Blackhawk Down
Analysis: How a relief mission ended in a firefight
Background: A defining battle leaves lasting scars

  • Today's video
  • Video categorized by speaker
  • Audio
  • Audio interview clips
  • Radio transmission clips
  • Photos
    Somalia: A Nation in Name Only
  • Introduction
  • Guns and fear
  • Daily living
  • The future

  • A Soldier's View
  • Maps
    Full text
  • The mailgram sent to Ranger Spec. Jamie Smith's parents
  • Gen. Garrison's letter about the events of Oct. 3
  • Who's who
  • Where are they now
  • Glossary
    Ask the author
  • Round 1 of Q&A
  • Round 2 of Q&A
  • Round 3 of Q&A
  • Round 4 of Q&A
  • Round 5 of Q&A
  • Round 6 of Q&A
  • Round 7 of Q&A
  • Round 8 of Q&A
  • Round 9 of Q&A
  • Round 10 of Q&A
  • Round 11 of Q&A
  • Round 12 of Q&A
  • Round 13 of Q&A
  • Round 14 of Q&A
  • Round 15 of Q&A
  • Round 16 of Q&A
  • Round 17 of Q&A
  • Round 18 of Q&A
  • Round 19 of Q&A
  • Round 20 of Q&A
  • Final notes on Q&A
  • About the series

    Round 12

    Brad Colip Greenfield, IN
    Will there be a "postscript" to the story telling what happened to the survivors and what repercussions, if any, the higher-ups got?
    Mark Bowden
    Yes to what happened to the survivors, Brad, but no to what happened with higher-ups. We have limited space in the newspaper, but I will be addressing these things in more detail in the book ... due out October, 1998. MB.

    linda bartlett nh
    In writting this article did you find that there was a reason for the Somali's to brutalize the dead soilders the way that was so graphically pictured all over the tv screen and for the media to televise the pictures? I am related to Cw4 Mike Durant and I found those pictures to be unbearable and burned into my thoughts while waiting to hear weather Mike would be returned to us dead or alive. I could not forget the savage way those dead solders were paraded through the streets.
    Mark Bowden
    Mobs are vicious and terrible things. The people of Mogadishu had taken a terrible beating on Oct. 3rd from American forces. The Somalis, looking at the events of that summer through their eyes (heavily armed foreign soldiers descending from helicopters and arresting their leaders) were clearly violently against Task Force Ranger, hence the great number who attacked them. Among those killed were many innocent bystanders. At the scene of Durant's crash, for instance, there was a two-year-old girl who suffered a severe head wound from a piece of flying metal. Her mother was badly burned. Some among those attacking the downed helicopter had lost family members. They were enraged. As for the media, as horrible as those images were, it was important for people to see them. In a democracy, the people decide, ultimately, when or when not to go to war. Fewer and fewer Americans serve in the military. The further removed from the reality of battle we as a society become, the more likely we are to send our soldiers to fight and die for insufficient reason. I could not forget those pictures either. They are one of the reasons I am writing this story. MB

    Marine Quantico, VA
    At the risk of starting an intramural fire fight... It's a Marine CAPTAIN and Army LtCol that are roughly equivalent. Sorry, but couldn't let that go by! Great series! Semper Fi.
    Mark Bowden
    My son is a Marine, so I'm right there with you. MB

    Frank Kuschnereit Fredericton, NB Canada
    Even though the battle happened 4 years ago, I find that I can hardly wait to read each new chapter. It makes my day. I hope this brings back the serial. Any idea how many hits the site is getting each day?
    Mark Bowden
    It was doubling every week until it blew out the server, which is why so many of you may be having trouble connecting. The Online folks have bought a new one and getting it up and running, but we won't know numbers until then. It was up to 40,000 a day at last count, before we had "Server Down! Server Down in the city!" MB

