GORE-TEX Professional

Gunfighter Moment – Daryl Holland

Foreign Internal Defense (FID)


The unstable regions of the Middle East make up the perfect scenario for the U.S. Special Forces FID mission, which is to strengthen our Allies defense capabilities among building relationships on the ground that will force multiply leaders and trainers on the battlefield. As a mentor of troops around the World, I have made some friends, so it hurts to see those I’ve trained from Kurdistan and Iraq receive little U.S. support in their war efforts against Islamic radicals.

One of the greatest effects of FID is the long term enduring relationships established with our Host Nation partners. I’ve watched young NCOs and Officers that I’ve trained, later become commanders and people of influence within their military and governments. The relationships on the ground are built on respect and our skills from the U.S. are quickly recognized and their motivation to become a better soldier begins. I learned over the years with certain cultures that you have different levels of motivation, so you may have to trick your trainees by telling them, “I have a surprise for you all at 0500” instead of, “Tomorrow, we will do the Obstacle Course at 0500”. Their reply would be, “IN-SHA-LA” which means God willing and you won’t get half of the class to show up because God didn’t will their butts out of bed.

Every culture is different when it comes to their motivation, so schedule in prayer time when training in the Middle East. No matter what part of the World our Green Berets are sent to, our Allied troops receive good training. I grew up in 1st Special Forces training the smiling faces from Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines where troops showed up on time for training. Their motivation was simply to measure up to U.S. Special Forces, and it would begin from the opening ceremony when they would be scoping the qualifications/patches on our uniforms.

An E-7 or above with Ranger, Scuba and HALO patches would be treated with a higher level of respect; maybe it’s because they know, “that I know crazy too?!”

I love to train, so when students shows up eager to learn, I get motivated!


Daryl Holland


Daryl Holland is a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major with over 20 years of active duty experience, 17 of those years in Special Operations. Five years with the 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) and 12 years in the 1st SFOD-Delta serving as an Assaulter, Sniper, Team Leader, and OTC Instructor.

He has conducted several hundred combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Philippines, and the Mexican Border. He has conducted combat missions in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush Mountains as a Sniper and experienced Mountaineer to the streets of Baghdad as an Assault Team Leader.

He has a strong instructor background started as an OTC instructor and since retiring training law abiding civilians, Law Enforcement, U.S. Military, and foreign U.S. allied Special Operations personnel from around the world.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn, they offer some words of wisdom.

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30 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Daryl Holland

  1. Ben says:

    Great article, as usual, from Mr. Holland. And that pic made my day!!!

    • SRez says:

      Not so sure those little girls are praying to Jesus.

      • Bill says:

        Doesn’t matter – Good is Good and Evil is Evil. I don’t care if they pray to a multi-headed elephant, some things just need to be done because they are the universally moral and right thing to do.

        Great essay – a program is going right when instructors and students are feeding off of each other, motivationally speaking. Rapport and empathy are probably two of the strongest tools an instructor can have. I consider a class a failure if I haven’t learned more than the trainees.

      • Ben says:

        Now, please correct me if I’m wrong, as I’m not .Mil or anything like that, but aren’t their Coptic Christian villages in the Middle East? I know that their are some, but I assumed that they were more centered around Turkey. Thanks.

        • Joe Flowers says:

          There are Christians ALL over the ME. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, etc. A TON have left or been chased out.

      • Lt M says:

        Christianity is still widespread in the area – 10% of Egyptians identify as Copts; 10% of Syrians are of various Christian denominations; in Iran the small minority of Christians – just roughly 0.15% – are conferred constitutional rights protecting the freedom of worship and guaranteeing representation in parliament; and in Lebanon 40% of the population are Christian, with the constitution stating the President be Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Parliamentary Speaker a Shia Muslim.

        All of these communities share the common threads of Christianity and persecution, not just at the hands of jihadists but also of many regular Muslims within the same populations.

        So while yes, the majority of the Greater Middle East are Muslim, there are somewhat significant minorities of Christians who mayhaps pray to God that there might be an end the fear and persecution.

  2. DP says:

    Good article… I like everything except for the picture. Not only is it slightly irrelevant it’s also unrealsitic. When was the last time we deployed for solely humanitarian reasons? It’s all politics and more often then not we leave a trail of collateral pdamage in our wake. We can argue the morality behind our military intervention but we shouldnt kid ourselves that we “do it for the children”

    • Joe Flowers says:

      Well, we saved like 9 people from a cave in Yemen less than a year ago. I’m sure they were praying for help. They say no one from the unit died on that mission, but I know of a guy who died “defending his country” either that day or the next day.

    • babola says:

      Nailed it.

    • Jon, OPT says:

      I can think of numerous humanitarian deployments, earthquake relief, tsunami relief, typhoon relief, none with any kinetic action or ulterior motive.

      Jon, OPT

    • Disco says:

      Hey man…if you want to attack anything, reference that it is a Legionnaire jumping in as opposed to a green beanie.

