“I think you’re fighting an idea and not any organized group. That idea is a very dangerous, evil one—fanatic jihadists—and until you enlighten the people over who we are and what we stand for, I think we’re just going to keep fighting.”
While stationed at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in an undisclosed country in, Kennedy penned a three-part series ‘Letters from a Foreign Land’ for FiveOuncesofPain. Detailing his attempts at exterminating local pests and improvised plyometric routines, the Special Forces sniper revealed new details about the conditions he experienced while at war.
“An FOB is very close to enemy lines. And when you’re there—it’s crazy. You’re fighting all the time—every time you leave the base, you’re in a gunfight. Every time you get in the truck to go on a mission, just leaving, you’re going to get attacked. Coming back—you’re going to have to fight your way back to the base. It’s a pretty treacherous place to be stationed.”
Describing Advanced Operating Bases (AOB) as larger facilities with more support, Kennedy says that time spent here with the comfort of regular meals makes for contrasting situations.
“It’s also relative to when you’re at an FOB, you’re in gunfights, it’s really intense, you don’t have any food, you’re using transmissions to workout, you’re doing box jumps on these so you can get a leg workout—and then you go to an AOB and the pace is a lot more normal.”
Warfare can maul body parts and take lives—but there are additional psychological hazards in the form of post-traumatic stress that can remain with a soldier long after he or she leaves the battlefield.
“People that are more susceptible to it are guys who aren’t in combat units or specialized units, and don’t have coping mechanisms that are already in place to deal with those kinds of stresses. When you get to elite Special Forces units, the guys I was around were pretty emotionally solid guys that could deal with stuff like that and help buddies. The real glue that holds everyone together is to your left and to your right.”
Whether due to luck or skill, Kennedy has managed to avoid any serious problems, but going from combat to civilian life can shadow his mind at times:
“I’ve never had real bad serious post-traumatic stress. There have been times when I’ve come back, and it’s taken a little time to adjust—you know, you’re at Best Buy and something sets you off like a smell, or a vehicle that sounds a certain way or people that listen to certain music or the way a group of people are dressed—you’re like ‘What is going on here?’ and then you say, ‘Wait a sec—I am in North Carolina and these guys are not going to blow me up.’ So sometimes it takes a bit of time to adjust when you’re cutting lettuce in the kitchen and two weeks ago you were sitting on the side of the helicopter with the SR-25 in your lap, taking shots at guys shooting RPG’s at you, sometimes it just takes a little time for the mind to adjust. After a little bit, the dreams go away, you start sleeping again and everything is normal.”
Now a full-time fighter, the possible departure of Strikeforce’s middleweight champion Jake Shields means that should Kennedy beat Prangley, there’s a new opening at the top for him to apply for.
“The 185 weight class with Strikeforce is pretty stacked. I can’t say that if I win this fight, I’m the #1 contender. I think if I win this fight, then I’m in a pretty good position to fight for the contendership.”
There are a number of possibilities ahead for Kennedy, who seems to have done and experienced enough for several lifetimes over. He still needs to press forward—there’s another adventure ahead for him to enjoy on June 16, in the cage.