The former soldier who was the inspiration for the book "Blackhawk Down" visited Des Moines Friday to talk about leadership at the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives annual meeting. Durant’s helicopter was shot down in Somalia in 1983 and he was taken hostage. The story of that event was told in the book and later a movie.
Durant now tours the country talking about leadership and the dramatic events he went through in the military. Durant says when you first compare what happened in the military to business, it seems like there isn’t much that’s the same. But he says all the basic parts and process are basically the same, as you need good people and good leadership to accomplish your goals.
As for the country’s current military situation, Durant told Radio Iowa he believes things are turning around in Iraq. Durant says he truly believes "that we have turned the corner" and the U.S. is close to saying this is a win and there will be a positive outcome, even though it has been more costly than people might have thought going in. Durant says the surge of troops seems to have help quell some of the problems in Iraq.
Durant says he hasn’t been to Iraq, but based on reports he’s seen in the media, the violence has slowed, and hundreds if not thousands of Sunis have signed up to help with security in some of the more dangerous areas, "So all those things to me are a clear indication that this strategy is working and we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."
Iowa is one of the first states to kick off the selection of a new leader for the country, and Durant was asked what he would look for in the person to handle the job. Durant says he looks for "the ability to take people where they wouldn’t go otherwise." He says leaders don’t follow the polls, leaders have a vision and execute that vision and over time get people to understand where they tried to take us was the right path. Durant says it’s very difficult because you can take a lot of abuse as a leader, and sometimes you’re wrong. Durant retired from the military in 2001.