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

Video
  • 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
    Graphics
    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
    Index
    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
    Inquirer

    Round 7

    Walter Phila, Pa
    After following your article (daily), I was a bit disappointed with the TV Program. Once again the book is better than the movie -- I mean TV program
    Marlin, LTC (Ret) New Orleans LA
    Thank you for honoring these men with their story. Please update your Who's who with PV2 Anton Berendsen, SSG Daniel Busch (KIA), 1LT Tom DiTomasso, Fillmore (KIA), Houston (KIA), J. Martin (KIA), LTC Tom Matthews, SGT Jim Smith (KIA), SPC Derek Velasco & Howard Wasdin.
    Mark Bowden
    The Who's Who is meant to help the reader keep track of all the names of people in the story. We've been updating it with the series, not listing characters until they appear in the narrative. Characters who appear only once or twice and are not mentioned again won't be listed. I realize that there were many, many more men involved in the fight than those named in these stories. More will be in the book. MB

    Rick Raleigh, NC
    Pt 3 Bradleys: Armor is vulnerable in cities to HEAVY ANTITANK WEAPONS, like Chechens used, but not so much to RPG's. Bradleys can dismount troops to clear danger areas on foot, tanks can't. Bottom line: Bradleys would have saved lives. Less supressive fire would be needed (you can ignore guys with AK's) so civilian deaths would have been less.
    Roy W. Berry Frederick ,Maryland
    Have you covered anything about what the Signal Corps did? I was responsable for the Installation, Operations and Maintance of the 1st Mobile Gateway Communications shelter. We provided E-MAIL to the Troops. Also kept folks up on the status of the Phillies! SFC Roy W. Berry (USA RET)
    Mark Bowden
    I have no doubt your services were much appreciated by the men and women there. Mike Durant did tell me about how much he appreciated the e-mail outlet. He and his wife were in the middle of building a house when he was deployed. Mrs. Durant got stuck with being the subcontractor. Thanks to your efforts, he was able to at least coach from afar. MB

    Rick Raleigh, NC
    Terminology note: "Commando" is a South African term from the Boer War, or a British Royal Marine unit. It has been corrupted in the popular press to refer to members of elite units. Better terminology is Delta or Seal operators and Rangers, highest praise to an Army fighting man is to call him a soldier, also the greatest insult to a SEAL or Marine :-).
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I'll try to watch it. MB

    Craig Media, PA
    I've heard there is a TV special also, if so when, what channel? Great work, I don't think any of us really knew how bad this fight was.
    Mark Bowden
    The documentary aired in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, Dec. 2, 1997. No air date has been set nationally yet, but it will be shown nationally. You can inquire about ordering a tape by emailing the producer at chris.mills@phillynews.com MB

    Craig Media, PA
    I just read some of the Q & A sections and answered my own question about the TV show, will it air again? Thanks
    Booth Jameson Wash., D.C.
    Riviting column -- can't wait to see it on TV. Question: why didn't the "second column" have gunship escort?
    Mark Bowden
    Gunships were pretty busy holding off the mobs closing on the two crash sites. At that point in the fight TFR was overextended. MB

    Fred Wendt Commerce, GA
    I am very impressed with this journalistic endeavor. The sophisticated weaving of story, graphics, images, pictures, and media in your presentation establishes a new mark for serious electronic publication on the Web. I truly appreciate your "team's" efforts with this series.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you very much. Jennifer Musser is the web site editor. She's the best. MB

    Curious Atlanta, GA
    Did Delta do anything wrong? Where was their officer leadership? Did they make any decisions? It sounds as if you are on their payroll.
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. I welcome checks in the mail, but so far none from the D-boys. MB

    JP Vero Beach, Florida
    There have been several questions regarding the legality of noncombatants getting injured. Would you review US Army Field Manual 27-2 "Your Conduct in Combat Under the Laws of War" and Field Manual 27-10 "The Law of Land Warfare"?(Cont)
    JP Vero Beach, Florida
    (Cont)There was not a violation of the laws concerning warfare by the actions of the US Troops.If this is discussed in the book could you also mention the war crimes trial for the Canadian Airborne troops who did commit atrocities?
    Mark Bowden
    If I do, I will. MB

