If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to work in covert operations on behalf of the United States, “The Team House” is the show for you.
Jack Murphy has spent his entire adult life shining a light into the shadowy world of America’s covert operations around the globe. A former Army Ranger and Green Beret, Murphy took to journalism with the same tenacity one might expect of an elite war fighter like him. Over the years, he’s helped to found a special operations-specific news outlet, written best selling books, hosted TV shows on the Discovery channel, and at one point (back when he and I worked together), he even managed to land an interview with Syria’s resident bad guy, Bashar al Assad.
Last year, Jack and his friend David Parke, another veteran that served in the 2nd Ranger Battalion and as Navy hardhat diver, launched a streaming show and podcast called “The Team House.” The premise was simple: Murphy and Parke use their extensive connections within the special operations and intelligence communities to bring the real stories of America’s covert operations to the public in a way we’ve really never seen before. Gone are the glamorous Hollywood interpretations of warfare, replaced appropriately with the incredible true stories of American warriors and heroes as told by the very warriors and heroes that lived them.
Instead of marketing himself and “The Team House” as another Spec Ops “bro-down” full of tough talk and bravado, Murphy and Parke engage with their guests on a distinctly human level in lengthy conversations that range from the pulse pounding, to the hilarious, to the deeply uncomfortable.
“I wanted to launch The Team House because despite there being a plethora of content out there covering the Special Operations and intelligence community, I felt like a lot of it is more about posturing and tough guy talk than accurately reflecting the many professional accomplishments of those who quietly serve our country,” Murphy tells Sandboxx.
“This show isn’t about working out, preparedness, military leadership, or selling pre-workout mix. Because of my background and that of my co-host David Parke, we’re able to really drill deep and ask our guests the right questions about their experiences.”
On each episode of “The Team House,” Murphy and Parke are joined by a guest hailing from parts of America’s defense apparatus and beyond that you may not often hear from, ranging from “mercenaries” to Navy SEALs to certified spooks from intelligence agencies like the CIA. After just a few episodes, you’ll start to realize that the real stories of America’s covert operations are often a lot crazier than the ones you’ve seen on TV.
Getting these people to show up on camera and spill the declassified beans about their years in the fight is no small task, and honestly, Murphy may be the only guy that could make something like this happen.
“Many of them have been kind enough to share their experiences with me over a beer whether it was in a dive bar in New York City, a hotel lobby in Seoul, a Karaoke joint in Manila, or a hookah bar in Kurdistan,” Murphy explains.
“Asking them to speak publicly and record these stories for history, and for our future soldiers and intelligence officers is a natural extension of the journalistic work I’ve done for nearly a decade.”
Last Friday, “The Team House” streamed its 50th episode, interviewing Bob Charest–a veteran of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces Detachment A. Their discussion ranges from Charest’s time on an urban unconventional warfare mission in Berlin in the event that the Soviets ever invaded, to his time in Thailand working for the CIA.
Here’s a brief rundown of some of the most incredible stories and moments from the past 50 episodes that you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t go back and check out:
John Mullins telling stories I guarantee you’ve never heard before about running double agents into North Vietnam when he was with MACV-SOG.
CIA analyst Sarah Carlson telling the story of her Mad Max-style escape from Libya in 2014 when the US embassy was evacuated.
H.K. Roy was a CIA ops officer who handled a strategic level intelligence asset when the Balkan wars were happening, meeting the guy in a graveyard after extensive preparations to ensure his cover wasn’t blown.
One of the most incredible episodes to date was an interview with Sergeant Major Mike Vining. You may not recognize the name, but if you’ve ever googled the words “Delta Force,” you’ve almost certainly seen his picture.
Vining’s BC goggles and every-man appearance, coupled with the fact that he’s a founding member of America’s best-kept Special Operations secret, Delta Force, have made the man a legend in the military community.
“He’s one of my favorite people to interview,” Murphy says. “In our interview, we sit down and talk to Mike for almost two and a half hours, mostly focused on Operation Eagle Claw in Iran which he participated in. The format is conversational, like you’re hearing these stories first hand from a guy who has been there and done that in a bar somewhere.”
“But we really aim to book guys (and gals) who are the real deal, who are thoughtful and articulate. Mike Vining is the epitome of that, a terrific role model for the rest of us.”
From Jack Murphy’s vantage point, getting these stories on the record is important, not just because it makes for some great content, but because the lessons we’ve learned the hard way through countless conflicts need to be examined, studied, and integrated into the way we approach conflict today and in the future.
“It is my hope that The Team House is able to educate and inform the public, perhaps even become a source for academics and journalists in years to come,” he tells Sandboxx.
“We owe it to the future generation of soldiers and intelligence professionals to share our successes and mistakes so they can learn from them.”
Murphy is right, of course, but there’s one more important thing that can be taken away from each episode of “The Team House” that even Jack might be too close to realize. As an elite special operations veteran himself, Jack Murphy already knows that the brave men and women fighting under cover of darkness for our country are normal people, just like you and I… but for many Americans, these stories are too far removed from our own life experiences to really appreciate in written form.
We have a tendency to think of Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Army Rangers, and the rest of SOCOM as a group of highly trained, larger than life, war fighting machines. The truth is, for all their training, for all their expensive equipment, these folks are just people. They often have incredible resources and find themselves in extreme circumstances, but at the end of the day, they’re made up of the very same stuff that we are, back at home, watching “The Team House” over a steaming cup of hot cocoa.
America’s most elite war fighters are indeed something to behold… but they’re also living, breathing humans with bills to pay, kids to raise, and dishes to do. It’s important that we remember that so we can honor their service appropriately. It’s also important to remember so we can aspire to be greater ourselves. After all, if Mike Vining could do it, why can’t you?
“The Team House” streams every Friday night at 8:00 p.m. EST. You can watch all the old episodes as well as the new ones on their YouTube page here. If you prefer just the audio, subscribe to their podcast here.
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