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Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden. Specifically, it will contain a general book report on the book, with emphasis on the leadership qualities of the Rangers in Somalia. "Black Hawk Down" was first serialized in the "Philadelphia Enquirer" by the author, Mark Bowden. The book was made into a commercially successful film that chronicles one U.S. Army Ranger mission in Mogadishu, Somalia when a United Nations Aid mission was operating in the country. Shortly after this mission and its' loss of U.S. soldiers, the Clinton administration withdrew the United States from Somalia. The story in the film is well-known, but the book goes into much more detail, and many of the situations change from the fictional account of the film, which was dressed up for Hollywood.
From the beginning, the plan related in "Black Hawk Down," to swoop into Mogadishu and grab two of General Aidid's lieutenants seemed well planned and easily executed. The Rangers and Delta Force members knew their duties, and planners felt the entire mission would not take more than an hour or so. The men were eager to begin a real assignment, and act on their training and discipline. It is clear the men on this mission were well trained and well equipped for their mission. As the author notes early on in the text, "The Rangers trained for war full-time. They were fitter, faster, and first" (Bowden 8-9). They were young, they were dedicated, and they were the cream of Army training and motivation. The logistics seemed simple, and so did the mission.
Throughout this book, one of the most important themes is the brotherhood of the soldiers. This is the glue that holds them together, and the strength they take with them into battle. The Army creates a "band of brothers" and that is clearly indicated by these men who will not leave one of their brothers behind after the mission goes sour. This is indicated when the men rush the wounded Blackburn to a Humvee to get him out of the area, when the book also points out the competition so evident between units and divisions in the Army. This competition helps keep the soldiers fresh and battle ready, but it also points out the separation between commands and leaders. Delta Forces' Sergeant Paul Howe is skeptical and critical of the Army Rangers, and it is this separation and superiority that keep different units from working effectively as cohesive and well-oiled teams. Bowden writes, "He [Howe] disdained the Rangers in part because he believed hard, realistic, stair-stepped training made good soldiers, not the bull***** macho attitude epitomized by the whole Hoo-ah esprit" (Bowden 39). Thus, the mission is made up of two very separate commands, who do not necessarily respect each other, and so, it is difficult to create unity, teamwork, and good leadership with these constraints. Unfortunately, some of Howe's misgivings are justified when the Rangers begins firing on his men during the heat of battle, meaning they cannot recognize their own troops. Clearly, there were problems with training and logistics in Mogadishu, and some of the men's misgivings were justified. The problems with this mission should serve as an example for other leaders, indicating where more training is needed, and more teamwork and trust.
However, one of the main problems with this mission was not training, leadership, or machinery. It was reliance on spies on the ground, who were ill informed at best. In fact, the General Garrison muses early in the narrative, "[T]hey couldn't do any of those things unless their spies on the ground pointed them at the right goddamn house" (Bowden 25). Thus, it was logistics and planning that were at fault in the failure of the mission, and reliance on support services that were unreliable and difficult to interpret. Again, this mission is a lesson in leadership and logistics, and the good officer will learn how to utilize men and equipment effectively from what happened during this mission, and also when and how to rely on local informants, and when not too. Clearly, the informant driving the sedan that indicated the target house on this mission was not the most reliable of informants, and other information…[continue]
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