The book relates the encounter between a group of local Afghan shepherds who stumbled across the four-man SEAL team as it was preparing its mission.
The SEALs debated what to do with the shepherds but then decided to let them go under U.S. military rules of engagement. Hours later, the SEALs found themselves surrounded by Taliban, apparently alerted by the shepherds.
Only Mr. Luttrell survived the firefight by being rescued by sympathetic villagers.
In addition to “Lone Survivor,” the Pentagon has granted help for another in-production movie, “Capt. Phillips,” about the 2009 SEAL killing of Somali pirates and high-seas rescue of merchant ship captain Richard Phillips. The Navy provided filmmakers with three warships — a destroyer, a big-deck amphibious ship and a frigate — to replicate the operation off the Somali coast.
“We have a broad criteria to evaluate whether or not we should provide support,” said Philip Strub, the Pentagon’s point man for dealing with Hollywood. “It is very broadly whether we see a given production as an opportunity to inform the American public about the U.S. military and, or, if such a production might be of some benefit to recruiting and retention programs.”
The heroics of “Lone Survivor” fit that model. In all, least five men from the SEAL community, three retired and the two active sailors, helped during taping, which wrapped up shortly before Thanksgiving.
Two recently retired SEALs helped with tactics.
Mr. Strub, who worked with on-the-ground commanders to give advice for the classic special operations movie “Black Hawk Down,” routinely reads scripts and then consults with various military commands to determine whether the story line is a good public relations fit for the armed forces.
“The director has his actor do ‘X’ and wants technical advice about is the ‘X’ accurate,” he said. “You can imagine, just the simple thing of trying to put a ‘hide’ together as the SEALs did in Afghanistan, you’ve got to have somebody who knows how to do that sort of thing. And it’s surely not going to be the actors or director.”
The “hide” refers who how SEALs remain concealed as they conduct a reconnaissance mission — in this case to identify the most-wanted Taliban.
The two active-duty SEALs gave advice on handling weapons and how the warriors move over land. Bringing active SEALs to a movie set has its risks.
“It’s a delicate balance, to be sure, because they have plenty of other things to occupy themselves than making movies and TV shows,” Mr. Strub said. “But by the same token, we want to try to get things as realistic as possible and still keep it unclassified. It’s obviously very helpful to have somebody there who can provide the technical advice and to know just how much technical advice can be provided and still remain in the unclassified world.”
‘Zero Dark Thirty’
The Obama administration seems to have a love affair with Hollywood and with the disclosure of details on SEAL missions, critics say.
Earlier this year, two SEALs had roles in the action movie “Act of Valor.”