CCW Safe Podcast – Episode 103: Kris “Tanto” Paronto
This week Rob and Phillip are joined by Kris “Tanto” Paronto. Kris is a former Army Ranger, Blackwater contractor and CIA GRS who was on the ground in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. He is the co-author of 13 Hours in Benghazi, the author of The Ranger Way and The Patriot’s Creed. He has started a new venture in E3 Firearms Association.
For more info on E3 visit: https://www.e3firearmsassociation.com/
About Kris “Tanto” Paronto:
“Tanto” as he is affectionately known in security contracting circles – is a former Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and a private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. He also worked with the US Government’s Global Response Staff conducting low profile security in high threat environments throughout the world..
Kris was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012, helping to save over 20 lives while fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for over 13 hours. Kris and his fellow brothers-in-arms story is told in the book 13 Hours written by Mitchell Zuckoff.
Kris was born in Alamosa, Colorado, and obtained his Associate Degree from Dixie College (now Dixie State University) in St. George, Utah, Bachelor’s Degree from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, and Master’s Degree from The University of Nebraska at Omaha. H e served 4 years in the US Army and an additional 4 years in the US Army National Guard; reaching the rank of Sergeant, then becoming a commissioned officer in 2003. He started contracting for Blackwater Security Consulting in 2003, and continued to deploy on various security contracts, including the Global Response Staff, until 2013.
Learn more at https://kristantoparonto.com/
Rob High: Hi, I want to welcome everybody to the CCW Safe Podcast. I’m Rob High, here with my co-host Phil Naman. Today, we are honored with a really special guest. We got Kris Paronto. Some of you guys know his story. Some of you guys know the story but you don’t know him, and we’ll get into that a little bit today. Kris, thank you so much for jumping on and joining us, brother.
Kris Paronto: Oh, no thank you, and forgive me again-
Phillip Naman: I don’t think he was jumping.
Kris: I was trying to jump. I was jumping on my good leg. Thank you for letting me just do it out of my bed here with all these pillows and stuff. I got my ice in my knee. Guys, I can’t thank you enough.
Phillip: Let’s explain that for the people who just came on here. Nobody’s over there feeding him grapes for the family for anything like that.
Kris: Oh, are you kidding me?
Phillip: He just had a major knee injury this week. He is so tough. He’s still coming on this show to do a battle of wits with Rob here. Not a battle of wits with me but with Rob. We appreciate your time and your service, buddy.
Kris: Thank you, sir. No, definitely. You know what my wife said when I text– I called her, and then I can’t get hold of her. I texted her, I said, “Yes, I blew my knee out.” She goes, “Shit, ranger, rub some dirt on it.” Seriously, I got the text. That’s the love I get in my house. Ain’t nobody feeding me grapes, man. Not going to happen.
Rob: For those of you that aren’t aware, Kris was one of the guys that was at the embassy in Benghazi. We’re coming on that 10-year anniversary right now, but absolute incredible heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, really. Kris will tell you guys, when it gets to a point like that, you fight like hell. There’s no quit, there’s no stop. Phil and I talk about training and mindset and understanding your mission and that kind of thing, but this takes that to a whole entirely different level.
Kris, give us a rundown on your upbringing. Where’d you grow up? Your background, all that kind of stuff.
Kris: Sure. My upbringing had a huge part in where my life is going. I grew up in Alamosa, Colorado is where I was born but my family, my grandfather and grandmother– I didn’t know my grandmother, grandfather on my dad’s side. They died when he was 1 year old. My dad didn’t even know his parents, but I knew, of them, my grandfather on my dad’s side was [unintelligible 00:02:46] I’m sorry. He got shot down, and that’s how he passed away. He was shot down on a mission.
I thought that was one of the coolest things when I was a little kid. My dad gave me his Purple Heart, his little medal. I didn’t know what it was but I loved that thing. In fact, I still love that thing. It was like one of the coolest things in the world. I don’t know if I got into military mindset then or not. I just knew that this was an awesome award, a Purple Heart, and maybe that lead me down that road. I don’t know, subliminally, maybe it did.
On my mom’s side, my grandfather and grandmother, they were pickers, they came over from Mexico. That had a huge influence on me growing up as I can look back on it now because they never complained. They never said, “We got a short end of the stick because of our race.” I’m Hispanic, and they never said “Oh, man, we’re Mexican. We don’t–” No, nothing.
I never heard anything out of their mouths, but you work hard. “Work hard, things are going to go well. Work hard, you’re going get yourself moved up in whatever you want in life. Work hard.” It’s the same analogies of the positive analogies that we just don’t hear anymore because we’re more inclined to hear the negative stuff of that it’s somebody else’s fault.
It was never. With my parents and my grandparents, oh, no. “You didn’t make it? Maybe you need to work a little harder.” That was how I was brought up, and my father hugely brought up because of his hardships, very poor as well. It just was always, “Work hard. Work hard, you’ll excel. Work hard so they pick you. If you don’t get picked on a team–” I usually got this from my dad. “You didn’t get picked on the team, well, then work harder so they cannot not pick you on a team. Doesn’t matter what you look like, your name is.”
My grandfather said the same things, “Makes no difference, hijo. You work hard, they won’t say anything but that you worked harder than everybody else, and you’re going get picked.” That was in me growing up throughout elementary school, high school. I played college football. I think there’s a reason that I got a scholarship to play football. I actually did very well in athletics.
When I got into the army, the mindset of never quit, it was already there. It hadn’t blossomed yet like the Ranger Battalion can do. It can make you blossom, or it can make you fold and quit like that. It taught me that never quit, you can even go to the next level. As long as you don’t stop moving forward, the only way– We have a saying “Room clear, find work.” You’re always finding work. Never stop till the op’s done. It’s the same thing. I’m always just finding work, get better, move forward, even if it’s baby steps as long as you’re moving forward, you’re going to get better and get better results.
Phillip: Kris, can you go back over that? Find work, move forward, [unintelligible 00:05:25] that out. [crosstalk]
Kris: Sure. That’s why I love firearms training because firearms training is such an analogy of being successful in life. You’re always finding work. We’ll use the CQB adage of finding work. When I first started to learn how to clear rooms at Ranger Battalion, which Rangers learn from some of the best guys, and then they bring unit guys down, the Delta guys down, or they bring the RRD guys down or the senior guys from Ranger Battalion to teach us. It was always never stand still, never stopped moving. Always find work. Always find a corner to clear, always find area for security. Always look for a threat in a room.
You do not stop doing that, because once you stop– You know Urban, and room clear, and CQB environments, building environments, it’s not even a 360, it’s a 720 environment. You cannot stop looking and not stop finding work. To me, when I heard that, it was such an analogy just to life itself. If we stop moving, and we stopped finding work, not necessarily finding work as in a job, but finding things to do to better ourselves, whether it’s reading a book, where there’s taking online classes at least from Firearms Associates, I had to throw that in there. That’s finding work. Whether it’s even just going and cleaning your house for the day so the house looks better.
You’re finding things to better yourself and to better your position in life. It does transition to being even more successful because employers and bosses see that. They see a man– We call them self-starters. You can’t teach a person to be a self-starter. They either have it in them or they don’t. I disagree. I think you can’t teach them at an early age with parents and grandparents. That’s where I learned mine.
Once they get to the job, you really can’t teach them, I agree with that. That’s what the finding work adage is coming from. That is strictly from Ranger instructors telling me to find work in the Urban training we used to do and then also the CQB training and then the World War stuff that would be on, then, of course, it definitely applies. You see how it applies when you do the real war stuff.
That being said, I just took it and I, like, “Man, this is something that should be an analogy of life itself if you want to be successful.” It started at that early age for my grandfather and my grandmother because, you know why? Because they always found work. They got up every day. My grandfather started as a picker. When he passed away, he owned his own farm. If that’s not the freaking American dream, I don’t know what it is. If that’s not that shows you the value of hard work, I don’t know what does.
I’ve had people ask me about race, like, “Hey, did you ever–” I look Hispanic. I think I got a little bit more Navajo Indian in me than I look Hispanic. That being said, I never was, “You know what? You have never faced racism or nothing like that.” Well, that’s because my grandparents never allowed me. It wasn’t in the household. That wasn’t in our vocabulary.
We were never going to blame somebody else for a shortcoming that we had. We were going to figure out what that shortcoming was, work on it, improve, and then if we ever get in that position where that shortcoming might show itself again, it won’t because we’ve practiced and we’ve trained and we know that, “Hey, I’m not going to let that obstacle, whatever beat me before, it’s not going to beat me again.”
Honestly, that’s firearms training, in a nutshell, if you look at it, to get better, you just got to get better.
Rob: That is so good, brother. It’s the whole built-in– You raise a kid, and if you’re not doing that by the time those kids are 8 and 10 years old, not only have you done an injustice to them, but you’ve broken them. You haven’t really given them the foundation to be successful. I was very fortunate to have a good family unit. My parents were both self-motivators, they did their own thing.
I come from both sides of my family were military people or law enforcement people. Athletically, my siblings, we were allowed to do anything we wanted to do, but once you start, there’s no quitting.
Kris: You finish. You’ve got to finish. “What you start, you finish,” that’s what my dad always said too.
Rob: You don’t like it next year, you don’t have to do it again, but this year, you started it, you’re going to see it through. There’s a lot of lessons in that. I don’t know why, mine was, early, early on, was wrestling. I think I really enjoyed the fact that not only was there nobody to take the credit from my work and my results, there’s also nobody to blame it on. It’s on you, make it really happen, make it work. I also– I played football and things like that. The team aspects as well, it was such a great environment to grow up in.
I’m a kid from the ’60s so I really– a lot of my coaches and things like that these are guys that were coming out of the Vietnam era and those kinds of things. Different mindsets and we’ve become– we want our kids to always have it better than what we had it. At the same time, you won’t find my kids [unintelligible 00:10:52] crying in the morning because they don’t have something because I don’t have a job, I don’t have this. There’s work to be had everywhere all the time.
Kris: A lot. A lot right now.
Rob: [unintelligible 00:11:01].
Phillip: Same thing with ours growing up they weren’t allowed to quit anything. ‘I’m bored’ was like a death nail because when they said that, man, the work came out. I think I heard that twice from them in their entire life because after that they knew just find something to do before dad picks it.
Kris: I got [unintelligible 00:11:23] mode. I got clean your room. You’re bored. I know you can clean your room right now. Go ahead and go do that.
Phillip: I had a nephew came and lived with us– bad family situation. He’d lived with us for his high school years and he’d get to that– he was a little older than my sons. He was 15, 16 years old. I said, “Go for a run. Don’t come back if you’d done three miles. You need to get your energy out, go. Because you stay here, I’m going to pound you flat. Go run.” He ended up becoming a great marine, and he ran all the time after that. It was like he had to find a release for that angst energy at age 16 and running was a great idea for it.
