“Black Hawk Down” is a simple phrase. After the passage of two decades, these three words summon images to my mind that, unbidden, give rise to rage, horror, and impotence. On October 3rd and 4th, 1993, two years after the Cold War was declared ‘over’, our military was in Somalia still fighting on a front the ten-month old Clinton administration considered important. The military was denied the support the field command requested. Black Hawk Down is a common name for the First Battle of Mogadishu, part of the larger operation Gothic Serpent to capture the Somali warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The Somali Maalintii Rangers lost many in this battle and, locally, refer to it as Day of the Rangers.
YouViewed/Editorial posted the following excellent piece on Mogadishu simply entitled Today Marks The 20Th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Mogadishu.
U.S. and UNOSOM Units involved in the battle:
Task Force Ranger, including :
- C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D) — aka “Delta Force”
- Bravo Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
- 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (The Night Stalkers) with MH-6J and AH-6 “Little Birds” and MH-60 A/L Black Hawks
- Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen from the USAF 24th Special Tactics Squadron
SEAL Team Six (four Navy SEAL operators)
CVN-72 U.S.Abraham Lincoln & Carrier Air Wing 11
Task Force-10th Mountain Division, including:
- 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment,
- 1st platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment
- 15th FF Battalion, of the Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army
- 19 Lancers of the Pakistan Army
United Nations Forces
19th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment of the Malaysian Army
10th Battalion Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army, (less two companies who were held in reserve)
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 January 1991, a coalition of tribal clans known as the United Somali Congress forced out
long-time dictator Siad Barre. Cooperation between the clans was short-lived, however. Fighting soon broke out among the Somali National Movement, the party of Mohammed Farah Aidid, rival factions loyal to Ali Mahdi and various lesser groups. Internecine warfare followed, destroying the fragile economy of Somalia. In one year an estimated 300 – 500,000 Somalis died, either directly from fighting or indirectly of starvation. Chaos reigned until 03 March 1992, when the warring parties agreed to a cease-fire to allow humanitarian assistance monitored by the United Nations (UN).
On 15 August 1992, United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM I) began Operation Provide Relief. The UN had not counted on the callous nature or the ruthless determination of the warring clans, however. In war-torn Somalia, a failed nation without conventional forms of capital – food was used to ensure the loyalty of followers, gain conscripts and exchanged with neighboring countries for arms. Not surprisingly, relief flights were looted almost as they landed, food convoys were hijacked and aid workers assaulted. Frustrated, the UN called upon its members to provide security (i.e., military support) for the relief mission. As one of his last acts as Commander in Chief, on 04 December 1992 President Bush responded to the UN request, ordering 25,000 troops to lead the United Task Force (UNITAF) in Operation Restore Hope. Led by United States Marines, the UN contingent succeeded in temporarily subduing the clans and restoring a semblance of order.
As an outcome of the Conference on National Reconciliation in Somalia held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 15 March 1993, the UN recognized mere humanitarian intervention would be insufficient to halt Somalia’s civil war or bring long-term help to her people. Taking on the daunting task of ‘nation building’, the UN greatly expanded its mission. The objectives of UNOSOM II included:
- Disarming the warring factions
- Restoring law and order
- Rebuilding an infrastructure crippled by years of war
- Establishing a representative government
While publicly supporting the UN mandate in Somalia, President Clinton fatally weakened the effort by reducing American forces to 1200 combat soldiers and 3000 support troops by May 1993. Not surprisingly, as the number of US forces decreased the level of violence increased. On 05 June 1993, 24 Pakistani soldiers were ambushed and brutally massacred. The UN launched a major effort to capture or kill Aidid and destroy his militia, who they saw as the major roadblock to peace. Aidid retaliated with further attacks on UN and especially US forces. In response, Task Force Ranger, a combined Army Ranger and elite Delta Force group, deployed to Somalia 08 August 1993 with orders to eliminate Aidid. At the same time, and without informing the military, the Clinton administration also began a secret initiative to negotiate with Aidid, utilizing former President Carter as a Special Envoy . The mixed signals thus generated help explain the violent reaction to Task Force Ranger’s later assault on the Olympic Hotel.
