I Was Tortured at SERE School

This article was first posted on April, 22 2009.

Since George Bush’s book has waterboarding back in the news, I thought I would bump this classic article and its long train of comments back to the top of the Revo.


I was a U.S. Army SERE Instructor. SERE stands for survival, evasion, resistance and escape. I graduated from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center SERE Instructor Course at Camp Mackall in 1984 when COL Rowe was still the commandant and was still teaching classes there. COL Rowe was held POW in Vietnam under the worst conditions for five years until, on a work detail, he managed to kill his guard and escape. Sadly, COL Rowe was assassinated in February 1989 by communist insurgents while serving as chief of the Army division of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in the Philippines.* He was a great man and I am proud to have served under him.

Over at Slate, William Saletan is discussing the fact that Khalid Sheik Mohammad was not subjected to any torture technique that U.S. military personnel are not routinely subjected to.
The pain and discomfort Mohammad experienced was no worse than the pain and discomfort thousands of U.S. military personnel have experienced over the decades. Saletan, however, tells us that SERE training is akin to S&M but the same techniques used on al Qaeda constitute rape. Well.

Saletan argues that, since soldiers know it is training and terrorists know it isn’t, it is therefore psychologically far worse for terrorists. A psychologist points out that SERE students are being trained to defeat interrogation, not succumb. They also state that trainees know it will end on graduation day. They point out several ways that torture is psychologically easier on trainees that al Qaeda.

For the most part I don’t disagree. Knowing the guys pouring water on your face are fellow soldiers and trainers has to make it somewhat easier. He goes on to claim, however, that the most important difference is that students can quit if they so choose.

Fifth and most important, SERE is voluntary. “Students can withdraw from training,” Ogrisseg noted. In a report issued four months ago, the Armed Services Committee added that in SERE, “students are even given a special phrase they can use to immediately stop” any ordeal.

I disagree with this point. First and most obviously, the terrorists being interrogated can quit too. They can choose to start talking and the procedure will end. In fact, that is the very point of the exercise: talk and the water boarding will end. Terrorists, of course, don’t want to quit. I didn’t want to quit either.

As a matter of fact, SERE School is a very exclusive course. I went to great lengths to be allowed to apply for the course, to get accepted to the course and to pass the course. In the Army, voluntarily quitting a military schools is a very, very bad thing. Back in the 1980s when I served, quitting would get you what was called a “lack of motivation discharge” from the school. Woe be to the soldier who returned to his unit with an LOM discharge.

First would come the written counseling statements for your permanent record. That alone might very well bar you from reenlistment effectively ending your military career.

Secondly, you could forget having any and all good things to happen to you and expect many bad things to start happening. Once you are an LOM you are permanently a “shit bird” and shit birds get treated like, well, shit. You might never pass a field equipment inspection again causing “remedial training” exercises with the rest of the shit birds on Saturday mornings. You could expect your name to come up for nasty extra duty assignments way more often than can be explained by random chance. Essentially, life in the Army sucks for an LOM. It sucks to be you if you are deemed a shit bird.

By far the worst result of quitting would be the loss of social stature among your fellow soldiers. You would be seen forever more as a “non-hacker” who couldn’t be trusted when the shit gets deep. LOMs actually lose friends and are ostracized within their units. It is a special kind of hell that can make a soldier suffer in ways that are hard to explain and extremely hurtful. An LOM can change the trajectory of a young man’s life.

When I was subjected to the worst the trainers had to offer, I couldn’t quit. No way. Quitting would mean humiliation in front of my fellow soldiers: men from whom I wanted respect more than anyone else in the world. There was no way I could do the walk of shame into my unit headquarters carrying a lack of motivation discharge. I was a young man in my twenties and, at that point in my life, I am certain that I would have let them kill me before I would quit. Quitting was absolutely, positively out of the question. I have seen the same determination in hundreds of soldiers facing intense, harsh training.

The interrogations are no more physically painful for terrorists than for military trainees. The techniques are the same. You can argue, I suppose, that knowing that it is a training situation makes it easier on military trainees than it is on terrorist being interrogated. I do not believe, however, that for most military members who have been deemed proficient enough warriors to attend SERE training would find it any easier to quit than did Khalid Sheik Mohammad. At that time, at that age, I would have preferred death to failure. Quitting was a mortal sin that could not be contemplated. I didn’t quit. Mohammad did eventually quit.

I guess the final point I want to make from this former SERE Instructor’s perspective is this: I don’t really give a damn if KSM gets a little PSD if it saves American lives. If I could take harsh interrogation techniques, that pussy can too.

Read more here: A Narrative of JFK Special Warfare Center SERE Instructor School

*I was corrected in the comments below. When he escaped captivity, Col. Rowe was not, as I stated, out of camp in a work detail. He was being moved by the enemy. I stated that Rowe killed his captor when he escaped. He didn’t, he merely incapacitated him. Finally , I stated that Rowe was killed in February, 1989. The actual date was April, 1989. The intent of this post was not to discuss Rowe’s life but to discuss the timely issue of Bush era enhanced interrogation techniques. Because of that, I did not double check the details regarding Rowe’s life but rather went by my obviously flawed 25 year old memories. I regret the errors.

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231 Responses to I Was Tortured at SERE School

  1. Joe says:

    “I guess the final point I want to make from this former SERE Instructor’s perspective is this: I don’t really give a damn if KSM gets a little PSD if it saves American lives. If I could take harsh interrogation techniques, that pussy can too.”

    - Somehow, I can’t disagree with you. If our military can’t have that attitude, how will they be able to uphold “national security”?

    • Donna Marie Medlin says:

      My son was an instructor at Sere. The court system is now using his training to say he is dangerous. We don’t know how to make them see that he served his country and he is a good dad. Is there any help out there?

      • Matt says:

        I was in the same situation as your son and was taken out of my unit in the USMC then cast out into the civilian world with no knowledge of why I supposedly so dangerous and bad of a person but only the label and stigma that it’ll happen again and I can’t be changed. I fought for nearly 8 years before I got something of a victory and still do to this day. I feel as a whole most don’t know how to take us and live with us because we aren’t the “norm” had we been we wouldn’t have been good at what we did. What they don’t see from all this is how good we really are and loyal to almost a fault for the ones we love and the beliefs we have. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to the issue only a lot of wasted time and money just to prove we are good people. If there’s anyway I can help or at least extend my support let me know. I am now a medic in the civilian world so my schedule is up in the air but I will respond to email as best as possible.

  2. Mad Brad says:

    I had the opportunity to be tortured once a year whether I wanted it or not. Each year we ran a SERE course and if you got captured you were tortured by your peers. Every year the torturers were changed out just to keep things fresh.

    THE WORST torture I EVER witnessed was as a Lifeguard at Lee Field House on Ft. Bragg. There I witnessed but was not allowed to interfere with Special Forces Pre-Scuba training. I can guarantee you it was FAR more torturous than Water Boarding.

  3. Reaper says:

    Thanks a million, you tough, honorable guys for all you have done to keep the rest of us safe! You deserve better than you are getting from our current Dictator ‘n Thief and his thugs. God Bless America! And God Bless all of You!

  4. stuffedmango says:

    When dealing with bullies, they don’t understand “nice.” You either speak their language or get off the playground when you see them coming.

    Sadly, our “torture” techniques are still on the “nice” side compared to what terrorists are used to inflicting. In fact, I wonder if they actually laugh at us once their session is over because they know there’s much worse, but can count on Americans having a conscience to not cross the line of humanity.

    My deep and abiding respect goes to any SERE graduate for having the guts and brains to make it through the stringent course. My heart and prayers are for our soldiers overseas. My son among them.

    Obama may weaken our country, but may our soldiers keep us strong.

  5. McLaren says:

    Uh, the terrorists are volunteers as well. A jihadist can avoid “torture” by not aiming weapons at our guys or flying planes into our buildings. They are lucky they are captured rather than being “left where I found him, butt-up with a daisy in it.”

    • mike hall says:

      terrorist did not fly planes into buildings. It is true that planes were flown into buildings, but not by terrorist. Do extensive research on 9/11 and you’ll come to the conclusion that something about it smells fishy!! 9/11 was not what they want you to believe. I believed it for 9 years, but I started to research it, and changed my mind. It is eye-opening once you start to ask questions about obvious discrepencies!!

  6. Dan says:

    “I am certain that I would have let them kill me before I would quit.”

    How are you so certain? There is absolutely no circumstance under which they would have let you die, and we all know how useless claims like “I would have let them kill me” are outside of real life circumstances.

    “At least 108 people have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them violently, according to government data provided to The Associated Press. Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel.”


    I think you need to rethink your stance on this.

  7. McLaren says:

    So out of thousands of prisoners, 27 have died in a manner that warranted an investigation? And what are the results of those investigations?

    Should we abandon all common sense because a few jihadists have been allegedly mistreated?

    One way to ensure no prisoner is abused is to not take any more prisoners. Put ‘em all down like the savages they are.

  8. R.D. Walker says:

    We got a link on this post from the National Review Corner. Ramesh Ponnuru linked back. Thanks Ramesh and welcome Corner readers.

  9. Robet Parsons says:

    How can any individual make the claim that what they experience in SERE school is “exactly” the same as what some captured terrorist or combatant gets when being interrogated unless they were present during the interrogation process ? I do not see anywhere in this man’s statement that he was both a SERE instructor and an interrogation specialist assigned at any facility they were taking place.

    With all due respect to your service to the country and our military. You do not have actual involvement in the interrogations, so your claim(s) are unfounded as it relates to this subject.

    • Dave says:

      this Individual and I have locked horns before IRT his comments. I think memory lapse is his first problem!!

  10. R.D. Walker says:

    The CIA memos released by the Obama administration this week confirm that the techniques used on KSM and others came out of the U.S. Military’s SERE training programs.

    The memos also state that the SERE training program produced years’ worth of data about how individuals react, physically and mentally, to various interrogation methods. This data was used to perfect the techniques used on al Qaeda prisoners.

    I know people like you want desperately to believe that was was done to KSM was far worse than what is done to trainees, but the evidence does not support your claims. You will have to look elsewhere to find excuses to denounce and demonize those who did what was necessary to protect the lives of American citizens.

    • Dave says:

      If you went to the Army SERE school at Ft Bragg, You, Sir was never Water Boarded!

      • R.D. Walker says:

        I went at Camp MaCKall.

        That is true. I wasn’t waterboarded. I never said I was. I was treated to simulated harsh interrogation but not waterboarded.

  11. You will have to look elsewhere to find excuses to denounce and demonize those who did what was necessary to protect the lives of American citizens.

    People aren’t out to demonize soldiers; people are out to set a firm moral direction for our future, one that doesn’t include soldiers being morally compromised by doing things like waterboarding captives.

    The data on SERE cannot possibly replicate the experience of receiving this treatment from someone you have no reason to trust. And shouldn’t we be a little disturbed that we are taking cues for our behavior from the techniques we are training our armed forces to resist?

    I don’t know if what was done to KSM is worse than what was done to you. If what was done to you was as bad or worse than using your terror as an instrument for some other goal (no matter how noble), then you were done wrong, and that shouldn’t have been done to you, either.

    • Billy says:

      Wow.. what kind of American are you if you think that whatever technique we use, if it saves fellow Americans from future attacks and possibly death.. our sons and daughters, is wrong? You will probably argue that there has got to be a more humane way to gather info, but it is war and war sucks for everyone involved but it is what it is. Suck it up. And just be happy the people that need interrogation are under our control and not out there planning to fly a airplane into your work or house.

  12. R.D. Walker says:

    “The data on SERE cannot possibly replicate the experience of receiving this treatment from someone you have no reason to trust.”

    Physically, there is no difference. I acknowledge in my post above, however, that it is certainly psychologically harder on terrorists than on SERE trainees. I don’t think that can be disputed. Should we care if KSM and his ilk get stressed out more than SERE students? I know I don’t.

    “then you were done wrong, and that shouldn’t have been done to you, either.”

