Six Days


The SAS assault on the Iranian Embassy in April 1980 is still one of the seminal moments in special operations and counter-terrorism. Although the obvious inspiration for Lewis Collins’ 1982 Who Dares Wins, this action has been largely ignored by the entertainment community. Until the Bin laden raid in 2011, this lack of attention has probably not seen as a bad thing by the special operations community.

We had Ultimate Force with the bloke from EastEnders, and then The Unit led by the melting moments Terminator but it wasn’t until Six that we started to see some credible small screen special operations. On the large screen, Blackhawk Down was really an anyman story of soldiers at war, The Great Raid was pretty tame and also the tale of a large scale operation. The Odd Angry Shot is an Aussie classic but more COIN than SO. For the most part, the most significant of special operations have been largely ignored by credible story tellers…Even the first that I remember, Entebbe, has only been told  well once and that is the Israeli Operation Thunderbolt (still worth a watch if you can find it on Youtube)…

I read Bill McRaven’s (the ‘make your bed’ guy)  Spec Ops when it was first published – passing the time during a week in Waiouru Hospital in 1996 – and it must have been a tough decision to not include it as one of the case studies. It contains all the elements of McRaven’s theory of relative superiority and would certainly have survived scrutiny against his principles of special operations: simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed and purpose.

I was discouraged from buying Six Days for a long time because of its 90 minute run time – 90 minutes or less always suggests to me ‘made for TV’, never a good sign – and I was wary of whether it would be worth watching or just be loosely based on reality.

I need not have worried. It is very good and gets all the key elements of the story into 90 minutes without feeling crammed or forced. Watching the credits (as I do if the remote is beyond my reach), I could see why as I recognised, with surprise, some of the consultants’ names. More so when further credits revealed that this is very much a Kiwi movie production-wise as well: another result of Helen Clark’s decision to invest in and support our fledgling movie industry in the early days of the Lord of the Rings saga.

Six Days is a great account of a small team that pulled off a nigh impossible task under the most challenging conditions, not just those of a task never attempted before but one conducted under live TV cameras and global scrutiny. All part of Margaret Thatcher’s hard line of terrorism, and a harbinger of that same hard line two years later when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.

Searching for it just now, I was pleased to still be able to find Spec Ops on a shelf. When we Bookabached the Lodge while living in Waiouru, we pitched the library as one of its features. That was a little naive as library holdings diminished over that winter – a good reason to inventory everything so you actually know what might be missing and not just tearing the place apart looking for something that’s no longer there.

Nana doing Nana stuff 010.jpg

Moving here was the first time  that I was able to have all my books unboxed and shelved since leaving home. Having to rebox it all up again for an indefinite period will be like losing a bunch of old friends:  Kindle just isn’t the same has holding old paper in your hands or glancing around for a reading target of opportunity…

Bill McRaven did much more than just write a book but it may be most remembered popularly for his ‘make your bed’ speech – better than ‘Wear Sunscreen’…

Part of the reason behind this big writing jag at the moment is that I was disappointed to see that my blogging efforts for 2018 fit onto a single WordPress preview page. The rescue helicopter campaign was unexpected – a reminder that stupidity can break out anywhere at anytime – and consumed way more time and effort than expected. I was writing so much in support of our helicopter bases, that it was a challenge to take up the keyboard for anything else…making up for that now…getting back into the swing of a post a day if I can…setting challenges to get me out of bed and keep me of the couch…

StealthHawk enters production – in China

Great news for aviation and specops aficionados  to read in Time that bulk production of the H-60-based StealthHawk revealed in the OBL takedown has commenced…not so great news that production is in China…

Fortunately, production is also also only in 1/144 scale, so while small boys of all ages will be happy to find two in the box, the Specops balance of power remains stable…

I have got to get me one of these!

It is, though, a credible effort on the part of Dragon to design, tool, produce and distribute this model in only a few weeks since the May 1 raid where the new design was revealed…Dragon pulled off a similar coup in 1989 by releasing the first close-to-accurate models of the F-117 and B-2…

Edit: Some interesting analysis from over at Paper Modelers (the rest of the pictures referred to below are there):

I worked at Sikorsky for 9 years. That being said,that model is really “funny”. It is much like the old Aurora models of stealth aircraft that looked nothing like the real thing.

