In the 1990s, Somalia is undergoing a famine along with a civil war. Many civilians have died as a result of the war, and so the UN has intervened and started a peacekeeping operation there, with a base just outside Mogadishu. Unfortunately, the Somalis, distrusful of the UN, have declared war on everyone involved in the operation. In response to this, the US army deploys Delta Force to aimed at undermining the power of the president of Somalia. They plan a mission to capture Omar Salad Elmi and Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdiid, two of the President’s top advisers.
The operation is planned out, and everything seems foolproof. Before they leave however, a lieutenant is removed from duty due to a seizure, and so a less experienced soldier must take his place and lead the crew. Delta Force is deployed to capture the two men in Mogadishu, and all goes according to plan. Helicopters are flown in over the city, and they can see tires burning, which is the Somali’s signaling that they were coming. They then convince a taxi driver to show them where the two men will be, and they go in with helicopters and armored vehicles.
They successfully capture the two advisers, and wait for the extraction team to come pull them out of the hostile territory. On the way, the extraction team takes heavy fire, and one of the helicopters is hit with an RPG. It goes into a tailspin and hits a rooftop before crashing into a street. Two of the passengers in the helicopter crawl out and away, but the other two have extensive injuries and have to stay in the helicopter. Another helicopter is told to take the place of the one that went down.
This helicopter is quickly shot down as well, but lands with less injuries. At this point the armored vehicles are diverted from the path of retrieving the two captured men and told to go to the first crash site, retrieve the soldiers there, and then move to the second crash site and secure it. On the way to the crash site, one of the armored vehicles is hit by an RPG, and men are thrown out of it. The convoy stops and retrieves the wounded, but in the process another soldier is shot. Throughout the mission, the armored convoy is being given directions by a plane overhead.
At this point, the confusion is too great and the directions are inaccurate. Roadblocks are being set up by the Somalis, which makes it impossible for the convoys to reach the crash sites. Unbeknownst to the ground forces, the convoys give up trying to reach the crash sites and head back to the UN safe zone, in the stadium. Meanwhile, ground forces are also trying to reach the crash sites. A group of men reach the first crash site, and set up a defensive perimeter around it, with the base inside the house that the helicopter crashed into.
They attempt to treat the wounded soldiers, and hold back Somali forces. At the second crash site, two snipers are dropped in by helicopter to try to retrieve the wounded. They find one soldier injured and alive, but as night falls, both of them are killed and the injured soldier is taken captive. Under cover of darkness, the Somalis attack the first crash site, but air support from the military holds them back until help can arrive. A relief convoy arrives and rescues the wounded, but many of the soldiers are forced to run back to the stadium.
As they arrive, they are greeted with hundreds of smiling and cheering Somalis. In the end, there were 19 American, and over 1,000 Somali casualties. The injured soldier that was captured at the helicopter crash site was released almost two weeks later. The two snipers that went in to retrieve the injured soldier were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Soon after, the president of Somalia was killed in a battle with a rival group. The following day, the general in control of the operation resigned. In terms of accuracy, most of this movie is biased toward the Americans.
In the beginning, there is a scene where the Americans are flying over the UN food supply trucks that were sent in to feed Somalia, and in this scene, Aidid’s men mercilessly gun down civilians in order to take the food trucks. In reality, that event never even happened. Throughout the whole movie, director Ridley Scott added and took away events to delude the viewer into believing that the Somalis were evil people who had no motive, and just wanted to be in control. When this war actually happened, there were two phases of UN involvement.
The movie mixes them together in a way that suits its purpose. Phase one was actually a benevolent move by the UN; food trucks were brought in an attempt to feed the starving citizens of Somalia. This lasted for awhile, but not forever. Then came phase two, which was the violent phase. The US Army came in to the city with a, “military campaign to to install a fresh political system in Somalia. ” The Somalians resented this. Another, more blatant inaccuracy was when the movie announced onscreen that “Aidid’s militia first killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and then began to target US troops.”
The opposite of this is actually true. US troops were targeting Aidid before the Pakistanis were killed by a Somali mob. The UN interfered with Aidid’s affairs before the events of the movie even took place. This omission of information is meant to convince the viewers that the attack on the US troops was unprovoked and aggressive, to indicate that the US was in the right and Aidid’s army was in the wrong. Also, the movie makes it seem as though this is the first time US troops had engaged in any kind of action in Mogadishu.
In actuality, the Delta Force had flown in over Mogadishu many times before to harrass Aidid and his supporters. US troops “rotor-washed” houses and people in downtown Mogadishu, meaning they would hover above the town in helicopters and blow down structures with the force of the wind from the rotors. The final and most glaring piece of evidence still remains. Through the entire film, it is not explained why the US troops and Delta Force were met with such violence and antagonism on the streets of Mogadishu.
The movie plot and the way the characters are presented leads the viewer to believe that the Somalians are just naturally aggressive and ferocious people. The real reason is that months before, on July 12, 1993, the dominant groups in Mogadishu held a meeting to discuss a peace proposal from a main official at the UN, Jonathan Howe. Many prominent leaders of groups opposed to Aidid were also there. During the meeting, US helicopters attacked the building that the gathering was in, and slaughtered Somali religious leaders and elders.
This enraged the Somalis, and so when they met the US troops in the streets of Mogadishu, they took out their full anger and ferocity on them in retaliation for what was done at the meeting. This film is skewed to favor of the US, in order to sway viewers to believe that what the UN did was entirely justifiable, that the Somalis have short fuses and will fight, unprovoked, at the drop of a hat. The viewers of this movie would naturally be led to have a negative attitude toward Somalia, and ultimately in future engagements, be biased towards the US military as heroically on the side of justice.
The US military establishment was more than pleased with this depiction of the October 3, 1993 raid on Somalia, in which 18 US soldiers lost their lives and two Black Hawk helicopters were destroyed. As evidence, thousands of videotapes of the film were sent to US military bases abroad and the producer of the movie, Jerry Bruckheimer was widely quoted as telling General John Keane, “General, we’re going to make a movie that you and your army will be proud of. ” After seeing the film, General Keane told reporters “He did that, and we thank him. ”