Authors: Damien Lewis
Tags: #HIS027130 HISTORY / Military / Other
ZERO SIX BRAVO
Also by Damien Lewis:
Operation Certain Death
Fire Strike 7/9
(with Paul Bomber Graham)
(with Mike Dowling)
It’s All About Treo
(with Dave Heyhoe)
ZERO SIX BRAVO
THE EXPLOSIVE TRUE STORY OF HOW 60 SPECIAL FORCES SURVIVED AGAINST AN IRAQI ARMY OF 100,000
New York • London
© 2013 by Damien Lewis
Maps © 2013 by William Donohoe
First published in the United States by Quercus in 2014
Jacket design ©
C130 Hercules photo © Alamy
Land Rover assault photo © PA
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A brother and a true friend
Gone but not forgotten
For reasons of operational security I have changed the names of the men who appear in this book, and for similar reasons I have, where necessary, appropriately disguised certain operational details and elements.
Rarely are two soldiers’ recollections of a mission such as the one related in these pages the same, and individual written records compiled after the event also tend to differ. I have spoken to many different sources from all ranks, and I have done my best to paint a true picture of what took place during the mission. British publishers practice a voluntary code of conduct with relation to books about British military operations. Under this, such books are submitted to the MOD for checking on Operational Security (OPSEC) and Personal Security (PERSEC) grounds. Changes required by the MOD on OPSEC and PERSEC grounds, and agreed as justified under such grounds by the author and publisher, were made to this book. At no stage did the author seek the MOD’s official approval for this book, nor did author or publisher desire or request such, and author and publisher sought no verification from MOD of the factual accuracy or otherwise of events portrayed herein.
This book is an impartial, independent, and unbiased rendering of the events as they took place in Iraq in 2003. Factual accuracy of the events portrayed remains the responsibility of the author solely,
and the author takes full responsibility for any errors that may inadvertently have been made. Any such mistakes are entirely of the author’s own making and he will be happy to correct them in future editions.
Over the past decade I have written several books about contemporary British and allied Special Forces missions, featuring operations by the SAS and the SBS. The manuscripts for those books were submitted to the Ministry of Defense before publication, for clearance for OPSEC and PERSEC reasons. Those books have been well received by key individuals within the military, and they portrayed British forces operating in a professional and dedicated manner.
The servicemen portrayed here displayed the ultimate professionalism and can-do attitude of our elite military and Special Forces operators, putting their own personal danger second to the success of the mission they had been tasked to undertake. At the time the mission portrayed in these pages took place, those who participated in it were largely denigrated in the world’s media—a condemnation fueled in part by the capture of some of the Squadron’s vehicles, which the Iraqi regime paraded before the world’s press. These men deserve a far better, more balanced portrayal of what took place, and my purpose in writing this book is largely to set the record straight.
The operation was extremely high-risk. Rather than being the failure that was portrayed at the time, this elite unit performed to the maximum of its ability and training, both on the ground and in supporting roles. Operating far behind enemy lines against a force by which they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned, they brought every man out alive. This book, written with the benefit of hindsight, should go some way toward setting the record straight—to the benefit of all those involved. The SBS motto is “By Strength and by Guile”; that of the SAS, “Who Dares Wins.” This mission demonstrated how, in seemingly impossible and unwinnable situations, these mottoes were put into effect.
Thanks to the following: my literary agent, Annabel Merullo, and her assistant, Laura Williams; my film agent Luke Speed, and associates; all those individuals who helped with the research and writing of this story; photographer Andy Chittock, for some of the fantastic images; Philip Campion, for casting an appraising eye over the drafts. Special thanks to Richard Milner, David North, Josh Ireland, Patrick Carpenter, Caroline Proud, Dave Murphy, Ron Beard, and all at my publisher, Quercus, for recognizing from the get-go what an extraordinary story this is, and why it had to be told. Special thanks also to my very good friend Mike Mawhinney for all the help, and to Lieutenant Colonel Crispin Lockhart, of the MOD, for his efforts to clear this book for publication.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”