0
JohnRich

Book: "Green Team", by Richard Marcinko

Recommended Posts

One of the books I've finished reading lately is "Green Team", by Richard Marcinko. Marcinko is the creator of the real-life Seal Team 6 counter-terrorism team. He has authored two previous books; "Rogue Warrior" and "Red Team". This particular novel is a work of fiction, but describes real-life equipment and techniques.

I thought it might be interesting to post some excerpts here from the parachuting-related portions of the book. Those excerpts could use some explanation or discussion.

So here we go. I'll start with page 236, where the heros are preparing for a mission:
We used the villa's courtyard to repack the chutes Luciano Angelotti had given us in La Spezia. You never jump a chute you haven't packed yourself. Moreover, these were Incursari chutes, which means they'd been used in water jumps. That makes a difference: seawater decomposes parachute silk after ten or twelve immersions if the chutes aren't thoroughly washed immediately after use. The salt water weakens the fabric, which can disintegrate on operating shock, sending the man wearing it to his death.

I knew we'd be HAHOing these chutes-that's High Altitude, High Operating in case you didn't remember - and I wanted to make absolutely sure that we hadn't been given seven rotting chutes. No need to find that out at twenty-thousand feet. So we unrolled them, examined them inch by inch, then packed' em up again. They were old, and they'd been well used, but I believed they had at least one more jump in them. At least I hoped so. If not - well, inshallah...
What is an "Incursari" chute? That seems to be latin that means somethign like "has been used in combat", but maybe this is a manufacturer brand name or something. Anyone know?

He refers to "silk" chutes throughout the book, never once calling them nylon. The setting is the 1980's, so nylon had been around a long time, and chutes weren't made out of silk any more. I wonder why he does this? Did the Italians still use silk for their parachutes?

Even if it was really nylon, does salt water really degrade nylon that quickly if it's not washed? I know salt crystals are a bad thing, but I'm not sure it would make the parachute blow apart after a dozen immersions.

As discussion peters out on this excerpt, I'll add another one to talk about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, with writing like that, the guy sounds like a total poser and wannabe full of macho B.S.

Just a little hard to reconcile with his special ops cred if it really is the same guy. If it is the same guy, then it shows how being good at one thing doesn't mean you are good at everything. (Hey, I don't really understand the military, but how do you function as an actual military leader, and not just a human pit bull, when you live in that kind of fantasy?)


Quote

As discussion peters out on this excerpt, I'll add another one to talk about.



While you presented your case in a very neutral manner, I'm wondering if you were looking for a reaction like mine. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Clue: Luciano Angelotti
Perhaps he/they misspelled "Incursori."
An SOF Unit of the Italian Navy similar to our SEALS back in the day.
I "think" the unit was started around 1980 and the chutes "could" have been large silk rounds (just thinkin... Italian military supplies in those days?).
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Well, with writing like that, the guy sounds like a total poser... I'm wondering if you were looking for a reaction like mine. ;)



Wasn't looking for it, but expected it to happen.

Marcinko is the real deal, no one who knows anything about him questions that.

The explanation may be that he is simply writing for his audience, i.e. people who have no prior knowledge of military stuff, so he has to keep it simple and dumb-it-down for a generic readership.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ive read his books and when he talks about the things him and his team did during Vietnam was amazing!! From what Ive read he laid the groung work for a lot of what the SEALs are today. Im not military but ive read several books by and about this guy.
Wait , I pull what first?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Clue: Luciano Angelotti
Perhaps he/they misspelled "Incursori."
An SOF Unit of the Italian Navy similar to our SEALS back in the day.
I "think" the unit was started around 1980 and the chutes "could" have been large silk rounds (just thinkin... Italian military supplies in those days?).



Aha, that's it! I googled "Incursari parachute" and got the shortest google result list I've ever seen: one entry. Incursari apparently is, like you say, an Italian military frogman unit. So the chutes were acquired from them for this mission by off-the-grid U.S. Navy Seals.

