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The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander

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As a commander in Delta Force-the most elite counter-terrorist organization in the world-Pete Blaber has taken part in some of the most dangerous, controversial, and significant military and political events of our time. And he's learned and experienced more about the real world and how things really work than most people could imagine. As a commander in Delta Force-the most elite counter-terrorist organization in the world-Pete Blaber has taken part in some of the most dangerous, controversial, and significant military and political events of our time. And he's learned and experienced more about the real world and how things really work than most people could imagine.


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As a commander in Delta Force-the most elite counter-terrorist organization in the world-Pete Blaber has taken part in some of the most dangerous, controversial, and significant military and political events of our time. And he's learned and experienced more about the real world and how things really work than most people could imagine. As a commander in Delta Force-the most elite counter-terrorist organization in the world-Pete Blaber has taken part in some of the most dangerous, controversial, and significant military and political events of our time. And he's learned and experienced more about the real world and how things really work than most people could imagine.

30 review for The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    While much of this book is about military action and life within Delta Force, it is mostly about leadership and what it takes to succeed at any endeavor. The author provides an insightful view of the political workings of the military organization during a wartime setting and demonstrates how great people can overcome bureaucracy to achieve the mission.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Coffman

    This excellent book is really about how to thrive out on the edge of a high-risk, high-profile career. It's not a book for armchair experts or backseat drivers of whatever stripe, because one of Blaber's key teachings is how to circumvent the kibbutzers and second-guessers in positions of authority, ignore their distractions and overcome their interference, and accomplish the mission. In fact, while it's a great title, the equation of the "mission", his "men" and himself "me" gives the misleading This excellent book is really about how to thrive out on the edge of a high-risk, high-profile career. It's not a book for armchair experts or backseat drivers of whatever stripe, because one of Blaber's key teachings is how to circumvent the kibbutzers and second-guessers in positions of authority, ignore their distractions and overcome their interference, and accomplish the mission. In fact, while it's a great title, the equation of the "mission", his "men" and himself "me" gives the misleading impression that Blaber may be a bit of a prima donna. In fact, the "Mission, Men and Me" framework is applied whenever Blaber is being pressured by a senior commander to take an action that Blaber is convinced will result in damage to the mission or needless harm to his men. When forced into these dilemmas, if the only consideration is his personal or career interests, than Blaber always puts "Me" at risk to assure the best outcome for the Mission and his Men. The realism of the book can be conveyed by observing that Blaber needs to apply the Mission, Men and Me framework fairly frequently! The book, which is officially divided into Parts One - Four, is thematically structured into three sections: (1) The first section is a series of very helpful lessons and mental frameworks for handling intense, stressful and complex situations. Blaber has benefited from the kind of resources the US Government can afford to pour into its best and brightest, and an unbelievable amount of cutting edge cognitive, psychological, sociological, and other areas of research have been reduced to practical learnings and made available to the operators of Delta Force, and Blaber makes them available to readers of this book. Just the insight into chronic insomnia provided by a Delta psychologist (page 70) from which I and many people I know who work in high stress professions suffer, is worth many times the price of the book. This section comprises Parts One and Two of the book; (2) The second section is a realistic, clear-eyed critique of the organisational pathologies that are running rampant in the US Government, and which clog the arteries of any large institution. This is a very alarming section. This is where Blaber's Mission-Men-Me framework, while nominally one of the key tools he explains in Section 1, is used again and again. Blaber has very insightful comments to make about risk aversion, the tactical foolishness of the helicopter assault concept, and the counter-productive stupidities that have been institutionalised through high bandwidth modern telecommunications technology. Two examples of this are (a) the way deeply rear echelon senior commanders, at one end of a data feed 10,000 kilometers away, over-ride combat participants because of the communications capabilities that give the Generals access to two-dimensional video imagery and real time voice contact--and therefore the illusion that they are across all the information required to make tactical decisions during combat, and (b) the second example is the pervasive abuse of the VTC (Video Teleconference), a subject all its own, and how the VTC has allowed the Staff Planning function to engulf and just about devour actual war-fighting, at least in Blaber's account--which is persuasive. This second section is Part Three of the book. (3) The third section is a live example of Blaber's experiences in combat in the conquest of Afghanistan and the sudden collapse of the Taliban. This is exciting material on its own, but Blaber includes it with a view to illustrating the frameworks he explains in the first section and the kinds of organisational irrationalities he critiques in the second section. This third section is compelling at all levels, but I must say my blood boiled from time to time at the account of the self-serving careerist officers and senior authorities driven by their own egos who repeatedly interfered with the mission and the best interests of the brave men in harm's way. While this book could be considered an unusually useful management resource there is a broader vista that opens up in its pages, and that is a vision of horizon-to-horizon mismanagement and incompetence in the US Government. I really hope plenty of people in a position to push through much needed reforms are reading this book . . . we need to embark on root to branch institutional reform across the US Government before it's too late . . . 9/11 and the operations described by Blaber were one symptom, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was another, and the Global Financial Crisis (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the SEC, etc.) was yet another . . . How many of these shocks can we sustain? I hope many people read Blaber's book--and then do something!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steven Hildreth Jr.

