on August 4, 2006
I spent six years in SF before being forced to get out after breaking my neck on a jump. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and to this day, I wish I were still in. I could have read this book and tore it apart and critiqued every move and decision the teams made, but I didn't. Mainly because I wasn't there and I wasn't going to stoop to the level of Monday morning quarterbacking something I wasn't part of. So I read the book and evaluated it for the content of the story. What I found was an intriguing book, with a great story and what clearly were great acts of valor by the men of the three ODAs.
They may have made mistakes and if the Gods hadn't been looking down on them they may not have survived, but the dynamics of the story and the descriptions of combat were simply riveting. I think the book did a great job of capturing team life and the personalities of Special Forces soldiers to a tee.
We in the military, whether we admit it or not, all have big egos and tend to critique everything, particularly things done by our fellow service members. However, if you set your ego aside, what you'll read is not only enjoyable, but gratifying to know our guys are out there doing great things, no matter how small or inconsequential others may portray them.
on May 30, 2006
This is not your typical Special Forces story. The story is not a covert operation of any kind. The SF groups engage the enemy on an open battlefield. Sgt. Frank Antenori states this in the beginning of the book. He shares this story because it is a great accomplishment by a greatly outnumbered unit.
The intro into the book explains the great need our country has for Special Forces. I enjoyed this because he gives reasons why the U.S should have more elite soldiers to carry out missions.
The first part of the book explains the make-up of his team. He gives the details of each member as if they were family. This makes the team come to life in my opinion. He explains how each member came to be on his team and how they will help the make-up of the team.
The next part of the book goes extensively into the details of the their training. Sgt. Anteroni explains the preparations a SF team makes before they launch a mission. This is an excellent overview of the time that the unit puts in before they are ever deployed. They will train for months before they ever get a mission, and this is what the Roughnecks did. It is funny because Sgt. Anetroni and his team are gung-ho and ready to do some killing, yet they have to ait for a long time before they get a mission.
The last part explains the battle that has made Roughneck Nine-One a legend in the Special Forces comunity. I will not ruin the details of the story because it is so unbelievable they were able to accomplish their objective. I will say that they were outnumbered Five to One including tanks against them. The battle is definately worth the wait because it feels as if the reader is trained well enough to be there. The author makes the reader feel as if they were there fighting the battle with them. There are also some funny dialogues that go on during the mission.
This is an excellent book that goes right along with all the courage and bravery that one has heard about the U.S SPecial Forces. The author's tone is never egotistical as one would expect. Their is a certain arrogance that the author displays, but who would not be arrogant if you were one of the most elite soldiers in our country. To say the least I believe it comes with the territory. This book is a fast read, and the reader will be glad that they spent the time to read it.
on June 1, 2006
There are lots of books out there on the US Army Special Forces and the war on terrorism, but nobody gets you into the action like Frank Antenori, former team sergeant of ODA-391 - ROUGHNECK NINE-ONE. Frank gives you a rare unvarnished look into how a group of diverse individuals comes together and is molded into America's most elite fighting force. He describes how his team meticulously prepared for war, but got caught up in petty SF group politics and turf battles before they fired their first shot. He gives it to you straight - the good, the bad, and the ugly. When ROUGHNECK NINE-ONE finally entered the frey against a vastly superior Iraqi force they gave an accounting of themselves that did themselves and our country proud. In the words of Barry Sadler, "These are men, America's best!" This is an ABSOLUTE MUST READ for anyone remotely interested in America's elite forces and the war on terrorism.
on August 10, 2006
Having been out of the Army longer than Sgt. Antenori has been alive I read this book to see how today's army compares with when I was in. All in all, I was reminded of the old French expression that 'the more it changes the more it stays the same.'
Many movies and the like imply that a Special Forces A-Team is a small group of guys that get sent out to do some special fighting. In truth, the A-Team is a small group of guys that are charged with setting up and directing a force recruited from the indigenous people. And in this book that is exactly what they did, they recruited a fighting force from the Kurds. Then then took this force into a battle against an Iraqi army unit.
The Iraqis had tanks and armored personnel carriers and far more men. Our guys had air support, although it was pretty minimal. We won, you have to live to be able to write the books.
Were mistakes made - absolutely. Did some of the systems and procedures fail - absolutely. And were the reporters who were along with the unit help - you gotta be kidding.
There are a log of arguments about the war. But thank god that we still have men like these around.
on June 5, 2006
This is one of the better books on the war that I've come across and the only one that REALLY takes the reader inside a special forces team.
The battle at Debecka Pass is already famous and if you want to read about a bunch of brave guys that were outmanned and outgunned but fought until the bitter end, then this is the book for you. Amazing, amazing stuff--and very well written.
on June 10, 2006
Roughneck 91 presents a realistic perspective on the training, frustrations, skills, and heroics of a Special Forces Operational Detachment as they prepare for, and deploy into combat in Iraq. The candor of its presentation includes the good, the bad, and the ugly of training, battlefield perceptions and decisions. It is destined to irritate some and will certainly intrigue others. It elicits a range of reactions both negative and positive, but above all, it is a very engrossing story. As events unfold personalities of excessive caution are pitted against personalities of excessive aggression and how these polar opposites reconcile (or fail to reconcile) their battlefield decisions is the heart of the book. While this is an age old military dilemma, to see it played out in Iraq by our country's most elite forces, is an eye opener. It is tempting to second guess the thinking and actions of every major character but I wasn't there, and I won't do that. I winced, and struggled with many of the events but thoroughly enjoyed the book. Antenori and Halberstadt have put together a fascinating read!
on August 12, 2007
Roughneck Nine-One: The Extraordinary Story of a Special Forces A-team at War
Army Magazine, July 2006 by Spencer, Jimmie W
Noncommissioned officers have a great deal of credibility both within the Army and with the American people. They tend to answer questions straight from the heart with little or no regard for political correctness. What you get is the unfiltered truth. If you hear it from an Army sergeant, you can pretty much "take it to the bank."
