Operation Restore Hope
In the 1990s Americans felt the need to help other people after watching pictures of starving children on TV. They were from a horrible famine in the Horn of Africa. During this time Americans never knew of Somalia's civil war. A coalition made up by the United Nations decided to help out. This was known as Operation Restore Hope. American Marines arrived on the beaches and distributed food along side U.N. Peacekeepers. The Somalis were grateful since they were being fed and they welcomed them. The coalition was not aware of the real situation. Mighty clans had emerged from years of fighting for leadership. Almost all of the opressed civilians had fled and mostly clansmen and militia were left.
Trouble began when fighting erupted. 24 Pakistani Peacekeepers were ambushed and killed. Militia forces began raiding food convoys. Americans decided to do something about it. On August 22, a Special Forces Unit composed of Rangers was deployed in Somalia. Their job there was to restore order. Americans thought that the head of the clans was Mohammed Farid Aidid. The U.S. believed that if they captured or killed Aidid that the fighting would stop. Even though he sometimes led attacks he was not the primary leader. The clans had their own cheifs. The Somalis would not just put their guns down if Aidid was captured and that was the problem that Americans did not know. The U.S. began planning missions to capture Aidid. They decided that the best way to find him was through his top officials.
Operation Gothic Serpent
The Operation's main objectives were to carry out a plan to capture Aidid and other high profile targets without fratricide. The high profile targets were two of Aidid's most trusted officials. They were to drop in with Black Hawks and depart in a vehicular convey composed of Humvees and Light Armored Vehicles equipped with 50 caliber turrets with targets intact. The convoy would be covered by aerial support from helicopters. This mission was officially called "Gothic Serpent."
Since these Soldiers had fought in many other similar missions they thought it would be quick and go smoothly. The two main groups involved were the Delta Force and Army Rangers. The Delta Force was the Army's elite soldiers. The mission planners did not think they would need heavy support such as tanks so the final load out was 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and 160 men. The Operation was launched code named Irene. It was a raid that escalated too quickly in the heat of battle.
Task Force Ranger
The assault was known as Task Force Ranger. It was initiated during mid afternoon. Black Hawk helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) carrying Delta Force units and Rangers flew the soldiers into the target zone while providing air support. During this time no fire was taken. All Special Forces were deployed safely by rope from the Black Hawks. The goal was to capture two of Aidid's most trusted men. The Delta Force and Rangers quickly cornered off the buildings to proceed into the hot zones. As soon as team Delta began storming the target building the problems began. The Delta team was able to capture the targets. Militia began shooting and soon the whole area erupted in violence. The teams were able to secure the target officials into the convoys while taking heavy fire from militia.
The city began closing in on the US forces, thousands of angry civilians and militia began heading towards the US soldiers. The event escalated when an RPG successfully brought down a Black Hawk. Instantly other helicopters zoned into the crash site to rescue the crew onboard. Another helicopter was hit in a rotor and crashed down into the city. The US ground forces and convoy had to head to this crash site to rescue the men. Under heavy fire they held their positions until nightfall. The convoy couldn't reach most of the men and had to head back to base.
All night they fought holding off thousands of Somalis. The convoy reloaded with more men and stronger weapons. They had to wait because a U.N. convoy was being organized to save the remaining men. Two hours later the rescue force was ready and they rolled out with a new plan. The plan was to rescue they remaining soldiers and bring them to a safe zone. The safe zone was a Pakistani Stadium. When the convoy arrived they had to pack dead bodies with injured soldiers. The soldiers who could walk had to. When the rescue force was ready to leave they ended up leaving some Rangers behind because they left so quickly. These men had to run all the way to the stadium, this was known as the Muqdisho Mile. Luckily all the Rangers who ran the mile survived. In the end 19 US soldiers died and around 500 Somalis were killed.
Snyder, R.. "Operation Restore Hope/Battle of Mogadishu."
Nova Online. 5 Jul 2006
Bowden, Mark. "Operation Gothic Serpent." Nightstalkers.
07/06/99. 11 Jul 2006
McManners, Hugh. Ultimate Special Forces. 2006.
New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2006.