About Me

My photo
I'm the author of four books: Warrior SOS, The Work of Death, Together Forever, and Leaders Wanted. I'm in the doc film Please Remove Your Shoes. I've blogged for The Washington Times, and I write for Guns.com. I've worked for the high-profile U.S.-led Roadmap to Mideast Peace in Israel and Palestine. I've also worked as a SWAT team leader, a Federal Air Marshal and a sole-source training instructor on a classified contract with a U.S. government customer. My master's degree is in Military Studies and terrorism. I'm a former noncommissioned and commissioned Army officer, with service in Iraq. I've been Scuba diving and skydiving; I have trained with members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and I'm an FBI-trained crisis negotiator. My interests lie in helping others and in strengthening America through inspiring moral courage, government fiscal responsibility and accountability, and maintaining principles that have made--and will continue to make--the United States of America a blessed and prosperous country. I'm a father of six, a husband, and a police officer. I reside in Utah, and I'm a Mormon. See also https://jeffreydenning.wordpress.com.

December 18, 2010

Radically Transforming your Marriage -- Interview with New Book Author, Brian King

Brian King
has an undergraduate degree from BYU in International Relations, including a semester abroad, studying Arabic in Jerusalem/Cairo. He received a Masters in Security Studies at Georgetown and began work as an analyst with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Brian spent a year at Naval Forces Central Command and two years at the NCIS field office in Rota, Spain. Additionally, he holds a Masters degree from the National Defense Intelligence College and now works at the National Counterterrorism Center. He teaches a class at the University of Maryland on Terrorist Motivations and Behavior. Brian King is the author of The 100 Day Promise: Radically Transforming your Marriage by Living with Complete Concern for your Spouse's Happiness, available for purchase on Amazon.


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-100-Day-Promise/144625628915079

Warrior SOS: Congratulations on your recently published book. Tell us how it all came about.

King: After an argument with my wife (Nonnie) I came to the realization that everything we can either cause a relationship to spiral up in a positive way or spiral down. I wondered what would happen if I only did things to make our relationship spiral up for an extended period of time without her knowing. I decided to focus completely on her happiness for 100 days and write down the highlights of each day. It had an amazing impact on us. When some of our friends heard about it they were so excited. I started to realize that this was a message that could really motivate people to change the dynamic in their relationships.

Warrior SOS
: The entire concept behind your experiment sounds intriguing and exciting. Is there anything in particular that happened during this period that really made a drastic difference in your relationship?

King: No, there wasn't anything specific that seemed to make the difference. It was the sum total of all the little things that seemed to put wind in her sails and created a buffer in front of the occasional inconsiderate things I said or did. As the days went on, it seemed to make it easier for Nonnie to have more of the same mindset. It was just that little extra effort that seemed to make the difference. For example, one time I was laying on the floor watching TV and she asked for a blanket that was sitting next to me. Instead of just throwing it to her, I walked over and laid it over her making her smile.

Warrior SOS: How has the reception to your book and concept behind it been? Have you had anyone disagree with the idea?

King: The reception has been really great. It makes my day when someone tells me the book gave them a boost or more hope in working on their marriage. I've had two friends question whether going full throttle like this to try to make someone happy is a good idea. I think they misunderstood it to mean that you should put up with being mistreated without complaint. While I wouldn't necessarily expect anyone to live their whole lives this way, I just wanted to take it to the extreme for a short period to see what would happen. In reality there may have to be a little more communication and compromise. The main idea is that you can only get to the place you want to go by living with greater concern for your spouse's happiness. For the military minded, I think of it as an asymmetric attack instead of the usual haggling and give-and-take of a relationship. It changes the whole dynamic.

Warrior SOS: Was it hard to stay motivated throughout the 100 days?

King: People are surprised when I say this, but No, it wasn't. Once I made the decision to do it that was it. There were a couple times when I had to really pause and think about what the right thing to do was. Had I not committed to a certain period of time I'm sure I would have just settled back into my normal routine.

Warrior SOS: Did she ever suspect what you were up to?

King: After a few weeks when I asked her what she thought of a nice note I sent her, she asked if I "was dying or something." I just laughed it off. She could tell things were different, but didn't really suspect anything like this.

Warrior SOS: How has your relationship improved--or has it?

King: We're having more fun now and when we're in a difficult situation it seems like we both realize that we have to handle it carefully. There is also a buffer zone from all positive actions that makes it much harder to get to the place where anger or frustration arises.

Warrior SOS: In a family setting, do kids play a role and, if so, what benefits do they derive?

King: Kids play a big role. Mainly the huge demands they make on each parent naturally put stress on the marriage relationship. When they see the parents happy and loving each other it shapes them into being that way. You see them helping and solving problems better. They get more excited about doing nice things for other people. It will no doubt ripple down to their kids and people they interact with throughout their lives.

Warrior SOS
: What advice would you offer to warriors—those in military service, law enforcement or private security?

King: It can be hard going from a job where you are keyed up and ready for a confrontation to home where handling problems with the same direct mindset is only going to set you back. Realize that doing everything you can to make your spouse loved and happy is the only way to develop the dynamic that most people are seeking. Understanding this will change your whole approach to resolving challenges. It can also be hard after returning from a long deployment or tense day on the job to not think that it should be "me" time when you get back. Taking a few minutes to show concern for their situation will go a long way.

Warrior SOS: Is there different advice that you'd recommend to the spouses of warriors?

King: Not really, it is basically the same concept for either spouse. Perhaps I would suggest separating the bad news about scheduling or deployments from what he or she actually wants or is in control of.

Warrior SOS
: Certainly there are situations that arise that can be terribly devastating to any relationship—infidelity, abuse, illegal activities or drunkenness of one or both marriage partners that compound marital problems. What's your recommendation for this?

King: While living selflessly is a key component to a healthy relationship, it may not always be enough. At a certain point, if there is no desire to change damaging behavior, whether through counseling or otherwise, you may have to end the relationship. I would recommend as you go through the process of resolving difficult problems that you keep in mind the effect your responses will have. The cumulative effect of vengeful responses, although justified, will make it hard for the relationship to rebuild, if that is what you want.

Warrior SOS: Do you have any last advice or suggestions to those who want to improve their relationship—who want to try what you've attempted but might hesitate doing so?

King: As with many things, the difference between success and failure is often very slim. Giving that little extra effort may be all that is needed to put you on a totally different track. Having a loving relationship is key to not only a happy home and peace of mind, but also to achieving the other goals you have in life. It might seem like a hassle at first, but I can promise you that the results of the new relationship will be worth the investment.

