by Captain Ronald Fry
Hammerhead Six, written by Captain Ronald Fry, is the true story of the captain and his Special Forces A-Team, code name Hammerhead Six, during the War on Terror in Afghanistan. Situated in Camp Blessing in the Pech Valley of Kunar Province, the SF team worked to eliminate terrorist threats, targeting valuable suspects, seizing weapon stockpiles, and fighting off Taliban ambushes. They also practiced unconventional warfare, winning the local Afghans trust through friendship and respect of their culture and traditions. Captain Ronald Fry, referred to as the “Red-Bearded Commander” by the locals, became a prominent and respected figure whom the local Afghans went to for advice and to settle village disputes. The SF team’s efforts established a special relationship between the Afghans and the U.S. However, once Hammerhead Six left the Pech Valley in 2004, their successors reverted to the old traditional warfare, resulting in many more deaths and tragedies.
Hammerhead Six is written in first person and adopts a light, humorous tone, a somewhat unusual approach to a story involving warfare. Usually, war stories are written in a way that reflects the tension of the situation, although this story is about a different kind of war. This book reveals what true leadership is: caring for the members of your team as your own family, making important decisions at a potential risk to your own career, but which you know are ultimately for the good of your country, and having the ability to understand the people of a different culture, respect their customs and traditions, and act according to those understandings. This book also effectively makes a point that unconventional warfare is oftentimes more effective than the old idea of a destroying war. It establishes trust among the natives of the country, drawing them to your side, rather than cultivating the hatred and scorn that results from the deaths of innocent people, leading them to turn against you.
Of course, the topic of death does come up throughout the book, but there are no detailed descriptions of the killing or the bodies. The language is quite clean for a military story; there are perhaps four or five usages of four-letter words – of the milder kind, mostly beginning with the letter “d” – in the whole book. The topic is fairly easy to handle; it is not a disturbing book filled with images of death and the cruelties of war, and there are no inappropriate scenes. Although it is not a page-turner, I would still recommend this book. Readers will find themselves with a new perspective of warfare, leadership, and responsibility.