Wednesday 4th January 2012

WARNING! Do not watch this movie if you are claustrophobic!

Buried is a 2010 Spanish thriller film starring Ryan Reynolds. The film revolves around Iraq-based American truck driver Paul Conroy (Reynolds), who, after being attacked, finds himself buried alive in a wooden coffin, with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pencil and a mobile phone to help him escape before the oxygen in the coffin runs out.

This film has added significance for me as the story is loosely based on the experiences of Roy Hallums, and even closer to home, the director of the Hostage Working Group is Dan Brenner…based on my good friend Dan O’Shea who actually was the founder and director of the HWG for 2 years.

In 2 years, and over 400 kidnapping cases, Dan only had one successful special ops hostage rescue mission, and that was Roy Hallums.

Dan O’Shea: One Man’s Response to 911

Sunday 11th September 2011

My friend Dan O’Shea was named the hero of the day by the site below on the 10th anniversary of 9/11!


While not an active CrossFitter, I thought today was an appropriate time to recognize my friend Dan O’Shea. If I have a hero of my own, it’s Dan. After the events of 911, without the slightest heittation or thought for himself and his own personal future, after completing his commitment serving in SEAL Team Three, he left it all behind and re-enlisted almost on the day.

Commander Daniel Patrick O’Shea is a qualified SEAL officer and 1991 graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In the 1990’s he deployed to the Middle East numerous times as a Platoon and Task Unit Commander with SEAL Team Three. In 1998, Dan left active duty to pursue a career in multi-sport adventure racing and a Masters degree in Executive Leadership.

Following the attacks of 9/11, Dan made the unprecedented decision to return to active duty and rejoin the teams. Dan had done his time, he’d gone through the entire selection process to become a SEAL, and to rejoin he had to re-qualify from almost the very beginning of training. Few people make it through the process to become a SEAL. Because Dan knew he was uniquely qualified to actually do something to defend his country he left everything he’d built in his new life to fight. How do you explain that kind of commitment? Before I met Dan I thought I was clear on the meaning of complete commitment, he taught me that there was a level I hadn’t even conceived of.

Dan went from his previous position as Special Operations Forces advisor to General Tommy Franks and US Central Command headquarters during the wartime planning and execution of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) back to qualifying side-by-side with others who’d yet to see their first day of combat as a member of the teams.

After two years on active duty, O’Shea accepted a final assignment to help establish the Inter-Agency coordination effort at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Tasked by the Deputy Chief of Mission, he established and served as the Coordinator of the Hostage Working Group (HWG), the US Mission’s primary planning facilitator, intelligence fusion node, and coordinating element for all hostage-taking incidents in Iraq. The HWG brought to bear all elements of national and regional power: diplomacy, intelligence, law enforcement, and military, conventional, and special operations forces (SOF) as hostage situations developed. Arriving at the height of the hostage-taking campaign targeting foreigners averaging more than 40 per month; by the end of Dan’s service, foreign kidnappings in Iraq were in single digits with only one foreigner reported taken, in each of the last two months of his tour.

Recognized as the subject-matter expert on the kidnapping problem in Iraq, Dan has presented his findings to numerous military, US and international law enforcement agencies including the National Security Council-Hostage Working Group, US Central Command, US Special Operations Command, Scotland Yard, MI5, and MI6. A series lecturer at the Joint Special Operations University Dynamics of International Terrorism course, Dan continues to brief official and private sector organizations engaged on hostage recovery and survival, and to military personnel on the kidnapping threat in high-risk environments.

Dan is recognized as an Islamic-extremist subject matter expert, and past guest interviewee on CNN, BBC, and CBS and quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, and Esquire among many others. He has delivered his Into the Lions’ Den lecture series nationally and abroad. Published in the Journal of International Security Affairs, he served as a member of the McCormick Tribune Foundation’s Irregular Warfare working group, led by General David Grange USA (retired), that produced the “Irregular Warfare Leadership in the 21st Century,” envisioned as a blueprint for attaining and retaining US national strategic interests. He is the recipient of the Navy League’s 2007 MERITORIOUS CITATION the organization’s highest award given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the improvement of national security, one of only five presented annually. O’Shea is the Founder and Principal of Daniel Risk Mitigation and continues to serve in the Naval Reserves.

Some of this post material is shared from Sultan of Snow Blog

There is more info of Danny here https://sultanofsnow.wordpress.com/into-the-lions-den/

Overcoming the Odds

Wednesday 31st August 2011

It takes all the right ingredients to be a successful professional athlete. Chris McCormack has the ideal mix — great ambassador for the sport, a terrific accent, and one of the world’s best triathletes. Chris has won a lot of races, but some of the experts said he’d never win Ironman Hawaii. As a kid, Chris dreamed of victory in Kona. As a world class triathlete, he overcame the odds and celebrated a very special win on Ali’i Drive.