Kris: Oh, it does. I obviously not doing it right now, but I see myself as a spiritual runner. I love running just because it clears my head where I started from. I was a very good runner in the army– actually, I could run– I’m very proud to say I could run fast. I could do five-minute miles. I could do two miles right around 10 something. The thing is wise because I think it was a lot of it. I had a lot of energy too.
I was always told, “Get outside there. Go get outside. Go waste your energy outside. We don’t need you in here.” I did, I spent a lot of my time not just playing football, but just being out in farm. That was the blessing of being on a farm as well. I could go and at that time in our lives too my parents could just let me go and I’d take my lab and I’d be– they knew I was going to be safe and I’d walk a mile to the Colorado River.
Phillip: You said that was the Alamos, Colorado.
Kris: Alamosa, Colorado.
Phillip: It’s down there by Blanca, Fort Blanca.
Kris: Fort Blanca, Mount Blanca, Great Sand Dunes right there on the Sangre de Cristo Range. Beautiful place to grow up. My grandfather’s farm, when he got his farm, he moved to Western Colorado, which is in Delta. You’re still up by the ground.
Phillip: Where was this western town?
Kris: Delta, Colorado it’s great too.
Phillip: Yes, yes. I know Mount Blanca or I know– yes, Mount Blanca. I know Delta we hunt out of Montrose all the time.
Kris: Yes, yes, that’s it. It is a beautiful place to grow up. Growing up there, and again, the time I could just take my 22 and this is what I loved. People ask me this as well since we’re talking about, we’re on the CCW on the podcast. How do you train kids anymore? Honestly, the hunter safety courses that we used to take as kids I think as an entry-level are still the perfect courses to do. I tell guys you don’t need to invent something new because we have Instagram and you want to be the first to do– training is training. Safety is safety, hunter safety, you don’t need to change that. That was perfect. That was the first time I could get my 22 is I had to go do a hunter safety course.
My dad said, “No. You can have your pellet gun and your BB gun, but no real– it’s called no real bullets until you took on a safety course.” I still remember that course. I still remember the safety. I still remember some of the breakdown stuff we did as far as breaking and it may have been an extra thing for us but he broke down a little 22. I still remember the hunter safety course. I remember the importance of safety how it was stressed because the firearms is an inherently dangerous object especially if it’s in the wrong person’s hand.
In the right person’s hands, it can be an extremely helpful tool and can save lives. Where did that all start? When I was 10 and I went through a hunter safety course and I still think that’s the best way to train new kids coming in. It was very unintimidating, nonintimidating, was very, very– honestly, I had fun. It all started just growing up and from my grandfather and the value of hard work and knowing you had to do something if you wanted to seek that reward. My reward was the 22. What did my dad required me to do? I had to go take a hunter safety course. Why aren’t we still doing that today? I don’t even know if we do.
Phillip: They’re actually illegal in California for years.
Kris: Oh, that’s– love politics. Love politics and politicians. To me, that was my introduction to really firearms and guns but I didn’t get into it. I wasn’t a huge hunter growing up. I did some bird hunting pheasants because– and then gophers the prairie dogs. That used to be the great prairie dog hunt in Nucla, Colorado. Because it’s harmful to the prairie dogs that are not overrunning the whole western side of the state it’s not allowed anymore. Really guns and things where I started to get more involved of course is when I joined the Army.
That was out of all the things we did in basic training, the two fun things I ever had doing was going to church on Sunday because I knew I could get away from the drill sergeant. Brought God more in my life, honestly. Also, the week that you spend out doing your M16 which at that time M16, 82, I don’t know what they do now. Qualifications and to get that badge that I was so I want that expert. I want that 36 out of 40. I still remember the feelings of that shooting and how it just fit.
I grab that M16 I shot. I didn’t, I shot 35 the first time I got like, “Gosh, I’ve missed it by one.” I just remember how fun it was and that’s when firearms– of course, I had a RIP Contract, which is now called the Option 40 contract to go to Ranger Battalion. of course, I was going to get into it more and I knew that but it was something I looked forward to so I could get through the crappy basic training parts. I went through a 95 when they were still hazing the heck out of us. You need that. I definitely believe you need the beatdowns. Not beatdowns. I’m not talking early [unintelligible 00:17:06] armony full metal jacket. You needed that-
Phillip: To break them down to make them into a team.
Kris: You had to and they were physical with us. I never got hit, but would they grab us, and yes, of course, they did. It was well fricking deserved. I saw a New York kid get knocked on his because he smarted off to a drill sergeant on the first day of basic training. Did it make my butthole go like this and did I go, “Oh, my gosh? All right, mind my Ps and Qs, remember what your dad said. Discipline. Have discipline– mind your peace.” Yes, it did. That first-day, boom that New York kid flew across that desk. The drill sergeant started just came around he did, he choked him.
I tell you what, we had probably had the best platoon in the whole company the rest of the time because we were like holy– I was just like, “Holy crap. I didn’t think this stuff still happened.” I know that incident helped me get better because it did make me refocus on and understand what discipline was. Also be like, hey, discipline was, and how important it was just to pull the stuff I learned growing up. Also, situation– not situational worse more so well situational awareness to know where the drill sergeant was. You when to get away with something.
The discipline to hey, attention to detail. Attention to detail. You don’t– Rob and Phil, I didn’t think of that at the time, but now that I’m out and I’m able to think back at it, I can see that’s what they were going for and that’s what they were getting out of me. In an orthodox way, unorthodox or orthodox however you want to look at it, it was the right way for us at that point in time. To say that it didn’t help me on my 10 years of deploying overseas, it did not help me when I was in Benghazi to never quit, no, it helped me. I needed that. I needed to see that.
It did help me and become a stronger person. When I really needed it to not quit so we could find a way to get out of there alive and help the team, it was there, ingrained. That’s where it starts. I think the kids miss that. You don’t need to beat the kids, but you do need the discipline. You can’t accept that when somebody says they’re a cat. You got to tell the kid, “No, you’re not, you’re not a cat. You are what biology tells you to be.” I do believe the biology, of course, I believe in God.
This is what you are. You’re a man, you’re a woman. That’s what you are. That’s what you are. Let’s stop making it okay to just be whatever you want because that’s not how life works. It’s not going to treat you that way. That boss is sure as hell is it going to tell you, “You identify as a cat? Yes, that’s the person we’re looking for. Come on over. We want to hire you.”
Phillip: I was just wondering if they’re identifying as a cat, do they have to have sexual-identified litter boxes? This if for boy cats, this is for girl cats, what do we have to do in the workforce for that?
Kris: Honestly, I think people have to like, oh, that doesn’t happen in small town, Kansas, that’s why I’m saying this is because it’s happening in one of our small towns here in in Kansas, small town, Kansas. They have to have a litter box in the bathroom. Now, maybe they’ve addressed it since then.
Kris: Yes. They might have-
Phillip: I was making that up.
Kris: I know, but that’s-
Phillip: I was just trying to make it up, I didn’t know I was repeating history. I was trying to be ridiculous.
Kris: That’s how ridiculous things have gotten because we have failed at teaching hard work and discipline and that, hey, bad things happen, obstacles might happen. You can get over them but if we’re okay to say– if we’re finding reasons to okay it being– not different, we’re all different, but okay to be– I don’t want to say okay to be a cat but that’s essentially what it is.
Phillip: Somebody okayed it. There was a supervisor that said-
Kris: We’re failing our youth just on the basics of overcoming adversity.
Rob: The same thing for me is, is to just tell somebody go grab me an egg from a rooster or bring me a bucket of milk from a bull. When you can do those things, I’ll listen to your argument, but until that, well, I’m just going to stay old fashioned.
Phillip: Rob, somebody authorized that action, somebody condoned it to the point of we’re going to start putting litter boxes in the restrooms.
Kris: The reason I bring that up, we kind of went sideways there. Why I thought that is because I thought about my grandmother if I’d done something like that, and how she would– oh my gosh, just my grandmother, it wouldn’t happen in the house, it’d be done. Like, “No, you are who you are. You’re a boy, you’re a man, what are yours? Start acting like it.” [inaudible 00:22:12] but it’s necessary and it is. That’s why I believe in going in the military and wittiling me that way to be that person or situational orange[unintelligible 00:22:22] going through hard times, but overcoming those hard times, going through a divorce whilst in basic training.
Man, I got that– I got the Dear John letter, and still having to make it through basic training. That’s obstacles and adversity that I don’t think I would have been able to make it through and recover from if I hadn’t had that hard discipline really parental figures, not authority figures, parental figures. They love me to death, I still got I’ll do a lot of stuff when I was growing up that I wanted to. I wasn’t locked in my bedroom. I didn’t have to have hospital corners on my bed but I had a lot of discipline, positive discipline.
Also negative reinforcement if I needed to. When I shot my brother with the Daisy BB gun, I got my ass spanked with the Daisy BB rifle by my mother. I deserved that. Taught me again, don’t shoot your brother with the BB gun.
Phillip: When your mom’s home.
Kris: When my mom’s home. Exactly.
Rob: Guys, I just need to pop in here. Phil, can you fix your camera focus?
Kris: It’s a little blurry, I don’t know.
Kris: It might just be the internet.
Rob: Sometimes we get a little low on that.
Phillip: It’s my gel shot so I look a little fabulous.
Kris: It is. [laughs]
Rob: Great. Thanks, guys, continue.
Kris: Yes, growing as I went in and then military, first time I was in the military I think we might have even talked about this for the last time. I was kicked out of the military. I did something really stupid, I did. I got that Dear John letter and I went off the rails when I went home on block leave. Yes, I was going to ambush the guy she was screwing around with. I think God loves the sinners, God loves the screwed up. Before I got there, I got stuck in a mud bog. They were building houses where his house was and I had a Bronco II which– you remember the sound of Bronco II, four wheeler my ass-
Phillip: Not a Bronco.
Kris: No, it’s not. As I’m going there, I got stuck in the mud because they were doing a lot of construction, it was wintertime but it was wet in that western slope, I was in Grand Junction. I thought about it and went back home and I thought of myself even a bigger failure. Like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t keep a marriage, someone’s cheating on me. I can’t even carry out this which would have been an–” obviously would have been murder. Come on, I’m not going to say it anymore that it would have but I can’t carry this out either.