    Mark Mondl Beavercreek
    "In a battle, fought on 3 October 1993, Major Generals Thomas Montgomery and William Garrison's lack of war-fighting skills caused 18 American warriors to be killed, 100 more to be wounded and our nation to be humiliated. Garrison and Montgomery made every basic error in the book, beginning with not understanding the enemy. They had bad intelligence, were overly dependent on firepower and technology and were arrogant. Nor did they bother to put a go-to-hell-plan in place in case the shit hit the fan," said Col David Hackworth. You mentioned Gen Garrison, but not Gen Montgomery. What was his role and what happened to him?
    Mark Bowden
    General Montgomery was in command of the Quick Reaction Force (10th Mountain Division), which will be riding to the rescue here in a few days -- although the guys from Ft. Drum can't wait. Montgomery was second-in-command of the UN military operation, but was not in the direct chain of command for Task Force Ranger. I plan to briefly address Col. Hackworth's points in notes at the end of my book, which will be published by Grove/Atlantic in Fall, 1998. MB

    North Andrew Metro Manila, Philippines
    Great job! Really exciting and very vivid! (I can almost here the gunshots) Always looking forward to the next chapter. Has the film/documentary come out yet? I only hope they show it over here. More power!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. For a videotape you can email the producer at chris.mills@phillynews.com MB

    AKACOP HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO.
    COL.DAVID, I WAS IN A CO 214 INF. 2ND PT. I ASKED THE SAME QUESTION EARILER. WE TALKED OFTEN IN SOMALIA AND AGAIN WHEN THE BUILDING WAS DEDICATED TO MARTIN. PLEASE E- MAIL ME AT AKACOP@AOL.COM A-CO ALSO HAS ITS OWN WEP PAGE/CHAT ROOM AND NEWS LETTER. TRY TO GET IN TOUCH. HEY, MARK YOUR PICTURES ARE ON THE WAY SORRY ABOUT THE DELAY.
    Mark Bowden
    Thought you forgot me. Thanks. MB

    Semper Fi Alexandria, VA
    Are there some M 1 or M 60 drivers that can comment on the survivability of such tanks hit by RPGs? As I recall, unless a tread was hit directly the tank wouldn't suffer damage of any consequence. They would have certainly experienced less damage than the Hummers.
    Mark Bowden
    In Chechnya, as I understand it, armor of various types proved disastrously vulnerable to tread hits. MB

    John Coyle Haddonfield, NJ
    You and the paper are to be commended for the series and the site. Never read anything more compelling in the papers. I only hope this experience and the exposure your series has given it inform the decisions of those who would send young men to their deaths for no reason, but it appears we never learn.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, John. MB

    seth rodgers mantua, n.j
    How would I go about obtaining copies of this article in it's entirety? I have kept up to date on all articles except chapters 8 and 9. How can I get those?
    Mark Bowden
    You can read all the chapters on this web site, which you obviously found. For a reprint of the entire series on paper, you can order by calling 215-854-4984. MB

    You can read Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 by clicking on the chapter names in this sentence. The contents of this web site are listed on the Site Index. -- Online ed.


    Brad Colip Greenfield, IN
    I find it hard to believe that an RPG will take out an Abrams or even a Bradley, but I am checking some of my sources. I remember watching the Waco hearings on CSPAN when a Senator remarked that there were more armor assets in Waco than in Mog.
    Mark Bowden
    Probably a correct statement. MB

    Dudley Bokoski Greensboro, NC
    After reading how horrific the battle was, I'm struck by how little in-depth news coverage there was of the event at the time especially contrasted with coverage of the Pueblo incident or the marine barracks bombing in Lebanon (similar small-scale fiascos). The the media lack the knowledge to do the story or did they gloss it over because most approved of the mission itself?
    Mark Bowden
    I'm not sure, Dudley. One problem was there weren't any American reporters in Mogadishu (to my knowledge) when the battle happened. Those who arrived a day or two later were preoccupied with covering the ongoing story of Mike Durant, who was being held captive. Task Force Ranger was strictly off limits to the press, and reporting in Mogadishu is tough. Nevertheless, Rick Atkinson of The Washington Post wrote a remarkably accurate account of the battle for that newspaper soon after it happened. Events move swiftly in international news, and newspapers and TV stations tend to be far more interested in what's happening today than what happened last week, or last month. So when a story slips by, as this one did, few reporters are inclined to go back months or years later to sort it out. I've found that it is better with some stories to wait a while. Off-limit sources tend to become available, and the people directly involved become more accessible and willing to talk. In this case, many of those I interviewed had left the military -- including Colin Powell. Nevertheless, there were many who asked me when I started working on this story, "Who is going to read a story about a battle four years old?" I had just finished reading "Son of the Morning Star" and "We Were Soldiers Once and Young," battles that took place a century and more than 30 years ago, respectively. MB