This week’s Motivational Monday video came from an unexpected source… It’s actually a CLIF Bar commercial but it features Chris McCormack’s fantastic story of overcoming the odds to win the 2007 Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii.

The 2007 event was Chris’ sixth try at the World Championships race. The year before, Chris finished in second place and was only 2 minutes behind the winner so his victory in 2007 was extremely sweet!

Chris’ victory celebration was very inspirational!


Sunday 5th June 2011

This story is based on the story of Roy Hallums. Even the hostage rescue group is led by a guy called “Dan”!

Paul Conroy, a US truck driver based in Iraq, awakens buried alive in a wooden coffin, bound and gagged, with only a Zippo and a BlackBerry. Although he initially has no idea how he got there, he soon starts to piece together what has happened to him. He remembers that he and several other trucks were ambushed by insurgents, who killed the other truck drivers. After finding the cellphone, Conroy attempts to contact his wife and his employers but is able only to leave a message for both of them. Paul is able to contact the FBI, but they cut off before he can explain the situation. Conroy’s kidnapper phones him and demands a ransom of $5 million to release him alive, which is later lowered to $1 million.

Conroy eventually gets into contact with the State Department, who pass him onto a hostage rescue group led by Dan Brenner. Brenner tells Conroy they are doing their best to find him however Conroy is not convinced and asks Brenner to name a person who they had saved before. Brenner claims they saved a man known as Mark White three weeks ago. The kidnapper calls Conroy back and demands he make a ransom video, which he refuses to do. When the kidnapper threatens to kill his kidnapped co-worker, Conroy reluctantly agrees to do the video. After completing the ransom video, Conroy receives a video from the kidnapper showing the female employee he knew being shot in the head. Shortly afterwards, there is a violent shaking in the coffin, and sand starts to leak into it. The stress becomes too great and Conroy momentarily considers slitting his own throat with the knife.

Later on, Conroy receives a phone call from his employers, who inform him that he was fired from his job that morning due to fraternizing with the same female employee and so if he dies, his family will not get any insurance money. Conroy states the two were just friends however his pleas are ignored. Brenner calls and explains that some F-16 fighter planes just bombed the area the coffin is in, even though they knew Conroy was in the area. Conroy begins to lose all hope and does a last will and testament in video form, giving his son all of his clothes and his wife his personal savings of $700. As time goes on the kidnapper calls with demands for blood instead of money and tells Conroy to cut his finger off and send a recording of it. The kidnapper lets Conroy know he has his home address, and states he will harm his family if he does not make the video however he will not harm his family and will tell the US government where Conroy is if he complies. Conroy films himself cutting off one of his fingers and sends the video.

Within a few minutes, Brenner calls saying they now know where he is, explaining that they were given details of where to find a man who was buried alive by an insurgent. Conroy receives a phone call from his wife and tells her he is going to be okay, and they express their love for each other. A few minutes later, Brenner calls saying that they are close and have found his location. They arrive at the apparent burial site and are about to dig up the coffin. Through the phone, digging is heard, but Conroy cannot hear digging around him. Sand begins to fill the coffin to dangerous levels, giving him seconds to live. When the group digs up the coffin, it turns out the insurgent led them to Mark White, the man Brenner earlier in the film claimed had been rescued. Paul hears his final words, that of Brenner saying over the phone, “I’m sorry, Paul. I’m so sorry.”

Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

Friday 3rd June 2011

Contractor Roy Hallums recounts the harrowing ten months he was held captive by Iraqi insurgents, the heroic rescue by American troops, and the faith that helped him survive it all.

In November 2004, Roy Hallums was working late at his office in Iraq at the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company, supposedly well-protected by armed security guards, when four kidnappers broke in and hauled him away at gunpoint. The next ten months were the darkest of his life. Hallums spent most of his time in a concrete pit beneath a farmhouse, constantly bound and blindfolded. A small pipe in the ceiling provided the rooms only oxygen—and its only link to the outside world. Hallums banked on one group in particular not forgetting his existence—the US military. And sure enough, on September 7, 2006, they successfully rescued him. This is the edge-of-your-seat story of a trip through hell for Hallums, the daring rescue mission, and faith that brought him through the experience.

Dan O’Shea is thanked by name in the front of the book for being instrumental in the rescue. Read more about Dan under the tab above “Into the Lions Den”

Atlantic Allum Cup 2011

Wednesday 12th January 2011
Playa Famara #4

Image by palestrina55 via Flickr

In celebration of the first ever pairs row across the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Woodvale Challenge are pleased to announce a new racing event “The Atlantic Allum Cup”. On January 12 1971 the Allum cousins left Las Palmas headed for America. A drinking water shortage meant that the cousins had to cut their row short and Geoff and Don Allum arrived at Harrison Point, Barbados 73 days after setting off.