    Pete Blaber served in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, more popularly known as Delta Force, and his leadership experiences while with that particular organization make him uniquely qualified to impart wisdom in regards to leadership in combat. His book, THE MISSION, THE MEN, AND ME, does exactly that, with a few key points: don't get treed by a chihuahua; when in doubt, develop the situation; imagine the unimaginable, humor your imagination; always listen to the man on the gr Pete Blaber served in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, more popularly known as Delta Force, and his leadership experiences while with that particular organization make him uniquely qualified to impart wisdom in regards to leadership in combat. His book, THE MISSION, THE MEN, AND ME, does exactly that, with a few key points: don't get treed by a chihuahua; when in doubt, develop the situation; imagine the unimaginable, humor your imagination; always listen to the man on the ground; and it is not reality unless it is shared. Blaber's experiences take us from the opening stages of the war in Iraq, to hunting war criminals in the Balkans, to an aborted mission to infiltrate Afghanistan to eliminate Osama bin Laden pre-9/11, and finally, to the opening stages of the war in Afghanistan and Operation: ANACONDA. Here, he exposes where his lesson come into play by demonstrating where he made mistakes and where others he has worked with made mistakes, ranging from fellow Delta operators to those in the highest annals of power. At the level that Blaber operated, mistakes cost people their lives, which is strongly demonstrated in the closing chapters of the book. Writing-wise, Blaber's prose is solid. He does not self-aggrandize, he does not exaggerate. He simply tells the facts as he saw them, being the man on the ground. It's not ground-breaking prose, but it is skilled and calculated, as one would expect from a man who spent his career honing his skills and calculating risks. Researchers of other books regarding Operation: ANACONDA--particularly, NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE, by Sean Naylor--will see cross-references to and excerpts from other accounts. Video gamers might find passages that served as inspiration to the game MEDAL OF HONOR (particularly, the parts about Advanced Force Operations, and Blaber's call sign, "Panther"), which should add incentive for those gamers to research the men behind the story that drives the game. Military service members and veterans will find combat lessons to apply to their own craft. Civilians will find lessons they can apply in their every day lives. This latter point has been a point of contest with some in the military community who feel that Blaber's book was possibly edited from a book about war to a "self-help" book…while this may certainly be the case, the war stories are still there, and the lessons--while perhaps unnecessarily spot-lighted--are still there, as well, and it does not read like the self-help books one would expect from, say, Anthony Robbins. All in all, THE MISSION, THE MEN, AND ME delivers insights in spades through amusing and interesting stories, as well as by way of the modern battlefield from a commander's perspective. It is definitely recommended reading for military enthusiasts from all walks of life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matias Myllyrinne

    I’m one of the better books on using military leadership to outline general principles. Easy to consume and brilliant in its simplicity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sashank Mohan

