Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu

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  • Topic: Somalia, Battle of Mogadishu, United States Army Rangers
  • Pages : 5 (1420 words )
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  • Published : November 16, 2011
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Running head: History Essay

History Essay on Operation Gothic Serpent


Operation Gothic Serpent in Oct 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia has been labeled one of the bloodiest firefights for United States troops. It has also arguably been remembered as one of the U.S. military’s blunders. Although the majority of Americans were disgusted and outraged by the failed operation, it can be used as a tool to study the vital role of NCOs and force readiness.

History Essay on Operation Gothic Serpent

One of the most widely debated issues in American politics is what specific role the United States should take in world crises. Some would argue that it is the US’s responsibility to promote and defend freedom, human rights, and democracy. Others disagree and take the opinion that the US should not impose its values on other nations or get involved in civil wars or other disputes. Despite one’s political opinion, it is necessary for the military to be adequately prepared to engage in combat. Readiness for any mission should include timely and accurate intelligence reports, well-trained and well-armed troops, and competent leadership. Examining Operation Gothic Serpent, it becomes evident that several of these prerequisites were lacking and contributed to the operation’s bloody outcome.

In 1992, President Bush authorized US troops to deploy to Somalia to assist in Operation Restore Hope. Operation Restore Hope was a United Nations operation designed to restore order in a nation that had been torn by civil war and brutal warlords. An already explosive environment turned from bad to worse when 24 Pakistani UN troops were killed in mid-1993. Bill Clinton had recently taken office and in response to a UN resolution he deployed a special task force to Somalia. Under supervision of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Operation Gothic Serpent was launched headed up by Maj. General William F. Garrison. Task Force Ranger included one company of Rangers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Delta Force, and personnel from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment with MH-60 Black Hawks and MH-6 Little Birds. The goal was to arrest two of Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s top lieutenants. Aidid was the current warlord responsible for countless deaths of fellow Somalis and numerous attacks on UN troops. After several no-go’s the codeword “Irene” was given and Task Force Ranger embarked on their mission. Although only estimated to last an hour, a new day’s sun arose to find 18 Americans dead, 73 Americans wounded, and 5 Black Hawks down.

Task Force Ranger boasted some of the most elite and lethal personnel in the world. However, operation planner greatly underestimated their enemy. Much of the troops’ training involved covert, nighttime missions. Operation Gothic Serpent took place in broad daylight with thousands of Somalis watching the helicopters and troops. A night attack would have given the US distinct advantages with night-vision technology. Unfortunately, no one foresaw that the mission would continue throughout the night when night-vision equipment could have been advantageous. Many of the participants agree that the use Abrams tanks and Bradley’s most probably would have changed the final outcome. Had there not been egotism at work, troops may have deployed with sufficient supplies, like water. However, they did not foresee that an hour-long mission would have turned into an overnight bloodbath. High-tech equipment proved to be ineffective against low-tech opponents. Aidid employed the use of low power walkie-talkies and transmitters that could not be intercepted by the CIA. The weaponry and persistence of the Somali militia and citizens was underestimated. Ground convoys were delayed because of rocks and burning tires placed in their route. The Somalis effectively employed guerilla warfare to combat the better trained...
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