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 17

    Bragad Mountain View, CA
    A more exacting account of the medal of honorees would be inspiring. I thought one of these heroes was a sniper who ran out of ammo? I also thought I saw a picture of a Somali house that was hit by a AC-130--during Mog Battle, any AC-130 participation?
    Mark Bowden
    There will be lots more in the book, which will be out in October (Atlantic Monthly Press). No AC-130s in this fight. It was a source of much debate afterwards. Les Aspin had nixed them in the force request, along with the Bradleys. MB

    JohnD San Jose, CA
    Bravo on good journalism. I recall reading, as a college student, about TFR in the newspaper the day after it happened.Sadly the news died out after a few days.As an amateur mil historian, I have on and off researched the story in the last couple years (Ranger, Nightstalker url, etc).You filled in a lot of the gaps & ?s I had.Keep up the good work.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, John. As my old friend Wild Bill used to say, "I always keep it up for as long as I can." MB

    Mr. Curt Smith Quantico, VA
    Mr. Bowden: I couldn't reach via phone (old no. doesn't work)-- would you be interested in possibly addressing a USMC audience here at Quantico MCB concerning your observations/thoughts viz a viz "BlackHawk Down" as part of an Urban Operations seminar? phone: (703) 784-6137
    Mark Bowden
    Sure. I'll call. You can still track me down through the Inquirer foreign desk at 215-854-2400, depending on what mood they're in. MB

    Barbara Ballard Coupeville, WA
    Thanks for the positive response! I've ordered the video, and am working now w/ the 9th graders on trying to understand loss of central government, rise of tribal and regional domains, and the growning pervasiveness of war in Africa. A stretch for 14 year olds. I'll let you know when I get the film viewed, so we can schedule the on-line time!
    Mark Bowden
    You bet. Somalia makes a great case study of anarchy, and is the best argument I've seen for a sturdy central government. MB

    Paul W. Cottage Grove, MN
    Great Series Mark! The St. Paul Pioneer Press just began the series, and, after reading the first installment, I coudn't wait a month to finish the story, so I logged on the internet and read your entire account without leaving my computer. Well written, I look forward to the book and seeing a national PBS braodcast of the video.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Paul. MB

    Paul W. Cottage Grove, MN
    Mark, I did have a question. I work in publishing and was wondering how the book deal, movie rights, royalties, and possible Frontline air time are squared against your fulltime salary and paid travel for the research and interviews for the series. Does the Inquirer receive a percentage of the book revenue? Just curious as to how this all wqashes out. Tremendous success!
    Mark Bowden
    In a nutshell, the Inquirer paid me and covered my expenses to write the series and to help with the production of the film and website. Book rights, movie rights, etc. are mine. There are other ways of doing this, of course, but this way we are both very happy. MB

    Robert Glazebrook Hastings, MN
    I worked on AH-6 little birds from 1988-92 and 93-95. if you have any questions about i might be able to ask. As long as it is approved by the 160th
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Robert. I'll file that away. MB

    Jeff Hernandez Scottsdale, Arizona
    Dear Mr. Bowden: I've thoroughly enjoyed your articles, and I'm interested in knowing if you know of any books written about the raid. Would you happen to have the ISBN number(s)? You're a good writer. You should consider writing a book about the raid.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jeff. I'm writing the book now. It will be out in October. The only book about the raid is "Mogadishu, Heroism and Tragedy," by Kent DeLong and Steven Tuckey. It was done hastily, but I think they did a pretty good job. ISBN #:0-275-94925-7. There's a chapter about Somalia in Col. David Hackworth's "Hazardous Duty," and also in Daniel Bolger's "Savage Peace." MB

    Jim Terra San Jose CA
    Just ran across the first few chapters in the SF Chronicle. Amazing! Any thought about doing something similar re Bosina, and the promise that the troops would be home by December, 1997!?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jim. I'm still knee-deep in Somalia. I'm a slow journalist. I run generally four-to-five years behind. MB

    Jim Terra San Jose CA
    Anyway of knowing if Clinton has read all your writing, besides asking him of course;-)
    Mark Bowden
    The President has not weighed in yet. MB

    Ron Phoenix, AZ
    Mark, This fascinating story seems like a real-life movie. If you were to single out a single soldier, who was the most effective in combat, who would it be? and why? At the risk of sounding foolish was this something out of a Rambo/Shwarzenegger movie?
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Ron, and no. I think we should all work hard at maintaining a line in our minds between reality and comic books. MB

