My goal for SOFREP has always been to take this website somewhere new and different. It would be too easy, and too boring, for us all to just sit on our asses and type away on our computers for years on end. We could do one blog post after the next about gays in the military, women in the military, sexual harassment in the military, and tell a bunch of war stories from back when we were active-duty soldiers. “…and that’s how we did it in Iraq” gets really lame after a while.
As time goes on, our experiences fade into the background and become less relevant. We become less relevant. While we are using our G.I. Bill and living it up back in the good old US of A, the world continues to turn. It reminds me of Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now when he is flipping out in his hotel room. He thinks something like, “Every moment I’m in here, I get weaker, and every moment Charlie spends squatting in the jungle, he gets stronger.” Ain’t that the truth.
On a more personal note, I’m still trying to figure out how most Americans don’t just die of boredom. To each their own, but living in New York City, I just don’t understand people. When I lived in rural America it was even worse. This country has become a giant strip mall.
Every day is exactly the same. Don’t they wonder what else is out there? I joined the military looking for adventure, and because I wanted to put assholes out of business. I left because I didn’t feel we were doing enough of that. I realized that SOFREP was the perfect vehicle to allow me to pursue my own interests, and on my own terms. As Jim Morris says, being an ex-Green Beret is even better than being active duty because you can write your own foreign policy.
So the concept for SOFREP’s future is quite simple. Actually, it is the same model used by Soldier of Fortune magazine back in their heyday. Hire a bunch of ex-Green Berets, Rangers, SEALs, and other assorted lunatics to travel to and write about third-world war zones. The problem is, since Soldier of Fortune‘s glory days, no one has really been doing this. Unlike the hipster weirdoes at VICE who know nothing about war, our writers understand the terrain and can write about it from a much more informed point of view.
When Special Forces train their host-nation counterparts, they send them on a confidence target for their first trial run. This is a mission that they almost can’t mess up. It is designed to assess how well they have been trained, as well as to give them the confidence to hit more difficult targets in the future. My confidence target was a training exercise in Switzerland.
Upon the invitation of some of my friends in the Swiss reserves, I participated in their annual unconventional-warfare training exercise. As a mere writer, I wasn’t neccessarily supposed to camo up and run around with a SIG rifle, but this is what we do. Walking alongside the troops doing the training, wearing a safari vest and a camera with a telephoto lens just isn’t my style. I had a great experience with the Swiss military and hope to embed with other European troops in the future.
Wrapping up my college degree, I knew it was time to challenge myself and push the boundaries of what SOFREP can be. It wasn’t just about pushing my limits though, it was also about covering a war that few are paying attention to in any reasonable fashion. It was about sticking up for my boys back in Iraq, too.
When ISIS raped and murdered their way through Iraq and Syria, it freaked out a lot of guys like me. As Special-Operations soldiers, we took our jobs seriously. We wanted to win in Iraq and we felt that we were denied that victory by a corrupt Iraqi government and a risk-averse U.S. military bureaucracy that seemed scared to death of success.
The war against ISIS is the war of this decade. It was time to pack my bags and see some of it for myself.
I’m not kidding when I say that I had to use my Special-Forces training more on this recent trip to Syria than on my previous military deployments. Getting smuggled into Syria on an underground ratline was something straight out of the Robin Sage training exercise you do at the end of the Special Forces Qualification Course. On the way back, I experienced a peacetime detention when I was scooped up by the Peshmerga for seven hours and interrogated. I thank my SERE school training for getting me through that.
I hope that the articles I’ve written about the situation in Syria have helped shed some light on what is really going on over there, and how the U.S. military could help chalk up a decisive defeat to ISIS.
Now it’s time to start planning trips for our other writers to head out to some hot spots. I figure it is their turn to go risk their lives and incarceration before I head back into the fray.