I had started taking pills and drinking Jack Daniels until I just couldn’t feel myself anymore and I called my– God bless Ranger buddies, man. I called my buddy Matt who was home on block leave as well, we joined together. As I was an E4 there, he actually went the commission route, he was the first lieutenant at– I became a first lieutenant Ranger Battalion and then a captain. I called him, he was on block leave too and I said, “Brother, I’ve done some stupid shit.” I said, “This is what I did.”
Of course he rushes over, I get to the hospital, I get my stomach pumped. Long story short, get back to the 2nd Ranger Battalion. I tell you what, I thought they were going to ostracize me, I really did because you’re Ranger Battalion, there’s no tolerate– You don’t have any tolerance for weakness, there’s no tolerance for screw ups, there’s no tolerance for being stupid, especially something like that. Those guys rallied around, they moved me to the barracks, they rallied around me, they took– that’s why I love Ranger Battalion. I love being a Ranger because in at one time we’re honestly that’s where weakness truly did show in my head. It did, I gave up.
They didn’t push me aside. They came rallied around me and said, “We got you, man. You’re going to be fine.” Because of what I did, though, and I had to tell the military investigators, I had to tell the health care professionals at Madigan Army hospital. I was guide,[unintelligible 00:26:10] they said, “Well, you can’t be in the military anymore.” I don’t know why First Sergeant Grippy, who was later Sergeant Major Grippy, he was my first sergeant at the time, tremendous Ranger, Hall of Fame Ranger and then Captain Pete in the camera who’s now I think he is major general the [unintelligible 00:26:26] camera now.
They managed to get me an honorable discharge, something that she didn’t deserve but I got it, that saved my life. To this day, I say those guys saved my life because they allowed me to fix my stuff [unintelligible 00:26:39] my grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, “Fix your shit, boy, get back upon the horse, you fell off, fix it.” I did. I applied for grad school is the only thing I could do with what– I got out with an honorable discharge, but it was also I had a [unintelligible 00:26:52] ricotta three, which means you really screwed up. You shouldn’t get dishonorable discharge but if you ever want to get back in, it’s going to be next to be impossible.
It was really hard for me to get a job and I didn’t want to stay Grand Junction and get a regular– I didn’t, I didn’t want a regular job. I applied for grad school. Like I said, keep finding work, better yourself, better yourself, better yourself. I went to grad school. For the next two years, while I had to wait for the two-year timeframe before I could re-enlist in the military, I got my master’s degree. Again, that adage of just finding work and getting better, it was still there.
I actually got my master’s degree, reenlisted and I went back and I did it all over again. I did everything basic again, I did airborne again, I did Ranger indoctrination again, went back to– I don’t know how I got to the same company, I went right back to 2nd Ranger Battalion, went back to Bravo Company, I went to school, got my tab and life was going great, man. Things are fantastic and I got slotted to be an officer.
I went from getting kicked out of the military to now I’m going to become a commissioned officer. Honestly, I saw that to be a little ironic, to be honest, but I did fix myself. I had completely gotten remarried to a wonderful woman that I’m married to right now, hopefully, she’s hearing this. I think she’s in another room. Hopefully, she’s hearing me say this right now because-
Phillip: The other part she should here was a-
Kris: -she’s a wonderful woman.
Phillip: The other thing she should hear was God saved you from the first one because she weighs 300 pounds now.
Kris: That she might, I could be, but I don’t know, it’s a possibility. Honestly, that’s kind of where my life started to– really did, just started to take off but where did that start from? Don’t give up, you work hard, you don’t ever quit.
Exactly. From then on, I did get my commission, I did become an O2 and then I did– we were on a training up in Fort Benning. It was hard, I didn’t feel right, stomach was burning, just didn’t feel good at all. I passed a little gas and I shorted, I thought what I did. Come on, we all done that. If anybody that served in Fort Benning in the summer when you’re dehydrated and just don’t feel right and you don’t want to go one of those would shacks to take a dump, everybody’s done it once or twice but mine is different. I knew when I reached back, I was like, “Well, that’s not good.” It was sticky and it didn’t look like a bunch of blood but I knew there was blood in it. Just didn’t feel right.
Well, I had also colitis, a severe case of it. My guts were rotting away. That was another obstacle honestly that was unexpected. I didn’t see– that was one time where I always looked at God, I did. I looked up and like, “I’ve been through all this. Really? What did I do to deserve?” It was like what did I do to deserve this? You can’t look at it that way. God has reasons and I’m glad He did it, looking back on it now but at the time, it was a very severe case. My guts were completely inflamed, it just looked like road rash on my lower intestines and my colon.
I lost 30 pounds, I want to say in a couple of weeks. I couldn’t eat. Everything just kept going through me. They were massive amounts of Prednisone. I got medically discharged in 2003. I go from all this hard work to come back, and now I’m finally back, and actually I’m becoming a commissioned officer. I’m going to go back to Ranger Battalion as a platoon leader. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere this happens. It was a good prep because when your buddies die out of nowhere and you got to keep fighting, you’ve got to find that from somewhere.
Of course at the time I wasn’t thinking that but now looking back at it, it’s like, “You know what? That was supposed to happen. God did that for a reason. There is a reason,” and I was very blessed for the first year. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I got medical retirement, I got a little bit of money, and I do every month in the military, treats me well and they did.
They took care of me but wasn’t a ton. I got my health back. It took about a year to get my health back. Then I got a call in 2004 from and with a span of 10 minutes, a guy from Blackwater called me, and then a guy from Triple Canopy called me. I didn’t know what they were. The Blackwater guy says, “Hey, do you want to go to Iraq?” I said, “Well, sure, I’d love to, but I’m not in the military anymore. What do you know?” I didn’t know what contractors were.
He goes, “No, we want you to be a contractor in Iraq.” I said, “Well, I don’t build houses, guys. I think you got the wrong guy.” I thought they meant a building contractor. They said, “No, no, no, no. We want you to do security work for us in Iraq. We got your name from a friend that served with you,” a buddy that was a ranger that went to our Blackwater for me. He gave him my name and they said, “Are you–“After that it was off and running.
I was for 10 years, the next 10 years, I’m deploying, I’m with Blackwater. The reason I picked Blackwater over Triple Canopy, I thought they were both excellent. Erik Prince at that time, I thought he was doing an excellent job. Triple Canopy had Lee Van Arsdale, who’s freaking Delta Legend. Both those companies, I don’t think I could have gone wrong with either but I went over with Blackwater and for the next 10 years, I’m Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Yemen, Libya, South America, Central America.
I got to do some really cool things that if, although that adversity didn’t happen or if I’d been in the military– not saying I wouldn’t have been able to do cool things with the Rangers, of course I would’ve but it was perfect for me because there was very little oversight at the time. You really are on your own. You’re flying by the seat of your pants and it was awesome.
Those Wild West days and hey, I’m not going to knock it. We were getting paid. Yes. Those early days, we were making some good money. It’s fun because starting from the beginning, how did that all happen? It all started from being a kid and just tell my grandparents, never let me quit. My mom never let me quit.
My dad, get up back on your horse son, you fell off, get up back on it and keep riding. Then find work, always finding work. It applies in life. Of course it applies to the military operations, but just in life in general. I would never have got to that point if I ever were to feel sorry for myself one time. I wasn’t able to do that because my grandparents and my parents never let me feel sorry for myself.
I think that’s where we have problems today with some of the youth is we allow that or we accept that, or we’re afraid to say, “Hey, you screwed up. Fix it.” Humiliation is a great, great teacher to how to excel just as accommodations are they out of boys are great but also going back to my hometown after getting kicked out, or a Ranger Battalion with my tail between my legs in a small bitty town where everybody knows you. That was humiliating. I never wanted to feel that again.
I think we’re failing our kids by not letting humiliation every once in a while be the teacher but again, that’s comes back to this training. That’s what training is. You miss shots. Dude, I remember running against when I threw around doing a shoot, do you not think everybody [unintelligible 00:34:15] but it’s a joke but that’s part of the training. All right. Bulls down range, can’t take it back. Readjust, and re-fire. Let’s knock it out of the park. I think training, it’s okay to learn and teach and be positive, but there is some training value.
I know for a fact to missing, to not winning, to actually throwing a shot that, believe me, everybody’s going to make fun of, to when he throws a shot, it happens. It’s okay. I don’t have a problem with it. I’m not perfect but that humiliation makes me okay, refocused on you screwed up. What’d you do? Trigger presses wrong. Hold us wrong. Did you not get a good site picture before you press a trigger? It helps me re readjust and re-aim and ref-ire and hit the target the next time.
Phillip: Did your grandmother help you overcome adversity with the phrase says something, “Oh, I don’t know like at this point, Senator, what difference does it make anyway?” Was that your grandmother’s saying?
Kris: Yes, my grandma, if she was alive and she would’ve saw that on TV, Hillary would’ve been, she would’ve grabbed her up by her scruff. Oh, my grandma would’ve went livid. No, our grandma never said anything, what difference does it make? She would always say, “Make the difference. You are the difference. You’d better make it.”
If you didn’t make the difference, then you need to, again, it always comes back. You better work harder. You do the next time. Yes, my grandma was since passed before that happened but I’ll tell you what a weight loss, she wouldn’t have put up with that kind of crap. That’s not her at all. No, no. That lady’s going to get off scott free. She will. It’s just how it’s going to happen but she’ll be judged. I’m not worried about it. God judges, everybody gets judged. I’m okay with that.
Phillip: For those of you who’ve lived under a rock for 10 years, what we’re talking about here, was a little bit of a skirmish in a Wild West town called Benghazi. An altercation, a neighborhood altercation over a soccer game, I think is was the official-
Kris: I think it was, yes.
Phillip: -or video story on that but since I wasn’t there and somebody on this podcast was. Why don’t you tell me what you were telling our viewers, what you were doing out there and what-
Kris: Yes, it happened.
Kris: Well, what we were doing, fish, what we’re doing out there. That’s the official is what it is. It’s a half-truth. We’re always out there trying to find terrorists, even though our chief of base at that time didn’t want to find terrorists. Our job was to do it, was to go find terrorists even though our chief of base wanted nothing to do with finding terrorists because he wasn’t a counter-terrorism officer, he wasn’t a CT, what we call CT guy. Most of the case officers there weren’t CT.
What we were doing there was just honestly, well, what we’re doing there, unofficially, we were getting weapon systems cut off his arms to get him into malicious that were to, we wanted to completely destabilize the region. We’d already destabilized Egypt and even Egypt, it wasn’t due to some video, The riots were going on way before this stupid video came out. Libya definitely there was no video, we didn’t even know, but we were destabilizing the region.
