Book Reviews - Combat in Iraq and Afghanistan

Sniper One

This is the true story of Sergeant Dan Mills and his sniper team during his tour in Al Amarah with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, in what was meant to be peace keeping mission. From the very first page I was gripped by the action and could almost feel the bullets zinging by and the mortar shells landing.

My favourite chapter is when a 'mysterious' pair turn up in irregular uniforms and a .50 cal. Dan and co spend the night trying out different coloured tipped rounds to see what they do.

During this deployment Private Johnson Beharry would win his Victoria Cross in the fighting there in the first “Mahdi uprising” in May. The following months saw hundreds of mortars and RPGs fired into their compound in the Cimic House, a former governor’s residence on the banks of the Tigris.

Finally in August, surrounded by the Mahdi Army, Al Amarah turned into the Alamo. Luckily the British Davey Crocket made it out alive to write this book and provide us with one of the greatest true wartime stories around.

If you haven't read this book then order a copy today.

Apache Dawn: Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned

Damien Lewis tells the true story of call-sign Ugly, four Army Air Corp pilots of the Britsh Army's 662 Squadron deployed in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

During their 100 day deployment they are the on the front line providing air cover to the ground troops or escorting the Chinook casualty evacuation in their Apache helicopters. The story is told in the words of the pilots and navigators as if we are peeking into their combat diaries or spending time with them in their hooch listening to the stories of heroism and the inevitable black humour found in the heat of battle.

“Never in the field of human conflict has so much been fired at so many by so few “ says it all really.

A great read and very informative. I didn't even know the Taliban had a Navy!!



Lone Survivor

The story of Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell who became a Navy SEAL in 2002 and his fight for survival in June 2005 during Operation Redwing.

As one of four in a SEAL Team he was sent to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader he is the lone survivor of an incredible fire fight. The Quick Reaction Force mobilized in a daring daytime mission consisting of eight Navy SEALs and eight Army Night Stalker commandos perished when their MH-47 helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed.

(side note, in the book Long Rifle the author believes the Taliban were tipped off the rescue was on the way and they were waiting for the Chinook to arrive)

Wounded several times, Marcus crawled for four days until finally rescued by a Pashtun tribe who take him in and help protect him from the local Taliban.

The start of the book goes into some of his tough SEAL training and can be a bit monotonous at times with all the talk of getting sandy in the sea, but it goes help to explain his determination to crawl the estimated 7 miles to get to the Pashtun village.

Marcus is a true American God fearing patriot and the book is full of references to his ultimate belief in President Bush and God, with God ensuring his rifle always seems to be where he needs it when falling down the mountains. He has a strong family and community and we get a glimpse into events that were going on at his parents ranch whilst he was fighting for his life.

The author received the Navy Cross for his actions, with his team leader getting the Medal of Honour and Navy Crosses awarded to his two other team members posthumously.

A very entertaining read, as long as you don't get put off by the 'God Bless America', 'liberty and freedom' and 'because I love my country' mantra.

Long Rifle: A Sniper's Story in Iraq and Afghanist

This is the story of Joe LeBleu, a former US Army Ranger who had already been honourably discharged but after 911 (he was due to have lunch in the twin towers the day of the attack) he re-enlisted and retrained as a sniper. Attached to the 10th Mountain division he took part in action in Fallujah (Iraq), including a confirmed kill at 1100 yards on a moving target in the back on a pickup.

The description of the action doesn't draw you in as much as 'Sniper One' but it is still a good read. He briefly touches on his time in Afghanistan too. Its a shame US law restricts him from talking about his missions in the Rangers, especially how he came to win the US Army Commendation Medal in 2001 before his first discharge.

I developed the opinion that Joe is totally disheartened with the reasons America went to war, and how it is now trying to win the peace. Unlike Marcus Luttrell, Joe is not a in love with the president. He compares Bush's skill in running the war to Dick Cheney's gun safety skills!

Definitely worth a read.

Author Andy