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Zero Six Bravo
Cover of Zero Six Bravo
Zero Six Bravo
The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000
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Damien Lewis has spent twenty years reporting from conflict zones around the world. Zero Six Bravo--a Sunday Times number one bestseller--tells the story of "sixty special forces against 100,000--a feat of arms to take the breath away." (Frederick Forsythe) They were branded as cowards and accused desertion. But nothing could be further from the truth. Ten years on, the story of these sixty men can finally be told.

In March 2003, M Squadron--an SBS unit with SAS embeds--was sent 1,000 kilometers behind enemy lines on a true mission impossible, to take the surrender of the 100,000-strong Iraqi Army 5th Corps, an operation so risky it earned the nickname 'Operation No Return' right out of the gate. Caught in a ferocious ambush by Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen, plus the awesome firepower of the 5th Corps' heavy armor, and with eight of their vehicles bogged in Iraqi swamps, M Squadron launched a desperate bid to escape, inflicting massive damage on their enemies. Running low on fuel and ammunition, outnumbered, and outgunned, the elite operators destroyed sensitive information and prepared for death or capture as the Iraqis closed their deadly trap.

Zero Six Bravo contains previously unpublished information detailing the essential involvement of American troops in this astonishing military feat. Zero Six Bravo recounts in vivid and compelling detail the most desperate battle fought by British and allied Special Forces trapped behind enemy lines since World War Two.


From the Hardcover edition.

Damien Lewis has spent twenty years reporting from conflict zones around the world. Zero Six Bravo--a Sunday Times number one bestseller--tells the story of "sixty special forces against 100,000--a feat of arms to take the breath away." (Frederick Forsythe) They were branded as cowards and accused desertion. But nothing could be further from the truth. Ten years on, the story of these sixty men can finally be told.

In March 2003, M Squadron--an SBS unit with SAS embeds--was sent 1,000 kilometers behind enemy lines on a true mission impossible, to take the surrender of the 100,000-strong Iraqi Army 5th Corps, an operation so risky it earned the nickname 'Operation No Return' right out of the gate. Caught in a ferocious ambush by Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen, plus the awesome firepower of the 5th Corps' heavy armor, and with eight of their vehicles bogged in Iraqi swamps, M Squadron launched a desperate bid to escape, inflicting massive damage on their enemies. Running low on fuel and ammunition, outnumbered, and outgunned, the elite operators destroyed sensitive information and prepared for death or capture as the Iraqis closed their deadly trap.

Zero Six Bravo contains previously unpublished information detailing the essential involvement of American troops in this astonishing military feat. Zero Six Bravo recounts in vivid and compelling detail the most desperate battle fought by British and allied Special Forces trapped behind enemy lines since World War Two.


From the Hardcover edition.

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  • From the book

    Steve Grayling was crouched in a hidden position, the ink-black desert night deathly quiet all around him. Or at least it had been until the last few minutes of his sentry duty, which was scheduled to last from 0400 hours until first light. But then the first of the animals had appeared. In the open, empty quiet of the Iraqi desert his senses had been heightened, his hearing tuned in to the utter absence of life. The slightest noise would signify movement, which meant something living was out there, which in turn might signal danger. But the bone-dry rock and sand had offered little to remind him that he was still on earth and not on some barren, lifeless moonscape.

    That was how it had been for the first ninety minutes of his watch -- until, from out of nowhere, the herd of goats had appeared. The hollow tinkling of the animal's bell sounded alien and alarming as it beat out an eerie rhythm across the bare stillness. It seemed impossible that any four-legged creature could survive in a place so empty of water and vegetation -- yet here the goats were. And with the scraggly creatures had come the inevitable two-legged escort.

    Everything about the desert night was black. The moon was hanging low on the horizon, and above it the stars formed a skein of brightness that stretched across the heavens, but still the light intensity at ground level had to be no more than 10 millilux. Under such illumination the terrain all around him was so devoid of features as to form a flat, uniform void.

    It was only the goats that stood out, their erect forms casting long, leggy moon-shadows. The white splotches on their coats glowed silvery bright, like patches of polished chain mail set into a suit of dark armour. As for the goat-herder, he appeared giantlike, casting mighty distorted shadows as he walked, using a long stick to steer the herd to wherever it was he was heading.

