Extreme Ownership - How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Contributed by Larisa Brooke
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Chapter 7

The narrator of this chapter is Babin. This is taking place in South-Central Ramadi, Iraq, also known as The Hornet’s Nest. All the elements of SEALs, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) bomb technicians, and Iraqi soldiers are under attack, and all they could do under such accurate enemy fire was to hit the deck (lay law or close to the ground) and try not to get their heads shot off. Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) are being thrown in rapid sequence and exploding with a tremendous concussion against the walls. The fury of the attack then subsides, and the SEAL snipers return fire with devastating effect.

Willink, who is the platoon commander, then makes his rounds by checking room after room on the status of his guys, to ascertain that none was hit. He then passes the same report over the radio to the U.S. Army’s TOK. The SEAL platoon then identified a building just up the street from a mosque that frequently rallied the call to jihad from its minaret speakers to the hundreds of well-armed Muj that occupied the area. The building was convenient for its commanding view of the area, where it was located right in the backyard of the enemy. Taking a position in that particular building meant that a honest had been stirred. The plan was to get to where the bad guys would least expect you to be in order to disrupt their program, kill many of their fighters, and decrease their ability to attack nearby U.S. Army and Marine Combat outposts. The fighting intensified and the SEAL snipers engaged and killed many of them, while SEAL machine gunners returned fire into enemy positions.

Babin also describes the challenges they faced during departure given that the building had only one entrance and exit.  One of them also leads to the street, the most dangerous street where he lies helplessly and this creates a dilemma. He has to strategize on how they were to get downstairs in time before the explosion of the charge that was detected, and also organize medics to attend to the soldiers on the ground. This is what prioritize and execute was all about, determining the greatest priority, and direct a team to attack the priority.


A leader must remain calm and make the best decisions possible since there are a lot of challenges, and where each has a complexion in its own right and demanding the appropriate attention. Leaders therefore, need to prioritize and execute. Getting overwhelmed and tackling the problems simultaneously will lead the team to a likelihood of failing at each of those tasks. Staying a step or two ahead of real-time problems aids the effectiveness of prioritizing and executing. Priorities can rapidly shift and change just as in combat. In such cases, communication with the rest of them must be immediate both up and down the chain of command.

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