Warrior SOS
: Finally, why do you think it is hard for people to think or act in such a selfless way—putting their spouse first?

King: On the surface, it seems illogical to say that you can find your own happiness by thinking of someone else first. It is human nature in some ways to look out for your own well being. Most people have a strong sense of justice and quickly go to battle-mode when they see something unfair. Although families can bring great rewards, they also require a lot of work. It totally changes the game when you stop trying to control the line of justice in a relationship. Only when you give up that battle is the other person freed from that cycle.

Warrior SOS: Thank you so very much, Brian. I truly hope your book helps many warriors and their spouses endure the challenges faced in every relationship, as well as the occasional extra burden placed on those who fight so that others may live.

Brian King, author of The 100 Day Promise: Radically Transforming your Marriage by Living with Complete Concern for your Spouse's Happiness, available for purchase now on Amazon.com.


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December 1, 2010

Marines from Vietnam to Iraq

“Dear Dad, It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard
as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. It was a fight to the
finish in every sense and the Marines delivered. My whole life I have read about the
greatest generation and sat in wonder at their accomplishments. For the first time, as I watch these Marines and Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are eager to continue to attack. Further, not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are.”

--Letter home on the combat in Fallujah, from Dave, a Marine Corporal, Nov19, 04

"We are United States Marines. We are the best troops in the world. We fight odds that are heavily against us – and win! Our spirit is indomitable, our courage unexcelled, and our loyalty is unquestionable. I felt like writing to you. Perhaps it sounds foolish. Perhaps it is. But you can never imagine what it is like – not knowing if I’m coming back down that hill. I wanted you to have something from me to you. I love you, Bob, but you are too young to know it. Someday you will know.
I will leave you now – time is short. Love to you, Brother John.”

--Closing paragraph from LCpl John Tanney, USMC, to his 7 month old brother Bob. This letter was only to be opened in the event of John’s death. Unfortunately, LCpl Tanney was killed in action in September 1968 in the jungles of Vietnam.

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a
difference. The Marines don't have that problem.”

--President Ronald Reagan

As qtd by Major Bill Coffey (ret) US Army, Fallujah 2006.

November 26, 2010

"It doesn't matter if you lost your legs. You're still our daddy."

Photo of Special Forces NCO John Masson taken from www.JohnMasson.com

Warrior SOS has tweeted and posted Facebook notes about John Masson. His story has finally hit the news.


Soldier who lost 3 limbs still protective of his unit
Considers first that his comments might endanger GIs in Afghanistan

November 25, 2010

John Masson felt the blast as soon as he stepped onto the hidden improvised explosive device.

While serving at a classified location in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Ranger medic, the 39-year-old Lake Station, Ind., native had just finished clearing a compound with his Special Forces unit Oct. 16.

One wrong step is all it took. Click. Boom. Darkness. Shock. Blood. Hell.

Masson, who previously served in the Gulf War and Iraq, felt himself launched into the air.

He landed hard, still in darkness. He felt around the ground with his right hand, not the one he would normally use. All he felt was blood and body parts. His left hand was gone. So were both of his legs -- one up to his hip, the other up to his knee.

"There are some things I can't tell you because my unit is still in theater in Afghanistan," Masson said last week from his hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "I wouldn't want to put any of the guys in danger."

This phone exchange illustrates the character and attitude of Masson, a father of three who was always the life of any party, the friend who was always there, the soldier who always had your back.

Missing three limbs, amid other serious injuries and health complications, and he's concerned about his fellow soldiers a world away.

Masson has been in the military for 15 years.

He and his wife of 18 years, Dusty, both graduated from Edison High School in Lake Station. The couple have three children.

"John loves everyone, and everyone loves him," said Kerry Paris, John's sister-in-law from Lake Station. "He is fun, outgoing, and he loves life."

But these days, Masson is in "unbearable pain," his family said, including the phantom pain many amputees deal with after the trauma of losing a limb -- not to mention three limbs.

"He won't let this hold him back or slow him down in any way," Paris said. "He is a man of great faith, and he truly knows he will walk again. We have no doubt."

Masson spoke in a telephone interview in between multiple surgeries to close his wounds, less than a month after he stepped onto that IED.

He spoke about Oct. 16. He spoke about his country, which he loves greatly. He spoke about his family, which he loves more.

Masson's parents were flown to Washington, D.C., to be near him.

His wife and children are now living with John's brother, Mike, who lives about 40 minutes away in Maryland, when they are not staying with Masson.

"Mike had actually just got home from Afghanistan on Oct. 16, the same day John stepped on the IED," Paris said.

Masson's wife and high school sweetheart, Dusty, said her husband's faith, prayers and belief in himself will carry him through this ordeal.

"John is John," said Dusty Masson, who stays with her husband almost around the clock. "If he's good, I'm good."

When Masson arrived at Walter Reed, he was leery of having his children see him without his limbs.

"We're just glad you're alive," said his 15-year-old son, Jonathan.

"It doesn't matter if you lost your legs. You're still our daddy," his daughter, Morgan, 8, told him.

"We love you," 6-year-old Ethan said.

Masson's friends and family have created a website in his honor -- www.johnmasson.com -- to help people rally around his rehab efforts and to donate to a fund for mounting bills.

"I'm amazed, appreciative and so grateful," Masson said.


To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

November 19, 2010

Shooting course feedback

I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate you providing me opportunity to train with you. Although my primary forte is competition shooting, it was great to go out and reinforce tactical training skills in a live fire training environment—utilizing training techniques that most, if not all, military and civilian LE ranges won't do. Let me know when you will be back in the area and you can expect me to be in your next course.

J. F., Capt, USAF
Air Force Action Shooting Team

I just wanted to thank you again for the great experience this week. I had a blast. I learned more about using my weapons in two days than I have in 7 years of carrying a handgun and 5 years in the military. That knowledge is invaluable to me. I feel much more confident now in my abilities to defend myself and those around me. Thank you.

Daniel O.
U.S. Army, National Guard

This was a great class. It was well taught and understandable for everyone from the beginner to the advanced shooter. I have been shooting for a long time and found this course well worth attending.
As a law enforcement officer it helped me refine my skills and gave me some great ideas for my personal practice and training.
Jeffrey was very approachable and personable in addition to being a great teacher.

Sgt. G. Cannon, Deputy Sheriff

Good, competent instruction in pistol safety and gun handling skills.
Control of the students and material was clear. Drills were fun and not prolonged. Plenty of trigger-time. Mindset explanation kept us in the moment (bad guy vs. cardboard target).

