Situation Reports (SITREP) are sent to commanders by request, scheduled, or situational necessity. Proper SITREP’s provide decision makers and readers a quick and clear understanding of the current situation.
With a proper SITREP, commanders of ground forces maintain critical situational awareness.
A SITREP with decorated veteran, two times Bronze Star Medal & Purple Heart recipient, Sean Parnell. The author of Eric Steele thrillers, Man of War (2018) and All Out War (2019). Also by Sean, Outlaw Platoon (2012).
- First, thank you for your service. Do you miss the Military?
You’re welcome, it was an honor to serve. And I do miss the military every day. You know we had a hellish deployment in Afghanistan, 485 days of combat, 85% casualties, some of my guys were wounded two, even three times. It was just hell on earth for 485 days of close combat. But looking back, even knowing what I know now I would still go back and do it again. I think what I miss the most is just spending time with my men. The bonds you forge with those guys over there are second to none. You become real life brothers, blood brothers, and I miss them every day. The military has a lot of good things and bad things, and like most things in life, the best and worst thing about the military is the people, and I was lucky to have some damn good people around me.
- All Out War is a true globe trotting novel, did you visit all those places while researching?
I actually didn’t go to any of them. I wish I could have traveled all over the world, but it’s just not in the budget. What I did is pick up books, read about those areas and the areas that Steele operated in, I really did a deep dive to get a sense of the geography. There are multiple ways to do research, especially for a novelist that is just starting out, you don’t necessarily have to go a country to make sure you get the feel of it right.
- Speaking of that, you mentioned a drink called Rakija in All Out War, have you ever had it? It stuck out to me because it’s very prominent in Europe and getting small details like that right stands out to me.
No, just research. A lot of the research I did was not just on the internet but talking to people that have lived in Europe. I have a good buddy that lived there for a long time, he told me about that drink and told me to put it in the book. I have been to Europe before while serving but doing good research for novels is a constellation of doing different things, It’s all about talking to people that have been there.
- Trying to keep it spoiler free, is it hard to kill characters?
(laughing) Oh my god, yes it is, it really is. When I developed and created these characters, I did a deep dive on everything about them. From their internal psychology, to how they process the environment around them. Everything about their physical characteristics, internal and external conflicts. After a while, in your mind these characters become real people and so I’m intimately close to every character that I create and so every time there is a potential decision like the one we just talked about, it’s so challenging, its painful. I even look back at some of the decisions I’ve made in some of these stories and I wonder if it was the right decision, sometimes I find myself wishing the character was still around. So yes, it is really challenging.
- I loved the Gray Man name drop in All Out War, Mark is one of my favorite authors. Are you a fan of Mark Greaney?
Oh my gosh, am I a fan? Absolutely! Yes, well first of all Mark supported my book Man of War, he was there from the very beginning. I’ve read The Gray Man right when it came out and Mark is just a.. I think he’s probably the best thriller writer today. I think he gets all the details right, his characters are amazing, and that book with Rip, (Retired USMC LtCol Rip Rawlings) Red Metal, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it, so I’m really excited to dig into it. One of the things that I do in my books, I try to put easter eggs in there, in the first book, Man of War, (2018) I gave Brad Taylor a little easter egg.
- What can you tell us about the third novel?
Yes, currently 25,000 words into it right now. I am focusing on the dilemmas of Eric Steele’s journey, he faces dilemmas and questions that many men and women in uniform face all the time. One of which, is the mission worth the cost? If you think about, me, or my men, or anyone, any man or woman that deploys in support of this country, they ask themselves that question all the time. They’re not the only ones, there’s spouses going on that journey with them, their parents. Often times they bear the emotional scars of combat. In All Out War, Steele’s mom is implicated, she’s attacked, she’s wounded and left for dead, you don’t know if she lives or survives, so that question of, is the mission worth it is really at the forefront of his mind. So, he goes out on a mission of revenge, then gets thrown into a conspiracy, the likes of which the U.S. has never faced before, where world leaders literally have a target on their back. So, in book three, Steele is reeling, he’s wondering, he’s got the question in his mind of, is the mission worth it? Right off the bat, in book three Alpha’s start dying. There’s a traitor in their midst. Steele starts wondering who he can trust around him. You’re also going to get answers in book three about what happened to
Eric Steele is good, I feel like this genre is filled with anti-heroes. Steele’s weakness is how good he is. I wrote Steele with the image of my troops on the battlefield, their heroism, their loyalty, love of country, duty, honor, integrity. Steele embodies all of those qualities and inspired by the men of Outlaw Platoon, the men that I served with. So, I felt like if I started there, his weakness is goodness, people attack that, as a writer and story teller, I put him in situations where there’s no good outcome, because sometimes in combat there are no winners, there’s no good outcome. So, I can create moral dilemmas for him that I couldn’t if he was an anti-hero, with no rules. So, what I’m doing with Eric Steele, I’m starting good, then slowly eroding his character to eventually I want to snatch his soul from him and make him earn it back. So, you’re seeing Steele’s character change and you’re living that change with him in these books.