    Ward Good Richmond, Va
    Wonderful, horrible account of failed mission. Thank You. Why so few officers in the fray? Were they not involved or not willing to speak to you?
    Mark Bowden
    I reported the story from the ground up, first because it was hard to get officers to talk to me, and second because that's the story I wanted to tell. Ranking officers on the ground were Capt. Mike Steele, the Ranger commander, Capt. Scott Miller, the Delta commander, and Lt. Col. Danny McKnight. I have interviewed Steele, but have been unable to interview Miller or McKnight. If either of you guys reads this and would like to talk to me, my number is 215-854-2400. Thanks for the compliment, Ward. MB

    Jim Guelzow
    I was a 10th MTN 2-14 INF 60 gunner attached to a Special Ops team at Wolcott's crash site. I like the story so far and am looking forward to where 2-14 comes into play. Even through all this, the basic light infantry does not get respect when attending the "elite" schools, i.e. Ranger school. Good job... guelzow@frontiernet.net
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Jim. The 10th MTN will make its appearance, though the series will not give it the full treatment it deserves. I'll have more space in the book. I would like to talk to you. Please give me a call if you can at 215-854-2400. MB

    Jim Guelzow Victor, NY
    Has Delta John responded? I was a 2-14 INF 60 gunner that linked up with a Special Ops team and have an award recommendation letter from a "John". It's impessive to hear what actually went on before we were called in. Again, great job on the story. guelzow@frontiernet.net
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks again. Delta John weighs in now and then, and is most welcome. He has not called me. MB

    Armor
    Bradley = Death. There are 3 firing ports on each side for shortened versions of the M16, a death-dealing 25mm cannon (cannon = exploding bodies), and a M2 .50cal/M240G 7.62 (whatever tickles your fancy). It can run people over too.
    Curious
    RE: Hackworth(less) - I'm positive Hackworthless could have come up with a better plan - capture all the bad guys - feed everybody - then take the afternoon off. In Hackworthless new book you can also read the helicopters arn't worth anything. To those who like to quote him - make sure he is quoted to the fullest extent.
    Correction
    Ref: Chapter 18. One more item was in the hawk that went down. I have no proof of this, but Dowdy must have left something just before the crash when he noticed he didn't have his seat belt on. I do know what he will be getting for Christmas this year!
    Wayne Karvonen Olympia, WA
    Great series. Happy to finally hear from people who were there, and what really happened. Gordon was a friend from back in our 10th Grp days, a real hard charger and great soldier. As were all the others there that day.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks Wayne. I'd like to learn more about Gary for the book. Call me if you get a chance at 215-854-2400. MB

    EwLjr Fort Campbell, KY
    Great Story! For those of us with slow computers is there an FTP to download the series and read later.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    No FTP site as yet. We're just trying to keep up with Mark around here. -- Online ed.


    Tom Anderson Arlington Heights, IL
    How do I get a copy of this? My son Steve Anderson is on his way to Ft. Benning for a reunion with John Burns and Kenni Thomas. I'd like a copy to give each of them for x-mas. - make that 5 copies. Anderson, Thomas, Goodale, Sizemore and Burns. I'll pay for it - 847-394-8858
    Mark Bowden
    Copies of the whole series will be available a week or two after it finishes up -- maybe not fast enough for Christmas. Call 215-854-4984. If you have problems there, try Sally Downey at 215-854-2913. MB

    SSgt P.L. Smith Bogue Field, NC
    During a "hit" by USMC Force Recon, a Direct Action Platoon (DAP) is used as a covering force. On stand by is a platoon and company sized force, in case things go bad. Is this SOP for Delta and the Rangers, why was it not utilized? Would have saved alot of lives.
    Mark Bowden
    I can't answer this, but I'm sure some of those reading can. MB

    Link, Ronald L. Humble, Texas
    My son was one of the D-Boys and was at the Wocott crash site. He survied. Where in hell was the command leadership? Was it good old inter-service rivalry?
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. Rivalry created a situation on the ground that, while I don't think it killed anybody, caused a problem. MB