    One of the best books you can come across or read in the military non-fiction/special operations genre written by former Delta Force Commander Pete Blaber who was not just one of the first americans to step foot on afghan soil post 9/11 but who's actions played a crucial role in devising the strategies to counter the threat of Al Qaeda/Taliban. While most of the books I read in the military non-fiction/spec ops genre focused on the operations,the pain and toil of training as well as the emotions One of the best books you can come across or read in the military non-fiction/special operations genre written by former Delta Force Commander Pete Blaber who was not just one of the first americans to step foot on afghan soil post 9/11 but who's actions played a crucial role in devising the strategies to counter the threat of Al Qaeda/Taliban. While most of the books I read in the military non-fiction/spec ops genre focused on the operations,the pain and toil of training as well as the emotions that run through while in battle including the sacrifices,undaunted courage and heroism of soldiers, this book focuses on the lessons learnt by Blaber while he served as a Delta Force operator right from hunting war criminals in Bosnia during the mid and late 90s to being a part of the first team on the ground in Afghanistan right after 9/11 and being one of the key figures in the battle of Takur Ghar. Through his writing Blaber also throws light upon the incompetence of the "U.S. Military Decision Making Process" in situations that require a highly unconventional approach to succeed, his repeated clashes with JSOC Commander Dell Dailey over the tactics required to counter the threat and also the exasperating hierarchical compartmentalization in the U.S military's decision making process which eventually leads to some near misses and momentary failures that hampered progress and overlooked critical findings. Blaber also gives a blow-by-blow account of the battle of Takur Ghar a.k.a Operation Anaconda where NATO forces cornered the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists through a massive offensive in the Shahi Kot valley which resulted in heavy losses for the enemy and drove some of them across the border to Pakistan. Though many have not heard a great deal about him , I can say with confidence through my own personal research that if not for Blaber, America wouldn't have seen the AFO Teams which clinically directed surgical strikes on enemy positons during Anaconda and the operation wouldn't have been as successful as it was given the initial setbacks. Moreover, if not for Blaber, JSOC as well as the other commands under the DOD wouldn't have the faintest of ideas about the way Osama Bin Laden operated and the unconventional tactics required to eliminate him. It's a rock solid piece of work and an amazing read. I highly recommend it to all military buffs who spend as much time on military non-fiction, war stories and reports as I do.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mart

    This book happens to one of these "bundle packs" - for the price of one, you actually get multiple books, albeit in between the same covers. Firstly, and most surprisingly, it's a fantastic management and strategy book. It sings the same tune as many modern management and strategy scholars, for instance there are many parallels with "emergent strategy" concepts (Mintzbert, Grant, Eisenhardt et al), and also with the "eight themes" of Peters and Waterman. But it is not only doing a fantastic job This book happens to one of these "bundle packs" - for the price of one, you actually get multiple books, albeit in between the same covers. Firstly, and most surprisingly, it's a fantastic management and strategy book. It sings the same tune as many modern management and strategy scholars, for instance there are many parallels with "emergent strategy" concepts (Mintzbert, Grant, Eisenhardt et al), and also with the "eight themes" of Peters and Waterman. But it is not only doing a fantastic job applying these concepts to military situations, it also develops some actual new ground in terms of strategy studies. Secondly, it provides an interesting view (a pretty grim one, sadly) into the fallacies of political decision-making, more particularly into those related to the US military. Over-developed risk aversion on one side and a blind faith in technology on the other, decision-makers shut their eyes in front of actual information and base the decisions on wishful thinking and populist agendas. Thirdly, it's just good story telling. War stories, but not the bragging and boasting usually found in such ex spec ops memoirs.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emma Ferris

    His main points (guiding principles/leadership lessons) were good, but I would have found them useful even if they had just been presented to me as catchphrases and without having read the book. The supplemental war stories were okay, but mostly it seemed like the author thought he and his team were just better and more elite than everyone around them (even when they were working under other special operations groups) and that they were being constantly restricted by the military bureaucracy. Th His main points (guiding principles/leadership lessons) were good, but I would have found them useful even if they had just been presented to me as catchphrases and without having read the book. The supplemental war stories were okay, but mostly it seemed like the author thought he and his team were just better and more elite than everyone around them (even when they were working under other special operations groups) and that they were being constantly restricted by the military bureaucracy. The eighth guiding principle should have been that the military’s organizational structure is broken and unsuited to counterterrorism operations, but, that probably could have been its own separate book. Either way, it made me really dislike the author, which made me question what he had to say. Bottom line: the book is okay; I would recommend to just skim it and try and look past the author’s superiority complex.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Relstuart

