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    Military History - Battle of Xuân Lộc, Vietnam War, April 9-21st, 1975

    ARVN soldiers fighting around Xuan Loc
    BACKGROUND
    1972-1974
    In the mid 1970s, South East Asia was in turmoil. Vietnam was a nation split in half, into the Republic of Vietnam in the South and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North. They had been involved in a conflict together for decades. During the 1960s and early 1970s, the United States of America had been directly involved in the conflict, supporting the South's Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). After nearly 10 years of fighting and hundreds of thousands of American casualties, the governments of the USA and ARVN concluded peace talks which had been secretly ongoing in Paris for many years. The talks would order a cease-fire between North Vietnamese and US Military personnel and drew up a plan for total American withdrawal from South Vietnam, with the exception of Embassy guards and other such non-combat personnel. This agreement also ended the American Advisory programme, which had seen US servicemen training the ARVN in modern tactics and the use of military equipment for nearly 20 years. Also included in the accords, were limitations on US Airforce combat operations and US Navy patrols near either Vietnam. US Congress also voted to stop sending South Vietnam military aid around this time.
    This accord left the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South) in a difficult position. Under-funded and poorly trained, they had relied on US aid and supplies for years. Almost exclusively equipped with American arms and material, the ending of training and armament from America meant that the ARVN would have to very quickly learn how to produce its own military equipment and train new pilots, armoured vehicle crews and artillerymen within a rapid timeframe.
    The threat of full-scale invasion from North Vietnam loomed over the South Vietnamese government like an ever present spectre. 
    Both nations utilised the Ceasefire. The South began a large conscription and training programme to bolster it's forces, also allegedly spending large amounts of civil aid money on purchasing ammunition. The North started re-organising its military. Pulling many troops out of South Vietnam where they had acted as guerrillas, divisions were reinforced and re-equipped with weapons fresh from the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China. The Ho Chi Minh Trail - a network of hidden pathways stretching from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia before reaching South Vietnam - was also repaired and upgraded. The ceasefire remained in place for nearly a year, with small skirmishes still being fought.
    On 4th January, 1974, President Thieu of South Vietnam declared the Paris Peace Accords void, after 55 ARVN soldiers were killed in clashes with Communist guerrillas.

    1974-1975
    During the 74-75 period,  multiple clashes between ARVN and PAVN forces erupted, much the same as the North had fought the Americans before. Small engagements, utilising hit and run tactics against the slower Southern troops. The North was attempting to buy time until they had stockpiled enough equipment to launch a full scale invasion of the South. The North were concerned with threats the Americans had made while signing the Peace Accords, in which they had sworn to defend South Vietnam and re-enter the war if the North showed overt hostile activity against another sovereign nation. However, with a shifting political landscape in America, North Vietnam's First Secretary Lê Duẩn approved a test of American resolve by launching a limited offensive into neighbouring Cambodia. When, after a few weeks of fighting, the United States did not intervene; it was decided that the Americans were no longer a threat in Vietnam and final plans were prepared for a large offensive South.
    The South Vietnamese government was plagued with issues at this time. While they had stockpiled vast reserves of weaponry - 1,400 aircraft, three times as much artillery as the North and twice the amount of armoured vehicles - an oil crisis, coupled with ammunition and spares shortage meant that the majority of these weapons were not ready for use. In fact, there were allegedly 3 full squadrons of A-37 Dragonfly Ground Attack Planes sat in Nha Trang airbase until the end of the war.
    On December 13th, 1974, North Vietnamese troops attacked Route 14 in South Vietnam - an arterial highway in the border region of Phuoc Long Province. In under a month, the provincial capital of Phuoc Binh fell. Surprised by the speed of the North Vietnamese, their brazen use of armour and a lack of US response, the South Vietnamese started to see an eroding of morale which was endemic to the end of the war. The North Vietnamese Army increased the speed of their campaign, which they had intended to last several years. In the Spring of 1975 they launched a full-scale offensive across the Central Highlands. 
    Several units of the ARVN fought bravely, but the lack of American intervention was affecting morale severely. Defeatism was spreading through the ranks. Entire companies would abandon their positions with no regard to the plans which existed. The ammunition shortage began to be felt after Da Nang airbase was captured. Some companies were limited to 3 rounds of artillery a day. 
    President Thieu had placed himself in charge of the military planning for the South Vietnamese Army from the onset, and had continuously made rash and contradictory decisions. One day, he would order a company to stand and fight and then a few hours later would demand to know why they were holding a foolish position and not falling back. Forces dug in to key defensive positions were ordered to abandon them to secure stretches of open ground. This political turmoil led way to countless acts of insubordination and desertion. It also led to several assassination attempts on Thieu. On January 23rd, an ARVN officer fired his pistol at Thieu, failing to hit him. On April 4th, Independence Palace - the Presidential and Governmental offices - were bombed by a South Vietnamese pilot in his F-5 Tiger. It later turned out that the pilot was in fact a member of the Viet Cong, the Communist guerrilla force backed by North Vietnam, and had infiltrated the Air Force in 1969. This fuelled Thieu's suspicion of his military staff, leading to arrests of his senior commanders.
    Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese continued to push their way South. City after city and province after province fell to their forces as South Vietnamese soldiers fled before them. Eventually, only a few cities were left before the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. One of these cities was Xuan Loc. Thieu ordered his reserves to Xuan Loc and began phoning the US Embassy almost hourly, desperate to convince President Gerald Ford to mobilise the US Navy Group in the South China Sea.
    With ARVN troops entrenched in Xuan Loc and PAVN forces approaching the city, the stage had been set for the final major battle of the Vietnam War.