      And you know….it may seem lame but every SF/SOG guy I know says that at the end of The Green Berets with John Wayne where he tells the kid that “You’re what this is all about”…that as kinda dumb as the test of the film is…THAT really is worth noting and taking to heart.

      Do we as a nation have our shit together at present? Most certainly not. But I openly defy you to find one real, actual kid hater in the entire advisor/SF community. Seriously, I would pay money to see that.

      For a minute…for a while…They’ll see men for the first time who don’t get drunk and sleep all day while women toil, hide behind women and children, and run at the first sign of trouble.

      And it DOES leave an impact on them even if the mission doesn’t “succeed” or make MSNBC.
      They will remember. So…yeah…get over yourself buddy.

      • DP says:

        “But I openly defy you to find one real, actual kid hater in the entire advisor/SF community.”

        I never made or implied this. Everybody is missing the point. Yes our armed forces participates in philanthropic endeavors, read: hearts and minds. However, the majority of the expenditures, training and personnel are used in the further propagation of the global war on terror, which has made a giant cluster F*** out of the middle east (well it was not great to begin with, but we have not improved things with our presence at all.)

        My original post referred to the irony behind a SF operator armed to to the teeth parachuting in at the prayer request of a child. He is NOT going to check for cavities when he finally makes the LZ.

        As the global war on terror drags on and we continue to tally up the cost in lives lost, families destroyed (on both sides), national treasure spent, and environmental damage*, it is important for everybody to consider the costs and ask if was truly worth it, or do we have to fall back to justify our actions on oxymoronic and frankly unrelated key words like “enduring freedom” or “spreading democracy” and other lofty abstract ideals.

        *5.4 TRILLION projected through 2021 and 66,000 casualties (US)

        • Terry B. says:


          I can see that you are a glass more than half empty guy.

          We (the US) have not made a mess of the Middle East. You are giving us way more credit than we deserve. The Middle East is a mess because of unresolved historical issues within the Islamic culture.

          Islam has never had a bloody Reformation like Christianity did centuries ago. Islam has never resolved the Shia / Sunni schism the way Protestants and Catholics had too.

          Despots and tyrants along with ignorance and poverty have suppressed these issues for centuries. And in the past we in the West had the luxury of ignoring those far away lands and distant troubles.

          But modern communication systems, the internet and social media, an economically interconnected and interdependent world and progress in general have changed all of that.

          Those who practice the Islamic faith still have to reconcile a 7th Century ideology with a 21st Century world for themselves. And much of that will involve blood and fire. But unfortunately, we cannot ignore their cultural angst.

          Because make no mistake about it. If we “leave them alone” they will still come for us sooner or later. So the truth, whether we like it or not, is that we need to deal with them now before their capacity to deliver violence to our shores increases.

          But to the point of this piece and some of the other commenters, I have personally witnessed many times American military personnel risking their lives to eliminate the bad guys in far away lands AND protecting local civilian lives.

          So please try not to be so cynical about what your military does everyday to keep those rabid wolves away from your door and every little girls door.


          • DP says:

            All good points. The complexities of politics in the middle east are far too convoluted to discuss in this limited amount of space. All I am saying is that we need to consider the ramifications of our actions. Many of those “rabid wolves” you refer to were created by our own military interventions, and subsequent collateral damages. If we reversed the roles, I would expect you would feel the same way, and would become one of those rabid wolves you speak of.

            As a nation living above the poverty line (many of us) and blessed with the ability to think critically about more than where our next meal is coming from, we have a responsibility to consider how our military interventions affect those around us, and why we seem to have a never ending supply of people hell bent on doing us harm.

            • Terry B. says:


              You base premise is flawed. There is no moral equivalence between us and ISIL or Boko Haram et al.

              The vast majority of the victims of those “wolves” have always been their defenseless and innocent neighbors.

              Literally thousands of their fellow Muslims for every Westerner those terrorists target and manage to kill.

              That was in fact true even in Afghanistan and Iraq when US and Coalition Forces were there in the tens of thousands.

              Since killing their neighbors in no way “hurts” the West or “scares us away”, it is clearly the local populations they are trying to control with their violence.

              Having spent a great deal of time in the region before and after 911, I can assure you that would be their enduring intent whether we had ever intervened there or not.

              And no, I don’t think I would start slaughtering those innocents around me if “the roles were reversed” as you suggest. I don’t think you would either.


            • Disco says:

              All I know is that there are a lot of planted men, who cost millions to train, who had families and lives of their own who are not here exactly because of The Children.

              Everyone is macho…Commanders will parrot mission first….politicians will cite ‘broad goals’…armchair warriors will bring up ‘ramifications’.

              But those guys really DID fight, kill, and die for someone else’s kid.

              I mean…it’s even in the freaking motto
              De Oppresso Liber

              To Free The Oppressed.

              And they DO NOT take that motto lightly.
              Maybe you’re just a jerk? Ever consider that?
              Like not a diss but really.

