Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu, colloquially known as "Black Hawk Down". This battle is one that has always fascinated me. Much like the Battle of Midway or the Battle off Samar, I've been drawn to the events of what happened in Mogadishu in 1993. On the 30th anniversary of the battle, I'd like to discuss my interest in it.
How I Found the Battle
For me, my interest in the Battle of Mogadishu was started when I first saw the Ridley Scott film. I was quite young when the film came out, but it was tradition for my Dad and I to watch war movies together. He was, (and still is) more of a fan of the classics, like Battle of Britain, but the visceral nature of the Scott film really stuck with me. Even at a young age, I was a history nerd, so I began looking for information about the battle. This lead me to the 2003 video game, and eventually to Mark Bowden's book on the battle.
With that, my interest in the battle is 20 years in the making. Since first learning of the battle, I've done a lot of research into it. I've recently written a review of the book, and five years back, wrote a (quite rudimentary) review of the game. Over the last few years, I've looked into many of the elements that were factors leading up to the battle. From the political situation in the US, how the UN and US peacekeeping and humanitarian operations were working, and down to the tactical level of the battle, I've done a lot of research. Why? Well, because it interests me.
Black Hawk Down - Omnipresent
The Battle of Mogadishu is one of those events that seems to be omnipresent when discussing recent US military actions. When reading Generation Kill, it is often mentioned that the Marines don't want to end up in a "Black Hawk Down" situation while behind enemy lines. During the Invasion of Iraq, I'm sure that the concern of losing helicopters in urban locations was a serious concern.
From the outsider perspective, Black Hawk Down is the modern equivalent to the Battle of the Alamo. While the circumstances of both were different, the idea of defenders holding out for support is the same. In Bowden's book, an entire section is titled "The Alamo", as that's what the men on the ground viewed it as.
The combat fought during the battle also seemed to foreshadow a lot of what was seen in Iraq, and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan. Urban combat, with non-uniformed combatants has been the norm since the start of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). While the technology has changed since 1993, a lot of the other elements haven't.
Black Hawk Down - 30 Years Later
Well, 30 years has passed, but the thought of the battle hasn't. I'd highly recommend doing research on the battle, as it is extremely interesting. I'd recommend Bowden's book very highly, along with doing some research online. The Ridley Scott film is fairly enjoyable, even though it isn't the best when it comes to historical accuracy.
Panteo did a wonderful interview with Paul Howe, which I've linked above. Getting his perspective on the battle is great to see, and I'd highly recommend watching it. Howe is a living legend, and is as real as it gets.
For me, my interest in the battle lead me to make a 1990s AR build, as my nerdery took over a few years back. Looking at the small arms of the battle, we start to see the movement from larger rifles to carbines, and optics appearing on guns. While this is mostly with the SOF operators, it was a sign of things to come over the next decade. Tubular Aimpoints and early Surefires do look cool, and work fairly well.
I would be remiss if I didn't write something on the 30th anniversary of the battle. It was one of the first historical moments that spurred my interest in researching battles. While my interest was initially built off of the 2001 film, it grew to be more than that over the last 20 years.
Do you have interest in the events of Black Hawk Down?
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