Battle of Mogadishu

The Battle of Mogadishu or for Somalis Ma-alinti Rangers (“The Day of the Rangers”) was a battle that was part of Operation Gothic Serpent that was fought on October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, by forces of the United States supported by UNOSOM II against Somali militia fighters loyal to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The battle is also referred to as the First Battle of Mogadishu to distinguish it from the later Second Battle of Mogadishu.

Task Force Ranger, which consisted of an assault force made up of Army Delta Force, 4 US Navy SEALs, and Ranger teams, an air element provided by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and members of the Air Force Pararescue/Air Force Combat Controllers, executed an operation which involved traveling from their compound on the outskirts of the city to capture leaders of Aidid's militia. The assault force was composed of nineteen aircraft, twelve vehicles and 160 men. During the operation, two U.S. MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by rocket-propelled grenades, and three others were damaged. Some of the soldiers were able to evacuate wounded back to the compound, but others were trapped at the crash sites and cut off. An urban battle ensued throughout the night. Early the next morning, a joint task force was sent to rescue the trapped soldiers. It contained soldiers from Pakistan, Malaysia, and U.S. soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. They assembled some 100 vehicles, including Pakistani tanks (American-made M48s) and Malaysian Condor armored personnel carriers, and were supported by U.S. A/MH-6 Little Bird, and MH-60 helicopters. This task force reached the first crash site and led the trapped soldiers out. The second crash site was overrun and pilot Mike Durant, the lone surviving American, was taken prisoner but later released.

Somali casualty figures are unknown, but American estimates are that between 1,000 and 1,500 Somali militiamen and civilians lost their lives in the battle, with injuries to another 3,000-4,000. The book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War estimates more than 700 Somali militiamen dead and more than 1,000 wounded. Eighteen American soldiers died and 73 were wounded (another American soldier, Delta team leader SFC Matt Rierson was killed in a mortar attack two days later). Among UN forces, 1 Malaysian soldier died and 7 were wounded, along with 2 Pakistanis.

In January 1991, the dictator of Somalia, Mohammed Siad Barre, was overthrown by a coalition of opposing clans, called the United Somalia Congress. After this revolution, the coalition divided into two groups. One was led by Ali Mahdi Muhammad, who became president; and the other, by Mohammed Farah Aidid. In total, there were four opposing groups: the United Somali Congress (USC), Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), and Somali Democratic Movement (SDM), which continued to fight over the domination of Somalia. In June 1991, a ceasefire was agreed to, but failed to hold. A fifth group, the Somali National Movement (SNM), had already seceded from the northwest portion of Somalia in June. The SNM renamed it the Somaliland Republic, with its leader Abdel-Rahman Ahmed Ali as president.

In September 1991, severe fighting broke out in Mogadishu, which continued in the following months and spread throughout the country, with over 20,000 people killed or injured by the end of the year. These wars led to the destruction of the agriculture of Somalia, which in turn led to starvation in large parts of Somalia. The international community began to send food supplies to halt the starvation, but vast amounts of food were hijacked and brought to local clan leaders, who routinely exchanged it with other countries for weapons. An estimated 80 percent of the food was stolen. These factors led to even more starvation, from which an estimated 300,000 people died, and another 1.5 million people suffered, between 1991 and 1992. In July 1992, after a ceasefire between the opposing clan factions, the United Nations (UN) sent 50 military observers to watch the distribution of the food.

Operation Provide Relief began in August 1992, when the Bush White House announced that U.S. military transports would support the multinational UN relief effort in Somalia. Ten C-130s and 400 people were deployed to Mombasa, Kenya during Operation Provide Relief, airlifting aid to remote areas in Somalia and reducing reliance on truck convoys. One member of the 86th Supply Squadron, USAFE's only contribution to the operation, was deployed with the ground support contingent. The Air Force C-130s delivered 48,000 tons of food and medical supplies in six months to international humanitarian organizations trying to help the over three million starving people in the country. When this proved inadequate to stop the massive death and displacement of the Somali people (500,000 dead and 1.5 million refugees or displaced), the U.S., in December 1992, launched a major coalition operation to assist and protect humanitarian activities, Operation Restore Hope, under which the United States would assume the unified command of the new operation, in accordance with Resolution 794 (1992).

A key moment in the operation was when the Clinton Administration shifted the mission from delivering food supplies to nation-building.

On March 3, 1993, the U.N. Secretary-General submitted to the U.N. Security Council his recommendations for effecting the transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II. He indicated that since the adoption of Council resolution 794 (1992) in December 1992, the presence and operations of UNITAF had a positive impact on the security situation in Somalia and on the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance (UNITAF deployed some 37,000 personnel over forty percent of southern and central Somalia). However, there was still no effective government, police, or national army with the result of serious security threats to UN personnel. To that end, the U.N. Security Council authorized UNOSOM II to establish a secure environment throughout Somalia, to achieve national reconciliation so as to create a democratic state.