    Read for office book club. This is a 2015 Air Force CSAF book selection. Well written book on leadership by a Spec Ops officer whose career has been centered on the War on Terror and the small conflicts leading up to it. Some great stories and leadership lessons learned from his career. One of the big lessons highlighted here was the importance of listening to the man on the ground and the dangers of leading from the other side of the world or behind a desk without having the on the ground persp Read for office book club. This is a 2015 Air Force CSAF book selection. Well written book on leadership by a Spec Ops officer whose career has been centered on the War on Terror and the small conflicts leading up to it. Some great stories and leadership lessons learned from his career. One of the big lessons highlighted here was the importance of listening to the man on the ground and the dangers of leading from the other side of the world or behind a desk without having the on the ground perspective. It's a problem throughout the military that leaders need to focus on minimizing so we are most effective in accomplishing the mission and creating the camaraderie that can make our military great. Glad to see a book like this in the CSAF book list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Razal

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Although I did enjoy the stories told in the book something about it kept it from really holding my attention.I can't really put my finger on it. The other lessons felt like rewordings of the same cardinal lesson. Which amalgamates to command doesn't know Jack. The end to me also felt very abrupt. Although I did enjoy the stories told in the book something about it kept it from really holding my attention.I can't really put my finger on it. The other lessons felt like rewordings of the same cardinal lesson. Which amalgamates to command doesn't know Jack. The end to me also felt very abrupt.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    A bunch of quality lessons on leadership here! Actually a pretty dang good and interesting book about leadership, planning and problem solving. Side note: my kind of leader as he supports the role of humor.

  11. 5 out of 5

    V. Romas Burton

    This book is different from what I usually read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Blaber does an excellent job of explaining key leadership elements and the ins and outs of military leadership.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zac

    Solid lessons in this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chad Manske

    An insider perspective from a Delta Force operator who saw it all from 1985 through most of the GWOT. Pete Blaber first heard of Bin Laden well before he became a household name, though unfortunately at the time, other priorities would consume our elite forces after it became too late. Straightforward approach to operations, responsibility and accountability, leaders at all levels have much to take away from Blaber’s command approach and philosophy while he served his country admirably.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dwight Acorda

    This book is one of my favourites. Since I find military strategies interesting, what I learned from this book is timeless. This book provides meaningful insight into the world of a Delta Force officer and his dealings into his career and personal life. There are so many practical lessons that I took away from this book. From the title of this book, where the conception of this book is taken from, you'll learn the priorities that Pete Blaber, the author and commander in charge of his Delta Force This book is one of my favourites. Since I find military strategies interesting, what I learned from this book is timeless. This book provides meaningful insight into the world of a Delta Force officer and his dealings into his career and personal life. There are so many practical lessons that I took away from this book. From the title of this book, where the conception of this book is taken from, you'll learn the priorities that Pete Blaber, the author and commander in charge of his Delta Force team, put on himself to lead his team with effectiveness. His main priorities were: - What can I do to effectively and efficiently complete this mission? - What can I do for my men, their safety and livelihood? - & What can I do for myself? If you are a leader and would like to benefit from conflict resolution, this book is for you. This book will enliven your mind to correct your faults and deficiencies, and also tackle challenges and opportunities that may arise. He uses specific principles to alleviate the challenges he has faced by adapting to different environments and using core fundamental laws to take care of the job. His key principles are: - Always listen to the guy on the ground - They're the ones in duty and in real time situational awareness , so it's important that the information is taken into context and are communicated directly to the upper commanders so a clear and concise plan can be made. - It's not reality unless it’s shared - Always disseminate information with your comrades to understand the situation at hand so everyone can contribute and make a stronger, more cohesive plan. The brainstorming he teaches will not only generate creative ideas, but it will improve everyone's mental faculties in problem solving, a main point he teaches. - & When in doubt, develop the situation - a key concept that Blaber expounds upon to survey his surroundings so he can make a specific plan for the execution of the team's duties. Another section that I thoroughly found insight from was when he mentioned about using creativity and the absorption of knowledge/facts to construct a specific plan. He instructs on the practice of three consecutive principles when devising a plan, and they are: 1. Saturate: Absorb all the knowledge that you can by overloading your mind with the necessary information, data, facts, etc. 2. Incubate: Let your mind sift through all the knowledge that has been absorbed within the subconscious and let it process all the information, storing the data and letting it develop while sorting out all the knowledge within the brain's network. He advises to take a night of proper contemplation or rest to let the mind warm up in formulating ideas. Thus, it allows the reorganization of information overload to help the brain develop a plan, preparing the following principle to take place... 3. Illuminate: This part is where the eureka, the aha! moment comes from where you have devised a brilliant idea. Once an idea has been formulated, you immediately need to write down your thoughts before it goes away. Let the ideas flow naturally without over-thinking, so that way you can soak up knowledge and spout out good ideas from it. Generally speaking, illumination takes the form of the beginning stages of applying knowledge. It is this moment where thoughts and ideas are seamlessly formulated within your mind and where the mind has been properly primed through the stages of saturation and incubation. These instructions are taught by the author to formulate effective plans and ideas and use them in whichever scenario or context that come about. In conclusion, The author goes through the hoops and struggles of being the team leader while providing entertaining stories, such as his experiences in the Yugoslavian wars or his trek in the Appalachian mountains. He also provides a thorough and fresh perspective on his journeys while mentioning of the blunders and mistakes he has encountered throughout. Overall, this book is an excellent read, and I would, again, advise those who are managers and leaders alike to buy a copy of this book, as you'll find useful information that can be applied to any practice you are pursuing or wish to pursue.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nadir