    Communist forces seize An Lac
     
    ORDER OF BATTLE
    Army of the Republic of Vietnam - ARVN (South), Commanded : General Le Minh Dao
    Initial Defenders ARVN 18th Infantry Division 43rd Infantry Regiment 48th Infantry Regiment 52nd Infantry Regiment 5 Armoured Brigades, assembled from remnants of old forces 4 Regional Force Battalions 340th, 342nd, 343rd, 367th 2 Artillery units, consisting 42 guns 181st & 182nd Artillery Battalions 2 companies of Civilian Self-Defence Force Reinforcements (arriving April 12th) 1st Airborne Brigade 3 Armoured Brigades 315th, 318th, 322nd 5th Infantry Division's 8th Task Force 33rd Ranger Battalion Air Support provided by 5th & 3rd Air Force Divisions. In all, this totalled to 25-30,000 men, with 12,000 estimated within Xuan Loc itself.
    People's Army of Vietnam - PAVN (North), Commanded : Hoang Cam
    PAVN 4th Army Corps 6th Infantry Combat Division 7th Infantry Combat Division 341st Infantry Combat Division Supported by : 71st Anti-Aircraft Regiment 24th & 25th Combat Engineering Regiments 26th Communications Regiment 2 Armoured Battalions  2 Artillery Battalions 2 Provincial Infantry Battalions (Viet Cong) This totalled 40,000 men, with 20,000 estimated to be within Xuan Loc itself.
    THE BATTLE

    Le Minh Dao (3rd from Right) and his Command Team

    The Battle of Xuan Loc was fought in and around the town by the same name. It was a bastion of the ARVN and the key part of the final defensive line of South Vietnam. Lee Minh Dao's plan was a fairly straightforward one. In an attempt to but time against the North Vietnamese, he deployed his men around the town, making use of two natural chokepoints presented by the terrain : the Nui Soc Lu - Doi Mong Ngua - Nui Ma hill and valleys to the North West, and the narrow passage between the Suoi Ret and Song Vong rivers to the North East. With the towns of Bien Hoa to the West and Binh Tuy to the East both still in ARVN control, any PAVN attack was expected to come from these two corridors. These two chokepoints allowed Lee Minh Dao to focus his defence on the 5 main roads which lead into Xuan Loc. Fortifications were raised and armoured vehicles dug in at key points throughout the area.

    Hoang Cam's plan of attack almost mirrored Dao's plan for defence. Two strong thrusts would attempt to push through the ARVN defensive lines and advance on the city. The 341st Infantry Division would assault the valleys, and the 7th would attack between the rivers. Both offered direct routes into the centre of Xuan Loc, with heavy duty highways providing easy transportation to Saigon once the city was dealt with.
    The approaching PAVN units began to engage the dug-in defenders of Xuan Loc a few days before the battle began in earnest. With elements of destroyed formations being used as 'roadblocks' against the PAVN, Dao managed to buy the defenders 4 days of respite before Cam launched his offensive on the city.
    At 0540 on April 9th, 1975, the PAVN 4th Army Corps began shelling ARVN positions around Xuan Loc. After approximately an hour of bombardment, the 341st Infantry Division attacked an ARVN communications centre to the North of the city. It took an hour of heavy fighting before the communications centre and a nearby police station fell. This dogged resistance allowed the ARVN 52nd Task Force to counter-attack the position, effectively halting the 341st's advance. To the east, the order was given for the 7th Infantry Division to attack across open ground without any armoured support. Unsurprisingly, the assault failed; and subsequent efforts to provide the Communist soldiers with armoured support failed, with 3 tanks destroyed and 5 being forced to withdraw. 
    With both attacks being stalled, Cam launched his surprise offensive. He had managed to march the 6th Infantry Division past Xuan Loc, and had them attack from the South. Dao's men held their ground, but due to the nature of his battle plan, the Western approaches to Xuan Loc came under attack from the 6th Division with supply and support convoys having to fight their way clear. 
    The PAVN 209th and 270th Infantry Regiments took advantage of a weaker section of the southern defensive line and stormed into the perimeter, capturing the ARVN 18th Infantry Divisions Headquarters. The remainder of the day saw ARVN counter-attacks at the exposed PAVN flanks to slow their advance.

