BLACK HAWK DOWN – 2001 – A Classic Review - directed by Ridley Scott – adapted from a book by Mark Bowden – screenplay by Ken Nolan – players are; Eversman (Josh Hartnett), Hoot (Eric Bana), Grimes (Ewan McGregor), McKnight (Tom Sizemore), Sanderson (William Fichtner), Steele (Jason Isacs), Twombly (Tom Hardy), Garrison (Sam Shepard).
The1999 book by Mr. Bowden was based upon a series of 29 articles that were pub-ished in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Mogadishu is the capitol of The Federal Republic of Somalia, which is located on the northeastern coast of Africa; the Gulf of Aden sits on its northern border. It’s 11 million residents are mostly Sunni Muslims. It is hot and dry year 'round with occasional monsoon rains.
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding these events, so let’s put this setting in historical perspective: in the early 20th Century Somalia was colonized by the British and the Italians. In 1991 a civil war broke out and left the country with the status of a “failed state.”
Beginning in December 4, 1992 the U.S., in an effort to supply food and medicine to the starving people of Somalia, joined UNITAF an international task force, and initiated Operation Hope, which took over the ineffectual UN program, UNOSOM. In March of ’93, the UN replaced the US with UNOSOM II, claiming the US led effort had not achieved its objective. The UN quickly expanded their mission to include nation-building.
Their first goal was to marginalize powerful clan leaders like Mohamed Farrah Aidid, a man who thought he’d fought and earned the right to rule. On June 5 Aidid’s force, Habr Gidr, killed 24 UN troops who were investigating an arms cache. Seven days later the US forces began attacking strongholds and looking for Aidid.
There were civilian casualties and the local population looked upon the UN and the US as invaders. Operating from the position of an insurgent army, Habr Gidr gained more and more power and territory. On August 8 they killed 4 American soldiers with a car bomb.
On October 3, 1993 US Army Rangers raided Mogadishu in an attempt to capture two of Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s top lieutenants.
The story centers on an early morning day-raid. It was supposed to be a routine mission without complications... a quick in and out, and back before dark. However, the Army leadership under-estimated the insurgence’s strength, their resolve and their armament. Consequently, they were not prepared to be con-fronted by a well-armed force with back-up troops in the wings.
We seem to forget that the United States won its war of independence from England with an insurgent army. The lesson was further driven home by our role as an invading army in Viet Nam… the insur-gents always win. In addition…there was no intelligence on the ground. They didn’t expect to meet an enemy that could fight back.
There have been some complaints about the lack of characterization in this script. But those missing little personal stories release you from ident-ifying with individual soldiers and from becoming emotionally attached to their fate. Once the mission gets under way the bloody, gory, mayhem is non-stop and in the end… you are denied that satisfying release of breath and a warm huggy feeling of relief. This is what failure tastes like.