W. Anderson, Firearms instructor

I really liked the emphasis on safety and awareness from the start.
Discussions were information-packed and easy to understand for all levels.
Good practical advice for safety and self defense.
Clear direction and advice was great in the live-fire exercises.
Great application of day-to-day situations.
A great and well deserving course and cause.
Many thanks.

G.V., Physician

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

November 5, 2010

Second police officer in 6 months commits suicide - Kenosha, WI police department

Every 17 to 21 hours, a police officer in the United States commits suicide, according to Robert E. Douglas Jr., founder and executive director of the National POLICE Suicide Foundation. He estimated that 30% to 40% of officers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is not uncommon for stressful incidents on the job to lead to marital problems, he said. The officer generally does not want to talk about the incident and the spouse does, which leads to communication breakdowns, he said.


To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

November 3, 2010

Exclusive Interview with Expedition Leader for Soldiers to the Summit

Military veteran amputee, "Jukes"

Photo © Didrik Johnck 2010 / www.johnckmedia.com


Photo © Didrik Johnck 2010 / www.johnckmedia.com

Three legs on the trail

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

Jeff Evans, the founder of MountainVision Inc., and author of Mountain Vision: Lessons Beyond the Summit—a must read for every warrior. He is perhaps most well known for guiding the first blind climber, Erik Weihenmayer, to the summit of Mt Everest in 2001. Jeff most recently served as the Expedition Leader for the monumental Soldiers To The Summit Himalayan Expedition in Nepal. Along with his team, Jeff succeeded in planning and executing an expedition that would put seven injured US soldiers on the summit of a 20,100 ft Himalayan peak. A major ground breaking documentary film will follow in the Spring of 2011. (A full bio on Jeff Evans follows the interview below.)



Warrior SOS: How did you get connected with this project and what was your motivating factor for pursuing it?

Evans: For years now, I have worked with an organization called World TEAM Sports, which works in bringing together 'able bodied' and 'disabled' for sporting efforts around the world. Back in 2009, I was collaborating with the Executive Director, Jeff Messner on a potential project for 2010 where we would bring together wounded soldiers for a trekking or climbing project in some far away land. In a strange twist of fate, I learned of a family relative that was killed in combat while fighting in Afghanastan over this same period. This jumped us in to motion quickly and commited us to creating and executing a project that would be set in Nepal and involve climbing a peak. Also at this time I introduced the idea to my long time climbing partner Erik Weihenmayer...the blind climber that I have guided on mountains around the world, including Everest in 2001. Erik, in his typical fashion suggested we "go big" and climb a peak over 20,000 ft...and so it began.

As 2011 is the 10 year anniversary of our Everest summit, we saw this as an opportunity to be a part of a project that would be based on something bigger than "our Everest team". Next year will also be the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 and the beginning of full scale international conflict which would effect so many of our men and women in uniform. We knew that the full length documentary would be released in 2011...so the timing for a project of this nature was perfect. So, it was a very auspicious meeting of several events and personalities that planted the seed for this project.

Also of note...each of our "Everest Team" has a deep and profound respect for the drive and sacrifice of military men and women. Each of us, along with every other citizen of this wonderful country respects the fact that we are provided the opportunity to make a living at climbing mountains as a result of our freedom and the bounty that is provided to us living in the US. These opportunities are in part available to us as a result of the genuine sacrifice made my service men and women. And we aren't very good at many things...but we are good at getting folks up and down mountains. We are indebted and wanted to provide a medium for healing if at all possible.

Warrior SOS: Can you give us an idea of some of the veterans -- their motivations as well as their disabilities?

Evans: We had quite a mixed bag of men and women with a wide range of injuries from TBI to PTS (D). Also one blind soldier (from an IED) and 3 below the knee amputees. Regarding their motivations...several of them would probably tell you this was simply an opportunity to go have an adventure and climb a mountain in Nepal whereas there are a few that perceived this trip as an instrument of healing. PTS and TBI are very nebulous injuries...that remain difficult to treat. A journey into the Himalaya is a wonderful medium to allow one to look inside and be somewhat reflective about previous events and hopeful future endeavors. I feel confident that each soldiers pushed themselves physically and emotionally well beyond what they thought capable.

Warrior SOS: You have a unique perspective on disability, whether physical or emotional, would you care to share your thoughts about people with disabilities? Do you think all of us have disabilities?

Evans: I don't see it as much that we all have disabilities as much as those with physical and psychological injuries are simply more challenged. I have been guiding Erik for close to 20 years now and I would be hard pressed to call his blindness a disability. I have been a part of him accomplishing things that 99% of the worlds "able bodied" population would crump on. He accepts his "disability" as an adversity advantage. I have seen this happen with countless individuals over the years of working in the physically challenged community. Folks accept their injury and use it as fuel to be better than they ever could have imagined prior to the event. One of the amputees on the Nepal trip told me, "loosing my leg was the best thing that ever happened to me, because now I get to come do things like this.". It's a matter of perception...how do each of us use the tools and equipment we have to be the best we can be...to optimize our effort, disability or not.

Warrior SOS: It takes an enormous amount of will power, personal drive and motivation to accomplish things that others say are literally impossible. Yet you've done the "impossible;" you've accomplished things that others could never even dream of achieving. How do you do it, and what advice would you offer to others, particularly those wounded warriors, who want to give up?

Evans: More of what I mention above. I have used two tools to get things done in my life...
#1) surrounding myself with a solid team that are not self absorbed and have a team first attitude (and are very skilled at what they do). This goes for my climbing team as well the network of professionals that I work with. But most importantly my wife. She is my most skilled and important team member. Always in it for the team.

#2)Believing that any project worth doing is at least worth an attempt. Too many folks sit around and conceptualize objectives until they are blue in the face. The true alchemists are the ones who then get up and execute....in spite of the fear of falling. So I have tried to create a situation in my life where I'm not afraid to execute...where I let myself down if I don't at least try. Then it becomes amazing how much can get done with that attitude.
Warrior SOS: Can you share an instance or two on this last ascent where you motivated others to carry on and they achieved their goal?

Evans: On summit night on Lobuche (20,100ft) in Nepal on this most recent trip, I was personally guiding one of the soldiers, Steve Baskis. My great friend an climbing partner Brad Bull was in front of Steve and I was behind...tag teaming the guide commands for hours up steep rock in the dark and cold. Steve was clearly beat up early on...but Brad and I pushed him in every way possible...physically and psychologically. We heard Steve utter things like, "I can't do this. I didn't train hard enough. I want to go home. This is too hard." He was hurtin for certain.

