SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six—a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency.
In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes listeners deep inside the world of Navy SEALs and Special Forces snipers, beginning with the grueling selection process of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL - the toughest and longest military training in the world.
After graduating, Wasdin faced new challenges. First, there was combat in Operation Desert Storm as a member of SEAL Team Two. Then, the Green Course: the selection process to join the legendary SEAL Team Six (ST6), with a curriculum that included practiced land warfare to unarmed combat. More than learning how to pick a lock, they learned how to blow the door off its hinges.
Finally, as member of ST6, he graduated from the most storied and challenging sniper program in the country: the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School. Eventually, of the 18 snipers in ST6, Wasdin became the best—which meant one of the best snipers on the planet.
Less than half a year after sniper school, he was fighting for his life. The mission: capture or kill Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. From rooftops, helicopters, and alleys, Wasdin hunted Aidid and killed his men whenever possible. But everything went quickly to hell when his small band of soldiers found themselves fighting for their lives, cut off from help and desperately trying to rescue downed comrades during a routine mission. The Battle of Mogadishu, as it became known, left 18 American soldiers dead and 73 wounded. Howard Wasdin had both of his legs nearly blown off while engaging the enemy. His explosive combat tales and inside details of becoming one of the world’s deadliest snipers combine to make this the most thrilling and important memoir by a navy SEAL since Lone Survivor.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 35 minutes|
|Author||Howard E. Wasdin, Stephen Templin|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 05, 2011|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #6,994 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#9 in Afghan & Iraq War Biographies (Audible Books & Originals)
#11 in Special Forces Military History
#14 in Afghan War
Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2016
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I've always been interested in the military, and military training. Though that particular life was not for me, I've always admired those who choose it, and been proud of my veteran relatives. I've watched countless boot camp documentaries, shows on special forces fiction and non-, and I want to understand what it takes to be a warrior. To understand what it takes to be a warrior tasked with taking down the most wanted terrorist in the world, I wanted to read books that would explain their training, their lives, and their physical and mental toughness.
The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228 by Dick Couch was the first book I read. It covers the entire Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL training course for Class 228. In the introduction, the making of a SEAL warrior is already made clear. Couch, a former Navy SEAL himself, Class 45 during the Vietnam era, explains that the Marine Corps builds 20,000 new marines a year for a force of 174,000, trained over eleven weeks. For the Army, the very tough Ranger School graduates 1,500 soldiers a year from their eight week course. With a twenty-seven week course, only 250 men a year graduate BUD/S, and even then, they are not yet SEALs. BUD/S only earns you a chance, and at least another six months of training await these men before they earn their Trident, and become a SEAL. The Warrior Elite covers the 27 weeks of BUD/S, following along a single class from day one of Indoc to graduation. But first Dick Couch tells the story of Kim Erksine in Grenada, a SEAL who led his eleven men during a mission that went bad when they were unable to use their radios. Along the way, he describes how their training, beginning with BUD/S, shaped their decisions and actions each step of the way. They made it to the water, many of them wounded, but all of them alive and still fighting. Eventually they swam out into the ocean and were picked up. Kim Erskine credits his and his men's survival to the knowledge that each of them had survived BUD/S. Already, it's clear. SEALs don't quit. So how does the Navy find men who just won't quit? They do everything they can to make BUD/S volunteers quit, and then trains the rest. 114 men had orders to BUD/S Class 228, and on Day 1, only 98 are still on the roster, 16 gave up before it even started. At any time, a BUD/S student can quit, and many do. After two weeks of Indoc, where BUD/S hasn't even begun yet, the class is down to 69 men. At graduation, 10 men remain from the original class. Another six would graduate later with another class, having been rolled back for medical reasons. The story of what those men went through to graduate, and to earn the right to continue their training and perhaps become SEALs someday, is what The Warrior Elite explores. Frequently reading the book, I exclaimed out loud "wow", I just couldn't believe it. Everyone talks about Hell Week, the week in Phase One that weeds out a significant number of students, most on the very first day, but that is just one very hard week out of 27 very hard weeks, and the men who survive it learn that to be a SEAL is to only have harder weeks ahead.