We destabilized Egypt, we helped with the coup, we’d overthrown Gadaffi, which shouldn’t have done, but we did. Anyway, we destabilized that region and then next was going into Syria. We just saw what happened with the Iran-Contra Affair and we saw what happened with the Fast and Furious in Mexico. We couldn’t just give arms to militias, but what could we do? We could give dictators arms to militias under the [unintelligible 00:37:53] of we were going to overthrow this dictator. Let’s get his stockpiles now and secretly move them to militias so they can go ahead and do the assault in Syria and overthrow Assad.
Phillip: How did Syria work out?
Kris: Yes, I think there’s still some fighting though. I know the news doesn’t like to talk about it, but there’s still 10th Mountain Division over there fighting right now fighting terrorists. ISIS is still alive and well. Even our attack in Benghazi, Al-Qaeda is supposed to supposed to be on the run. The majority of the attackers out the 150 or 160 attackers we had that night that hit us, more than half of those guys were Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda in the MAGA rip. Actually al-Zawahiri is the one that okayed the attack. People don’t know that.
I went, I found that out, al-Zawahiri was the guy that actually said, “Hey, you guys go hit that.” That’s huge. If people don’t that are been living on Iraq, that don’t know about the Global War on Terror, dude, that’s the number two guy that’s telling, “Go hit Benghazi, go get the ambassador. We need him, we’re going to–” I’m getting ahead myself. What we’re doing there was unofficially is we’re moving arms. Gaddafi’s arms into “friendly militias” hands. What does-
Phillip: As a patriot who, like our listeners who always believe the US we’re always doing the right thing because that’s hard frame of reference. This is hard to hear.
Kris: It is. It’s hard because and a lot of it is hard to hear, especially some people on the right is hard to hear because some of the people on the right were involved. John McCain was one of the big ones. He actually was in Tripoli. He showed up in Tripoli.
Phillip: He’s not on the right.
Kris: Yes, yes, he’s the one that coined the phrase, what’d he say? The friendly armed militias or friendly terrorist or something like this. he is coined it, like, “Oh my gosh, I’m kidding me. Friendly–” but he was the one that was part of it. John [unintelligible 00:39:43] Speaker Boehner was part of it at that going on. People know a lot about. Then of course, Mike Rogers from Michigan and he’s one of the Republicans that tried to slam us on the first committee. That’s why Benghazi the select committee came about after. People on the ground are doing the right things for the most part. Special operations guys, for the most part, do the right things. I understand there are times when it’s hard to. We knew there for a year and you see your buddies die and die and die. Any person is going to break, they are, and that’s where you do see some atrocities in war. You do. It’s just how it is. I condoned it, I don’t accept it. I’ve never done it.
I’ve been able to control my emotions but I’m not going to say that, man, that guy shouldn’t have killed that person that we thought was a terrorist but we weren’t sure when he just saw his whole squad die a few hours before. You don’t condemn. We try to stop it within ourselves and for the most part, we’re able to do that. That being said, it’s the politicians, they don’t have your back. They’re doing it for agendas. They’re doing it for political reasons. We’re not ever doing it because we want to go find some.
I think the only time really that’s happened, at least in my lifetime was going after Osama bin Laden. That’s what we should have done and going into Afghanistan. We weren’t trying to overthrow Afghanistan or even overthrow the Taliban. We’re trying to find Osama bin Laden, the Taliban just happened to be protecting him. Guess what we’re going to do? Well, you’re all dead because you’re harboring a fugitive that just killed thousands and thousands of people that attacked us.
After that though, it starts to become political, and it starts to become this, money I think every time since then. When you’re on the ground doing the job, I never looked at the politics. I just liked doing my job. I liked working with the person left and right of me. I loved the Brotherhood aspect. I loved that we were killing some terrorists. We were getting some and taking some out but the politics I can’t stand any of it at all.
Phillip: On September 11th, was there a heads up on this attack?
Kris: If you watch the movie, that is right. There was a little sheet that came out a few days prior that said an American facility in Libya will be attacked to be a bull owner to be on the lookout alert. Brother, before that came out, everywhere we were at it seemed like it came out every week. It wasn’t something new. It was like a CYA memo. “Hey, cover our ass so if something gets attacked, we can say that something got attacked even though we have no idea if someone was going to get attacked.”
Phillip: What was the first indication that things were going south?
Kris: Not the gunfire because you get used to the gunfire. It happens all the time. When our TL, GRS wasn’t the first call. First call, he said, “GRS needs you in the team room,” very nonchalant. Didn’t seem like anything. Actually, the guys had thought I’d got us all in trouble again because I used to pick on case officers. They thought we’re getting called in to get dressed down because Tanto played a joke on a case officer. It was 30 seconds later, we get that second call and he said, “GRS, need you in the team room now,” and just the tone. If you’ve been in law enforcement, you’ve been in the military, you know that tone.
The hair on the back of your neck stands up because it’s time. That adrenaline kicks in and that’s when I looked at Boone and he was smiling. It was awesome. I love [unintelligible 00:43:30]. He’s smiling at me and I see what he’s thinking, I know what he’s thinking. I looked right in his eyes and I said, “Man, we get to do some fun tonight.” We headed our gear, we headed up the door, and then all the shooting, you could see where it was coming from because it’s maybe three quarters a mile away if that. I can see the treasures. At that time, we had the advantage of night vision. After Afghanistan, our complete debacle of a pull out. I don’t know if we do anymore.
Phillip: You mean the rearming of the Taliban?
Kris: [crosstalk] Yes, but at that time, we did. They used a lot of treasures. You can see those treasures. Treasure for those that don’t know, it’s a bullet that burns. I’m sure most of your audience knows that.
Phillip: You weren’t at the ambassador’s location when it started?
Kris: We were at our annex which is three-quarters of a mile away. We stayed separately from them and that’s generally how it is if you have facility. You’ll have an annex, and then you’ll have an actual embassy or consulate, or temporary admission facility is what they call this one.
Phillip: The kennel.
Kris: That’s what it was. The reason they call it that is because if you lower it if you degrade it what the name is, that means you have to have less security. They didn’t want to have Fast Company Marines, or they never want to have MSGs there, Marine Security Guards there. That’s why it kept going down in stature. It was an embassy, then it went down to consulate. Then it went down and temporary admission facility because by calling it that, they didn’t have to get in the American security though except for State Department officers which is just a few of them. We saw the firefight and for the next 30 minutes, we tried to get out of there.
Being military and having discipline, all of us were older. Rawn was in his 40s, I was in my 40s, Oz was in his 40s, Take was 39. He was our youngest. All of us, we listened to our leaders. I was saying don’t go. We knew something was wrong and he’d done that before. I said something was wrong not at the cost, we knew something shady was going on because he kept talking on his phone. I just found out and I did know this in fact until talk to my guest on my podcast today that he said we were waiting on some team FIB to take the lead. Today I found out that 17th FED commander that he was talking to on the phone told him after the first five minutes that they were not going to help.
He failed to tell us that, he kept lying to us and saying we’re going to get 17th FED to help out.
Phillip: What is 17th FED?
Kris: That was the militia that was supposed to be friendly to us. We always have that [crosstalk] guard. They may or may not have. We didn’t have much rapport with them but that was his thing. They were supposed to be the local response group for us but for the next 30 minutes, man, it’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. Your adrenaline’s going crazy but you have to take that breath. Again, you have to, just like I said, take a breath, calm down, control that adrenaline, panic, breach, panic. I’ve seen it a million times but you see one courageous person that can calm everybody down and my team was courageous. Nobody was panicked. Everybody was doing their jobs and it calmed me down.
We needed to calm all the case officers down because it was like firecrackers of cats. That does you no good. Over the 30 minutes, the State Department security team, man, they’re just calling us. It’s just pleadings like GRS, that’s what we are, “GRS. GRS, where are you. GRS you need to F and get here. GRS, we need you, GRS we’re dying. GRS the building is on fire.” We’re hearing, “I’m dying.” We can see the firefight and it’s incredible, it is. If you have ever seen a firefight either even with night vision or whatnot at night, it’s awesome. It’s beautiful but that 30 minutes we wait and then finally we get a call from Alex Henderson, he’s a State Department officer.
He has locked himself in their tactical operations center. All the computers, he’s watching this team get decimated. That’s where all the CCTVs are, and he comes across the radio to us, it was like 9:57, almost 10 o’clock. He says, “GRS if you don’t get here, we’re all going to effing die. I saw Tyrone. Tyrone looked like Lee Unitas from 300. Tyrone was huge, Ronan Mostert. He just stuck his arm out like this at the door and I just saw arm about this big come out of this armored car door. I was like, this is awesome. Get a good cover [unintelligible 00:48:08] and we just took off the gate. We stopped to get our interpreter which was a story within itself because I couldn’t find him.
As soon as I stopped the car, I was able to get out and find him and that little guy, he was an interpreter. He wasn’t a combat chap. He’s a linguist. He was the bravest guy we had, no business he had gone with us and he was willing to give up himself. That motivated me.
Phillip: They’ll tell that in the movie.
Kris: That was pretty spot on.
Phillip: When they gave that call, were you actually released or did you guys just go?
Kris: We just went. We booked orders unit. We were reprimanded for that later. We knew we were going to. We didn’t care. At that point, I always have an issue when somebody, and I love my law enforcement guys. I’m friends with a lot of them. I love my military guys but I always have an issue when somebody doesn’t do the right thing because they say they’re going to lose their job. That’s horseshit to me. That’s cop-out. That means [crosstalk]. That’s cowardice to me. I didn’t really believe it.
Phillip: That’s the no-to-guard syndrome. If I didn’t do it I was going to lose my job.
Kris: I was going to lose my job. You’re right, you watch all those stories about the internment camps and the concentration camps. I was going to lose my job, but no horseshit, you do the right thing and that was the right thing to do. You can’t put a price on integrity. Would I have done it if I was on my own? I still probably would have but since I had a team of, at that time, four other guys. Oz was out at a dinner. He wasn’t with us at that point in time because everybody else said it was easy. There was nobody. It was like we’re going. That’s what I remember honestly, the most. I remember a lot of stuff but I remember that feeling the most and just we’re all in this together. We don’t like each other. That’s another thing. We all didn’t like each other. We didn’t. Y’all get along. There’s a misnomer that civilians think that if you’re in special ops, you’re with those teams, you all like each other. Oh my gosh. You have alpha male egos all over the place. Of course, you don’t like each other. You figure out how to get along, respect each other and what comes first. That mission comes first. I don’t like you, you don’t like me. Screw that. We got a mission to do. Let’s go get it done. That’s what makes Rangers, Rangers. That’s what makes Seal Seals. That’s what makes Delta Delta. That’s what makes ODAs ODAs.
