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 19

    Catherine IL
    I'm sure you have been asked this a million times, but how can I get a video copy of the special that will air on PBS?
    Mark Bowden
    You can get one by calling 1-800-440-1470. You can also order one right on this web site. MB

    Observer Leavenworth
    I was in a group of all services SOF Officers at the Ft Leavenworth Officers Club in 1995 and a question posed to MG Garrison was: How many Delta operators were in with the rangers? His response was--"Delta was not involved"! He made a major ethical and professional mistake of lieing to his fellow "In the know SOF officers". Many of these officers-- unbeknownst to him had first hand knowledge of the Mog fight ing (Delta and Seal operators). Freudian slip or a natural political response. Makes you wonder!!???
    Dan Lewis Manteca, California
    Just want to say thanks to you for a Job well done. If we had had your type of reporting (from the grunts point of view) during Vietnam, my buddies and I would not have lost the media war which had a lot to do with the eventual outcome of the war.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Dan. MB

    Kevin Watson Seattle, WA
    You did a great job conveying the heroic actions of some of our best in uniform. In you book, do you plan to focus on the earlier decision not to support the Somalia operations with heavy armor. Had our leaders heeded more to military tactics and less to the public image of a humanitarian mission, the story of the rescue convey could have been much different. The idea that so many men had to be killed or injured because they were not given the necessary tools to accomplish their mission is the ultimate tragedy in this story.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Kevin. There are many soldiers who were there who express that opinion. But bear in mind that some also argue that armor in urban streets is a prescription for disaster, and that the AC130, the other major item rejected in the force request, would not have been as flexible or accurate as the Little Birds or Black Hawks. I don't have an answer to this argument, but I have heard both made by very capable military men. MB

    Craig Keller Seattle, Washington
    I was particular riveted by the episode, carried in this Sunday's Seattle Times, recounting the crash of the second heliocopter. How does one know about the failure of the shock absobers in the pilot seats. Was there ever an inspection? Or was that merely "color" added? Can you refer me to your research. Thank you for recounting this event. It is soooo easy to forget about this tragic event stateside. Craig Keller
    Mark Bowden
    I believe the shock absorbers worked exactly as they were supposed to, Craig. My source for that is Mike Durant, the only survivor of the crash and something of a Black Hawk expert. Durant told me the shock absorber is designed to collapse layer by layer, cushioning the impact to the pilot. When he came to, he found the seat had fully collapsed, which means the shocks had fully absorbed the impact. There was unfortunately enough left over to snap his femur on the edge of the seat, but he thinks that was because the spin threw his leg partly off of it. There was no inspection because returning troops later that night incinerated the chopper. It's remains are still in Mogadishu on the same spot. No need to "add color" to this story, even if I was so inclined. MB

    Abdulkadir Addow Minneapolis, Minnesota
    I wonder whether your work covers the damages caused by the American troops in October 1993 to the innocent, defenceless women, children and unarmed civilians?. If not, why? and Do you have intention to uncover that to the world as you did this?
    Mark Bowden
    Black Hawk Down reports for the first time in America on the full extent of civilian casualties in Mogadishu on October 3rd, and explains for the first time that American soldiers fired on crowds of men, women and children -- and explains why. It gives the first detailed report, with eyewitnesses, on the surprise American/UN missile attack on July 12, 1993 that killed scores of Habr Gidr clan elders. It records the efforts of Somali doctors battling to save lives through two long days of treating horrible wounds. It also records the grief and anger of Somalis who lost loved ones or who were wounded themselves in the fight. It makes clear that many of those killed or hurt were not directly involved in the fight. I think there is certainly still room for a fuller version of this story from the Somali perspective (this version is, admittedly, primarily an American perspective). Given the great difficulty we faced doing research in Mogadishu, and how easy it would have been for me to simply do the story without seeking the Somali perspective, I am proud that Black Hawk Down documents exactly the things you suggest. MB

    Mark Bowden
    No TV date yet. We'll post it on this site as soon as we know. Thanks. MB

    Observer, reference your comment on MG Garrison. I arranged the SOF officers advanced course during CGSC. I accompanied MG Garrison during his talks there. This wasn't a question of ethics or with holding information, its a matter of discussing a then classified operation in an open forum in the middle of the officers club. As a SOF officer, you should have better than to bring that matter up under those circumstances.
    Scott Rockville, MD
    Mark, I think the Webpage article was excellent. I can't wait to get the CD in the mail. I made some earlier comments without praising the article. This article was very good and the web site has been passed around through my Ranger buddy loop. Keep the hard hitting information flowing.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Scott. MB