    Terminator 6 US ARMY
    Mark; I talked to Phil. While I do not dispute him being there, his personal glorification is both outragious and disgusting. After speaking to several of my men, Phil was in charge of nothing and none of us remember anything he talks about. He portrays a serious injustice to valor of men like James Martin. Please be more selective in what you print.
    scott Sylvania, Georgia
    Just wanted to say how much i enjoy this series...Ive never been one to read books/novels/etc much but this thing had captivated me in a way a story never has before....Started reading it in the Savannah Morning news and now following it online...when will there be a book or film?...keep up the good work!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Scott. The book will be out in October, 1998. The Inquirer will be marketing a full reprint of this series with a CD-rom for the online experience and our hour-long documentary (which will air some time next year on PBS) within the next 10 days. Watch this space for details. MB

    Mike Sparks Columbus, GA
    Reading your story I noted the Ranger contempt for the 10th MD soldiers who saved them and both them and SFOD-D for the APCs that saved them all. This light infantry silliness has not been solved. Why don't Rangers have M113A3 APCs organic? Read my web pages: and Pentagon/7963 The Pattern of War: Parts I, II, and III. We need force structure changes not just glorifying bravery due to incompetence and misunderstandings about the modern battlefield.
    Mike Sparks Columbus, GA
    One last point: there is a differance between being light infantry running around in closed terrain woods and being SHOCK TROOPS taking on heavily fortified and defended targets. SHOCK TROOPS NEED SHOCK ACTION and Ranger light infantry ego will not realive this means using armored vehicles in their force structure, not just sexy, dune buggies that get shot into flaming wrecks by mere small arms fire like 5-ton trucks and HMMWVs put into use. Refer to:
    DT Seattle, WA
    Does anyone know the status of Ranger Ohl?
    DT Seattle
    PS, the Headhunter says "Strike Fear."
    Mike Sparks Columbus, GA
    The "trump card" a Ranger force needs has to be ON THE GROUND: a M113A3 APC with mini-gun or 106mm Recoilless Rifle. My previous reference was partially incorrect:
    Junior TN
    Just a note for the online editor. You may want to correct Lt. Col. Gary Harrell's name in the glossary under Romeo 64 also.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Wow, I can't believe I missed that one. The glossary reference is now fixed. Thanks.-- Online ed.

    R. S. U.S.A
    Hey "been there done that" if you had ever REALLY been there or done any of "that" you would compeletly understand why someone who has: wants the information related correctly and accruately and all of the names spelled correctly and all the deeds of heroism and the heroes themselves given the proper respect that they deserve.
    LTKoop Antioch, CA
    Mark, I've learned as much from your series as I learned from the official pre-deployment briefings. Impressive work.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Jeff Richardson Florissant MO
    No question ,just a comment. Anyone who believes women belong in combat should read this.
    Jim Guelzow Victor, NY
    Just to clarify, the link-up with the Ranger did go smooth. There were no shots fired at friendlies. Our commander had actually walked into their "secure" perimeter. When we arrived, the Rangers were quick to thank us for the help -- there was no laughing at 10th MTN then.
    Mark Bowden
    You are right about that. MB

    Jim Guelzow Victor, NY
    All troops in the Somalia theatre had access to quality bottled water. We never drank anything else. Everybody downloaded bottled water into their canteens. When 10th MTN arrived at the crash site, more than one person had offered their water to the Rangers. There was never an instance of US troops drinking Somali water.
    Mark Bowden
    Rangers pinned down at crash site one did drink Somali water purified with iodine tablets. MB

    Jim Guelzow Victor, NY
    It's not clear in the way the story ends with the 10th MTN link-up, but Steele tried to direct the rescue columns troops to positions he desired. Our commander stood ground and commanded his troops the way he felt was efficient. A Co. 2-14 Infantry took over the mission from there. The Rangers sat back and let the A Co. do the fighting.
    former Infantryman Arlinton, VA
    Mark, Chap 24 raises a lot of questions in an infantryman's mind. You describe the force as scattered around the crash site, yet the map indicates that the bulk of the force was defending the crash site. Only Capt Steele's group was not in a position to help defend the site. What was there to argue? Were they supposed to abandon the SAR Team and survivors and withdraw?
    Mark Bowden
    I think the only issue was whether Steele and his men would move a block north to consolidate with the rest of the force. Steele decided not to do so. MB

