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.Peter and I left with a feel for the place, for the futility of it.local politics, and some insight into why Somalis fought so bitterly against American soldiers that day.In the months after I returned, I found military officers who were eager to hear what I could tell them about the Somali perspective, and about the battle.My work from the ground up eventually led me to a treasure of official information.The fifteen-hour battle had been videotaped from a variety of platforms, so the action I had painstakingly pieced together in my mind through interviews could be checked against images of the actual fight.The hours of radio traffic during the battle had been recorded and transcribed.This would provide actual dialogue from the midst of the action and was invaluable in helping to sort out the precise sequence of events.It also conveyed, with frightening immediacy, the horror of it, the feel of men struggling to stave off panic and stay alive.Other documents fleshed out the intelligence background of the assault, exactly what Task Force Ranger knew and was trying to accomplish.None of the men on the ground, caught up completely in their own small corner of the fight, had a complete vision of the battle.But their memories, combined with this documentary material, including a precise chronology and the written accounts of Delta operators and SEALS, made it possible for me to reconstruct the whole picture.This material gave me, I believe, the best chance any writer had ever had to tell the story of a battle completely, accurately, and well.Every battle is a drama played out apart from broader issues.Soldiers cannot concern themselves with the forces that bring them to a fight, or its aftermath.They trust their leaders not to risk their lives for too little.Once the battle is joined, they fight to survive as much as to win, to kill before they are killed.The story of combat is timeless.It is about the same things whether in Troy or Gettysburg, Normandy or the Ia Drang.It is about soldiers, most of them young, trapped in a fight to the death.The extreme and terrible nature of war touches something essential about being human, and soldiers do not always like what they learn.For those who survive, the victors and the defeated, the battle lives on in their memories and nightmares and in the dull ache of old wounds.It survives as hundreds of searing private memories, memories of loss and triumph, shame and pride, struggles each veteran must refight every day of his life.No matter how critically history records the policy decisions that led up to this fight, nothing can diminish the professionalism and dedication of the Rangers and Special Forces units who fought there that day.The Special Forces units showed in Mogadishu why it is important for the military to keep and train highly motivated, talented, and experienced soldiers.When things went to hell in the streets, it was in large part the men of Delta and the SEALS who held things together and got most of the force out alive.Many of the young Americans who fought in the Battle of Mogadishu are civilians again.They are beginning families and careers, no different outwardly from the millions of other twenty-something members of their generation.They are creatures of pop culture who grew up singing along with Sesame Street shuttling to day care, and navigating today's hyper adolescence through the pitfalls of drugs and unsafe sex.Their experience of battle, unlike that of any other generation of American soldiers, was colored by a lifetime of watching the vivid gore of Hollywood action movies.In my interviews with those who were in the thick of the battle, they remarked again and again how much they felt like they were in a movie, and had to remind themselves that this horror, the blood, the deaths, was real.They describe feeling weirdly out of place, as though they did not belong here, fighting feelings of disbelief, anger, and ill-defined betrayal, This cannot be real.Many wear black metal bracelets inscribed with the names of their friends who died, as if to remind themselves daily that it was real.To look at them today, few show any outward sign that one day not too long ago they risked their lives in an ancient African city, killed for their country, took a bullet, or saw their best friend shot dead.They returned to a country that didn't care or remember.Their fight was neither triumph nor defeat; it just didn't matter [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]