It doesn’t matter if we’d like each other or not. We will always put that mission first, especially if it’s going to save lives. It was easy to go out the gate because I had those guys with me and none of them were questioning that either. We left and we paid the price. We lost our security clearances because we [unintelligible 00:50:55] quarters. As a contractor, that essentially means you got fired. Without a security clearance I can’t do it. It did matter. We drove down there and we got about 400 meters from the consulate gate. Terrorists are good at what they do. They’re good. They’re excellent.
Just like, I think the Vietnam guys will tell you the Viet Cong are just as good at what they do at Gorilla Warfare. They’re good. What did they do? We had one main entrance point or access point that we could drive a vehicle down and get in there. That’s the front gate. We had one on 4rth Ring Road, but it was very heavily trafficked. The back gate was locked. It was hard to get in there. One me and Boone eventually went to and climbed over. They did what we would’ve done. They put a heavy machine gun. They put a [unintelligible 00:51:39] they put a PKM and it’s just led going down that fatal funnel. That’s what we would done.
We just managed with the, with the 203 tig shot some really good 203 rounds during that time.
Philip: That’s Grenade.
Kris: Grenade launcher. We had it was called HK69s, the standalone breach fed. He got some really good shots on target. I’m telling you what, when that thing goes, boom and especially if you’re at the receiving end of it, if you’re not hit, it’s going to make you run. They were able to fight down the road that way Rowan, Jack, and Tig, me and Boone started jumping walls and you know what, that’s where that never quit that pain thing came in because that first wall we jumped over I’m kidded out with everything. I was wearing shorts. That’s not movie magic.
Actually, I still have those shorts in a tough box, upstairs somewhere. It was a pair of pants I made into shorts in Kandahar. It was paired true speck pants. I had a Kandahar tailor cut them and make them to shorts because it’s hot in southern Afghanistan. We started jumping walls and man, I was getting tired, but I just kept remembering don’t quit, don’t quit. I remembered Ranger school, I actually had a flat– It seemed like longer, but I know it was just like that. The first thing you do at Ranger School when you go to Mountain phase is you go up Mount Yonah.
You put your pack on, it’s about 60 pounds. It’s the second phase. You’ve already gone through bending phase. You’ve gone through three weeks of pre-ranger. I’d gone through two weeks of zero-week and rap weeks. By the time you even get to mountain phase, I’ve been at Ranger school for a month and a half. I didn’t know it was coming. As soon as you get off the bus, you throw your pack on and you go up this five-mile trail called Mount Yonah. You scale a mountain trail with a pack on. I wasn’t ready for it. I almost fell out. You fall behind the RI you get kicked out.
There’s no second chances you’re done. I about fell out. He was on my heels. Actually, I remember the RI barking at me. He’s going, “Ranger, you fall behind me. You’re done, you’re done.” I just, grandma, grandpa, don’t quit. Find it, find that gear. I found a gear and I just took off and I finished actually third. That one’s not a team event. Ranger [unintelligible 00:53:57] a lot of it is team stuff. That one is an individual. You fall out, you’re done. I remembered that. I remember I hit that first eight-foot, nine-foot high wall. I got to the top of it. I thought about Mount Yonah in the five-mile trail. That wall didn’t seem as tall anymore.
It’s like, I’ve done this before, I can do it again. I didn’t hurt. I just felt like a little jack rabbit. It’s amazing what your mind can do. Your mind will quit on you like that. Your body will never quit. It’s your mind that regulates that. When I told my mind, we’re not quitting, it just [unintelligible 00:54:35] and I just four or five more walls– The movie showed us clearing one, four story building. It actually was two. We had one right next to each other and climbed one couldn’t get fired on. We went back down and we climbed another one. To tell you I was gassed. I wasn’t in pain because I just really wasn’t feeling it but I was gassed, I was tired. You had a mark 46, I had M4 I had body armor, night vision, helmet, ammo going everywhere. I’m extra drum.
Phillip: Everything but a canteen.
Kris: Everything but exactly. Had my Copenhagen still in my back pocket and still good to go. It took us 30 minutes to go that 400 meters and fought the way on. The movie did a very excellent job. They did showing that. The explosions, and I’ll tell people right now, things don’t explode like that. They basically implode. To be honest with you, under night vision, all you see is flashes. If movies would show what really the explosion looks like to the naked eye. People would walk out of movie theaters with Tourette’s because you’re just seeing flashes everywhere. You just have to focus and take it all in.
It’s pretty freaking awesome. I couldn’t have been more proud because that team had worked together for 30 days. That’s it. Our small unit tactics, our small unit tactics, we teach them to civilians. Now I think there’s some great classes out there that do that. Once you learn small unit tactics though, there’s nothing special about them. It’s the same tactics. We had never worked together but we bounded, we moved together, we communicated perfectly. That says a lot for the special operations community and the marine community, the marine infantry, and also the force recon community. It was amazing. Couldn’t been [unintelligible 00:56:18]
Phillip: We know the four Americans who died, but you said that the team was getting killed. Were there others, different organizations, different nationalities that were under attack originally?
Kris: In Libya, you’re talking about?
Kris: We had actually a response and I shouldn’t say killed, but we had a Canadian team there as well. They got attacked a month prior coming down that same dirt road. They lived at actually the consulate too. They lived on the US consulate because they didn’t have their own, They got hit with an RPG down that alleyway. There were in level seven Land Cruisers but RPG still will punch through that. We had to force our away on the gate to respond to that. We eventually just went to that one. One of their security guys was severely injured. I don’t know if he died or not, got him out of there.
After that, the Canadians jumped and pulled chalks and they left. Then also USAID was there, they got hit with an IED on their doorstep. Then the Red Cross was there as well and they got hit with an IED as well. I want to lump them in together because to me those are allies. Those are people that are with us. As far as GRS and CI, we were good. We were always the ones that were responding. That is what GRS does. Even in Kabul and in Baghdad, we have freaks for everybody. We know what’s going on. If somebody says they need help that’s our job. That’s part of our responsibility’s to get out the door. We’re always fighting with Bob to get out that damn door. We were taking-
Phillip: You said FOB. Could you tell us what FOB?
Kris: Well, Ford Operating Base, but we’re always fighting with Bob, our chief of Base, Bob, to get out the gate. A FOB is a Ford Operating Base. We wouldn’t call our places FOBs. That’s the military lingo but same thing. We were a Ford Operating Base for Tripoli. Tripoli was the main station. We were a Ford Base for Tripoli but you can call it the Annex. You would think the lingo could get the same. DOD doesn’t play nice with CI who doesn’t play nice with NSA who doesn’t play nice with State Department. They all have their damn different names.
Brother, over there it’s just, I don’t know what the hell, aside from just giving weapons, it’s terrorist. Then opening an English-speaking school for Hillary Clinton, which she was going to come christen the next year really what we’re doing there. We weren’t doing anything productive as far as killing terrorists. Even though we were locating them, we couldn’t action them at all. We weren’t allowed to. In my opinion, on the Intel side of the house, yes, we were getting killed. The Iranians, they were getting us. Al-Qaeda was live and well. Obama said they were on the run. No way they were on the run. They were all over the place.
I surveilled one, two weeks before the attack on our consulate. I took it to our targeter. Me and Boone did. We saw him, was like, there’s the trainer, AQI trainer. He’s right there. He’s training them guys how to do their attacks. You’re Chris Stevens, ambassador, Chris Stevens. There are dilettantes who become ambassadors that donate money and they make them the ambassador of Switzerland and things like that. This guy-
Philip: He picked Libya.
Kris: Yes, he was a foreign service officer. He started at the ground level, worked his way up. He loved Libby. He spoke Arabic fluently, very good. I think he was a little bit complacent because he’d been in these areas for so long but I’m not going to say that’s what killed him. It didn’t. He was doing his job. Then we lost Sean Smith, who was the IT officer there. War is finicky. I’ve been 10 years at that point, and honestly, I’ve been injured more in the last week than I was in 10 years of deploying. He’s in war for two days and he’s dead. It’s just how it is.
Then, of course, Tyrone “Rone” Woods, former SEAL, and then Glen Doherty “Bub”, SEAL Team 3. Yes, Bub came over from Tripoli. He was that team that was able to get that oil executives yet, and it was an oil executives yet. It was one of those G5 or G6s. They flew to our rescue in style. He came over with three other GRS officers and two Delta Force guys because Delta sometimes worked with us on some of our bases.
Rob: They just went also, right? They just commandeered the jet and went?
Kris: They paid for it. No, they paid money. It actually belonged to– and this is another irony, it belonged to a Gaddafi loyalist. It was a Gaddafi loyalist oil executive’s jet. They gave him money, and then at the end of the night, once it’s all done, the fighting’s all done, the irony of it all, that militia that came and rescued us, that I did the jumbo too, and I did that.
I probably exactly– Pablo did perfectly. Those were Gaddafi loyalists too. That’s the irony of it all, and that just tells you the stink of government.
We went over there to overthrow– We went over there under the auspice that Gaddafi’s bad, country’s bad, overthrow Gaddafi. Then in the end, we get rescued by Muammar Gaddafi. If that doesn’t tell you how awful government–
Rob: Was he still alive at that point?
Kris: No, he was dead, he was dead. He still had loyalists that were fighting. Actually, those were the loyalists that were fighting ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia after we left. They’re the ones that actually were the ones that were doing our dirty work for us. We didn’t go over there to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi– we went over there– because he was bad. We went there to get his weapons. That’s what we did, to get his stockpiles. In the end, his loyalists were the ones that saved us. That’s a metaphor for war right there, and how shady government is. Awful.
Rob: Different levels of respect there.
Kris: Well, and the night itself, I’ll get into– if people watch the movie, they did a good job. I was very happy with how they did it. I think they could have promoted it more. Honestly, I think they lost a lot of money by not promoting it at the time but it still did well. The movie did a good job, and the personalities, the family dynamics that I think a lot of movies miss. Even the little tidbits with the Skype calls, spot on. I would go right back there. I mean, like, “Wow. I remember that conversation.”
I remember sitting on that lawn chair with Boone going, man, after the– I think it was the fourth attack that night where we fought them off again. I looked at him, I said– I’m in a lawn chair up on the roof drinking water, I had a Snickers bar. I looked at him and I said, “Dude, they’re going to get this figured out. They’re going to come at us with something bigger. We’re going to have to get off this rooftop and go get them because we don’t have the machine guns to reach out as far as they can.”
I didn’t say that part. I just said, “Hey, dude, we’re going to need to get off this roof and go get them because they’re going to come at us with something bigger.” Really, what I was saying to him, and I think they did get this in the movie. The feeling was, “We’re probably going to die if we get off this roof. Are you with me?” Just like that, he just turns to me and he goes, “Yes.” He didn’t say anything. He goes, “Yes.” That little awkward– words didn’t need to be said.
