Discussion on book "Victory Point"

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Diesel_Actual

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Looking for some opinions on this book " Victory Point: Operation Red Wings and Operation Whalers"
I've started reading it, and I am reservations about it, mainly that it serves as a complete rebuttal to Marcus Luttrell's account of the operation, stopping just short of calling him completely full of shit. I have found alot of contradictions in the book.

The author claims that he had access to classified After Action Reports.(Which I find highly unlikely)
Here are some of the issues outlined in the book pertaining to "Operation Red Wings" that the author criticizes Luttrell about.

1. Originally the mission was for a 6-man USMC recon team, but since the op was to take place @ night, the 160th SOAR would provide the birds, since 160th SOAR could only support SOF teams, the job was handed to the SEALs. The Marines strongly recommended that the SEALs take 6 men as well, book also says that the Marines strongly apposed helicopter insertion as they believed it would comprise the mission immediately, but the SEALs disagreed.

2.Author says, contrary to Luttrell's account that, "AHMAD SHAH WAS NOT A HIGH LEVEL TALIBAN OR AL QAEDA LEADER" and not a "high-value or medium-value target" but instead a "high-payoff target" Is this really a distinction that is made, payoff vs. value??

3. An obvious one, Luttrell got the ops name wrong, it was Red Wings(as in Detroit Red Wings) not Red Wing. Who cares? From the AAR I've read the Op didn't have a name until after it went down. Perhaps Marcus didn't want to give up the Corps "uber-sophisticated" method of naming operations

4. Commo The Marines suggested the SEALs carry a PRC-117 20 Watt radio, but in spite of the suggestion the SEALs carried (5 Watt) PRC-148 handhelds, which proved to be ineffective in the valley.
The SEALs carried a Iridium 9505A satellite phone, which the author makes a big deal that "Lone Survivor" called it a cell phone.

5. There are many more issues to list, but the one that bothers me the most.
"Victory Point" claims that the SEALs were ambushed by 6-8 ACM fighters, not the 100+ that are claimed in "Lone Survivor", goes on to say that in Luttrell's intial AAR he stated that they were ambushed by 20-30 fighters. The author is using the video taken during the ambush as his proof for the number of fighters. Why would Marcus put his reputation on the line, and over-estimate the number of fighters in his book? I can understand being off by 20-25, but off by over 100? We are talking about an elite operator highly trained in reliable information gathering

I find this book strikingly similar to "Not a good day to die" as it is an account of a SEAL operation gone wrong that attempts to discredit them, from the perspective of conventional forces w/o any input from any SEALs involved(also book is approved by USMC but not NSW). Complied from 3rd hand accounts, from units that were particularly upset about their missions being handed off to SEALs. It's just ridiculous to me, how some of these Army/Marine commanders were so quick to write reports stating the NSW units had no business operating in Afghanistan, but they don't like to mention the hundreds of other joint NSW missions in Afghanistan that were preformed flawlessly. Clearly, inter-service rivalry is still a major issue, or was just a few years ago.

If you really want to get fired up, visit this blog. The authors spend a whole week blasting Marcus Luttrell and his team and Lone Survivor. The stuff is just down right disrespectful. Calling Marcus a "unbalanced warfighter" who "Unable to process his survivor's guilt, he creates a fiction about what happened: 20-30 attackers turns into 200. The team's tactical mistakes--losing communication with higher, not choosing to evacuate faster, deciding to let the goat herders go--become the fault of ROE. The death of his fellow SEALs becomes the fault of liberals, politicians and the media."
http://www.onviolence.com/?o=1

See more of the issues here http://www.darack.com/victorypoint/
 

Ravage

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The story is powerfull, the heroism will last the world for decades to come. The book is written quite poor - lets face it, Luttrell made it (in some aspects) into an "American superhero Christian vs. dirty Taliban Muslims". That makes for a poor story in my opinon.
Still, only those who were involved in that what took place in Afghanistan June 28th 2005, and those that are "in the KNOW" should have any kind of opinon. The rest of us must eighter get into the system, or shut the fuck up.
A discussions "oh, how can they trash a great hero on the internetz" I think is just plane stupid. Its their opinion. You will find tons of forums and blogs where people who know about warfare from books, movies and airsoft games claim how poor judgement was made by what ever military organization out there. This topic is, I belive, unnecessary.
Luttrell is a hero, wheter he wanted it or not. Those that can't take it, probably want in on some of the action.
 