While The Warrior Elite covers post-BUD/S training briefly in the epilogue, The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident, by the same author Dick Couch, covers this training in much greater depth. This second book is a sequel researched and written in the years following 9/11, and as such a higher emphasis is placed on protecting the identities of the warriors who are training to become qualified SEALs in the platoons, and the secret tactics used by SEALs in their operations. In that regard, the book is much less comprehensive, and much less personal. While a great deal of information is given on the recent reorganization of the SEAL Teams and their deployments, less information is given about actual training. It's hard to read The Warrior Elite without also reading The Finishing School, without the second book you're missing half the story, but The Finishing Book is sadly not the complete story, either. It's understandable for security reasons, but for somebody with a fascination for military training and tactics, as well as the men who go through it all, it's disappointing. Again, though, the lesson is clear in The Finishing School. Not everyone who gets through BUD/S is going to become a SEAL. Some quit, some disqualify for medical or performance reasons, and the graduating class is smaller than the class coming in. One thing that The Finishing School does very well is explain the warrior culture of the SEAL Teams. These are quiet professionals who work together in close-knit groups. All of them are eager to get on deployment, and each of them maximizes their opportunities to continually learn and get better whenever they can. Those who are lone wolves, and can't work safely in a team, are quickly removed from the organization. As always, it pays to be a winner, and no man is left behind.
The third book is SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper, by Howard E. Wasdin and Steven Templin. This book is very much a memoir, rather than a detailed day-by-day log of the training done in SEAL Team Six. In fact, for somebody wanting to read about the internal workings of the Navy's most elite-of-the-elite warriors, they wouldn't get very many details at all. What you get, instead, is a sense of the sorts of men who do what Howard Wasdin did, volunteer, and then keep volunteering, for the hardest jobs they could find, always looking for a bigger challenge. At times, Wasdin comes across as incredibly arrogant. He seems to put down other members of the special forces community, as well as federal law enforcement, at numerous occasions. We may never know, since members of SEAL Team Six, the CIA, and Delta Force are so tight-lipped, just how much of it is completely accurate. But nonetheless, this is a story of the sorts of brutal childhoods that spawn special forces operators, and the psychology of a warrior during training and in combat. Wasdin, I think, is more humble than he comes across. What he is, is a straight-shooter. If somebody else screwed up, he says so. At times hilarious, and at times horrifying, the story of Howard Wasdin from childhood to adulthood, with military service in between, is incredibly engaging. I had difficulties putting it down, and read through the entire book in just two sittings. While nowhere near as comprehensive as The Warrior Elite or The Finishing School, it gives us a window into the minds and lives of the men who got bin Laden.
I highly recommend all three books, and in the order I read them. Having read each one, I've come to understand, perhaps, some of the reasons why President Obama ordered SEAL Team Six to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I'll leave it put to you to decide for yourself why that might've been, but if I learned anything at all about SEALs, reading these three books, it's that they always work as a team, it pays to be a winner, and they'd rather die than quit.
I give this book four stars. While it's a fascinating look into what sort of man decides to have this kind of life, it's sadly not a very comprehensive look into SEAL Team Six, itself. Considering this unit was not even acknowledged to exist until recently, that's understandable. What insights it does give, are invaluable. As others have said, it's not terribly polished, either. Those of us with an interest in special mission units, and the military in general, will find it lacking, but in this dangerous world where these men carry out dangerous missions, it's essential for their safety. If anybody wants the real story, they'll have to join the elite of the elite for themselves. Considering the enormity of that challenge, we'll have to admire these quiet professionals from afar and be satisfied when they tell us anything.
"While patrolling, I wore Revo sunglasses, made with NASA technology by the same Italian eyewear company, Luxottica, that owns Ray-Ban and Oakley. The Revos had the clearest lenses and the best polarized protection, and they stayed on comfortably."
Then another ad reads, "I like to wear khaki Royal Robbins pants because they're easy to run in, have a lot of pockets, and look nice." Similar "ads" run throughout the book and, to me, they're quite obvious as they seem professionally written by a copywriter, not a former SEAL. The idea is that many people would love to look and act like a SEAL and they'll buy these products.
I'm not sure, of course, but it appears the authors may have used product placement throughout the book. Product placement is a form of advertising where companies pay to have their products placed in books, television shows and movies. It's a form of subtle advertising and it's very effective.
The author appears to do this with numerous products that he says he used while a SEAL and later in civilian life. This certainly doesn't take away from the story that's told. In fact, as a professional marketing consultant, I find it a very smart tactic.
Am I sure that product placement is used in this book? No, of course not. But if the author isn't getting paid for the many mentions, he should be. But, now on to the story.
The fight scenes are among the most revealing and interesting.
