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Roberts Ridge: A Story of Courage and Sacrifice on Takur Ghar Mountain, Afghanistan [Anglais] [Poche]

Malcolm MacPherson
4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

1

Chief Warrant Officer Al Mack sat behind the left controls of a Chinook helicopter, heading southeast along a crest through a brilliant moonrise. As he flew through the night, the terrain reminded him of Mordor and Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. He told people, "Imagine landing on that at night without a light. And if a landing zone isn't big enough, what you do is set the aircraft's aft gear down, hover, and several thousand feet below you is the bottom, with no visual reference. Put the ramp down. Guys get out."

Take away some of the bluster and that was what Mack was about to do on the 10,240-foot peak of Takur Ghar.

He was happy to be moving again after frustrations that aggrieved even a sixteen-year Army veteran. Earlier, he had ferried his Chinook, code-named Razor 03, down from Bagram Air Base near Kabul to a temporary special operations airfield. He was working Operation Anaconda, the largest military offensive thus far in America's fight against al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, which had kicked off, depending on who was doing the counting, either the previous day or two days before. He'd been dropping off special operations teams in the mountains on both sides of the Shah-i-Kot valley, often relying for guidance on outdated maps and imagery.

Since before midnight, he had been trying to deliver MAKO 30, his "customers," to a landing zone at the base of Takur Ghar, the highest mountain in the area. On his first try, only six minutes away from the LZ, he had asked a nearby Spectre gunship circling over the valley to take a look with its sensors at the landing zone to see if it was clear of hostile forces.

"I can't look at your LZ," the Spectre's fire control officer told him. "There's a B-52 strike coming in," and the gunship, with a wide, looping orbit, had to push off until it was safe to return, probably in less than an hour.

"OK," Mack had replied, with no real good choice but to suck it up and return to where they had picked up the SEALs. He was aware of the importance of delivering his customers to their offset LZ in a timely manner, and what it could mean for the revised plan for Operation Anaconda. In mission preparation, he'd been vested in the ground/air tactical plan and knew exactly what his customers--and his higher commanders--needed from him. That was why his frustration peaked when a glance told him that he was running low on gas. He always planned his missions with precision, calculating a gas supply sufficient to get him through a task with fifteen minutes to spare for emergencies, and nothing more.

Over all the hours Mack had flown Chinooks, he had achieved a nearly perfect spiritual fusion of man with machine. It came as no surprise that he admitted to a deep fondness for the bird. He saw charm and personality in its homely design. Veterans like him sometimes compared the helo to a "Winnebago with rotors," and indeed it was little more than a rectangular box with big fans in front and back, about 50 feet long and weighing in at around 40,000 pounds. To anyone else's eye, it was not sleek and it was not pretty. It had bumps and a weak chin, spindly legs, and a hay stalk sticking out the corner of its "mouth." Mack's version of the Chinook was a model (the MH-47E) made by Boeing and specifically configured at a significant cost for special operations missions. Several enhancements helped the twenty-four copies ever made to fly where and when other helos could not.

Instead of circling and wasting fuel until the B-52 pointed for home, Mack flew 22 miles back to the grubby and nearly abandoned airstrip where they had started, outside Gardez. He sat on the ground and waited in the dark, keeping the rotors at flat pitch to burn less fuel, like idling the engine of a car. Finally, the bomber pulled off and the Chinook took off, but it had not gained more than a thousand feet when Mack was told, "Razor 03, there's an air assault coming in. You need to abort and go back to Gardez and wait."

Saving on gas, this time Mack shut down the aircraft with the expectation that they would be on the ground for a while. Slab put out security around the aircraft. He understood the urgency to "put a cork stopper in that valley," but reaching the peak from an offset location, as planned, increasingly looked like it was going to require more time than prudence allowed, given these delays. Even in the best of circumstances, without the holds, they were starting to cut the time short. They probably would have been able to crest the peak, after an extremely long early morning climb, as the sun was coming up. To do it in stealth, they would have been on the margin of daylight in any case. Time was eating at Slab. The last thing he wanted was to get stuck out in the open on low ground in the middle of the day.

