Well folks, we just hit our 1,000th post the other day; specifically Brandon’s update from Poland about the documentary he is working on about GROM, which means that it is time for a mandatory orgy of self-congratulations. Well, not really. But seriously, yes it is.
So I got out of the Army in 2010 and saw this new self-publishing deal started up by Amazon. I always wanted to write the ultimate action-adventure novel and figured now would be the time. I could write my novel and put it out into the world without any of the hassle of going through the labyrinth-like world of publishing houses. I went ahead with that and started a blog to support the book. Before long, I got recruited to write for Military.com; who would also help promote my book. This is how I met up with Brandon – we both wrote about weapons and gear for the same website.
One day Brandon gives me a call and says that he has this big idea for a Special Operations themed blog. “Special Operations HQ” is what it will be called. I’m thinking, that’s kind of lame; aren’t there like ten other blogs out there doing the same thing? He asked me if I would like to be a part of this project and write from an Army SOF perspective. I figured it would be a small website, and maybe one day it would make a small profit and be a fun endeavor to work on. I said sure, why the hell not. Thankfully, Brandon coined the term SOFREP before moving forward with the idea. Little did I know, he was thinking bigger than I was, a lot bigger.
By the time we went out to ‘SHOT Show’ in early 2012, the website was well into production and we were trying to fill it out with content. I was busy with writing out the USASOC portion of the site, so we brought on a former Recon Marine to help out. The idea was that the website would include the entire Special Operations community. Not long after SHOT 2012, we launched the site and started to attract a small audience. It was a fun period, but we also stumbled a couple times.
I also began recruiting other writers, like fellow Ranger Iassen Donov, and intelligence expert Coriolanus. It also became evident that to get the full picture of modern warfare and Special Operations, we would have to reach outside the SOF community at times. This is why we’ve added writers such as Jeffrey Carr, Laura Walker, and Kerry Patton helping to flesh out the big picture from the intelligence and information security perspectives. Later, we would continue to bring on further expertise from former Force Recon Marine Pete Nealen, former Rangers Isiah Burkhart and Nick Irving, former PJ BK, and former Green Beret Blake Miles. Chris Martin also came on board with some great research work about SEAL Team Six and Delta Force as did Mike Perry. Aleph also came on board to bring the IDF perspective to the table.
Meanwhile, Brandon was hard at work growing the SOFREP community. He was launching projects like ‘Inside the Team Room’ and standing up affiliated blogs like The Loadout Room, The Arms Guide, and Hot Extract. On SOFREP there was no shortage of stories to write about, from SOF history, to inside looks at covert operations and terrorist groups, to exclusive reports on military actions from far flung corners of the world. We worked very hard to get accurate and timely information to our readers. However, it was not always without controversy.
Brandon and I wrote an ebook called No Easy Op, our own take on Matt Bissonnette’s first-hand account of the Osama Bin Laden raid. This was my first time doing any media-type stuff outside of blogs and self-publishing. It was pretty amusing to say the least. We tried to keep the tone of ‘No Easy Op’ fairly neutral and fair to the author of the book, but I think Brandon and I both burned some bridges in writing that one. In retrospect, I wish we had just gone ahead and done a full disclosure of what we knew about the book and gotten it over with. All of the SEAL drama with No Easy Day was like spending a month pulling off a single band-aide. I still think that the ebook has value to the civilian looking to learn more, but since then, I’ve sworn off the SEAL drama. There’s just too much of it to try to wade through.
The genesis of the second ebook we wrote came on a very sad note. One of our own, SOFREP editor and former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, was tragically killed in Benghazi, Libya. Glen, Brandon, and I had done a book signing in Times Square not long before Glen departed for Libya. I could tell that he was the real deal, and was very close with Brandon. I never set out to write a book about Benghazi. I never had really considered myself a “journalist” before, but when I began to investigate the matter, I soon realized that Brandon and I had compiled enough information to tell the public the story that the main stream media was too ignorant to put out themselves. A lot of people took exception to the title, “Benghazi: The Definitive Report.” To tell you the truth, I think it’s problematic as well, but the reality is that it was, and is, the most definitive report on the Benghazi attack available. Man, were some people pissed off at us over that book…
I’m proud to be a part of the SOFREP team as the managing editor for the main site. We’ve kept the site apolitical in a climate which is increasingly polarized. At the same time, we’ve let each of our authors go in their own direction. They are free to contradict Brandon and myself, and are even encouraged to do so if they feel the need. I find that this confuses some people, as they are accustomed to a unified singular message fed to them by other media outlets. However, at the end of the day, I think most people appreciate that we are not a monolithic community and enjoy hearing from different points of view.
We’ve got big plans for the future with bigger and better stories and articles, more episodes of ‘Inside the Team Room’, more ‘SOFREP Radio’, and more ebooks and planned documentaries. Thanks for reading and helping to make SOFREP a success!
(Featured Image Courtesy: DVIDS. Rangers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and a multi-purpose canine paused during a nighttime combat mission in Afghanistan, Feb. 13, 2012.)