Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review: Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

The subtitle to this book is: The eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL team 10

I read. A lot. Rarely does a book grip me emotionally. This one did. I knew the story and had already read bits and pieces online about the account. I had listened to Marcus Luttrell's interviews. Nothing prepared me for how I was moved when I read the sacrifice of our military as they bravely fought the Taliban in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan.

From his early days of training to enter the military, his choice to become a Navy SEAL straight through Hell Week and on to the Middle East deployments - you'll be able to get inside the head of Marcus Luttrell. What you will also be exposed to is his heart. It remains as big as the state of Texas from which he comes.

As I read of the battle in which he would lose the three members of his SEAL team on the mountain, my guts just churned. His tale of escaping and eluding the enemy until his final rescue by US Army special forces is absolutely riveting. I cannot but highly recommend this book. I could not put it down.

In a day when the mass media tends to color patriotism a deplorable shade, it was a relief and an inspiration to be reminded once again of those men and women who volunteer... who choose... to sacrifice on my behalf. This is a must read.


Bubblehead said...

Lone Survivor has got to be one of the poorest reads I have managed to make it through in quite a while, totally full of jingoistic dogma which I find offensive and way off mark – really, really distracts.

As with the other reviews one will find on this book I do not wish to denigrate the lost souls of Seal Team 10 - these guys put up a helluva fight and I have the utmost respect for them – truly highlights the superior training, however, having said that the book boils down to maybe seventy pages - from the insertion to full contact compromised, and the loss of the Team, the rest of the book is wasted pulp – blather!!.

Those seventy pages left me filled with questions relating to the Team’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) such as why a four man team was used when the intel was telling them there were up to a couple hundred hostiles in the area. The six man team has repeatedly been shown to be more effective – two more guns may have made the difference, especially if a SAW and a grenade launcher had been included (google Squad Automatic Weapon & M 203 grenade launcher), a few white phosphorous rounds definitely would have bought some breathing room.

Marcus describes the reconnaissance point as a promontory which is the last place where someone hiding wants to be, they were on a ridge with at least one high speed trail, there was at least one hut in the area, the way it is written when they turned the goatherds loose they nonchalantly followed them up the mountain to another hide in full view of any observer. This whole section made me think fubar. SOP dictates the Team leader to do a fly over rather than just a photo and map study – this may have been out of the question for one reason or another, regardless there was no mention of an E&E plan (escape and evasion) and why did comms fail? Blah blah blah – one thing after another that may or may not have been done properly but the book definitely reads like it wasn’t. Why is there no mention of Mako-30 and the death of Neil Roberts? the skeptic in me wonders if the media is scrambling for another Jessica Lynch story coming into an election year.

One thing that the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have in common is the difficulty in remaining undetected during reconnaissance missions (Bravo Two Zero for instance 1st gulf), patrol technique has got to be highly modified, one would think this may have been addressed in detail or at least hypothetically somewhere in the book, maybe this is possibly classified - one would do well to study the movements of the snow leopard native to the mountains of Afghanistan, camouflage is critical - not a mention? The pattern exists for alpine rock –google roggenwolf.

I don’t know, the way the book reads is smelly to me –not killing the goatherds was the proper choice - it appears that SOP was not adhered to. We have many experiences to learn from – Soviet in particular but the British experience in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well – both were losers, we in turn will more than likely be a loser - they and we do not understand and appreciate the tribal mentality - we are the bull in the china shop. Please read the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and Gertrude Bell -Queen of the Desert, also many accounts from climbing expeditions to this area have good insight into the Pashtun mentality.

Prosit absent Companions,


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