    CPT M
    Mark; The comments you are making pertaining to 2-14IN comming into the fight "at the end" implies all the wrong things...It was a long, long night. Glad Dragon6, and my XO are also watching, look forward to talking to you.
    Mark Bowden
    I apologize for any mistakes. I look forward to talking to you guys and learning more. MB

    m skala Huntsville, AL
    I was a member of the Ranger Task force. I am trying to collect things from our mission there, so later in life i can look back on our 40 hour fight for our lives. Can you help me? Thank you
    Mark Bowden
    I could probably help put you in touch with other guys. Call me at 215-854-2400. MB

    tp ny,ny
    I am very sad to hear that Matt Rierson is no longer alive. What happened? BTW, superb job M.B. It's abouut time someone gave a damn.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you. Matt was killed in a mortar attack several days after the battle. MB

    Bill Monterey
    Mark, I'm probably the millionth guy to tell you this, but there is no way to fire M203 (40mm) grenade from a SAW. The Grenade launcher is designed to mount on the underside of an M16 rifle. It cannot be mounted on an M249 SAW.
    Mark Bowden
    My mistake. I probably should have gone into the Army as my Dad suggested when I got out of high school. I never expected to be writing about battles. I've corrected the mistake, and thanks for pointing it out. MB

    Bill Monterey
    Mark, If Yurek was indeed a SAW gunner, he may have borrowed an M203 from another soldier for that shot. Also, some Somali's had old (Vietnam era) M79 grenade launchers. They fire the same 40mm round as the M203. I read of at least one American in Somalia (a Marine I think) that confiscated and used an M79.
    Mark Bowden
    It appears that the 203 was mounted under the barrel of some of the M16 and CAR15s. Yurek, I'm sure, had an M16. MB

    skm
    MB this is good stuff. I was there and have total admiration for the "shooters", they are the countries finest. I would like to mention that my men performed flawlessly to insure that A/C were TOT + or - 30 seconds. FARRP team. Those men kept bullets coming, changed mini's and pumped gas. Is there any mention in the book about the FARRP?
    Mark Bowden
    I'm afraid I got lost back there in the blizzard of acronyms. Please call me and help sort it out. 215-854-2400. You don't have to say your name. MB

    Nick Mackenzie Salinas,CA
    Excellent contribution to military history. Important education on capabilities, limitations and vulnerabilities of military operations in urban terrain. A testament to warriors who sacrifice for our survival. They have given more than we deserve.
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you very much. MB

    DJ Gig Harbor, WA
    Mark, you mentioned a possible collaboration with the Sammies by the Italians? Can you elaborate? Is it time to put them on my list which includes the French (because of the '86 Libya mission)? Also, can you tell me which agency produced the battle video? Thanks
    Mark Bowden
    Several of the soldiers who lived at the hangar told me of their suspicions that the Italians, who were based uphill from the TFR hangar and had a clear view inside, would flash headlights on vehicles whenever a mission was gearing up. This is hardly solid evidence. I do know from some of the memo traffic from TFR command and CENTCOM that there was concern about Italians giving aid to Somalis. In Mogadishu, the Habr Gidr leaders I spoke with all spoke warmly of the help they received from their former Colonial masters. The battle video was taped by reconnaissance helicopters, which are modified Little Birds. The P-3 Orion flying above Mogadishu also filmed the raid and subsequent battle with its high-powered telescopic cameras. MB

    JB Dayton, OH
    Small typo "Nelson pointed up the street, and Yurek edged out to look around the car. He saw three dead Somalis in the dirt. He 'stacking' them into a little mound."
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. We've fixed it. MB

    Kim Langley Herndon, VA
    Mark: Ref some tech details on the RPG. RPG-7 (HEAT) rounds do have a automatic self-destruct mechanism. They self destruct at about 900 meters. I know, I tested them myself in the Kuwait Desert after Desert Storm. Also, the RPG will penetrate the top turrent of a Type 59 (Chicom T-55) tank, so my guess is they would do a job on a Bradley. RPG is a very effective and easy to use weapon. You really have to respect it. Keep up the good work
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Kim. A gunner informs me that "The Skinnies messed with the warhead on the RPG to air burst. I saw a lot of them go off in the air." MB

