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Somalia On $5.00 A Day

Book Review

 

Title:

Somalia On $5.00 A Day: A Soldier's Story

Author:

Martin Stanton

Publisher:

Presidio Press, Novato, CA

ISBN:

0-89141-741-9

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2001

Rating:

Somalia on $5.00 a day tells the story of the first  United States troops to hit the beach in Somalia during 1992. It is a hardcover book of about 300 pages.

The story begins by describing the background of the author and other important figures in the Army chain of command for the  10th Mountain Division. The author goes into great detail describing the typical  unit organization and training cycles for the division, the soldiers attached to the division, their areas of responsibility, and gives you a good idea of  each personality. He also gives a few examples of his own difficulties maintaining a stable family life as a soldier.

Prior  to deployment to Somalia, the 10th Mountain Division was involved in disaster operations in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. This mission provided some training and management problems that helped them to adapt to their next mission. Due to force size limitations, the division was split up prior to the Somalia deployment,  making it necessary to quickly adapt to a new and smaller organizational structure.

Soon after arriving in Somalia, the soldiers began to get  an idea of the difficulties of maintaining order and keeping the relief aid  flowing. The enemy was a shadow force that quickly disappeared into the cityscape, and it was usually impossible to tell the enemy from the civilian population.  In the beginning, the various factions seemed satisfied to simply fight each other, but became increasingly aggressive toward all outsiders as time passes. Food distribution sites became riot scenes that the force was unable to control,  and pilfering was an accepted fact of life.

The division was assigned to an area of responsibility outside of Mogadishu and missed some of the most intensive firefights of the campaign. They did have a number of limited engagements, yet lost practically none of their force to hostile fire. The soldiers were finally relieved by an  international force under the control of the United Nations and were sent home.  The author tells in a short epilog what happened to each of the soldiers and the division after the conflict.

This story provides one more example of the difficulties faced by professional soldiers when there are loosely defined rules of engagement  and even more obscure objectives for peacekeeping missions. The book gives a glimpse of the modern military infrastructure, how today's soldier copes with a variety of missions, and a first person perspective about this conflict.

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