    Please. Intense training made me stronger and more confident in myself than any other experience in my life. I can say unequivocally that SERE training – including the instructor’s course – was the most intense training I have undergone and the most life enhancing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    • Havk says:

      I hope you, of all people, understand that ‘stress’ is a pretty poor choice of vocabulary for what happens to an individual who becomes a prisoner of war. PTSD is a more commonly accepted acronym. To somehow minimize the destruction of psyche because it is ‘non-physical’ (whatever that means) is both disingenuous and dishonest. I would rather lose a limb than lose myself, and I think most would agree. Regardless of the lack of compassion you might feel for those groups our commanders in chief have decided to go to war with (after their predecessors created those groups in the first place), perhaps you can understand that the rights that you fight to protect should not be selectively granted. Child rapists get due process. Serial killers get due process. EVERYONE gets the protections of the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. This is not for the protection of the serial killer. it is not for the protection of the Prisoner of War. This is for the protection of our humanity, as individuals and as a so-called beacon of peace and democracy around the world. The whole point of being a moral beacon is to RISE ABOVE the evils around us and set the example that, NO MATTER WHAT we will not violate the principles for which we fight. The instant that we stoop to the level of torturers and mass murderers, we become them. Period. They tell stories of OUR bombs killing VAST numbers of their women and children, have all of the evidence that would be necessary to convict someone in one of our civilian courts. ‘They started it’ is incredibly naive, factually mistaken, and completely irrelevant, even if it were true. It is my fervent hope that those of you here advocating for the torture and murder of captured enemy combatants are protected from people like you, should you ever be arrested or captured yourselves. We are losing ourselves ladies and gentlemen. We are swiftly becoming the monsters we fought to be free from all those years ago. We are swiftly destroying the very rights we are sworn to protect. Please don’t be another casualty of the war on our humanity.

      • R.D. Walker says:

        The laws of civilian courts do not apply in warfare. They cannot. An honorable enemy soldier has committed no crime, yet we will imprison him indefinitely without habeas corpus and without charges.

        There are laws of warfare. You must obey the laws of warfare in order to be protected by the laws of warfare. Those protections provide the incentive to obey them. The withholding of those protections provide the disincentive to ignore them.

        Illegal combatants are not protected on the the law of warfare and they sure as holy hell aren’t protected under the laws of civilian courts.

      • Dfw says:

        Bravo, Havk. Well said.

  13. Sandy says:

    SERE training is torture what was done to KSM was torture. I don’t think worrying about losing the respect of one of your peers compares with wondering if in just one of the 186 times I was waterboarded “what if the guys doing the waterboarding goes just a bit too far” what if he because he’s pissed that his wife wants a divorce and the house and his kid is 10 years old and still wetting the bed What if he doesn’t let up when he should. Thats the difference between KSM and you really the “what if”. And your right just like the US soldiers who under went SERE he can stop it at any time. You would shout out your magic word “pietre dish” or “LA Lakers” or “Canadian bacon” and it would stop. KSM can shout out “it was Ali on the 4th of July” or “the bomb makers are living in Bagladesh” but the guy doing the torturing doesn’t believe you or has know way of verifying what you are saying. So he keeps going and you just keep saying things hoping it will stop. I’m sorry to tell you this but its not the same. What happens when the person we grab off the street because KSM or whoever, after having suffered through “enhanced interrogation techniques” and has just resorted to shouting out names turns out to be completely innocent? Anyone remember Maher Arar? and by the way anyone who says being beaten with romex cable every day for weeks isn’t torture is full of shit. And finally after a long winded speech, I take to heart the words of Milt Bearden 30 year CIA field officer. He said, “If a guy knows where a dirty bomb is hidden that’s going to go off in a Marriott, put me in a room with him and I’ll find out. But don’t codify that. Just let me break the law.”

  14. Van-a-gram says:

    Sandy –

    The context of your “what if” questioning creates perhpas the two most dangerous words in the English language.

    “What if” is used as a blanket defense, supporting a postion of taking no action. Ever. Because, afterall, “what if…”

    What if the guy being interrogated does have information about a dirty bomb in a Mariott? We should order him room service and engage in “smart diplomacy” instead, right?

    BOOM….and pass the ketchup.

    This is the difference between understanding how the world “should” work, and how it actually does work. Milt Bearden understands how the world works; you do not.

    It just floors me that you bask in relative safety everyday, knowing there are REALLY bad people out there who would love nothing more than to blow you and your loved ones to kingdom come, and yet become ‘squeamish’ about how that safety is provided.

    Your principles are noteworthy, but probably not that relevant at the end of the day. Do you want the acid test? Do you have the courage of your convictions? Then truthfully answer this:

    Your father / mother / brother / sister / husband / children are in that Mariott you mention and you have no way to reacch them. Intelligence professionals have reason to beleive the guy in the next room has information that could keep a bomb from exploding. You have about an hour before it is believed the bomb will go off.

    What do you do?

    • Havk says:

      My family knows and agrees with me about torture. If torture is the only way, then they die. Even if I KNOW for a 100 percent certainty that the knowledge i need is only a testicle-munching doberman interrogation away, my family dies. the instant I torture to save them, i am no better than the person who made the bomb, and have put the lie to everything my family ever taught me about truth and the line between good and evil. The instant I torture to find the bomb, I might as well have made the bomb maker’s point for him.

      • R.D. Walker says:

        My family would be rescued.

        • ray davies says:

          Where do these people come from? I guess they think beef and chicken come from a package, and heaven forbit they were to ever watch sausage being made.
          People,understand that there are people standing and willing to do whatever it takes to keep you and yours safe at night. If you worry about some bad guy having some discomfort by our military, you are free to leave the Country at any time, and,pleas,don’t let the door hit you on the way out. By the way,have you said a quick prayer for our military who even now are protecting you from therats foreign and domestic.

        • notamobster says:

          Yep. Mine too. Some things are worth becoming an animal for. The moral equivalence displayed by the “I’m not going to “torture” even to save my family” says all I need to know about the individual.

          You don’t lose your humanity by acting in defense of something greater. While reasonable people can argue the efficacy of enhanced interrogation, saying that you’d let your family die to keep from pouring water on someone’s face is asinine.

  15. Van-a-gram,

    Your hypothetical is an invitation to bypass our intellect and act from our emotions. What we might like to do is such a situation should not be a guide to what the official policy of the US Government should be.

  16. Van-a-gram says:

    J MG:

    Bypass our intellect? Act on emotions? I’m not suggesting either.

    I am suggesting utilizing tactics that WORK as that seems to be the intellectually prudent thing to do.

    My hypothetical was merely an example of that in an over-simplified scenario: If in that situation, you would want to employ a method or tactic that had the best possible chance of success. Period.

    Locking these people up and ‘hoping’ they will just spill their guts someday is actually more ‘emotional’ than intellectual. It’s emotional in that it’s a “feel-good” position; we can bask in our moral superiority knowing we’re ‘taking some kind of action’ but stopping short of being “harsh.”

    We will play by a set of rules that the other side refuses to play by. See how enlightened we are?

    See how stupid we are.

  17. Van-a-gram,

    The US didn’t play by the same rules the Nazis and Japanese played by in WWII, and that didn’t stop them from winning.

    I am unwilling to have terrorists set the rules for our behavior.

    • john harker says:

      We played by the same rules as the germans and (with more than a few exceptions) the empire of japan. today we fight a foe who as a group decided that the best chance they have of victory, is to wage an insurgent/terror war that focuses on non combative civilians just as much if not more than a military target. in order to survive/resist capture our foe has no uniform or identifing markings. this way he can make an attack, and move into the non combative civilians space, and make it very difficult egage the threat without endangering the property or lives of non combatants.
      this gives our enemy many advantages but it comes with a price. under most laws of war protection is only granted to someone who in the conflict chooses to abide by them. this practices is at least as old as the various codes of chivalry in the middle ages. it seems that any law of war that our foes are capable of breaking they’ve broke. they have no expectation of safety under the laws which we have chosen to abide. so the question that we should be asking is, is to ok to cause someone intense pain and discomfort to save lives? if so where do we stop? how safe must it be for our enemys health? is it ok to do this to one of our citizens or a citzen of an ally?should it be used as a punishment? where do we draw the line? But if the answer is no, are we prepared to deal with an attack on americans that could kill thousands? would victims of such an attack be angry with us when they find out that we could have stopped the slaughter of thousands of men woman and children by hurting a terrorist enough to tell us what we need to know? and most importantly would you abstain from torturing if in doing so you would lose loved ones the attack?
      personaly I woud(but never as a punishment) torture someone who chose to hurt and kill to save his victims. But I have a great deal of respect for someone who can honestly say there is no way they would ever torture someone regardless of what would happen
      what can I say im a sucker for someone with true grit

    • John Kelly says:

      Apparently you have not really done your research, US interrogation techniques in WW2 were not the saintly talk until you cant talk anymore techniques you seem to think. then as now we used what worked to get the intel we needed to save lives and shorten the conflict.

      Pacifism and being squeamish do not win wars, or save lives. if it did there would have been no 9/11 the Jihadists would have wilted before the onslaught of thrown daisy’s and good will flowing from the Liberal camps in America.

  18. Sandy says:

    I don’t think you really got the point on the “what if”. I was using the term in trying to make the point that what they go through at SERE and what people in our custody go through are “not” the same. While the techniques being used might be the same whats going on in the individuals minds are not. “What if” wasn’t being used as a reason to “take or not take action”. Which is a complete and utter strawman by the way even Bush’s FBI director Mueller admits that no worthwhile evidence came of from the torture. Abu Zubaydah gave up all of his credible information “before” he was tortured. Which takes me back to again the point that its not the same for the SERE soldiers. R.D.’s point that “They can choose to start talking and the procedure will end.” simply isn’t true or to use your phrase “how the world works”.

    The point I was trying to make with Bearden’s comment is that making torture legal is a bad thing because we start using it all the time and we end up torturing “completely and utterly innocent people”. This is a simple fact we’ve done it. People who were guilty of nothing more than being of Middle Eastern decent have been grabbed off the street and tortured because of false information given by someone else being tortured. That does makes us the bad guy it doesn’t matter that we had good intentions, that we thought we were simply defending ourselves we were and are wrong.

    As to my convictions, if I knew that someone had information that would protect a loved one I would start at the toes with needle nose pliers and work my way up.

    But to paraphrase you “thats not the real world” that’s a movie of the week or a Fox teevee show. Interrogators are trying to get names, telephone numbers, address’, organizational structures. And while that doesn’t take “Smart Diplomacy” it does take smart interrogation not torture.

    I know full well there are “REALLY bad people out there”. But from a legal and or moral perspective becoming like them to protect ourselves doesn’t make it “OK”.

    “He who fights monsters must take care lest he become a monster. When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

  19. R.D. Walker says:

    Sandy, you are bit naive. First, interrogations are not conducted in a vacuum and the interrogators are not stupid. Guys like KSM would have to give up a lot of information that the interrogators knew was true – but KSM didn’t know they knew about – before they believed any new information from him. There is way more to an interrogation than you seem to be aware.

    Second, KSM was waterboarded on five separate occasions. The 186 number – or whatever it is – counts the number of times water was applied to his face.

    For the record, there was no “safety word” when I went through the training. If students are given a safety word today, it is no more than what was given to KSM. KSM’s “safety words” to end the process were simple: “Okay, I will talk.” I guarantee you it was no easier for me to humiliate myself among my brothers in arms than it was for KSM, who knew he was in for life, to spill the beans on his murderous plans.

  20. R.D. Walker says:


    “R.D.’s point that “They can choose to start talking and the procedure will end.” simply isn’t true or to use your phrase “how the world works”.”

    Unless they are interrogating the subject for revenge or kicks, that is nonsense. Once a terrorist starts providing good information, the process ends.

    “The point I was trying to make with Bearden’s comment is that making torture legal is a bad thing because we start using it all the time and we end up torturing “completely and utterly innocent people”.”

    That same logic can be applied to prison sentences but I don’t think we will be dispensing with them any time soon. And before you tell me “torture is worse,” let me tell you unequivocally that I would rather be unjustly waterboarded than unjustly forced to endure a prison term. Give me the choice between a few minutes on the waterboard or a few years (or even months) in prison and I will take the waterboard every time.

    In any case, there is a hell of a big chasm between the legal status of an unlawful combatant in a time of war and a citizen being held on criminal charges. It does not follow that waterboarding KSM means we will eventually waterboard the Hamburgler.

