By Thomas M. Loarie

BOOK REVIEW: A Special Operations Forces’ Guide to Recruiting & Assessment for Organizational Excellence

November 29, 2020
Column: CEO Learnings

In The Talent War, former Army officer, George Randle, and former Navy Seal, Mike Sarraille, join forces to share their decades of experience in talent acquisition and management. Randle is a strategic advisor to Sarraille’s EF Overwatch, and VP of Global Talent Acquisition for Forcepoint, a human-centric cybersecurity company. EF Overwatch is an executive search and talent advisory firm.

What makes this book unique is that the authors draw on their military experience, particularly that with Special Operations Forces (SOF) – Seals, Green Berets, etc. – to describe how SOFs recruit, assess, and retain talent. They then translate their best practices to show how high-performance teams like the SOFs can be created in the private sector.

Organizations must first begin with a talent mind-set. For the authors, they have seen first-hand that it is talent that drives teams forward and when all is said and done, it is talent that wins. Talent at its most basic level is high-potential candidates that are most likely to become high performers.

Randle and Sarraille state that the foundation of talented teams begins with character. This is the critical raw material needed to build a highly productive and sustainable organization. “Hire for character, train for skill.” You cannot teach character.

Think about the importance of character in your own experience. Reflect on those who exhibited character and how you felt about them. Then think of those who did not. It is the grease for excellence, and it must be embedded in everyone for success.

Character is not assessed by looking at a college degree, industry experience, or hard-earned skills. Many a company has made a hiring decision based on these factors only to eliminate incredibly high potential people.

Exceptionally talented people are different and need to be viewed differently. Nonetheless, they all share a common set of character attributes, namely:

  • Drive
  • Resiliency
  • Adaptability
  • Integrity
  • Effective Intelligence
  • Team-Ability
  • Curiosity
  • Emotional Strength
  • Humility

This set of attributes that needs to be assessed when evaluating talent.

The authors describe how to assess each attribute.

In The Talent War, the authors also discuss what is wrong with traditional hiring practices, how to create a talent acquisition plan, knowing the audience to attract top talent, building a hiring team, and a detailed guide to the hiring process.

Randle and Sarraille have several decades of experience related to the assessment, selection, and retention of high potential talent for Fortune 100 and Fortune 1000 companies. The Talent War provides an extremely useful guide to those interested in learning how to build effective and sustainable organizations using techniques developed by Special Operation Forces over many decades.

Footnote: George Randle has been a guest mentor on my radio show, The MENTORS RADIO show which airs Saturdays on the Salem Radio Network.

You can hear Mr. Randle discuss The Talent War by going to this link:  Once there, make sure you subscribe to future shows.




View Articles Thomas M. Loarie is a popular host of The Mentors Radio Show, the founder and CEO of BryoLogyx Inc. (, and a seasoned corporate... MORE »

Leave a Reply