QC

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Anyone remember a patrol called Bravo Two Zero? The same bitching went on after that as well. Plus ca change plus ca meme chose.
 

Diesel_Actual

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The story is powerfull, the heroism will last the world for decades to come. The book is written quite poor - lets face it, Luttrell made it (in some aspects) into an "American superhero Christian vs. dirty Taliban Muslims". That makes for a poor story in my opinon.
Still, only those who were involved in that what took place in Afghanistan June 28th 2005, and those that are "in the KNOW" should have any kind of opinon. The rest of us must eighter get into the system, or shut the fuck up.
A discussions "oh, how can they trash a great hero on the internetz" I think is just plane stupid. Its their opinion. You will find tons of forums and blogs where people who know about warfare from books, movies and airsoft games claim how poor judgement was made by what ever military organization out there. This topic is, I belive, unnecessary.
Luttrell is a hero, wheter he wanted it or not. Those that can't take it, probably want in on some of the action.

Thanks for the comments Ravage.
I didn't really intend to focus the discussion to be about others trashing comments, I just threw that in there because the blog posts revolve around the "Victory Point" account of the events.
 

AWP

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I have to laugh at one thing: the Op didn't have a name until after it started? Get the fuck out of town......That is the most batshit ridiculous thing I've read in a long time.

As to the SEALs making "mistakes." I'll bet approximately 0 of us on this board were involved in their planning cell for the mission and I'd bet that the number of authors of that book who were involved in the planning equals 0 as well. There is a reason the phrase "hindsight is 20/20" exists. Hell, part of a good AAR is picking apart the mistakes in a critical yet constructive manner so you can learn from them. This, this....finger pointing that is so goddamned endemic in America anymore is out of control. AARs are going from learning about one's mistakes and how to not repeat them to CYA and the blame game. I'm one of dozens....DOZENS of men and women on this board who have sat in on portions (or in some cases all) of the SOF planning process and you don't put any sized element on a helo without a gazillion people signing off on it. Even something that is time sensitive has a "buck stops here" moment before the bird launches.

I haven't seen the video in question but I've watched my share of Pred Pr0n. Hilarious.....go up to the top of the Empire State Building with an empty paper towel roll and look through it. Now, tell me how many cars are on the street. I've seen the Takur Ghar video with Razor 01 and while some detail is discernable other details are not; I'll guess that the video of the recce team is of similar quality. This author has now clued in on something that a JOC full of people didn't know at the time...the same people watching the same damn video? Please....I remember when I heard about the SEALs and shootdown of Turbine 33 and not one single soul in country thought it was 6-8 ACM and BTW Shah was on our "To Do" list for some time.

This dude is clown shoes.
 

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For starters I have not read this book..honestly not being military many of these types of books are hard for me to understand and basically not just my cup of tea. But one observation from a silly civilian...when these writers all jump on the genre bandwagon just because of a particular passing public popularity of a particular topic and all suddenly become experts I have to ask..Dude..why werent you there since you have all of the answers and could have saved the day? That is just my:2c: FWIW.
 

Diesel_Actual

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I have to laugh at one thing: the Op didn't have a name until after it started? Get the fuck out of town......That is the most batshit ridiculous thing I've read in a long time.

As to the SEALs making "mistakes." I'll bet approximately 0 of us on this board were involved in their planning cell for the mission and I'd bet that the number of authors of that book who were involved in the planning equals 0 as well. There is a reason the phrase "hindsight is 20/20" exists. Hell, part of a good AAR is picking apart the mistakes in a critical yet constructive manner so you can learn from them. This, this....finger pointing that is so goddamned endemic in America anymore is out of control. AARs are going from learning about one's mistakes and how to not repeat them to CYA and the blame game. I'm one of dozens....DOZENS of men and women on this board who have sat in on portions (or in some cases all) of the SOF planning process and you don't put any sized element on a helo without a gazillion people signing off on it. Even something that is time sensitive has a "buck stops here" moment before the bird launches.

