The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in August of last year that caught my attention. It focused on the militarization of the US police force. “Rise of the Warrior Cop“, which showcased the exponential increase in SWOT teams across the US.
Book image below with same title/name.
From the article in WSJ …”the country’s first official SWAT team started in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. By 1975, there were approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by the criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80%.”
In today’s NYT, they show a very captivating photo on the home page of NYT.com of three armed SWOT type commandos rushing a protestor in Ferguson, MO. The article suggests this man was protesting a shooting. If so, why all the use of force? Curious to learn more.
The question that starts to form could be…how many police officers do we need carrying sub machine guns, bayonets, or transporting in armored personnel carriers? This question can be viewed through the prism of (a) number of violent crimes committed over the last 30+ years and (b) number of crimes committed by assault rifles (and their ilk) vs smaller handguns and less powerful “force multipliers”. Thus, maybe SWOT style responses are warranted in some cases, others possibly not (see Deterrence Theory as a possible organizing principle).
Anecdotal evidence suggests there is love affair with all things commando in the US, from navy seal books such as The Trident to modern day films such as Act of Valor or Hollywood blockbusters like Lone Survivor.
Presumably this love affair has a direct implication on how we staff our domestic policing forces and/or is a direct outcome of the much talked about “military industrial complex” in the US.
Going back to world war II genre…I recently listened to an audio book “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene.
It was voiced by Colin Firth, who did a bang up job as Maurice Bendrix, the protagonist. With many catholic underpinnings, this book highlights a couple’s struggle with faith, during the bombings of WWII, their ability to cope with their affair, their confrontation with disease and ultimate demise. I highly recommend the audio experience…
Interesting article on how Google’s HR team uses “data” to uncover leadership qualities in its employees. Their findings may surprise a bit…”successful managers”, or however they define such qualities, are not necessarily correlated to their undergrad/bschool, SAT boards or pedigree.
Its probably some combination of autonomy, gumption, grit and innate talent?
On this topic, i recently finished a wonderful book by Amanda Ripley titled “Smartest Kids in the World”. This book outlines teaching methods and approach in disparate countries like Korea, Finland and Poland. The book juxtaposes these approaches to teaching math vis a vis “how its done” in the US. Fascinating if you have children and think about the US education system, if you are interested in US competitiveness and labor, how math influences skill sets for the work population, etc…
Catching up on a few period pieces on the Civil War. With the anniversary and ceremony at Gettysberg, a few books i would recommend. “The Civil War” by Bruce Catton, “Gettysburg: Voices from the Front” by Robert Child and “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald. Read these three, covering the gamut and providing a POV on the soldiers, the front and the political leadership from the day.
Understanding the past and how our country was formed…a fascinating topic.
I just finished “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen. With our societies cultural fascination of SEALs, figured I would pick up the latest shoot ’em thriller at the airport this week while flying back to LA from Rochester. It read quick and I was done by the time wheels were down on the west coast.
No Easy Day
Not sure the hardback illuminated the training and tactics of special forces any more than say “Teamates: SEALs at War” by Barry Enoch, or “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. It was explicit and concise in the actual take down of UBL during the mission, but the rest was too vague for my satisfaction.
I actually found “No Easy Day” more of cursory glance at the long arc of our proxy war against Pakistan than insightful commentary into the training and deployment of the SEALs. While it never delved into the geo-political nuances of fighting “wars” on various fronts, it provided insight into a warrior’s motivation and personal sacrifice for that career choice.
I am still a bit confused on why the author broke omerta? Maybe a bone to pick with his former teams, a political statement (but if that was the case, the book was missing any explicit verbal attack of our commander in chief or other political leaders)? Maybe he just had something to get off his chest and wanted to be published.
The bright side..the book did contain some interesting photos of the operator’s kit.
Posted in Afghanistan, books, Books to Read, military, Presidential Election
Tagged Amazon, book review, Lone Survivor, Mark Owen, No Easy Day, OBL, SEAL operator No Easy Day, SEALs, special forces, Teamates: SEALs at War
Moneyball is a well worn subject…but since I enjoy Michael Lewis, I spare no expense in mentioning his work. I appreciate circling back to this writer and his progeny. On the topic…an interesting article on innovation and the mavens who were under the age of 30 when starting their companies. The question poised is “does one need to be young to be innovative”.
I revisited ole Rudy’s writings this weekend. “The Man Who Would Be King” and “rikki tikki tavi” amongst other short stories. Listening to audio, the british reader created a rich fabric, creating a look into Africa, through the lens of british rule.