Top critical review
Schilling has done a complete disservice to all members of the Special Operations community
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 23, 2022
The first sentence of the Acknowledgements section of the book is “I did not want to write this book.”
I agree completely with this statement and Schilling should never have written this book.
Its more than 329 pages long and the actions on Takur Ghar do not start until page 213. That means that Schilling used the first 2/3 of the book to do nothing but try to convince the reader that CCTs are the best special operators ever created in this world – better than any other special operations force from any other nation, better than the Rangers, better than Delta Force, and absolutely better than the Navy Seals. After all – on page 245 Schilling accuses the SEALs of abandoning Chapman and leaving him behind.
Schilling obviously has an axe to grind – and he chose this particular battle – and the heroic actions of Chapman to publicly grind that axe. Schilling has a perspective that the CCTs are better than everyone else – and that no other force and no other individuals can do what a CCT does. I do not argue that CCTs are highly trained. The Armed Forces are a Team – each depending upon the others to do their jobs. Schilling is in love with himself and spends the first 2/3 of this book trying to convince everyone else that CCTs are the epitome of all things relating to special operations.
After Schilling’s 212 page egotistical dissertation asserting that Combat Controllers are the only special operators that know what they are doing and his diatribe against all things SEALs and Delta, he honors the memory of Petty Office Neal Roberts (Navy SEAL) – by generously expending one half of a page (page 213) to his actions as he fell from the first attempted landing and found himself alone and fighting for his life on the mountain top. Of course, Roberts was only a SEAL so he only rated half a page. How generous.
Schilling waits until Chapter 19 (page 225) to finally start writing about the actual actions that resulted in Chapman’s demise on the mountain top. For the next 13 pages, Schillings purports to repeatedly tell you what Chapman was thinking. How could Schilling consider asserting that he knows what was going on inside Chapman’s mind? Ridiculous. Schilling continues this fallacy through Chapters 19 and 20 – continually telling the reader what Chapman was thinking, how Chapman was feeling, how much pain he was in.
Beginning with Chapter 22, Schilling writes about the actions of the Quick Reaction Force. CPT Nate Self and his Ranger team. Schilling was extravagant here – he devoted 16 pages to outlines the actions of the Rangers – a battle that raged over for over 17 hours and cost the lives of five additional servicemen. I read this portion with particular interest – as Nate Self was a friend of mine and a fellow comrade in arms. How utterly disappointed I was. In true Schilling fashion, he spent the vast majority of those 16 pages on the actions of one man – CCT Gabe Brown. He completely ignored all of the heroic actions of the Rangers, and the eventual storming of the bunkers by the Rangers. He also glossed over how the Rangers responded to subsequent attacks to the casualty collection point and the emotional turmoil that Nate Self suffered when repeated requests for medical evacuation were denied.
What are my credentials and the basis for my statements? I was there. I was in the Combined Joint Task Force Mountain Tactical Operations Center (CJTF Mountain TOC) at Bagram. I was with MG Hagenbeck, BG Harrell, as well as many other representatives from the Special Operations community as we watched the video feed from the Predator in real time. We watched the Predator feed that Schilling describes. I was there and heard the repeated radio calls from Nate Self and the Ranger Quick Reaction Force begging for medical evacuation to save lives. I personally witnessed MG Hagenbeck agonize over the decision and ultimately deciding that it was too risky to send in a Medevac bird.
I have read many books related to Operation Anaconda and particularly the Battle of Roberts Ridge. I agree that Schilling provides the best documentation of Chapman’s actions – documented by the overhead Predator feed. His failure though is his audacious assumptions regarding Chapman’s thoughts and feelings.
If you want to read a much better account of this particular battle, without have to suffer through all of the CCT Alpha Male love fest, I recommend “Roberts Ridge” by Malcolm MacPherson. A better accounting of Operation Anaconda (of which Roberts Ridge was a part), I recommend “Not a Good Day to Die” by Sean Naylor. Finally, for a perspective of the Battle of Roberts Ridge from the Ranger QRF perspective, I recommend “Two Wars” by Nate Self.