Two of his teammates were sitting back to back outside by the aircraft in the dark. One, named Turbo, a biker fanatic who had decorated his body from neck to ankles and wrists with a riot of tattoos, was listening through earbuds to a portable CD player, rocking to the sounds. The other teammates were talking quietly. Slab told them to tweak their gear, and with his combat controller, he used the delay to go over the list one last time to see that they had everything they might need.

Ninety minutes passed before Mack told Slab they had clearance to go. The SEALs got back onto the helo, and as usual, they did not bother to snap in their safety harnesses. Slab plugged in the inter-crew communication system (ICS). He heard a voice say, "You are cleared to go."

Up front, Mack hit the switches. The number-two engine spooled up and ran away, like a car accelerator that was stuck on the floor. The engine spike damaged a computer. Flames like the thrust of a rocket shot out of the engine and lit up the night, catching the wary attention of the SEALs in the cabin. The turbine blades would have disintegrated if Mack did not shut down the aircraft. He had no choice but to declare the machine non-mission-operable.

It was that kind of a night.

"Team leader," Mack alerted Slab, who was plugged into the ICS on the right side of the helo by the ramp hinge, "I can't take you in this helicopter." A spare would take two hours to arrive from Bagram, what with preparation and the hour flight south. That would push them up against daylight. The occupants of Mack's helicopter dreaded being out in the light of day.

Eavesdropping on Mack's radio net, the other pilots of his Razor cohort, flying in the area with their deliveries and pickups of special operations teams to and from the mountains of the Hindu Kush, proposed an easy solution to the broken helicopter and the onward rush of daylight: a front-end swap in which the pilots, who were briefed on the operation, and their passengers would switch to a healthy aircraft. The crews would stay behind. Mack talked to Slab, who was designated the mission commander.

"Here's the deal," Mack told him. "Best case, I can get you to the LZ by 2200 Zulu."

The original timeline had called for Mack to drop off the team three and a half hours earlier at the base of Takur Ghar. From there, the team needed at least four hours to climb 2,000 feet to an upper ridge and find a defensible position in which to hide and observe the peak before taking it over. With the delays--the B-52 sortie, the engine failure--they would be climbing up the mountain against a light sky. The timing did not mesh, and Slab did not like what he was hearing. It wasn't that he and his team couldn't ascend the mountain with the agility of young goats, night or day. As members of SEAL Team 6 and the Air Force's 24th Special Tactics Squadron, MAKO 30 was trained to operate in any environment on earth. Making them even more specialized, the operators of Team 6, who were fewer in number than 150, did not answer to the Navy's regular chain of command. They, a handful of Air Force combat controllers like MAKO 30's Tech Sergeant John "Chappy" Chapman, and the Army's fabled DELTA force took orders from a shadowy military organization known by its initials, JSOC--Joint Special Operations Command, based at Pope AFB adjacent to Ft. Bragg, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. These "black" commandos did not officially exist on the Pentagon's roster. In Afghanistan they had been assigned to Task Force 11 to hunt down and kill or capture "high-value targets" like bin Laden and his top lieutenants. Trained to a fine point, they were described as "Tier 1 operators" for their single-minded dedication and their ability to make hard choices in dynamic, dangerous settings and scenarios. They often operated independent of higher command to accomplish quietly what nobody else in the United States military was able--or, frankly, wanted--to do.

Slab conferred in the dark of the cabin with his point man, Randy,* and his combat controller, Chapman, the oldest team member, who both offered analyses that Slab knew to trust. Slab and Chapman, despite their age difference, were similar, both taciturn and deeply emotional. Slab could enter and leave a room as softly as a cat. Looking at his clean, open face, any suggestion that he was a commando of the highest order could provoke incredulity. Indeed, the same could be said of Chapman, a gentle family man and proud dad who carried his daughters' hair ties in his pocket as mementos.

Slab was further trained as a medic. He had served in the Navy for sixteen years, eight of them with JSOC, and as a reconnaissance team member and leader for six years. He'd been a SEAL since graduating from Navy boot camp, enlisting not long after graduating from high school. He had tried college for a short time, but with relationships at home deteriorating, he felt that he had to get away. Slab's father had spent four years as a SEAL when the organization was still called Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). He had gone through Clas...

