Developmental narrative of the esteemed Navy SEALs, co-written by a former member.
Couch (Always Faithful, Always Forward: The Forging of a Special Operations Marine, 2014, etc.) and Doyle (A Soldier’s Dream: Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq, 2011, etc.) co-authored this book as a companion to a PBS documentary: “It is our effort to tell the story of a remarkable elite fighting force and its ancestors.” The SEALs’ legendary improvisational toughness, write the authors, started with the underwater demolition teams in World War II. The UDTs were hasty responses to the horrific Tarawa landings and played a significant role in both theaters, clearing Axis beach obstacles under fire. The SEALs were formally established in 1962, after President John F. Kennedy "encouraged the Pentagon to beef up counterinsurgency and Special Operations forces.” Couch narrates his own tour-of-duty experience during Vietnam rescuing POWs from a prison camp, terming such missions “a tribute to the professional culture that was emerging in the SEAL Teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s.” Yet the SEALs’ fighting autonomy caused controversy; as one recalled, “part of the Navy saw us as some sort of quasi-criminal element.” The counterterrorism-oriented SEAL Team 6 formed in 1980 and fought in the Grenada invasion, the chaos of which led to the consolidation of the U.S. Special Forces Command. After this, “they morphed into professional, well-drilled, experienced, responsible operators” who were ready for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Couch and Doyle precisely depict many missions, including the famed rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips and the killing of Osama bin Laden. They focus on SEAL history and tactics and their embrace of obscure technologies and weaponry while emphasizing that in the Special Forces, "Navy SEAL training is the longest and, arguably, the most difficult."
Entertaining, no-nonsense balancing of legends and martial reality.