View Full Version : Mogadishu, Somalia

10-25-04, 06:29 AM
Task Force Ranger:
Mogadishu, Somalia

In 1993, the Rangers were once again called into harm's way in support of the United Nation's efforts to establish order in the African nation of Somalia. On 6 June, the U.N. Security Council...with U.S. sponsorship and approval...passed Resolution 837, calling for the apprehension "for prosecution, trial, and punishment" of those responsible for the ambush and death of twenty-four Pakistani U.N. peacekeepers and to use "all necessary measures" to install United Nations authority "throughout Somalia." It was determined that 'War Lord' Mohamed Farrah Aidid and his SNA were responsible for the ambush and a plan was developed to bring about his capture.

On June 17, an arrest order was issued by the United Nations and, as a result, Aidid went into hiding deep within Mogadishu. Efforts by U.N. units in country failed to capture him. U.N ambassador to Somalia, U.S. Admiral (Retired) Jonathan Howe, eventually requested 1st Special Operational Detachment-Delta...the premier three-squadron U.S. counter terrorism unit known as Delta Force to the public...to assist in Aidid's capture. President Clinton eventually approved the request to send in the specialized unit.

The U.S. deployed Task Force Ranger, a 450-man force composed of approximately sixty men from the one-hundred-and-fifty-man Squadron C of 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta; B Company (Reinforced), 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from; and support helicopters from the Army's 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR)...the world's finest night fliers known as the "Night Stalkers."

Task Force Rangers' advance party arrived in Somalia on 26 August. The task force set up base on the shore of the Indian Ocean at the Mogadishu Airport on the far southern end of the city. The operation was to be conducted in three phases: Phase I, lasting until 30 August, was to get set up; Phase II, lasting until 7 September, would focus exclusively on locating and capturing Aidid; and Phase III...in the event Phase II failed, the focus would shift to Aidid's command structure with the intent of forcing the warlord to take a more active and open role with his forces.

In spite of a number of handicaps, Task Force Ranger attempted to seize and to maintain the initiative by planning and launching a number of raids that proved to be unsuccessful. On 7 September, the force moved to Phase III and expanded its target list to include six of Aidid's top lieutenants and staff. Despite some Ranger success, Aidid continued his defiance even as the task force attempted to track him down with additional ambushes and killings of U.N. forces.

The seventh and final mission of Task Force Ranger commenced at approximately 1300 on 3 October when a Somali agent passed word that a number of Aidid's lieutenants, including two of the six on the expanded target list...Muhammed Hassan Awale and Omar Salad Elmi...would be meeting later that afternoon.

The mark was in the vicinity of the Olympic Hotel...a white, five-story building that served as a landmark since it was one of the few large buildings left intact in the city. HawlwadigRoad, intersected by narrow dirt alleys, ran in front of the hotel and was one of the few paved roads in the city. Across Hawlwadig, one block north, was...what would turn out to be...the ultimate target house, a two-sectioned building with two stories in the front, three stories in the rear, and a flat roof on both. L-shaped, the structure had a small courtyard enclosed by a high stonewall.

Just three blocks to the west of the hotel was the Bakara Market...the most heavily armed region of Mogadishu. This area was known by soldiers as "the Black Sea" and was referred to as real "Indian country." The assault force was formidable and consisted of seventy-five Rangers and forty Delta soldiers onboard an air armada of sixteen helicopters. The Delta and Ranger assault force would be inserted by four MH-6 and six MH-60 Black Hawks with four AH-6J Little Birds providing close air support.

In that the target area was too confining and too dangerous to land helicopters to extract the prisoners..."precious packages"...and assault force, a fifty-two-man Ranger ground element...including some Delta operatives and Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six...was to deploy from the airport in a twelve-vehicle convoy on a three-mile journey in direct support of the operation.

The helicopters lifted off at 1532 after a thirty-seven minute delay. Taking a circuitous flight from their staging base just three miles away from the objective and moving low and fast over the ocean's breakers, the aircraft made a dash over the city, with the MH-6s carrying four Deltas, two to a side, on their external benches. Rapidly landing on Hawlwadig Road in a billowing swirl of rust-orange dust that created some significant visibility problems, a group of six helicopters, composed of four MH-6 Little Birds and two Black Hawks, inserted forty Delta soldiers on the road in front of the building. Simultaneously, sixty Rangers were inserted into the objective by 'fast-rope' to establish a security perimeter between the four corners of the target's city block.