    Becky Stafford, VA
    Your series was by far the best account of what happened in Somalia that I have read. I will tell my husband to call. Look forward to getting your book fof his birthday next Fall.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Becky. I'm on the road right now, but hoping to meeting with Jim next week. MB

    Chris NCCB-you talked to me 1/5/97
    To answer a question which a reader had put to you, our President has indeed read your writing. Although, I am not sure how much of it he's covered. I'm still working on the number for McKnight and should have it in 2 to 3 days. Ever Forward! -chris
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Chris. And if you speak to President Clinton any time soon, ask him to please accept my request for an interview. I haven't been able to get through. MB

    Becky Stafford, VA
    CWO Goffena received a Silver Star?
    Mark Bowden
    I don't have my reference material with me right now to double-check, but will do so. MB

    Bill McLean
    Great series! Will any of this be on TV in the DC area? Have you published anything since Ch. 29?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. The documentary will air nationally this year sometime, but no date yet. I'm working on finishingup up the book right now. MB

    Jim Waseca, Mn
    Did President Clinton order this operation to be undertaken? There is previous mention that he was angry after seeing the aftermath on television. How could he have not known about this operation and the risks involved?
    Mark Bowden
    The President okayed sending TFR to Mogadishu to either catch Aidid or round up his command structure. As I understand it, he was briefed daily on their actions, but did not authorize each individual mission. My guess is that his angry response was to the magnitude of the firefight, the number of casualties, etc. No one really foresaw this outcome. I don't know (and I'd love to ask him about this), but I suspect as a relatively new president, he was quicker to accept the optimistic assessments of has advisors (as, for instance, JFK was before the Bay of Pigs) and has been somewhat more cautious since (as JFK was). MB

    Peter Squeglia Boston MA
    In regards to Andy Tillmans question about the different weapons being used by TFR. Most Rangers were using the M16A2 with a scattering of CAR-15's(civilian name, but we're talking semantics) being used by radio operators, Plt Sgts, Plt Leaders, CO, XO, FO's, etc... SOme Car-15's were rigged with either a M203 or sawed-off shotgun underneath the barrel. I personally had a Car-15 with a 203 underneath using HE & shotgun rounds. Blackhawk crews were also using M16A2's and never used "silencers" on their weapons while in Mog. Little Bird pilots did have MP5K issued to them, but again no silencers were on these weapons. In fact after the Oct 3rd battle pilots were turning them in for Car-15's(a 5.56 round has a much higher velocity then a 9mm round). Where silencers were being used was with the CSAR team and again the were not true silencers but "suppresors" on their CAR-15s. After a few weeks in Mog the CSAR team in Super 68 decided to take the suppresors off. Reason, they extended the barrel by about 18 inches making it ungainly and b/c the way a supressor is designed with many baffles to muffle the noise it "gunks" up weapons much quicker
    Mark Bowden
    Pretty soon you guys won't even need me anymore and I can concentrate on the book. Thanks, Peter. MB