At the Conference on National Reconciliation in Somalia, held on March 15, 1993, in Addis Ababa, all fifteen Somali parties agreed to the terms set out to restore peace and democracy. Yet by May it became clear that, although signatory to the March Agreement, General Mohammed Farrah Aidid's faction would not cooperate in the Agreement's implementation.

UNOSOM II's attempts to implement disarmament led to violence. On June 5, 1993, twenty-four Pakistani troops in the UN force were killed in heavy fighting in an area of Mogadishu controlled by Aidid. It was widely reported that the bodies of the UN peacekeepers had been mutilated. Some were skinned. Any hope of a peaceful resolution of the conflict quickly vanished. The next day, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 837, calling for the arrest and trial of those responsible for the ambush.

One of the most unfortunate results of this occurred on July 12, 1993, when a United States-led operation was launched on what was believed to be a safe house in Mogadishu where members of Aidid's Habar Gedir clan were supposedly meeting to plan more violence against U.S. and U.N. forces. In reality, elders of the clan, not gunmen, were meeting in the house. According to U.N. officials, the agenda (which was advertised in the local newspaper) was to discuss ways to peacefully resolve the conflict between Aidid and the multinational task force in Somalia, and perhaps even to remove Aidid as leader of the clan.

What eventually took place that day was a 17-minute combat operation in which U.S. Cobra attack helicopters fired 16 TOW missiles and thousands of 20-millimeter cannon rounds into the compound. When the operation was over and the smoke had cleared, more than 50 of the clan elders, the oldest and most respected in their community, were dead. Some in Mogadishu believe that this was a turning point in unifying Somalis against the U.S. and U.N. efforts in Somalia. It would also lead to the deaths of four journalists, Dan Eldon, Hos Maina, Hansi Kraus and Anthony Macharia, who were killed by angry Somali mobs when they arrived to cover the incident. A fifth journalist, Scott Peterson, was injured but was rescued by his driver.

On October 3 1993, Task Force Ranger, a U.S. Special Operations Forces composed mainly of Rangers, Delta Force (1st SFOD-D) operators, and aviation support from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (the Night Stalkers), attempted to capture Aidid's foreign minister, Omar Salad Elmi, and his top political advisor, Mohamed Hassan Awale. The plan was to fast rope from hovering MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, capture the targets, and load them onto a ground convoy for transport back to the U.S. compound. Four Ranger chalks, also inserted by helicopter, were to provide a secure square perimeter on the four corners of the operation's target building.

The ground extraction convoy was supposed to reach the captive targets a few minutes after the beginning of the operation. However, it ran into delays. Somali citizens and local militia formed barricades along the streets of Mogadishu with rocks and burning tires, blocking the convoy from reaching the Rangers and their captives. A five-ton truck, part of the convoy, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Other complications arose. A U.S. Army Ranger was seriously injured during the insertion. PFC Todd Blackburn fell while fast roping from a helicopter hovering 70 feet above the streets. Minutes later, a MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Super Six One piloted by CW3 Cliff Wolcott, was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade. There was confusion between the ground convoy and the assault team. The assault team and the ground convoy waited for twenty minutes just out of sight of each other, ready to move, but each under the impression that they were to be first contacted by the other. During the wait, a second Black Hawk helicopter, Super Six Four piloted by CW3 Michael Durant, was downed. Most of the assault team went to the first crash site for a rescue operation. Upon reaching the site, about 90 Rangers found themselves under siege from heavy militia fire. Despite air support, the Rangers were effectively trapped for the night.

At the second crash site, two Delta Force snipers, SFC Randy Shughart and MSG Gary Gordon, were inserted by helicopter (at their own request, permission was denied twice by Command but granted when they persisted and made a third request) to protect the injured crew from the approaching mob. Both snipers and three of the Black Hawk crewmen were later killed when the site was overrun by Somali militiamen. The Black Hawk's pilot, CW3 Michael Durant, who was seriously injured in the crash, was taken hostage. For their actions, Shughart and Gordon were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Repeated attempts by the Somalis to mass forces and overrun the American positions were neutralized by strafing and rocket attacks from U.S. aircraft. Reinforcements from the U.S. 10th Mountain Division, aided by Malaysian and Pakistani U.N. forces, arrived in the early morning. No contingency planning or coordination with U.N. forces had been arranged prior to the operation; consequently, the recovery of the surrounded U.S. soldiers was significantly complicated and delayed.

The battle was over by October 4, 1993, at 6:30 AM. American forces were finally evacuated to the U.N. Pakistani base by the armored convoy and the Mogadishu Mile. In all, 18 U.S. soldiers died of wounds from the battle and another 79 were injured. The Malaysian forces lost one soldier and had seven injured, while the Pakistanis suffered two injured. Casualties on the Somali side were heavy, with estimates on fatalities ranging from 500 to over 2,000 people. The Somali casualties were a mixture of militiamen and local civilians. Somali civilians suffered heavy casualties due to the dense urban character of that portion of Mogadishu, combined with the fact that U.S. air support's straffing runs did little to minimize civilian casualties. Two days later, a mortar round fell on the US compound, killing one U.S. soldier, SFC Matt Rierson, and injuring another twelve.

