On this day: October 3rd.
The Battle of Mogadishu — 1993
Perhaps the most infamous battle in modern special operations history, the Battle of Mogadishu struck the U.S. military and government off-balance as it still marveled at itself following the made-for-TV Persian Gulf War and the fall of the Soviet Union. As a single event, the battle probably led to more changes in army and SOF operations than any other. The battle, stretching from October 3 to October 4 1993, left 19 American service members killed in action, 73 wounded, and one a prisoner of war. Multiple awarded-winning books were written on the battle, the most famous of which, Black Hawk Down, was made into a Hollywood film, further cementing the event into legend in the American psyche.
The battle had an immediate chilling effect on American foreign policy in Africa and abroad, with American citizens furious over images showing dead Americans being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in the aftermath. In JSOC and the wider special operations world, the Mogadishu event dominated training until the outbreak of the Global War on Terror in 2001. One critical observer of the battle, Osama bin Laden, took particular interest after noting that once they took a few casualties, “the Americans ran away.”
Death of Black Hawk — 1838
A leader of the Sauk American Indian tribe, Black Hawk was a war chief who led campaigns against American settlers, most famously during the Black Hawk War in 1832. The last Native American war fought east of the Mississippi River, Black Hawk initiated a campaign with a few hundred warriors of various tribes against settler militias in Illinois and Wisconsin. After some initially successful raids, Black Hawk’s force was slowly reduced over the course of the four-month war, culminating in his capture and imprisonment by the U.S. Army. The Black Hawk War saw a disproportionate amount of future American leaders take part, to include a young Captain Abraham Lincoln. Black Hawk surrendered to Army officers Jefferson Davis and Robert Anderson. As a prisoner, he was taken on a tour to major cities on the east coast as a sort of spectacle for Americans.
After his release from custody, Black Hawk wrote the first autobiography of a Native American, and has been recognized for attempting to reconcile the past with white settlers and rival native tribes. After his death, Black Hawk became a tragic hero of sorts, whose memory has lived on with many statues and other memorials dedicated to him. The workhorse helicopter of the U.S. military, the Sikorsky UH-60 “Black Hawk” was named in his honor.
3rd Ranger Battalion Activated — 1984
After actions in Grenada as part of “Urgent Fury,” the Army ordered the activation of a new Ranger battalion, which was activated by the Secretary of the Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Regimental Headquarters was also activated at the same time. It was elements of Company B, 3rd Ranger Battalion that fought at the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Members of the 3rd Ranger Battalion were some of the first Americans on the ground in Afghanistan following the 2001 terrorist attacks, when 200 Rangers from the battalion parachuted into southern Afghanistan to seize Objective Rhino. Our own Jack Murphy is a veteran of the 3rd Ranger Battalion.
This article is the first in a series of marking important milestones in special operations, intelligence, or general military history
Featured image courtesy of the U.S. Army