A well-developed look inside the life and work of an accomplished private military contractor.
Formerly with the British Royal Marines and British special forces, Chase (a pen name, aided in this absorbing narrative by co-author Pezzullo) found an enticing and lucrative segue as a private military operator in such dangerous hot spots as Afghanistan and Iraq from 1999 until recently. Hired to do “the dirty and dangerous jobs the military and intelligence services can’t or don’t want to do,” Chase initially found his special services attractive to companies like Scimitar Security, which needed to provide security to the prime minister of Qatar. After 9/11, however, the jobs became increasingly perilous and high level, involving the U.S. government’s need to arm and support the Afghan Northern Alliance against the Taliban and even track Osama bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora in 2004—a disastrous mission that accomplished very little and cost the lives of three members of Chase's team. In Iraq, Chase was part of the U.S. government’s efforts to rebuild the country. Special-forces units needed to do “recon and hearts-and-minds work” in remote areas where sympathy for foreigners was never ensured. Since the U.S. government could not be caught openly aiding the rebels against the Syrian regime, it hired contractors like Chase to help arm the Free Syrian Army (“zero footprint”) and even, according to his spectacular revelations, ascertain firsthand whether President Bashar al-Assad was using chemical weapons on the rebels. Another amazing depiction involves the attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, where Chase found himself fortuitously, having been hired to do gunrunning and doing business with some of the same jihadis he had previously been fighting. Throughout, the author candidly shares the emotional toll that the constant danger took on his life and the lives of his colleagues.
Detailed, acronym-mad, well-wrought, and exciting.