    Ken Meyerkorth Concord, CA
    Ridiculously accurate and demonstrative of modern street-to- street fighting. Extremely well written as well. Makes me fearful of all that training I underwent that covered these same types of situations. You never know if someone is aiming at you until you get hit!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Ken. MB

    Johnson San Jose, CA
    All the men who fought so bravely in this mission, those who died and those who lived are honored by your telling of their story. It makes me both sad and proud of the courage shown. Thank You for your story and thank's to all of them for all they gave and had to endure!
    Mark Bowden
    You're welcome. MB

    Skippy Guam
    Your article and the Medal of Honor citiations for Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon indicated they were assigned as airborne snipers during the raid using customized sniper rifles. Their decision to engage in close quarter urban ground fighting with these long range weapons is a good indication of their valor in this situation. What do you know about the model and type of weapons they landed with?
    Mark Bowden
    I believe Gordon was carrying some kind of customized CAR-15, and Shughart carried a modified M-14. MB

    Terminator 6
    TO WC ADDISON: Hope Your The Same Addison I Had The Pleasure To Have As A PSG In A/2-14IN. Please Contact Me...
    John L Knoxville, TN
    1. I have seen conflicting opinions about whether your title should be one word or two. You may want to re-check: helicopters are named after Indian tribes, e.g., Apache, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Blackhawk. One word. 2. I have seen several references to the SEALS. What was their mission and why could it not have been done by Delta? Why was a unit from another service, e.g., the SEALs, put in, which potentially complicates command and control problems?
    Mark Bowden
    1) Sikorsky says it's Black Hawk. 2) SEAL Team Six was part of the package, since this was a joint operation. Part of the military's effort to work together. I don't know that the SEALs role differed substantially from Delta's. They were not part of the actual assault force, presumably not matching Delta's expertise at taking down buildings. They rode in on the ground convoy. I don't know of any problems from integrating these two units. By all accounts, the SEALs more than held their own. MB

    jhuds mclean, va
    M-1s and Bradley APC would have done a world of good. A RPG won't scratch an Abrams--even fired down on the roof (ask the Iraqis about that. The Russians in Chechnya ignored the basic rules of combat in an urban environment and paid dearly. Apples and oranges--a proper force would have driven off the gunmen. Plenty of real examples for this.
    Robert McFadden Glenside, PA
    I am homeschooled and I found this story very interesting. Would you consider speaking to a group of homeschoolers? I was also wondering if you got any info from other sources besides from the Rangers themselves. If so, were there any that I could access?(On the internet, books, etc.)
    Mark Bowden
    I'm a little backed-up with speaking requests, deadlines, etc. right now, Robert. Perhaps later this year, if you're still interested, I could talk with you all. You will find a good rundown of what's in print about Mogadishu back on round 16. I interviewed many others besides Rangers, D-boys and other soldiers present at the time. Among those I spoke with were Somalis, Gen. Colin Powell, former Amb. Robert Oakley, Adm. Jonathan Howe, Gen. Anthony Zinni, journalists, scholars, etc. Too many to list here. MB

    We have an entire page of links to other sites of interest on the Internet. -- Online ed.

    Wilkinson, Tina Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
    Mark, Are you interested in what the spouses and significant others were going through during this mission? What their thoughts were and what contact they had with them.
    Mark Bowden
    Yes, Tina. I've talked to some of them. Stephanie Shughart and the parents of Jamie Smith are in the story. I have since had the chance to get to know others, so there will be more about the families' ordeal in the book. MB

    Shanna Jagusch St. Paul, MN
    I was just wondering how you think this war will affect the future U.S. policies on "policing the world"?
    Mark Bowden
    I think it already has. This incident has had a big effect on America's willingness to intervene around the world. The hesitation with Haiti, the inaction during the genocides in Rwanda, the Congo and the long delay in stepping into Bosnia ... all can be laid at the feet of Mogadishu. I'm not saying whether this had been bad or good, just that it's so. MB

    Brett Walker San Jose, CA
    What was the complete T,O & E for the Somalia action?
    Mark Bowden
    I don't know what T,O&E means. MB