    Peter Squeglia Boston MA
    CONTINUED: with carbon, oil, etc...Consequently weapons malfunction, ejectors & extractors fail. Mark Bowden has a great picture from me showing the CSAR team in front of Super 68 with suppresors on their weapons, hopefully this picture will make in the book, Mark? :-) As for the SAW, yes it does use 5.56 rounds, in Mog we modified it to have a pistol grip put on to the front. This gave the Ranger much better control of placing rounds on the target, Dave Diemer can attest to this and I think we may have standardized on the pistol grip back at battalion afterwards. By the way I would love to hear from other Rangers, Diemer,
    marka phoenix,AZ
    Mark,thanks for the response(session 16).The Malaysian actions are better covered,as some US QRF soldiers travelled in their APCs,once the rescue convoy moved out.Let me give you what I have on the Pakistani side.The Pakistanis were requested to protect,lead and guide the convoy to the final RV,protect it during the halt,and bring up the rear on the way out.Their response was quick-they reached the New Port at 1800,followed at 1845 by the Malaysians and 2100 by the US troops.The Pakistani force was a tank platoon (M-48 tanks) and a mech inf platoon (M-113 APCs).Three dozen or so men,in all.The rescue convoy was led by this force,leaving at 2335,followed by Malaysians,then US troops.The Pakistanis drew heavy auto and mortar fire 300 yds ahead of Strong point 207 on National Street,fought through it till the junction of National and Hawal Wadag Streets.From arrival here till departure at 0530 (4 Oct),this body of Pakistani troops fought a standing gun battle,in the open,against Somali militia in dark side streets and dominating buildings,armed with small arms,auto weapons,RPG-7s and mortars.To protect the rescue convoy all available ordnance was fired,as the troops waited for the Ra
    marka phoenix,AZ
    Sorry my question was cut.....waited for the Rangers.The Malaysian/US convoy left,leaving many Rangers on the ground (Mark you mentioned that).Here the mech platoon commander decided that,although he was tasked to protect the convoy,not carry Rangers,he would take as many as he could.He waited under gunfire and took aboard two dozen plus Rangers,packed like sardines with his riflemen (the exact number is not known).The Rangers inside told the commander GO!GO! He said he would wait a little to take stragglers.He left his APC under fire,dragged a wounded Ranger who was slowly crawling on the ground and eased him into his APC.As the withdrawal began,the APCs wireless antenna was shot off by an auto burst.Fire intensified as the force moved and a Pakistani soldier was hit in the face by shrapnel from a mortar round.The firefight continued till contact was broken and the force finally reached the Soccer Stadium. In the heat of the moment,many Rangers would not remember whuch APCs they travelled in.The Malaysians drove unfamiliar,white painted,wheeled APCs that were empty.The Pakistanis had familiar greem M-113 APCs that were manned by riflemen.I request those Rangers who owe their
    marka phoenix,Az
    continued.......lives to these men to please come on the net and tell their story.Mark,sorry for the long piece,I felt obliged to give you what you may not know,but is relevent,for your newspaper series and book.I leave the rest to you.Good luck!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks for that, Marka. There will be more about the giant rescue convoy, and everyone involved, in the book. MB

    Richard M San Jose CA
    I may have missed this answer somewhere, but approximately how many somalia casualites (killed & wounded) resulted from the battle?
    Mark Bowden
    I thing the estimate of 500 Somalis killed is probably as close to accurate as we'll get. Total Somali casualties was probably 1,000-plus. MB

    Dean Garner, Ph.D. Maine
    Superior journalism. Too bad this wasn't around when I was in 1st Ranger Battalion ('94-'97); would've made a good lesson-learned seminar for us combat-inexperienced Rangers. Hell, not one of our NCOs even mentioned what happened in Mogadishu. So much for studying the tactical perspective of a battle lost in the winds of ultra-sensitive politics and bad military policy, eh?. All the best, Mark.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Dean. I think they're talking about it more now. MB

    Jeff Ridgeland, MS
    I commend you and the Philadelphia Inquirer for a moving account. The power and democracy of the Internet is no where better displayed. I was reminded of the inscription in Herman Wouk's The Winds of War: "The end of war lies in remembrance." I thank you and our brave soldiers.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jeff. MB

    Mark Jackson San Antonio, TX
    Hey Mark, was wondering about my pictures and my tape. Just wondering if it slipped your mind. I can be E-Mailed at
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be in touch. MB

    Glenn D. Drexel Hill, PA
    Based on the Q&As, congratulations to you and the Inquirer for writing an outstanding account of this tragic event. You captured the incredible bravery and dedication exhibited by ALL the personnel on those 2 days.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Glenn. MB

    Glenn D Drexel Hill, PA
    Mark, have you asked for an interview and what response have you gotten from the Clinton administration regarding this incident? His actions (or lack of) indicate he would like this incident to go away. Despite all the rhetoric, it appears that the ultimate responsibility lies with the President. He put these men in harms way yet limited their support firepower. As a journalist, you may not want to comment on this last statement but perhaps others who read it, especially military personnel, would share their opinions. Thanks.
    Mark Bowden
    I am still in pursuit of an interview. It is very rare for the president to grant an interview to a single reporter on a particular topic. I suspect he could spend all his time doing this. MB

    Sulaiman S Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    In your writing, I found very little about the contribution of Malaysian Army during the rescue effort. I understand that one of our hero was fallen in that fight and nine others were injured. From the record most American Comanders had give a good remaks on how our army handling the situation. They are a good soldiers and well trained army. I hope you should commnded their barve contribution to save American soldiers.
    Mark Bowden
    The American soldiers I have interviewed have highly praised the selfless heroism of the Malaysian soldiers who risked and gave their lives to help them MB