- What do you do with your time when you’re not writing?
Right now, I’m 25,000 words into Steele three and I’m doing an interview every hour for the launch of All Out War, but when I’m not into the writing game, so to speak, I’m a full-time dad. I travel and speak a lot for my charity that I work with, we do a lot of good things for our veterans, the first responders, their families. When I’m not traveling, not speaking, not writing, I’m all in on being a dad to my three little kids. It’s literally the best job I’ve ever had.
- Your foundation, The American Warrior Initiative is just great. As a veteran myself, I will do whatever I can to get it more attention. Can you tell us what makes it stand out among others?
The first thing that makes the American Warrior Initiative stand out is we give a 100% of our donations to causes that we support. That’s different from almost any other charity in the country. We are blessed to have a mortgage company, Fairway Mortgage, underwrite all of our overhead, they pay for all of our travel, team salaries, with the express sole purpose of doing good things for our veterans, first responders and their families. Also, we allow people when they donate to earmark what they want their donations spent for, a lot of what we do is getting service dogs in the hands of veterans.
- What are the last three books you’ve read and what is on your TBR stack?
The last book that I read is Needful Things by Stephen King. Before that, Twelve Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson. And the third, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I read a lot of fiction and non-fiction, I think they’re both incredibly important. Next on my to be read stack is Red Metal by Mark Greaney and Rip Rawlings.
- You’re trapped on an island, you have one book, one weapon, and one personal item (Non-electronic) with you. What are they?
One book? That’s tough, can it be a series of books? Okay, one of my favorite books of all time has to be The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. One weapon, I feel like it has to be a machete, you can use it over and over, just keep it sharp. And personal item that is not electronic, has to be a picture of my kids. Because they’re really what drive me to excel, write good stories, and do good in the world every day.
Sean is the Co-Founder of the American Warrior Initiative. An organization that inspires people to give back to our nation’s veterans. Please consider a donation.
Our review for ALL OUT WAR
Purple Heart recipient and New York Times Bestselling author, Sean Parnell is back with his second Eric Steele novel, ALL OUT WAR. Sean Parnell was a U.S. Army Captain in the infantry, the famous 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, NY. Division motto: Climb to Glory. With a strong presence in WWII, Somalia, Haiti, and of course the War on Terror, which Captain Parnell was a major part of. In 2006, then Lieutenant Parnell led his platoon, “Outlaw Platoon” on a 16-month extended deployment near the Pakistani border in the Barmal District of Paktika Province. On June 10th, 2006, his platoon was nearly overrun with a force that outnumbered them ten to one, Parnell was knocked unconscious and wounded several times during this battle but refused to give up or leave his men. He kept getting up and continued to lead. Upon completion of this mission, Parnell was awarded two Bronze Star Medals and a Purple Heart. For a better understanding of these events and the entire 485 days of almost constant battle, Sean put out a memoir in 2012, OUTLAW PLATOON. A definitive must read.
Eric Steele in an Alpha. At any given time, there are nine Alpha’s assigned their own geographical territory on the globe. An Alpha is “a Clandestine operative assigned to a unit known simply as ‘The Program’.” Its purpose is to give the United States President another option to use when “All Out War” is on the horizon. Much like The Orion Team Mitch Rapp was a part of early in his career, or more recently The Taskforce in Brad Taylor’s bestselling Pike Logan Series and Task Force Ember in the must-read Tier One series by Andrews and Wilson.
Following the events of Man of War, (2018) Steele took six months off to recover. Upon coming back to active duty status as an Alpha, he had to prove his skills and stamina were up to par. Enduring a tough assessment, he finished with flying colors and was ready to embark on a new mission with his keeper, Demo. Before they had a chance to organize for this mission, Steele got attacked at his home. Not by some wannabe tough guy intruder with a gun, but Steele heard “the unmistakable shriek of an RPG-7 leaving its launcher.”
