Summary of Red Platoon A True Story of American Valor by Clinton Romesha
Five out of five stars
Shortly into this summary I was reminded of some of the accounts that I have read of the Vietnam War. How American forces established a base in a remote area that was often untenable, fought a ferocious battle to hold it against the enemy and then abandoned it.
Keating was the most remote American outpost in Afghanistan, located at the bottom of a valley where enemy forces could easily fire down from concealed positions. When the units containing the author arrive, they immediately recognize their vulnerability. The inevitable happens when a major Taliban force attacks Keating. The ground units take casualties and through their great bravery and the intervention of American air power, manage to avoid being completely overrun. At the end, the outpost is destroyed and all American forces leave.
While the emphasis is on one specific battle in this summary, there is also other information about the environment in Afghanistan. The foolishness of occupying vulnerable positions, the unreliable nature of the Afghan forces and the role of American forces in general. This is summed up in the sentence:
“Notably, Romesha remains uncertain as to whether the US military did mostly good things or was a net positive force for the local population.”
There is also detailed mention of the tight personal bonds that develop among ground troops in combat, the ability to adapt and even disobey orders when necessary and the role of the air forces in supporting the ground troops.
This book describes a battle while covering the larger context within which it takes place. This summary covers all of that very well, from the questionable location to the battle and the abandonment of the position at the end. There is also mention of the high percentage of difficulties that veterans of the Middle East conflict experience, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.