We started to joke after 5 hours of this that Steve had heard all of our tricks and motivational cliches...that he needed some new material. But we got in Steve's head and pushed him as hard as we could. I think one of the truly motivating lines was, after running out of nice things to say to Steve to motivate him, I said "Steve, this is not about you. Quit being selfish. This is about all of your recently injured comrades...and those that are yet to be injured. You are doing this for them. Now knuckle down and get it done". Steve had no response for this and he got after it. Summited with us hours later in great style. I am so proud of him.

Warrior SOS: There are so many injured men and women who feel they have nothing left to carry on. They feel abandoned, forlorn and hopeless. What advice would you give them?

Evans: One of the aspirations of this trip was to provide a tool for injured military to hear of this story and see the upcoming film to see how their colleagues have accepted their injuries and ventured forth. It's a matter of seeking out challenging projects to keep busy and satisfied. A complacent life is a dangerous one. The film trailer can be viewed here: http://www.vimeo.com/16394684

Warrior SOS: What is the secret to overcoming all odds?

Evans: I don't have any secret. It's a matter of establishing compelling projects and objectives...putting a fence up in your yard, building your kid a treehouse or reaching a sales quota. Just something that's not easy and satisfying. Then surrounding yourself with people that believe in you and support your mission. Then executing. And doing in a way that inspires the people around you.

Warrior SOS
: Lastly, how has working with these military veterans helped you? Is it true in your experience that selfless service and sacrificing for others makes life sweeter and helps us heal from our own struggles or our own personal wounds or disabilities?

Evans: I am still processing the things I have learned from this trip. Initially I thought it would be a trip about physical injuries but quickly learned that it would be more about the emotional challenges that would dominate the trip. Each of them showed me, in a very profound way, the genuine nature of sacrifice. We go away and risk our lives on mountains for selfish reasons. These soldiers have gone away and risked their lives for selfless reasons...for country and honor.

Warrior SOS: Will you share an example from your own life -- perhaps when you summited Everest in 2001?

Evans: [Here's an excerpt in my book, Mountain Vision: Lessons Beyond the Summit]

We filed out one by one into the darkness, leaving Camp IV behind. The sense of anticipation and nervousness that had been with us as we made our preparations soon melted into the hours of trudging up steep snow slopes and across rocky bulges. The wind beat down on us, but we moved efficiently, following each step with a few resting breaths. The object was to keep making progress upward through the packed snow and ice surface below ,while holding on to enough strength to see the night through. Even though our whole team was in a line moving upward, the setting was intensely isolating. The only thing I could see was the small pocket of light immediately in front of me provided by my headlamp, past that it seemed like the rest of the world had gone away. I found myself lost in my own thoughts, Erik trudging along happily behind me in some of his favorite terrain.

It was as we were packing our equipment that I first noticed a strong sensation in my chest. It was hardly noticeable at first, but as we made our final preparations and set off into the cold night, it grew stronger. It wasn’t a pain, but a tingle that was welling up inside me. With my medical training, I knew the cardiovascular risks we’d taken by being at altitude so long, but I didn’t feel afraid. The sensation wasn’t hurting me, it felt more like it was giving me strength. Now, making our way over the ice bulge, I could feel it increasing. The farther we buried ourselves into the thick, stormy night, the better I felt.

Instead of fading down, the storm that had accompanied us since we woke seemed to be picking up strength. We could hear thunder through the roaring wind, and we weren’t sure how much further we’d be able to keep going. Lightning is a very rare event on Everest, but with climbing gear and metal oxygen tanks strapped to our bodies, it wasn’t something to take lightly. As the rough weather drew nearer, we kept an ongoing discussion on our radios, eventually deciding to go just a little farther and see if it would fizzle out.

Despite our worries about the weather, I found myself continuing to feel better and stronger. The sensation in my chest was driving me on, and my pace started to pick up. Chris and Erik, who were immediately behind me, urged me to forge on ahead, so I let my legs go free and started passing some of my team members. Eventually I found myself at the front of the group and decided to venture out ahead a couple dozen yards.

I recognized a rock feature that would mark our halfway point to the summit. We had agreed we should stop there to assess whether we’d be able to continue. The thunderstorm we feared was still raging in the distance, but things seemed to be going very well otherwise. Despite the fact that we’d spent an extra day at Camp IV in the death zone, we were in a groove.

Everyone was moving along at a brisk pace. I stopped to look ahead. Behind the electric flashes, a small dot of light was peeking through. As I waited for the rest of the group to arrive, it grew larger and brighter, until I could make out the outline of perhaps the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The sun was rising just over the Everest summit, casting an inviting glow over the mountain. I spent a few awestricken minutes, taking it in before I turned to face my team. We all nodded to each other and, without a word, went on.

The feeling in my chest was like a small fire now, driving me farther ahead. My strides came quickly and easily, outpacing those of my teammates. Under the glow of the sun, I was free to wander farther ahead and remain roped in and within site. As I pushed higher, the storm that had threatened to engulf us had fallen just short. It was sitting a few dozen yards below our feet, spread out like a carpet under the ridge we were working up. The clouds were nearly perfectly flat, the lightning popping like squares on a disco floor. It was spectacular, but I wondered if my brain was suffering from oxygen deficiency. As a medical professional and someone who’s seen 107 Grateful Dead shows, I know that not everything your mind conjures up under those conditions exists in the outside world. But, to my relief, my teammates were amazed at the same awesome sight. For those few minutes, we walked on the clouds.

All through the night, we’d been following a set of ropes left by a previous team who had chosen the same route. We didn’t need them necessarily to find the way, but they would be critical for the descent if a storm were to move in and disorient us. At that altitude, a nice 80 mile-an-hour gust could push a climber directly off the side of the mountain and into a halfmile fall. Likewise, we could use them on the way back down from the summit. In white-out conditions, a climber could lose his orientation and step right off the side of a cliff, as one had done the previous day.

I’d reached a point, however, where the ropes stopped. We were about a quarter of a mile from the south summit, a peak just a few hundred vertical feet and a couple of hours from the actual summit. The way forward was obvious, but the ropes were buried under a couple feet of snow. A new rope had been fixed, veering off onto a different path 40 feet to the left that led through a field of rocky shale.

I had come to what I call my leadership moment. It was my chance to choose the easy way, or to sacrifice for my team. I had been feeling great, and the short detour on the left would have given me a fairly quick trip up to the south summit, with the final summit just a short journey beyond.

