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Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves: The Inside Story of How a Team of Renegades Broke Rules, Shattered Barriers, and Launched a Drone Warfare Revolution

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The Inside Story of How a CIA Agent and an Air Force Officer Joined Forces to Develop America’s Most Powerful Tool in the War on Terror. Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves is the character-driven story behind the origins of the Predator drone program and the dawn of unmanned warfare. A firsthand account told by an Air Force team leader and a CIA team leader, Predator Rising The Inside Story of How a CIA Agent and an Air Force Officer Joined Forces to Develop America’s Most Powerful Tool in the War on Terror. Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves is the character-driven story behind the origins of the Predator drone program and the dawn of unmanned warfare. A firsthand account told by an Air Force team leader and a CIA team leader, Predator Rising takes the reader into the back offices and secret government hangars where the robotic revolution went from a mad scientist idea to a pivotal part of global air power. The story will reveal the often conflicting perspectives between the defense and intelligence communities and put you inside places like the CIA’s counterterrorism center on the morning of 9/11. Through the eyes of the men and women who lived it, you will experience the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the evolution of a program from passive surveillance to the complex hunter-killers that hang above the battlespace like ghosts. Poised at the junction between The Right Stuff and The Bourne Identity, Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves will document the way a group of cowboys, rogues, and bandits broke rules and defied convention to change the shape of modern warfare.


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The Inside Story of How a CIA Agent and an Air Force Officer Joined Forces to Develop America’s Most Powerful Tool in the War on Terror. Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves is the character-driven story behind the origins of the Predator drone program and the dawn of unmanned warfare. A firsthand account told by an Air Force team leader and a CIA team leader, Predator Rising The Inside Story of How a CIA Agent and an Air Force Officer Joined Forces to Develop America’s Most Powerful Tool in the War on Terror. Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves is the character-driven story behind the origins of the Predator drone program and the dawn of unmanned warfare. A firsthand account told by an Air Force team leader and a CIA team leader, Predator Rising takes the reader into the back offices and secret government hangars where the robotic revolution went from a mad scientist idea to a pivotal part of global air power. The story will reveal the often conflicting perspectives between the defense and intelligence communities and put you inside places like the CIA’s counterterrorism center on the morning of 9/11. Through the eyes of the men and women who lived it, you will experience the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the evolution of a program from passive surveillance to the complex hunter-killers that hang above the battlespace like ghosts. Poised at the junction between The Right Stuff and The Bourne Identity, Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves will document the way a group of cowboys, rogues, and bandits broke rules and defied convention to change the shape of modern warfare.

36 review for Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves: The Inside Story of How a Team of Renegades Broke Rules, Shattered Barriers, and Launched a Drone Warfare Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chad Manske

