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Preview – Mission X: Personality Driven

Photography by Quoc Ha

This Team Offers Hard-core Adventure Services, From Helping You Summit Mount Everest to Running the “Olympics of Counterterrorism”

Ever wonder what retired elite warriors do after years of busting through doors, taking down bad guys, and protecting the Free World? Do they make that natural transition into law enforcement? Perhaps they prefer a quiet civilian life, kicking up their heels at a seaside residence? For the men at Mission X, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Comprised of an international team of former special operation forces (SOF), the company provides a wide array of hard-core services — from facilitating extreme adventure vacations through the Amazon to hosting realistic war-games scenarios for corporate leadership development. Mission X also runs the Annual Warrior Competition in Amman, Jordan, where the world’s most elite teams of police and military personnel build esprit de corps by competing against each other. While adventures and expeditions are a large part of the Mission X panoply, they also provide personal security to celebrities and both stunt performances and technical support to filmmakers. Their talents and know-how can be seen in numerous documentaries, movies, and TV shows — check out some of their handiwork in Touching the Void, Monsters: Dark Continent, and the Locked Up Abroad TV episode about the real-life Argo incident.

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Despite all of these achievements, the most impressive thing about Mission X is that it achieves so much with a largely disabled staff — though disabled in this case is an extremely subjective word. “We’re like the Island of Misfit Toys,” says Charles “CK” Redlinger of his company. “We bring guys in, rebrand them as ‘colorful,’ and go to work.”

Colorful Men
Mission X was founded a few years ago by Redlinger and Harry Taylor. CK is a former Marine, SWAT officer, and police detective. He is an accomplished small-unit leader who worked for many years as an overseas contractor, including an assignment to the regional U.S. ambassador’s protective services detail and another as the security manager for General David Petraeus in Iraq. Taylor is a former Royal Marine turned 22 Special Air Service (SAS) trooper who helped storm the Iranian Embassy in 1980. He is a storied outdoor adventurer who set a paragliding record in Namibia, mountaineering records in several places, and climbed Mount Everest at least seven times — once summiting it without supplementary oxygen, only the second Brit to ever do so.

These two no doubt seem like interesting men, but, believe it or not, Mission X members get even more “colorful” from there. They are also, to a man, ribald, gracious, hospitable and professional. There are Brits, Americans, Kiwis, South Africans, Danes, and others. They range in age from early 20s to late 50s and their backgrounds as disparate as they are eclectic. “We try to stay international,” says Redlinger of his team. “We have guys who were British SAS and SBS, New Zealand SAS, U.S. 1st SFOD-D … SEALs and Reconnaissance guys, Danish guys…having these colorful characters from different places is one of our strongest points.”

“All the guys have a pretty strong, unique dimension to them,” Harry says. “Pup here [Gregg Johnson of New Zealand] is an ex-SAS guy, Johnny Two Combs [Johnny Howard, former British 22 SAS] has written three or four books, one of the guys mentors human performance training and drives Formula One and Rally … they are all massively engaged in these pursuits.”

With that sort of background, you might expect Mission X to be a training company. That is not the case.

“We had no intention of being a training company,” Redlinger says. “We wanted to take all those guys with those backgrounds and go in a different direction with it. We wanted to do adventures, expeditions, provide leadership training and consulting. Really, the first thing we started doing was film and TV, because we had a lot of guys on our roster who had done technical advising in the movie industry already.”

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