So you think you know what it is like to be an ETT?

So do you think you know what an ETT (embedded training team) member does? ETTs have been the true tip of the spear in Afghanistan since Task Force Phoenix was first stood up in 2002. Task Force Phoenix and the ETT teams were initially charged with standing up, training, mentoring and assisting the Afghanistan National Army. The first mentoring was done by the active duty 10th Mountain Division. After Iraq kicked off in 2003, it was realized that the mission would need to be transitioned to the National Guard as there were not enough active duty forces to do the Phoenix mission in addition to the other ones they were being tasked.

The mission of training and empowering a country’s indigenous Army has always been a mission of the Special Forces and what they have mastered over the last 40 years. However there was not enough of them either, so National Guard was tapped. However if there were a 2nd best option to Special Forces doing the mission, then it was the National Guard. The soldiers in a National Guard unit have just left being a civilian and will soon return to it. They know and understand the basics of COIN, long before it became a buzz-word and well before it became a standard part of our doctrine. The National Guard soldiers bring with them a mixture of civilian skills which are vital to the mission as many of the ETTs are very far downrange and must provide for their own life-support. There is little to no support from higher headquarters at all. So the skills of carpenter, plumber, HVAC, mechanic, school teacher, etc., etc. all are transferable to the mission of being forward deployed on a small FOB or COP with no support and almost no other Americans with you. In 2007, Task Force Phoenix took over the mentoring and advising of the Afghanistan National Police with PMTs (Police Mentoring Teams).

Famed WWII history author, James F. Christ who is known for his novels about the small but important Marine Paratroopers during the battles in the Pacific has now taken up a new focus for his writing. James is in the process of writing a 10-book series on ETTs in Afghanistan and very important, but unknown battles that have happened there since 2003. His first two books are available and can be downloaded for the Kindle or purchased from HERE or HERE. You can also learn more about the books at the publisher’s website at

I have read both of these books cover to cover, along with the next one in the series that is not yet published. They are all easy-reads and will suck you right into reading them non-stop until you are finished. There is no building up of characters, there is no plot development, all becuase there is no need. James takes you right into the ETT team, and before long you get to know the individual soldiers, how they act in combat, etc. If they have dialects or accents, James writes in a way so you can hear the accent as you read. I relate these books to the famed book Blackhawk Down (which the movie was based on). I say this becuase just like Blackhawk Down, James’s books start right before the battle, take you through the battle and then wrap up soon after the battle is over. The entire book is about the battle itself.

The battles are huge and the odds are stacked up against the American forces (most of which are National Guard ETTs). As you read either Morghab Canyon or The Boneyard, you will be amazed at how out-numbered and how brave the American soldier are and you will even be more amazed that more US and ANA forces were not slaughtered. The ingineuity, initiative and drive to survive by these soldiers is amazing. 

I have interviewed James twice on You Served Radio (you can hear the latest interview on You Served Radio here, and after talking to him then and on multiple one-on-one phone conversations, I am convinced he is one of the most knowledgeable civilians about Afghanistan that has never actually been to the country. He has spent so many hours interviewing ETTs for these books that he has truly become immersed into what it is like to be an ETT and in my opinion earned an honorary ETT title if there were such a thing.

I have told James and his publisher that if these books are not finished and published that it would be a dis-service to all ETTs, past and present. I have circulated several of his books to other past ETTs to get their opinions and the response has been 100% that “he gets it” and “this is the best book ever written about ETTs”.

I recently heard back from Vampire 6 from and his response to James’s writings were

“This book is awesome! It definitely needs to be out there for people to read. I think every ETT has a story like this, …. While reading this I could identify with these guys and felt like they were just like guys on my team.  Truly awesome book!”

So if you have been an ETT/PMT, are an ETT/PMT, will be an ETT/PMT or you are a family member or friend of a past, present, future ETT/PMT then you need to go to and get these books. I cannot stress enough how accurate these books are and how well they will educate you as to what it is like to be on the “Tip of the Spear, but at the end of the line”

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