By Steve Heaney, MC, Damien Lewis
2,000 blood-crazed rebels. 26 elite British soldiers. One man's explosive true story.Airlifted into the heart of the Sierra Leone jungle in the midst of the bloody civil war in 2000, 26 elite operators from the secret British elite unit X Platoon were sent into combat against thousands of Sierra Leonean rebels.Notorious for their brutality, the rebels were manned with captured UN armour, machine-guns and grenade-launchers, while the men of X Platoon were kitted with pitiful supplies of ammunition, malfunctioning rifles, and no body armour, grenades or heavy weapons.Intended to last only 48 hours, the mission mutated into a 16-day siege against the rebels, as X Platoon were denied the back-up and air support they had been promised, and were forced to make their stand alone. The half-starved soldiers, surviving on bush tucker, fought with grenades made from old food-tins and defended themselves with barricades made of sharpened bamboo-sticks, tipped in poison given to them by local villagers.Sergeant Steve Heaney won the Military Cross for his initiative in taking command after the platoon lost their commanding officer. OPERATION MAYHEM recounts his amazing untold true story, full of the rough-and-ready humour and steely fortitude with which these elite soldiers carried out operations far into hostile terrain.
By Michael Hastings
The inspiration for the upcoming movie WAR MACHINE, starring Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton and Ben Kingsley (streaming on Netflix from 26 May).General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative commander of international and US forces in Afghanistan, was living large. Loyal staff liked to call him a 'rock star'. During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to garner additional Allied help for the war effort, McChrystal was accompanied by journalist Michael Hastings of ROLLING STONE. For days, Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration for what they saw as a lack of leadership. When Hastings' piece appeared a few months later, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was ordered to Washington, where he was unceremoniously fired.In THE OPERATORS, Hastings gives us a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of Allied military commanders, their high-stakes manoeuvres and often bitter bureaucratic in-fighting. He takes us on patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands and to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building gone awry, drawing back the curtain on a hellish complexity and, he fears, an unwinnable war.