The only comprehensive, firsthand account of the 13-hour firefight at the Battle of Keating, by Medal of Honor recipient Clinton Romesha, for listeners of Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden and Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell.
"'It doesn't get better.' To us that phrase nailed one of the essential truths, maybe even the essential truth, about being stuck at an outpost whose strategic and tactical vulnerabilities were so glaringly obvious to every soldier who had ever set foot in that place that the name itself - Keating - had become a kind of backhanded joke."
In 2009 Clinton Romesha of Red Platoon and the rest of the Black Knight Troop were preparing to shut down Command Outpost Keating, the most remote and inaccessible in a string of bases built by the US military in Nuristan and Kunar in the hope of preventing Taliban insurgents from moving freely back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three years after its construction, the army was finally ready to concede what the men on the ground had known immediately: it was simply too isolated and too dangerous to defend.
On October 3, 2009, after years of constant smaller attacks, the Taliban finally decided to throw everything they had at Keating. The ensuing 13-hour battle - and eventual victory - cost eight men their lives.
Red Platoon is the riveting firsthand account of the Battle of Keating, told by Romesha, who spearheaded both the defence of the outpost and the counterattack that drove the Taliban back beyond the wire and received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
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This is a tremendous story of courage, sacrifice and the will to survive. Though you see the theme occur in most war memoirs, it is nonetheless amazing what a a bunch of regular dudes from all over the place can do when they come together as a unit. The Army, their training and their commitment to each somehow create something that is truly unbreakable. They denied the enemy their prize and in the process once again proved that american soldiers rise to any challenge.
I look at a platoon as entity and the men that comprise it are just facets of its personality and capability. To me, this story is more about Red Platoon than any of the individuals that make it up. Their collective ability to embrace a horrible situation and find a way to keep fighting and survive is very uplifting.
The Army has a way of making poor decisions that at the time seem like a reasonable decisions. It made me sad that these soldiers had to pay the price for something that started as finger pointed at a map in a briefing by a staff officer long before these guys came in country. Its upsetting that despite all the good reasons not to put COP Keating where they did, they did it anyway. Hindsight is 20 20 but I wish someone with courage in a high level position would have followed what that knew was right and close that COP long before they did. It was so obviously a disaster waiting to happen. The fact the battle did not need to happen and should not have happened does not take away from the valor of the soldiers and airman demonstrated.
Americans should do all they can thank and employ veterans. They gave us everything we have, they asked for nothing in return yet deserve our complete gratitude.