The sun had come out and burned away the clouds, leaving us with a clear, windless morning. This would be the best chance I could ever hope for to achieve every climber’s dream, reaching the top of the highest mountain. But I knew from my years of guiding Erik that the detour route would be very difficult for him. The ground was almost completely loose shale. It would be like walking on broken dish plates, taking a few steps forward not only to get ahead, but to fight the tendency to slide backward. That kind of ground was exhausting for him, and I knew he might not be able to navigate it and still have the strength to push for the summit. The way ahead would be great going for him, but it would mean digging out the ropes. In the thin mountain air, the effort would be excruciating. It would mean more than an hour of work, and I’d certainly be too exhausted to go on afterward. I finally understood what that feeling in my chest was, and what it was for. I took one more look to my left and the easy path. I followed it with my eyes up the south summit, through the small ridge beyond, and up to the goal that had been a dream for so many years. Then, I took a deep breath and let it go. It was time to dig.

I was surprised to find that I wasn’t bothered by my decision. I’d come to Everest to help Erik get to the top, my aspirations were secondary. I had done my job and would probably make it to the south summit. It wasn’t the summit, but it was close, and I didn’t need to take it any farther than that. I think it was in that moment I finally understood what leadership is all about. It’s not defined by a title or a role, or how many people answer to you. It’s about seeking opportunities to step up and showing your team you’re willing to put their success above your own. These chances come every day, whether working on a mountain or in a cubicle, you just have to take them. With the decision made, I started to chop into the ice and pull the ropes free. It was tedious and tiring, but also comforting to know my long trip was near an end. I knew with certainty I would not be able to continue on. My arms burned from the effort, and my lungs screamed as I drove my ice axe down again and again, freeing a few inches of rope with each blow.

Finally, I neared the end of the digging as the team caught up from behind. As the first climbers came within a few yards, I broke the last block of ice, springing the rope up in a taught line to the south summit. The work was finished, and so was I. I could barely breath, and even the sensation in my chest that had given me such a deep well of strength was exhausted.

I fell down to my knees. I looked back to my climbing partners and a huge wave of satisfaction rolled over me. One by one, they came to me as they realized what had happened, and offered their thanks. Erik had been last on the line and was the final teammate to reach me. He asked if I could go on, although he had to have known I was depleted. Looking across the ridge, I knew I couldn’t make it. It was possible I’d reach the top, but I’d never have the strength to get back down. Beneath my mask, I tried to force a smile. “Tagging the summit is optional,” I answered, “but going home isn’t.” Neither of us spoke for a moment. After everything we’d gone through together, it was finally time to reach the highest point, and I’d given it up for him.

Erik looked back to me. “Can you get down?” he asked, the pain evident in his voice. I told him I could. He seemed to be trying to undo the moment, not wanting to accept the situation. And then, my friend did the only thing he could: he thanked me, gave me a hug, and went to finish his ascent.

I sat on my knees watching Chris and Erik catch up with the rest of the group at the south summit. From there, it would be a two hour climb across a daunting ridge, followed by a short climb to the top. I couldn’t believe he was actually going to do it. After all the experts and critics had told us why it would be impossible, he was going to beat this thing. I was in no hurry to make my way down, just taking in the calm and quiet of the setting. The summit pyramid seemed so close I could touch it, sitting like a jewel with the moon hanging just above it. From so near the top, I could see the deep shadow it cast over Nepal, holding miles and miles in darkness hours after daybreak. I wondered if Everest would cast a shadow in my life as well, knowing I’d made it so close to the top without succeeding.

As I pondered this, the group reached the south summit. Erik turned back one last time to wave in my direction, and then continued on. I knew he was going to reach the top, and I wanted more than anything to share that moment with him. At the risk of sounding mystical, I feel that life gives you a nudge sometimes. I’ve always tried to keep watch for those times when the world seems to be speaking to me, and this was one of them. After sitting in resignation for nearly 5 minutes, some of my strength had returned. I didn’t know if it was enough for me to make it, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering. With my last bit of strength, I rose to meet and followed behind.

Beyond the south summit, you follow a ridge towards the top that becomes very steep very quickly. One wrong step to the right wins you a 10,000 foot drop into Tibet, while the prize for slipping to the left is a 6,000 foot fall into Nepal. If I fell, I was convinced it was probably going to hurt pretty badly. I thought of this as I tried to settle my rubbery legs and make my way through. It only took about an hour to catch up to the rest of the group. I fell in behind Erik and Chris. If there were any questions about why I’d changed my mind, my teammates kept them to themselves. We were all too exhausted to have the conversation. Past the ridge lay the Hillary Step, the most famous 40 feet of climbing granite in the world.

When Sir Edmund and his team first scaled the mountain in 1953, the Englishman relied on aerial reconnaissance to map out routes to the top. The photos available at the time had masked the short rock face that serves as the last barrier to the summit. With no way around it, he simply powered his way over it to reach the top. The face has borne his name ever since.

I had always thought if I reached the Step, I would climb it gracefully. I wanted to approach it like a work of art, a sort of climbing ballet. In reality, by the time I arrived, my body felt beat up and ruined. Unable to muster any technique or finesse, I embarked upon the ugliest piece of climbing you’ve ever seen. I flopped my arms upward, like a fish on the deck of a boat, hoping my hand would find some grip. Slowly and painfully, I heaved and convulsed my way up over the granite face in grotesque exhibition. I think I even tried to use Erik’s foot as a hold a couple of times. In the end it didn’t matter, because 30 minutes later I was standing on top of the world with a blind man.

Warrior SOS: Jeff Evans, thank you so very much for this inspiring interview. You're an inspiration to so many people, among them warriors needing a boost. In fact, your book should be mandatory reading for every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine. We're inspired by the fact that you recently helped out so many wounded veterans on your recent adventure.

Evans: Thanks. It was an honor to be the expedition leader for this trip. I am the one who benefited the most for sure.

Jeff Evans is an inspiring, dynamic public speaker. Contact him today to come speak and motivate your group with his incredible insight and stories on leadership, courage and motivation in the face of death and danger.

For more information, see:



Jeff Evans, founder of MountainVision Inc., grew up scampering around the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina but soon found that the higher mountains of Colorado would be the ideal setting to challenge himself as a mountain guide. At the age of 19, Jeff packed up his truck and relocated to the Colorado Front Range – beginning his love affair with the Rocky Mountains.

Since that time, Jeff has spent years exploring and working in the mountains cultivating the necessary skills to become a world-class mountain guide and member of the prestigious Explorers Club. Jeff spent five summers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley both as a guide and as a Search and Rescue Ranger for the National Park Service. Jeff attributes these years as critical development in his abilities to handle challenging situations at extreme altitudes.