    former Infantryman Arlington, VA
    Mark, you say that Capt Steele had 1 KIA, 2 serious WIAs and 3 walking WIAs at his position and was unable to move. How many able bodied people did he have, including the D-Boys? What about SAWs (light machine guns)? How many additional casualties did Steele's group suffer during the rest of the fight?
    Mark Bowden
    I'm not sure of the exact count of able-bodied, but it was probably at least 10 men. I don't know how many SAWs. After hunkering in, the only soldier injured to my knowledge was Sgt. Randy Ramaglia, who was shot in the shoulder on the run out. MB

    former Infantryman Arlington, Va
    In your response to a question in round 11, you said the D-Boys with Capt Steele joined up with the force at the crash site after dark. If the reason Steele didn't move earlier was because they were pinned down by heavy fire, why didn't he move when the D-Boys did after dark? Wasn't the crash site the critical point?
    Mark Bowden
    I don't know the answer. It is my impression that the two captains were at a bit of a standoff. MB

    former Infantryman Arlington, Va
    In Chap 26 you refer to Capt Steele's position as the "southern edge of the perimeter", Actually, it doesn't appear to be part of the perimeter at all. In your answer to my question in round 11, you said that Steele did not get any of the resupply that came in after dark. Wasn't this because he was not in contact with the rest of the force? Think that was sort of what Lt. Col. Harrell's radio transmission told him earlier.
    Mark Bowden
    It is a perimeter unless you insist on perimeters being neat geometrical shapes. I said I didn't think they got resupplied, I'm not sure of it. No doubt moving south would have made resupply easier, but I'm not sure how urgent resupply was at Steele's location. MB

    former Infantryman Arlington, Va
    Its been a long time since I was at the Infantry School, but I think the motto, "Follow Me", hasn't changed. You state, " He ignored Sgt John Boswell when the Delta soldier offered him his headset and urged him to talk further to Miller." So, if Capt Steele elected to stay away from the crash site and wouldn't attempt to coordinate with Capt Miller, then wasn't he, in effect, abdicating any leadership role to Miller, who was forward at the crash site, where the fight was?
    Mark Bowden
    I don't think Capt. Steele saw it that way. MB

    COL Bill David Fort Bragg, NC
    Mark, Yours is a great piece that I predict will become the definitive work on this battle. I'll take it on faith that you'll provide more complete coverage of the role played by the 10th Mtn Div QRF in the book. These men played a key role in this battle that is worthy of more than a mere postscript. 2 KIA, 28 WIA. In the interim, I'd ask you and your readers to consider a few important facts about what these "schmoes, a few steps away from civilianhood" accomplished: 1) They moved to both crash sites - largely on foot over the final 500 meters - through the same intense fire that prevented the TFR elements from exfiltrating. 2) There has never been the even slightest hint of any fratricide involving 10th Mtn forces - an amazing testimony to training, discipline, and small unit leadership. 3) Ponder the consequences if the 10th had not been there - or if these "schmoes"had failed. Giving appropriate credit to these men in no way denigrates the achievements, heroism and valor of others.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you Col. David. I hereby renew my pledge to tell more of every aspect of this story in the book, and I agree with your remarks about the 10th completely. MB

    Bill Manassas, Va.
    Outstanding writing. You have illuminated the effects of the "fog of war" exceedingly well.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Bill. MB

    Terminator 6 US Army
    Mark; Thanks for reducing my mens effort to one line of one chapter. I find it some-what ironic that the Rangers can talk so much "trash" now only because of the efforts of a "poorly trained regular-Army schmoes" like the men of 2-14 Infantry. I hope they can sleep well at night....
    Mark Bowden
    I apologize for not writing more fully about your part in the story. I am under strict constraints in the newspaper series that I will not have in the book. MB

