No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden, the memoir released by Dutton in early September, 2012, is very significant because it’s the first book about the mission that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) written by someone who actually experienced the event first hand.

People who say, “It’s a grunt’s perspective” are wrong. “Grunt” is Army or USMC slang for an infantryman, and the author, a U.S. Navy SEAL, is a sailor, not a soldier. But accuracy of terms aside, “a grunt’s perspective” doesn’t come close to doing the book justice. It’s a warrior’s perspective, complete with the raw, nostril-burning stink of death.

War can be hell on earth. That’s where Special Operations (Spec Ops) and Unconventional Warfare come into play. Spec Ops warriors thrive on adversity and all have gone through their own version of rite of passage to become part of their unit. Once the bastard children of the military, Spec Ops warriors have become central to the way war is waged today. How else can we hope to defeat enemies that have no borders or rulebook?

Many Are Quick to Judge

A lot of people, including those in Special Operations, will be quick to criticize the author of No Easy Day without even reading it or having any real knowledge of its actual content. The book will doubtless hit the shelves accompanied by controversy, political scandal, and likely legal action taken against the author. But this is a historical book, packed with significance, and history will be its ultimate judge, the current court of public opinion.

Yes, many in the SEAL community feel betrayed by this book. At the same time, many also understand the author’s motive and the reasons behind the book. Never judge a person till you have walked a mile in his shoes.

The timing of this tell-all account, being published a mere sixteen months after the events it depicts, along with the fact that the book itself did not receive a Department of Defense (DoD) review before its publication, raises serious concerns for the Special Operations community. It is the general consensus at SOFREP that the author would have been best served submitting the book for an official review, even if this would have meant delaying the book’s publication-which it surely would have.

Such a review would have come with intense scrutiny and put the integrity of the story at risk. It has been our experience as writers that DoD reviews are painfully long and typically are more concerned with removing information that might make senior leadership look bad than with ensuring operational security (OPSEC). We’ve surveyed six military authors, and all report that they share this assessment.

Can One Person Determine What’s Classified?

For one individual (in this case, the author) to know exactly how and where to carve out classified information just over a year since the mission took place is a very tall order. It’s too large an operation and, in our opinion, too soon after it went down, for any one person to be able to make fully accurate assessments about what is and what is not classified. Thus, without review by a qualified larger body, it is highly likely that some classified information would make it into print.