    Blaber's book is a quick and easy read. He uses a series of anecdotes about Delta Force missions and training to lay the groundwork for describing an approach to planning and executing plans that differs from how the "regular" Army does things. Given the material provided, it's hard to argue with his conclusions, but of course, the regular Army commanders who are painted as egotistical blundering idiots aren't around to defend their actions. At face value it's hard to disagree with any of Blaber Blaber's book is a quick and easy read. He uses a series of anecdotes about Delta Force missions and training to lay the groundwork for describing an approach to planning and executing plans that differs from how the "regular" Army does things. Given the material provided, it's hard to argue with his conclusions, but of course, the regular Army commanders who are painted as egotistical blundering idiots aren't around to defend their actions. At face value it's hard to disagree with any of Blaber's positions, but like all things, the truth is likely somewhere in between. I certainly applaud the common theme he had of getting the opinions and recommendations from numerous sources and especially from the man on the ground. Not believing he could see and know everything from his command post shows real wisdom. Few leaders are willing to trust their subordinates this way, oddly believing that they are in command because the must "know" better, though that is often far, far from the truth. Another equally important lesson Blaber describes is to not to rely too heavily upon technology - he gives several examples where that approach effectively put blinders on higher headquarters, leading to counterproductive decisions. Blaber summarizes his lessons as: • Don't get treed by a Chihuahua - don't let your imagination or misunderstanding of facts/events color your decision-making process. • When in doubt, develop the situation - this one was key - take the time to find out more about what's happening rather than going off half-cocked. • Humor your imagination - when developing plans use the brain-storming approach and think outside the box. • It's not reality unless it's shared - information is of no value if it's not shared among the members of your organization/team. Compartmentalization works against understanding, which undermines effective planning or reactions. • Always listen to the guy on the ground - this includes all sources, not just those of your own men. Their proximity to the point of action gives them a perspective that higher headquarters nearly always lack, and thus an understanding of the battlefield that higher HQ should respect. This book provides a valuable operational history of Operation Anaconda but also valuable lessons for business and life in general. Recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    Very interesting. I had read about Blaber elsewhere, and was eager to get his perspective on things. Blaber is a talented writer. I enjoyed Blaber's fresh, innovative, and novel approach of writing. Instead of just compiling an account of his actions in Delta, Blaber focuses on simple themes, drawing valuable and applicable life lessons from his experiences, which range from hiking to waging war. Blaber offers a series of very helpful lessons and mental frameworks for handling intense, stressful Very interesting. I had read about Blaber elsewhere, and was eager to get his perspective on things. Blaber is a talented writer. I enjoyed Blaber's fresh, innovative, and novel approach of writing. Instead of just compiling an account of his actions in Delta, Blaber focuses on simple themes, drawing valuable and applicable life lessons from his experiences, which range from hiking to waging war. Blaber offers a series of very helpful lessons and mental frameworks for handling intense, stressful and complex situations. All too many special operator memoirs suffer from an excess of rah-rah me-tough-guy braggadocio. Blaber's book is very different. Seems a bit disjointed and unfocused at times, but somehow he manages to connect everything to a key life lesson. I had read about Ali Mohammed in "The Looming Tower", and Blaber provides some interesting insights on that. I also remember a Lieutenant Colonel Mark Sutter from Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander and Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man being mentioned as the head of Advance Force Operations (AFO). Since in "Jawbreaker" it is mentioned that Mark Sutter is a pseudonym, it looks like Mark Sutter is none other than Pete Blaber.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roger Misso

