Saturday, June 19, 2010

WANTED: Warrior Spirt - some training required, Book Review of "In Search of the Warrior Spirit" by Richard Heckler

Mr. Heckler's book, published in 1990 came out at just the wrong time in history. What incentive did the U.S. Army have as the Cold War melted away, to think seriously about counterinsurgency in general and its Special Forces in particular? From reading the book apparently little indeed.

"In Search of the Warrior Spirit" traces the several months Mr. Heckler and other specialists spent with two Army Special Forces Teams at a post in Massachusetts as part of an experimental program called The Trojan Warrior Project. Heckler, an aikido and meditation expert had mixed feelings about the opportunity from the beginning and his discussions about his reactions to the soldiers and the program are the are intriguing. One of his main issues is the warrior versus killer dichotomy that he finds himself arguing about with his liberal Northern California friends, alternating between complaining about and defending the soldiers.

The project itself, a combination of physical, psychological and spiritual training seems to be a big success based on the data the team has gathered.  The Special Forces commanders are pleased and authorize a continuation of the program.  Disappointingly, but not unexpectedly, the new commander defunds the program because he thinks its a waste of time. The holistic, big picture approach was too much for many soldiers to get, unfortunately even some in the Special Forces.

More than ever the Army and the Special Forces in particular could benefit from a renewed focus on the warrior spirit.  

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