BOOK CORNER: Retired Army leader tells story of deadly betrayal

Wave Staff Report

Told second by second in a firsthand survivor’s account, “Embedded Enemy: The Insider Threat” is the gripping, true story of a terrorist attack against the U.S. military. Author Bart E. Womack, a retired command sergeant major with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, recalls the unprecedented March 23, 2003 assault during which fellow American, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, turned against his chain of command as they slept.

“This event shocked the armed forces, America and people around the world,” Womack said. “It forced everyone to consider more carefully who we really trust, and to begin to digest the idea that threats to our personal safety might now come from the inside. Twenty years later, the entire country has no idea how this event actually took place.”

As the Bastogne Brigade was staged at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait, set to battle Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime, Womack said, “one of their very own, an embedded enemy” waged his own campaign, killing two officers and wounding 13 others.

“This story is about how the soldiers bonded together to rescue, treat and evacuate their brothers in arms in the midst of darkness, massive explosions, gunfire, suffocating smoke, body-ripping shrapnel, and complete and total chaos and confusion,” Womack said, “while simultaneously searching for a ruthless killer that had taken the same oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against foreign enemies.”

The soldiers and airmen killed and wounded in this attack never received the Purple Heart, as casualties from an enemy traditionally do. On Jan. 9, 2023 the award was denied by the Army and Air Force.

“I remain steadfast in pursuit and will continue to fight until they are recognized by the award of the Purple Heart that they so truly deserve,” Womack said. “These medals won’t bring back those killed or heal the bodies of those wounded. It will, however, serve as a testament that the United States of America recognizes their sacrifice and officially calls the attack a ‘terrorist attack.’”

Akbar was sentenced to death and currently awaits execution at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth.

Womack served in the Army for 29 years. During his post-military career he has helped veterans transition to civilian life. He sits on the board of directors for Veterans Media Corporation and is an executive producer for the Veterans Channel.

“Embedded Enemy: The Insider Threat” is available for $19.99 at