Revue de presse

“A true story of courage that captures–over the course of seventeen hours–all the drama and sacrifice of war. Impossible to put down. Highly recommended.”—James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys

“At once a terrifying and compelling narrative, Roberts Ridge strikes awe for its unflinching and honest portrayal of the courage, determination, and capability of American fighting men. This true tale resonates with vitally important lessons of success and failure on the field of battle.”—Eric Haney, author of Inside Delta Force

"In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, Malcolm MacPherson vividly brings to life this harrowing story of courage, pathos, and war at its grittiest. For military history buffs, or those interested in the front lines of the war on terror, Roberts Ridge is a must read."—Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America

"[MacPherson] is at his best when he uses his access to the special-forces fighters and spills details, such as the smell of a bullet-shredded pine tree and the slow icing of the sweat and blood that soaked the men's clothing.... a story with a strong heart."—The Hartford Courant

"Roberts Ridge is a reminder that combat, despite America's huge technological advantages, always boils down to the basics: Men, machinery, maps and mojo.... Like Black Hawk Down, there is no happy ending .... Ultimately, Roberts Ridge is a study in courage and comradeship. How some of America's finest young men, in the crucible of combat, refuse to surrender their buddies in the face of gut-clenching firepower, grinding cold and the bewildering fog and friction of war."—The Flint Journal

“An impressively detailed account of one heart-wrenching battle in the invasion of Afghanistan. MacPherson gives readers a rare, behind-the-scenes look … A Great read.” — St. Petersburg Times

“A real-life thriller. . . that bridges the breach between the military and a civilian culture possessing little knowledge or experience of the military.” —Booklist

Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 384 pages
  • Editeur : Dell (25 juillet 2006)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0553586807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553586800
  • Dimensions du produit: 2,6 x 10,2 x 17,1 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 171.309 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Commentaires en ligne 

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Honneur aux commandos 7 février 2007
Par Latour07 1ER COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEUR TOP 500 COMMENTATEURS VOIX VINE
Format:Poche
Ce livre est un honneur aux commandos américains à la faveur d'une bataille livrée sur une montagne en haute altitude, dans la glace, le vent, la nuit, en Afghanistan. Très bel ouvrage.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent ouvrage 11 novembre 2012
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Un très bon ouvrage sur les opérations d'une équipe du DevGru à Takur Ghar en Afghanistan, montrant autant les défaillances de la chaîne de commandement que le courage des hommes sur le terrain. Un très bon ouvrage en anglais sur une bataille ardue menée par une équipe dévouée à son travail ; et une histoire sur le sacrifice qu'un soldat peut faire pour l'un de ses frères d'armes.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  163 commentaires
78 internautes sur 83 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Very good history of events on Roberts Ridge 1 octobre 2005
Par Tac-P - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I read this book over a weekend and was pleasantly surprised by it. I read "Not a Good Day to Die" a couple months ago and was waiting for this book to be published so I could compare the two. Of course, "Day" goes into much more detail regarding Operation Anaconda while "Ridge" focuses on the events on a single mountaintop, but I think both were well-written.

I prefer MacPherson's writing style in that he doesn't personalize the story at all. There is no reference to "me" or "I," only the story as told to him by the people involved. I feel that adding one's own voice to a work of non-fiction just makes the writer sound like a braggart and sometimes even discredits the account.

I do think that the target audience for this book is either military-related, or just very quick, because much of the terminology is not explained, especially when it comes to the "slang" style terms and phrases that the branches use in so much of their work.

As a book focusing on the events of Takur Ghar, it was great. However, if you have no idea what Operation Anaconda was about, I would recommend reading "Day" first, because "Ridge" does not go into the set-up of the Operation at all. "Ridge" is a wonderful way to delve further into the seventeen hours of combat operations of so many service members, and the characterization is much deeper than "Day" simply because there are fewer players involved.

