Monday, February 15, 2010

Lone Survivor

The older I've become, the more I enjoy reading military and warfare stories. Hence, my recent enjoyment of Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10. The story was written by Marcus Luttrell, an actual SEAL, and Patrick Robinson, author of best selling US Navy based novels. Below is a brief description of the book -

On a clear night in late June 2005, four US Navy Seals left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission: to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader. Less than twenty-four hours later, only one of the Navy SEALs remained alive.

This is the story of fire time leader Marcus Luttrell and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of the men who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left. Luttrell recalls their valiant efforts in one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare--a stirring tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

This book held me captive for four days as I hurried to read what happened next. The end is bittersweet, but well worth the read. I've always respected and admired our country's service men and women, but even more so after reading this book. What struck me most, was the precarious balance US special forces must deal with as they enter the most dangerous locations worldwide. The US government makes a major investment in special forces - training them to withstand the worst conditions, sharpening them physically and mentally and then arming them to the teeth so they can succeed in any circumstance. However, the US government then (almost) limits these forces with rules of engagement. Before I move forward with this, let me preface that I am not well versed in the rules of engagement (ROE) that govern modern warfare. I will say though that Luttrell's account struck a chord in my heart and I feel his viewpoint. I want to share one excerpt from chapter one that describes this:

"It's been an insiduous progression, the criticisms of the U.S. Armed Forces from politicians and from the liberal media, which knows nothing of combat, nothing of our training, and nothing of the mortal dangers we face out there on the front line. Each of the six of us in that aircraft en route to Afghanistan had constantly in the back of our minds the ever-intrusive rules of engagement. These are drawn up for us to follow by some politician sitting in a distant room in Washington D.C. And that's a very long way from the battlefield where some sniper's bullet can blast your head, where the slightest mistake can cost our life, where you need to kill your enemy before he kills you."

Our Special Forces must carefully balance their adherance to ROE while still managing to stay alive in situations that 99.9% of Americans would never willingly volunteer to enter into. I applaud the men and women who serve our country. They've sacrificed many things so they can serve, but most importantly they willingly put their lives on the line to protect our country and the freedoms of others around the globe.

This book is a short read, a quick read, and a worthwhile read. It will open your eyes to how well trained our Special Forces are, and will instill a new sense of pride in the patriotism of US military personnel.

Thanks for sharing your story Marcus, I appreciate the sacrifice you made with your teammates in those Afghanistan mountains.


Anonymous said...

Hey - can I borrow??? See you thursday! Kami

The Hursts said...

Not my kind of usual read, but I'm inspired to check it out!

Jennifer said...

Huh, sounds interesting! Love your header BTW!