    JB Dayton
    Regarding GMB from NJ and your response to him. "Fast Movers" is generally slang for high performance jet aircraft that deliver ground support/suppression fire. Term originated in Vietnam with F-4s delivery HE and Napalm. Now refers to F-16s, F-15Es, F/A-18s.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. There were none over Mog to my knowledge. MB

    Don McKeon Dulles, VA
    Dear Mr. Bowden: I am the editorial director at Brassey's, Inc., a publisher of books primarily on military topics. Do you have a book publisher for your outstanding series? If not, our editorial advisory board might be interested in considering it. Could you drop me an e-mail or call at 703-260-0602, ext. 16? Thanks. Sincerely, Don McKeon
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Don. I do have a publisher, Grove/Atlantic, and the book is scheduled to appear in the Fall of 1998. I'll give you a call to thank you for your interest personally. MB

    Micael Carlsson Sweden
    Excellent reading!! Were the Swedish field hospital involved in taking care of the wounded? I went home from Somalia in march -93 and is very interrested in the hospitals history after that.
    Mark Bowden
    I don't know the answer to that. I do plan to talk to some of the docs involved, and they'll know. So check the book. Thanks Micael. It's great to know the series is being seen internationally. MB

    David Chicago, Illinois
    The most well written account of battle I have ever read. I heard about this incident but never realized how large and horrible it really was. How many parts will this series be... when will it be completed? THIS SHOULD BE A MOVIE GUYS...
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you very much David, although there are plenty of terrific battle stories out there. The series will have 30 parts, and will end Dec. 14th, at which point I will get to work finishing the book, which will cover about three times more ground. MB

    Redleg Edison, NJ
    Rick from NC is right on w/ Armor tactics. I will post longer detail of an added benefit in forum. Concerning M79s, saw many in the documentary, shoulder and truck mounted. RPGs, even t7s, RARELY penetrate the armor tanks. An old T-55 which has already been brewed and the metal brittled, MIGHT have its turret punctered if hit right. Cforum.
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. I'd like to see you guys work this out. MB

    DTD Newburgh, NY
    Mark how you doing? I hope Yurek didn't tell you that he had a M203 mounted to a SAW, And I say a saw because I assure you he may have picked a saw up but he didn,t carry one.Anybody that knows a saw knows you can't mount a 203 on it. COME ON YUREK!!!
    Mark Bowden
    Don't blame Ed. My mistake, Dave. Your videotape will be in the mail soon. MB

    "Vitto" Charlottesville, VA
    Ok I'm gonna rant here. All this talk of whether or not an RPG can take out a M1 or Bradley is pointless. The indisputable fact is they provide more protection than a damn HUMMV or 5 ton. Thus, that Gen.'s reasoning about the experience in Chechneya is assinine. Also, as an ex-anti- tank gunner in 1st/RGR BN, I'll attest it ain't easy to take out armor with an unguided weapon. (cont)
    Lock Somerville, NJ
    Mark: Out of curiosity, was SOCOM supportive of your efforts to write this story? Which military organizations/units were most cooperative?
    Mark Bowden
    The public affairs people for USSOC set up interviews for me with about 10 Rangers at Ft. Benning and with Mike Durant, Keith Jones and Mike Goffena. This was an enormous help and really opened the door for me. After that I got the impression they were tired of all my questions and requests, and stopped helping. They refused numerous requests to do videotaped interviews or to let us photograph key people still in the military, and would not help us with file photos. My efforts to obtain documents through official channels was effectively and politely stonewalled on all fronts. We were given a few minutes of the hours of videotape of the battle, most of it fairly useless to us (they are, as I understand it, protecting some of the capabilities), a few snippets of good stuff. Many of those I wanted to talk to were special ops people and very busy. But the leads I got from the arranged interviews really launched me, and I started having lots of success getting to people and documents on my own. The Air Force public affairs people knocked themselves out trying to help me. Since the stories have started running there has been a general and wonderful thaw on the Army front, and I'm getting help again, for which I am grateful. MB

    "Vitto" Charlottesville, VA
    (Cont)You have to hit it in just the right spot. Also, armor provides that all important intimidation factor. Trucks and Jeeps don't scare people. We slept better at night when we had a Sheridan attached to my team when we were hunting for rennegade PDF in Panama. And there lies the rub, this administration didn't learn the lesson of Vietnam (how could they) namely, when committing troops you must also committ overwhelming force (as in Panama and Iraq).(Cont)
    "Vitto" Charlottesville, VA
    (cont)I'm not saying that armor should have been in on the intial part of the mission, necessarily. But it damn well should have been in country in the event a mission went to hell, as this one did. This isn't MMQBing it's basic military tactics (which our CIC has no concept of). Great series MB. If you get a hold of Dale tell him I said hi. Sorry for the long post. RLTW! out!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. MB

