D.R. Tharp reached out to me a while back regarding a book he was working on, Task Force Intrepid: The Gold of Katanga. As it turned out, we both write military fiction and we were both researching the same topics, but independently of each other. Needless to say, I was eager to read Dan's work.The Gold of Katanga is the first book in the Task Force Intrepid series and serves as an introduction to the characters that make up this fiction team of guns for hire working as military contractors. Kruger is the team leader, born in South Africa and growing up in Rhodesia, he has spent his entire life fighting one war or another. He bounces from the Rhodesian Light Infantry, to 44 Parachute Brigade, to 5-Recce, to freelance work in Sierra Leone and Angola. Needless to say, he's lived life. For readers new to this subject matter, I assure you that Kruger's background is anything but a figment of the author's imagination.
Kruger and his team are indicative of the evolution of warfare; they are former elite soldiers working for a Private Military Company that exists in the gray area between government and business. As security contractors, they sometimes, but not always, work on behalf of the US Government essentially as a proxy force that can be denied when things go wrong.
The action clips along as Kruger's men are called into the Congo to retake a gold mine that has been captured by rebel fighters. Again, the scenario is anything but fiction and reminded me of the Port Soyo mission that Executive Outcomes executed in the 1990's. DR does his homework in regards to the geo-political perspective as well as the tactical aspects of this book. Although DR is a Navy veteran, he doesn't have any background in Infantry operations, something that is surprising as the action scenes are so spot on. Even the verbage and terminology is accurate to the point that I'm starting to think DR might be some kind of military contractor himself! Got anything you want to tell me DR?
Things get ugly for our protagonists as they move on to a secondary objective that they hadn't anticipated, a hostage rescue of some missionaries that have been captured by the same group of rebels. Teaming up with a Special Forces trained indigenous unit, Kruger's team has the odds stacked against them. They might be able to pull off the impossible, but it won't be pretty.
DR has told me that Gold of Katanga is just the opening salvo in this series and he intends to write further adventures about mercenaries in Africa, specifically regarding the conflicts over mineral resources found in this part of the world. I really enjoyed the author's analysis of African conflicts and that his team of shooters are focused on fighting smart with superior tactics, rather than relying on high-tech, as is an all too common cop-out in this genre. I know I'll be standing by to see what kind of trouble these mercs get into on their next mission.