental Musings

Thanks to Bev Walton-Porter and my fellow Military Writers Society of America authors for a great show on Elemental Musings. If you missed it, you can listen via this link.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Navy EOD on TV

Navy EOD Techs will be highlighted on television this September, and next spring.

First, Navy EOD will be on the Discovery Channels show, "Surviving the Cut." Details from the channel's website reads:

"Navy EOD Final Certification
Premieres: Wednesday, 9/15 at 10PM e/p

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians or EOD are the only explosives and bomb specialists qualified for special operations. Before a Navy EOD team can go to war with Special Forces, they must go through one final test. Like the job itself, it's all-or-nothing training: A five-day, non-stop series of high stress missions. Make the wrong move, allow fatigue or distraction to take over and the entire team will fail. The team that survives the cut stays together as a certified special ops team."

More episodes are highlighted on the webpage episode guide.

Second, James Hibbard reported on "The Hollywood Reporter" that Navy EOD will be the subject of a reality show on G4 this spring. From his article:

"The show's producers...secured a special agreement with the U.S. Navy to follow an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit. The show will cover the unit's training sessions in the States and its deployment for several months in Afghanistan."

[U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Joe Ebalo]

Friday, August 20, 2010

CBS Highlights USMC EOD/ Engineers

A story about USMC EOD Techs on CBS News that needed to be told. I will pray for the fallen. [4:09]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Intelligence Book Review - Presidents' Secret Wars by John Prados

In the current era of asymmetric warfare, accurate and timely intelligence is of increasing significance. Likewise, the nation’s leaders often employ non-kinetic methods or irregular forces to achieve national security objectives. John Prados introduces this world in Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II through the Persian Gulf.

The view Prados provides spans from the strategic, such as making plans and policy in the Oval Office, to the tactical, such as describing special operations forces’ action in the U.S. invasion of Grenada. The book covers the subject thoroughly, providing insight and details into many U.S. covert operations. It highlights how each presidential administration employs intelligence and particularly the relationship between the president and the director of central intelligence. Also notable are Prados’ descriptions of the Bay of Pigs invasion and operations in Laos in the chapter entitled, “The High Plateau.”

This book should be in the hand of any student who is delving into the world of covert operations for the first time and on the shelf of anyone who studies intelligence as an enduring reference.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My First Watch

I endured blood curdling tirades before. My father employed his booming voice when disciplining me as a child. Plebe Year at the Naval Academy was fraught with loud public humiliation, often deserved, at the hands of my upperclass. Somehow, the first watch onboard Harlan County was worse than anything I experienced before.

It seemed that I could do nothing right. The captain made sure that everyone on watch knew that my orders to the helm were too hesitant, that I did not employ the correct format when reporting CPA’s, and that my calculations were grossly off. He shot questions at me about the wind, navigational rules of the road, and capabilities of the equipment on the bridge.

I do not recall that a single foul word emanated from the captain, but I felt cut to the bone. I looked to the OOD for assistance, even a glance of solidarity, and got none. Master Chief Operations Specialist Hejnal, the CIC watch officer, was on and off the bridge. One moment he emerged from combat, apparently to compare notes with me on some aspect of the watch. But once I came under fire, he seemed to disappear. I think I caught the boatswain’s mate of the watch actually smirking; he seemed to enjoy my discomfort and embarrassment.

To exacerbate the whole situation, I was seasick. The seas off VACAPES are often rough in winter months. It was not enough that the swells bobbed the unladen, flat-bottomed ship in a manner contrary to my ears and stomach. The derrick arms on the forecastle rose and fell with the waves, magnifying to my eyes their movement against the horizon.

My projections were loud and violent. Apparently kicking the junior officer while he’s down is acceptable in the ancient annals of naval leadership because as I puked, the captain needed my immediate attention. The captain would then bellow more derision at my weakness across the bridge. After each episode, my shipmate’s faces displayed scorn, not sympathy.

As the watch finished, I’m sure my shoulders slumped. I was certain after four hours of dressing down and emptying my stomach that I was a complete failure as a naval officer. The months ahead onboard the ‘Darlin Harlan suddenly seemed infinite. Before I was able to shrink away to some hidden corner to lament my fate in private, Master Chief Hejnal called to me.

"Mr. Phillips,” he said from the port bridge wing.

“Yes, Master Chief.”

“Come here, sir.”

I stepped out to the bridge wing and followed the Master Chief a few feet aft, out of earshot of the lookout and the relieving bridge team. I anticipated the Master Chief was now to get his pound of flesh. For a second I mustered my last ounce of dignity and steeled myself for some reminder of how I fouled up the previous watch or perhaps drew unwanted attention toward the Master Chief.

It turns out I completely misread his purpose. Placing a hand on my shoulder and smiling slightly, Hejnal said, “Sir, I want you to remember something and carry it with you the rest of your naval career.”

“What’s that, Master Chief?”

“You’ve got more ass, than he’s got teeth.”