I haven't seen the video in question but I've watched my share of Pred Pr0n. Hilarious.....go up to the top of the Empire State Building with an empty paper towel roll and look through it. Now, tell me how many cars are on the street. I've seen the Takur Ghar video with Razor 01 and while some detail is discernable other details are not; I'll guess that the video of the recce team is of similar quality. This author has now clued in on something that a JOC full of people didn't know at the time...the same people watching the same damn video? Please....I remember when I heard about the SEALs and shootdown of Turbine 33 and not one single soul in country thought it was 6-8 ACM and BTW Shah was on our "To Do" list for some time.

This dude is clown shoes.

Great, this is the kinda of post I was looking for, as for the OP not having a name at first, I found that in a Naval War College document written by a USMC commander, I'll have to dig it back up.
As for the vid of the ambush, it still floats around the internet, a googling of it will produce a find, but it won't be on youtube. It is of considerable quality, but by no means gives any idea of the size of the attacking force.

Also, the author claims that there was not UAV support of this Operation.
Thanks for the great post!

Another point, claims that the SEALs forced the SOAR pilots to leave Bagram before AH-64 support was available.
 

SCCO_Marine

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For those doubting the validity of the book "Victory Point" or the author, the book was just named one of the best books of 2009 by the United States Naval Institute.

I think the US Naval Institute would have a little more insight into a joint Navy SOF/Marine mission than any of the Naysayers on this site. Not to mention the amount of information provided about the Op & the missions preceding and following the Op Red Wings.
 

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Great, this is the kinda of post I was looking for, as for the OP not having a name at first, I found that in a Naval War College document written by a USMC commander, I'll have to dig it back up.

If the mission was taken from the hands of the USMC and handed to the SEAL's, then that commander probably wouldn't have known the name of the mission until afterward, even though it had one prior. Just because you're on the same ship doesn't mean you know everything that is going on.
 

Polar Bear

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For those doubting the validity of the book "Victory Point" or the author, the book was just named one of the best books of 2009 by the United States Naval Institute.

I think the US Naval Institute would have a little more insight into a joint Navy SOF/Marine mission than any of the Naysayers on this site. Not to mention the amount of information provided about the Op & the missions preceding and following the Op Red Wings.

Really Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 what did he do for peace....nothing, yet they still nominated him....it is some desk jockey sitting in a cubicle that liked the read.

"I am with the goverment and I am here to help"
 

SCCO_Marine

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Really Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 what did he do for peace....nothing, yet they still nominated him....it is some desk jockey sitting in a cubicle that liked the read.

Really, now that's a stretch. It can't be a simple answer like the information on this site is wrong...

Nobody's here to degrade M. Luttrell, I read "Lone Survivor" & liked it. "Victory Point" contains a lot of in depth & accurate info on Red Wings & the Ops that led up to & followed it.

It does however point out some inaccuracies & missteps of Op RW & that's ok. Ops occasionally go bad & this was a very tragic and compelling story that should be told fr/all sides.

The Naval Institute didn't name it a 2009 best b/c it was a good story but b/c it was an accurate & detailed retelling.




I remember when stories 1st surfaced that McChrystal signed off on a lie about P. Tilman. I called it BS but I read all sides, but ppl on Mil-Blogs put their fingers in their ears & had an online riots... WHY?? That was Championship KooL-Aid drinking at its best.
 

pardus

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The Naval Institute didn't name it a 2009 best b/c it was a good story but b/c it was an accurate & detailed retelling.

How do you this?

I'd like to read victory point, I really enjoyed Lone Survivor but I raised my eyebrows in disbelief* when I read certain parts of it.

Anyone remember a patrol called Bravo Two Zero? The same bitching went on after that as well. Plus ca change plus ca meme chose.