    “As to my convictions, if I knew that someone had information that would protect a loved one I would start at the toes with needle nose pliers and work my way up.”

    Me too. I would do the same thing to save the lives of thousands of my countrymen… even if I didn’t know them personally.

  21. Sandy says:

    “Unless they are interrogating the subject for revenge or kicks, that is nonsense. Once a terrorist starts providing good information, the process ends.”

    This simply isn’t true. Once again Abu Zubaydah was talking up a storm and was actually giving up real information “before” he was tortured. He didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear so they started to torture him.


    “That same logic can be applied to prison sentences but I don’t think we will be dispensing with them any time soon.”

    No it can’t. Unless you live in a dictatorship if you are in prison you went through a long process to get there. You had someone to defend you, you had a trial before peers, you had a chance to appeal multiple times.

    If you were someone like Maher Arar you had nothing. You were grabbed at an airport, taken to a secret prison and tortured for a year. Until they finally admitted that you had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism and released you.

    “It does not follow that waterboarding KSM means we will eventually waterboard the Hamburgler.”

    I’m afraid that it does mean exactly that. Once you think its OK, once someone tells you its legal……

    • R.D. Walker says:

      You point to information, which if correct, contradicts my point. In this case, a suspect that was giving up information was subjected to harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding when they were later made available to the interrogators.

      Obviously the interrogators believe that he was still withholding information or they would not have used the methods they did. In any case, it would appear that they did not have waterboarding available to them during the earlier phase of questioning. Whatever the case may be, in this particular situation, the warterbording came after information was given. I suppose the devil is in the details but a single misapplication or injudicious use of a technique should not be used as a justification to completely prohibit its use.

      Terrorists are illegal combatants and, as such, should not during a time of war be given the rights afforded civilians or POWs. There must be severe costs to ignoring the laws of land warfare and terrorists ignore them all. Under the Geneva Convention, those who do not adhere to the the Geneva Convention do not get protected by the Geneva Convention. It must be this way. If there is no penalty to ignoring the rules, more combatants will fail to wear uniforms, use women and children as shields and generally make warfare much more terrible for civilians.

      KSM an his ilk are not POWs. POWs have committed no crimes and cannot be given a trial. Illegal combatants can be quickly tried by military tribunals and summarily executed on the battlefield. This is NOTHING like the civilian justice system and it is ridiculous to argue that the treatment of illegal combatants during a time of war will eventually be adopted by civil authorities. In fact, it is farcical.

      One more point. Obama is using Predators armed with Hellfire missiles to blow the hell out of houses full of people in Pakistan. It happens every week. I guess we have decided that, if you are suspected of being a terrorist it is okay that the United States, without trial, reduce you to a pink mist on the wind. We have also decided that even though we can kill you, we can’t pour water on your face in the manner used on SERE trainees.

      One more thing, I also hold that it does not follow that, because we blow up houses in Pakistan with Hellfire missiles, it does not follow that we will soon be doing the same in Peoria.

  22. R.D. Walker says:

    By the way Sandy….

    There is more to the story of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah than you were giving up. Based on what is below, I withdraw my characterization of his interrogation as misapplied or injudicious

    After Mr. Zubaydah’s capture, a C.I.A. interrogation team was dispatched from the agency’s counterterrorism center to take the lead in his questioning, former law enforcement and intelligence officials said, and F.B.I. agents were withdrawn. The group included an agency consultant schooled in the harsher interrogation procedures to which American special forces are subjected in their training. Three former intelligence officials said the techniques had been drawn up on the basis of legal guidance from the Justice Department, but were not yet supported by a formal legal opinion.

    In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted.

    The reality is that Zubaydah didn’t talk until he was subjected to an icy cell, hours of loud, blasting music and sleep deprivation. Even then he only gave up a little of what the interrogators knew that he knew. When they added waterboarding to the approach, he gave up Khalid Sheik Mohammad. KSM, in turn, gave up plans to have a “second wave” 9/11 type attack on LA. It was justified and it worked… and they weren’t subjected to anything SF soldiers aren’t subjected to.

  23. R.D. Walker says:

    JM: “The US didn’t play by the same rules the Nazis and Japanese played by in WWII, and that didn’t stop them from winning.”

    Rudolf Hess parachuted into England in 1941. What if waterboarding him would have resulted in the end of the war prior to D-Day and the start of the Final Solution in 1943? Would it have been worth it?

    Don’t bother to answer. Of course it would have been worth it. This is purely hypothetical but so is the belief that harsh interrogations do not save the lives of thousands of innocents. The option to go that route should be available to interrogators.

  24. McLaren says:

    John: You are right, we didn’t play by the same rules of Japan and Germany. We dropped atomic weapons on cities. They didn’t. We won.

    If we were playing by the same rules as al qaeda, the prisoners at Gitmo would already have been tortured beyond recognition and beheaded. Then we would set up a command post in a school or hospital and not allow the civilians to leave. All this time, we would not be wearing an identifiable uniform.

    We would have squads rounding up civilians and holding them, for ransom, only to slaughter those whose families didn’t pay up.

    I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Human rights are for humans who deserve them.

  25. Sandy says:

    R.D. I don’t think there is more to the story. The CIA says he knows more than he’s saying they torture him and he gives them gems like…”Under duress, Zubaydah told them that shopping malls were targeted by al Qaeda. That information traveled the globe in an instant. Agents from the FBI, Secret Service, Customs, and various related agencies joined local police to surround malls. Zubaydah said banks — yes banks — were a priority. FBI agents led officers in a race to surround and secure banks. And also supermarkets — al Qaeda was planning to blow up crowded supermarkets, several at one time. People would stop shopping. The nation’s economy would be crippled. And the water systems — a target, too. Nuclear plants, naturally. And apartment buildings.”

    Guess what… none of it was true.

    But that’s what the CIA interrogators wanted to hear. So they jumped all over it spread the word had folks jumping through hoops left and right. But it wasn’t true he didn’t know any more so he was just making stuff up hoping they’d stop torturing him. Once again “Abu Zubaydah gave up perhaps his single most valuable piece of information early, naming Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whom he knew as Mukhtar, as the main organizer of the 9/11 plot.

    A C.I.A. interrogation team that arrived a week or two later, which included former military psychologists, did not change the approach to questioning, but began to keep him awake night and day with blasting rock music, have his clothes removed and keep his cell cold.” He gave up his real piece of juicy info before the torture.

    The FBI says he would have given all the real information he had without using the “harsher techniques” the CIA says the harsher techniques were needed even though he was being “compliant”. They torture him they end up running around in circles like chickens with their heads cut off because of the false info he gives them.

    Anybody remember Curveball? I think I’ll stick with the info gathered by he FBI because if Curveball is any indication as to CIA intelligence gathering……

    And I’m not sure that your comparison of bombings is fair one. Unless of course there’s a foreign city named Peoria somewhere I don’t know about.




  26. Sandy says:

    Run for cover when you confronted with information you don’t want to hear!
    Torture doesn’t work.
    Believe what you want to believe the cold room and music started after the CIA arrived and after he’d given up his most important piece of information.

    And I never said torturing terrorist would lead to torturing “US citizens”. I said “innocents” as in people who aren’t terrorists. There are people out there who are innocent who aren’t US citizens.
    And innocents have been tortured and are now suing the US.
    But read what you want to read as well believe what you want to.

    There are none who are so blind as those who will not see. (Jeremiah, King James version I think)

  27. R.D. Walker says:

    Harsh interrogation works. Even the FBI stressed the hell out of him by keeping him naked in an icy cell, deprived him of sleep and blasted rock music at him. Let me tell you, I found sleep deprivation to be far worse than waterboarding.

    In any case, these harsh interrogation methods work. The FBI harshly interrogated Zubaydah and the CIA, evidently, upped the ante. If they would have treated Zubaydah like an honored guest they would have gotten nothing from him. What they did get saved lives.

    These interrogation techniques work. They will work again. They save lives. They are no more harsh than what SERE trainees experience.

    As for the FBI, do you really find it shocking that in this political environment they are running from any accusation of “torture?”

    We kill suspected terrorists, with Obama’s approval, just about weekly. No trial. No proof. Just a tip and we launch a Hellfire at them. If we can kill them at will, we can certainly pour water on their faces.

    You said if we treat terrorists badly, it will lead to treating US citizens badly. My point was that there is no reason to believe that “torturing” terrorists will lead to “torturing” US civilians than there is to believe that killing terrorists with Hellfire missiles will lead to killing US civilians with Hellfire missiles.

    I am no longer interested in discussing the anecdotal Zubaydah situation. He was interrogated harshly from the moment he was captured and he spilled his guts. Enough said.

  28. R.D. Walker says:

    I don’t run for cover, not here not anywhere. Zubaydah was never tortured. He was harshly interrogated. I have been routinely cold and wet and deprived of sleep. I have been waterboarded. None of it rises to the level of torture. None of it was as painful as a long road march. None of it was a destructive as the Predator Hellfire attacks that are ongoing supported by Obama and, apparently, you. Killing people by remote control based on tips doesn’t bother you but pouring water on a man’s face very much does. Fascinating. Well, not really. It isn’t logic so much as politics that is driving you.

    In any case, Zubaydah spilled his guts after harsh interrogation. It worked. Furthermore, the FBI people talking to the media today just aren’t credible. There is a witch hunt going on and they are covering their asses like the FBI always does. So does the CIA, by the way. I don’t put a hell of a lot of stock any anything either organization tells the media. Which brings me to my final point.

    I have lived this sort of stuff. I know what works and I know what doesn’t work. You, on the other hand, have Time Magazine to rely on. Stop wasting my time.

  29. McLaren says:

    Either way, Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg can’t be reached for comment.

  30. R.D. Walker says:

    For the record, I acknowledged in my post that the same treatment received by military trainees applied to terrorists would be much more traumatic and stressful. My point was twofold: 1) If guys like Khalid Sheikh Mohammad received the same treatment as SERE trainees, it is hard to argue that it is physical torture. Physically it is the same. You can, however, argue that it is psychologically more stressful for the terrorists. But, having said that, if we are unwilling to even subject terrorists to stress, we are going to find it very difficult to gather the intelligence needed to protect this nation.

    I wasn’t trying to act tough in this. During much of the intense training I underwent there were times when I fervently wished I would not have volunteered for it and would loved to have had a time machine to “un-volunteer.” My point was that the threat of profound humiliation made me drive on even when, in my heart, I wanted to quit. That isn’t toughness, that is pride. Maybe foolish pride; I don’t know. Ultimately I wanted to convey that it over-simplifies the situation to simply state “trainees can quit anytime they want to.” It is more complicated than that.

  31. AJ SAIZ says:

    Sounds Gay to me, “men from whom I wanted respect more than anyone else in the world.” I thought it was don’t ask don’t tell.

    • R.D. Walker says:

      “Sounds Gay to me…”

      AJ, you won’t be able to comprehend what I am about to write so you may go back to sucking your thumb. For the other readers there is this….

        “When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart truly has achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime. That is why the true warrior cannot speak of battle save to his brothers who have been there with him. The truth is too holy, too sacred, for words.”

      These were the words of a character named Suicide in Steven Pressfield’s outstanding novel The Gates of Fire. In the novel, Suicide fought beside his Spartan peers at the Battle of Thermopylae. The words capture perfectly the love and respect that comrades-in-arms feel for their fellow warriors.

      It takes a particularly juvenile mind to take something so natural and good and attempt to belittle it.

      Now AJ, go find a grown up and see if he can explain it to you. Run along now.

      Marines pray over a fallen comrade in Iraq.

      • R.D. Walker says:

        Just a bit more. This from William Manchester in his memoir Goodbye, Darkness…

          “I understand at last why I jumped hospital that Sunday thirty-five years ago, and in violation of orders returned to the front lines and almost certain death. It was an act of love, those men on the line were my family, my home. They were closer to me than I can say, closer than any friend who had been or ever would be. They had never let me down, and I couldn’t do it to them. I had to be with them rather than let them die and me live with the knowledge that I might have saved them. Men, I now knew, do not fight for flag or country, for the Marine Corps or glory or any other abstraction, they fight for one another. Any man in combat who lacks comrades who will die for him, or for whom he is willing to die, is not a man at all, he is truly damned.”
        • ray davies says:

          RD,You,or we,will never break through the liberal idealism of these people. They will never know the love and respect , and self respect, we who have served have. We made promises to ourselves and to our brothers to be the best and to always remain faithful.
          Let’s hope they never have to learn the hard way.

