I recently had the honor of sitting down with Jocko Willink and Echo Charles for Jocko Podcast #183. Jocko put me through two of my pre-deployment work-ups when he was the Officer-in-Charge of Group 1 TRADET, or Training Detachment, for my Platoon Commander and Troop Commander tours. He was responsible for preparing West Coast SEAL Troops and Platoons for deployment. It was hands down the most comprehensive training of my twenty years in Naval Special Warfare, not just because it was challenging, but because of Jocko’s focus on mentorship, leadership and smart, aggressive problem solving.
A pre-deployment work-up includes training blocks in Land Warfare, SOUC (Special Operations Urban Combat, formerly MOUT – Military Operations in Urban Terrain), Special Reconnaissance, Combat Swimmer (diving operations), MIO (Maritime Interdiction Operations) / VBSS – Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure / GOPLATS (Gas and Oil Platforms), Air Operations (military freefall), Mobility Operations (vehicles), CQC (Close Quarters Combat, formerly CQB – Close Quarters Battle), OTB (Over the Beach) along with sniper sustainment and combatives. Jocko was fresh from the battlefield having led SEAL Team Three Task Unit Bruiser in Ramadi in 2006.
I feel extremely fortunate to be the recipient of so many lessons learned from someone so personally and professionally devoted to developing combat leaders, and to building Platoons and Troops into some of the most formidable small unit fighting forces in the world. I learned exceptionally valuable lessons during those blocks of training, which we discuss on the podcast, many of which have found their way into the pages of my novels. In all his time at TRADET, Jocko never missed an FTX (Field Training Exercise); his keen eye always scanning for the chance to document teachable moments in his ever-present notebook for the debrief.