Thanks for deciphering that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When I think of guys like Marcinko, Bo Gritz, Colonel Hackworth (RIP) and others like them; I'm reminded of an old movie line from "Heartbreak Ridge." "They need to put guys like him in a glass case with a sign that says, "Break Glass in case of War."

Go look up Hackworth on Wikipedia or sumpin.... he had sumpin like 7 or 9 Silver Stars AND 7 or 9 Bronze Stars all with V devices AND, AND, AND... I _think_ to date, he is still the most decorated soldier in our history (not highest, but most).
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Talk of the jump planning continues:
(Pilots discussing flight plan) "It sounded good to me. But flying wasn't my job. I had other variables to worry about. Like wind speed and direction and weight and oxygen (or lack thereof). My plan was to HAHO in. That meant we had to leave the plane at a minimum of twenty-eight thousand feet-perhaps more, depending on the altitude of the target.

"See, with 28K of altitude, you can get a twenty-mile glide, if the weather's right and if the winds are with you. We learned that back in the Arizona desert, where we jumped out of 727s and C-141s from as high as thirty-five thousand feet. How high is that? Have you ever flown cross-country? The normal civilian flight path is thirty-seven thousand feet. You can't see a 727 from the ground at that altitude. We jumped from a mere two thousand feet lower ¬and you couldn't see us, either.

"Anyway, if you're jumping from 28K and your target is at 150 feet above sea level, you can glide X miles. But if the target is in a high-mountain plateau and sits 6,700 feet above the ground, you need an extra 6,700 feet or so to make the same jump. Actually, you need more, because the air is thinner on the ground - if that ground sits one-plus miles above sea level. And thin air supports a parachute less well than "fat" air. Which means that we'd be moving faster and descending quicker than if we were jumping over Phoenix or Tucson.

"And there'd be the usual Murphy factors as well - headwinds, updrafts, and thermals, not to mention hypoxia (that's oxygen deprivation in the bloodstream for you non-medical types out there), freezing cold, and the altogether possible malfunctioning of our well-used Italian chutes…"
Heck, from 28K altitude (5.5 miles), and a 3-to-1 glide ratio in no wind, that gets you 17.5 miles of glide. And winds that high are usually significant, so running downwind would get you far more distance. 20 miles should be easy, as long as you're running downwind.

He gives a good civilian description of density altitude.

His description of "fat" air seems odd to me. I've always heard the counterpart of "thin" air to be "thick" air, rather than "fat" air. But I got the idea.

Addendum: I meant to include the book cover in the 1st post, but forgot, and have missed the opportunity. So I'll add it here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I didn't get to attend HALO school after three years of trying due to lack of funding and I wasn't on a HALO team. I think it would be best to defer to Scott or Chuck on the following, "We learned that back in the Arizona desert, where we jumped out of 727s and C-141s from as high as thirty-five thousand feet"
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I didn't get to attend HALO school after three years of trying due to lack of funding and I wasn't on a HALO team. I think it would be best to defer to Scott or Chuck on the following, "We learned that back in the Arizona desert, where we jumped out of 727s and C-141s from as high as thirty-five thousand feet"



I believe they do that training at Yuma and Marana. Marana isn't very far from Skydive Arizona at Eloy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I really haven't heard of anyone getting that high at Yuma or Marana. What I have heard is they train "as though" they were going to do it. But, I'm the wrong person to be discussing this.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I really haven't heard of anyone getting that high at Yuma or Marana. What I have heard is they train "as though" they were going to do it. But, I'm the wrong person to be discussing this.



When I was doing test work we jumped as high as 24,000 at YPG. The military FF school is located across the runway from Air Delivery where we were working. I am pretty sure they went to at least 30,000.

Marcinko’s accomplishments are many and some very innovative. He was awfully impressed with him self which eventually got him booted out of the Navy. If you want a guy that epitomizes Deb Group, Team Six, google Denny Chalker. He is the real deal.