  32. BL G says:

    John….how did we win in WWII….do you know?…..it wasnt because of negotiations or ground fighting….at least not Japan…..IT WAS BRUTE FORCE! Bleeding hearts will not only bankrupt this country but lead us to ruin….its time for April Morning again!

  33. Robert says:

    I agree with the methods used. Some of the information might of been bad, that is why it was continued. But alot of information given was good and saved lives. I just don’t understand the concept of these people that want to be safe yet will protect the ones that want every American dead and will blow themselves up to accomplish that goal. I wasn’t a marine but I was Navy and I would do what ever it took to protect my ship. If killing a few terrorists protects my shipmates than so be it. Most of the ones that are against the technique have never been in a war situation and will never understand.

  34. Mark says:

    Innocent people die in wars. We are all innocent for we are all God’s “children”. If you, Sandy, had children of your own and had to choose betw them and other, you would choose your own. That is Nature. Try getting around that!

    I personally want my kids to be tough- the kind of tough that allows one to see the truth thru the hardship (i.e. SERE training)- not the kind of tough that allows them to deny the truth due to the hardship (i.e. re-education by being Forced to stone someone to Death)

  35. Vicki says:

    I completely agree that banning waterboarding is crap. Sandy, I have no idea how old you are, but by your poor usage of the English language, I’d say you sound like a very naive high school freshman. Stop ditching English class and quit bowing down to Obama.
    Walker, I admire your pride and courage. Thank you and all of our soldiers for serving.
    I personally would take waterboarding over many things. If I could exchange my wisdom tooth pain for being waterboarded, I’d gladly make the exchange.

  36. Tom says:

    I went thru and read everyone’s comment. I went thru SERE training and I served in Iraq. I have no respect for any terrorist. I also will say this: If I knew a terrorist had information about a WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction). I would use any method up to and including torture even to the point of cutting certain body parts off on the premise that I will pay for my actions after saving up to maybe tens of thousands of lives, because to me the needs of the many at least in this instance outweighs the needs of the one!

  37. soldier to be says:

    i completley agree with these tactics and i want to put myself through the same we need to do whatneeds to be done no matter what the situation or the solution and i thank anyone and everyoen who has made it throguh thsi training or in real life
    our country is in some deep shit right now and its up to us to get out of it our president is nto going to do shit
    he doesnt want america he wants to “change” america SCREW THAT!! i lvoe my country and i lvoe it the way it is
    yes im broke but it takes togh times to make tough minds and im doin jsut fine screwvthat liberal bullshit!

  38. soldier to be says:

    and one more thing i would die for all of you posting before i gave you all up jsut to save my ass and not many peopel will say that for peopel they dont know not a damn bit
    i would rather die then give my brothers sisters mothers and fathers away

  39. Dec says:

    Hi everyone
    Great comments really interesting stuff. It is great that you feel so strong about protecting your loved ones from the bad guys. I can only make one statement which applies to everyone and everywhere. One mans Terrorist is anothers freedom fighter.
    if it was your loved ones being tortured how would you feel about it.
    I understand that not everyone plays by the rules thats why we consider them to be terrorists, is that where we see ourselves. Violence begets violence.

  40. Mad Brad says:

    Yes Dec and Violence solves more of the worlds problems than any other method employed. It is best to be a Master of it and hope to never have to use it than to remain ignorant and a victim waiting to happen.

  41. Denise says:

    I’ve read some of these comments above, and I want to thank those of you who have the balls to stand up against these dangerous liberal thinkers who empower our enemies.

    I want to thank every one of our brave young men and women who serve in our armed forces, protecting our great country!


    Even one American life is worth far more than 100 terrorists. I cannot understand how can anyone think otherwise, or how they could say any different and still call themselves an American.


    Yes, go ahead, hate me, I’m an American Christian, and proud of it!

  42. Afghan Chief says:

    I have 28 years of experience as an Army interrogator. I am one of the most experienced and successful interrogators in the U.S. Army. My team took down more bad guys in Iraq than any other collection team. I have never developed, participated in, or evaluated any U.S. interrogation training or operation in which mistreatment or abuse of any kind was tolerated. I have played the source in Kiwi, Brit and Australian exercises that involved mistreatment, but never U.S.
    A Soldier who violates U.S. laws and regulations concerning the treatment of sources during training or operations is kicked out of the MOS for life. It is against all I believe in and have taught and been taught to mistreat detainees. I am very good at what I do and I don’t need to mistreat detainees. You people have no right to ask me, the person who must actually do the job, to dishonor myself and country and mistreat detainees. I don’t need your help. I am very good at what I do, and I don’t need your “support” in the form of sanctioning the violation of the U.S. Army’s code of conduct in relation to the treatment of detainees. Your moral relativism is not a part of the proud tradition of interrogators in the U.S. Army.

    • R.D. Walker says:

      “A Soldier who violates U.S. laws and regulations concerning the treatment of sources during training or operations is kicked out of the MOS for life.”

      Uh huh. Violating the laws and regulations gets you “kicked out of the MOS,” huh? You think any of those CIA guys were 97E? I don’t think so.

      Utah… So what’s that, 19th SFG? I spent some time at Camp WG Williams.

      Here is the deal there troop, nothing the CIA interrogators did was either illegal or improper under the guidance they received at the time from the Justice Department. The CIA interrogators weren’t subject to the UCMJ or any Army rules or regulations you have been subject to. The techniques they used were vetted by Justice Department specialists in the Law of Land Warfare under the Geneva Convention and the Congress was briefed as to what they were doing. Under those circumstances, the CIA interrogators were as clean an pristine as you imagine yourself to me.

      Look, it is good that you feel that the UCMJ gives you a moral compass but the USMJ isn’ the world. Frankly. it is you that is engaging in moral relativism when you argue that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad deserves any type of respect or “fair” treatment.

      Frankly soldier, you should stick to the USMJ for the same reason big Rhonda the TSA agent took my toothpaste.

      In any case, thanks for your service.

    • Dave says:

      Thank You!!

  43. stuffedmango says:

    With all due respect to Afghan Chief’s pristine record of 28 yrs of interrogation, no one has asked you to mistreat detainees. I don’t know what “type” of detainee you were interrogating, but I believe there are different levels. The level at which you were dealing is one completely different than when dealing with those who would create indiscriminate destruction.

    As for moral relativism, you might have a point, except for the fact that moral values is not a language spoken by terrorists. Indeed, the language they speak is Terror. They cause terror not just for the world, but for their own people who are not of the same extreme mind. Now how’s THAT for moral relativism?

    As for Dec’s comment of “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Terrorists are NOT fighting for freedom. They are fighting for domination. I have yet to hear declaration for freedom by terrorists. Their message and mission? Destroy the Infidel.

    Unfortunately, the term “infidel” is one of fluid definition. It can be anyone, any nationality, as long as it fits the need of the terrorist of the moment.

    Daniel Pearl’s crime? A double infidel. He was not only American, but he was also Jewish. All grounds for torture and gruesome prolonged death. You want to talk moral relativism? Had he been an Afghan, perhaps he might have been allowed a quicker death or perhaps, they would’ve just removed a limb or two.

    All this talk about humane treatment is a moot point when dealing with extremists. You are sorely mistaken and misguided to be seeing terrorists through the eyes of American/Western culture, Obama included.

    Had you grown up in Afghan and watched the deterioration of your country torn apart by warlords and Al-qaeda acting upon supposed religious sentiments, you would have a different view. Not that you would have to act as animalistic as they, but you would understand there is a language that must be spoken, if you are to survive.

    “Nice” is not included in the verbage of terrorists. If you are still having a difficult time understanding what I am saying, think mafia/mobsters. Do you think saying “please” would keep you from being killed if a gangster has you fingered as being the cause of all his troubles?

    Saying “please, stop” to the bully on the playground didn’t keep my little second grade student from getting her foot stomped on until it bled. She kept asking nicely…just like I taught my class to do. That boy didn’t understand “nice.” That boy only understood he needed to stop AFTER I took drastic measures…and AFTER the little girl’s father called the police. And even then, he only changed his tactics so it would not be as noticeable. Bullies/terrorists do not understand “nice.”

    To those who persist in arguing why we should not use techniques which get answers, no one can change your mind unless one day you have a loved one kidnapped, tortured, and given a prolonged and painful death simply for being an “infidel.” -Of course, the definition of “infidel” would depend on your captors especially if they happen to be having a “bad day” or you happen to be the “wrong” nationality.

    Desist in this chatter on what is “morally” right in getting information. You are operating from a naive Westernized cultural point of view. Please, save your “morality” for the neighborhood and support education instead of complaining. You don’t like it? Then go join Al-Qaeda and then you’ll understand that their brand of “justice” is not about freedom and human rights. They commit atrocities against their own people as well…it is about power and might…and the fluid use of the term “infidel.”

    Send a postcard, would ya?

  44. Visitor says:

    Psychology students have a great deal to learn with military training and knowledge. It is a shame that the reality of military personnel is so overlooked in psychology courses.

  45. Sparkie says:

    John McGuinness

    First off, I wholeheartedly agree with you stuffedmango. Especially concerning our reaction to that of the terrorist. We may respond the same way as the terrorist, but not with the same intentions. We react to end they’re actions, whereas they act to fulfill what they consider to be a duty or responsibility.


    The US didn’t play by the same rules the Nazis and Japanese played by in WWII, and that didn’t stop them from winning.

    I am unwilling to have terrorists set the rules for our behavior.”
    -John McGuinness

    Oh John, as for the U.S., Nazi Germany, and the Japanese, research “Manzanar” and than tell me we didnt implement the same tactics that Nazi Germany and the Japanese utilized during WWII. The difference is the end result; we did it to cut-off any communications between Japanese-Americans and the Japanese and those that could have leaked information. And in the end result we wanted to end the war. The Nazi’s and Japanese did it to exterminate and end an entire race because they felt that they were superior! SAME TECHNIQUE’S USED, BUT DIFFERENT END RESULTS BECAUSE OF DIFFERENT END GOALS. Sometimes we have to kick that “Bully” in the shin and beat his ass, not to make him suffer like he was wanting us to suffer, but to let him know that if you mess with me again I’m gonna kick your ass! SAME TECHNIQUE USED, BUT DIFFERENT END RESULTS BECAUSE OF DIFFERENT END GOALS.

  46. American_Patriot says:

    Awesome story! And, quite to the point, too. I’m afraid this nation has become too pussified to win against hardened Islamofascists….we want to “nice”, seen as a moral nation…well, the hell with morals! Start torturing these bastards, and that includes sliding bamboo under their fingernails if waterboarding doesn’t work….a magnifying glass in the sun, poited at a testicle, will elicit information that would fill volumes….

  47. George says:

    Is someone interested in an original survivalknife from Col. James N. Rowe?
    I will send pictures and give mor informations by e-mail.

  48. CalicoJack says:

    Bleeding for these guys is not going to change the reality that they wake up every morning with an agenda to kill or maim any and all westerners they can find. Frankly as a SERE graduate myself I am sick to death of all of the BS coming from you people who have never been waterboarded, never served, and never faced the enemy. It disturbs me greatly that so many people are basking in the safety and freedom provided by so many who have paid for it with their blood, while pissing on their graves by compromising even one thing that those people believed in. This is our country. You want to be Europeans? Go get your own country. If not you will find that there are still plenty of us willing to fight and die to preserve this one.

    And anyone who smears the reputations of our soldiers, sailors, and Marines by suggesting that the respect and love that soldiers have for one another is gay has obviously never served. I challenge you to say that in public where you are not safe in your mommy’s basement, protected by the anonymity of the Internet; I submit you will find yourself in a world of hurt lying in the gutter with your panties around your knees, where you belong.

  49. Elmer D. Adams says:

    This guy is full of shit

  50. R.D. Walker says:

    What guy, Elmer?