The mission's "precious cargo," twenty-four prisoners, including the two primary men they had sought, had been quickly captured and the Ranger twelve-vehicle ground convoy was called at the twenty-minute mark to make its way to their location from their hold position approximately 200 meters from the objective. As the ground convoy picked up the prisoners in front of the building, enemy fire began to gain in intensity. A convoy of three vehicles was dispatched with an injured Ranger to make its way back to the airfield. The three vehicles came under such heavy fire that they barely made it.

The situation grew progressively worse at the objective around 1610 when the first Rocket Propelled Grenades...RPGs...were fired at circling helicopters. Finally, at 1620, the strategy paid off with a hit on the tail rotor of the lead assault Black Hawk, "Super 61" that brought it crashing down on the roof of a house located within a walled compound. The Black Hawk fell to earth on its left side, its top wedged against the remains of a wall in a narrow alley, its nose to the ground. Within, the pilot lay dead, the five others aboard lay injured.

Having rehearsed the possibility of an aircraft going down, the task force quickly implemented three contingency plans: provide cover with a nearby CSAR Black Hawk, Super 68, deploy the main body of Task Force Ranger from the objective to the crash site, and alert the Quick Reaction Force from the 10th Mountain Division to deploy from its location at the Somali National University to the Mogadishu Airport, from where it could launch to support CSAR missions.

On the ground at the objective, the Rangers on the perimeter began to move to the location of the downed Black Hawk with the Delta operatives doing the same soon after the transfer of the prisoners to the ground convoy. At the crash site, survivors were attempting to establish a defense while a Little Bird courageously set down in a nearby alley called Freedom Road to extract two survivors.

The first group of Rangers arrived at the crash site after completing a terrifying run of over three blocks with bullets boring down the alleys from every direction. Eight minutes after Super 61 going down, the CSAR Black Hawk, carrying fifteen members of a highly trained combat search-and-rescue unit was hovering over and fast-roping down to Freedom Road. Hit by an RPG and trailing a thin gray haze of smoke, the mortally wounded CSAR bird barely made its way back to the airfield three miles away where it crash landed.

As the remainder of the Rangers and Delta made their way to the Super 61 crash site, it was discovered that the remains of the pilot were trapped in his seat. The real problem became how to get the body out, for there appeared no easy way to reclaim it. Abandoning their aviation comrade was not an option for the Rangers or Delta as arriving groups expanded and fortified a security perimeter around the downed helicopter.

It did not take long for the situation to dramatically worsen when an RPG claimed that second victim less than twenty minutes after the first. Overhead, Super 64 had been directed to take Super 61's orbital spot over the target area when it, too, took an RPG round to the tail. Within minutes, the rotor failed and the aircraft plummeted impacting on top of a frail shack.



10-25-04, 07:08 AM
I did not know much about htis until Blackhawk down came out. what a quagmire that was. Amazing how only 18 of our guys vs the thousand bad guys got it. God rest their souls.

10-25-04, 08:22 AM
...seventy-five Rangers and forty Delta soldiers...

Hind sight is always a luxury, but doesn't 115 seem like a small force going into the thick of hell? A company sized assault on Haiphong would have been ludicrous.

But those Army types did show a lot of character none the less. PBS had a great feature on these guys. A few memorable quotes from those brave soldiers, "I realized returning fire was a lot safer than trying to hunker down", "In those surreal moments I was thinking, 'People in America are just now sitting down to lunch and they have no idea we are getting killed out here.'"

The Toad
11-11-04, 10:23 PM
I work with a Delta guy who was there at the battle, and I was there several months afterward. If anybody has any questions regarding the Mog, I'll answer to the best of my ability.

10-05-05, 08:00 AM


10-18-05, 07:49 PM
Somali 'Black Hawk Down' suspect arrested (http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/10/17/black.hawk.ap/index.html)