    Jeff Columbus, GA.
    AS a senior NCO who served with 2/75, 3/75 and RTB, I wish to congratulate you on a fine peice of journalism, it's Pulitzer material in my book. I am also sickened by the unecessary loss of so many good men, some of whom I knew. I wish the officer corp would learn from this, but unfortuantely, reinventing the wheel is an Army tradition.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jeff. MB

    former infantryman arlington, va
    To Jim in NY and Bill at Ft. Bragg: I am sure that the troops on the ground appreciated the arrival of the 14th Inf "Golden Dragons" and understood what they had gone through to get there. Maybe as in the relief of Peking during the Boxer rebellion, you should have had a bugler to climb over the wall.(Just kidding, guys) "The Right of the Line"
    tony freemantle houston, tx
    mark, from a fellow big city newspaper journalist. wanted to commend you and your paper for taking this profession to a new level. too often we bemoan the fact that nobody reads newspapers anymore and then do little about it. it is obvious from the response you are getting that people are reading this. that in itself is the greatest compliment.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Tony. Just think how much easier it will be now to sell longer stories! MB

    am FL
    Seems like the convoy had no onboard maps/photos of street layout. I've never been in a convoy w/o maps. Trying to give directions from air to ground never worked for us in training. I have INF e-5 thru 0-3 backgrd; currently fly UH/AH aircraft as CW2. Rangers/ mech taught me years ago to develop grid numbers on spot with photo of area of ops when none avail via normal channels. Any info on this? congrats to gordon and maj H. for admitting oversites, shortfuse response, it takes courage to do it that guys. Outstanding work M.B.!!!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I don't know the answer to your question, but it's a good one and I'll pursue it. And I'll add my salute to gordon and Maj. H., and encourage anyone with criticism or corrections to weigh in. I'm not offended or especially defensive. I just want to get this right. MB

    JCB Cincinnati, OH
    To Col. David and the rest of the 10 MTN folks: bottom line, you guys came and got us. I, for one, was very glad to see you. We all - Delta, 10th MTN, Ranger - have a lot more to be proud of than sorry about. Let's get past the sniping.
    curious pacific n.w.
    during your investigating, did you find out what Aideed was doing during the firefight?
    Mark Bowden
    Hiding. MB

    Sue McLean, VA
    This is so Cpt Steele and some of his Rangers are belittling the rescue group. First, they don't like Delta, now they don't like the 2-14Inf. Considering their performance in some instances, they should have been a bit more careful in casting slurs in front of a reporter. They don't do themselves or anyone in SOF a service. I hope those of you (and you are not the majority by any means) who have contributed some of these unwise remarks are happy that you've given Mark a "Showdown at the OK Corral" story and have certainly justified his point in his opening remarks that there was rivalry between the groups. Pride in unit is one thing, denigrating other units isn't very bright. So some of you have helped reduce Mark's soul searing account of a ferocious fight against overwhelming odds into a soap opera of bitting, acerbic dialog. Shame!
    R.S. U.S.A.
    Mark, it seems as though you have only been contacted by a very few of the "D-boys" I understand why this is but do you feel as though you are really getting the best picture of the situation just reporting what the Rangers have told you? There are incorrect things in some of your chapters. As to the supposed rift between the Rangers and the D-boys most men in Special Operations if they are not currently in the Ranger Battalion have been or have been to Ranger school. I think it is probably impossible for someone without a working military knowledge to have the kind of respect for these men that they trully deserve. Rangers are the youngest of the highly trained combat forces in the Army and should not be belittled by anyone who was not in Task Force Ranger for whatever they may perceive their actions to be. There are extremely large differences in the two units that made up Task Force Ranger and that is why they are what they are,the D-boys are the highest trained best of the best in the Army PERIOD. Maybe you should include a little background (if you have not already) I have not seen one, on the history of the units and there missions
    R.S U.S.A.
    Mark I have had two comments cut off. I was wondering if I should send things in two parts to avoid this. can you retrieve the rest of the two I have sent you?

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