  51. Elmer D. Adams says:

    # 1. Know what and who you are talking about. date of Col Rowes assassination – WRONG.
    # 2. When Col Rowe escaped, he was noot on a work detail. He was being taken to district hqs to be executed for lying to the V telling them he was an engineer.
    # 3. He did not kill his guard. He incapcitated him.
    Nothing wrong with lying, just make sure it does not catch up with you. feel free to email me asshole at dadams7491@aol.com

  52. Elmer D. Adams says:

    R.D. the guy that wrote the original piece about graduating from sere school in 1984

  53. R.D. Walker says:

    Well fuck you too Elmer. For those of you that want to know what has Elmer’s panties twisted up his ass it is this..

    1) Yep, my memory was wrong, Colonel Rowe was assasintated in April 1989. Not February 1989 as I incorrectly recalled. I was two months off.

    2) Work detail or not, Rowe was out of camp when he beat his guard down and was rescued by American helicopters.

    3) Okay, so he didn’t kill him, he incapacitated him.

    I was going on memory over 25 years old. Sorry for not double checking the minutia.

    I graduated the John F. Kennedy’s Special Warfare Center’s SERE Instructor School in the first week of October, 1984.

    If you are accusing me of being one of these stolen valor pukes who lies about his military experience, you can kiss my ass. I was there. I earned the designation SERE Instructor and I have a certificate, a DD214 and friends who can confirm it.

  54. Elmer D. Adams says:

    I have not accused you of any thing. I only said your dates and your information was wrong, and it was. whats the problem??

  55. R.D. Walker says:

    You said: “Nothing wrong with lying, just make sure it does not catch up with you. feel free to email me asshole.”

    So you came to my blog, accused me of lying about my military record, called me an asshole and are now pretending like all you did was claim my dates were wrong. Fuck you.

  56. R.D. Walker says:

    Posting from a server in Raeford, huh? That gives you a little credibility on this topic. You should know better than to fuck with your fellow veterans over minutia.

  57. Elmer D. Adams says:

    Ok RD
    # 1. I did not come up with the Fuck you. I said you wer efull of shit cause your dates are not correct and your info is wrong
    #2. my panties were not in a wad but it damn sure appears yours are.
    # 3. I did not stoop to the status of calling you a pussy because you were wrong, as you have admitted due to poor memory. I only said you were full of shit! and I will restate my original comment, if I have to, now that you want to make it personal
    Further more, I could give a F—when you graduated from SERE School.
    Also let me reiterate. I did not accuse you of anything. I only said “you were full of shit” bsased on things you said and that you have confirmed yourself. additionally I’d like to ask you a question, What is the SERE Instructor designation? Is that an MOS within it self or is it a skill identifier?

  58. R.D. Walker says:

    You accused me of lying and you called me an asshole.

    SERE Instructor isn’t an MOS. It is a skill identifier. When I completed the course, I maintained my MOS and returned to my unit in the 82nd Airborne with responsibility for training my fellow soldiers in SERE tactics. There are no patches or badges or anything else.

    RD Walker is a pseudonym and I have redacted my name, but here is my certificate. Click to enlarge. You can double check those signatures. You will find it to be accurate.

  59. Elmer D. Adams says:

    What has a server got to do with it and what does that have to do with credability. Arte you saying all people from Raeford are not credible?

  60. R.D. Walker says:

    No, I am saying the opposite. You are near Ft. Bragg so that gives you credibility. Too bad you are such an asshole.

  61. Elmer D. Adams says:

    Whats the skill identifier. you have got my curiosity up??

  62. MadBrad says:

    C’mon guys, it’s February. Black History Month is FINALLY HERE! Can’t we all just get along?

  63. R.D. Walker says:


    b. Level B instructors. Commanders should attempt to retain a qualified level B instructor at the battalion or separate company level to conduct the level B instruction. Pending formalization of an additional skill identifier for the SERE instructor, the following can be used for instructor support:
    (1) The SERE Instructor Qualification Course conducted at the USAJFKSWC is designed to qualify instructors to teach level B training in all environments.
    (2) In addition, the USAJFKSWC can provide the level B Instructor Qualification Course to remote sites with mobile training teams (MTTs).

  64. Elmer D. Adams says:

    Have to disagree. I said you were full of shit. you came across with the F—you etc etc
    Oh please let me apologize for misunderstanding you about Raeford.
    Nor did I call you an asshole. Lets get our stories straight

  65. R.D. Walker says:

    Are you delusional?


    You wrote this:

    Nothing wrong with lying, just make sure it does not catch up with you. feel free to email me asshole at dadams7491@aol.com

  66. Elmer D. Adams says:

    I stand corrected. I did call you an asshole, ASSHOLE

  67. MadBrad says:

    Based on the question he asked about an MOS skill identifier, I imagined that he might be a bit closer to the real deal than ODA231 was earlier today on that other thread

    ” The mock prison camp is designed to provide the most realistic conditions possible. “Is the guy going to be under stress in captivity? You’re dang straight, he is,” says survival school instructor Elmer Adams, a former Green Beret who fought in Vietnam. “So, we’re going to put him under stress here to prepare him for that, just in case he gets scarfed up.”


  68. R.D. Walker says:


    I don’t like to be called a liar.

    Or, as you know, flipped off.

  69. MadBrad says:

    Well, you can’t expect an old Soldier from the day of Nick Rowe to NOT get edgy about his history. He just wanted you to have your paperwork straight. You know how we are about our history.

    Yes, he’s an old Soldier. How many old Soldiers do you know that don’t know exactly how to be an asshole exactly when he wants to? It’s all good. Let him back in.

    I’ll bet he knows Bud O’Donnell.

  70. R.D. Walker says:

    He is for real…


    Still, it is bullshit for him to come here and insult me over trivial details.

    I will think about letting him back in….

  71. CalicoJack says:

    Amen to that last one brother. I know exactly how to be an asshole if I need to.

    Walker, you were an instructor? I did not realize that from your story. I myself believe (and don’t quote me on this one, my military experience was a minor blip on the radar nearly 10 years ago and seems like another life) I was in a level-C class. Those were the days of the transition from the old Army that I know and love to the kinder gentler Army we have today. Apparently from what I have heard from “old” soldiers and new ones, I gather that when I was in just after the Gulf vol. 1, they were doing lots of strange experimentation with MOS’s and things like that. We even had this little card that we could give instructors who were giving us a hard time so we could get a 15 minute break. I also understand that my MOS as it was does not exist anymore, has been changed and the duty levels altered since the issue of my DD214.

  72. MadBrad says:

    Aw c’mon. This guy has stories to tell. Maybe he will take the time to tell ‘em.

  73. R.D. Walker says:

    Okay, I will open it back up.

    If you return Mr. Adams, the site wasn’t down, you were just blocked. Play nice.

  74. R.D. Walker says:

    “We even had this little card that we could give instructors who were giving us a hard time so we could get a 15 minute break.”

    I have heard about that. When my son went through basic and AIT at Benning in 2003, that was gone. At least at Benning.

  75. CalicoJack says:

    Wow……… first line, “I was a SERE instructor”. I must be getting old.

  76. CalicoJack says:

    I think it only went on for a year or so, I had mine in 92 at McClellan, and my brother went through there a couple of years later and he never got it.

  77. CalicoJack says:

    Oh yeah, and the “stolen valor” thing. Thay don’t fuck around with that anymore, they actually will prosecute guys who claim to have fought, or won commendations and it’s not true.

    “The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 (the Act), signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 20, 2006,[1] is a U.S. law that broadens the provisions of previous U.S. law addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, sale or claim (either written or oral) of any military decorations and medals. It is a federal misdemeanor offense, which carries a punishment of imprisonment for not more than 1 year and/or a fine; the scope previously covered only the Medal of Honor.” – from Wikipedia

  78. MadBrad says:

    Damn CJ, you’re younger than us.

    Stress Cards. YIKES. Pure poison.

    Sometimes I look back and wonder why I didn’t make a career of it. I’m glad I didn’t. I would have done at least twenty years at Leavenworth. I could not have tolerated some of the shit that got injected into the military starting in the Clinton years. I would have snapped.

    Thank GOD for old times and old timers.

  79. CalicoJack says:

    THATS IT! Stress cards….. like I said a blip on the radar. All I remember is the training, I had no combat so the rest is a blur of free ammo, garrison patrols, field drills, and skin bars in Killen TX.

    And for about 2 years, I gave half of my damn pay to this stripper who lived in Copperas Cove named Robin Renee Wall. Great body, real pretty…….. reminds me of a pit viper in Jessica Simpson’s (from the Dukes movie, not the fat one) skin. Oh well.

    I know ton’s of guys who remember every damn thing about every damn thing in the military… sadly I am not one. But I will never forget some instructor putting boot to ass in basic, AIT, jump school etc.

    But Uncle sam has seen fit to continue employing me so I must not be too much of a shit-bird.

  80. R.D. Walker says:

    I support those laws regarding stolen valor. Those guys are scum. I guess that is what pissed me off about Elmer’s comment. He was implying that I was the lowest form of scum – a man who steals the valor of others.

  81. MadBrad says:

    The only place I got to train in Texas was way out in the boonies of Fort Bliss. There is a largely forgotten place called Oro Grande where you can do some climbing. I loved being out in the most desolate place we could find out in the desert. I got to see a lot of the White Sands Missile Range from behind an M-60 on a Gun Jeep. The thing I enjoyed most about the desert was being WAY away from everybody on a 3-man Team. The desert is a lot of fun. It’s too bad that I didn’t get to spend more time there.

    Juarez, Mexico was a lot of fun too. I damn sure know that I wouldn’t try any of shit I used to do back in the day, down there today. I had a little incident on the border back then (more thaan one actually) that probably wouldn’t have gone as well today.

  82. Elmer D. Adams says:

    R. D. The only thing I said was you had some details (minor or significant) wrong. I did not imply anything about you stealing anything. Had I felt that way, rest assured, I would have said it..

  83. R.D. Walker says:

    I apologize for being so defensive. I have made a footnoted correction in the above post.

  84. MadBrad says:

    Welcome back, Mr. Adams.

  85. Elmer D. Adams says:

    Hey MadBrad, thank you. Just out of curiosity, do you know me???

  86. CalicoJack says:

    Yes, welcome back.

  87. MadBrad says:

    I don’t know you, just found you out there on the net when your manner was such that I correctly assumed that there would be something to find. Then I looked at when you served and wondered if maybe we knew some of the same folks. I had a good friend from back home who was in 5th Group when I was at Bragg. He married into a military family of the Special Forces community. I got to know them and many of their neighbors who were retired SF Troopers.

    There’s a legendary Irishman who still lives in Fayetteville, who has legendary parties at the legendary bar inside his house. I got to enjoy his company quite frequently years ago. It seems like everybody has had a beer with this guy, which is why I wondered if you know Bud O’Donnell.

  88. R.D. Walker says:

    I still know folks at Bragg. In fact, I will be at Bragg this summer to attend a retirement ceremony. The godfather of my Ranger son as a matter of fact.

  89. CalicoJack says:

    Wow, a bunch of ass in the grass SF community folks on here. Imagine that. I’m glad to know you, or your online pseudonyms anyhow.

  90. Elmer D. Adams says:

    MadBrad, If I have not offended you, e-mail me sometime. Calicojack, Same to you. May God Bless the bothof you. And RD God bless you 2

  91. CalicoJack says:

    hmm. Farewell Mr. Adams.

  92. R.D. Walker says:

    Well again, I was just writing stream of consciousness and not really trying to tell Rowe’s story. The details I misremembered were irrelevant to the post so I didn’t double check them. Your recall of the minutia of Rowe’s life is impressive. You should be very proud.

  93. R.D. Walker says:

    If you were there when I was there and your memory is good, I can tell you a detail that I could only know if I was there. One night, as a hurricane approached the NC coast, we were pulled from our field exercise at Big Muddy and moved to barracks on Bragg to ride out the storm. The storm was a bust and we were returned to MacKall the next day.

    Also, the officer who I will be seeing retire this summer and who is the godfather of my oldest son was the course XO in 1984.

  94. CalicoJack says:

    God bless you Mr. Adams, I’ll be in touch.