    Fighting in ruins at Xuan Loc
    The days of April 10th and 11th saw little change around Xuan Loc. PAVN forces would advance, only to be counter-attacked by ARVN units and repulsed. The 209th & 270th continued to fight over the Gia Lien Bridge but faced stiff resistance. In the North, The ARVN 52nd Task Force was reinforced by the 43rd Infantry Regiment and the 322nd Armoured Brigade, forcing the PAVN 341st's advance to a standstill. During these 48 hours, the South Vietnamese Airforce more than 200 bombing sorties.
    On the 12th, the South Vietnamese government decided to send more troops to Xuan Loc. The already limited reserves found their number dropped drastically as the ARVN 1st Airborne Brigade, 33rd Ranger Battalion, 8/5th Infantry Division, 8th Artillery, 315th and 318th Armoured Brigades were all committed to the defence. In terms of fighting, the large offensives had began to lose steam. They made little headway against the dug-in ARVN infantry and the ARVN Air Force. On the 12th, fighter-bombers from Bein Hoa and Tan Son Nhat flew between 80-120 combat sorties. A pair of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft were used to drop two CBU-55 Fuel Air Explosives on the town of Xuan Vinh, causing widespread devastation and killing around 200 PAVN soldiers.

    VNAF Figher Bombers
    The 13th of April saw the large PAVN offensives stop almost altogether. Instead, smaller skirmished and company sized actions continued on. Frustrated with the lack of progress, General Tran Van Tra, commander of the Viet Cong, arrived at the headquarters of the 4th Corps and began to change aspects of the offensive plan. He identified that Dau Giay was the weakest point in Xuan Loc's defensive line, and ordered units to begin acting as blocking forces along the two major highways leading into Xuan Loc from allied positions - a tactic which was to severely hinder the flow of reinforcements and materiel into the beleaguered city. Thieu, President of South Vietnam, declared that the ARVN had "recovered it's fighting ability" upon hearing of the diminished attacks on Xuan Loc.

    Unidentified ARVN soldiers at Xuan Loc
    On the 15th, Tra's new plan came into action. The units around Highway 1 and Highway 2 began to tighten the noose around Xuan Loc, effectively cutting the roads. To the North and East, PAVN units resumed their large scale attacks, but this time without major artillery support. Instead, the artillery was shelling Bien Hoa Airbase, preventing a large number of ARVN planes from taking off. While aircraft from Tan Son Nhut continued to support the ARVN forces in Xuan Loc, an offensive closer to Tan Son Nhut diverted many of the flights in the air. The first major disaster at Xuan Loc happened on the 15th, as the PAVN 6th Infantry Division and 95B Infantry Regiment defeated the ARVN 52nd Task Force and 13th Armoured  Squadron to the West of Xuan Loc and captured Dau Giay.
    The following day, the 16th, Dao ordered the ARVN 8th Task Force and 3rd Armoured Brigade to retake Dau Giay. These men met the same fate as their comrades the day before, with large numbers of casualties being suffered they were forced to withdraw.
    During the 16th and 17th, many ARVN units on the perimeter found themselves under attack from all sides as PAVN infantry infiltrated the defensive line around them. The 43rd and 48th Infantry Regiments, and the 1st Airborne Brigade, suffered major casualties as a result of this. They were ordered to consolidate their defences towards Xuan Loc.