Sparky
My idea of a fair fight is clubbing baby seals

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Knew a lot of guys that went thru HALO and it sounded like they got about as much altitude as normal skydiving operations. But, with Team's like Marcinko's, it wouldn't surprise me if they mission-specific trained many times. As to Marcinko's impression of himself... seems like all those guys were surrounded in some sort of controversy. Hackworth was run out for being outspoken, challenging an Admiral on his fruit salad only to find out he (without intent) was really not Ranger tabbed.. Audie Murphy died with tons in gambling debt that his widow tried paying off while working at the VA... etc.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

... "Incursori. ... Italian Navy ...
I "think" the unit was started around 1980 and the chutes "could" have been large silk rounds (just thinking ... Italian military supplies in those days?).



......................................................................

The "youngest" American silk parachute I ever saw was sewn in 1945.
Accessories for 1991-Vintage Chinese Air Force seat packs include silk pilot-chutes.


All ram-air parachutes are made of synthetic fabrics, mostly nylon. Circa 1980, companies - like GQ Security, Django, Para-Flite, etc. - were just starting to build ram-air parachutes big enough to handle "rucksack, rifle and snowshoes."

I suspect that the word "silk" was primarily intended to satisfy an audience that has not learned anything new - about parachute materials - since the Second World War.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Excerpts continued - ready to jump! The plan: to jump into a landing zone at night, hike 10 miles to a terrorist camp where biological weapons canisters are held, wax the bad guys before daylight, and recover the canisters.
"I stood in the door and watched the setting sun turn the mountain range to purple and gold. It was absolutely serene. The world below looked totally peaceful. It would be so easy to forget why we were here, so easy to sit back and enjoy the ride...

"The plane banked again and the horizon shifted. I could see more than fifty miles out. Being able to see that much of the world gave us an edge. And believe me, we were going to need every particle of edge that could be found.

"Rocky let me know that we were at twenty-seven thousand feet, and on our way to 29.5. I gave the proper hand signals. We stood in a line and checked each other out: helmets, goggles, gloves, rigs, harnesses, O2 bottles. We worked the straps of our rucksacks. No need to have all the ammo we were carrying pop out when we were jerked by the slipstream as we jumped, or the opening shock when we pulled the rip cord.

"Less than two minutes to go. There was ice inside the plane now. I worked my way forward and stood behind Dick Campbell as he leveled off at our jump altitude. He turned and gave me a thumbs-up. I threw him the bird. I hoped he'd make it back to Peshawar-he was a good fucking egg, and he deserved to make it.

"Forty-five seconds to exit point. I know, you're asking how we knew it was the exit point, when we hadn't thrown out any wind streamers to check the prevailing winds so we'd know how we'd parasail, or called down to the drop zone to pop a smoke in order to give us an idea what the surface winds were like to make our landing easier, or radioed the weather service for their computer readout for the region to see if there were any wind shears to pound us into the ground or thermals to carry us up and away to Tibet.

"Well, when it comes to real-world HAHO parachute jumps, gentle reader, all that safety backup and assistance goes out the window. In the real world you fly by the seat of your pants. Your decisions are instinctive-based on audacity and experience, mixed (you hope) with a sprinkling of luck, and seasoned heavily with the kind of kick-ass determination that will let you grind it out and win even if everything turns into a clusterfuck.

"I stood in the door, my heart pounding, probs and stats racing through my mind. I tapped the instrument package on my chest. Everything appeared functional. I'd taped the Magellan to my right arm. I could punch figures into it as we glided - an improvised homing device. If it worked, this would become the first SEAL instrument-guided insertion. If it didn't, they'd find our desiccated, broken bones somewhere high in the Kashmund mountain range in a year or two. Maybe.

"I peered at my men. Looking into the eyes of these six marvelous creatures, I saw they were prepared for anything. Their expressions were a combination of resolve and anticipation. Nasty saluted me with his middle finger. Wonder did the same. Tommy gave me a double. Howie and Duck Foot did, too. Despite their helmets, 02 masks, goggles, and the weight of their combat packs, they moved with incredible resilience toward the ramp. There was bounce in their step. The playfulness in their body language gave them an offbeat, zany appearance - something somewhere between a leprechaun and a Tasmanian devil.