  95. Elmer D. Adams says:

    farewell calico. have a nice day GBU

  96. Elmer D. Adams says:

    What was his name, You have my e-mail address. I would like to attend. I believe I know him. He may have been a SonTay Raider

  97. R.D. Walker says:

    He is still in and deep in the compound so I don’t want to list his name. He was a CW2 at the time.

    Your email kicks back my emails. I get a “not accepting” response.

    Email me: rdwalker@therealrevo.com

  98. MadBrad says:

    I’ve got one at your inbox now. I’ve enjoyed your time here. As for certificates, I don’t even know where my Honorable Discharge is right now and who cares?

    Here’s just ONE of my notorious friends from ODA-555 back in the day. Often times just the mention of his name causes laughter.


  99. CalicoJack says:

    Brad did you read that article? Yikes. Hard to say what the guy was really doing, if he was truly doing black bag shit the feds would deny him anyway. That article is not very flattering.

  100. CalicoJack says:

    BTW same for me. I have no idea where my military papers are, in a inter department memo envelope somewhere. Fuck it, I never ask for special treatment anyway, and that’s about all they’re good for now. The training matters.

  101. R.D. Walker says:

    I am a pack rat. I save everything. At least until I give it away. This summer I gave Brad the map I used in Grenada.

  102. CalicoJack says:

    The thing about Maracek is wierd too. Sentenced to 30 for a second degree murder in ’01 and parolled in ’03. WTF

  103. MadBrad says:

    Wikipedia has several things wrong, as it relates to dates, among other things. They had Keith painted as a support troop. Not true. It shows lots of bad stuff about his performance. I knew a few of the guys on his Team and I knew his Team Sergeant. If he was a documented screw up he wouldn’t have been on Team 555.

    The con-man angle, I totally see that. He was always a good self promoter but he actually did a lot of good things. He helped design and manufacture new load carrying equipment and body armor for the Army at a time when such things didn’t exist.

    He is a native of New York. He spent September 11th 2001 in shock. The 12th he spent in mourning. The 13th he spent packing and on the 14th he was headed to Afghanistan, vowing that he would not come back until he had the head of Osama Bin Laden in a cooler on ice and with him.

    He got over there as part of a humanitarian relief agency because of his language and medical skills. Contrary to Wikis depiction of him as a support troop, he was with a very good friend of mine in Afghanistan in 1984. I could probably get my hands on some photos that can prove that.

    Anyway, he knew the language and most importantly he knew people. When he got to where he was going, people knew him. By the time the 21st century version of ODA-555 got into Afghanistan, Keith had already established a medical aid station capable of servicing a Battalion.

    Six weeks later the Taliban were on the run and U.S. Special Forces were running Afghanistan.

    There were 400 Americans on the ground when the Taliban fell. By that time 31,500 Taliban and Al Qaeda had gone on to collect their virgins. Keith Idema didn’t have Bin Laden yet, so his mission continued. His wonderful gift of gab got him into places he shouldn’t have been and walk away with lots of stuff that wasn’t his but nobody else knew that. He supported his private army with smoke and mirrors, preying on the ignorance of others who were mostly people in the U.S. Military. He wanted to get Bin Laden and based on his experience believed he could do it. He didn’t get the experience that allowed him to engage in such a bold enterprise by serving in a support element.

    He’s crazy, no doubt about it. Afghanistan wasn’t his first stunt by no means. He’s got the gift of gab and can talk himself into anything. He’s what you might call, an over-achiever.

  104. MadBrad says:

    That map is neatly rolled up and within my sight at this very moment. Walls must be refinished in the command bunker before I will get it properly displayed. I would still have lots of stuff from the day, but my unfortunate encounter with Federal Authorities caused many of my belongings to be scattered to the four winds by an angry, soon-to-be ex-wife.

  105. CalicoJack says:

    I read you, just saying that article was not the nicest portrayal. Wiki does have some things wrong from time to time, but I love it. I get hooked for hours link surfing.

  106. MadBrad says:

    I haven’t seen Keith Idema since 1987. I was out of the Army and he was running a Paintball place just outside of Fayatteville, NC. I have only heard stories since then.

  107. MadBrad says:

    Wow, an over-achiever indeed…

    “[Idema] is a very dangerous person by virtue of his carelessness and stupidity, and before he gets someone killed… he needs to be removed from the area. I feel that given the amount of time that he has been allowed to run around telling people he has been working for the U.S. Embassy, Pentagon, Special Ops under cover or the CIA, that he has garnered or bought enough contacts to pose a real threat to not only me and those near me but the over all mission of the United States and the Coalition that is fighting there.”

    When people say things like that about you, it means you know how to live life to its fullest.

  108. CalicoJack says:

    Roger that.

  109. David M says:

    Neat stuff I enjoyed

  110. Charles says:

    I’m a Reagan era vet, of the US, Navy, was attached to com sub 6 out of charleston south carolina, well the boat was @ the weapons station in Kingsbay Georgia.. Anyway.. All I wanted to say was that I thank you all for your service to this nation and think that things just seem to get messed up the more polititions try to run the war.
    What I dont understand is why everyone seems to feel the need to e defend what they did or the fact that they were in the service at all. who cares, If they are so weak they have to lie about their service they are not worth the time it takes to type to them. Carry on gents and do whatever it takes to win, Most of all come home safe.. you are loved and appreciated in this household.. thanks again. sorry for my typing and spelling they always were bad.. tc

  111. David M says:

    God Bless you, Charles. If I lie, I know and God knows. You know, I’d rather it not be that way if I had to lie

  112. Joe says:

    “If you are accusing me of being one of these stolen valor pukes who lies about his military experience, you can kiss my ass. I was there. I earned the designation SERE Instructor and I have a certificate, a DD214 and friends who can confirm it.”

    If you want to look at a POS that claims all sorts of military experience, look up Richard Comerford. Haunts a site called Catholic and Enjoying it. Claims to know everything about interrogation. Is fucked up.

    The blog is here:


  113. Matt says:

    I just found this post trying to find out how long SERE school lasts and had to add a comment. To think that someone in captivity for life, in a situation where others are dying from their treatment by hostile personnel, is somehow even remotely comparable to someone in a similar situation who knows it will stop in a matter of days and is being subjected to their treatment by fellow soldiers fails every common sense test and psychological theory known to man. There is no comparison, and this is assuming the situations actually are the same, which it is hard to believe if that many prisoners have died from it. How many people have died in SERE School? This is to say nothing of the moral bankruptcy of people who approve of torture anyway. Does anyone really thing that if that mythical situation really occurred where a hardened terrorist knew of a horrible terrorist act about to happen, and somehow his captors knew that (seriously, this is just too silly to think about but it always gets brought up so okay) that such a person would give up that information no matter what you did to him? I have to wonder what we are doing to our soldiers that makes them think it is okay to do this ever, since the mythical situation will never happen and never has, and to advocate this on a massive scale is evil defined… hardness does not equal toughness.

  114. notamobster says:

    Matt, Your ‘mythical situation’ has indeed happened. The “Torture” of making the prisoner think he was about to die had an immediate effect of causing the jihadi police officer to spill the beans and save American lives. See it here:


  115. R.D. Walker says:

    So let me see if I follow you, Matt. It is okay to waterboard our own soldiers in training because they are not prisoners.

    Waterboarding terrorists to save lives, however, is worse because rather than free people, they are prisoners.

    The identical act performed on the two categories and in one case it is torture, and another it is not. The difference? It isn’t the act of waterboarding because it is the same in each case. The difference is the psychological state of being a prisoner vs. a soldier. I other words, we are obligated to treat prisoners better than US Army trainees because it is more stressful to be a prisoner than a soldier.

    Meanwhile, Obama has given an executive order to kill an American citizen with a hellfire missile. No trial. No assumption of innocence. No Miranda rights. Just a warrant of death from the president.

    So let’s review. Obama policy as endorsed by the above troll is thus…

    1) You can waterboard soldiers in SERE School.

    2) You cannot use the identical procedure on al Qaeda terrorists because being a prisoner is stressful.

    3) You may issue presidential death warrants to kill US citizens without trial… as long as you don’t pour water on their faces.

  116. R.D. Walker says:

    For the record, I am in favor of the targeted killing of radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. I wouldn’t object to pouring a bucket of water on his face either. For most people, the decision to kill a man is a higher hurdle to jump than the decision to pour water on his face. Of course nobody ever accused a liberal of being logical.

  117. R.D. Walker says:

    Drive by trolls… What a bunch of pussies.

  118. MadBrad says:

    If any of these drive-bys had any information that I wanted out of them, I wouldn’t use waterboarding.

  119. Rich says:

    Mr. Walker I want to thank you for your thoughts on this subject. Its great to hear from someone with your insight and experience in this matter. I also want to thank you for your service to our great nation.

  120. Air Force Brat says:

    Guys, I realize that I’ve come into this thread REALLY late, but R.D., regarding Afghan Chief, I’ve read his exact same post several months ago on a site operated by some vets called the Silsey Street Regulars. It appears he simply cut and pasted the whole thing into this thread.

    The posters on that site tore him a new one too.

  121. Chris says:

    Let’s assume that waterboarding and “torture/mistreatment” do produce intelligence which we can use to “save lives”. A lot of people in the defense industry have raised the point that if the enemy finds out about it (say, through publication of pictures and documents) then national security will be endangered. So maybe some practices save lives and endanger them at the same time?

  122. Uke says:

    I’ll be honest with you… that didn’t make any sense.

  123. notamobster says:

    I’ll try to answer his question (?).

    Sending troops to fight the Japanese who attacked us, saved lives and endangered them at the same time. Does that mean that we should’ve just given the entire Pacific to the Japanese?

    Seriously, I can’t tell if you were supporting or attacking the practice of waterboarding/enhanced interrogation/torure or whatever you want to call it.

    Newsflash: When people want to murder you for being Christian or Jewish, or drawing a picture of Mu-HAM-id your security is already in danger.

    Fuck anyone who thinks it’s alright to murder indiscriminantly, have sex with little girls, rape your wife, or charge me a fucking tax just to exist as a 3rd class citizen in their backwards, fucked-up, woman-hating society! FUCK THEM AND ANYONE WHO SUPPORTS THEM!

  124. Chris says:

    I’m not supporting or attacking the practice, just raising a point that seems to be missing from the discussion. I think the issue is more complicated than simply acknowledging that they deserve it. The interrogators could be eliminating one threat and inviting another at the same time. Sure they’ll probably still pose a threat whether we torture them or not, but if it were that simple then the defense industry wouldn’t be up in arms about things like WikiLeaks.

  125. Uke says:

    Listen, radical Islamists wouldn’t be targeting us *less* if we stopped X interrogation technique. It does produce results, yes, but if we didn’t use it, I guaran-damn-tee you that radical Islam would still have quarrel with us.

    Fact of the matter is, waterboarding is a freaking ingenious form of interrogation. Properly administered, it has a near 100% success rate on extracting valuable information without causing ANY physical harm to the target. If that’s not the ultimate intersection of effective and humane, I don’t know what is.

  126. notamobster says:

    wikileaks leads to the further radicalization of those who may have been minding their own business. It serves as a propaganda tool for the enemy, much like the abu ghraib photos.

    A nation MUST BE ABLE TO KEEP SECRETS. Regardless of what liberals may think, a nation without secrets will not be a nation long.

  127. Chris says:

    Ah secrets. Consider our system of security clearances. It’s not so much about finding the people who can’t keep secrets, but finding the ones who have dirty little secrets of their own. We don’t want people who are susceptible to manipulation by enemy intelligence. If we apply this to our nation as a whole, we should ask ourselves if we want to have dirty little secrets of our own. Let’s face it, we aren’t talking about the “loose lips sink ships” type secrets here.

  128. notamobster says:

    Ah secrets. Consider our system of security clearances. I have, have you?

    It’s not so much about finding the people who can’t keep secrets, but finding the ones who have dirty little secrets of their own. What the hell are you talking about? Do you know the background work that goes into EVERY SINGLE top secret clearance? Do you?

    We don’t want people who are susceptible to manipulation by enemy intelligence. Again, huh? Wouldn’t this statement negate, void, or nullify the statement directly preceeding it?

    If we apply this to our nation as a whole, we should ask ourselves if we want to have dirty little secrets of our own. I guess I just don’t get the point. Are you saying we should ask ourselves if we want to have secrets? OF COURSE WE NEED SECRETS!

