No elite military commando unit since the darkest days of Korea and Vietnam has a more storied history than the U.S. Navy SEALs, a stealth fighting force legendary for its abilities to wage covert war on sea, air, and land. Now former SEAL Command Master Chief Dennis "Snake" Chalker takes us deep inside the celebrated SEAL Team Six for an astonishing, firsthand look at the formation, preparation, and deployment of a crack detachment meticulously trained for an ongoing mission that has become essential to the survival of our nation: counterterrorism. When Dennis Chalker joined Army Airborne in the early 1970s he was, by his own admission, a fairly typical young man from the Midwest. After his initial tour of duty -- and a brief, unsatisfactory stint as a civilian -- he volunteered to be a candidate for "the Teams," elite Naval Special Forces units known for their "outside the envelope" approach to warfare and their ability to strike any target, no matter how heavily guarded or impossible to reach.
Command Master Chief Chalker, a former Navy SEAL, tells the story of his personal involvement with one of the U.S.'s most secretive military organizations, formed to counter terrorism and perform operations in hostile territory. Writing with Dockery (Free Fire Zones), Chalker guides the reader through a three-year stint with the army's 82nd Airborne in the early '70s and a college football injury, quickly moving to his navy career, from getting himself into BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition, SEAL) training to hazing rituals and continued training to ensure that each mission can be a "perfect op" pulled off without discovery by the opponent. In the early 1980s, Chalker became a founding member of SEAL Team Six, which played a prominent role, described in riveting detail, in the U.S. invasion of Grenada. Readers who find the following sort of sentence poetic will not be able to put the book down: "If I had to dump the M4 and switch to my secondary weapon, I would be well served by my SIG P226 loaded with a full fifteen-round magazine of hot copper-jacketed serrated 9mm hollowpoints." But the perfect op is one where the SEALs do not have to fire a round, which is clearly Chalker's preference. After serving with Team Six, Chalker volunteered for one of the new Red Cell units, formed to test American bases for security often entering and leaving a facility without being spotted, which a base commander does not want to happen. Those looking for a larger-scale history of this secret branch of the service should turn to Orr Kelly's Brave Men, Dark Waters, but by the time Chalker's 20 years are up, he has indoctrinated quite a few of his own "enswines," and special ops buffs will be satisfied. (Apr. 1) Forecast: Our current operations in Afghanistan will cultivate interest in this title, of course, but Tom Clancy's Shadow Warriors, an overview of special forces due out in February, may steal many of Chalker's potential readers. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 31, 2002
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Excerpt from One Perfect Op by Dennis C. Chalker
One Perfect Op
Speeding across a dark ocean, rain squalls coming and going and the wind in our faces, I had no way of knowing that I was now on my last combat operation, but if I had known, I couldn't have chosen a better crew to be with than the Teammates I had trained alongside for years.
The mission was to rescue an American citizenýan eighteen-month old babyýand her family from an unfriendly shore. Two black rubber boats were speeding away from a darkened U.S. Navy warship, each boat full of SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) determined to see the operation through.
We had 55-horsepower outboard engines on our Zodiac F-470 boats. With the weight and space factor tight, we had to consider limiting our extras, so we had only two 35-horsepower outboards as spares. A full crew was on each of the boats, and we had to save room for the cargo we were on our way to pick up.
Each SEAL going in with the landing party was armed with a full loadout. I was geared up for a water op, just like everyone else. Wearing my ýFarmer John'sý wet suit would give me some additional buoyancy. Around my neck I had an inflatable UDT (Underwater Demolitions Team) buoyance vest in case I needed a little extra flotation. And I wasn't running too light in case it came to a fight. My M4 carbine was loaded with twenty-eight rounds in its magazine, each third round a tracer. The last five rounds in the magazine were all tracers, to warn me that it was time to reload. The nine other magazines I had in three pouches at my waist were all loaded the same way. That gave me 280 rounds of 5.56mm killers to depend on.
If I had to dump the M4 and switch to my secondary weapon, I would be well served by my SIG P226 loaded with a full fifteen-round magazine of hot copper-jacketed serrated 9mm hollowpoints. The other four P226 magazines I carried in two separate pouches gave me seventy-five rounds for my pistol alone. Finally, I had my Glock knife at my right hip with a Mark 13 day /night signal flare taped to its scabbard. Hanging around my neck on a line was a set of Cyclops night vision goggles, a binocular NVG with a single tube that would magnify the available starlight 50,000 times. The goggles would make all of thedark surrounding area visible in a green-tinted light.
But it was across my chest that I carried my most important piece of equipment: the black-painted, fully padded baby carrier that I had carried my own baby daughter in. Tied to the carrier, sterilized and sealed in a plastic bag, was a baby's pacifier, an incongruous item among all my lethal hardware.