When the Tempest Gathers

From Mogadishu to the Fight Against ISIS, a Marine Special Operations Commander at War

Andrew Milburn

These are the combat experiences of the first Marine to command a special operations task force, recounted against a backdrop of his journey from raw Second Lieutenant to seasoned Colonel and Task Force Commander
Date Published :
December 2022
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
23 color illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781526750556
Pages : 336
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781399019231
Pages : 336
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
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"Milburn has constructed a real tour de force of recent military history, strongly written and executed with the dedication and attention to detail you would expect from a Marine Special Operations Commander." — Booklist

These are the combat experiences of the first Marine to command a special operations task force, recounted against a backdrop of his journey from raw Second Lieutenant to seasoned Colonel and Task Force Commander; from leading Marines through the streets of Mogadishu, Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul to directing multi-national special operations forces in a dauntingly complex fight against a formidable foe.

The journey culminates in the story’s centerpiece: the fight against ISIS, in which the author is able to use the lessons of his harsh apprenticeship to lead the SOF task force under his command to hasten the Caliphate’s eventual demise.

Milburn has an unusual background for a US Marine, and this is no ordinary war memoir. Very few personal accounts of war cover such a wide breadth of experience, or with so discerning a perspective. As Bing West comments: “His exceptional skill is telling each story of battle and then knitting them into a coherent whole. By the end of the book, the reader understands what happened on the ground in the wars against terrorists over the past twenty years.”

Milburn tells his extraordinary story with self-effacing candor, describing openly his personal struggles with the isolation of command, post-combat trauma and family tragedy. And with the skill and insight of a natural story teller, he makes the reader experience what it’s like to lead those who fight America’s wars. 

About The Author

COL. ANDREW MILBURN was born in Hong Kong and grew up in the United Kingdom where he attended St Paul’s School and University College London. After graduating from law school, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps as a private. He was commissioned from the ranks, and as a Marine infantry and special operations officer, has commanded in combat at every grade. As the commanding officer of the Marine Corps’ special operations regiment, he was selected to lead a multi-national task force given the mission of defeating ISIS in Iraq. He retired in 2019 as the Chief of Staff of Special Operations Command, Central (SOCCENT), the headquarters responsible for the conduct of all US special operations throughout the Middle East. Since then he has written articles on topics such as leadership, ethics and culture change, for a number of publications, to include The Atlantic Magazine. He and his wife Jessica live in Tampa, Florida with their two children and a coterie of rescued dogs.

Col. Milburn founded The Mozart Group in 2022, an elite military advisor organization assisting Ukrainian special forces in the fight against the Russian invasion.


"Milburn uses an effortless style, navigating the reader from Marine Corps Boot Camp to Somalia to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Special Operations Task Force operations against ISIS. Insightful details and meaningful anecdotes are interspersed throughout, adding the right amount of context without impeding the overall story."

- Special Operations Journal

"A decorated Marine’s officer's riveting account of some thirty years of often horrific frontline fighting from, Somalia to Iraq. Milburn’s to hell and back memoir is gritty, erudite, and reminds us of the extraordinary sort of people who keep us safe while we sleep."

- Victor Davis Hanson, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University,Author, The Second World Wars. How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won

"Milburn has constructed a real tour de force of recent military history, strongly written and executed with the dedication and attention to detail you would expect from a Marine Special Operations commander."

- Booklist

"This is simply the finest war memoir to emerge from the last two decades of constant fighting." 

- Bing West, co-author of "Call Sign Chaos", New York Times Bestseller.

"...the best combat memoir to emerge from the modern battlefield. Milburn’s astonishing Marine career took him from Somalia in 1992 to Syria In 2018 and everywhere in between, including traditional infantry and unique advisor and special operations commands that resulted in fighting for the same Iraqi cities years apart, again and again. The result is a searing perspective on endless Middle East combat that has no peer."  

- Owen West, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations

"In the fields that today we know as Special Operations, individuals throughout history have developed near-legendary standing….The first half of the 20th century gave us T. E. Lawrence and Marines like Edson, Carlson, and Pierre “Pete” Ortiz…..Without hyperbole, the combat memoir of Colonel Andrew Milburn, USMC, When the Tempest Gathers, establishes this Marine leader’s name among this storied group…… this genuine tale of the triumphs and the challenges of leadership in today’s wars….is most importantly a compelling and completely authentic story."

- Marine Corps Gazette

"....a valuable addition to war memoir literature and well worth reading. There are numerous useful lessons packed into this extraordinarily insightful and accessible book. It is ideally suited as a professional military education resource for Marine, Army, and SOF NCOs and officers as well as any American seeking a better understanding of the toll of our post-9/11 wars on the All-Volunteer Force."

- Proceedings - U.S. Naval Institute

"Milburn’s experiences provide a sobering exploration of the complex and dangerous nature of being an advisor to Iraqi forces."

- Marine Corps History

"After reading this powerful and beautifully written memoir, indispensable for understanding how a warrior engages in military combat, one can’t help but wonder if perhaps a movie or a television series based on it might be next."

- The Washington Times

"Andy Milburn provides a work that seems to bring a sense of pride to what many call the 'Long Wars', some even the 'Lost Wars.' Colonel Milburn dictates the story I feel many veterans, myself included, of those wars wished to be conveyed. Milburn’s work is the perfect 10/10 in my opinion. It will be added to the list of quintessential memoirs for the men and women who have served during that time period."   

- Marine Corps Association

"Exceptionally well written, organized and presented...a unique and especially recommended addition to the personal reading lists of all dedicated military history buffs..."

- Midwest Book Review

"This book should be taken as a serious work, and added to your ‘must have’ lists, to be read alongside McFate’s Goliath and Kilcullen’s The Dragons and The Snakes, because Milburn has lived and recorded what others only frame academically. 

Any thinking British military person should take this book and examine Milburn’s experiences and ideas." 

- Wavell Room

"By the end of the book you will have an appreciation of the hardship of military life for the service members and their families, be exposed to a narrative about the harsh reality of combat, and ponder the need for politicians and senior military officers to be more rigorous in the debate about the purpose of future wars."

- SOF News

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