    On a scale from 1 to 10, this book is an 11 with room to spare. Should be required reading for each prospective officer in any service--Pete Blaber worked both joint and combined operations--including any civilian with responsibilities relating to the US military. "The Mission, The Men, and Me" isn't just a title of a book, it's a way to live your life and tackle the day. I could go on for a while about how great this book is, but I'll spare you. Pick this up, read it, and allow it to shape your On a scale from 1 to 10, this book is an 11 with room to spare. Should be required reading for each prospective officer in any service--Pete Blaber worked both joint and combined operations--including any civilian with responsibilities relating to the US military. "The Mission, The Men, and Me" isn't just a title of a book, it's a way to live your life and tackle the day. I could go on for a while about how great this book is, but I'll spare you. Pick this up, read it, and allow it to shape your life and decisions. Best book I have read in a long, long time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    maistrich

    Some of the war stories are interesting. The leadership lessons are weak and overly simplistic. Towards the end the book becomes very heavy on trying to prove the author did nothing wrong in the disaster in Afghanistan. Interestingly for me, I had played through the Afghanistan storyline in a computer game, but did not realize it was so completely based on actual events.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    I just finished this book for the second time. This book is so full of life lessons, leadership lessons, and entertaining stories that teach those lessons. It's a must read for anyone in a supervisory position. It's a must read for anyone with an interest in our Military. It's a must read. I just finished this book for the second time. This book is so full of life lessons, leadership lessons, and entertaining stories that teach those lessons. It's a must read for anyone in a supervisory position. It's a must read for anyone with an interest in our Military. It's a must read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eliot

    Various military stories interspersed with useful life or business lessons. And as with all books on Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a lot of courage, honor and bravery mixed in with a lot of MASH 4077, military red tape and incompetence.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brance Gillihan

    What an awful book. The author is arrogant, braggadocios, and not nearly as heroic as he seems to think he is. I read about half and stopped because I couldn’t take any more of his nonsense. It’s easily the worst book I picked up this year.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    OK book. Applying some special forces axioms to general leadership and life. A good amount of retelling of military operations. Some of the recounted conversations and situations strain credulity.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Timeo Williams

    This book by ret. Col Pete Blaber was among the many books recommended to me as a primer into military history and intelligence. Col. Blaber was among the few who earned entry into "The Unit", the highest level of operations within the U.S Army. They are the Special Forces. Organized into small teams to accomplish very difficult missions, these soldiers are among the fittest and have to be capable of making excellent decisions in very difficult environments. What struck out to me was a pattern a This book by ret. Col Pete Blaber was among the many books recommended to me as a primer into military history and intelligence. Col. Blaber was among the few who earned entry into "The Unit", the highest level of operations within the U.S Army. They are the Special Forces. Organized into small teams to accomplish very difficult missions, these soldiers are among the fittest and have to be capable of making excellent decisions in very difficult environments. What struck out to me was a pattern all too common in excellent organizations: creativity flourishes when there is openness and information sharing throughout all branches of the organization. Different ideas attacking each other and meshing allows for the creative process to thrive and the large diversity allows for the best one to win. The AFO, that is established later in the book, essentially encompasses that. It is a combination of Special Forces units - themselves Rangers, Air Force, Green Berets, and the CIA working in unison to accomplish the mission. What's realized is that the traditional hierarchies, i.e. the chain of command, may not be the most effective method of decision making in very fast-moving, desolate environments, in where the man on the ground is the man to be trusted. Among the interesting stories in this book include the one of Ali Mohamed. I recommend readers to look into his story, when they get the chance. A few quotes/sayings, stuck out to me: " I rarely went anywhere without Homer. It's hard to describe how valuable a top-notch sidekick is for a leader in a combat zone. Homer's advice and counsel were nested in just about everything I did. ' You're on the right track, you're smoking crack, let me and the guys handle that,' all those little things that in aggregate, allowed me to maintain a cruising altitude when I could filter out the white noise of pride, prejudice, and politics and home in on the key patterns that were essential; for understanding what was going on around us."(238) " I stepped outside into the courtyard and realized that once again the tyranny of the plan was trumping updated information from the man on the ground and its by-product, common sense. There was no way to turn the planning machine off, and there was no way to alter its course. Even though we had updated information, the plan was the plan, and the staff had put so much work into putting it together that the mission itself no longer had anything to do with the reality on the ground; the mission was to execute the plan on time. "(260)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Probably the most enjoyable book I've read about the nebulous topic of "leadership." That's because most of the book consists of stories from Blaber's Delta Force experience. Two big takeaways. First, from the beginning of the book, Blaber talks about how he was being ordered into a battle that his team would be unlikely to succeed in. If he obeyed, the mission might be compromised and his men would likely be slaughtered. If he rejected or ignored the orders, he might be sanctioned by the higher Probably the most enjoyable book I've read about the nebulous topic of "leadership." That's because most of the book consists of stories from Blaber's Delta Force experience. Two big takeaways. First, from the beginning of the book, Blaber talks about how he was being ordered into a battle that his team would be unlikely to succeed in. If he obeyed, the mission might be compromised and his men would likely be slaughtered. If he rejected or ignored the orders, he might be sanctioned by the higher-ups. But he followed the maxim of "the mission, the men, and men" to prioritize the mission and his men above himself. If I'm involved in leading a team, I'd like to steal that prioritization. Second, the talk about planning for the war in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks was really eye-opening. The discussion is to teach the lesson of "always listen to the man on the ground," but we also learn of some major mistakes in the war planning process. For example, U.S. spy satellites generated images showing artillery and tanks surrounding Kabul. U.S. planners called it "the ring of fire" and assumed this equipment would provide stiff resistance as U.S. forces went to Kabul. Meanwhile, a friend of Blaber put him in contact with one of the Afghans who regularly ate at a local Afghan restaurant near D.C. The man, who was a former Afghan military commander, informed Blaber that the "ring of fire" consisted of abandoned vehicles and broken equipment left by the Soviets after their invasion of Afghanistan in the 80s. That story just contributes to my view that ELINT and SIGINT should be considered complementary to HUMINT, not a replacement!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lynnae

