I have a passion for history and a belief that as a soldier we need to understand the past to forge the future. Damien Lewis is an incredible author and below is an introduction to his latest work.

In 2008 the world’s foremost arms-dealer to rebel and terrorist groups was sentenced in a US court to 25 years without parole. For decades fugitive Russian Viktor Bout – better known as the Merchant of Death / Lord of War – had been hunted by an alphabet soup agencies. Why?

Bout was trading arms for gems and drugs, fuelling the global nexus of narcoterrorism. But more worryingly, Bout – former Soviet military and KGB/GRU agent – was at the forefront of the new Cold War, peddling Moscow’s power and influence, and fearsome Russian weaponry, to nurture the West’s foremost enemies.

Shielded from on high by the Kremlin, Bout seemed immune to capture. The NSC, CIA, NSA and MI6 had failed to nail the hugely intelligent and spy-craft-savvy Russian. Straight military-intel operations – like the ultra-secret Task Force Bloodstone – had failed. Something else entirely was needed. Something from left field; unexpected; a radically new approach.

No one was about to ride forth and capture Bout. Instead, those pursuing him would need to think and act – and plan – like the criminal and narcoterrorist networks he serviced. Bout needed to be lured out of Moscow – tricked out of his lair.
By the summer of 2007 all efforts to nail the Lord of War had ground to a halt. It was then that the White House approached Mike Braun, chief of the DEA’s elite Special Operations Division (SOD). Could the DEA nail Bout where all others had failed?

Braun studied the files. He read reports suggesting that Bout had built a six billion dollar global smuggling empire. By shipping tens of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles into the hands of rebels, he’d ‘transformed young, adolescent warriors into mindless, maniacally-driven killing-machines,’ Braun concluded, darkly.

But it went further. In Braun’s view, Bout ‘could not have acquired the weapons systems he did without the complicity of the highest ranks of government and military in Russia.’ In short, Braun concluded, Bout was ‘one of the most dangerous men on the face of the earth’. He agreed that the DEA would have a shot at him.

To score the crucial breakthrough, the DEA needed to secure the services of someone Bout knew and trusted. Step-forward bruisingly-blunt and outspoken former Special Forces man and Africa bush pilot, Mike Snow. Known to all as ‘The Bear’ following his stint in the military, Snow specialized in flying ageing airframes around Africa’s war zones, delivering whatever was required. It was work that had of necessity brought him close to Bout.