But the turning point in Jeff's guiding abilities came in the early 1990s when he embraced the responsibilities to guide a then unknown and blind climber, Erik Weihenmayer. Together, they problem solved methods of adventure, travel, and communication to tackle the most challenging climbing and mountaineering endeavors ever attempted by a disabled athlete. Some of their more notable ascents include Mt McKinley, El Capitan, Leaning Tower, Aconcagua, culminating with a successful summit of Mt Everest in 2001 that gained much international attention as the first successful blind summit of the highest mountain in the world.

Somewhere squeezed between his years of mountain guiding, Jeff found time to finish his training as an Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant. He has focused his medical training even more with an emphasis on travel and altitude medicine, stressing safety and health on every one of his MountainVision trips.

Jeff most recently served as the Expedition Leader for the monumental Soldiers To The Summit Himalayan Expedition in Nepal. Along with his team, Jeff succeeded in planning and executing an expedition that would put seven injured US soldiers on the summit of a 20,100 ft Himalayan peak. A major ground breaking documentary film will follow in the Spring of 2011.

However, Jeff’s main passion is bringing the lessons he has learned from his experience as a world class mountain guide to the presentations and training he provides to companies and organizations worldwide. MountainVision Presentations brings a dynamic message that resonates with corporate and civic groups throughout a wide spectrum of industries.

Jeff founded MountainVision Expeditions (MVX) to provide adventurous persons the opportunity to challenge themselves on some of the most well known global treks and expeditions around the world. Jeff's objective on every trip is to inspire his new friends to accept the challenges of the natural world, discover the wonder of new cultures and find new levels of personal growth.

Jeff is the published author of MountainVision: Lessons Beyond the Summit and has appeared as one of the main characters in two different award winning documentaries, Farther Than the Eye Can See and Blindsight.

Jeff is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder (Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies) and Drexel Medical School in Pennsylvania. He also attended the University of Guadalajara in Mexico where he spent a term studying Latin American Culture and Spanish. He resides in Boulder, CO with his wife Merry Beth and son Jace.


To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

October 29, 2010

Lt Col Dave Grossman & Warrior SOS

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

In an email to Warrior SOS, Dave Grossman recently called to our attention once again his incredible and quasi-famous article and book chapter in On Combat.

Below is a link to his site www.killology.com and to the excellent article.


On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)

"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?"

- William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

The gift of aggression

"What goes on around you... compares little with what goes on inside you."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everyone has been given a gift in life. Some people have a gift for science and some have a flair for art. And warriors have been given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift than a doctor would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to help others. These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift of aggression and a love for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our warriors.

One career police officer wrote to me about this after attending one of my Bulletproof Mind training sessions:

"I want to say thank you for finally shedding some light on why it is that I can do what I do. I always knew why I did it. I love my [citizens], even the bad ones, and had a talent that I could return to my community. I just couldn’t put my finger on why I could wade through the chaos, the gore, the sadness, if given a chance try to make it all better, and walk right out the other side."

Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about “Tommy” the British soldier:

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001, when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

While there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, he does have one real advantage. Only one. He is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory acts of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

However, when there were cues given by potential victims that indicated they would not go easily, the cons said that they would walk away. If the cons sensed that the target was a "counter-predator," that is, a sheepdog, they would leave him alone unless there was no other choice but to engage.

One police officer told me that he rode a commuter train to work each day. One day, as was his usual, he was standing in the crowded car, dressed in blue jeans, T-shirt and jacket, holding onto a pole and reading a paperback. At one of the stops, two street toughs boarded, shouting and cursing and doing every obnoxious thing possible to intimidate the other riders. The officer continued to read his book, though he kept a watchful eye on the two punks as they strolled along the aisle making comments to female passengers, and banging shoulders with men as they passed.

As they approached the officer, he lowered his novel and made eye contact with them. “You got a problem, man?” one of the IQ-challenged punks asked. “You think you’re tough, or somethin’?” the other asked, obviously offended that this one was not shirking away from them.

“As a matter of fact, I am tough,” the officer said, calmly and with a steady gaze.

The two looked at him for a long moment, and then without saying a word, turned and moved back down the aisle to continue their taunting of the other passengers, the sheep.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers--athletes, business people and parents--from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

“Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”

"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men."
- Edmund Burke
Reflections on the Revolution in France

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to slaughter you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in church.” I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a police officer he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down 14 people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for “heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’ school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them. Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?”

The warrior must cleanse denial from his thinking. Coach Bob Lindsey, a renowned law enforcement trainer, says that warriors must practice “when/then” thinking, not “if/when.” Instead of saying,“If it happens then I will take action,” the warrior says, “When it happens then I will be ready.”

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun; you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth.

Chuck Yeager, the famous test pilot and first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, says that he knew he could die. There was no denial for him. He did not allow himself the luxury of denial. This acceptance of reality can cause fear, but it is a healthy, controlled fear that will keep you alive:

"I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit."

- Brigadier General Chuck Yeager
Yeager, An Autobiography

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation:

"..denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling. Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level."

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

If you are a warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7 for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself... “Baa.”

This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-grass sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK


On communicating:
"I always came away…better informed but also more able to see issues previously overlooked or ignored… His command of the language is of a high quality and he organizes and presents his thoughts in a clear, cogent manner… I have very high regard for this man."

--Robert S. Patterson, Dean of Education, Emeritus, BYU (1937-2010)

On leadership:
"He is truly one of the ‘best of the best.’ Jeff’s leadership capability is outstanding… His people skills are outstanding."

--Dr. R. Craig Shakespeare, DMD

On human interaction:
"Mr. Denning is a very pleasant person to work with. He has a frank, open nature with abundant good humor and respect for others… He has a personal magnetism that has a positive influence on those he associates with, and quickly wins the confidence of acquaintances."

--Joseph M. Ballantyne, Former Vice President, Cornell University

On teaching tactics and shooting:
"I have been around guns and shooting all my life... and no one person has taught me as much about weapon skills as Jeffrey Denning. Jeff's ability to identify a persons fundamental flaw and fix it is amazing. His personal weapons handling is so smooth and fluent it's impressive to watch."


To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

October 26, 2010

Ambush! A Professional Guide to Preparing & Preventing Ambushes

Warrior SOS wishes to thank Mark Monday for his extensive research and skill in helping warriors for many years, and for sending us this article. Keep up the great work!