    Gerard Falzon San Jose, CA
    Mark, Absolutely fantastic article! I was particularly impressed with your command of Ranger lingo and your ability to translate it into layman's terms. You obvoiusly did extensive research into such an important battle.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Gerard. It's been fascinating. MB

    Pat Burnsville, MN
    I don't have a question. I just want to tell you, that your story of "THEIR" story is some of the best journalism I have ever experienced.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Pat. MB

    roscoe JFKSWC, Ft Bragg, NC
    Several years ago MG Garrison gave us a classified briefing, along with video on this battle. His views of his troops needing to be rescued dont match all you've written. He also stated USASOC had contracted Galloway to write the book on this. Have you heard anything to this affect?
    Mark Bowden
    Maj. Gen. Garrison is just about the best source you could get. If he says I'm wrong about something, I probably am. Please ask him to give me a call and straighten me out. I know nothing of a Galloway project, but admired "We Were Soldiers Once and Young." MB

    Roscoe JFKSWC, Ft Bragg, NC
    Having seen LTC Burress, a well known SOF operator, post on here, have you, Mark, read any of his books? To LTC Burress, any more books coming out? How can someone contact you directly?
    Mark Bowden
    I have not, but have heard of LTC Burress's legendary reputation as a soldier, and am grateful for his encouragement and support. MB

    L.H. Burruss Columbia SC
    ROSCOE: 1) thanks for the plug... "Mike Force" (Vietnam non-fiction) is the only thing I hqave currently still in print. 2) I have a manuscript that's currently being looked at by a publisher (fiction; working title 'All That Matters" starts in VN, ends in (of all places) Somalia. Cross your fingers, go out and sacrifice a water buffalo at the feet of Bronze Bruce, and a leg at the feet of the Meadows statue, then contact me at ""
    Jumpmaster Santa Clara
    I'm captivated with your work and a newbie to your web site. An issue that keeps popping up is the shooting of wounded and unarmed Somalis. It's ugly, bad and a tragedy, but it sometimes happens. US soldiers don't make a habit of it or pracitce it, but in the worst of times it happens. Keep up the great work!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Welsh Berkeley, CA
    I was in A-1-75 1990-3 and went to Ranger School with James Telscher. Your story and postscript lack an account of his whereabouts or of the extent of his injuries ( I assumed that he survived, miracuously ). Do you have information as to Telscher's status? My handle is:
    Mark Bowden
    Telscher survived the battle and was decorated for his heroism. There will be more about him in the book. I regret I have not been able to find and interview him. MB

    Mark, was w/ 2/75 and 1/75 but now out. A friend told me about the site and must tell you it's the best account of Rangers in combat I've ever read. I found my heart racing and tears welling up throughout. I thought Panama was rough, but this was incredible! Keep up the good work and look forward to buying the book.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you very much, Andy. MB

    roscoe JFKSWC, Ft Bragg, NC
    Mark, I wasn't implying you had written anything wrong and I haven't had a chance to talk to MG Garrison since his retirement. He had implied that although TFR was greatly relieved when the relief column arrieved, he never felt that his men were in need of "rescue". He felt within the first few hours his men had the situation under control and it had turned into a pitched battle to rid Mog of Ahdid's supporters. I'm sure the view from those in the midst of things probably saw the situation slightly different.
    Mark Bowden
    I think its clear that at a certain point after sundown conditions around crash site one were fairly stabilized and the Rangers and D-boys there in little danger of being overrun (thanks to the Little Birds in large measure). The men who were there have all told me they would have been hard pressed to fight their way out, however, especially because of the large number of wounded. And there was legitimate concern that sunrise might bring a renewed and even redoubled offensive. MB

    Jeff struecker Louisville, Ky
    Mark, Your account was very detailed. you tought me some things that even I did not know. However, the is some information that may have been confusing from my interview. Please call me at 502-852-7902 and i might be able to set a few things in a more clear light. Your work is very well researched though. Jeff
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jeff. I will call you this week. MB

    J.White St.Paul, Minnesota
    Mark, I just wanted to congratulate you on an outstanding piece of historical writing.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Walt Blodgett Hudson, WI
    Great work. I have a son who is a jr. in high school. He wants to go to W. Point and has what it takes to do it. I told him he must read your story before he applies. He needs to know that many of the casualties were only a couple of years older than he is now. Curriculum material.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Walt. My son went off to boot camp with a rough draft of the book under his arm. MB

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