I knew that I had somebody on my side, and honestly it chokes me up a little bit because you don’t get that anymore. You’re going, “Hey, dude, you know we’re going to die?” We don’t want to die. We’re not going to give up but that’s a strong possibility. Are you going to stand by me? Yes, I am. Where do you get that? That, in a sense, is to me what Benghazi really was about. The brotherhood, the heroism, the courageous acts. Rone was our medic. He was running around bandaging people up. Then he’d get on a roof and fight, then he’d run down and badges people up, then he’d get on a roof and fight. I mean, holy crap. That’s amazing, and bub–
Rob: Like you said, in that community because you weren’t all rangers, you didn’t all train together. You were all from separate sides. Guys who really didn’t want to hang out together, but had to fight like that to the death, right?
Kris: That’s the respect that you have with the units themselves. We give each other. Yes, SEALs give ranger shit. Rangers give Marine shit, but when it’s time to fight, no, there’s nobody’s– You’re with me, I’m with you. I got your back, you got my back. Yes, all right, let’s go get after it and God help whoever we’re coming after because you just poked the hornets’ nest, and that’s how it was even that night. We knew we were undermanned, but there was no doubts. “You guys should not have messed with us.”
Rone was a leader of that. Rone was like, “Yes, they opened up the fire hydrant, now here we come,” and I get chills thinking about it because it’s like 6 guys going after 80, but they shouldn’t have poked the bear. That was form Rone. It was amazing.
Rob: You had about 160 combatants, right?
Kris: Right. Actually, between 140 and 160.
Rob: We’ll call it 150 then.
Kris: Yes, let’s just go even number.
Rob: After the fight, many were left?
Kris: We got reports that we killed 40 to 50. It’s what the reports were that we killed. That came from the hospital. We still had an asset in the country at the time. Injuries, they have the Benghazi Medical Center. He just said they just kept bringing them in. They just kept bringing waves and waves in. That says a lot on the training side of the house. I think that’s where movies really screw things up. Unless we have a belt-fed machine gun, I never went full auto. With M4s, it was well aimed, and I love trainers that do that.
Well-aimed, well-placed shots. That’s effective fire. That’s 101 stuff, but dude, you got to get that. Effective fire is more important than just going out there and bam-bam-bam. I think we do ourselves disservice with a lot of these YouTube– and a lot of these YouTube guys are good shooters. I know them. Some of them are friends of mine. Going out there and doing that bam-bam-bam, I don’t think that that’s good training for people. I really don’t.
You will never do that. You don’t clear a room like that. You’re responsible for every shot. Even that night in Benghazi, they knew that. They were using houses with kids to get closer to us because they knew we wouldn’t shoot that house because we didn’t want to kill a kid. I said it, that movie said, “I don’t want to kill a kid.” I said that. They’re coming through, I’m like, gosh. I had my 46 and I’m seeing them come through the windows and I just want to rake that thing because I know– but I know there’s kids could be in there.
Rob: Plus they might just kill a kid and say it was you.
Kris: And say it was us, and that’s happened. On the training side of the house, I think one thing I’d learned from Benghazi, and I used that when I do my teaching, when I do my battle line tactical or my E3 stuff teaching, slow your ass down. Every site gets a site picture. When you’re under duress and you’ve got–
Rob: Please back that up. Every what?
Kris: Every shot gets a site pitch. Every shot does. Well, Kris, are you really seeing the threat when it’s coming at you? I’ll be honest guys, no, I’m not seeing the– they said what do I get? I get the the troll saying this. If somebody’s coming at you, do you actually see your sites? I’ll be honest, no, I’m grabbing emotionally but I’m seeing that threat. Our eyes can only focus on one thing at a time.
I practiced the right draw stroke, the right presentation, the right site picture every time that gun is going right to where it needs to be. I tell them, “You will speed up. I promise you you’ll shoot faster when somebody’s coming at you. All right, you don’t need to get on YouTube and go bam-bam-bam-bam, and then have a shot group like this.” Let’s get those well-aimed shots. Let’s get those knockout punches.
I learned that from the Delta guys who trained us. They’d come in, the unit guys, “Don’t spray. End the shot, end the fight. End it with one shot. You got more people you may need to get after. You may be a firefight.”
Rob: You have to carry too much ammo them.
Kris: Exactly. I know, you don’t want to do that. You may be in a fight for 13 hours. You never know, it could happen.
Rob: You never know. Well, Adam said earlier, on the training, he said that the most important thing to him was drawing a clean draw and the first shot hit. That’s the most important part on that.
Kris: Well, as you can tell, that’s why we’re partners on E3 because we have that same mindset. Make that first shot count and then if you need to clean up, clean it up. That’s the aim. When you’re by yourself, yes, that’s what you’re doing. Actually, Phil, you’re coming on [unintelligible 01:09:30] now. You’re on brother. We’re coming with you on E3.
All that was just from learning and learning from guys that shot a lot better than me and then applying it when it needed to be applied, and remembering it because I was able to calm myself down. I think when I first started shooting, we heard a lot about instinctive shooting, instinctive shooting. I get that, instinctive. We had rapid aim fire, slow aim fire, instinctive fires are three things that we thought at ranger battalion back in the day. In fact, it’s even in the old marksmanship handbooks.
As I got moving, I realized and I think we’re splitting hairs, but instinctive, when you look at it and you read the definition of it, it says your brain’s not working. It means you’re going automatic. I don’t believe that. I think our brains are always working. I think your brain just works faster with the more training you do and that become habit. You got good habits and that’s where that clean, like Adam said, that clean draw stroke. How do you get a clean draw stroke? By continuously practicing it so it becomes habitual. Where do you get that presentation at? Continual practice. It’s not instincts. Your brain has got those neural pathways that are doing it the right way. Then when that threats in front of you, your adrenaline kicks in, but your brain’s still doing everything the right way.
You’re just going faster because we have this superpower called adrenaline, and that’s why when I train I get into a lot more thought processes and a lot more of the motor neural pathways and how important it’s for repetition. I don’t poopoo the instinct, when somebody says instinctive, because that’s how I learned. I think we are just splitting hairs. I just want people to realize keep thinking. You need to keep thinking. This is your greatest weapon right here. This is secondary. Getting situational awareness is what’s going help you win or lose or even just get out of a fight before it even happens, which means you won the fight. Then let your hard stuff hard skills do their thing.
Rob: We interviewed Tony Blauer and his thing is to take your first instinctive move, so everybody kind of flinches but the actually train it into an action. It’s interesting on that but again it’s repetition. It’s time and time again. The typical draw stroke that you’re taught in a civilian class is hand goes to the gun, left hand comes to the chest so you don’t shoot your fingers off trying to grab your gun. Made ’em up, press towards the target. His point was if a guy steps into you, puts his left hand on your gun and his right hand on your chest, you’re going down. You just lost both arms if he’s that close, obviously. It was just interesting about the different ways to train your mind. Your instinct is something other than–
Kris: That’s why combatives and edge weapons training are so important. You got to add that to the skillset. Combaters training. Then just situational awareness. When somebody asks me that question, I’m like, well, why’d you get caught off guard? What was going on? Were you not paying attention? You just lost the initiative. Not saying it doesn’t happen, it does with everybody.
You know why it does happen a lot more now? Because we have these stupid things, because we’re sitting here like this. It keeps you out of what’s going on around you. Don’t get caught off guard, but if you get caught off guard, man, combaters training. Get in where you got your hands. You know what to do with your hands, you know how to clear and create space so you know about angles.
You’re not always stepping straight back because you don’t really want to step straight back. Because if you go, if that’s me, I’m going with you and guess what? We’re going to the ground and I’m going to be on top of you. I learned that from some of my great Ranger instructors and then also some good stuff. Honestly, I even learned that– I did some of these stuff with Dida, with Dwayne. I don’t mind Dwayne. I like Dwayne stuff but getting offline. It was always getting offline. It was never going back.
It was just, if you got to move, move it at angle, still moving forward. Get offline and have your hands ready to make space. To clear space. You guys know this. That’s taught in your CCW classes around the country. Create space so you can get to that weapon system, but it’s not always moving backwards, and you’re right, the instincts shouldn’t be this, but how do we get ourselves out of that training and then doing the full spectrum training, combaters training, edge weapons training, which is huge and I love this.
Rob: I think the combatives, I’ve actually signed up for a big old course this January so I can go get pulled and learned combative.
Kris: That’s part of it though. I went through one course. They blindfolded us for a day and just beat the crap out of us. I still don’t know [crosstalk]
Rob: Where do I sign up for that? Can I pay for that one?
Kris: You can. I want that. I think that was the actually a Dida course, but at the end of the day I’m like, what the hell did I learn? I can’t use the force still. I still can’t– Honestly, I’m glad I went through it just because it was tough and it was to see if I could do it. I took a ice bath that night, but I still got something out of it. I did. I got confidence that if I am blindfolded, I know I can take a hell of a big beating and still keep and plowing.
Rob: Still be blindfolded.
Kris: I did never learn the force. I never became a Jedi so it didn’t work that aspect.
Rob: You got to get the right saber. I know Tuesday morning I was shaving for work and I look in the mirror and I got all these rub marks and bruises on my face from jujitsu and I’m like, “Dude, you look like a tweaker. This is not a good look you.”
Kris: Meth head. I know. Getting back to your flinchy stuff though, just the more training and the more confident you are in yourself, the less likely that you’re going to flinch. Human nature, it’s hard to break that flinch out of you. It is–
Rob: His thing was to use the flinch response constructively. Instead of–
Kris: I would say that’s why combaters are great. That flinch response. Bring that thing up to their face, up to their nose. I’ve been lucky, I haven’t been surprised in a while. I’ll be honest, I’m not as paranoid but I do pay attention to my surroundings a lot more. If I’m looking at my phone for more than a couple seconds, something inside my head goes, “Get your head up,” and I’ll look around.
Being caught off guard, we call it the initiative. You never want to lose the initiative. We lost the initiative in Benghazi. We waited 30 minutes. They had the advantage. We had to climb our way back up into it. The same thing as being surprised on the street. You lost the initiative. Now you have to climb back up this hole, this mountain, to get even so you can start the fight.
I don’t ever want to be like that. I want to be the one that’s the aggressor. Even if I’m the defender, I can still be the aggressor by looking around and seeing what’s going on around me so I’m not surprised. Then he is at a loop because they’re not trained. His is the loop is the one that’s going to keep getting reset and reset. Now I got the advantage.