I highly recommend this book, but read "Not a Good Day to Die" first if you have no frame of reference for Afghanistan or Operation Anaconda.
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Account of the Battle for Takur Ghar Mountain 22 avril 2007
Par Tom Newman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Prior to Operation Anaconda, the less-than successful operation to trap and kill Al-Queda troops in the Sha-i-Kot Valley, a number of Special Operations Forces teams infiltrated the area in order to conduct reconnaissance prior to the operation and then direct close air support into the Valley to kill the terrorists. Mako 30, one of these teams, was sent to the most obvious observation point in the Valley - Takur Ghar mountain. Only problem was that the battle-hardened Al Queda terrorists, mostly Chechens, were quite aware of the military significance of Takur Ghar and made it their own before Mako 30 arrived. MacPherson makes a great argument for the pitfalls of relying on the best technology in the world - even our best "sniffers" never picked up on the terrorists on the peak. After attempting a landing and losing Neil Roberts, Mako 30 attempted to return to the same Landing Zone they had unsuccessfully tried to occupy the first time around. Mako 30's predictable defeat is followed by a Ranger Quick reaction Force that is also pinned down. Unbelievably, the Rangers landed in the exact place that Mako 30 did, losing their MH-47 in the process. A third reaction team lands, scales 2000ft on mountain, and the Rangers finally prevail over the enemy.

MacPherson has done a great job of capturing the details of the battle, but his account falls far short of "Not A Good Day To Die", a far more detailed and better-sourced account. Nonetheless, MacPherson's account captures the individual bravery and sacrifice of the U.S. soldiers on the mountain. A great compliment to "Not A Good Day To Die". A must read for any small unit commander and anyone interested in Al Queda tactics.
52 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Sloppy job on capturing the essence of the fallen soldiers 22 mai 2006
Par Sister - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I was very disappointed in this book. Malcolm came to our family's home to interview us to try and capture what type of man my brother was. I must say he did a very poor job. In all the personal facts written about my brother, the only thing he got correct was the fact that he carried his daughter's ponytail ties in his pocket. Even though he tape recorded the interviews and took notes, he did not come close to portraying the essence of my brother. Malcom got names, facts and timelines incorrect. With so many errors written about my brother, I can only assume he did a poor job with the other fallen soldiers as well.

As for the facts about the battle, he got some of it correct but other areas he embellished or guessed.

I believe there was only one person in my family who read the entire book. The book was that far off, that it was not even worth finishing.
39 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A moving, heroic story 30 octobre 2005
Par Pangloss - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is an account of a group of US Navy SEALS who are ambushed on a mountain in Afghanistan and require rescue by Army Ranger rapid response team. The Rangers are subsquently ambushed requiring yet another rescue team. The story is told from the perspective of the soldiers on the ground, facing unbelievably cold weather, horrible terrain and a lot of determined enemies. Quite a few don't make it, but the story is more about the determination of these highly trained warriors to never leave a comrade behind. The action is quite detailed and the reader almost feels like he is there with the troops. Highly recommended.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Account of Battle But Missed The Big Picture 29 décembre 2009
Par Steve Dietrich - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
I really wanted to like this book as those who fought there did so with great courage and skill and made such incredible sacrifices. However, I felt the author let them down in two primary areas-a lack of background for the original insertion decision and the decisions made from afar during the fight.

I was also disappointed with the very limited indexing. There are also some critical inconsistencies in the book.

The Seals came to the area looking for a mission on very short notice. It was apparently not their decision, but from far up the food chain and thousands of miles away in a flat land. There was a failure to appreciate the need to adapt to the altitude.

Control of Takur Ghar was not seen as essential in the plan for the operation prior to the arrival of the Seals. However, the author appears to start with the premise that control was essential, but in the end accepts the view that it was not essential.

The decision imposed on the Seals to make a direct aerial assault on the position after experiencing delays, rather than delay 24 hours, was an imposition from above. One of the grave risks of the new information age is that those (both military officers and politicians) receiving satellite, UAV data and perhaps battlefield video will abandon their roles of strategic planning and information dissemination in favor of making tactical decisions without situational awareness. It's a recipe for disaster.

There's a reason that a great football coach is down on the field while the spotters and perhaps those who recommend plays are high above the stadium.

In some respects the limitations of the book are a reflection of that lack of shared information and situational awareness which plagued the fighters during the events. According to Blaber (The Men, The Mission and Me) he was in contact with the Seal team during their fight and also in contact with the AC-130. This account treats Blaber as being out of contact which appears most unlikely given his role in the overall operation. He was uniquely qualified to provide the Rangers with much needed situational awareness.

Overall it is a worthwhile read but I recommend reading three other books Not A Good Day To Die , The Mission, The Men and Me , and First In to get a better perspective on the war in Afghanistan in 2001-02
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