Exactly! There have been many books written about this patrol, 4 by people either on the patrol (3) or intimately involved in it (1), plus one (ex SAS) who went onto the ground to investigate inconsistencies.


IIRC, Compromised by a goatherder as well.

A boy, yes.

Maybe, depends on whose version you believe, apparently the goatherder boy said he didn't even know they were there. Hence the controversy.


* I don't mean that I think Luttrell lied, more of a "wow, really? :uhh: " type of thing.
 

AWP

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Nobody's here to degrade M. Luttrell, I read "Lone Survivor" & liked it. "Victory Point" contains a lot of in depth & accurate info on Red Wings & the Ops that led up to & followed it.

It does however point out some inaccuracies & missteps of Op RW & that's ok. Ops occasionally go bad & this was a very tragic and compelling story that should be told fr/all sides.

The Naval Institute didn't name it a 2009 best b/c it was a good story but b/c it was an accurate & detailed retelling.

Okay, I'll bite. How do you know this? How do you how accurate the book is?

I'm not saying the book is all lies or all truth, none of them are, but since you seem to know a lot about this event I'd like to know what "Kool-aid" we need to stay away from.
 

SCCO_Marine

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If the mission was taken from the hands of the USMC and handed to the SEAL's, then that commander probably wouldn't have known the name of the mission until afterward, even though it had one prior. Just because you're on the same ship doesn't mean you know everything that is going on.

The SEAL's didn't take the mission from the Marines nor did the SEAL's change the name. The Marines fr/that unit (2/3) & the Marines fr/the previous unit (3/3) were naming the missions after sports teams.

How the SEAL's ended up leading the R&S was due to procedure & is exactly why the USMC insists on deploying in MAGTFs.

Some Background:
The Marines of 2/3 did not deploy as a MAGTF. 2/3 was filling an obligation to attach a rotation USMC Inf BN to a US Army 82nd AB BCT. In fact they were the only USMC Ground Unit in A'stan at that time.

Not deploying as a MAGTF meant they had to rely on the US Army BCT for all Combat Functions.

RW was preceded by Operations Spurs, Mavericks, & Celtics. All involved USMC/NAVSOF collaboration. But all were USMC led & designed w/the Marines retaining OPCON which is technically against Title 10 protocol. However the relationship btwn the Marines & the CJSOTF-A Cmdr (at the time) was good.


How the SEALs got involved w/Red Wings

Op RW was designed by 2/3 & originally called for a 6-man Marine Scout/Sniper team to conduct the R&S phase.

However, the Army BCT's Pilots weren't authorized to make the type of insertion the Marines required so the request was kicked up to the 160th. Previously that hadn't been a problem but by the time of RW the Marines had changed command as well as the CJSOTF. Had they deployed as a MAGTF, the USMC pilots were certified to make the landing.

The new CJSOTF insisted on protocol, they tasked the SEALs due to the success of the previous Marine/SEAL Ops & insisted on retaining OPCON thru the early stages of the Op (R&S-DA).

There were several changes to the Op but the rest is history. Did the SEALs make mistakes, that's not for us to judge, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't hear all sides of the story.
 

AWP

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The SEAL's didn't take the mission from the Marines nor did the SEAL's change the name. The Marines fr/that unit (2/3) & the Marines fr/the previous unit (3/3) were naming the missions after sports teams.

How the SEAL's ended up leading the R&S was due to procedure & is exactly why the USMC insists on deploying in MAGTFs.

Some Background:
The Marines of 2/3 did not deploy as a MAGTF. 2/3 was filling an obligation to attach a rotation USMC Inf BN to a US Army 82nd AB BCT. In fact they were the only USMC Ground Unit in A'stan at that time.

Not deploying as a MAGTF meant they had to rely on the US Army BCT for all Combat Functions.

Having been in country at the time and having briefly worked with 3/3 and 2/3 I'd say that all sums it up.

However, the Army BCT's Pilots weren't authorized to make the type of insertion ...SNIP...deployed as a MAGTF, the USMC pilots were certified to make the landing.