"It is at moments like this I know there is a God. I know there is, because He has put me on this earth so I can lead men like these into battle..."
To be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Exit!
"The Magellan GPS told me it was time to go. I checked the straps on my oxygen mask, gave everyone a thumbs-up (followed by the normal finger wave), then ran down the ramp and threw myself out the door.

"Whaap! The ice-cold slipstream hit my body like a sucker punch and I twisted in the turbulence. I fought the current to roll face-up so I could see the C-123's ramp as it slipped away in the darkening sky above me. That way I could count as my men jumped. Yeah-one-two-three-four-five-six bodies away.

"I rolled again and threw a hump; the plane disappeared over my left shoulder. I pulled the ripcord. Opening shock - there are few things so appropriately named - caught me by surprise. The harness trapped my left nut dead center in my crotch and put such a squeeze on it I thought I was being fondled by a feminist blacksmith. Oh, but it was a good hurt. If you're wondering how a hurt like that can be good, you have to look at things from my perspective: you see, if it hurt, my canopy must have opened.

"Speaking of which, I looked up quickly to check my canopy. There were no cuts or tears - so much for worry-warting about seawater-rotted silk. That had been an unquestionable concern. See, if a shroud is improperly washed after a saltwater jump, residual salt crystals are left in the parachute silk. The problem: salt crystals are sharp enough to cut through parachute silk when the fabric is stressed to the max by opening shock. The result is that the chute develops hairline lacerations, which quickly develop into major fissures, which promptly turns into a major clusterfuck, because the chute disintegrates on you and you break into little pieces when you hit the ground.

"But my chute was A-OK - she'd done her job. I double-checked my status - there's no being too sure in situations like this. Two cells on the right-hand side were a little slow in filling, but the rest of them were taut as an eighteen-year-old's nipple.

"The huge dial of the altimeter on my left arm told me I was at 27,600 feet. That was close enough to where I wanted to be to make me relax for an instant or so. I took a quick look around me to count the other chutes. One-two-three-four-five canopies.

"Shit.

"I counted again and came up with the same number. Double shit. I looked down. I could see a speck three or four thousand feet below me, trailing what looked like a long streamer. I cursed and screamed into my oxygen mask and told the stupid son of a bitch to cut away and pull his fucking reserve. Then I looked again and saw that he had cut away - and what was streaming behind him was his reserve. He was a goner.

"One man down and we hadn't even begun..."
What does he mean when he says "threw a hump"? Does he mean an arch?

By "fissures", I guess he's talking about rips and tears, but I've never heard that word used for it before.

Then a little end-cell closure.

More to come tomorrow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Vintage Marcinko. I think its why I only read about 1/2 his first book. But its not that unlike a friend of mine who's books I read and call him up and say, "Chuck, what the hell were you talking about here... that's not how it happened." He'll say it's what sells books and it does say fiction on the binder. 'nuff said. We used to give him shit about "You never let the truth stand between you and a good story." and he would respond by saying, "You mean a great story."
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
He does say in a prologue that he won't reveal any secrets or techniques which could jeopardize or compromise operational special forces teams. But I don't think that explains this kind of language, like "throwing a hump" or "canopy fissures".

Are those actually terms actually used in Armed Forces parachuting circles?

The other thing that comes to my mind is that he's intentionally creating terms that aren't real for the purpose of exposing wanna-be's. If someone sat down next to us at a bar and bragged about being a skydiver by talking about "throwing a hump" and "canopy fissures", we'd all look at him with quite a skeptical eye, as that's not the way civilian skydivers talk. So maybe Marcinko is leading the wanna-be braggarts into a trap, to get them to repeat language that they think is real, but will in fact expose them as frauds. But that theory is probably going too far...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Many moons back someone gave me a number of Marcinko's books, and I made it through enough pages of the first one that I concluded that the guy was entirely full of shit. Basically he is like Sylvester Stallone without the 4-F.

