Jack Murphy’s Target Deck

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I was hoping to get a review of Jack’s first novel, Reflexive Fire, up before this, but it’ll have to wait.  Suffice it to say that it’s awesome, but Jack has ratcheted things up a little in this latest installment of the Deckard novels.

The aftermath of the bloodletting in Reflexive Fire has Deckard’s PMC, Samruk International, pared down to little more than two platoons.  Those two platoons open the book with a successful strike on a south Mexico cartel leader, followed by signing a contract with the surviving police chief in the area to take care of the cartel problem.  It’s sort of a “sign this, now,” sort of arrangement, but she doesn’t seem to mind later on, as Deckard and his boys start savaging the cartels in southern Mexico.

A lot of what is happening as background for the book will be familiar to anyone who has kept an eye on the deteriorating situation in Mexico.  While Deckard’s operation is in the south, in what is presently disputed territory near Guatemala, the Zetas and Sinaloa cartel are featured prominently in the background.  The Zapatista rebels in Chiapas even make several appearances.  Jack even brings Fast and Furious into the mix, along with questionable black operations being run by shadowy individuals in the corridors of power.

The action sequences are frequent and well done.  The carnage in places is pretty intense, though anyone who’s been keeping even one eye on the war in Mexico would know that it’s by no means in excess of what has been happening down there.

Deckard is getting reckless, fueled more by his own sense of rage and justice than anything else.  He almost goes down a couple times in this book, just from pushing himself past the limits of his endurance.  It’s going to be interesting to see where Jack is taking this.

All in all, it’s a great read, and will keep you turning pages.  I highly recommend it, along with its predecessor, Reflexive Fire, and the PROMIS series, which follows Deckard’s father through the proxy wars of the Cold War.

Target Deck

Reflexive Fire

PROMIS Vietnam

Hank Brown’s Tier Zero

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Recently, I got to read Hank Brown’s new novel, Tier Zero.  Having already read and greatly enjoyed his debut novel, Hell & Gone, I was really looking forward to it.  Well, Hank didn’t disappoint.

Set ten years after the Sudan mission in Hell & Gone, Tier Zero sees the return of a number of characters from the first book.  Rocco Cavarra is back, but he takes a back seat to Tommy Scarred-Wolf, the Shawnee Special Forces veteran.  Tommy is running this particular op, to rescue his niece from Indonesian pirates.

As much as I enjoyed Hell & Gone, this book is better.  Hank has polished some of the character interactions.  There are still conflicts between even characters on the same side, much like there were in Hell & Gone; both books are about ad hoc units put together for a particular mission.  He even has a bit of a romantic subplot going on, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the action.

There are multiple threads running through the plot, and several betrayals ratchet up the tension between the good guys, over and above the tension of being on their own in a foreign land, surrounded by enemies.  Questions are raised about who to trust, both within and without the group.  There are hints of broader conspiracies, that I hope to see pursued in the next book.  (That’s a hint, Hank.)

The fights are fast-paced and visceral, and there are plenty of them.  Hank has a little different taste in weaponry than I do, but he makes it work.

Overall, it’s an excellent entry in the genre, and an improvement on his past work.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

It’s available at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0MLX6W/ref=as_li_tf_til?tag=twofistblog-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B00B0MLX6W&adid=0VA02G2S6DV3WRCQXW6J&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogger.com%2Fblogger.g%3FblogID%3D6161526002238586054

Hank is also running a blog tour, with giveaways.  The details are on his blog:

http://twofistedblogger.blogspot.com/2013/01/free-e-reader-giveaway-on-mens.html

 

Train As You Fight

I had something a little different in mind for this post, but there seems to have been some confusion about an element of the BZO post below.  Some individuals seem to have thought that I was creating, in one FB commenter’s words, “a trumped-up version of ‘I don’t want to wear my kit.'”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You have to train in your kit.  You should get to the point where you can perform any task you may have to in the field in kit, as though it wasn’t even there.

The point I was making in the BZO post is that zeroing a rifle is not training.  It is maintenance.  Zeroing in kit is simply counterproductive.  Once the rifle is zeroed, then you should do all your shooting in your kit.

There’s a little more to it, and I’ve seen examples of this.  Somebody sets SOP for gear, even knowing the requirements in the AO, and you train for several months with that SOP.  However, the SOP isn’t the same as the requirements in the AO.  In the last month, you start training with all the stuff you are required to have in the AO, and discover that it’s actually quite a bit heavier than the basic stuff you’ve been working with.  Your movement speed is cut in half, and you can’t cover nearly the ground that you are used to covering in the course of an operation.  You now have to adjust your planning process as well, because your gear SOP wasn’t up to snuff from the get-go.

The Roman Army trained with shields and wooden swords, or rudii, that were twice the weight of their fighting weapons.  This way, when they got to the field, things were easier.  But our guys are training with empty magazines, no demo, etc.  They are training with less weight than they will carry in combat.  This creates problems downrange.

There are two things that need to be done in this case.  One, find equivalents to the weight of the ordnance you will be carrying downrange, or a little heavier.  Make training magazines for your rig.  Everybody finds bad mags; the ones that don’t feed right, that you have to rip out of the mag well every reload.  Instead of crushing them the way we used to, to make sure they didn’t get put back in the usable rotation, mark them, and use them as training mags.  I’ve seen a couple of ideas for how to weight them; concrete was one, another was to fill them with lead shot, then seal the feed lips.  Either way, find a way to make them as heavy, or a little heavier than, a loaded magazine.  Demo, extra MG ammo, 40mm, etc, can usually be simulated by various size sandbags in a pack.

Training heavy is generally a good thing, but it’s going to break you down after a while.  That’s why you need to closely examine what you really need in the field.  If it’s nonessential, lose it.  Water, ammo, and comm are more important.  Fight as light as you can, train as heavy as you have to.  I’ll get into weight and armor versus maneuver in a later post.

Train hard, fight easy.