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Combat Story

May 14, 2021

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Today we hear another Combat Story from Elliot Ackerman, a decorated Marine infantry officer, Special Operations operator, CIA Paramilitary Officer, Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient, and best-selling author.

As many will recall, Elliot was our first guest on Combat Story long before we ever did video interviews. That first interview remains one of my favorites and covers an incredible inside look at his role as a Platoon Leader in Fallujah II in 2004 and the true grit and determination it required. It was that battle that earned him the Silver Star.

In this second interview, we pick up where we left off from Round 1 as Elliot describes being one of the first members of Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and his subsequent deployments with this unit.

We also dive into his National Bestselling book, Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning, where Elliot describes revisiting, both in mind and body, his combat experiences.

It’s a fantastic read and in the interview he shares moments from the book that include returning to the very buildings he occupied in Fallujah years earlier and another experience having an unthinkable meal with a former Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) leader as they shared their memories on the frontlines fighting against each other.

Elliot is a special Marine who survived five deployments and fought at the highest levels. I hope you enjoy this next set of combat stories with Elliot as much as I did.

Instagram - @elliot.ackerman

Show Notes

0:00 - Intro
1:01 - Elliot introduction
4:53 – Moving to Special Operations
6:16 – Talking your way to the military school
8:32 - Force Recon vs MARSOC
9:39 – Go to Ranger School or something else?
10:51 – Strategy session to lead the class
12:59 – “I never would have guessed how profound those relationships would be throughout my life.”
31:02 – We’re two teams
34:35 – Contribution in the military
35:44 – Being a great commander
37:41 – Going on a mission leaving your child
38:35 – “I’ve come to understand what it means to be a father to my own children.”
41:32 – Leaving the military and started writing
44:57 – First Book
46:16 – Hiring former democratic activists in Syria
47:42 – Story of Al Qaeda in Iraq
48:46 – Protesting in jail
51:08 – Out of translation
52:05 – “There will be an end-of-days battle and the Armageddon is coming.”
53:52 - "We've once chased each other around a rock and hands chasing each other around the map."
55:01 – “You can either try to see someone’s humanity, or don’t ever want to see it again.”
57:04 – “He went to Cairo on a Thursday, protested on Friday, thrown into the Egyptian prison on Saturday, and get evacuated by the State Department on Sunday.”
57:49 – “It’s an experience so large that you shrink to insignificance when you are close to that experience.”
59:05 – “Has my desire to have purpose diminished over the years?”
1:00:27 – “I am one who was able to repurpose successfully.”
1:01:27 – “What makes them more insidious is this purposelessness after having these immense purposeful experiences at a very young age.”
1:03:56 – “I want to stand on this rooftop where a friend of mine have been killed.”
1:05:08 – “I wanted to go this house where our platoon have been surrounded for a day.”