Today’s Pic of the Day is a Russian Mi-17 helicopter designated 91101. It was part of Operation Jawbreaker, which put the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan only 15 days after the attacks of 9/11. It carried 3 pilots and seven CIA officers from the Special Activities Division (SAD). It also contained a steel box with $ 3 million in $100 bills because that’s how business was conducted in Afghanistan in those days. The Northern Alliance would not exactly take debit cards.
The Mi-17 was chosen because it would not arouse suspicion, as there were already several operating in the area. It was specially modified to fly at high altitudes and over mountains.
Jawbreaker’s presence wasn’t just boots on the ground. They were equipped with cutting-edge satellite communication tools, ensuring real-time communication with the CIA headquarters. They were instrumental in setting up targets for Operation Crescent Wind, facilitating emergency combat search and rescue operations, and assessing the aftermath of bombings. Notably, they revamped a historic airstrip in Gulbahar, originally constructed by the British in 1919, making it feasible for modern fixed-wing aircraft landings.