Woodvale Challenge is launching the Atlantic Allum Cup on 12th January 2011 – the 40th anniversary of the Allum Cousins pioneering row and will be putting out one of the fastest rowing boats in existence.

Woodvale will run a record campaign for the mid-Atlantic route (La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Barbados – 2600 miles away). The record will be more than just rowing hard…route selection, reaction to situations and a degree of luck with the weather all come into play.

Woodvale is launching Britannia III – one of the fastest boats ever built – a 15 man boat which crossed the Atlantic in 38 days in early 2010

Part 4 Middle East World Cup

Monday 8th November 2010
South Korea's 2022 World Cup bid logo

Image via Wikipedia

2022 FIFA World Cup Bidding Nations

The 5 bids for the 2022 WC are presented in order of their likelihood of winning, starting with the least likely.


It would be easy to discount S Korea and Japan as they co hosted the WC in 2002 but they have both produced strong arguments for consideration. South Korea is trying to use its bid to build bridges with the North by calling this the Unity bid. They have a lot of infrastructure from WC 2002, and this event could only be better. There is still a feel good factor from their participation in 2002 and the country really embraced the world at the time.

Another factor in the tactical voting will be the possible candidacy of the South Korean football president Chung Mong-joon to replace Blatter as the president of FIFA. Pledging first round votes to the future president is probably a factor, even in a secret ballot. [2]


This is definitely the most exciting bid with its Universal Fan Fest. Japan has pledged that if it is granted the rights to host the 2022 World Cup games, it will develop technology enabling it to provide a live international telecast of the event in 3D, which would allow 400 stadiums in 208 countries to provide 360 million people with real-time 3D coverage of the games projected onto giant screens, captured in 360 degrees by 200 HD cameras.

Furthermore, Japan will broadcast the games in holographic format if the technology to do so is available by that time. Beyond allowing the world’s spectators to view the games on flat screens projecting 3D imaging, holographic projection would project the games onto stadium fields, creating a greater illusion of actually being in the presence of the players.[4] Fans could then pay to enter Wembley to watch England playing on the field in front of them, even though the team is in Tokyo! Microphones embedded below the playing surface would record all sounds, such as ball kicks, in order to add to the sense of realism.[5]

In addition to projection, “translation earpieces” would be available which would allow fans of different nations to converse with each other. Devices would also be available which would allow people to instantly capture information about players by pointing at them.[6] This will all be powered by electricity generated by the fans’ kinetic energy and solar panels on stadium roofs. Japan will also host the 2019 Rugby World Cup giving them a great dress rehearsal.[7] However, the smart money would be on this and the Korean bid falling first, leaving Qatar, Australia and the USA.


Australia has a very strong bid, and it is placed in the right time zones to suit more than 60% of the world’s population. However, it is in the wrong zone for the most lucrative time zone which is Europe. It has a great sporting culture and great stadiums, but this passion for sports is causing internal strife over stadium access.[9] Australian Rules football, rugby union, rugby league and cricket will all be competing for use of the stadiums, and bid chairman Frank Lowy acknowledged the struggles his team had in completing the bid book, meant the whole bid came within “48 hours” of collapse in May.

Although this disagreement has been temporarily resolved, FIFA rules demand a moratorium on other major sporting events in a host city during a World Cup. If this is enforced, it is unlikely that the other major Australian sports will continue to agree to take a back seat to the WC. [10] A study by global research firm IBISWorld claimed that the 2022 World Cup would be worth $35.5 billion to the Australian economy – four times the amount generated by the 2000 Sydney Olympics, so whilst the Australian government is very keen, it seems the Australians biggest threat is themselves.[11]


Technically, the USA has the best bid by far. They have more than 70 stadiums with a capacity of 60,000 or more[13], and the best and most modern transportation, accommodation and media facilities in the world. Their biggest weakness is the general push for Asia to host the WC in 2022, which possibly led to the following episode.

Reports came out of Beijing in July that the Chinese FA were thinking about a bid for 2026 made headlines around the world. [14] A tournament in the world’s most populous nation could not happen in 2026 if FIFA awards 2022 to Asia. With four AFC nations in the running for 2022, only the United States would benefit from Chinese intervention, so it is not hard to see where any encouragement might be coming from, and the US bid was accused by the Korean Fifa vice‑president and Exco member Chung Mong-joon of having created “an atmosphere of lingering suspicion”.[15]

From FIFA’s perspective, there is considerable appeal in China bidding for 2026 because it’s the most populous nation in the world and a very important marketplace, probably more so than the USA was in 1994, bearing in mind the population and potential revenues.[16]


And so in part 5, we finally examine Qatar, one of the 3 favourites to host the FIFA WC in 2022.