While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were splashed across the front pages of newspapers, early on in the War on Terror a more clandestine type of war was being waged in Africa by the CIA and JSOC, a war that included blended teams from SEAL Team Six, Delta Force, Task Force Orange, and the Central Intelligence Agency. The first teams hit the ground in 2002, their mission as politically sensitive as it was dangerous. Flying from Nairobi, Kenya, CIA case officers would land outside Mogadishu with TFO personnel and an interpreter. Later, operators from SEAL Team Six would also accompany the case officers, under orders not to carry weapons.
The mission was called Operation Black Hawk, a code name derived from the infamous 1993 firefight in which members of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Delta Force, and 160th Special Operations Aviation fought, called Operation Gothic Serpent (Naylor, 327). Black Hawk was put together in order to bribe Somali warlords to go and capture or kill high value Al Qaeda members and was run by the CIA’s station chief back in Nairobi. After a new station chief took over, the JSOC and CIA operatives spent two years conducting highly risk adverse missions as they were not even allowed to leave the airplane once they landed in Somalia. Warlords would come aboard to meet with the CIA case officers and then Americans would take off.
SEAL Team 6 operators conducting a freefall jump from a C-17 Globemaster. Team 6 considered freefall missions their forte, and proved it during the rescue of Jessica Buchanan. (U.S. Navy)