Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq. Grabs you that tagline doesn’t it?
I wanted action. We all want action. Whether you’re in the forces or looking to join in the future or you’re a veteran, action time is always the best time.
We love it.
Unfortunately this book doesn’t have much of it. By looking at the cover I thought it was going to be a great book full of operations. Full of the detailed battles and raids that the SAS were doing in Iraq during the Gulf War.
Now it does start well. I’ll give you that.
It tells of an SAS raid on a compound in October 2003. Now I want to read books like this and feel like I am in the firefight with them, that I’m there and that I can see and feel everything.
The author writes,
When the SAS men burst through the gates of the compound they were greeted with a hail of fire from the windows of the building to their front. An RPG 7 rocket was fired straight at them, and assault rifles opened up too. Within seconds, all the members of A1o had been hit. Morris, who had taken a bullet in the backside, turned tail and hobbled out as fast as he could.
Every SAS trooper is trained in battlefield first aid and as the captain dropped into cover his men went to work, surveying the wounds to him and the others. Major Baker, meanwhile, gathered several men and moved to the roof of a building further down the street, from which they could fire into the target compound.
After a head count he realised that two of A10’s men were probably still inside the target. His concern for them meant he could not simply ask Delta and the Bradley’s to open up with everything they had. Instead he asked a couple of his men to approach the gate to see whether they could spot their missing comrades.
Inside that yard lay Corporal Ian Plank, blood pumping out of a bullet wound to the face.
Boom! I’m Hooked
This got me in to it from the start. It was a page turner but apart from another raid on a police station to rescue two captured SAS soldiers there wasn’t much detail. I didn’t feel like I was there at all.
Saying that if you want to know about the politics and behind the scenes of the battles in Iraq then this is a great book for that.
The troubles, the disagreements. How the US and UK worked together and both hindered their own progress by not working as well as they could like bickering six-year-old girls at some points.
A new CO comes in every six months. They have new ideas. These ideas are often vastly different from the ideas of the previous CO which means changes across the board.
Some very aggressive and wanting constant raids. Some more conservative in their approach.
The difference in the rules of engagement between the coalition partners had an impact on the missions and the success of the overall war.
The US wanted to head out every night. Taking part in raids and gathering intelligence. They would then use this intelligence to conduct raids the next night. Using this fast approach was catching the Iraqi’s off guard.
They could kill or capture the enemy faster than they could replenish their soldiers. And it worked.
The Yanks weren’t scared to use their weapons, utilising helicopters as well to just get the job done but the UK were a bit more conservative. Holding back on the firing enabled some targets to get away on some raids.
They could have been much more successful to fully work together 100% under the same rules, same tactics and same ideas.
I know it’s easy to say that. I don’t have experience as a high-ranking officer in charge of special forces. Therefore I can’t suggest a valid way for it to work. I just have the opinion it could have been better.
So Where Does This Book Sit?
If you want action then avoid Task Force Black. If you want more of the background story then this is a great book. The detailed politics behind the war must be found in better books than this one.
Task Force Black is caught in the middle I suppose. The author is a journalist and he does mention how he had to make hundreds of changes. This was because the top dogs weren’t happy with the level of detail that he was writing about. I can forgive him a little.
Should you read it? You can do. Just don’t make it your next book to get hold off unless you’re really interested in the overall tactical picture of the special forces in Iraq. If you want action and detailed accounts of the actual battles then look elsewhere.
You can get Task Force Black here.