Lt. Col. Joshua Potter first read the 1994 edition of Killing Zone: A Professional’s Guide to Preparing and Preventing Ambushes by Gary Stubblefield and Mark Monday in 1998 while attending the Special Forces Detachment Officers Qualification Course (the “Q Course,” to earn his green beret). The book was part of his unofficial curriculum of training, and his instructor used excerpts from it to teach important lessons learned from the ambush in the Philippines that resulted in the death of a heroic figure in the Special Operations community—Colonel Nick Rowe.

During the same course, he watched the movie Black Hawk Down (based on Mark Bowden’s best-selling book of the same name) in the auditorium at Fort Bragg, along with many of the survivors of the Battle of Mogadishu and Bowden himself to rate the film’s accuracy. Noticing his instructor sitting through the movie with a copy of Killing Zone (which contained a case study of the Somalia firefight) in his lap, Potter asked him, “Why don’t you have a copy of Bowden’s book with you?”

“Brevity,” he replied.

What the instructor was acknowledging, and what Potter soon came to appreciate, was that Killing Zone contained a sophisticated understanding of ambush, antiambush, and counterambush TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) in a concise, readable format that was unavailable anywhere else in the military training community.

Potter carefully studied Killing Zone after that, and he used its valuable lessons and insights during three subsequent combat tours in Iraq. But in the back of his mind, he knew a revised and updated edition was in order—one that would cover new adversary tactics, technological assets, and targets that had emerged since the book’s publication.

In 2008, Potter, now a lieutenant colonel, had a chance meeting with Mark Monday at a Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) event, which focused on identifying training gaps in our nation’s understanding of complex operations and irregular warfare. During a subsequent discussion shortly thereafter, they agreed that many of the conditions under which ambushes occur in today’s areas of conflict had changed (while acknowledging that several had remained constant). They also reflected that these conflict areas were now shared with law-enforcement personnel, private security contractors, humanitarian organizations, relief agencies, and common citizens.

As a consequence, they began discussing the need to bring Killing Zone up to date. Gary Stubblefield eagerly agreed, and the hard work began to meld Lieutenant Colonel Potter’s combat experience in Iraq—along with contributions from dozens of veterans of combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war zones around the world—with the proven instruction in the original book.

The result, Ambush! is already being hailed by military professionals as a vital training tool. In a prepublication review, security expert and CIA veteran David Allen writes:
“Effective ambush is always easier for the savvy attacker to implement than it is for the defender to successfully prevent or repel. And while it may not always be possible to mount a perfect ambush or to defend perfectly against a well-executed attack, knowledge is indeed power. It is this improved knowledge and direct combat experience that Lt. Col. Potter brings to this new book. Such knowledge used in training our warfighters has the potential to convey powerful lessons that can save the lives of our soldiers and civilians who serve us all in defense of our nation’s freedom.”

In his foreword to Ambush!, former secretary of the navy Richard Danzig writes:

“Readers of these pages will realize that the authors have given them the gift of a rich history of ambush; that detailed, subtle, and sometimes varying lessons can be drawn from that history; that nowhere else has this history been compiled and systematically analyzed; and that he who masters the history and analysis gains power.”

Lieutenant Colonel Potter is currently serving on his fourth combat tour of Iraq. Stay tuned for word of how Ambush! is being used today to train troops in the ever-evolving art and science of ambush, antiambush, and counterambush.


To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

October 25, 2010

On Warriors - Pres. Andrew Jackson

You have the highest of human trusts committed to your care. Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number, and has chosen you, as the guardians of freedom, to preserve it for the benefit of the human race. May He who holds in His hands the destinies of nations make you worthy of the favors He has bestowed, and enable you, with pure hearts, and pure hands, and sleepless vigilance, to guard and defend to the end of time the great charge He has committed to your keeping.

--President Andrew Jackson

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

October 23, 2010

About Warrior SOS

Warrior SOS is a non-profit organization dedicated to raise public awareness and help families and individuals who have experienced the burdens of physical, emotional and psychological trauma associated with military, law enforcement and security operations.

The idea for Warrior SOS began after the founder spoke with his brother-in-law, an Iraqi war veteran, who went to the doctor for a headache, was diagnosed with brain cancer and had brain surgery on Oct 1, 2010. About the same time the wife of a war veteran currently serving in Iraq—for the third time—sent me a SOS in his behalf. Additionally, a special operations warrior in Afghanistan wrote to say two of his colleagues were shot and killed, another wounded. As if things couldn't get more difficult, a lifelong friend and police officer sent a SOS—a distress call, saying he's suffering from the effects of post-war experiences in Iraq seven years later, and in need of help.

The poet's words capture their struggles perfectly: "In the quite heart is hidden / Sorrow that the eye can't see." Warrior SOS was founded to help hundreds, perhaps thousands of more warriors just like them, including their family members.

Our mission is to increase the knowledge, skill and attitude of societies' protectors through promoting faith, spiritual and emotional well-being, and through tactical advising in order to survive and win lethal confrontations.

Our motto is Train, Fight, Win. We recognize, however, that Train, Fight, Heal is always a necessary part of Train, Fight, Win.

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

October 22, 2010

How to win a Gunfight! by Sandy Wall

Sandy Wall retired from Houston Police Department after 28-years. He served for 22 years on SWAT, and was a three-term president with the Texas Tactical Police Officer Association (TTPOA). He is currently the Training Director for Safariland Training Group. Sandy is the founder of the Less Lethal Solutions, Inc. and the inventor of "The Wall Banger."

On behalf of Warrior SOS, thank you for your service Sandy, and thanks for sharing this great article with us!

How to win a Gunfight!
By: Sandy Wall

It’s high noon and the Sheriff slowly steps out onto a vacant Street to meet his adversary and maybe his death. His duster is slung back to expose the gun belt and six-shooter that he carries low and tethered to his leg. With his hat pulled down firmly to where one can barely see his steely eyes that pierce the day, he scans left and right for the ambush that would change this gun-fight into something he could not survive. Yet there is not a trace of fear or worry about his fate or the unknown the end of the street will bring.

How many times have you watched this scenario play out in some of your favorite western movies? The anticipation of what is about to happen makes us all admire the Sheriff for what he has the courage to face. Did it ever really happen like that? Probably not as much as the movie makers would like for us to believe, but it fun to live that experience through the eyes of someone else. We would all like to believe that should that moment come, when we have to fight for our lives, we would have the same steel grit, courage, and coolness under pressure the Sheriff displayed. This is something that we in Law Enforcement (LE) have all pondered and some have experienced first hand. For many of us that have, our performance may not have been what it could or should have been but we survived just the same.

