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  • Ryan Robicheaux

Manuscript Review Update: Closing In

Leaning my body and camera out the left door opening of a Kiowa, we begin to fly east through a very troubled offshoot section of the Tagab Valley.

Here are the facts!

I have been in contact with the government review folks this week, and finally have some news to share. Assuming they have no ill will towards me or reason to lie, here is what I believe to be an accurate summary of where we stand:

Scouts Out! was submitted to the Defense Office of Pre-publication and Security Review (DOPSR) on 12MAY2021. The manuscript was assigned a case number, and went into a que. Two months later, I inquired as to the status and was told on 20JUL that my manuscript had finally been tasked to the appropriate Combatant Command (COCOM) for review.

On 07SEP, nearly five whole months later, I reached out once again to the DOPSR for an update. I did not hide my frustration, especially given everything going on with the absolute fall of Afghanistan and plunge into Taliban rule. I asked why I was being held back from telling my story. This is where I received a more telling and detailed response.

Apparently, the DOPSR farms the manuscripts out to the COCOMs, and is hands-off from there. I was reminded that in the past two months, “real-world concerns” were taking precedence over secondary duties such as a security review of a book like mine. Essentially, because the war was falling apart, they didn’t have time for me or my book. I was told that I would receive an update when one was available.

Undaunted, I continued to email throughout the week. I even went so far as to sarcastically charge that they had given themselves authority to hold an author hostage forever, with no consequences to them and no recourse provided for me to appeal. That comment finally elicited an actual status update.

The ‘first-stage’ reveiw of Scouts Out! is “nearly done,” after which it will move into the final stages of approval by the COCOM Chief of Staff and be returned to DOPSR. I was assured that they were “right on schedule and not sitting on it,” however Scouts Out! is one of several manuscripts being concurrently worked on for the DOPSR. I continued to press for information, and was told that the final-stage approval process takes 2-3 weeks.

In summary, Scouts Out! will be ready for release soon, providing that the subjective statement “nearly done” does not mean “another month or so” on the first-stage review. Add the 2-3 weeks for the final sign off to that, and you can bet that my next blog will be quite a celebratory one full of great news and real world release information.

That’s all that I have on the book release front at the moment. If you’re in a hurry and that’s all you wanted to know, then I thank you for stopping by!

For those of you who read my previous blog in its entirety and/or want to dive deeper into the current situation in Afghanistan, feel free to read my observations and opinions on the matter below.

To be frank, I am not surprised at how the ‘draw down’ in Afghanistan ended up playing out. I am not surprised that suicide bombers and gunmen were able to kill over a hundred people and wound several times more than that. It is sad, but not a shock, that 13 of those killed were our own servicemembers. The manner in which we attempted to shut down the war and broadcast our intentions once again gave our enemy a helping hand in defeating us. There is no political back and forth in my book, and I will not do any such thing in this blog. The simple fact is that the draw down and exfil from Afghanistan was a disaster. I can only hope that rather than losing focus, we can instead critically examine our failures and truly hold those responsible that were so derelict in their duties. This is true not only within the government, but also within the military branches themselves.

The tragic defeat in Afghanistan has been very hard as a veteran to watch unfold. It has literally broken my heart. What our country did and the manner in which we left our allies and even our own American citizens behind hurts a lot. There are entire movements within the veteran community that have so far raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and employed human contacts and networks established over 20 years of war in order to personally save as many people as they can.

Some of these efforts, such as those being conducted by Task Force Pineapple, are still ongoing. Afghan commandos, pilots, interpreters, and informants that we promised to protect are being hunted down and they and their entire families are murdered daily. The Taliban and other extreme Islamist forces continue to mock our country, joyfully taking pictures while carrying our rifles and wearing our uniforms and equipment. Even I never imagined I’d see a Blackhawk flying around while sporting a Taliban flag. Worst was a picture of a supposed Taliban special forces unit posing with their flag as if they were raising it like the iconic photo of U.S. Marines during WWII on Iwo Jima.

Although well intentioned people keep trying to tell myself and others that what we did over there was not in vain and it did matter, such a notion is a lot harder in practice to actually accept and believe, true or not. My honest fear now is that our enemies are watching and sharpening their blades, teeth barred with vicious smiles. The United States, in their eyes, has never appeared weaker or more vulnerable. I can only hope that our intellegence agenencies are effectively monitoring what chatter and planning is being conducted by our emboldened and invincible feeling enemies, now.

Tomorrow will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I really hope that people take the time to think about not only that fateful September day, but also the 7,299 days which have followed. 7,299 days that we have struggled against fundamental Islamist terrorist factions and organizations. Even though the war in Afghanistan is ‘offically’ over, remember that somewhere, right now, quiet U.S. professionals are still in the field hunting down bad guys that are actively trying to pull off another elaborate terrorist attack. Just because it isn’t on the social media feeds, or in the headlines of whatever flavor of media bias may be preferred, it doesn’t mean that they’re not out there.

Please keep these brave people in your thoughts and prayers, in addition to all of those whom we have lost along the way. If you know a veteran that is struggling, reach out to them and see if they want to meet up for lunch, a beer, or just to talk. In many cases, you’ll never know just how far a visit, a phone call, or even an email or text can go in helping someone who may be silently struggling. You may even save their life by simply showing that you care.

Speaking of caring, thank you for caring enough to read this far and indulge me in sharing my personal views and opinions. I cannot wait to get my book into your hands, and hope that you feel it has been worth the wait. I will have another update out as soon as I have more news to share, and hopefully from here on out, it’ll be positive news going forward.

Take care, and thank you for the continued support.

“Scouts Out!”


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