    What a great read! I really enjoyed this one! Part military memoir and part leadership lesson manual, this is a great military read for readers who are sensitive to language, because he doesn't use a single F-word. I don't care overmuch about that myself, but it was notable to read an entire military book without encountering any heavy swearing. I've come to expect that Delta operators, in particular, have a general disdain for the way the traditional military is run, and this book highlights th What a great read! I really enjoyed this one! Part military memoir and part leadership lesson manual, this is a great military read for readers who are sensitive to language, because he doesn't use a single F-word. I don't care overmuch about that myself, but it was notable to read an entire military book without encountering any heavy swearing. I've come to expect that Delta operators, in particular, have a general disdain for the way the traditional military is run, and this book highlights the flaws in the organization as a whole while paying wonderful tribute to remarkable patriots, from all military branches, who accomplished tremendous things when their operational strings were snipped and they were allowed to innovate. The accounts themselves were riveting. Because of his preference for inclusive leadership and his primary message of listening to the guys on the ground, Pete Blaber tells each battle story from multiple angles, primarily because he listened to all the angles while conducting each operation. Despite the fact that his tales do highlight some of the flaws in the overall system, this book is not written as a praise-all of Delta and a condemnation of traditional military structure. It's surprisingly circumspect about the true skill of the Delta operators, focusing more on key leadership techniques and lessons demonstrated by a variety of officers in all the branches. These Delta books are quickly becoming my favorites; though I do enjoy the rah-rah bravado of the SEALs, there's something about these secretive and quietly (almost shyly) confident Delta authors that makes them a lot more relatable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Justin Rutledge

    "How do perfectly smart people make bad decisions? In an organizational context, it's almost always the result of a lack of shared reality. 'It's not reality unless it's shared' isn't just a guiding principle for how to think and make decisions, as the lessons from AFO and Operation Anaconda revealed; it's also a guiding principle for how to operationalize those thoughts and decisions; specifically how to organize, communicate with, and lead an organization." Developing the situation should alway "How do perfectly smart people make bad decisions? In an organizational context, it's almost always the result of a lack of shared reality. 'It's not reality unless it's shared' isn't just a guiding principle for how to think and make decisions, as the lessons from AFO and Operation Anaconda revealed; it's also a guiding principle for how to operationalize those thoughts and decisions; specifically how to organize, communicate with, and lead an organization." Developing the situation should always be a priority, strict administrative divisions should be scrapped for an organizational structure suited to each mission. Most importantly, Blaber points out, is that sharing information and providing purpose (instead of simply giving tasks without context) is critical to mission success. Overall a good read, filled with entertaining stories about the real life experiences of Delta Force operators.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Papier

