Hence, a new title, “No Easy Day,” about the killing of that madman who, like it or not, altered life for us here in the West. This insider’s account of a seminal event in American history is one I could not put down.
“Mark Owen” is a member of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group … SEAL Team Six. He’s taken part in hundreds of operations and was a team leader for the operation that caught bin Laden in May 2011.
Also interesting is the fact that his co-writer, Kevin Maurer, has covered special ops for almost a decade, and has been embedded with forces in Afghanistan numerous times, East Africa and Haiti.
So don’t expect Truman Capote’s voice in “No Easy Day.”
Interestingly, Owen describes his desire at the outset to be the best and he includes a peculiar description: “I found other men just like me: men who feared failure and were driven to be the best.”
He might have feared failure, but he obviously overcame it. This personal story is hair-raising. He also takes care not to reveal operational secrets or classified information.
Listen to Owen’s beginning of “No Easy Day”: “At one minute out, the Black Hawk crew chief slid the door open.
“I could just make him out – his night vision goggles covering his eyes – holding up one finger. I glanced around and saw my SEAL teammates calmly passing the sign throughout the helicopter.
“The roar of the engine filled the cabin, and it was now impossible to hear anything other than the Black Hawk’s rotors beating the air. The wind buffeted me as I leaned out, scanning the ground below, hoping to steal a glance of the city of Abbottabad.”
Wow. He puts the reader right there, seconds away from the kill that reverberated around the world. Owen reveals the decade-long drive to find and eliminate the terror master, describing a week in 2007 in which he thought his SEAL team would get a chance. However, as the seconds ticked by on the Black Hawk in 2011, he felt sure the target would be where they were told he’d be.
First things first, though. As Owen points out, he read a book in junior high about the SEAL teams and decided he wanted to be one. Needless to say, the training is grueling, and he even refers to his instructors as “sadistic.” He was being trained to do rescue missions, track war criminals and kill al-Qaida fighters. His descriptions of training at a base in Mississippi are amazing.
He describes just one part of one day thusly: “Snatching up my rifle, I jogged out of the kill house and sprinted to a rope ladder hanging on a tree about 300 yards away. Climbing up the ladder, rung by rung, I felt heavier. It wasn’t my sweat-soaked shirt or the 60 pounds of body armor and gear strapped to my chest.”
Interestingly, Owen notes that the Navy counter-terrorism unit was created after Operation Eagle Claw, the notable failure in the desert during Jimmy Carter’s time in the White House, as “the Navy identified a need for a force capable of successfully executing those kind of specialized missions and tapped Richard Marcinko to develop a maritime counter-terrorism unit called SEAL Team Six. The team practiced hostage rescue as well as infiltrating enemy countries, ships, naval bases and oil rigs. Over time, missions branched out to counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
Owen (or an editor) shows a flair for writing chapter titles. Chapter 12 (“Killing Time”) means what you think it’d mean: This was the lead-up to nabbing bin Laden.
Owen walks the reader through the hours and days leading up to the raid and points out the obvious: The team was skeptical that it would get a chance, since the politicians were making the final call. Yet when they got the signal to go to Afghanistan, they knew something was up. For a variety of reasons, Owen and the team felt this was it.
“By moving us, they risked more and more leaks,” was the way he put it, indicating that such a forward move must mean a green light.
The detailed description of the raid – and surrounding background, both from his personal life and the life of a SEAL – will keep you glued to this book. An amazing account.