    Let’s face it, we aren’t talking about the “loose lips sink ships” type secrets here. That is exactly the type secrets we’re talking about. Wikileaks indiscriminantly released more than 309,000 reports on the Iraq war. We don’t know what the depth & breadth of the leaks will be. I know that it puts soldiers, allies, and their families at greater risk and as such is completely unacceptable.

    Do you know what the Taliban will do to an afghan man found to be aiding the United States? http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2007/12/taliban-behead-7-year-old-and-grandmother/

  129. Chris says:

    Apparently I did a poor job communicating my point. I don’t know why you want to turn it into some kind of intel dick measuring contest, but have it your way. I don’t know the first thing about background investigations. That must be why I brought them up.

    Just saying, we hold individuals to one standard when we grant clearances, but we want a different standard for our nation as a whole.

  130. notamobster says:

    1) I’m not turning it into a dick measuring contest. Your statement made it seem like our government looks for people with dirty secrets so they can exploit them at some future point in time. That’s not the case. The top secret clearance requires an exhaustive background check that involves questioning current and former neighbors, professors/teachers, etc… very in-depth.

    2) I guess I don’t get it. I don’t see the (overall) dissimilarity between our private security clearances and what we (or at least I) expect for our government.

    I want to be able to keep secrets (that’s one of many reasons why I fight for the Constitution).

    I just don’t understand what the different standard is. Can you try to elaborate a bit more. I want this discussion to be civilized, I didn’t mean to offend you.

  131. Cpl USMC Vet says:

    Hey parsons, SERE u have no idea how controlled or uncotrolled SERE is. We all signed a disclosure agreement with the practices and is punishable by federal law for disclosing certain things that happen at these camps. It was the hardest thing ive done and questioned both me being a man and made me want to Drop on request from the Marines, I hacked it out and had a great career. As for the training, do nto critisize what u have not experienced casue i for one would never go back as a trainee or staff.

  132. backlash says:

    I just read through a lot of ifs and dones and I have seen shit that would come back and haunt the strongest man as it does me that’s way its now 3am and I’m online answering other comments about morals. So i’ll just make it short. SERE is a good as it gets to the real thing and with out it the real thing will kill you hopefully before you brake secondly if someone “badguy” has some info in him that u need that will save the life and our way of life we hold so dearly, I say take it with a timely fashion and he dies in the process I would gladly take the backlash. As I have and done..long live Freedom long live the USA.

  133. James S. Ford says:

    R.D. Walker, I am late in finding this very interesting site and have enjoyed reading your SERE stories and the following comments. You were not wrong about Nick Rowe rendering his guard “Porky” lifeless when he made good his escape from his VC captors. Nick was my first cousin and I heard the story first hand on more than one occasion.

  134. R.D. Walker says:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence James. I knew your cousin. I rented a room in a house owned by the XO at the SERE School when Col. Rowe commandant. One evening he came over for dinner and we had a discussion late into the evening about, well, everything. He was a great man.

  135. James S. Ford says:

    I was in Boot Camp at Ft. Polk in October ’63 when I got word Nick had been captured in Tan Phu. When we finally met up again after he got back, I was surprised to find that I was haboring more hate in my heart for his captors than he was. He kept reminding me that after 5 yeats of hell, he was back in the best and freest country in the world, while the poor VC bastards were now inprisoned by the NVA in “re-education” camps. He was back living the dream while all theirs had been shattered.

  136. jar head says:

    You knew what you signed up for cry me a river you big baby. You wouldn’t have lasted 2 minutes in the Corps cause you have no heart you glorified boyscout

  137. R.D. Walker says:

    Are you talking to me, jar head? If you are and you think I am crying or whining in this post, you obviously have a reading comprehension problem.

    Interestingly, we had one Marine in my class at SERE Instructor School. He quit during the final FTX.

  138. MadBrad says:

    We got a whole new breed here RD. Their world is a whole lot more cruel than the one we had to defend. We all wondered if the next generation got softer. It might have looked like it for a while but we have been at War for almost Ten years now. The next generation has done just fine. They are a hardcore bunch. They hump, hump and hump some more and they put the steel on target. Let ‘em talk shit, they’ve earned it. They’ve earned every bit of it.

    Semper Fi, Jarhead.

    Carry on!

  139. MadBrad says:

    These kids today bring tears to my eyes by how hard they are and they don’t even know it. They think we are something special because we did business without body armor, GPS guided munitions and whatnot. No, they are the hardcore Warriors. Our generation gave them good tools to work with in a number of areas but they carried the FIGHT. Let ‘em talk shit as long as they hit what they are shooting at, the next round is on ME!

  140. MadBrad says:

    Why didn’t the military have “Marriage and Domesticated Living School”?

    I’m sure if they did that the retention rate would have skyrocketed.

  141. MadBrad says:

    That’s why I know you understand why they deserve to talk shit. They are the baddest of the Bad. Let ‘em bark.

  142. R.D. Walker says:

    How do you know jar head isn’t 50 years old?

  143. MadBrad says:

    I recognize the manner of speaking, for I once used it myself.

    … and if this Jarhead is 50 Year Old, then God bless him. There’s a bunch of them gathered not far from me right now ranging from 18 to 80. They are all the same.

    … those simple Fucks

    … who couldn’t use a Compass and a Map properly.

    … now they have GPS to help their simple asses to not kill somebody who is valuable to the Mission.


    Those Guys!

    Drink up you Candy Ass Devil Dogs, a REAL MAN is in the House!

  144. R.D. Walker says:

    Glorified boyscout my ass.

    Marines exist for one reason: So sailors have somebody to dance with.


  145. MadBrad says:

    Okay well, if you Jarheads don’t mind, I’m gonna slide out on this one. My Cavalry Brother has has too much to drink and he seems a bit infirm. I hope you don’t mind if I call an Ambulance and a Cab.

  146. MadBrad says:

    … it’s at this pause in the action, when the opponent who overwhelms you are asking themselves; WTF? that you try to pile into any vehicle leaving the PZ. THIS is the heart of Survival Skills between Jacksonville and Fayetteville, North Carolina.

  147. R.D. Walker says:

    Quoting John Rambo: “They drew first blood, not me.”

  148. MadBrad says:

    Jarheads do that shit.

    They crack me up.

  149. MadBrad says:

    Honestly though, I got some really good BJs from BAMs.

    Semper Fi, my Bitches!

  150. R.D. Walker says:

    Remember the nice ladies we met in Memphis who read this site? Remember Jen? My mother-in-law?

  151. MadBrad says:

    They should know about those promiscuous female Jarheads who have tried to suck the life out of me. Yet somehow I abide. I am a man to be looked up to.

    … no I’m not!

  152. MadBrad says:

    How in THEE HELL does a Veteran of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment get his comments moderated from this most important discussion?

    This IS a discussion about SERE Skills, right?

  153. R.D. Walker says:

    Obscene, abusive, silly, or annoying remarks may be deleted…

  154. MadBrad says:


    I have found, through my endless search for the perfect Woman, that Female Veterans of the United States Marine Corps best understand my needs and Mission Statement. Thusly they contribute what they have to the Fight.

    Semper Fi !!!

  155. R.D. Walker says:

    I am very lenient about the use of the f-word here. In fact, I use it myself from time to time. I usually use it in the form of a grammatical intensifier.

    Tonight, I discovered that I don’t like to see it used here in its literal form. I find it course and obnoxious.

    So I deleted it.

  156. MadBrad says:


  157. Kenneth says:

    I’m with you on that one, RD. I never mind when f*** is used as an adverb, adjective, or noun, but I find it obscene when used as a verb. No real reason for the distinction, I suppose, but I’ve always seen it that way.

  158. notamobster says:

    We do have some ladies who deserve to be treated with respect around these parts. I’m not much for curbing language (as you know), but I don’t idly tolerate that type of thing in front of my wife or daughters, either. It’s all about context.

    Brad actually moderated ME once…

  159. SeanCln says:

    I am currently in the Army now and really just came upon this post bored during staff duty looking up SERE shool. In hoping on attending some day. Im by far not the most strongest or fastest, but i am working on that. my close friend just finished q-course and is now wearing his green beret. ive been in since 05 and done a deployment as a medic, then i reclassed to infantry and went again. But after he told me that he passed, naturally my competitive nature tells me im gonna try. But after reading this post and comments, i envy more so the history and experince that you all share.

    Thank You for your service. And yes us youngster can and have been taking care of bussines, even though i cant spell lol

  160. R.D. Walker says:

    Thanks for the comment and good luck, SeanCln!

  161. SeanCln says:

    oh and as far as woman. my wife was deployed during the iraq surge too. all she did was man a .50 and took names. Woman dont play

  162. S.K. Hitchcock says:

    I remember you well. I was in Class (3A-F38/012-F27) Jun/Jul 1988. You instructed us well and I have never forgotten your lessons to this day. They served me well in combat operations and afterwards. Thank you very much for your time and service to our Country.

  163. AnonymousGrunt says:

    This guy shows that he either, A) lacks understanding of current torture techniques that both we and our enemies use in the modern day, and/or B) understands but due to massive amounts of cognitive dissonance and compartmentalization is able to justify the position he has taken.

    The tell is this. “First and most obviously, the terrorists being interrogated can quit too. They can choose to start talking and the procedure will end.”


    That’s not how torture works, and it is also the basic problem with torture. The information is not reliable (almost all reports from the 3-letters will verify this) and you end up with people delirious who will say and do ANYTHING. Now, the main reason this is a problem is that we have under/mis-trained interrogators. In the past years we have mostly taken care of this, so the incidents are very few now, but it still happens and will continue.

    We have become the monster we thought we were fighting.

    Military guys! Learn to think outside the box the military has indoctrinated you into! You are a pawn!

    /USMC Iraq combat vet (enlightened)

  164. R.D. Walker says:

    Well sport, we got good intel from KSM for pouring water on his face. In fact, it led to bin Laden. Here is a top “3-letter” guy with no reason to protect the Bush Administration.”

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Can you confirm that it was as a result of waterboarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after bin Laden?

    LEON PANETTA, CIA DIRECTOR: Brian, in the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information and that was true here … It’s a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got … I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I’m also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.

    WILLIAMS: So finer point, one final time, enhanced interrogation techniques — which has always been kind of a handy euphemism in these post-9/11 years — that includes waterboarding?

    PANETTA: That’s correct.

    And the waterboarding did eventually end, didn’t it? SERE candidates get waterboarded, KSM got waterboarded. Boo frickin’ hoo.

    Here is a tip AG, you will make more friends if you don’t come to a blogger’s site and insult him. Especially when you are full of shit.

  165. notamobster says:

    But, but … he’s ‘enlightened’.

    I wonder if you have to pay membership fees to be enlightened. Does it require that I believe 9/11 to be an ‘inside job’?

  166. If it goes bang!..... says:

    I stumbled onto this site by accident, and have had a great time reading it! Im not a vet, but wish to god I was. I realized a little too late that all the things I love to do, I could’ve done on a much greater scale had I just put my name on that line! Anyway, first & foremost i’d like to thank each and every one of you who served, and continue to do so. And second, screw all of the bleeding heart Americans who think these terrorists should be treated well! I saw the Nick Berg video. That could’ve been one of my family…or yours. Those people are barbarians. They want to live in a medieval time where women are treated as second class, and anyone can be brutally punished for any perceived crime. And as long as they wanna keep trying to kill innocent people, we will be there to put a 5.56 right between their eyes!

  167. David Davis says:

    I think if you want to tortur them then do it right. They tied me up between two posts wrapped wires around both my wrists and ankles and commenced cranking on a field telephone generator until they burnt my arms black. Then took me over to a post and wrapped my ankles to the post started pouring a canteen of water up my nose while kicking me in the back. This is where torture leads. Look at what is happening to returning vets snipers, seals, killing Americans all because of military brainwashing. No help when they return. I say take no prisoners kill em on the battlefield slay em like dogs of war. Drop the bomb on all of em before they have a chance to deliver it here. Then kill all the ones that supplied em with guns and training. Oh Wait! That might just be the US. After all look and see who training Bin Laden. What school he went to and those great big letters CIA that isn’t cuttie in action thats BAD guy training other BAD guy to do his dirty work. Torture is DEAD wrong.