              • DP says:


                It’s difficult when somebody asks you to think critically about some of the ideals you hold near and dear. However part of being a mature and fully functioning adult is the ability to be introspective and consider alternative view points, even if you don’t agree with them. The ability to have a cogent conversation without resorting to name calling (jerk/troll) is essential.

                This conversation is obvious tied to high emotions as you are correct when you say:

                “But those guys really DID fight, kill, and die for someone else’s kid.”

                This is precisely WHY it is so important that we be careful and think critically before pledging our national treasure both financial and in in human life. If we determine that our reason for being in a place has less to do with freedom for the oppressed and more to do with American imperialism then the sacrifice of our young people is even more incongruous.

                Many (not all) of the armed forces recruit young people directly out of high school. These kids have very little education and their world view is often limited to their experiences around them. Part of the initial stages of boot camp include getting ones haircut and dressing everyone the same in an effort to indoctrinate people into the army culture. You give up your ability to make decisions on where and how you live based on your superior officers strategies and tactics.

                Ultimately this discussion is academic, as once you are in the service you are stuck following the chain of command or you risk insubordination. That’s why its imperative that we as a nation and our leaders in the forces, who can commit resources to areas rethink our involvement in certain areas of the globe.

                • Riceball says:

                  All branches of the US military recruits kids straight out of high school but the people in Army Special Forces are not fresh out of high school 18 year olds. They’re on the slightly older side, SF requires you to be at least a Sgt. before applying, and are usually at least double volunteers, they volunteered for the Army and then SF but any number of them will have also been in Airborne and/or the Rangers before trying out for and becoming SF. So while, yes, we should be careful about where we choose to send our troops out into harm’s way. when we send the SF we’re not sending out naive 18 year olds with little life experience.

                  • Jon, OPT says:

                    Dude your info is old, I’ve been in SF 16 years, there are guys on teams not old enough to drink, the 18X program still exists (they make E5 durubg the Q Course), and the average SF guy is far younger than what was found 15 years ago. All SF are considered triple volunteers: Army, Airborne, and SF are the three things they volunteered to do, that is a really old saying. That doesn’t mean they don’t have great seniors over them, you are just stating incorrect or older data.

                    The rest of this I’m staying out of, there’s way too much gray area in your debate to state anything as absolute fact, and some of it spills over into the realm of not being intended for public discussion.

                    Jon, OPT

            • Mike Nomad says:

              “The complexities of politics in the middle east are far too convoluted to discuss in this limited amount of space.”

              I don’t think it is a complex issue at all, when people are willing to acknowledge The Source: G.B. Government’s geopolitical gerrymandering, in an attempt to ensure local populations would spend more time fighting each other, and not against their Colonial Betters.

              • Jaw says:

                Don’t lay it all at G.B’s feet. Certainly they can have some of the blame but there are a lot of middle eastern old timers that have no love for the Turks and how they ruled the region. Islamic sects were fighting each other before the Turks showed up if you want to go back even further.

              • Riceball says:

                The ME became gerrymandered long before G.B., like Jaw says, it dates back all the way to the Ottoman Turks who controlled much of the region back when there was such a thing as the Ottoman Turk Empire. Later, after the OT empire was broken up various European nations decided to carve up the remains with little to no regard about ethnic and religious divisions within the region. It’s the same way with Africa, where there’s all sorts of ethnic strife because of the way the borders of the various African nations were drawn up. Of course, even if the borders had been drawn up differently it doesn’t mean that things would have been peaceful, all one has to do is look at the former Yugoslavia to see how well that worked, without a strong leader to keep all of the rival factions in check they will dig out old age old grievances and enmities and continue where they left off before they were being kept in check.

    • Bill says:

      One of the stories behind the Berlin Airlift was the Candy Bombers, an off-the-books operation. You are at least partially right – it is all politics, because I bet there are countless guys and girls who wanted to be let off leash when photos came out of Kurdish kids gassed by Saddam way back when. And while they might not have cool pictures, .mil medical units have deployed everywhere from the Ebola outbreak in Africa to Appalachia, for the kids. There are kids here in the US, with no ties to the military, whose first trip to the dentist was courtesy of a Guard, Reserve or active unit.

  3. Thatguy says:

    Awesome pic

    • Bill says:

      Photoshop should be illegal. While the base layer may be an original photo, someone went WAY overboard with effects. Too many good photos are ruined by somebody trying to make them great and failing miserably.

  4. Joe says:

    DP: Troll of the Month

    • DP says:

      Joe – cool aid drinker of the month.

      TLB – thank you for your service and candor.

  5. Ex Coelis says:

    Chris – good one! The header and subtext message are absolutely right-on!!! Personally(all the poly-ticks aside) – I like the image of the descending Airborne warrior and the message it conveys. Tango’s take note: time to start drowning in your own sweat…

    • Jon, OPT says:

      Ironically people use the word “tango” to describe terrorists, it is actually the official Army SQI for Delta Operator, yes that is open source info. I get a snicker out of this since it is pretty much only civvies who use that name.

      Jon, OPT