This military true-to-life movie is based on the New York Times #1 best seller written by Marcus Luttrell, the lone surviving member of an ill-fated, covert military operation. We meet SEAL Team 10 as they embark on Operation RedWing.
This 4-man Team gets dropped by Black Hawk helicopters deep into Afganistan’s Taliban territory, the Hindu Kush region, in search of “the man with no ear lobes.” Their mission is to find this terrorist, verify his whereabouts and report back to base camp. They are not authorized “to engage” the enemy.
Initially the operation goes according to plan. They meet their check points as they stealthfully climb the treacherous terrain and keep hidden from view. They position themselves high on a ridge that allows them an eagle’s eye view of the encampment below. They spot the terrorist without ear lobes and photograph him. But they soon realize this encampment is not the small cell group they were briefed on. They are sitting above a major home base housing a small army. What the Team needs to do now is to reach higher terrain in order to transmit this new information then lay low until it is time for them to rendezvous with the Black Hawk.
But things begin to fall apart. Wherever they try to position their radio equipment, they cannot make communication. They are forced to hide deep in the brush and over-hanging tree limbs. Faintly at first, they begin to hear the distant tinkling of a bell, the kind worn around a goat’s neck. They tense, knowing they cannot move from their position. They wait. The goats get closer and finally the goat herders spot the Team in hiding. The Team quickly overcomes the herders and subdues them.
A moral dilemma now faces the Team. With no communication link available to OP Headquarters, these men must decide if these goat herders live or die. If they kill the herders without orders to do so how will history judge them? How will the Press, CNN in particular interpret their actions? What are the ramifications on their families, their loved ones?
Knowing that Operation RedWing has been compromised, they decide to let the herders go. They now retreat as fast as they can to the upper regions of the mountains. At this point the worst scenario occurs. The herders have rushed to call the alarm in the Taliban encampment below. For the next hour of the movie the 4-member SEAL Team is attacked, wounded and pushed to their limits in a barrage of enemy manpower and weaponry. These men bravely continue to battle, together, to the end.
For such a highly-trained Team of men, it took a series of events to bring them down–goats, radio equipment, too few Apache helicopters, misinformation.
I won’t reveal how Marcus Luttrell survived, but I am so grateful he did. He needed to write the book that made it to the screen. He needed to chronicle how these men died. They did not die in vain. They were heroes; they ARE heroes.