When the movie “Black Hawk Down” was first released I immediately wanted to watch it. Once I had the opportunity to see this film I was not disappointed and it instantly became one of my favorite movies. I particularly liked this film because I found it to be a captivating movie that provided a glimpse into the minds of American military leaders, especially the elite forces during a controversial conflict. In the years leading up to the conflict portrayed in “Black Hawk Down” the country of Somalia had been involved in a civil war. Rival clans headed by vicious warlords were rutted against one another. They maintained their power by controlling the weapons and food. By late 1993 over 300,000 civilians had been starved to death by these warlords. When the United Nations could no longer keep the peace and distribute food to those in needs, the United States sent in an elite group of military forces to the region.
Ridley Scott directed Black Hawk Down, which was released in 2001. The movie tells the story of 24 hours in the life of American elite soldiers in a clear, focused, and honorable manner. The movie begins with the capture of a man named Mr. Otto who General Garrison, the American commander of forces in Somalia believes to be the main supplier of weapons to the areas primary warlord, Aidi. With the help of inside Intel General Garrison decides to dispatch Army Ranger and Delta forces into Bakara Market area of Mogadishu in order to capture two of Aidi’s key personnel: Omar Salad, his top political advisor and Abdi Hassan, a militia minister.
When the U.S. forces left, they were arranged in four chalks. Army Rangers were assigned to evacuate black hawks by the use of fast ropes, and then to secure the corners around the target house where Aidid’s men would be arrested by Delta Force who were dropped in the target site by small birds. The prisoners were then supposed to be transported by a convoy of Humvees back to the U.S. base during which time the black hawks would circle the sky to provide over head cover. The entire mission was scheduled to take an hour.
The codeword “Irene” was use to start the mission. When the birds reached their target area Rangers began to file down the fast ropes. After the first bird had let its men out, the mission went wrong. As the black hawk maneuvered to miss an RPG, Private First Class Todd Blackburn missed the rope as he departed the black hawk and fell nearly 70 feet. Private First Class Good, the chalk medic came to Blackburn’s aid. Unfortunately, Blackburn’s injuries were far more severe than he was equipped to handle.
Blackburn needed to be extracted immediately. As Blackburn was loaded onto a stretcher to await the arrival of the medevac the firefight intensified and the Rangers were forced to branch out. With eyes on the battlefield from a screen located at the command center, General Garrison observed the deteriorating situation. Within minutes thousands of Somalis began to erect barricades, start fires, and maneuver themselves towards the American forces. These barricades caused the Humvees to alter from their original course in an attempt to make it to the pick up site.
At the same time, the Ranger and Delta forces had successfully captured Aidi’s key men. When the Humvees finally arrived, Blackburn was near death. The chalk leader decided that three Humvees would break from the convoy and take Blackburn back to base; however, while in route to the base their gun man was killed. The city was filled with Somalis shooting at the force from every possible direction. While this was taking place, the helicopters continued to circle the city.
They provided aerial support for the ground forces. While providing aerial support one of the black hawks (Super Six One) piloted by Wilcott was hit by an RPG. Initially Wilcott believed the damage was minor, but his bird quickly began to spin out of control and proceeded to crash; which quickly changed the American forces mission. Now the American forces had to reach the fallen bird before the Somalis did. With a chopper leading the way, ground forces along with Humvees began to make their way to the crash site, but fate struck again. While leading the convoy, the chopper manned by Mike Durant was shot down by an RPG.
A new plan was then created in order to secure the second fallen black hawk. The new plan was for the Humvees to continue on to the first crash site, secure it, recover the wounded as well as dead, head to the second crash, site secure it, and then finally head back to the base. However, before the Humvees where able to make it to the first crash site they had taken so many casualties that they were forced to return to base; leaving the Delta force and Ranger forces to fight the growing mob.
As night fell the remaining forces settled into fallen homes where they proceeded to take care of their wounded and fire at advancing Somalis. Meanwhile the convoy returned to base, unloaded their wounded, rearmed and headed back out to rescue the American forces. Additionally, small birds darted through Mogadishu firing down upon the Somalis in an attempt to provide fire support.
By 9:30 that night a rescue plan was in place. The U.S. forces would hook up with the Malaysian and Pakistani forces, form a convoy and bring the remaining forces back to base. There task was a long and tedious process as the convoy was constantly under fire. However, by 5:45 the following morning the convoy had reached the troops and was heading back to base. The only problem with this was that there was not enough room for all of the soldiers. Due to this fact, some of the soldiers were forced to run back to the base amid the continued shooting. The movie concluded as a large forced prepared to return in an attempt to find Mike Durant.
In conclusion, Black Hawk Down is an excellent, must see movie. In my opinion the movies accomplished three main goals. First, it informs the viewers of the events that occurred in Somalia. Second, it brings the audience deep into the heart of battle by showing a realistic portrayal of combat and the brave actions of numerous American soldiers. Consequently, the movie gives its viewers a sense of the fellowship that was felt among the American forces that were apart of this conflict as well as a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice that so many American’s make even when not involved in a major war. Finally, throughout this movie Ridley Scott highlights one of the principle warrior ethos used by the fighting forces and lived by many American Soldiers: “Never leave a fallen comrade”.