    An ARVN convoy outside of Xuan Loc
    The 18th saw the PAVN focus their attacks on the outlying townships and hamlets leading to Xuan Loc. Each small collection of buildings fell after being doggedly defended. The morning of the 19th found Xuan Loc nearly completely surrounded and cut off. The South Vietnamese General Staff ordered Lee Minh Dao to abandon the position and evacuate as many members of the 18th Division as he could towards Bien Hoa in preparation for another defensive line. On the 20th, under cover of heavy rain, South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians began to leave Xuan Loc. The convoy numbered some 200 military vehicles. The remainder of the battered 1st Airborne Brigade was the last to leave the city. They remained until 0400 on the 21st, waiting for their 3rd Company to make it to Xuan Loc. The 3rd Company never did, having been trapped and destroyed in the hamlet of Suoi Ca.

    The evacuation at Xuan Loc.

    By the end of the 21st, the North Vietnamese Army occupied Xuan Loc. Their path to Saigon was clear.

    North Vietnamese soldiers parade a captured M48 Patton Tank
    AFTERMATH

    South Vietnamese civilians attempt to climb into a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter
     The planned defence of Bien Hoa never happened. The fall of Xuan Loc crumbled what was left of ARVN morale. With barely any reserves left, President Thieu resigned after the General Assembly agreed that he should be held accountable. The ARVN units began to withdraw towards Saigon, those who remained in uniform. Many changed into civilian clothes in an attempt to flee the North Vietnamese Communists. As the North Vietnamese Army approached Saigon, the US Embassy began to evacuate its personnel. There were scenes of pandemonium at Tan Son Nhut Airport as people tried to climb onto planes as they taxied onto the main runway. South Vietnamese Airforce helicopter pilots commandeered their helicopters, picked up family members and flew out to sea, hoping for salvation from the US Navy. Those who did not run out of fuel found their salvation.

    Soldiers and Civilians cling onto a Huey

    The deck of a US Aircraft Carrier. All helicopters seen here were VNAF.
    Xuan Loc saw the end of the nation of South Vietnam. Saigon fell to the North and the country was unified under a Communist Dictatorship, as it remains today.

    Captured ARVN soldiers are paraded through Saigon, renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
    Normally, in this part of the article I describe how you can re-create the battle written about here. The Battle of Xuan Loc is incredibly difficult to quantify in the same manner, their were vast issues surrounding the ARVN morale and supplies that would be nigh on impossible to re-create, especially with the limited numbers we are able to play with. Regardless, I will do my best to give an abstract scenario that can be tailored to fit nearly any map and any force.
    Players should, ideally, be split into 3 forces comprising of 2 squads each - all holding a vital route into an urban area. Ammunition and supply restrictions should be enforced, with resupply points available in a central defensive location - a key building in the centre of the urban area which can be considered the primary objective. Players should, ideally, have access to superior technology. Perhaps a few IFVs or MBTs crewed by AI dug into the area, ensure that they don't have the ability to move. Let the players call in AI air support, they need to begin with the advantage. This should be faced with increasing numbers of hostiles, including more and more armoured vehicles which will compound the supply and logistical situation. The idea would be for the players to survive long enough to allow reinforcements or supplies to arrive to enable them to continue the fight, while preventing enemy forces from reaching the command centre. If hostile forces do  reach the command centre, consider it a mission failure. I think heliborne or airborne enemies should be avoided in this scenario, to prevent AI avoiding player defences.
    I hope you enjoyed this article, if you want to read more you should check out the vnafmamn article on Xuan Loc, and watch the final episode on Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam.
     
     