    Steve Grayling hunched over the hulking great form of a .50-calibre heavy machine-gun, its barrel tracing the herd's every move. He'd long lost the feeling in his hands. Come nightfall, the temperature plummeted in the desert, and he was stiff from the cold. Ice had seeped into his every joint and limb, yet still his frozen fingers gripped resolutely the twin handles of his weapon. He was minutely adjusting his aim, and poised to unleash a barrage of rounds onto the target -- that's if the goat-herder made the fatal mistake of stumbling onto their position.

    He hoped to hell that moment never came, for then he'd have to decide whether or not to open fire. Steve faced a horrible dilemma; if he were to open fire it would be against all the rules of engagement and he might well face the full force of law for doing so -- for the goat-herder was no more than an adolescent kid.

    Killing kids: that wasn't what he had imagined doing when he'd gone for selection into Special Forces. Back then he'd fancied joining the elite, the few who dare, so he could take the fight to the bad guys, Britain's foremost terrorist enemies. Steve was one of the veterans of the Squadron, one of the 'old and the bold'. Back when he'd joined, Britain's chief enemy had been the IRA, and he'd never for one moment imagined himself preparing to unleash a barrage of armour-piercing rounds against a kid.

    But if that goat-herder did blunder into their position and Steve didn't open fire, then he had few doubts about the consequences. They'd have to consider their mission well and truly blown, and to expect the enemy to come after them relentlessly and in massive and deadly strength. After all, one of their units had already got shot up and hunted by Iraqi forces across miles of trackless desert -- prompting a...

About the Author-
  • Damien Lewis has spent twenty years reporting from war, disaster and conflict zones around the world. He has written a dozen non-fiction and fiction books, topping bestseller lists worldwide, and is published in some thirty languages. Two of his books are being made into feature films.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2014
    Journalist Lewis (co-author: Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog, 2011, etc.) highlights the soldier's point of view in a tale from the front lines in Iraq.In the spring of 2003, 60 soldiers were given orders to infiltrate Iraq from the northern border and negotiate the surrender of Iraqi forces, numbering nearly 100,000 in the area. Mostly British special services, with a few American and Australian soldiers in the mix, the men underwent three weeks of special desert training. While some of the older and/or more senior men had fought in the first Iraq war, most of the soldiers were completely new to both desert combat and working from vehicles. Lewis tells the story of the operation from the point of view of an older solider, Steve Grayling, though he acknowledges in the introduction that many names have been changed. Grayling was one of the few soldiers who had fought in Iraq before the Zero Six Bravo mission, and his narrative voice lends experience, gravitas and an appropriate amount of humor to the story. From the beginning, the operation was plagued with seemingly insurmountable problems. In addition to a serious training deficit, they were also dealing with lack of intel, little to no backup, a serious sleep deficit and supply constraints. Lewis does an excellent job of maintaining tension despite readers' knowledge that the men survive. He vividly recounts the soldiers' fatigue, stress and fear, arguing that many of the media reports, which often claimed desertion and cowardice, were simply wrong. Though acronyms and technical terms abound, they rarely interrupt the flow of the narrative, and Lewis includes a glossary to ease confusion.While the book will appeal mostly to military history and combat tale buffs, the story is suspenseful and well-written enough for a wider audience to enjoy.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Frederick Forsyth "One of the best accounts of a behind-enemy-lines mission ever."—Phil Campion, ex-SAS and author of Born Fearless
  • Kirkus Reviews "Sent against overwhelming odds by bad intelligence and wishful thinking, the sixty men of British Special Forces' M Squadron found themselves surrounded by Iraq's 5th Corps, 100,000 of Saddam's finest, plus thousands of fanatical Fedayeen militia. Damien Lewis' true story of the courage and valor of the fierce warriors who guard our civilization is mesmerizin. Zero Six Bravo is an absolute must read."—Stephen Coonts, author of Pirate Alley
  • Stephen Coonts, author of Pirate Alley "Sixty Special Forces against 100,000—a feat of British arms to take the breath away."—Frederick Forsyth
  • Phil Campion, ex-SAS and author of Born Fearless "Suspenseful and well-written... Lewis does an excellent job of maintaining tension... he vividly recounts the soldiers' fatigue, stress and fear."—Kirkus Reviews
  • Metro "The most dangerous mission of the Second Gulf War."—Sun
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Zero Six Bravo
Zero Six Bravo
The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000
Damien Lewis
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