Robert Jesenik-Relentless Strike

Author of Book: Sean Naylor
Date Read: April 21, 2024

Book Report

Title: Relentless Strike
The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command

Author: Sean Naylor

Date: April 21, 2024

Seems like a lot of my recent recreational reading has been fiction based series like Mitch Rapp and the CIA, or Balducci and his FBI based series. Well, a fellow inmate gave me this hardback book, and its a non fiction book based on actual military and CIA missions , planning, and execution(literally!), with a focus beginning on 9/11 and the ensuing 10-15 years.

Fresh off the 9/11 tragic event that stunned the world, the book details the immense planning, coordination, and even equipment selection the US military used in beginning its hunt of Bin Laden in Afghanistan in Q4, 2001. Really fascinating to understand the types of human assets and their different capabilities depending on which arm of the military they were trained in. Same can be said for different types of equipment,whether it be ships, helicopters,boats, and aircraft.

Why is this relevant? Well, one thing the reader is exposed to is the incredible planning and training required for any significant mission. Within that, there is a very almost scientific based selection of equipment and human talent to maximize the mission’s chance of success. While painstakingly tedious at points, the book does an excellent job laying out the process of many different Middle East missions, and what the military/CIA did well or not. Amazing how much is human personality based either way. Failure could have been human based, pilot error,and sometimes equipment failure.

The book describes missions into Afghanistan pre Iraq, seeking Bin Laden, and not necessarily government overthrow/transition like Iraq became. Next was Iraq and capturing Saddam Hussein and then the attempt to establish a democratic government with the Shia and Sunni’s-good luck with that! Thereafter there was an attempt to establish military control of Afghanistan and a new government with Karzai, but we all know how that recently ended. Then there are numerous other smaller missions like rescuing American hostages in Somalia, or even held by pirates on ships etc.

The book focuses on the establishment and growth of a new military “arm” named Joint Special Operations Command(“JSOC”). It was established within the military due to its failure to protect the US/NYC from 9/11, partially due to the lack of intelligence sharing between various military agencies( Army,Navy, Air Force and Marines) as well as FBI and CIA. Communication and coordination are key, and the military found themselves acting as multiple individual silos instead. With a new form of warfare emerging, and requiring a focus on intelligence and counter terrorism, the military had to evolve to become capable to be successful fighting the new War on Terrorism. Thus JSOC was born.

Once established. the book shares many stories of JSOC and Pentagon meetings, how difficult it was for the military arms to adjust to this new type of war and the teamwork required with each other due to historical cultural/leadership paradigms. What differentiates JSOC is being able to execute to a whole different level than the CIA as it can leverage not only intelligence,but the operational capability within the four branches of the military, including soldiers,equipment etc.

Ultimately JSOC proves itself capable and successful. with several President’s coming to appreciate their cross team functionality in a manner the military has never experienced before. Over this 15 year time frame, JSOC ends up growing significantly, not just in stature, but soldiers,resources, aircraft and weaponry at its disposal. JSOC continues to this day doing so.

As I reflect on how this book might help me post release, I can’t help reflect on the process the military uses to plan a mission, and how similar it is to planning for a successful release from prison:

* Set the objectives
* acquire the expertise/talent
* map out the action plan
* train
* execute and achieve success!

That’s exactly what I’m working on now to assure I’ll have a successful release and success thereafter!