By Patrick Robinson
In the sixty years following the end of World War II, the United States military went from a vast force of towering heroes, almost to a ghost force. As the decades passed and even brutal conflicts like Korea and Vietnam began to fade into memory, the American public, in common with that of Great Britain and France, slowly became removed from the fighting men who guard their shores.
There was a time when everyone knew someone in the military or had a relative who had served, but slowly the armed forces became remote, far removed from the everyday lives of ordinary citizens. By the end of the 20th century, they occupied a separate place in the minds of the American people. Whatever the warrior classes did, it seemed nothing to do with the populace.
And then came 9-11. And suddenly the world was a different place. And the upsurge in awareness of the day-to-day running of the US military has been almost phenomenal. First they slammed into the mountains of Afghanistan and wiped out much of the high command of al-Qaeda. Then they hauled Saddam Hussein out of his lair to face the hangman. They sorted out Bosnia, and the deeds of those Naval heroes – the SEAL teams of Coronado and Virginia Beach – suddenly crashed right into the public conscience. Books, movies, documentaries, all of them designed to glorify the iron men who operate at the tip of the American spear.
And then five years ago, we learned of the breathtaking courage of SEAL Team 10 when Marcus Luttrell recounted his hair-raising battle with al-Qaeda up there in the peaks of the Hindu Kush. The downed rescue helicopter, the sixteen men who died, the three SEALs shot to pieces fighting alongside Marcus. I guess his book ‘Lone Survivor’ is already a military classic, with millions of readers.
And then came the Oscar-winning movie, ‘The Hurt Locker,’ and even Hollywood – consistently ducking away from movies about the Middle East – was obliged to sit up and take notice. Just last week Universal Studios announced they were making a major movie of Marcus Luttrell’s book ‘Lone Survivor.’ This represented a complete change of attitude by the movie execs. And of course they had a reason – the sensational SEAL Team Six attack on the fortified residence where Osama bin Laden was cornered and shot dead by the men from Coronado.
And suddenly everyone wanted to know all about the SEALs. Their training, their courage, their ruthless efficiency and their utter devotion to the American flag. These are the men who answer the call when the bugle sounds. They have, of course, always done so, but it seems in these modern times they are required to jump into the breach whenever required. It was the SEALs who first shot the Somali pirates who had kidnapped an American merchant captain. And of course, who were ready and willing to hit bin Laden.
Almost a year ago I finished my new book, ‘The Delta Solution,’ published this month, and took the reader alongside Commander Mack Bedford, blow by blow through the arduous, meticulous preparation which would be required for an attack on a captured oil tanker way out in the Indian Ocean. The parallels between ‘The Delta Solution’ and the bin Laden capture were almost uncanny, but I’m proud to have done them justice. The book needed a second printing within a week, and it was just as scary for the men who crashed into that house in Pakistan as it was for my fictional characters coming into attack the heavily armed pirates on the captured ship.
Fact and fiction. It all ran together on that somewhat bloody weekend earlier this month, but if you want to know how SEAL Team Six got ready to make their historic move against the al-Qaeda leader, you could do a lot worse than check out ‘The Delta Solution,’ because that will show you who they are, and precisely how they operate.