That flinch is something that it got out of me by doing more combatives so I was confident. I don’t even think it may have been even the skills. It was more of just confidence in myself. I know that I can handle myself, so I’m not going to be surprised as much as I used to be. I still have my days. My little boy will come up behind me. He’ll smack me in my kidneys really hard that I’m not expecting it.
Yes. I flinch and it hurts a little bit, but that’s my seven-year-old boy and he is like his dad.
Philip: Is his name Cato?
Kris: His name is Jeremy Cato. [laughs] My little boy, and also when he does it, I’m not going to lie, it does teach me like, “How did that little guy sneak up on me? What was I paying attention to? What did I do? I did something wrong,” and I tried– I do it. I AR myself if that sounds how it screwed up I am. I go like, “Man, what did I do wrong for that little guy to hit me in the kidneys?”
Philip: You got to hot wash it.
Kris: You do. Exactly. Everything you hot wash AR. Man was I putting chocolate in my mouth? Was I thinking of my coffee? What was I doing? That’s why I said we’re always training. It’s not paranoia either. It’s just we’re always training. We always should be learning in AR.
Philip: It’s always fascinated me with the washout rates that the more advanced you get, the higher that washout rate becomes. It’s one of those that you get people that we want to dumb things down, we want to start making it easier. We want to do this, we want to do that. The reason we are successful is because we’ve– a lot of people want to say forged in fire. We’ve forged through failures. The ability to go in there and go, “Tyler, what did you do wrong there?” or, “Rob, when we cleared that door, you’re doing dynamic entry and you absolutely floated through that first point.” No we’re not playing that anymore. The guys that have got to those levels have hot-washed every single act.
Kris: And been humiliated in front of your peers because you do it in front of your peers.
Philip: Even dial it back and just go with a kid in an athletic field and how many of them remember everything they did in a big victory versus the lessons they took away from the loss. That’s where we learn, that’s where we make that step forward, that’s where we improve and the guys that really go a long ways are the guys that have learned to get comfortable in the darkness. Most people talk the game but most people have never been dark. It’s a whole different level and it’s between your ears, it’s in your chest and it’s between your ears.
Kris: It is. Your heart and your head. Failing is just a step towards success. Failure is when you quit. That’s when you quit, you’re done. That’s when, if I’m going to call somebody a failure, that’s because you stopped trying.
Philip: You gave up.
Kris: Failing though, failing. Your spec ops community, we fail at everything. We always are failing. In fact, sometimes, we’re set up for failure. You’re not supposed to succeed. How do you handle it? Do you learn from it? If Benghazi would have happened to me earlier in my career– if it would have happened the first time I went to Iraq, it didn’t happen 10 years after I was deployed, I do think the outcome would have been different. I think I still would have fought my ass off, but I still think I would have made bad decisions because, first of all, I didn’t know and I hadn’t failed as much and I hadn’t overcome as much, especially overseas to know that we can still do this. I would have been, “Holy shit. The military is not coming. I’m not used to this.”
By that time, I’ve really got used to because we’re small units. Hopefully, they were coming. Usually, we were the response force for everybody. You’re right. Experience, learning to handle failing, not failure, but learning how to failing, and then coming back 10 times stronger. It’s the same thing, shooting, you go to the range. I only know one guy and he’s in a comic book and his name is Deadshot that can hit every time through that frickin same hole. We’re not machines, those guys who can shoot well, but when you throw a round, do you let it get in your head and it’s going to screw up the rest of the day, or do you say. “Okay. Like I said, that rounds gone, can’t take that thing back. Let’s readjust, reaim, and refire. We shoot again.”
We’d make it up the next time. Good shooters do that. People that are strong mentally are able to do that. I think the people that are strong mentally are the ones that become good shooters. I think it goes hand in hand. That’s why shooting is such– it is. It’s a metaphor for life. The people on the left are that are poopooing the 2A community, they’re missing. They’re missing the whole thing that– and if they would come out to the ranges and see us and how the camaraderie that you have, and you see there all the ethnicities, and you do see all the genders out there, and you see that were just out there having a good time, pumping each other up, we really are, that you can do this, you can do this.
That 60-year-old lady I had in my course, “You could do this ma’am. You got this.” How good it felt when she was actually starting able to get that thing within that six-inch dot from seven meters. Never shot before. Seeing the smile on her face, people that are naysayers to the gun community, they don’t see that positivity. I guarantee as she’s home now a lot more confident that she can take care of herself, and she’s going to come through another course.
That is something that, of course, we get that in the military. We’re forced to. You actually get at the highest levels, but we also can get that on the range, especially if you are having instructors that are non-intimidating, willing to take their time, patience. They don’t sacrifice security. You still have to be safe out there but are willing to actually sit there and just, not coddle, but you’re willing to be a firm, firm, firm positive role model up there to make them work until they get it right, but to do it in a way that you’re not screaming or yelling. Don’t be a– I’ve seen some instructors that are drill sergeants. That doesn’t– No, no, that has a place. It’s called tryouts for rangers. It’s called vetting for the CIA. That is where the screaming– but for open classes, you have to have that fine line.
You don’t have to be a [unintelligible 01:23:16], but you have people that are scared to death. Also because they watch too much maybe with the left-wing media, they think gun guys are just HGH alpha males out there beating their chests, and we’re not going to tolerate somebody that can’t shoot. It’s completely the opposite. I’ve only met a few instructors that are like that, but the majority of them, nicest, most patient, men and women in the world.
The only time I’ve seen one scream– actually, I’ve never seen one. I’ve seen a couple get a little upset. I’ve actually, I’ve had to pull them aside and tell them to relax a little bit, but for the most part, most of the 2A instructors are the nicest, most patient people in the world. They just want you to get better. What that does is it grows the 2A community, and when you grow the 2A community, it gets bigger. What does that do? It makes us stronger. Now, those damned politicians can’t touch us because we’re just too damn big.
Rob: Do you know of any 2A communities?
Kris: Do I? I think there’s one here where you’re at if you want to– but now, you’re in California so probably not.
Rob: What’s your gang sign? Is this your gang sign, E3?
Kris: Let me do E3. There, E3.
Kris: E3 like this. Oh, I used to do it till arthritis started to sit in all my broken fingers, so I can’t do it anymore.
Rob: Just go like this.
Kris: There it is. Let’s just do it easy way. Three up, y’all, three up G. [chuckles] It’s just amazing that the community gets such a bad rap, especially right now. We’re probably the most diverse, most patient, most confident, most willing to teach-
Rob: Most law-abiding.
Kris: -and most law-abiding community on the planet. I think as long as we keep saying that, we’ll be fine. I know we’re an uphill battle right now, but that’s all right. Hey, it’s adversity. We’re used to it. That’s right. Bring it on. Bring it on.
Philip: Forge some more.
Kris: Yes. [chuckles]
Philip: Hey, Kris. Obviously, you blew up your contract. You went outside and operated on your own. Where are you at now? What are you doing now? Tell us about the podcast. Tell us about this new company.
Kris: Sure. Of course, we did the book. That was a hard decision. That was a great team decision, too. Not one of us decided to do it. We all decided as a team. If one of us dissented, we weren’t going to do it. The reason we did the book is because we just thought that was the best way to get it out where it’d be non-politicized, at least right out the gate. We knew it was going to happen after, but at least in the beginning, the story didn’t come out on Fox or CNN. It’s like right here, “This is what we told you. This is from us.” The reason our names weren’t on the book is because, at that time, the CIA wasn’t going to let us put our names on the cover. We could put our names on the inside but not on the cover. Go figure. I don’t get that but whatever. It’s still worked out.
Rob: You want to say you were undercover.
Kris: I guess that’s right. [unintelligible 01:26:20] [laughs] That was awesome. Cue the drummer. We did the movie. The movie was great, great experience in itself. Michael Bay was a tremendously– he was really good, really good guy. He wanted to get it right. The actors I thought did an excellent job. Pablo and I, we still consider him a friend. We don’t see eye to eye politically, but it doesn’t matter. He wanted to get the story and my character right, correct, and he did. To me, that speaks volumes of his character. I don’t care– He’s from Canada, so you know which way he goes. All right. [chuckles] He’s Canadian. I think he’s a great guy, and they did the movie right.
It was hard, but it propelled me into the speaking world, so I started doing speaking. It wasn’t easy to do at first, but I started to get good at it, and I do a lot of corporate speaking. I’m with the speaking bureau called Keppler Speakers Bureau. They do a good job. They have me. Kirk Leopold is on there with USS Cole, Mark Nutsch, who was a horse soldier. He has a different name in his movie, but Chris Hemsworth played him in the movie. Then Matt Everson has been a speaker for them forever, Black Hawk Down.
They do take very good care of us. Now that I’ve let a lot of the anger go, it’s very therapeutic. I do enjoy the corporate speaking. I really do. Honestly, when you see a grown man, 60-year-old, come up and cry, it really makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing. You’re helping somebody get through.
Rob: Here you are. You’re doing corporate speaking, these groups that are not usually 2A,-
Kris: No, they aren’t.
Rob: -surprised, how surprised are they when they hear the actual story of Benghazi because still I think more than half the nation is asleep on this.
Kris: They see it because I don’t get political in my stories. I used to. I don’t speak to political groups anymore. I don’t want to go down that route. When it’s just a story, it’s more or less of like, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that’s what happened.” That’s what I’ll get, “Oh my gosh, I have no idea.” A lot of it, they’ll come up, and they’ll say– A lot of it is thank yous. I get a lot of thank yous. They thank you, “Thank you for saying– Hey, thank you for talking about adversity.”
This is what I was really shocked at in the beginning, but I get it a lot now was, “Thank you for talking about God,” because I bring faith in. I’ll be honest with you, that is something I’d never thought I would get as much as I do. That makes me feel good because it makes me feel like hey, the media is trying to push God out, but really, God’s still important in people’s lives. Honestly, that is the biggest surprise question that I get or the surprise thanks I get is how many people actually still have faith and believe in God and want people to talk about it. They may not want to talk about it publicly, but they like that I will do. I wear this thing. This cross is always out. It’s always showing.
It’s been great. To bring people over and– I don’t know if they’re going to vote. I don’t get into that, which way they’re going to vote, but at least to have them know that it’s not some left-wing or right-wing conspiracy, as Obama would like to call it, makes me feel good, and on the biggest side is that I get to honor Rone and Bub and Chris and Shawn still and talk about their heroism. Hopefully, people will go out and find out more about them and read more about them or help their foundations. Rone has the Tyrone Woods Wrestling foundation. Glen has the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation, which helps–
Rone’s helps students buy wrestling gear for high school students. Glen’s helps military children go to school with scholarships. I hope they get out there and they actually explore more. As far as on the political side, I don’t follow them that long if it brings them over and that they now support whether the 2A community or the support those that do, great.
