Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan
In combat, men measure up. Or don't. There are no second chances.
In this vivid account of the U.S. Army's legendary 10th Mountain Division's heroic stand in the mountains of Afghanistan, Captain Sean Parnell shares an action-packed and highly emotional true story of triumph, tragedy, and the extraordinary bonds forged in battle.
At twenty-four years of age, U.S. Army Ranger Sean Parnell was named commander of a forty-man elite infantry platoon—a unit that came to be known as the Outlaws—and was tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan's eastern frontier. Parnell and his men assumed they would be facing a ragtag bunch of civilians, but in May 2006 what started out as a routine patrol through the lower mountains of the Hindu Kush became a brutal ambush. Barely surviving the attack, Parnell's men now realized that they faced the most professional and seasoned force of light infantry the U.S. Army had encountered since the end of World War II.
What followed was sixteen months of close combat, over the course of which the platoon became Parnell's family: from Staff Sergeant Greg Greeson, the wise, chain-smoking veteran who never lost his cool; to Specialist Robert Pinholt, a buttoned-down conservative with the heart of a warrior and the mind of an economist; to Staff Sergeant Phil Baldwin, the platoon's voice of calm and reason, a man who sacrificed everything following the events of 9/11—career, home, financial stability—to serve his country. But the cost of battle was high for these men: Over 80 percent were wounded in action, putting their casualty rate among the highest since Gettysburg, and not all of them made it home.
A searing and unforgettable story of friendship in battle, Outlaw Platoon brings to life the intensity and raw emotion of those sixteen months, showing how the fight reshaped the lives of Parnell and his men and how the love and faith they found in one another ultimately kept them alive.Best-Selling Author Brad Thor Reviews Outlaw Platoon
How close can we get to really knowing what it's like to succeed in combat? To fight, to survive—even thrive—while facing enemy fire every other day? To get on-the-job training in what it takes to be a strong, decisive commander? These are a few of the things that make Outlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell and John Bruning such a kick-ass read.
Two of the grittiest, most intense tales of courage and camaraderie under fire that I own are Black Hawk Down and Lone Survivor. Now I have a third: Outlaw Platoon. It’s the Black Hawk Down for the 21st Century. It is an absolutely gripping, edge-of-your-seat ride that follows these men when the fates foolishly attempt to stack the deck against them. This book has Hollywood blockbuster written all over it. But there’s much more than just the guns-blazing action. It is an epic tale of leadership, heroism, and the bond among warriors who ply their deadly trade with a deceivingly simple mandate—to kill the enemy and return home together alive. It’s an absolute must read!Brad Thor Interviews Sean Parnell
Brad Thor: What was your first day like on the ground in Afghanistan’s eastern frontier?
Sean Parnell: The moment I arrived at Forward Operating Base Bermel, the insurgents attacked the base with rocket fire. They missed the FOB, but hit a local village, killing and wounding a number of children. The villagers rushed their injured to our front gate, and I ran to help. Our troops wanted to help all of the children, but the Afghan fathers insisted the boys be treated first. I grabbed a little girl anyways and sprinted for the aid station. She bled out in my arms as I ran.
That was my introduction to combat. All I was, all I had been, changed in that instant.
Thor: What surprised you about the enemy in Afghanistan?
Parnell: We found an enemy that wasn’t a bunch of farmers with leftover weapons, but one of the finest light infantry forces in the world. These fighters were brilliantly led, seasoned warriors. Some had spent their entire lives in combat—stretching back to the Soviet War in the 1980’s. They were elusive, heavily armed and extremely well equipped with the latest armor-piercing bullets, anti-tank weapons, body armor, and other gear essential to ground operations.
They also had no mercy. None. Their objective was to overrun an American platoon, behead everyone and stick our heads on stakes. In battle, we heard them on the radio ordering their teams to do this, and we saw the huge knives they carried for the task.
They did their best to overrun us three times. But we were better. Just barely.
Thor: Describe the bond forged in battle—the loyalty and bravery you saw and why you think that’s vital to success.
Parnell: During my 16 months in combat I saw the noblest aspects of the human spirit, thanks to the bond that developed among the men. We realized that the only way we could survive this crucible was to remain committed to each other. Not for ourselves, but to ensure that we would survive to see our loved ones back home again.
Thor: How would you describe the men in your platoon?
Parnell: In a word: unique. Our army mirrors the country it’s sworn to protect, and I think the Outlaws reflected America’s greatest strength: diversity. My men came from all walks of life. They believed in American exceptionalism with every fiber of their being. And if they were similar in any way, it was in this ideal.