Task Force Ranger, commanded by Major General Garrison, operated independently of the UN contingent. Organized as the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF), Task Force Ranger reported directly to U. S. Central Command (CENTCOM) rather than Major General Montgomery, Commander United States Forces, Somalia. Although Garrison kept Montgomery well informed, this convoluted Chain of Command critically delayed relief efforts on 3 / 4 October 1993. In addition, for political reasons Secretary of Defense Les Aspin rejected requests by Garrison, Montgomery and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell for armored support. “
“In January 1991, the President of Somalia, Mohammed Siad Barre, was overthrown by a coalition of opposing clans called the United Somali 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 the country. 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.”
“The Battle of Mogadishu more commonly referred to as Black Hawk Down or, locally, as the Day of the Rangers(Somali: Maalintii Rangers), was part of Operation Gothic Serpent and was fought on 3 and 4 October 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, between forces of the United States supported by UNOSOM II, and Somali militiamen loyal to the self-proclaimed president-to-be Mohamed Farrah Aidid who had support from armed civilian fighters.
A U.S. Army force in Mogadishu, consisting primarily of U.S. Army Rangers from Bravo
Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment; C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), better known as “Delta Force”; as well as Air Force Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen and helicopters from 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, attempted to seize two of Aidid’s high-echelon lieutenants during a meeting in the city. Shortly after the assault began, Somali militia and armed civilian fighters managed to shoot down two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The subsequent rescue operation to secure and recover the crews of both helicopters drew the raid, intended to last no more than an hour, into an overnight standoff in the city. The battle resulted in 18 deaths, 80 wounded, and one helicopter pilot captured among the U.S. raid party and rescue forces. One Pakistani soldier and one Malaysian soldier were killed as part of the rescue forces. American sources estimate between 1,500 and 3,000 Somali casualties, including civilians; SNA forces claim only 315 killed, with 812 wounded.”
“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 (Night Stalkers), attempted to capture Aidid’s foreign minister, Omar Salad, 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 CWO3 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 CWO3 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, Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart and Master Sgt. 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 Mike 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. This lack of planning significantly complicated and delayed the recovery of the surrounded U.S. soldiers.
The battle was over by 4 October at 6:30 AM. American forces were finally evacuated to the U.N. Pakistani base. In all, 18 US 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 injuries. Casualties on the Somali side were heavy, with estimates on fatalities from 500 to over 2000 people. The Somali casualties were a mixture of militiamen and local civilians, who were often used as human shields. Two days later, a mortar round fell on the US compound, killing one U.S. soldier, SFC Matt Rierson, and injuring another twelve.”
- MSG Gary Gordon Killed defending the crew of Super Six-Four Medal of Honor
- SFC Randy Shughart Killed defending the crew of Super Six-Four Medal of Honor
- SSG Daniel Busch Crashed on Super Six-One, died from wounds received defending the downed crew Silver Star
- SFC Earl Fillmore Killed moving to the first crash site Silver Star
- SFC Matt Rierson Killed on October 6, 1993 by a mortar which landed just outside the hangar Silver Star
- MSG Tim “Griz” Martin Died from wounds received on the Lost Convoy Silver Star and Purple Heart
3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
- CPL Jamie Smith Died of wounds with the pinned-down force around crash site one Bronze Star with Valor Device and Oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart
- SPC James Cavaco Killed on the Lost Convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device
- SGT Casey Joyce Killed on the Lost Convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device
- PFC Richard “Alphabet” Kowalewski Killed on the Lost Convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device
- SGT Dominick Pilla Killed on Struecker’s convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device
- SGT Lorenzo Ruiz Killed on the Lost Convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device
160th SOAR (Nightstalkers)
SSG William Cleveland Crew chief on Super Six-Four-killed Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valor Device
- SSG Thomas Field Crew chief on Super Six-Four-killed Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valor Device
- CW4 Raymond Frank Copilot of Super Six-Four-killed Silver Star, Air Medal with Valor Device
- CW3 Clifton “Elvis” Wolcott Pilot of Super Six-One and died in crash Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valor Device
- CW2 Donovan “Bull” Briley Copilot of Super Six-One and died in crash Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valor Device
- 2nd Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division
- SGT Cornell Houston Killed on the rescue convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device, de Fleury Medal
- PFC James Martin Killed on the rescue convoy Purple Heart
Videos Help to Tell the Story:
Black Hawk Down: The Real Story! The Story from a Greek perspective is quite different.
The real ‘Black Hawk Down’ story full doc A Frontline Story Very Interesting!
S06E04 Black Hawk Down: Battle of Mogadishu An excellent presentation by Seconds From Disaster