Monday, December 9, 2013

Listened: "Brotherhood of Warriors" by Aaron Cohen

Listened: Brotherhood of Warriors: Behind Enemy Lines with a Commando in One of the World's Most Elite Counterterrorism Units by Aaron Cohen,2008 (AudioFile production), Overdrive download.

I was going through the digital library looking for audiobooks and decided to take a try on this.

Cohen is listed as a "Beverly Hills native" and this gets plugged as a fish out of water tale.  Not exactly true.  Cohen's parents divorced when he was young and he was bounced around from Montreal to Miami and elsewhere to live with his father, mother, and aunt.  Cohen was not doing well.  By time he landed in Beverly Hills he was a young teenager, acting out, and getting in plenty of trouble.  He was living with his mom and step-dad and both were too engrossed with their work to spend time with Cohen.  Cohen was more of a boarder in his house; he would sometimes not speak to his step-dad for days.

After getting in enough trouble Cohen was sent to a military boarding school in Ontario.  Cohen thrived.  He needed the structure and stability and he found a guy, the school's commander, to look up to.  The commander was a former Canadian Army officer.  The Commander said the Israeli Army had the best soldiers he ever met.  Cohen started reading up on the Israeli Army.  Cohen had a goal.

Cohen returned to Beverly Hills, graduated high school, flew to Israel to stay at a kibbutz before joining the Army.  Cohen exercised hard with his goal of making a special forces unit.  He worked alongside former commandos and tried to impress them.  He got advice from different people.

Cohen goes to basic and has to stubbornly demand to join the special forces path.  The Army wants to stick all the Americans together in a special unit.  Training is very difficult and some restrictions on training are lifted in their track.  Instructors can be cruel and abusive.  The physical and mental demands are tough.  Cohen continually struggles with his Hebrew. 

Cohen will be assigned to an undercover unit that works in the Palestinian territories.  Cohen shoots thousands of rounds in training.  Cohen does krav maga training where trainees have to beat and pound on each other and their bruises never have time to heal.  Cohen learns how to apply make-up and disguises.  Cohen learns the lingo and dialects of different territories.  Cohen gets through the 14 months of training and starts work.

What kind of work does Cohen do? Snatch jobs mainly.  The teams plan things out closely and often have to change plans on the fly.  The unit is well trained and quick to shoot back but they are more of a police unit than Army.  They are not out to kill, they are there to arrest.  They observe, observe, observe and then grab dudes.  The arrests can be violent - the units has to grab a guy and skedaddle before other Palestinians can react.

Cohen skips over most of his 1.5 years in the unit because of secrecy concerns.  Cohen burns out and does not re-enlist after his three years are up.  Cohen is shiftless.  Cohen has no civilian job skills.  Cohen hangs out in California.  Cohen starts getting in trouble.  Cohen gets hired by an Israeli for a security job in Los Angeles.  Things go well and Cohen starts his own firm and hires former Israeli commandos.

1.  Final chapter is on modern security in the U.S. compared to Israeli.  Israeli's are more observant and aware of terrorism.  Terrorism is a constant danger.  Cohen's advice to prevent terrorism in the U.S. is to be more Israeli-like.  I disagree for various reasons bu the main reason is:  the threat is not the same and people here will not act that way.
2. Cohen could be arrogant.  But, he was 18-years-old.  He was also smart enough to take the advice of others.

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