Units involved in the battle:

* The Task Force Ranger, including :
o C Squadron of the "Delta Force"
o Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
o a detachment of the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (a.k.a. The Night Stalkers) with MH-6J and AH-6 Little Birds and MH-60A/L Black Hawks
o Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron
o a small DEVGRU detachment

Other units involved:

* 10th Mountain Division (2-14 Infantry with Engineers from the 41st Engineer Battalion Attached)
* 19th Royal Malay Regiment
* 7th Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army

The size and organizational structure of Somali forces are not known in detail; in all, between 2,000-4,000 regular militia members are believed to have participated, almost all of which belonged to Aidid's Somali National Alliance, drawing largely from the Habar Gedir clan.

In a national security policy review session held in the White House on October 6, 1993, President Clinton directed the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral David E. Jeremiah, to stop all actions by U.S. forces against Aidid except those required in self-defense. He also reappointed Ambassador Robert B. Oakley as special envoy to Somalia in an attempt to broker a peace settlement and then announced that all U.S. Forces would withdraw from Somalia no later than March 31, 1994. On December 15, 1993, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin stepped down, taking much of the blame for what was deemed a failed policy. A few hundred Marines remained offshore to assist with any noncombatant evacuation mission that might occur regarding the 1,000-plus U.S. civilians and military advisers remaining as part of the U.S. liaison mission. All U.S. personnel were finally withdrawn by March 1995.

The Battle of Mogadishu led to a profound shift in American foreign policy, as the Clinton administration became increasingly reluctant to use military intervention in Third World conflicts (such as the massacre of an estimated 800,000 to 1,071,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu militia groups in Rwanda in 1994), and affected America's actions in the Balkans during the later half of the 1990s. President Clinton preferred to use the "air power alone" tactic and hesitated to use U.S. ground troops in fighting the Bosnian Serb Army in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 and the Yugoslav Army in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (specifically, the province of Kosovo) in 1999, out of fear of losing American soldiers in combat, as well as fear of repeating what happened in Mogadishu in 1993.

There have been allegations that Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda movement was involved in training and funding of Aidid's men. In his 2001 book, Holy War, Inc., CNN reporter Peter Bergen interviewed Bin Laden who affirmed these allegations. According to Bergen, Bin Laden asserted that fighters affiliated with his group were involved in killing American troops in Somalia in 1993, a claim he had earlier made to the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi. According to CNN, al-Qaeda claimed to have supplied a large number of Soviet-designed rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs) to Aidid's fighters, and instructed them in ways to modify the RPGs to make them more effective against helicopters.

Four and one half years after the Battle of Mogadishu, in an interview in May 1998, bin Laden disparaged the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Somalia, after eighteen American soldiers were killed and two of them had their bodies dragged through the streets. Some interpret his statements[citation needed] to mean that these events inspired his elaboration of later large-scale terrorist actions such as the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Khobar Towers, USS Cole, and the 9/11 attacks.

In 1999, writer Mark Bowden published the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, which chronicles the events that surrounded the battle.

The book was adapted into the 2001 film Black Hawk Down, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Ridley Scott. The film describes the events surrounding the operation and some of the acts of bravery seen on that day. There are obvious differences between the book and the movie, which left out central sections and themes of the book, such as the involvement of civilians in the battle, and de-emphasized the key decision to stay in the area after the initial operation was completed, among others.

According to journalist Kevin Sites -- one of the few Westerners to have reported from Mogadishu since the events of 1993 -- thousands went to see the film when it premiered in Somalia in 2002. Many people in Mogadishu were angered by it, calling it propaganda that focused on the 18 Americans killed and 73 wounded in the 18-hour battle, when an estimated 500 to 2,000 Somalis were also killed. When it was learned that the battle has been turned into a game for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2, Somalis said it made a mockery of a real-life tragedy.

Mike Durant told his own story in his 2003 book In the Company of Heroes.

Later, in 2005, Matthew Eversmann, leader of Chalk 4 during the battle, compiled several different accounts into a book called The Battle of Mogadishu.

* Pvt Mat Aznan Awang, a driver of a Malaysian Condor armoured personnel carrier hit by a RPG on Oct. 3rd. Mat Aznan Awang was posthumously promoted to Cpl, and awarded Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa from 19 RAMD (Royal Malay Regiment) (Mech), Malaysia.

Ambassador Robert Oakley, the US special representative to Somalia, is quoted as saying that more than 1,000 Somalis were killed. Additionally, there are numerous accounts of local hospitals and clinics completely overwhelmed and flooded with wounded and dead for weeks after the battle had ended. Due to the Islamic tradition of burying bodies before sundown and the almost complete lack of any official tally or records, ensuing chaos in Somalia in the years after Operation UNOSOM II, the exact numbers and identities of Somali deaths during Operation Gothic Serpent are likely to remain unknown to the international community for some time.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home