by Matt Lambdin
This first appeared in 18 Series Bag Company on March 11, 2022. It is republished here with the author’s permission.
It is difficult for me to imagine the soldiers in Special Operations perfecting a dangerous trade over a long career, only to hang it up and move on to something else when the time comes to leave. I occasionally imagine myself moving onto something mundane mostly because of the corvette scene in True Lies when Arnold Schwarzenegger imagines smashing Bill Paxton in the face:
“You see, it’s not just a car. It’s a total image. An identity you
have to go for. This isn’t some high-tech sports car. Tell you the
Truth, it doesn’t even handle that great. But that’s not the idea,
To be completely forthcoming, I know some bad dudes, but the funny thing is, you would never know it if you saw them. As Jordan Peterson eloquently stated, ‘The best men that I have ever met are very dangerous men‘, these are the men that I’ll pay homage to in the next few SITREPs. These enterprising dudes have capitalized on their skills, training, and talent to create something special. For the next few SITREPs, I want to broadcast the entrepreneurial efforts of guys from each SF Group, 160th, 75th, MARSOC, AFSOC, and yes, even NSW.
My personal philosophy throughout my career has been simple, take care of the dudes, win, and protect the family legacy. This SITREP is dedicated to a couple of the dudes from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
“If you don’t shop Rader K9, do you even K9 bro?” – review from his website
I’ve known Ben Rader for a minute. After Ben left me at C/1-10 SFG(A) all alone, he was recruited by the K9 folks to transform the K9 program at 10th SFG(A). At the time, Groups had built a hot-rod capability, but we were in the heat of the GWOT and they badly needed talent, with both two and four legs. Ben was the 18C you always wanted. When we deployed to Iraq, I would have someone banging on my door at weird hours, only to find Ben with a box full of goodies for everyone to have. Ben’s always taking care of the guys, making him always one of the first guys picked for a deployment. After Ben converted to only speaking in commands, which generally doesn’t go well with teammates, and started deploying with his four-legged fur missile, his box of goodies became four legs of snarling terror, which for me, was equally as nice to have. Much like Peterson’s comparison of good men being the most dangerous, I feel like that is applicable to the Military Working Dog.
I don’t know anyone that doesn’t respect the hell out of those dogs. Year after year, Ben and his dog deployed to dozens of countries on three different continents providing K9 support. He regularly consults with regional and state police K9 units and has also begun fabricating his own leashes and collars. His efforts in taking care of his teammates just transferred to his four-legged ones. His products aren’t metal, thoughtless, or harsh to the dog. All his products allow you to restrain the animal, or let it run, without ripping out hair or irritating the pup. I’m a big fan of Ben and appreciate that he has honed his skills over the last decade working with the Army’s most notorious four-legged soldiers. If you know K9 officers, either in the military or police, send them to his website to check it out. They’ll appreciate it. If you’re in the market for a dog leash, you can find him on Instagram @raderk9 or his website https://raderk9.com/
I’ve known Matt since he came to 10th SFG in 2008. We’ve been to advance shooting schools together, driving courses, and both were medics on a busy Iraq rotation. I think that I’m capable of speaking to his character. Matt’s the kind of guy that swings into town and you, of course, join everyone in going to see him, regardless of what’s on your calendar. When Matt decided to get out of the Army and pursue an education, I couldn’t blame him. The US had been at war for over a decade with no end in sight. In SF, you’re always chasing the next deployment, the next school, the next training cycle.
Much like a time machine, SF has a way of transporting you a couple of years into the future, but most of us never realize it’s happening until you look around and someone calls you, ‘an old guy,’ it’s an addicting occupation and it happens to the best of us. Some guys, like Matt, conduct their own self-assessments and realize that their professional growth has far outpaced their personal growth. Realizing this, Matt left the Army to pursue his education at Columbia University, then at Wharton for his MBA. While he consults for McKinsey, Matt also has a podcast focused on sharing veterans’ stories about transitioning to civilian life. It’s very good. I wrote about it in SITREP 004.
Real-quick: I hate the morning commute. Apparently, everyone that is driving around me just received a call from the President and they’re racing to do what he asked. To prevent the bad thoughts from creeping into my head, I Bluetooth my phone to my truck and play my friend’s podcasts (Thank you, Now What?, Team VTAC, Brief Before Impact).
Matt’s a natural at drilling down into the ‘why’, during a podcast, which is important. No two military to civilian transitions are the same, so it is nice to hear different perspectives, especially from folks who weren’t in SOF. So much amazing talent is ignored or bypassed because the guy or gal wasn’t in SOF. In ‘Thank you, Now What?’, Matt covers the military service of each guest, what they liked about military service, how they prepared for their transition, and then drills down to the lessons learned of what went right and what went wrong during that transition. This is important to hear and hopefully understand. I’ve yet to hear anyone tell you exactly what to do, rather, what they wished they would have focused on. There are some true pearls of advice.
Matt is crushing it and I’m very proud of what he’s become, even if he has become a New Yorker. Follow this link, here, hit the subscribe button, and give this podcast a listen. You won’t regret it and you’ll be supporting a brother along the way.
First, let me tell you about my friendship with Steve Brignoli. A couple of years ago, my family discovered a medical emergency that required immediate surgical intervention. My unit Command Team, teammates, and friends all let us know our family wouldn’t want for anything, that’s what I’ve always loved about SOF. Steve, my former Team Leader found out, called me, and immediately offered to fly from DC to Colorado to help alleviate the stress, “I’m not a thoughts and prayers guy. Thoughts and prayers show up in your room with the price tag still on the flowers from the hospital lobby. I’m flying out there. Here’s a phone number of a doctor you need to speak with.” (Steve was referring to the outpouring of support on social media). We ultimately told Steve not to fly but we did call the doctor (much to the doctor’s surprise about how we obtained his number). That’s Steve, unconstrained thinking.
Steve has absolutely crushed the transition from military to civilian life. Beyond SOF, is THE resource for those looking for contract work. Beyond SOF provides rapid human factoring, staffing, and tech/funding solutions that employ veterans into their next career. Steve has been running Beyond SOF for the last 11 years and placed over 500 highly skilled, cleared folks. With 42 active clients in defense, intelligence, and law enforcement, Beyond SOF has a large stable of available positions at all times. Beyond SOF also developed an ARL-funded SkillBridge program, giving guys like me the freedom of maneuver to prepare for the transition to civilian life. Go to the website, build a resume and tell Steve that you were referred by 18 Series, he’ll do his best to take care of you. Prove me wrong, you won’t. Steve’s a successful businessman, caring father, and irreplaceable friend.
Next week, I will write about a couple more awesome entrepreneurs, in another SF Group.
Thank you for reading.
Always forward. – Matt