  168. Slaphappypap says:

    David, I think your kool-aid is spiked a little… The CIA never trained Bin Laden. The CIA trained Pashtun Tribes of Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi, who spoke Arabic. He would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

  169. notamobster says:

    Wow, Dave… you had me at “Look at what is happening to returning vets snipers, seals, killing Americans all because of military brainwashing.”

    Damn. It’s like you know all of the military terms that are important to those who watch the discovery channel, for military shows.

    “Killing Americans all because of military brainwashing.” What the fuck? Seriously?

    Are you retarded?

    “No help when they return.” This one is particularly troubling to me, because I KNOW (personally) a returning SEAL, a couple of Rangers, some Army SF, and more than a few Marines who came back… many of whom had real problems – and found the help they needed – from the US Gov’t.

    Again, I ask “Are you retarded?”

    Try that drive-by troll shit somewhere else.

    “Slay em like dogs of war”?

    Cry havoc and let slip the mounted cavalry of intervention!

  170. Robert McLerren says:

    My question is this, when will they let the proper authorities do the job they are paid for? And if you soften training, then how far do you go? In recent years they increase the time for SF A&S and recent years the USMC added their own force and school. I just read about Ft Rucker getting their own school. Nothing compares to the original. Next to Warner Springs, the USA S.E.R.E. was the very best. Elmer, you know me give me a email. People have to understand this, you never make a threat you cannot back up and before we make threat against our next target Iran, certain people have to let our Special Ops do certain things to get the job done.

  171. Wonderful post! This might support save me a lot of problems in addition to ache!

  172. Enlisted N. Expendable says:

    I was surfing the web looking up SFAS training and details about SERE School. I happened upon this thread. Gotta say that it was the best 45 mins of military education so far in my career.

  173. Nelson says:

    During my time in the Navy I had to attend SERE school to complete my flight crew quals. I was attached to HM-14, Vanguard, out of Norfolk VA. I won’t lie. At one point, while in my cell, I cried a bit. But I didn’t quite. Couldn’t think about going home and facing my peers, family and superiors as a quitter.

    Honestly, I don’t care what ahmed feels is fair or unfair. They can get over it. Things like this is what has made the military into a pussy ass verision of it’s former self.

  174. NavySkyflyer says:

    I am a (level D, Naval Flight Officer) graduate of S.E.R.E. Schoool, Nov 1977. I am glad I went through the course. I escaped twice and was acknowledged for that at the debrief back on base.
    I later became a LCDR (O-4) in the USNR as a Naval Flight Officer.
    I testify that Dick Cheney is wrong…water boarding is torture.
    You can talk about it all you want, but until you personally experience or witness it firsthand, you cannot make an accurate assessment as to if it is torture or not.
    My recommendation is for Mr. Cheney to be water boarded in the same manner as prescribed in S.E.R.E. School. I would like to have him then confirm that WBing is not torture. Of course that would not happen, and if it did he would die from a heart attack or become mentally unstable for the psychological damage alone. If you have not experienced it firsthand, then you have no business commenting to the effect that it is not torture. One cannot make that assessment from reading intelligence briefs alone.

  175. notamobster says:

    All I heard was: I didn’t take the time to read this fine article.

  176. Matt Phillips says:

    Army Strong

  177. Special_Ops says:

    S.E.R.E School teaches you, not to talk but I see a lot of ppl. talking bout what they been thru.Makes me believe some of them may not know or experienced the training. (Name, Rank, S.S. #) I may be wrong but that is what I stuck to. Next thing ppl. gonna say that Basic training is not necessary< and the CS chamber is a form of torture. Cops gotta get shot with a tasser more torture I guess. Training is what makes the soldier, how much you receive is up to you.

  178. MadBrad says:

    The worst part of it all was knowing that while all the torture was going on, that just off post was a place called “The Biscuit Kitchen”. There you could find the very best BLT Biscuit ever created. It was horrible.

  179. R.D. Walker says:

    Not to mention the Bottom’s Up, the Flaming Mug, Rick’s Lounge, the Bunny Club…

  180. MadBrad says:

    The great institutions of Hay Street live in the memories of those who experienced them. Due to the great intellectual renaissance, they are only memories now. Regardless, whenever I am in Fayetteville I fall back on my training and make it to a rendezvous point that is holy ground for many of the greatest Warriors our Nation was ever been blessed with…


  181. R.D. Walker says:

    The Bottom’s up is still there. At least it was in the summer of 2010 when I was there last. Of course it is on Bragg Blvd.

  182. MadBrad says:

    When my Sister came up with family to visit me one Winter we went cruising. She saw that place and just busted up laughing. If you remember the old “artwork” on the front of the building you know why. She said “I wanna go in THERE”! We went there, we cruised Hay Street then went into the Flaming Mug for a while. Silly stuff.

    I’m glad to see that Baldino’s Giant Jersey Subs is a bigger chain today than ever. I always have to go to Baldino’s. Damn, such cherished memories. It’s almost enough to make you forget all the Torture… but not quite.

  183. Uke says:

    Fayetteville was the most blessed hellhole I’ve ever been in. I can’t forget the… hmmm…

    Okay, I actually CAN forget the places I visited routinely while there. Some strip club that probably wasn’t established when you guys were there. At the time I woulda sworn I could never forget its name. Or the names of its denizens. Oh well.

    There’s always the nearby Waffle House. I won’t EVER forget that.

    (I won’t even bother speculating what it means if I remember the names of the breakfast dining establishments more easily than the barely-clad females. Whatever.)

  184. R.D. Walker says:

    The artwork is long gone. You can get your ass beat on the walk from the Bottom’s up to Rick’s Lounge.

    Ah, Baldino’s. I used to frequent the one on Yadkin Road across from General Jackson’s back when General Jackson was just a major in a little, bitty store. I bought a Remington 870, there.

    Yep, and being the nerd I was, I was a frequent visitor to Edward McKay Used Books.

    And yes Uke, I was doing the bar crawl on Hay Street when you were just doing the, um, crawl.

  185. Quit running your f'ing mouth says:

    I’m surprised that someone who claims to have been such an important contributor to the teaching of a course like this would be openly discussing these topics in such blatant disregard for OPSEC, divulging trade secrets and spilling techniques used to help protect our fellow community members.

    Does this remind you of anything? When you return to your units, do not talk about what you have experienced here! It ruins future candidates learning value and spills information that doesn’t need to be in the general publics tool box?

    Ring a bell?

    Oh yeah, my info is legit bub!

  186. R.D. Walker says:

    Seriously? SERE Instructors aren’t supposed to talk about what they learned? Get a grip bub, the purpose of the SERE Instructor course was to create unit trainers who would, by definition, return to their units and explain what they learned. The JFK SERE Instructor course is a train-the-trainer course. That was its purpose!

    In any case, there is nothing in the above article that isn’t available a million other places on the web. Spare me your self important blathering, I am not changing a thing. Now, stop embarrassing yourself Captain Badass.

  187. Psyop guy says:

    This has been quite possibly some of the most hilariously awesome info I’ve seen in my life (meaning I enjoyed the mocking of dumbasses and the proscribed information therein)

  188. Riley says:

    I am a vet. I was in a recon unit. After reading most of the comments all I can say is this. What we do…”we damed few”… The civilian public doesn’t want to or in my opinion need to know. If you are not an auto mechanic how are you going to tell the people who keep your car running, or better yet built and design your cars how they should do their jobs? The media and reports of what we do to protect our citizens, frankly does not need to be up for discussion from people who have never served. As America’s fighting force, we are the watch dogs of our country. With us and the methods used to keep the wolves at bay, you would not have the freedom to even have these discussions.
    And to Dec, “one mans terrorist is a other mans freedom fighter” what makes the difference is they attacked us. Our nation is at war with a new enemy. They are not the Nazi’s of WWII who are in uniform and have clearly drawn battle lines. We cannot fight and wage war like we have in the past.
    And lastly these people plotted planned conspired to kill Americans. Why on earth should we play nice? Anyone who has ever been in a one on one fistfight for their lives and won will tell you it’s because they hit harder faster and more often. Shut up stop whining about someone who you think is being treated unfair and enjoy your right to bitch, complain and vote democrat… Because “we damed few” gave you the right to do so!

  189. Caitlin says:

    I am an Army wife who’s husband is at Ft Bragg’s SERE school.
    The day he left I decided to google SERE school and saw this article which has pretty much made the past 3 weeks of no communication torture because this is all I can think about.

    He will be home in 3 days and now I am finding I’m having even more anxiety about his return then him leaving. A few friends who’s husbands have gone are warning me about the adjustment in returning– not wanting to talk or touch me or be with the kids, highly irritable, just wanting to sleep for days and be left alone. Those that have gone I know you’re not supposed to disclose the course as it’s classified, but can you please tell me about coming home to your family???

    I’m a wreck over here thinking he’s not going to be happy to see us or want to love on me…

    • Caitlin says:

      By the way….
      He’s stationed at Ft Bragg so we live here. It’s not like he gets a couple days in a hotel before flying/driving home he’s literally leaving the school and coming right to our house

    • R.D. Walker says:

      Everyone reacts differently but I was elated to be finished. I felt absolute joy in having passed one of the most difficult courses in the military. I was single and didn’t have a family but I think that, had I been married, I would have wanted to hold my wife, hug my kids, celebrate and eat drink and be merry. In fact, I did eat drink and be merry following graduation. I dunno, Caitlin, being a graduate of that course was almost like euphoria for me. Try not to worry too much.

  190. Dave says:

    I must admit, This has been a trip!! As far as torture. I find it hard to believe the Army tortures its members and also I find, if you want to clasify some of the training torture, some of the stuff mentioned here could be classified as torture due to the fact the Lab was not up and running at that time!!

    • R.D. Walker says:

      It is what it is. I don’t think any of it was “torture” in the narrow definition of the word. Of course I am not sure what the did to KSM was really torture either. There were no branding irons and bamboo slivers, after all.

    • MadBrad says:

      So much of the useful torture has been outlawed now, for most Army units. Torture will always exist at Ft. Bragg. Ft. Bragg IS Torture. You can’t have Ft. Bragg without there being Torture.

      I was so afraid of the possibility of being wounded in battle to the extent that I could not avoid being captured, that I always carried an extra Claymore so I could win my last battle against my would-be captors with a bang.

      There’s an old saying and it’s true. War is Hell. Trying to be nice about how you train for it and carry it out is an invitation to Defeat. War is an awful thing but it is a fact of life that nobody wants to be on the losing end of.

      • MadBrad says:

        There’s another saying that is true. Fuck ‘em. They started it. We wouldn’t be torturing their asses if they weren’t trying to kill us. If you don’t want to be tortured, be dead before we get to you.

  191. Richard DeVere says:

    All of the discussion has been interesting but one point hasn’t been mentioned: No one’s been captured in several years and the one’s who were before that were tortured and killed. There’s no SERE training for that.

    SERE POW camp prepares attendees for….nothing. There’s no Hanoi Hilton in the Al-Qaeda mindset—they just kill whoever they capture but no one’s been captured in awhile.

    And you have to wonder about the deep personal psychological motivations of the Interrogators. If what they’re doing doesn’t have any present practical value, which they’ve got to know, then what they’re doing has another name.

  192. Nikky-NavySERE says:

    ….. everyone, shut up. His opinion is exactly that, his opinion. Don’t talk crap to him. You haven’t been there, or done that, so, sorry, just sit down and shut up. SERE is a training school, that certain military members have to take in order to withstand “interrogation” by Americas enemies. that’s its. Not terrorists, or bullies or whatever the hell else you wanna call it. Enemies. That’s what they are. People whom would so much like to see you and your loved ones in a pile of ash. Military members submit themselves to this training in order to have a physical and mental understanding of wtf might happen to them, if they get captured by the enemy. So that they may be better prepared for what might come. They do it to protect our nations secrets. Some of those secrets could be, what middle school in what metropolitan area is the best to “hit” on November 18th at 1:00pm… Yes, lets go and bash our military members for going through this training, all so they can protect your son, “little johnny” from our nations enemy. So I say to you all. Till you’ve done it, you don’t know what the f@%* your talking about. Sit down, shut up.

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