SFC Frank Antenori, U.S. Army retired, in his book Roughneck Nine-One, tells the story of a Special Forces Ateam (Green Beret) at war in a noholds-barred fashion that you would expect from a senior noncommissioned officer.
Written in a style that can only be described as soap opera-ish, he and his co-author, Hans Halberstadt, tell an extraordinary story of Special Forces A-tea m soldiers before, during and after combat. At a crossroad near the village of Debecka, Iraq, outnumbered and facing T-55 tanks, they were simultaneously locked in mortal combat, dealing with the news media and coping with the killing and wounding of dozens of supporting Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, when a U.S. Navy F-14 fighter mistakenly dropped a 500-pound bomb on the wrong target.
Antenori says of the supporting Kurds, "They reminded me of our Minutemen of 1776; they wore a mixed bag of uniforms: some were in camouflage, others in solid green, and others wore civilian clothes. Besides their rifies and ammunition, they had none of the 'battle rattle' Americans requireno CamelBaks, no kneepads, no gloves, no body armor protection. Some wore sandals instead of boots. They had left their homes early that morning after breakfast with their families. They had probably kissed their wives good-bye, picked up weapons, and gone off to spend the day at war, not sure they would come home at night. They are true militia, the kind that Special Forces Soldiers have trained and led for well over fifty years."
The reader is also given a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a Special Forces A-team, how it plans, trains, equips and deploys for combat, and the emotional roller coaster of ups and downs that it lives with day to day.
The book is in fact two stories in one; one of Special Forces soldiers in combat, at their best, and the other of constant bitching about almost everything. The combination results in a realistic story about real soldiers.
I would highly recommend this book to military historians and anyone interested in reading a good story, a true story that is easy to read and hard to put down.
SFC Antenori can add one more honor to an already impressive list of accomplishments, that of raconteur.
CSM Jimmie W. Spencer
U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired)
on June 5, 2006
Rarely do I come across a book that I read within just one or two sittings. With the exception of a trip to Starbucks for my triple espresso so I could stay up late and finish the story, Roughneck Nine-One never hit the coffee table. As a reader with no military experience, I found this book a special treat for a few great reasons. Unlike most military books, the story was written so even a layman can understand. Hans Halberstadt and Frank Antenori carefully describe the political complexities of a Special Forces unit and how a combat SF team (Roughneck Nine-One) has to cleverly sneak around military red tape to gain the necessary personnel, equipment, and character that it will take for them to survive a horrific firefight on a major crossroad in Debecka, Iraq. I thought Roughneck Nine-One was a great read and didn't understand the few negative reviews it got.
on June 2, 2006
I just finished reading the book and have to say, I found it to be one of the better books on the Iraq war I have read so far. While it seems Sgt. Antenori is not a professional author, his story does come across as one from a ground soldier's perspective. It's not laced with flowery descriptions similar to those you would find in a book written by a reporter like a Mark Bowden or a Sean Naylor. Nor does it contain political correctness like you would find in a book written by a senior military officer.
Sgt. Antenori was an enlisted man and his perspective of the events that led up to the Battle of Debecka clearly shows that. The description of the battle includes both a positive and negative evaluation of his team's battlefield performance. He even criticized mistakes that he made relative to the "warning shot" as well as a few other "miscalculations" when trying to predict what his commanders wanted him to do.
Anyone that has spent a day in the military understands the concept of internal unit rivalry. For the men in Special Forces, internal rivalry must be amplified hundreds of times over, simply because of all the type-A personalities, extensive amounts of experience and huge egos they bring to the table. I could easily see why there were the turf battles and disagreements Antenori describes, but it was also refreshing to see the professionalism they displayed by putting those differences aside when it came time for them to fight the enemy.
The description of the battle plan being drawn out on the hood of their Humvee's, with both the 10th Special Forces and 3rd Special Forces teams putting their differences and disagreements aside to accomplish the mission, was an excellent example.
I recommend this book to both those in the military and military enthusiasts. It contains gritty descriptions of combat and a dynamic group of characters that make this story stand out from any one I have read so far. My hat's off to Roughneck Nine-One and the men of the other two A-Teams, Nine-Two and Four-Four for a job well done. Also a special thank you goes out to the two Military Intelligence soldiers that volunteered to join those teams, going well above what was expected for their military occupational specialty (MOS). Good job.
U.S. Army Retired
on January 3, 2008
I enjoyed this book. Despite the wide variety of opinions here, I think everyone will agree with me that this is a light read and pretty straightforward in its narrative style.
For readers that want a novel with lots of action and fighting, looking for a real-life version of a good modern action movie, don't read this. You won't be happy with it, because while it does give you a detailed camera-on-the-helmet view of the fight, the fight itself isn't as dramatic or exciting as you will want.
For readers that want to see some fighting, but equally are interested in the non-fighting aspects that surround it -- the planning, the training, the logistics, the choice of weapons, the strategy -- this is a decent book. Again, it is a light read, and this applies to this aspect of the book as well. It does a good job of showing what's behind the curtain of the fight without boring you with too many military acronyms or esoteric military references.