    Brett Walker San Jose, CA
    Forgot to mention in my first question...great writing, it really lets you know what was happening and how confusing orders can get when it hits the fan. If armor was available I believe with all of that infantry support the outcome would have been less in the casualty area. Former M1A1(HA) Gunner.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Brett. MB Minneapolis, MN.
    Mark, I'm a former infantry officer turned filmmaker. Excellent series! Is the LH Burruss who has written so many questions the same "Bucky" Burruss who was an original member of Charlie Beckwith's Delta Force? A chapter on Delta's formation might be interesting reading for those not familiar with Beckwith's book.And did the racial makeup of Somalians and Americans affect U.S. troopers view of the battle. Many more questions than space allows. Thanks again.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. Yes, the LHBurruss in question is Lt. Col. Bucky, US Army ret., author of "Mike Force" and "Mission for Delta," and back-up singer for Lyle Lovett on the "I Love Everybody" CD. I think race colors everything that happens in this country and the world, but I don't think it was a central factor in anything that happened in Mog. MB

    John Gibson West Point, New York
    Sir, I am a cadet at the United States Military Academy and I would be honored if you would be willing to let me know how I can get a hardcopy or packet(including the videos) to use for research and leadership training. Thank you very much. Respectfully, CDT GIBSON 00'
    Mark Bowden
    You can order a CD-ROM, a VHS tape of the documentary film based on this story, and a complete reprint of the series by phoning 1-800-440-1470, or by using the order form on this Web site. If that doesn't do it for you, call me at 1-215-854-2400 and I'll see if I can help. MB

    Brett Walker San Jose
    Mark, I can't recall what all of it stands for but, what were the military units involved and were there any armor units included with the forces in Somalia?
    Mark Bowden
    Task Force Ranger consisted of a company of Rangers, 3rd Battalion, 75th Regiment out of Ft. Benning, Ga, Delta C Squadron, a unit of Air Force PJs & combat controllers, Navy SEAL Team Six and the 160th SOAR (the helicopter pilots and crews). The 2nd battalion, 14th Infantry Division out of Ft. Drum was the Quick Reaction Force already in country assigned to back up UN troops when TFR arrived. TFR had no armor, nor did the QRF to my knowledge, although a correspondent has suggested there were some APCs in Mog. If there were, they were not used in this fight. Pakistani tanks and Malaysian APCs drove the huge rescue force out late in the night. MB

    D. Albert San Jose, Ca
    This should be read by everyone who, like me, is relatively young and never served in the military. More people of my generation need to understand that servicemen who do their duty,no matter how dangerous, should be respected and honored regardless of the politics behind it.
    Mark Bowden
    Amen. MB

    Sgt. C San Jose Ca
    Very good. What about the very important question of refusing to send APC's And Tanks to Somalia when they were requested? That could saved most of the American lives.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. If you have the time to read the previous rounds of Q&A, you'll see the issue worked over pretty well. Since this story focuses primarily on the events of 10/3-4, and there appear to be legitimate differences of military opinion over the potential usefulness of armor and the APC, I've left that one up to you experts. MB

    Kevin Burnsville, MN
    Please advise the name of the book and when it willbe in stores, your story makes nme appreciatethe great work our troops do for us every day!! thanks mark!!
    Mark Bowden
    The book will be entitled "Black Hawk Down," and is scheduled to be published by The Atlantic Monthly Press in October. Movie rights have been purchased by Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, with Simon West as the director. West was the director of "Con Air." Bruckheimer also made "Top Gun" and"The Rock," among other feature films. I will be writing the screenplay. MB

    Claes Albertson Woodbury, MN
    Not a question, just saying this is really interresting. Thank you. I've passed the address on to friends in Sweden. I saw this first in Pioneer Press here in the Twin Cities.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Peter Ong San Francisco, CA
    Paranoia against armor? Do you know why the USA never mounted gun shields to the HUMVEE's M2s or used or purchased V-300 Commando/ LAVs for these urban situations? What about the new Armored Security Vehicle? Where will it go to besides the Military Police?
    Mark Bowden
    I don't know the answers to your questions. MB

    Stefan Heijnk Hamburg, Germany
    Dear Mark, I'm an editor with German media-magazine Sage & Schreibe. Cause we were very impressed by your excellent Black Hawk Down-pieces I would like to do an email-interview with you on the production of BHD for our next issue. Please contact: Stefan Heijnk, Best regards, Stefan
    Mark Bowden
    I'll be in touch. Thanks. MB

    Kelly Kelly St.Paul, MN
    Thank you for reporting this and thanks to our local newspaper for publishing this. Hopefully, our decisions in the future will be better due to the carefull consideration of our past experience, painful as it is.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    © 1997 - 2004 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution, or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the express written consent of Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. is expressly prohibited.