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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

I had to do the planning for the mission. And I looked at being creative in a number of different fashions, and I won't go into detail on those, but suffice to say I looked at a lot of ways to get to the target. But at the end of the day, I looked at the point of vulnerability, and I realized that if we did, if we attempted to do some of those other approaches, we were potentially going to be vulnerable hours out. Now we may not have been, but the potential for the Pakistanis to identify us hours away from the target was there. With the helicopters, I knew we could get in and we would probably only be vulnerable about two minutes out, and I felt that was good enough. So I absolutely looked at the point of vulnerability, relative superiority, keeping the plan simple. I mean, we kept the plan as simple as we could. Get onto some helicopters, go to the target, take care of the objective, get back on the helicopters and come back home. Now we came back short of one helicopter, but we had a backup plan for that. So it absolutely followed the model, and I made sure that I went back and looked at my own research.
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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

When we look at a problem, the reason people call special operations forces in is because they looked at it initially as a conventional problem and they said, "Well, you know what, an infantry battalion can't go do this, or an air strike can't go do this." So they have eliminated a conventional approach and now they have come to us. So then it really becomes, "Okay. What is the creative solution to this problem, and how can I apply what skill set we have differently than the infantry battalion or the air strike?" So you absolutely have to be creative, but I think you have to be creative within a framework. If you try to be too creative, the laws of war --the frictions of war -- will bring you down just like they will in an infantry battalion. So again, you have to understand where your talents are, where your expertise is, and within that framework be as creative as you can possibly be. So for example, when I did the theory and the thesis, the Germans for example used gliders to get into Eben-Emael. They used gliders because they were quiet and they knew that the Belgians wouldn't hear them coming. They could put a lot of men in gliders and get on the target quickly.
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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

When we talk about the extinction of species, I think the endangered species of the arts and of language and all these things are related. I don't think there is any doubt about that. I think poetry goes back to the invention of language itself. I think one of the big differences between poetry and prose is that prose is about something, it's got a subject and the subject comes first and it's dealing with the subject. But poetry is something else, and we don't know what it is (that) comes first. Prose is about something, but poetry is about what can't be said. Why do people turn to poetry when all of a sudden the Twin Towers get hit, or when their marriage breaks up, or when the person they love most in the world drops dead in the same room? Because they can't say it. They can't say it at all, and they want something that addresses what can't be said. I think that's the big difference between poetry and prose. All the arts, in a way, are doing that, they are talking about, "Dove sono? (Where are they?)" What's that? She can't say it, can she? Where are they? Where are they? What has happened to those days?
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

That night, I could not sleep, and I went out on that airstrip on Tontouta. I'll never forget it, about eighteen miles north of where our headquarters was, Noumea. And I walked along the airstrip, and that's when the war hit me, and that's when the phenomenon I spoke of before hit me. I said, "When this is over, I'm not going to be the same guy. I am going to live as if I were a great man." I never said I was going to be a great man because I had no idea what my capacities were. I had no great confidence; nothing in my background gave me a reason to think so. But I was not forestalled from acting as if I were. That is, deal with big subjects.
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

Associate with people who are brighter than you are. Grapple with the problems of your time. And it was as clear to me as if a voice were telling me to do this: "This is the choosing up point, kiddo. from here on." I had no idea that life was as short as it is. That concept comes very late in any human life, I think. I thought life was immeasurable, extensive to the horizon and beyond. But I did know that my capacities were not unlimited. I had only so much to spend, and let's do it in a big way. And I think that was all the difference.
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