Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Task Force Black - A Book Review

Task Force Black by Mark Urban
'The book the MoD doesn't want you to read' Daily Mail Soon after British and American forces invaded Iraq they faced an insurgency that was almost impossible to understand, let alone reverse. Facing defeat, the Coalition waged a hidden war within a war. Major-General Stan McChrystal devised a campaign fusing special forces, aircraft, and the latest surveillance technology with the aim of taking down the enemy faster than it could regenerate. Guided by intelligence, a small British special forces team met the car bombers' fire with fire and accounted for thousands of insurgents.

In the latest of his books Mark Urban uses his contacts in the defence and intelligence establishment to give the reader of Task Force Black the inside track on the hidden war of the Special Forces in Iraq.

Urban's book as one would expect contains descriptions of various door-kicking assaults, house raids, kidnaps and rescues to pique the interest of those who like to read about modern warfare but they never really get down to the meat and potatoes of the raids and often barely touch the details. A large amount of the book is spent on military political manoeuvring and the concepts behind the strategies. So whilst we get firsthand accounts of the rescue of British hostages, or the killing of the leading fanatical Islamist, we also get to learn about the concept of building networks, or of the Iraqi Awakening movement that feature heavily in many of the goings on in the book.

For those interested in the political aspects of the war the use of the terminology of modern political discourse - the kind that seeks to make what is obvious, unclear and murder seem acceptable shows how inaccurate those terms were and how biased they were towards civilians and the like.

Task Force Black still gets a good review because Mark Urban does deliver on his promise to give us the goods about the "secret war in Iraq." As with many books on modern warfare, Mark Urban is perhaps just too interested in telling the tale to get sufficient perspective on what is happening and instead ignores the men on the grounds low level perspective to instead take a too higher view of what was happening. This instead leads the book away from a SAS perspective to a more USSF and Command view of the war

The use of the references to high technology, military acronyms and the proxy thrill of the 2am raid on a hostile target house ("alpha"), as doors are kicked in and rooms are "cleared." Is good but at no point do you feel your right there at the forefront of the secret war. It’s a good book to read for the military politics involved but for all-round action as promised on the front cover then I’m afraid you will be left lacking.

Unfortunately with that in mind its only a two and half star review from me but then again I am comparing it to his previous excellent work on Rifles and Fusiliers.

Available from:http://www.play.com/ or http://www.amazon.co.uk/
Task Force Black by Mark Urban
Paperback • ISBN 9780349123554 

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