Book & DVD Reviews

My War: Killing Time in Iraq By Colby Buzzell Soft…

mywar.jpgMy War: Killing Time in Iraq
By Colby Buzzell

Soft cover, 358 pages, $15.00
Penguin Group
375 Hudson St., Dept. TW
New York, NY 10014
212-366-2000; penguin.com

One of the unfortunate facts of the current war on terrorism is that the military has seriously clamped down on what can be reported by the troops on combat operations. Colby Buzzell was a M240 machine gunner in a recently formed Stryker armored infantry brigade. Like most of his generation, he was considerably more web oriented than those in command of his unit.

Mostly to pass the time, he started a web blog detailing his day-to-day life in a combat zone. After an article in the Wall Street Journal profiled his blog, higher-up discovered the website and declared it a breach of security. Naturally, this ignited a certain amount of controversy as to how far freedom of speech was extended to those in the military.

Frankly, I was expecting an anti-war lecture from a low ranking enlisted man who felt he knew more about how the military should operate than those in command. I was pleasantly surprised to find Buzzell to be an intelligent and highly motivated 11-Bravo (Light Weapons Infantryman) dedicated to holding his end up in a combat unit seeing heavy action. It is always easy for old soldiers to feel the troops of the current generation aren’t the hard chargers we were. Colby Buzzell is outstanding proof that we have nothing to fear in that area.

siper.jpgIllustrated Manual of Sniper Skills
By Mark Spicer

Soft cover, 256 pages, $19.95
Zenith Press
729 Prospect Ave., Dept. TW
Oscoela, WI 54020
800-766-2388; zenithpress.com

The shelves are full of books on sniping but most seem to focus on the history of military marksmanship rather than training for the modern battlefield. While studying the past is essential, I was pleased to find “Illustrated Manual of Sniper Skills” concentrates on the skills useful on today’s sniper operations.

What I really appreciated about this book was its section on “Sniper Shot Placement.” This wasn’t the usual arguments about body versus head shots, but rather a detailed breakdown of all potential inanimate targets on the battle field. If you are willing to think outside the “confirmed kill” box there are an endless list of things that will cease to function if struck by a well-placed bullet. This is especially true if that bullet happens to be from a modern .50 caliber+ sniping weapon. The book offers illustrations of potential targets on armor, artillery, radar, rocket launchers, aircraft and even naval warships.

Other chapters cover “The Sniper in Urban Areas,” “The Sniper in Mountain Areas,” and the “The Sniper in Desert Areas,” all situations where U.S. troops are likely to find themselves in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is one of the better books on modern military sniping I’ve had the
pleasure to read.

urbanknife.jpgUrban Knife Warfare: Edged Weapon Combat for Military Personnel and Defense-Minded Civilians
With Datu Kelly S. Worden

DVD, 85 minutes, $39.95
Paladin Press, Gunbarrel Tech Center
7077 Winchester Circle, Dept. TW
Boulder, CO, 80301
303-443-7250; paladin-press.com

Few edged-weapons instructors have the reputation for being as tough and street wise as Kelley Worden. Paladin Press’ new DVD brings you Datu Worden’s knife-fighting program that he has been teaching on contract to Special Forces troops at Fort Lewis for several years. Utilizing principles of instinctive movement, instantaneous counterattack, and simple arcs and thrusts, Worden focuses on the nitty-gritty of knife fighting, not martial arts dancing useful only in the dojo.

The DVD makes a point of stating the video was “shot on location in one of the most dangerous urban neighborhoods in Washington State.” Well, I live in Washington state, but I’m certainly glad it isn’t in the bombed-out war-zone looking area they have found! This brings up a point that many instructors fail to cover: A real military knife fight is usually going to take place in the rubble of a battle zone, by troops weighted down in combat gear. Worden’s video focuses on teaching you how to maintain your footing in places you’re most likely to wind up in a real fight for your life, as well as how to use your environment to put your attacker at disadvantage.

Worden also teaches control methods with the knife as less-lethal options for defense, as well as one- and two-man restraining techniques previously taught only to military personnel. Then, taking what you’ve learned with the blade to empty hand, he shows you how to crank up the intensity into the red zone, demonstrating how to disarm a determined attacker and keep him from getting back up again.

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