On October 3rd 1993, Task Force Ranger set out on a snatch-and-grab mission to arrest two warlords in Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation Gothic Serpent, the American military attempt to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid during the Somali Civil War.
The daytime mission was to take no more than 90 minutes. Rangers would helicopter in and surround the building on all sides while a ground convoy would wait to carry out the prisoners. Little to no fighting was expected.
What followed was 17 hours of fighting, the most violent combat action American Soldiers had seen since Vietnam. 19 American Soldiers were killed, one, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Durant, was captured.
38 years ago, the Battle of Mogadishu shocked the consciousness of the American public. It was, initially, a story of military failure, a spectacular debacle, an international embarrassment.
In the years since, largely due to Mark Bowden’s 1999 book “Black Hawk Down” and the 2001 Ridley Scott-produced film adaptation of the same name, the story has become one of valor and courage. The book and film give voice to the roughly 160 men who fought in Mogadishu, to the Rangers, Delta operators, and 10th Mountain Division Soldiers cut-off and surrounded, to those who exposed themselves to grave risk trying to rescue downed American blackhawk crews.
This episode, episode 75 of the 18th Airborne Corps podcast, is part one of two on the Battle of Mogadishu. We’ve timed these two episodes, 75 and 76, for release on the 38th anniversary of the battle. This a story worth hearing today; it holds great meaning for Army leaders and national security officials.
In this first part, we speak with John Carroll, a historian at Texas A&M University who studies the American response to the Somali Civil War and the role of the Battle of Mogadishu on President Clinton’s subsequent foreign policy decision-making. John provides context around the battle, describing what happened and why and how the country responded. We also speak with Matt Eversmann, a retired Army First Sergeant who is immortalized not only in the Mark Bowden book but who is the main character in the film, played by Josh Hartnett.
The 18th Airborne Corps podcast is the official podcast of the US military. We traditionally release new episodes every Tuesday. For episodes 75 and 76 we’re releasing on Sunday and Monday in concert with the 38th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu.
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The 18th Airborne Corps podcast focuses on history, current events, and leadership and is recorded on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.