Top positive review
The most important historical account of the Battle of Tora Bora and the hunt for Bin Laden circa 2001
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2018
I read a lot of books on military history, counter-terrorism and Afghanistan but somewhere along the line I missed what is undoubtedly the best special operations memoir and first-hand battle history of the entire Afghan War, "Kill Bin Laden" by Dalton Fury. Probably the reason I missed it was my being distracted by the unpleasant white noise generated around the hunt for Bin Laden by the dozen Navy SEAL memoirs, the occasional CIA "operator" account and worst of all, a novelization of the SEAL Team Six takedown (which stole Dalton Fury's title) that have saturated the market since 9/11. Now that the Green Berets are getting their own Afghanistan war movie (12 Strong) it was about time I read the classic account by a true silent professional -- no, not a Navy SEAL -- I mean a legendary member of the Unit, officially known as Operational Detachment-Delta (OD-D), better known as Delta Force.
Dalton Fury is the pen name for Tom Greer, a career soldier who spent his entire adult life as an elite soldier -- Army Ranger enlisted man, Paratrooper officer and Delta Force commander -- culminating in his role as the coalition commander at the Battle of Tora Bora. The first part of the book focuses on Greer's biographical details including his selection and developmental years in Delta Force. Unlike the last dozen SEAL memoirs, Greer/Fury writes a self-effacing, transparent memoir devoid of hyperbole. Greer/Fury wants you to know he is no superman, just a regular soldier who ended up "making his own luck" in the world's most elite combat unit. This was a joy to read, especially since I served in the Army during the same timeframe (We both went to boot camp at Fort Benning in 1983, attended Ranger School and became officers around the same time. So maybe I am a little biased). Then comes his first hand account of Tora Bora.
It was December 2001 and the brilliant, three-month US campaign to defeat the Taliban and hunt down the architect of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, was successfully being waged by an unlikely coalition of US special operators, Afghan warlord militias and USAF strategic bombers. For reasons that remain unclear today, the US national command authority decided to fight the battle to kill Bin Laden with a minimum of US ground forces. Assets were even withdrawn from the theater just as Bin Laden was trapped in a nasty, little corner of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan called the Spīn Ghar mountain range. Greer/Fury achieved impressive results with his unlikely coalition. But along the way he was frustrated by the unwillingness of the higher ups to put more boots on the ground. The Special Forces A-Teams assigned to help were held back by their commander (a colonel who is the hero of 12 Strong but a zero at Tora Bora) who didn't want to risk them against the overwhelming odds faced by the Delta men. A request for a blocking force of Rangers to plug the escape routes into Pakistan was also denied. Greer/Fury, his troop of operators and their coalition Afghan militiamen pressed on. At one point they even have radio intercepts of Bin Laden trying to rally his mujahideen as Air Force bombs rain in all around them. By the end of the battle, Greer's forces conquered the cave complex at Tora Bora but Bin Laden was gone -- escaped into Pakistan. The end of the book details Greer's final years in the Army including a brief stint as an active duty advisor to a National Guard unit. But he managed to return to Delta for his last deployment before retiring. Greer/Fury's post-Army career was spent as an author (both fiction and non-fiction) and security consultant. He became a Christian due to the diligent witness of his brother, an Army Sergeant Major, and, sadly, succumbed to pancreatic cancer in October 2016. All who knew him describe him as the consummate warrior and professional. I recommend this book along with Sean Naylor's "Not a Good Day to Die" as among the best books you will read on the early years of the war in Afghanistan. Highly, highly recommended.