An RPG-7 fires a 40 mm shell up to 500 meters, Effective blast radius is 10 meters for the kill zone and up to 130 meters for casualties. It’s able to penetrate armor, it has been recorded in successful attacks against tanks, armored personnel carriers, buildings, fortifications, shot down more low-flying helicopters than most man-portable air-defense systems, known as the “one-man dealer of death.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, Steele’s mom was over for dinner and delivering a package he received at her place. Unknown to him at the time, the reason for this attack at his house is that very package. Utilizing some formidable skills, a small arsenal of weapons and his state-of-the-art security system, Steele fought back and even manages to get away in his Pontiac GTO. His adversary however planned for every possible outcome and gave chase, getting outmaneuvered and ambushed Steele realizes he’s in trouble and calls for help. Help did come, but a bit too late and the outcome puts both passengers of the GTO in the ICU.
Recovering quickly with some experimental treatment, Steele was anxious to find his attacker and bring them down. Throughout his efforts he slowly learns that there is more at play, this isn’t only personal anymore, it’s a well-planned, backed with formidable opposition, global conspiracy that could threaten major world partnerships and bring All Out War. Steele quickly turns the tides, no longer the hunted, he starts hunting. In his efforts he learns a terrorist named Zakayev is responsible for all the chaos including the personal attack that left his mom in a medically induced coma, and is planning to break out an old friend, Hassan Sitta from one of the most secure prisons on the planet. Sitta, a genius bomb builder with ties to Hezbollah. Pulling their strings, a man named Gabriel, working for a prominent intelligence agency.
Parnell brings us a globe trotting thriller with our hero fighting bad guys in his home, then London, Budapest, Vienna, the middle of the Arctic Ocean, Norway, Egypt, and Israel. There is never any lack of action and putting this thriller down is a tall order. Like very few authors out there, Sean Parnell has been there and done that. This carries over into his novel, giving his writing a level of accuracy very rare among the rest. From his knowledge in basic infantry tactics, weapons, the use of support, such as submarines, jets, cyberwarfare, it is all well explained and easy to understand. Parnell also manages to bring a small, but well written level of humor into his writing, surprising me as the reader a bit since “Rangers aren’t issued a sense of humor” (RLTW). The outcome is a must read novel that has earned itself a Blast Radius of a Nuclear Bomb! A Definite must read.
Author: Sean Parnell
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Follow Sean on Twitter: @SeanParnellUSA
Lima Charlie Rating: A BLAST RADIUS OF: A NUCLEAR BOMB (10/10) – The potential here is death on a global scale, nothing is scarier than a nuke. This is the best rating a book can get.
About the Author:
Army Ranger, combat infantryman with the elite 10th Mountain Division, and veteran of 485 days of fierce fighting along the Afghan-Pakistan border, Captain Sean Parnell’s unique leadership skills welded his platoon into one of the most fierce and effective American fighting units in modern military history. Repeatedly outnumbered and outgunned by a foe whose avowed purpose was to overrun his platoon and behead his Soldiers so that their torturous deaths could be filmed and posted on Al Qaida propaganda websites, Sean’s “Outlaws” battled furiously in the most rugged terrain on the planet—the towering Hindu Kush Mountains. Eighty-five percent of his platoon received Purple Hearts for wounds incurred in battle, but his men gave far more than they received. Outlaw Platoon killed over 350 enemy fighters in some of the biggest firefights of the Afghan War.
Not only did he lead his men against Taliban, Haqqani and Al Qaida fighters, but his platoon was repeatedly attacked by uniformed members of the Pakistani military on the Afghanistan side of the border. In January 2007, a Pakistani frontier corps force joined an Al Qaida-led mass assault on Sean’s platoon, then stationed in a remote and half-completed combat outpost scores of miles from the nearest friendly base. The ensuing battle created an international incident and led directly to a confrontation between U.S. State Department officials and the Pakistan government. Sean was wounded in action on June 10, 2006 when his platoon was nearly overrun for the first time by a force that outnumbered them almost ten to one. Refusing to leave his men as they battled the enemy at point-blank range, Sean was knocked unconscious and wounded two more times during the firefight. Each time, he returned to his feet to lead his men again. His selfless example prompted one of his Soldiers to remark later, “Sean Parnell saved us all.”
After the June 10, 2006 battle, Sean continued to suffer from untreated head and neurological wounds. For weeks after, cerebral-spinal fluid leaked from his ears and nose while he continued to patrol with his men. His dedication to his men came at great personal cost: when he returned home following the 06 deployment, his wounds forced him from the Army, and he was medically discharged. His platoon remains one of the most decorated Army units since 9-11.