Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Ann Scott Tyson’s astonishing new account of an SF officer in Afghanistan

You can work alongside someone for years and not really know them, what they think, what is going on inside their lives. That thought hit me repeatedly as I read the first 30 pages of Ann Scott Tyson’s American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant. I didn’t ...

37542_140326_0_ricksspartan.jpg
37542_140326_0_ricksspartan.jpg

You can work alongside someone for years and not really know them, what they think, what is going on inside their lives.

That thought hit me repeatedly as I read the first 30 pages of Ann Scott Tyson's American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant. I didn't know about her deep depression, her marriage breaking up, or her romance with and marriage to a Special Forces officer. (BTW, she is the third journalist who is a female graduate of Harvard I know who wed an SF officer. They should form a special society.) Nor did I know that she took solace in the works of Homer, as I did a few years earlier when trying to figure out war and coming home from it. For a year, I drove to and from work every day listening and re-listening to The Odyssey, read by Ian McKellen.

I suspect this book will be read a lot longer than most books about the American war in Afghanistan. It especially will resonate with people interested in Special Forces.

You can work alongside someone for years and not really know them, what they think, what is going on inside their lives.

That thought hit me repeatedly as I read the first 30 pages of Ann Scott Tyson’s American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant. I didn’t know about her deep depression, her marriage breaking up, or her romance with and marriage to a Special Forces officer. (BTW, she is the third journalist who is a female graduate of Harvard I know who wed an SF officer. They should form a special society.) Nor did I know that she took solace in the works of Homer, as I did a few years earlier when trying to figure out war and coming home from it. For a year, I drove to and from work every day listening and re-listening to The Odyssey, read by Ian McKellen.

I suspect this book will be read a lot longer than most books about the American war in Afghanistan. It especially will resonate with people interested in Special Forces.

It seems to me that we need people like Gant to do real foreign internal defense. But do we have a military that can live with its officers “going native”? If not, can we really do FID?

As for bringing along your girlfriend and training her in weapons: A new model for Special Ops? People talk about thinking outside the box and then freak out when confronted by it. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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