    A great first person account of a more current Delta Force operator, commander and the varied missions that they often tasked with. This book does cover some Operational issues and problems like being micromanaged from half a world away during an actual mission in a combat zone. The author gives you his personal background and shared maxims that he's learned, often the hard way, through the years. These "pearl's of wisdom" can often be applied to, not only the Military and Military Leadership, b A great first person account of a more current Delta Force operator, commander and the varied missions that they often tasked with. This book does cover some Operational issues and problems like being micromanaged from half a world away during an actual mission in a combat zone. The author gives you his personal background and shared maxims that he's learned, often the hard way, through the years. These "pearl's of wisdom" can often be applied to, not only the Military and Military Leadership, but often to everyday life. I would think anyone that is, or hopes to be, in any kind of position of leadership could reap benefits from his insights!!! If you would like more on the earlier days of Operational Detachment - Delta, I recommend Colonel Charlie A. Beckwith's book "Delta Force" and Eric L. Haney's book "Inside Delta Force" for a solid background on the formation, foundation and operational abilities of this extraordinary organization.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jens

    I had high expectations for this one and it surpassed them all. Fantastic book for all those who will work in a strict-hierarchical organisation asthe army! Starting with some storytelling about his youth, selection and operations, it offers a lot for those who are interested in the Special Forces branch. A few lessons are drawn here that will resurface later on, nothing big. Then it suprised me. It gives insight in some of the actions after 9/11 and some frustrations that came along for him, be I had high expectations for this one and it surpassed them all. Fantastic book for all those who will work in a strict-hierarchical organisation asthe army! Starting with some storytelling about his youth, selection and operations, it offers a lot for those who are interested in the Special Forces branch. A few lessons are drawn here that will resurface later on, nothing big. Then it suprised me. It gives insight in some of the actions after 9/11 and some frustrations that came along for him, being a Field Grade Officer. In following chapters we get to see how he runs his units once he has the power to do so, and that's really the strength of this book. He explains us how he did it and, more important, why he did it. He showcases his reflective, sharp mind, combined with his people-focused approach makes of him a true intellectual warrior, an example for every officer.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Of the many military authors I’ve read Pete Blaber and I share a common mindset. Clearly, I’m not an operator so don’t confuse mindset with skills. It’s more about how we think about situations. In my case, I found myself routinely constrained by Army orthodoxy, the way in which decisions and actions are taken within the Army. I thoroughly enjoyed this history in part because it’s written in an accessible manner with good maps and a high-quality reference at the end. In part because I served unde Of the many military authors I’ve read Pete Blaber and I share a common mindset. Clearly, I’m not an operator so don’t confuse mindset with skills. It’s more about how we think about situations. In my case, I found myself routinely constrained by Army orthodoxy, the way in which decisions and actions are taken within the Army. I thoroughly enjoyed this history in part because it’s written in an accessible manner with good maps and a high-quality reference at the end. In part because I served under one of the GOs mentioned (the 10th Mtn CG) and Blaber’s characterization of him and my recollection are aligned; and his archetypes are likewise consistent with my experience in the Army - one in particular, the blow-hard MAJ, rang true! I recommend it because of his consistent emphasis of his five themes, including the “3 M’s”.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Bright

    Fantastic book! Really enjoyed this book as a compliment to “Not a Good Day to Die.” I dropped it from five to four stars because I think he and I would have to agree to disagree on a few things and what works best in leadership. We all have our own experiences and we’ve all seen what influences people to do what you need them to do from our personal perspectives’. i.e. “Developing the situation” works when you have time to do so. But when you have a boss that can’t make a decision because he st Fantastic book! Really enjoyed this book as a compliment to “Not a Good Day to Die.” I dropped it from five to four stars because I think he and I would have to agree to disagree on a few things and what works best in leadership. We all have our own experiences and we’ve all seen what influences people to do what you need them to do from our personal perspectives’. i.e. “Developing the situation” works when you have time to do so. But when you have a boss that can’t make a decision because he still needs more info and his people can’t move on to other things, he wastes everyone’s time. I’m not saying development of the situation is a bad thing, but I am saying that labeling it as an “always” is. Soapbox complete! I loved the vast majority of the rest.

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