I saw some sensitivity in him. For example, about a firefight in one developing country he writes, ". . . the smell of human waste and death--mixed with hopelessness--filled the air. Yes, hopelessness has a smell. People use the term "developing countries," but that is bullcrap. What developed in Somalia was things such as hunger and fighting. I think "developing countries" is just a term used to make the people who coined it feel better. No matter what you call them, starvation and war are two of the worst events imaginable."
But, he adds, "Each time I made a shot, I immediately forgot about that target and scanned for another." Each kill was merely a target, not a human being. That's no doubt the only way a person can live this sort of life. He has to view a kill as a target through his scope.
"I was in my own little world, though. Nothing existed outside my scope and my mission," he says.
The team members count on each other. Those who fail or can't make the grade don't have the respect of those who go through the training and come out on top. "A number of the racehorses were the biggest crybabies. They'd probably been number one much of their lives, and now when they had their first taste of adversity--BUD/S style--they couldn't handle it. What the hell is wrong with these prima donnas?"
These losers were big on the football field and in various endeavors before SEAL training. But when it came to training for this elite group of fighters, they can't make the grade. They can't be counted on.
At one point he and some of his buddies, also SEALS, were in a bar. Someone made an anti-American remark and the SEALS came unglued. After a good deal of commotion they were arrested.
About their appearance in court the author writes, "The judge asked, "Why were three of these men taken to jail and immediately released, and Petty Officer [Dick] wasn't released until later?" The K-9 officer explained, "The dog bit him, and we had to take him to the doctor for a shot."
"How long could that have taken?" the judge asked. "Well, Your Honor, he took a bite out of my dog, so I had to take my dog to the vet for a shot." The courtroom behind us erupted in laughter. The K-9 officer explained, "Your Honor, it really isn't funny. It took me months to train him, and I still spend sixteen hours a month training him. But since Petty Officer [Dick] bit the dog, it won't do the job anymore." He said, "The laughter rose to sheer pandemonium."
But throughout the book, the author makes sure we know what an elite, very special group they are. 'Whenever the ship's crew saw us coming through the passageway wearing our camouflage uniforms and SEAL tridents, they said, "Make a hole, SEAL coming through.' It felt like being a celebrity."
It's interesting how the troops, and perhaps especially the special forces, can see how politics plays a major roll on their efforts. The author says, "In spite of the gains, President Clinton saw our sacrifices as losses. Even though we could've finished the job of taking down Aidid and getting food to the people, Clinton turned tail and ran. He ordered all actions against Aidid stopped. Four months later, Clinton released Osman Atto, Omar Salad, Mohamed Hassan Awale, Abdi Yusef Herse, and the other prisoners."
He adds, "We left our Somali friends dangling in the breeze. I felt like our sacrifices had been in vain. Why did they send us if they weren't willing to finish the job? We shouldn't have become involved in Somalia's civil war--this was their problem, not ours--but once we committed, we should've finished what we started: a lesson we are required to keep relearning over and over again."
This type of thing happens time and again under many administrations. It must be disheartening and one has to wonder how many lives are lost unnecessarily because of politics.
The book is fast-paced. It's a great action read. It's educational. The author writes like a simple guy who is sitting in his front room talking one-on-one. He doesn't try to write like a writer or impress with extra verbiage. Aside from the self-importance he obviously feels it's easy to like the guy. It would likely get old being around someone as macho as this guy sounds. But, as I said earlier, he no doubt had to think he was above the fold to do what he did and to be successful. He can't be condemned for that.
-- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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Having never watched "Black Hawk Down" and not really understanding what the mission was about, this have an interesting insight.
I've read other reviews where people have been scathing towards the author and whilst everyone IS entitled to their own opinion, US commenting on what they should/shouldn't have done on certain missions is irrelevant.
Even to the point of saying how much the author brags about their achievements. I'm sorry, but what he/ they have achieved throughout their training is
We're not the ones on the ground, putting ourselves in danger / having the intel available to make the decision on what action to take next.
I've never served and I'm never likely to and whilst I may not always agree what the "media" let's us see, I'm bold enough to say, the decisions are not made lightly.
Any military memoir I've read, gives me solid appreciation for what they have been through and because of their actions (and all those before, now and in the future), is what allows me to live freely.
So I'll finish by saying, thank you for your service!
An honest book that kept me interested from start to finish. These guys deserve respect as does anyone who has served with any special forces regiment in the world. Well done!