    Abdi Alex, VA
    Very telling story! Having worked with 4th and 8th PSYOPS from Ft. Bragg in the first six months of this operation, I believed the blueprint of peace was underway for this country. As a Somali, I did everything to chip in—from working 14 hour shifts to travelling throughout the country, bridging the cultural gap between these alien looking soldiers and my very inquisitive countrymen. Little did I know in six months later, I would see the picture of US soldiers being dragged in the same, peaceful alleys I used to play hide and seek, while innocent Somalis were getting mowed down by soldiers who did not know as to why they were in this "god-forsaken" place. The blame as to why Somalia descended into this purgatory and aspiring soldiers and innocent Somalis lost their lives completely rests upon the shoulders of any U.S. government. It is doing that now as it arms one country against another, then in five years they will send aspiring U.S. soldiers to face the same U.S. made bullets. Thank you Mark. Regards, Abdi
    Mark Bowden
    Thank you, Abdi. It is good to hear your perspective. MB

    MAJ Lock Somerville, NJ
    Accepting that what you have reported is true, I find it disturbing to read that there appear to have been a number of Rangers--associated with the convoys in particular—who seemed to shirk their duties in regards to assisting with the defense of themselves and their comrades. It should not come as a surprise to any member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Special Ops, or 82nd Airborne community to find themselves in the thick of things—though the savagery of this particular engagement was obviously unexpected. But that’s why they/we volunteer for such units. Was there a trend regarding who they were? It does not surprise me that the Delta and SEAL members all actively participated. For the most part, they are older, more experienced, Ranger School graduates, groomed on a more individual scale. The younger Rangers, on the other hand, are not as fortunate. Were the Rangers in question junior in rank, SGT and below, and were any graduates of the US Army Ranger School? From a commander’s perspective, this is a serious question, especially for such an elite unit. Identifying a pattern or trend could lead to eventual solutions to rectify the problem—as SLA Marshall demonstrated for
    MAJ Lock Somerville, NJ
    (last part cut off from my previously long messsage): ...the Army community decades ago. Thanks. PS: for anyone believing I am questioning the bravery of the men of Task Force Ranger, I have nothing but the most profound respect and admiration for my fellow members of the profession of arms.
    Mark Bowden
    I believe the overwhelming majority of Rangers and 10th Mountain Division soldiers fought very bravely and well in Mogadishu. I suspect that it is unrealistic in any vicious firefight to expect that every man will summon the courage to do as well. That so many of these soldiers did is a tribute to their training as well as their heroism. I also suspect that some who distinguished themselves could, on another day, fail. Some of those who did heroic things that day have told me they don't really know why they did, or if they could do so again in the same circumstances. I don't know how I would react. It does seem to me that the age, experience and training of the D-boys and SEALs really showed. In many instances they seem to have held things together -- although some of them need to work on their "people" skills. I did hear of several Delta operators who, according to their fellows, appeared to have "fogged out" in the fight. The very few Rangers who didn't do well (either refused orders or stopped fighting)were at the sergeant level, but there were so few of them that I doubt the sample is statistically relevant. MB

    gordon ft benning, ga
    I want to ask Mark Mondl...What is his area of expertise? This guy makes some pretty bold statements about Maj Gnrl Bill Garrison.
    gordon ft benning, ga
    The question made to you today by Maj Lock is the reason for my original comments and questions. This man draws the conclusion from your story that Rangers "shirked their responsibilities". I assume (to ask him) that he's coming to this assumption by comments you made in the article to the effect "the Rangers were shaken to a man", and the "D-boys were like machines, they were already rearmed and ready to go back out". Other things you wrote about how the Rangers were afraid to pickup their own wounded and how the combat hardened "D-boys" held the convoy together. Lets clarify for Maj Locks (and those like him) sake...in combat their never is anybody (including the d-boys) who is not shaken to a man, and those that say they aren't shaken or scared is lying. Not to hammer him but, this is the danger that can cloud the story for those who are not in the know.
    Mark Bowden
    I agree. Every sane man in battle is scared. The Rangers I interviewed were, to a man, deeply impressed by the D-boys and SEALs, and, yes, they did refer to them as "like machines." By this I think they meant that the older, more experienced men seemed very skilled at rising above their fear, and functioning cooly in terrifying and confusing situations. Many of the Rangers did the same. MB