In this article I will attempt to point out what I feel are some of the factors that can make a difference in a gunfight. I base my opinions not only with my own experiences but also the experiences of numerous friends and colleagues over my 28 years in LE. I have also drawn from Dr. David Klinger’s book, “Into the Kill Zone”. This book is a treasure trove of LE gun-fighting experiences. Dr. Klinger interviewed 80 current and former LE Officers and then detailed information surrounding their experiences. His research was funded in part by a Federal grant to research but with all that information compiled he was compelled to write this book to share the experiences with us all. If you haven’t read it, go now and get it.

I’ll start with the obvious…


We all know how important training can be but it is not just training but the right training, performed with purpose, meaning, and on a repetitive basis. The first thing to get cut from LE budgets in TOUGH economic times like these is OFTEN training. Yet the threat is clear and present and does not care about the economy.

Too often LE will go out and perform the same drills/courses with no purpose or passion. It comes down to just trigger time on the range. This is often just a waste of time and money. To go out and sling lead down range with no training objective, skill set, or meaningful purpose in mind, is not efficient/effective firearms training. Every round should have a purpose. It’s not just repetition, but rather MEANINGFUL repetition. The basics are a great place to start. No matter what the skill is, break it down to the mechanics and improve those fundamentals. Once you have the mechanics mastered, start adding stress to the point of failure. As the failure threshold is reached, then back it off a bit and train at that level until the failure threshold can be advanced.

One of the best shooters I have ever trained with told me that to shoot fast and accurate requires the same things you learned in the Academy. Grip, sight alignment, trigger control. Learn to do those three things very fast and under pressure and you will be a very good shooter. WOW! No magic or trick involved, just a lot of practice with a purpose. DRY FIRE until you master the skill and then test yourself with bullets. It’s a lot less expensive, you can do it almost anywhere, and you don’t have to deal with all that anticipation of muzzle blast and recoil. You can focus on the skill set and master it before you test yourself with bullets.

The same process can be applied to any skill set. I don’t care if it’s Dynamic Entry, Rappelling, or Covert Entry. Break it down to its basic mechanics, learn to do them smoothly under pressure and add stress until you start making mistakes. Back off that threshold a bit and work the basics until the bar can be moved. Time limits, scenarios, difficulties, all are a great way to add stress.

All of the great athletes of the world don’t just play the game to get better. They break it down to fundamental skill sets and spend their time improving those. The scrimmages and games are a way of finding out how well they have been practicing.

The last thing I will say about training is please don’t become stagnate. There are always new ways of doing things and you never know it all or can’t improve. Go out and seek new training from creditable sources. TTPOA is a great source of training as well as several training companies and subject matter experts that instruct for a living.

Ice water
This part of the equation is harder to learn, if it can be learned at all. I like to call it the Joe Montana or Roger Stauback syndrome. It’s that ice water in the veins, that coolness under pressure effect that is hard to teach. Most people that have it were born with it to an extent. They just don’t tend to get that excited even when others all around them are. This can be a huge advantage in a gun-fight.

I do believe a significant amount of exposure and experience will somewhat de-sensitize one to the stimulus that others become alarmed by. I believe that frequent exposure to the real thing or realistic training can help. One of the best gun fighters I ever knew was not that great a shot, but he was a deadly adversary to his opponents. He was born with ice water in his veins and it served him well.

In the immortal words of a US Marine Corps. Gunny Sgt., “You, you, and you, panic, the rest of you come with me.” That’s the guy you want on your side in a gun fight.

One of my best friends used to say all the time, “I’d rather be lucky than good”. He was a hell of a good guy to have on your side in a gun-fight. I did a few times and I was glad he was there. The fact is that I got lucky more than I would like to admit and I know others reading this article, if they are honest with themselves, will admit that they got lucky a few times or they may not be in a position to enjoy my ramblings.

Luck is nothing one should count on nor is it something to brag about, but it has had an impact on LE surviving a gunfight more than a few times, so I thought it worth mentioning. Or do we create our own luck? Louis Pastur once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

You must be smart about when and where you decide to fight. LE doesn’t always have the luxury of picking when to fight, but often I read or hear about officers that forced a confrontation or made the fight fair when they didn’t have to. Things like leaving cover and closing distance to their adversary when it wasn’t necessary or moving ahead of their Team or Partner, which in effect means taking them out of the fight. Never make it a fair fight if you have a choice. The Sheriff at the beginning of this article may have picked High Noon because he knew his opponent doesn’t see well in the bright sun light. Better yet, he should have waited until the sun was at his back and in his opponent’s eyes, or positioned someone with a long weapon and high ground. Maybe put on a good set of body armor as a fighting platform or just brought as many friends with him to the fight as he could find. It may not be as sexy but it improves the ability to predict the outcome. Live to fight another day, I always say.

The Intangibles
How about shooting first? I love the line in the movie, “The Shootest”. Ron Howard is explaining to John Wayne what Bat Masterson wrote about in his book about gun fighting. He was mentioning things like proficiency with a firearm and accuracy and Wayne interrupts him and asks, “Did he mention that some people will hesitate, or blink, or draw a breath? I won’t.” As with any type of fight, the one who strikes first has a distinct advantage. Strike first, strike hard, and repeat as necessary.

How about not being an easy target to hit. This could mean that you are behind cover, or you may just be moving really fast. Both are good things, and if you don’t have cover, how about moving really fast toward it.

In closing I would like to put in a plug for the Safariland Training Group’s new course, “Startle Response to an Ambush”. We include many of the things that can determine who wins a gun fight. A friend of mine who used to lecture on the subject would say, “Bring a bigger gun”. It’s hard to argue with that logic either. I say, focus on the things you can do something about.

The true warrior will not hesitate, is not stupid, not ill equipped, is not unprepared, and definitely not easy to hit. You must prepare and train for what you hope and pray you never have to do, or be prepared to suffer the consequences. I love this quote about soldiers: “of every 100 men you send me 90 shouldn’t even be here, 9 are good combatants and they the fight make, ahh but the one… he is a true warrior and will bring the rest home safe”. Unknown

Best of luck, but don’t count on it. Train hard, be smart, and stay safe!

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK

October 21, 2010

Just Started WARRIOR SOS

SOS is an international distress signal. Warrior SOS is a non-profit organization dedicated to raise public awareness and help families and individuals who have experienced the burdens of physical, emotional and psychological trauma associated with military, law enforcement and security ops.

To read amazing interviews with warriors, check out Warrior SOS: Interviews, Insights and Inspiration, the book on Amazon.com. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3WO7VK