I think it is a variant of the S-92. The drive shaft for the tail rotor is far too long to be off of a Blackhawk, and they don’t even remotely look like that. Also, that picture of the tail rotor is not what it appears, as far as it is mounted to the helicopter.. In the attached picture, it looks like the tail rotor assembly flipped over from the torque of the drive shaft. On the helicopter facing from the rear, that tail rotor is probably on the left side. The black tiny parallelogram is the top and the flat spot is the back of the helicopter you are looking at. The 2 men of the picture hint at the scale. That is definitely not based on a Blackhawk, it’s huge. 

The S-92 is all that’s left, it is also the most modern helicopter in the world. New standards had to be developed as it exceeds every standard for a helicopter of that class by that much.

The LHX75 is just for reference and rules any variation of that helicopter out because it is too small.

The S-92 SAR looks like the likely candidate. IMHO.

Boeing-Sikorsky S-92 SAR

In the ‘Ghan

NZ troops in Kabul - the soldier on the left is correctly dressed in issue Special Operations sunglasses.

The NZ news media has covered itself in glory again – NOT! When will they learn that sensationalism and short-term rating gains actually have real effects on peoples lives. I refer of course to the NZ Herald’s publication of images showing NZSAS VC winner, Willy Apiata, on the job in Kabul in the aftermath of the Taliban attacks on Monday. Because you can, because Cpl Apiata is already newsworthy, or because someone else will do it anyway are not adequate reasons – they are weak excuses.  The images in question portray a soldier nothing like the clean-shaven well-groomed soldier portrayed in the media at the time of his VC investiture. Even the fact that he is in-country is not for the NZ Herald or any other national media to trumpet to the world. It’s my understanding that the NZDF goes to great lengths to educate media agencies – with considerable success – on what the Defence Force does and, perhaps more importantly, WHY it does some things so the Herald doesn’t even have a defense of ignorance. This is media ignorance and corporate arrogance at its worst. If the Herald had any product worth boycotting, I’d boycott it but will have to satisfy myself with flicking them the finger.

It is significant however that  the NZSAS have been noted as key players in repelling the Taliban attacks in Kabul and I think this goes a long way to getting New Zealand some serious street cred (outside to Spec Ops community) as for-real contributors in Afghanistan. Although NZ has deployed Special forces to Afghanistan for a umber of tours, their activities are, for good reason, kept behind an opsec shield. The first real inkling that the New Zealand public had of the level and intensity of their activities in Afghanistan was when Willy Apiata’s VC citation was released in 2007. This street cred is possibly even more important due to recent proposals to draw down the number of troops in the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan province

The Government is working on an exit plan to pull all New Zealand troops out of Afghanistan.

Dr Mapp visited the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan, and said he believed New Zealand had made the right decision in drawing down its troops. He said the province was making good progress.

The PRT will soon begin its transition towards an increased civilian component, in line with the Cabinet decision of 10 August. It is clear that Bamiyan is ready for the next stage of economic development.

Is the attack in Kabul a ripple effect of the surge – a sign of the Taliban adopting Whac-a-mole tactics as a counter-measure against the surge in the south of Afghanistan i.e. of popping up and dropping back into their holes before ISAF can reconfigure? Is this attack  taking the war to where the surge isn’t…

Hit a Gopher. Click the green 'Start' button at the bottom right, then get ready to whack the gophers by clicking on them when they stick their heads out of their holes. Miss 5 gophers, and the game is over!

Hit a Gopher is the equally addictive and frustrating online version of Whac-A-Mole. “If the player does not strike a mole within a certain time or with enough force, it will eventually sink back into its hole with no score. Although gameplay starts out slow enough for most people to hit all of the moles that rise, it gradually increases in speed, with each mole spending less time above the hole and with more moles outside of their holes at the same time. After a designated time limit, the game ends, regardless of the skill of the player. The final score is based upon the number of moles that the player struck.”

‘Jesus’ sights

You try and you try and you try…but nutjobs exist on all sides – you really have to wonder what sort of fundamentalist takfir arrogance exists in Trijicon management to so arrogantly and blatantly cast marking with clear Christian connotations on each and every one of their products – does some guy in their PR department also moonlight as a cartoonist for the Danes?? How would we take it if every barrel of crude (yes, I know it doesn’t really come in barrels) we imported from the Gulf was tagged ‘Death to the Great Satan and all his friends‘? Of course, no one, including NZ, is going to withdraw their ACOG sights despite demands from other nutjobs that this occur – one almost wonders if Trijicon is batting for the other side as home goals like this are too good to be accidents…

2 Peter 1:19 — “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

John 8:12 — “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

Kriss Super V

Paper Replika has just released the Kriss Super V – no subtle divisive inscriptions on this baby although who would blame them if they did…?