There is a big difference between being given to disinformation and being clueless, and he is the latter. His discourses on ballistics, tactics, parachute operations and so forth are back-to-back groaners.

If I recall the disclaimers in his first opus, he IMPLIED that he was the grand mover and shaker of all things Special Ops, but that he couldn't actually make the claim for reasons of national security. I call bullshit.

The difference between a fairy tale and a war story is that the fairy tale starts "once upon a time..." and the war story "no shit, there I was..." Dick Marcinko seems to have taken that to heart.


BSBD,

Winsor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Continuing... The canopy ride.
"One man down and we hadn't even begun. This was not a good omen. But I had no time for grief - I had to go to work. I pulled to the right and started to circle, so that the rest of the troops could form up. I wanted to start things off in an orderly manner. After all, we had no lights and it would be almost dark by the time we hit the ground. On training flights, we'd worn strobe lights on our helmets and harnesses so we'd be visible to each other. You can't do that in combat because you'll give your position away.

"We formed up, I checked the compass, got a Magellan reading, and headed northwest. I could hear the throaty ruffling of canopies as I watched the men jockey into position. We were probably doing about eighty miles per hour. That may seem fast to you, but we were actually bucking headwinds. Once, in Arizona, when we were jumping out of Marana, the CIA's clandestine airfield outside Tucson, twenty-four SEAL Team Six HAHO jumpers were picked up on Tucson airport's radar as we glided in formation at twenty-six thousand feet. The air traffic controllers mistook us for a flight of A-1O Thunderbolts, the slow-flying Warthog tank killers of Gulf War fame. That-ha ha-should give you some idea of the speed you travel when you HAHO.

"I turned into the wind and felt a bit of updraft. That was bad. One of the problems you face during a HAHO jump is weight distribution. We'd all jumped at the same time. But Tommy and Rodent weigh 75 pounds less than I do. My rate of fall, about seventeen feet per second, is more than theirs, about sixteen feet per second. The bottom line is that I have to fight for altitude, while they fight for descent.

"The problem's compounded when you hit an updraft. When that happened, my weight would carry me through it, while Tommy and Rodent would get sucked upward. To compensate, they'd have to "dump" their canopies - a dangerous maneuver in which they'd pull down on their right-hand toggles, which would put them into a tight right turn. With a "flat" chute, all the air that's trapped in the cells then goes out the back, the chute goes almost vertical, and you lose altitude fast. The problem is that if you lose too much air, the cells will rub together, you'll develop a friction fissure, and it's au revoir, sayonara, doom on you - then splaat"
How do you do 80-mph under canopy while bucking headwinds? I can see going that fast running downwind in a 60-mph wind, but not when "bucking headwinds".

As for the radar claim, I believe that one. I've been told that our 20-way freefall formations were seen on radar when jumping into Houston's NASA facility.

His 16-17 fps rate of descent number is correct.

Then the funny part begins. Turning a canopy to lose altitude is one thing. But the air inside the cells isn't dumped out the back - it stays inside. You're just changing the angle of attack.

And then the really funny part - this idea of a "friction fissure". In 33 years of skydiving, I have never, ever heard of a canopy fabric tearing from cells rubbing together. Now he seems to be talking about a total collapse of the canopy with a streamer, rather than a turn. But even then, I don't think a streamer creates friction tears. The only thing close to what he describes is what I know of as a "friction burn", but that's usually from a line rubbing against something very rapidly, and that indeed will burn a hole in nylon fabric. But I don't think that cells rubbing together in a ram-air canopy will burn each other into holes or tears. Heck, if this was true, then it should happen on every snively opening sequence, but it doesn't. I'm calling bullshit on this one. Does anyone have any idea what he might be talking about?

Next up: the bottom end of the canopy descent, and landing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

0