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The Mission
It might have been relatively simple... if anything in war can be termed simple. A quick extraction from a target building in downtown Mogadishu, Somalia of two lieutenants and other "Tier One" associates of brutal warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, leader of the Habr Gidr subclan, determined to maintain power over his increasingly anarchic country, even at the price of starving and killing his fellow Somalis. U.S. soldiers were in Somalia as part of a multi-national United Nations force that were attempting to maintain some kind of peace and prevent the mass starvation that had erupted across the East African nation, killing some 300,000 people—partially from famine, partially because warlords such as Aidid were hoarding food provided by the peacekeepers and killing their own countrymen as they attempted to collect relief packages. One of the Habr Gidr clan's response to the U.N. efforts was to ambush 24 Pakistani soldiers under the world body's flag and literally eviscerate them.

By capturing Aidid's lieutenants, the U.S. hoped to cut off the warlord at his feet, whittling away his power bit by bit. Thus, under the command of Gen. William F. Garrison, a mission was devised to capture the clan leaders who would be meeting in a house near the Olympic Hotel on Mogadishu's downtown Hawlwadig Road. About 75 U.S. Rangers in four separate chalks would fast-rope down from four Black Hawk helicopters to provide cover for a Delta assault force of about 40 men, which would storm the building, "extract" the targeted clan members and bring them to a convoy of 12 Humvees and trucks that would travel up Hawlwadig to pick up the prisoners and return them to the U.S. base some three miles outside of the city near the Indian Ocean.

The mission was scheduled to begin at 3:42 in the afternoon and last, perhaps, 45 minutes to an hour. Night vision goggles and other special equipment were left back at the U.S. base three miles away near the Indian Ocean... they wouldn't be needed. But when Black Hawks Super Six One and then Super Six Four were shot down within 20 minutes of each other, the mission took a fateful turn from an assault into a rescue mission. The city was essentially a hornet's nest as American soldiers on the ground found themselves under heavy fire from well-armed Somali civilians. The battle that ensued would rage all through the night and into the morning of October 4, resulting in 18 Americans dead, 73 injured and huge casualties among the Somalis who waged furious war on soldiers who were perceived as enemies and invaders.

3/8/01: The first day of filming in Kenitra, Morocco on Black Hawk Down, a motion picture based on the acclaimed book by Mark Bowden that explored, in great detail, the Battle of Mogadishu. From the time he read Bowden's book in galley form, producer Jerry Bruckheimer knew that it was time for a new mission: to bring it to the screen as vividly and authentically as possible. It was executive producer Simon West who first brought the book to Bruckheimer's attention.

"I read the book before it came out in bookstores, and fell in love with it," states Bruckheimer. "I've always liked to tell stories that involve brotherhood amongst men, caring about somebody else's life more than you care about your own. And that's what these Rangers, Delta Force soldiers and pilots did. It was more important to get their buddy home alive than it was to save themselves. It's heroism under fire, and that's a powerful subject for any film."

Mark Bowden, a journalist of repute for The Philadelphia Inquirer, began working on the story some two-and-a-half years after it was fought, when it had already begun to fade from the news, perceived by the media as a military fiasco and early foreign affairs failure of President Bill Clinton's administration. Bowden became intrigued by the details of the battle itself and its aftermath. Who were t

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