    Dave NJ
    How many chapters do you anticipate? This is outstanding! Great job!
    Mark Bowden
    Thirty. Thanks. MB

    D.M. Kennedy Thousand Oaks, CA
    Gen Garrison's post-op statements should be regarded with skepticism. He was wrong. Either he didn't try hard enough to convince the CinC or was excessively gung-ho/go it alone. In any case, force protection was his responsibility. Vulnerability of Hummers vs better survivability of better armored vehicles was ultimately, tragically, demonstrated.
    D.M. Kennedy Thousand Oaks, CA
    I saw two versions of the photo of a dead American. One (in Germany) naked, the other (in the US) with shorts. The photos are virtually identical. I suspect the photographer "staged" the body covering in order to sell to an American market. I would find that to be morally repugnant. Do you have any information on this?
    Mark Bowden
    I have heard this from others. The photographer was Paul Watson of the Toronto Star. I have not spoken to him. MB

    Kevin Berry Fremont, CA
    Have you already written all 30 newspaper chapters? If so, how has the real-time Q&A feature affected your writing? Thanks for your efforts.
    Mark Bowden
    I've still got the last chapter to write, and have been writing the final chapters while the first have run. I originally told the editors here that I would finish in mid-December. They wanted to get it started earlier. Answering all these questions has been a pleasant distraction, although if the number keeps growing at this pace, I might not be able to keep up. My editors insist that finishing the series is more important than answering your questions. The nerve. MB

    Scott Riney Littleton, Colorado
    A quick correction for JPD: RPG-7 rounds have a time destruct fuze if they don't hit anything. What effect that would have on returning rounds in the AA role, I don't know. Would the men in the "Lost Convoy" who were still mobile have been better off on foot, instead of packed into Humvees?
    Mark Bowden
    With a clear objective and route, they might have been better off on foot. Although the Rangers and D-boys who ran from the target house to the crash site, some five blocks, had two men killed and about eight injured en route. MB

    Myles K. Bartley Boston, MA
    Excellent job! Your story is great! I'm very excited that the individuals involved finally received the recognition that they deserve. As a former PL, C/1-75, '93-94, I can tell you we were all shocked by that day and ticked off we weren't there to help. Keep up the excellent work!
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks, Myles. MB

    Jimbo Everywhere
    Great series keep it up. Two quick questions how long will this series be posted after it ends ? and how many of these soldiers still remain with the military ?
    Mark Bowden
    Thanks. Indefinitely. Don't know. MB

    john fayetteville,nc
    how have you verified what people have told you about events of 3 oct?
    Mark Bowden
    I have interviewed at this point about 70 of the men who were on the ground that night. Many of their accounts overlap. Wherever more than one person has described the same event to me, in the same way, I consider it to be verified. I also have an official list of the injuries received, which serves as further hard evidence. Lastly, I have many of the accounts -- written either by soldiers in the fight or recorded after interviews with them in the days following the battle. Against that, I have several official Army accouunts of the battle in varying degrees of detail, and of course, the transcript of the command net. All of these things together have created the body of this narrative. MB

    SH King of Prussia, PA
    Mark, I know that Delta Sniper Jim Smith was mentioned briefly as having been shot but there was never anything more mentioned after that. As his neighbor in NJ, I would like to know the real details of his tragic passing but would never actually ask any of his family members (too distressing). Do you have any more details about him? Thanks a lot
    Mark Bowden
    Keep reading. MB

    L.H. Burruss Columbia SC
    D.M. Kennedy & Hackworth's unequivocal declarations about MG Garrison's decisions, when neither was there, are as ludicrous as it would be for someone to intimate that Gen Colin Powell could not have succeeded in the Army on his own merit without affirmative action. The troops know, and -- one assumes -- will be heard. Weren't the armor and AC-130s asked for and denied? One should not confuse Garrison's "no excuse, sir" attitude during subsequent hearings and his assumption of full responsibility for the actions of himself and his subordinates, (instead of pointing a finger elsewhere, as is the norm in our society these days) with how he might have employed those assets had they been available.


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