I put the interesting words in bold.

The CAB in country was from Geilenkirchen, the Chinooks were "Big Windy". Mind you at that time the CAB was divided between BAF and KAF so its assets were spread thin. "Authorized" and "certified" have two different meanings. You are presuming that Big Windy had the skills but was denied by higher to perform the insertion while the Marines who had the skill would be allowed to do something the Army was not. I like the Corps, but we can't presume that a MAGTF commander would allow his Marines to do something the Army would turn down....which is the way you've written that paragraph.

At the time that CAB was conducting air assaults all over the country, so I'm a little perplexed at "why" they weren't "authorized" to make this particular insertion. Damn, they were dropping all sorts of SOF elements at that time from the Kush to Helmand, but suddenly they couldn't do this mission?

You seem to know a lot about this period in time. I'm curious how that came to be.
 

SCCO_Marine

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You are presuming that Big Windy had the skills but was denied by higher to perform the insertion while the Marines who had the skill would be allowed to do something the Army was not. I like the Corps, but we can't presume that a MAGTF commander would allow his Marines to do something the Army would turn down....which is the way you've written that paragraph.

At the time that CAB was conducting air assaults all over the country, so I'm a little perplexed at "why" they weren't "authorized" to make this particular insertion.

It was a low light near moonless night for the insertion, I don't presumed to know anything about Big Windy skills. However 2/3's insertion was forwarded fr/the CAB to the 160th & I'm pretty sure it wasn't b/c Big Windy was busier than SOAR.

There are several low light & weather conditions that a CAB will not or is not authorized to fly in the the SOAR will, as you well know.

However you do presume.. you presume that if an Army CAB or BCT Cmdr would not authorize a particular mission neither would a Marine MAGTF Cmdr.. as if they're the same type of unit, w/the same type of training, authorized to conduct the same types of missions.

There are several missions & conditions that a MAGTF's ACE is both Certified & would be Authorized to conduct that a CAB is not even trained for. That's b/c the USMC is not a Convention Force but a GPF with Mission Sets that straddle both Conv/HIC & LIC/SO Fields.

Whether to support various Force Recon DAP/MSPF or to run a TRAP in a hostile foreign country that might not even know an American is on the ground.

A little known fact is in the very opening days of A'stan the 15th MEU(SOC) launched a TRAP 800miles deep to recover a Delta Team & their Black Hawk, this was before the Gov't was fully acknowledging SMU's were on the ground. ...how many specialized USMC missions don't ppl on this site know about..:confused:

  • This was the only article left I could find on it, but its a little annoying b/c its told fr/the perspective of the Crew Chiefs & not the TRAP Team who actually secured the SMU & their helo.

    Other articles at the time interviewed the TRAP Team & mentioned the initial fire fight when they landed. Also it refers to the SMU as "Rangers" for obvious reasons mentioning 2 "Rangers" killed on the mission.

That's a mission a CAB would never be neither Trained or Authorized to do. And before you say it NO I DON'T THINK the ACE is the equivalent or near equivalent to SOAR. But your previous assumption is Wrong b/c the ACE is both Certified & (has been/would be) Authorized to run missions that are beyond the scope of a CAB.

The MAGTF Cmdr would be looking at a different Aviation Support capability, one that includes extensive Specialized training when compared to the CAB. That's not a knock to the CAB, they execute the role they were designed for.
 

AWP

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1) You have done an excellent job of ignoring a key component of my replies: with what educational or experience "authority" do you speak?

2) I never presumed that if the Army would veto a mission that a Marine commander would as well. I'm saying none of us can tell what a particular MAGTF commander would do because.....none of us are MAGTF commanders operating in that exact same environment with the same intelligence, etc.

3) I'm well aware of the TRAP mission conducted by the 15th MEU; it is described in detail in One Bullet Away.

4) Cute...putting "Rangers" in quotes as if to insinuate that they were anything but. They were Rangers. Period. Dot. End of story.

5)One last time, your arguments could be more compelling if I thought you had the experience to support some of your observations and insight.
 
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