Customer Reviews for

The Snake Eaters: An Unlikely Band of Brothers and the Battle for the Soul of Iraq

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    Recommended Reading

    I served as the Team Leader for Team Outcast from August 2005 to July 2006. The team, comprised of reservists, was made up of a plumber, a postal clerk, a rock guitarist / air conditioning repairman, a cop, a mechanic, a flooring salesman, a clerk at Lowes and a contractor; on paper Outcast should not have been successful. Owens book, "The Snake Eaters," does a masterful job exploring/explaining how Outcast achieved remarkable successes.

    Owen explains how, in pre-mobilization training, Outcast received almost no training of value; the team members joked that it was 2 weeks of training crammed into 90 days. "The Snake Eaters" emphasizes the role of the combat advisor in counter insurgency warfare. Advisors serve multiple roles. They are their units link to the most powerful military in the world, confidants, buffers, actors, amateur psychologists and diplomats. Above all else they are warriors. They prove their mettle in combat and earn the privilege to advise. "The Snake Eaters" shows that warriors, not supplicants, succeed as advisors, and that these warriors can come from unlikely sources.

    Owen shows that advisor teams and their units are a jigsaw puzzle of combat power. Each member of the team and key leaders in the advised unit are the key pieces to that puzzle. Success hinges on the ability of the advisor to reshape his piece of the puzzle, to turn negatives into positives, and push toward success. "Snake Eaters" makes it clear that rigidly applying doctrine, without regard to the reality on the ground, can be detrimental to the advisor's mission.

    I'd love to say that Outcast cracked the code to the advisory quandary, but there are no pat answers. Each advisory team faces a complex array of issues. Those issues run the entire gamut of human relations from the stress of combat to dealing with mundane personality issues. The key is the ability of the advisor to remain flexible.

    Aside from the actual advisors, the interpreters play a crucial role, and Owen makes this abundantly clear. They are the advisors eyes and ears. Good ones are worth their weight in gold; bads ones will get an advisor killed. Outcast was blessed with great interpreters. Brave men that risked everything to start a new, free country.

    Owen has done a tremendous job memorializing the contributions of one small team of advisors, Team Outcast, in all it's incarnations. I'll be proud to show it to my children and use it to explain why it was important that their Dad leave them for a year.

    Staff Sergeant David Cox said, "only we understand what we and the Iraqis worked for, and how hard it was every day, and who we lost along the way. But together we did it! I just hope the politicians don't screw the pooch..." I hope, thanks to Owens efforts in "The Snake Eaters," that more people now understand what we worked and bled for, and I share Ssgt Cox's concerns.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2012

    I was an Outcast Advisor from 2005-2006 and am honored to say I

    I was an Outcast Advisor from 2005-2006 and am honored to say I worked with the Snake Eaters. Owen West’s book “The Snake Eaters,” remembers accurate details of our experiences and struggles and shows the personal growth between advisors and the Snake Eaters molding a country, an army, and two extremely different cultures. It made me feel extremely proud and honored to see how Owen West honored each Snake Eater and Advisor and showed their selfless service, duty to country, honor, integrity, and inner strength to bring the fight each day multiple times a day. Even when the fight seemed overwhelming and support from other units nonexistent, West was able to show the drive each advisor and Snake Eater had to adapt, overcome and beat the insurgency. As an advisor remembering these events again it sends goose bumps up my arms. It is a honor knowing I was a part of 3/3/1 Snake Eaters!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    A gripping story of the awakening in Iraq

    This is a small unit account at its best, telling how a battalion of Iraqi soldiers with a few American advisors took a small city back from the insurgents. It is striking because it was done with almost complete lack of support from the American and Iraq governments and from the American military command.

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