    It was the evening of October 7th, 2001 when the phrase, “Who the f*** did that?” was uttered in response—in anger and not praise—to the first Hellfire missile strike from a Predator drone. USAF Lt Gen Chuck Wald, who at the time was charged with coordinating all aspects of the nascent air war over Afghanistan as Operation Enduring Freedom kicked off, was incredulous at not knowing the CIA was operating armed drones in ‘his’ airspace without his knowledge. And this first strike was a botched eff It was the evening of October 7th, 2001 when the phrase, “Who the f*** did that?” was uttered in response—in anger and not praise—to the first Hellfire missile strike from a Predator drone. USAF Lt Gen Chuck Wald, who at the time was charged with coordinating all aspects of the nascent air war over Afghanistan as Operation Enduring Freedom kicked off, was incredulous at not knowing the CIA was operating armed drones in ‘his’ airspace without his knowledge. And this first strike was a botched effort to kill Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Mohammed Omar. Thus, the era of armed unmanned warfare began. “Never Mind We’ll Do It Ourselves” is the inside true story of how a handful of self-proclaimed ‘renegades’ broke barriers and rules that ushered in the advent of armed drone warfare. Co-author, retired USAF Colonel Mark Cooter, was a career intelligence officer with distinguished service and experience in Operation Desert Storm, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. As a Predator squadron operations officer he was on the leading edge of Predator programs at near inception—both in the military Joint community and with the CIA. Co-author Alec Bierbauer spent most of his career conducting counterterrorism and counterintelligane operations with the CIA in Bosnia, Yemen and Afghanistan among others. He was the point man for the CIA’s Predator program, which is how he came to meet and work with Col Cooter. Co-author Michael Marks has a long history, mostly with special operations and intelligence work, and has written numerous books of acclaim. He was trusted with penning this volume and ‘bringing the stories to life’ as Cooter characterized in the book. Marks noted that this was the most complex book he’s ever helped write because of the extensive security clearance process required to ensure it remained unclassified for a mass audience. Despite what we may have read or know about armed drone operations and their use in modern warfare, not much has really been known about the ‘who’ until now. Years before the terror attacks of 9/11 surveillance drone operations got off the ground in Bosnia in small measure before then being employed overhead Tarnak Farms—a former Afghan training camp near Kandahar which also served as the base of operations for Osama bin Laden and his followers from 1998 to 2001. This is also the place where it is thought the 9/11 aircraft hijackers trained. Between 2000 and 2001 unarmed Predators captured nearly four and a half hours of passive overhead surveillance of bin Laden. As the Predator program evolved from an observation platform to an offensive standoff killing machine, timing of the unfortunate 9/11 attacks served as an accelerating catalyst already undergoing transformation. “Never Mind” is organized chronologically from the second chapter onward (the first chapter opens with that October 2001 1st strike noted above) beginning in January 2000 with alternating 1st person chapters from Mark and Alec. Each perspective complements the other and weaves a more complete contextual profile of the evolution of the armed Predator operations based upon their own organizational and cultural upbringing in the USAF and CIA, respectively. Readers are treated to what casual observers may not otherwise appreciate and is--in my view, one of the most appealing features of this story--the bureaucratic and technological hurdles required to traverse, bring about, and then convince numerous bureaucracies to stand behind and take the risk in employing this tremendous capability. As with most encounters with something unfamiliar in which one has no previous frame of reference, the idea of arming drones to the establishment met with fierce skepticism, let alone opposition, by those operators and platforms that had been doing the shooting and killing at the time. Many said the idea and investment in experimenting and improving the ability of the spindly drone to launch a supersonic weapon was a big waste of money fraught with failure and wasted resources. And, like many new ideas there were initial failures, each led to a new lesson and improvement made to further refine procedures and techniques while also mitigating the extent of future failures. For example, a couple of the early experimental obstacles that had to be overcome were ensuring that launching a Hellfire missile off the Predator wing wouldn’t rip said wing off and causing the loss of the asset and missile; while another was ensuring the Hellfire could operate at the higher altitudes and colder temperatures that had previously not been demonstrated while attached to the Predator wing. Both challenges were overcome as were all the others. Naysayers of conventional air-to-ground strike platforms also had to be swayed, convinced and become advocates of the program if it were to bureaucratically succeed—and that happened in time, too. The idea of ‘split remote operations’ was also born during the age of full-coverage GPS satellite constellations where the physical Predators could be operated near the point of attack while the ground station and operators could employ them from the other side of the world—a concept we just take for granted today. History was made by the team led by Bierbauer and Marks. They were modern-day ‘Wright Brothers’ in this regard, deftly navigating the birth and early years of the armed drone program. The stories of the other players also contributed greatly to the success and positive outcomes of this program. I have necessarily left them out of this review so that you as the reader can experience this background first-hand. However, one contributor deserves mention as being pivotal, and that is then-Capt Ginger (now Col (Retired), USAF) Ginger Wallace. Also a career intelligence officer, Cooter relied on her expertise every step of the way. I came to know Ginger while she was the 488th Intelligence Squadron Commander at RAF Mildenhall, UK, while I was the 100th Air Refueling Wing and installation commander there. She is the real deal! This book adds to the airpower history, innovation and ingenuity Airmen and airpower are known. A recommended read for all who wish to understand the people and processes required to bring such a force-multiplying capability to fruition that is here to stay for many years to come.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Boris Mikhailovski

    Amazing story and well written

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul Dausman

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scott Swanson

  5. 5 out of 5

    Toby Harnden

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Lysne

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

  8. 4 out of 5

    William M. Watkins, III

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peyton

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Bragg

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tyson Wetzel

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  14. 5 out of 5

    happy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liam

  16. 4 out of 5

    ced jabez

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  18. 4 out of 5

    Henry

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rifat Islam

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alec Bierbauer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve Walker

  22. 4 out of 5

    George Kendrick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  24. 4 out of 5

    Merili

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vareader

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kovan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ponsor

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Thistle

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Jeckell

  31. 5 out of 5

    Mike Slawdog

  32. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Temerev

  33. 4 out of 5

    Erika Teichert

  34. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  35. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Sullivan

  36. 4 out of 5

    Michael Madrid

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