If they don’t, at least I made them feel something that day and feel something about how you can deal with adversity and still be strong as hell and come out the other side. As long as you find work, as long as you keep moving forward. That’s beautiful and then it led to me to do the training. I did battle line training, Battle Line Tactical, which is one of my training companies, and it’s the training arm for E3 Firearms.
I started that with Boone. Boone and I sadly we had a falling out, just happens with friendships. They come and go. I still love him to death, but we don’t train together anymore. He does his own training in Florida. If you have a chance to train with Boone, go train with him. He’s an awesome instructor.
That is going, Battle Line Tactical. I hold about 12 to 13 classes a year. Try to do it generally in the Midwest, because I like to be home more but they’re– Oh, I love them. We do some great stuff, but I tell people if it’s not an intro course, be ready to run, you’re going to get sweaty out here. I tell them, not right now until my knee gets healed up, but usually, I’m out there with my body armor on.
I don’t make them where body armor on, but I say it. If you guys get tired, I’m running right there with you and I got body armor on, but it’s fun. Like I told you about this 60-year-old lady, it’s therapeutic for me. It’s so awesome to see that new shooter that may have been scared of this hunk of metal that doesn’t do anything, you don’t tell it to do now know how to use it.
Now be like, “Oh my gosh, I am–” the confidence, just the confidence in their eyes. I hope they never have to use it, but I know that they know at least know how if they want to, if they have to use it, and just how confident they are. That’s where we started to E3. Honestly, E3 Firearms, me and Adam and I’m glad Adam was originally with it and he asked me to come and I’m so happy he did.
Adam and I have the same training mindset. I think you could probably tell from your conversation with him and now mine is that– I think I’m a little bit more gregarious, a little bit more outgoing than Adam. He’s a little bit more straightened, but it works. You got to have the yin and the yang.
Having that where now we can bring people into community that’s like a social media community, like a Facebook community where now you can talk about guns, you can talk about training. We’re getting other people’s inputs.
You can talk about what you have on your gear and here’s what I think about this ammo and not get trolled for it. Not get poo-pooed by the guys that are the gun porn guys or whoever else that may be hiding as one out there. It’s been awesome because you’re seeing the community start to grow and you’re seeing people put their 2 cents in, and it is– I hate having to say safe space since it was used derogatory so for many years.
It is a place where people can come in and talk about firearms, talk about training, talk about what they like on their gun, and then somebody has a disagreement. Hey, I don’t like Vortex, I like Yeotox. Oh, I don’t, I like Lucid. No, I like Tricon. Why? This is why. People actually talk and not yell at each other because you don’t like the same thing I like.
Then also we’ll have what E3 allows us to do, which I couldn’t do with Battle Line just because of the finances. E3 has a lot more power as far as money than Battle Line does. We can do these events that people come in and they’re not just shooting, it’s come in and shoot, then let’s go fishing and let’s go do a fireside chat.
Let’s say I’m still trying to get us on the– I want to go train on the, what’s it called? The Bone Frog Ranch or Bull Frog Ranch, because I’m a big paranormal outdoor paranormal guy. I want to go shoot one day and then go, let’s go find Sasquatch. Something like that. That’s what I see as far as with Battle Line and that’s where it could grow with E3.
It’s when the Battle Line Stuff, when the training was done, we all went our separate ways. A lot of people, they travel quite a ways to come train at my ranges. I did one where it was let’s do, I go run, I used to, but let’s go on a sighting tour or something after and let’s go have a drink and if you want to or let’s do s’mores after.
People really responded to that and it was, it was like, Hey, let’s enjoy each other’s company after we shoot. If you want to, you don’t have to, but everybody would always stay, or being that or buying dinner for everybody saying, “Hey, thanks guys for coming. Let’s go have dinner together.”
Rob: I do. I like to break bread with people. That’s a good way to get everybody on the same page no matter what our differences are.
Kris: Yes, exactly.
Rob: What about E3 again? I’m sorry I cut you.
Kris: Well no, that’s where E3 can just take it. They can take it to the next level. In fact, we’ve got a training coming up in September and this was on my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to shoot around the Grand Canyon. I wanted to have that ambiance around me.
We actually are setting it up for next September. We’re going to do– luckily E3 association, they’re outdoors, they do everything. Overland camping, firearms, aviation, fishing. Firearms is just a small part of it, but they do a camping trip over there. They do every year. There’s a range and it’s not in the Grand Canyon.
We can’t shoot in the Grand Canyon, guys. Sorry about that. They won’t let us. The government won’t let us do it. State of Arizona will let us do it, Utah, but at the rim of the Grand Canyon, there’s a range out there that’s a private range.
Brian at E3 was able to get us booked on. That will be the event. We’ll get a shoot, but then we’re also going to– dude, are you kidding me? Under the night fire in September at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Can you imagine what the sky’s going to look like with all the stars out and eating s’mores and maybe drinking a little to vodka.
I got my own vodka, so maybe I’ll have some my own vodka there. To me, that’s the path we need to go within the gun community. We’ve got excellent trainers out there. There’s excellent trainers everywhere, but let’s make this now an experience where it’s breaking bread together. It’s seeing, training, and shooting at places that you may never get to go to because it’s not allowed to go there.
While you’re shooting, you can see the rim of the Grand Canyon, that’s an experience. If you listen to what I talked about Benghazi. Benghazi was tactics. It was shooting, but it was an experience. I took it all in. I took the firefights, the fires, the burning land cruiser. I still remember that.
The smells. Honestly, I don’t want to forget that because that was an experience that most people will never get to get through. I live through it and I see it as a positive and that’s why I want the training to learn, be more on the experienced side of the house. That’s what E3 allows us to do. Just having the ability to, Rob, I don’t talk to people a lot on social media, like actually engage in– E3, I do. I get in there and I’m engaging, I’m talking as much as I can.
It’s been a little less right now because of my knee because I’ve been going to the doctor’s office back and forth, but it’s a place where if somebody has a specific question or just even wants to talk or if they want to ask me if what do you think your Hillary Clinton, which I’ve been asked a million times.
It’s a place where I’m going to interact with you because, honestly, I want that community to grow and if that interaction helps gain memberships and word of mouth, more people come in and then get the training that Adam and I have put on there. Adam has some excellent, excellent courses on there and we’re going to add more. Him and I always do hip pocket training, which will be at the range.
We’ll do a short 10-minute blip if that brings them in, so now they’re learning just more about how to be a law abiding efficient gun owner that knows how to handle their weapon systems. That’s great, but the big thing is just let’s make this an experience. And E3, they have the ability, the association has the ability to allow the firearms part of it to do stuff.
I don’t think anybody could do except maybe for groups like Thunder Ranch or the bigger ones that have the money, but even then, they’re locked into where they go train where we’re not. We’ve got areas that nobody else can go train at. Let’s go make an experience and of course go throw a helicopter right in there and go shoot some hogs.
Anybody that’s ridden, if he has not ridden on a skids of a little bird or ridden on a bench of a little bird going at mach 10. Yes, that’s right. You’re going to like that. That’s what E3 is. It’s just starting. I think we’re doing quite well, but it’s still tough because social media-wise, or even email-wise, we’re getting shadowbanned.
We’re getting all our emails go into spam. Like I told Brian and I told him the beginning and I said I knew this going in were going to get that because the people that control the mass media are, most of them are gun looper, gun haters, gun control loopies. I told Brian, it’s a marathon man, it’s 13 hours.
It’s going to take a while. Just keep moving forward, find work, and it will take off. I want to bring more instructors in to be part of it as well because this is a perfect place for them to promote. They’re not going to get banned. They can promote whatever they want on the activity feed and do their forums.
I think we’ve seen from that because there are some other instructors that are on E3 and they’re able to promote and you can put personal stuff. If you’re selling a gun, we don’t sell it for you, but you can put personals up if you’re selling firearms. Where else can you do that on social media? Nowhere unless you’re a gun manufacturer and you have your own web page, but as a social media page, you can’t do that anywhere else but you can do it on ours. That also gets people together because now they start interacting with each other. As long as you got an FFL and it’s going to another FFL, then we’re good. I’m sorry. I keep knocking this. I know. I’m all over the place. Sorry.
Rob: I appreciate it. Man, I cannot thank you enough for jumping on here and sharing part of your story.
Kris: Thanks, sir.
Rob: I want to dive a little deeper down the road. CCW Safe, we’ve got our own range. We got 50 firearms. I don’t know if you’d ever– [unintelligible 01:40:51] close, brother. If you want to jump down we can do a class for you or something like that.
Kris: Bro, I would love that. What city or how far is this? Maybe so I can see how far you are. How far are you and where are you at?
Rob: Our range is actually about 20 minutes south of Oklahoma City but our headquarters is in Oklahoma City so we’re in the middle of the state.
Kris: You’re right now but you’re three hours–
Rob: We’re going to uproot flowers and that’s it.
Kris: I have a range I use in Kefir. I use right outside of Tulsa so that’s nothing, man. I’d be honored. I think it’s something we can get scheduled. Rob, if you’d be willing to do that-
Kris: -I think it’s something that we should do. The midwest, I’m home. I love Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City is an underrated city. You guys got one of the coolest minor league baseball fields-
Rob: Oh, yes.
Kris: -downtown. Your half marathon and your marathon. I’m a runner. Well, I was until last week. It is some of the coolest places to run downtown. Whoever did those murals on those underpasses, wow, those things are beautiful. I’d be honored. We definitely need to hook that up.
Rob: That’s awesome, brother. I want to thank everybody for tuning in again. We appreciate our regular followers. We want to thank Kris so much for jumping in and helping us out. Like always, if you guys have any questions, comments, concerns, you can always reach me direct. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate everything you guys do for us. Kris, I can’t thank you enough, brother. Thank you so very much, brother.
Kris: I’m honored, bro. I’m sorry, everybody out there if you’re watching the video portion of this, my knee is blown out, I kept hitting the pillow like this. If I made you see sick, I am so sorry about that. Rob, I’m sorry, buddy, but thank you again for having me on and tolerating my injury to do this. Man, I really appreciate it.
Rob: It’s an honor, sir. I appreciate you so much.
Kris: God bless you, bro and we’ll be in touch. Just let me know and let’s get something scheduled definitely.
Rob: For sure. Thank you, brother.
Kris: All right, take care.
Rob: I’ll be with you.
Kris: All right. Thanks, buddy. Tell Phillip thank you as well. I know he froze up but tell him thank you, okay?
Rob: Sure will.
Kris: All right, brother. Bye.
[01:43:17] [END OF AUDIO]