Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Attack State Red: "a 21st Century Band of Brothers"

Most people wonder what it is like in battle and how they themselves would perform. Many books claim to give the reader a whiff of combat. Attack State Red really does. Seen through the eyes of the ordinary soldier, this book shows the danger, the fear, the exhilaration, the heat, the dust, the confusion, the exhaustion and of course the ever-present humour of infantry warfare.

It places the reader firmly into the boots of the British fighting man. For the first time ever you will understand what it is like to confront an enemy in impossible battle conditions, slogging for mile after mile through rugged Afghan desert and jungle-like 'Green Zone', in searing heat and carrying up to 90 pounds of equipment. Nervously waiting for the first shot to be fired at you.

Attack State Red, to be published by Penguin on 3rd September, is about the Vikings' (1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment) landmark 2007 tour in Afghanistan in which the average soldier was involved in forty significant battles with the enemy. During 300 interviews with Viking officers and soldiers, a breathtaking account of 21st Century combat has emerged. To quote the book's editor from Penguin, 'Readers will be genuinely stunned by a great deal of what they read. I was.'

Described as a 21st Century Band of Brothers, Attack State Red presents the story of men at war from in a way that has not been done since American Stephen Ambrose wrote about the 506th Regiment in World War 2. Attack State Red is a human story rather than a military analysis, telling of the close relationships formed between infantry soldiers in battle, of heroism, fighting spirit and compassion under the most horrific combat conditions.
The remarkably strong bond between all ranks is summed up in the words of a young soldier who had the most dangerous job in the world, point man in Helmand. Private Kenny Meighan said: 'I went to Afghanistan with seven mates and came back with seven brothers.'
The hallmark of the Vikings' tour was offensive spirit. Supported by air strikes, artillery, mortars, Scimitars, tracked troop carriers and Javelin missiles; often resupplied by heavy parachute drop; the platoons sniped, blasted, machine-gunned, grenaded and bayoneted their way across the desert and through the jungle-like Green Zone. In the words of the Task Force Commander, Brigadier John Lorrimer, 'The Royal Anglians carried out jungle, desert, FIBUA, armoured infantry and airmobile operations - sometimes all in the same day.

'For the Taliban, the Green Zone had become a safe haven. Carrying huge battle-loads, often coming under heavy fire, Royal Anglian soldiers sweated their way across long distances in tough terrain and searing heat, by day and by night - taking the fight to the enemy. The first British military unit to do so, the Vikings frequently attacked into the Green Zone and stayed there,
dominating the enemy's home ground and preventing him from intimidating and killing the local people.

Attack State Red tells also of the tragic price paid by Royal Anglian soldiers for the success they achieved in Helmand. Nine killed and fifty seven wounded in action. These sacrifices were accompanied by heroism of the highest order. There are no better words to sum up the Vikings' tour than those used in the Second World War by American Admiral Chester W Nimitz, 'Uncommon valor was a common virtue.'

Penquin Books: Attack State Red