How ‘Hollywood Weapons’ Green Beret Host Terry Schappert Would Train The Rebel Alliance in ‘Star Wars'

Monday, 02 October 2017 - 3:55PM
Science of Star Wars
Technology
Monday, 02 October 2017 - 3:55PM
How ‘Hollywood Weapons’ Green Beret Host Terry Schappert Would Train The Rebel Alliance in ‘Star Wars'
Image credit: Lucasfilm
During a conversation with retired Green Beret Master Sergeant Terry Schappert, you could find yourself talking about anything. He is conversant on topics ranging from film history to literature to the physics of firing a .454 Casull pistol underwater, speaking with an engaging erudition often punctuated with laughter that belies his physical gravitas. Indeed, the heavily tattooed, barrel-chested Schappert exudes what is known in military and law enforcement circles as 'command presence': a demeanor and bearing that, simply put, radiate leadership and confidence...and the understanding that he could definitely kick your ass, should the necessity arise.

But there's more to Terry Schappert than meets the eye. After earning an undergraduate degree in anthropology, Schappert enlisted in the U.S. Army, eventually earning the coveted green beret. In 1997, he left to pursue a career in acting, only to re-enlist after 9/11 as a Special Forces Medic, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror with the National Guard's 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) before retiring this year after over two decades of service.

Somehow, in the course of defending his country, Schappert also found the time to consult and appear as an expert host on various television shows including The History Channel's Warriorswhich he played a part in writing and creating, The Discovery Channel's Dude, You're Screwed, and, most recently, The Outdoor Channel's Hollywood Weaponsin which he and co-host (and IDF veteran) Larry Zanoff enjoy the enviable work of recreating iconic scenes from some of Hollywood's greatest action shows and movies, ranging from Predator to Jaws to the unintentionally schlocky fight scene(s) between Captain Kirk and the Gorn on the "Arena" episode of the original Star Trek series.

Yes, he made the cannon.


Indeed, Terry Schappert is a nerd. A highly-trained, combat-ready nerd—a "Warrior Nerd," according to his friend Andrew Wilkow of Sirius XM—but a nerd nonetheless. We were lucky enough to have him visit us when he recently visited New York City, and discussed everything from the influence of Lord of the Rings on his decision to enlist (he reads from the book every night and quotes it in conversation), rail guns, whether or not it's possible to blow up a car with a well-aimed rifle round, and the superiority of The Empire Strikes Back to the other two films in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Towards the end of our conversation, we asked Terry how he, as a Special Forces Advisor, would have led and trained the Rebel Alliance in their insurgency against the Galactic Empire. Unsurprisingly, he had a lot to say on the subject. If he had shown up in a galaxy far, far, away, however, it's unlikely that more than one film would have been necessary. Here's how Terry Schappert would apply Special Forces tactics and training to the Rebel Alliance. 

1. Build Team Cohesion


via GIPHY

According to Terry:

"As an advisor to them, what you really want to do… you have to make sure that you get them into regular meetings where they can talk because you don't want that rebel alliance to fragment. You can't have them in (separate) camps where they (take the attitude of) 'fuck those guys, they suck.' You've gotta bring them together.

"You have to train them together so that they're used to working together. Interoperability. They've gotta work together, otherwise it's not gonna work. There's gonna be language training, there's gonna be cultural stuff, there's gonna be all sorts of live fire: actual exercises to get them to work together. You've gotta make sure commo is good: you gotta make sure they can talk. In movies they make it easy, but in real life it's a pain in the ass.

Opening quote
Getting good communication with another force on the ground is everything. If you don't have that, you're dead.
Closing quote

"In the Green Berets, we select guys that tend to be older. We're liaising for foreign governments—big people—and we have to make decisions that are pretty important. We want guys that have a lot of judgement. How do you define Green Berets? Green Berets are problem solvers. We'll have fun with the knife-in-the-teeth and that whole image—we have fun with that—but all it is is guys who've been through a lot together; they've been put through the crucible so they know they're not gonna quit, they're physically tough guys, mentally tough.

But first you've gotta be creative, adaptive… and the biggest thing is you've gotta play well with others. You've gotta be a good team guy. I don't care if you're the best shot in the world, if we can't work with you, I don't want you on the team. I can train any monkey to pull a fucking trigger; they trained me! But there's that certain something, that team thing… we live and die as a team. So that's the kind of stuff you'd have to do with a rebel force.

2) Build Morale and Combat Efficacy by Taking Down Confidence Targets


via GIPHY

"What you want to do with (the rebel forces) is build them up slow and start hitting small targets first: I call them confidence targets. If you're a rebel force, you're already outnumbered, you're outgunned, you're out-everything. So when it comes to combat operations with these cats, that doesn't happen right away. It takes a long time in the real world, on the ground—generally speaking—before you can engage in an actual slugfest with somebody. So you target confidence targets.

Maybe we realize there's a radio tower the Empire is using to communicate on this planet and it covers this grid. OK, well, who's guarding it? 10 to 20 guys at a time, they rotate through, so you get eyes on them. Now you start getting the intel. You put dudes on the ground, snipers, intel guys: you get as much as you can about that. And you train: you mock up that radio tower in your training area and you rehearse… and you fucking hit it, you hit it and you build in contingencies and you build in timelines, you build in how to exfil, and then when you hit that target, you are so prepared and it is such a small target that you're not gonna lose."

Opening quote
Two things happen. You give the boys a taste of success and you let the bad guys know, you don't know where we're gonna fuckin' hit you. You put the fear of God in the ground soldier for the Empire. The Emperor, at that point, doesn't even know about this. But the dudes on the ground: now they're looking over their shoulder.
Closing quote

3) Conduct Disinformation and Propaganda Campaigns


via GIPHY
"You let the good guys know that the bad guys can be beaten and you just chip away at them. You take away the credibility of the Empire. That can be through some nasty things that actually might hurt the host nation. Let's just say you destroy a bunch of food supplies and then you put out a disinformation campaign that says 'the Empire took that from you' and then maybe we deliver it later like, 'oh, we got it back.' You're manipulating a lot of shit: it's a perilous path to tread. If you get caught, they're gonna cut your balls off and put them in your mouth."

4) Demoralize Empire Forces... and Be Patient

via GIPHY
"You have to make sure that the locals know that you're the good guys and the Empire is the bad guys. They probably already know, but you also have to let the locals know that the Empire has weaknesses. They are weak They can be beaten. They can be taken down. And that's why you do these small targets: you demoralize them, you demoralize the ground soldier that works for the Empire because then they start thinking 'why the fuck am I doing this? I don't get paid shit. I get no respect. These people hate me. Every time I go down the road in that vehicle, there's a good chance I'm gonna get lit up. Fuck this.' So you take away their will. It doesn't happen fast: don't go after the Death Star yet.

"I learned something in the Green Berets when I went to sniper school—because I'm not normally this kind of guy—but you've gotta be patient. I'm not by nature a patient guy. I've gotten better at it. It's a slow process and you have to be ready. If you're a rebel force, you have to be ready because they may be onto you. Someone from your group might turn."

For more from Terry Schappert, follow him on Twitter and check out Hollywood Weapons on The Outdoor Channel.



This interview was edited for space and clarity.
Science
Science of Sci-Fi
Science of Star Wars
Technology