     
    Featured

    Modset Update 22/10/18

    After a longer testing period than usual, we have now decided on the new modset. This post will outline the new modset and explain some of the more significant changes.
    The changes are currently live on the second server, and they will go live on the first server on Monday the 22nd of October. We will make an announcement when we have updated the first server.
    FK - MODS
    First on the list is the introduction of a mod bundle upload named "FK - Mods". This mod is intended to help us cut down on the number of mods that need to be in the collection. We have gotten permission from the original authors of each mod in the bundle to re-upload their mod as part of this bundle. Besides containing re-uploads of other mods, this bundle will also include any mods explicitly created for FK.
    The mods that are currently included in the bundle are:
    BackpackOnChest by Zade RHS Extra Uniforms by wsxcgy ASR AI3 by Robalo fk_disable_patches by NeilZar The fk_disable_patches mod is a config to disable some questionable patches in one of the mods.
    CHANGES
    Here the changes being made to the modset:
    Added
    F-15SE Silent Eagle - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1356825087 Project Uncut - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1502320540 Ruha - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1368857262 US Special Operations Command - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1339201462 Spartan Factions v3 - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1169728609 Redd'nTank Vehicles - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1128145626 3CB BAF Units - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=893346105 Military Gear Pack - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=736829758 FK - Mods - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1539452471 ActionBuilder - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1208939123 Total Size: 3978MB
    Removed
    VCOM AI Deniland AV-8B Harrier SU35 Flanker PROMODS Total Size: 2809MB
    New Modset
    3CB BAF Equipment 3CB BAF Units 3CB BAF Vehicles 3CB BAF Weapons ActionBuilder Advanced Towing (Server-side) Advanced Rappelling (Server-side) Advance Urban Rappelling (Server-side) Ares Mod - Achilles Expansion CBA_A3 CUP Terrains - Core CUP Terrains - CWA CUP Terrains - Maps Diyala FA-18 Super Hornet FK - ACE3 FK - Mods ASR AI3 BackpackOnChest Extra RHS Uniform Retextures fk_disable_patches F-15SE Silent Eagle FIR AWS(AirWeaponSystem) GOS Al-Rayak GOS Gunkizli Island Panthera Military Gear Pack NIArms All in One Project OPFOR Project Uncut Redd'nTank Vehicles RHSAFRF RHSGREF RHSSAF RHSUSAF Ruha Sabs Su-34 Fullback ShackTac User Interface Spartan Factions v3 Tembelan Island TFAR 1.0 US Special Operations Command Vehicle on fire (Server-side) Total Size: 36.8GB
    HTML PRESET
    FUTURE UPDATES
    The CM team is currently discussing a couple of changes with regards to not only the frequency of the modset updates but also the testing process itself. Some of you may have recently seen this thread pertaining to the process of testing mods and how it might be changed to allow for community members to help. We are certainly open to this and we're working on this to allow for more people to help with the testing process. Be forewarned that it won't be a completely open thing due to a couple of issues that we've noted in our initial pass on the idea. Expect more information at a later date as we develop it.
    Featured

    FK and BSO merge

    Some time ago the CM team was approached by the BSO community. Due to low numbers in their own community and after some consideration, they have offered to join our ranks. After multiple discussions, the CM team decided to accept their offer. This will mean that BSO will dissolve most of their assets into our community. However, for the transitional period, they will remain as a group of players known as BSO and will be allowed to run their events within our community.
    NEW SERVER
    In the upcoming weeks, the BSO admins will set up their server box for our use.
    What the new box will provide for FK:
    1 server will be used to host a 24/7 persistent mission (Exile/Antistasi/I&A/etc.) 1 server will be used to host missions; with either the default FK modpack for overflow missions, training, or non-FK mod packs (Unsung/OPTRE/IFA/etc.) for special missions organized by the members of the communities. Other purposes can include things like a Minecraft or Space Engineers server. All servers on this box will operate under the FK's name and ruleset. Further information on what is gonna be running on the servers, how to request specific mods for the servers, booking procedures, and other information will be announced in a separate post.
    The server box is going to be supported by one of the BSO admins, Shadowfox, and he is willing to provide it for us free of charge.
    NEW MEMBERS
    The BSO members have requested that we don’t give them any preferential treatment, because they don't want to upset current members of FK by getting ranks or tags on day one. They will work through our current rank and tag system like everyone else. The only people that might be "fast-tracked" are the BSO admins for the sake of organization and a smooth transition from BSO to FK.
     
    The CM team would like to ask all current FK members to treat BSO members with respect, as you would for any new community member. The BSO guys have a very similar mindset to us; they have already played with us and enjoyed our missions. We expect fruitful cooperation between our communities and a successful merger.
     
    - Fuck Knows CM Team.

    Military History - Mogadishu & "The Day of the Rangers", 3-4th October, 1993

    BACKGROUND
    Somalia during 1993 was a nation in turmoil. The official government had toppled and the country had been carved up between various warlords and their private militias. The most prominent of these Warlords was Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Previously a general in Somalia's now defunct military, Aidid founded the Somali National Alliance, which started the Civil War when they drove out the countries President.
    Aidid's militia cemented an iron grip around the nation's capital of Mogadishu, locking off the countries main Airport and Port in the process. Aidid relied on fear and starvation to keep his populace in line, seizing food relief packages while a widespread famine ravaged the country. During the period of 1991 and 1992, it is estimated that 300,000 people died due to the lack of food. A crisis was declared in the United Nations.
    UN Peacekeepers were deployed to oversee food distribution within Somalia, but their low numbers were quickly found to be inadequate. in August of 1992, President George H. W. Bush launched Operation 'Provide Relief' and 10 C-130 transport aircraft and 400 personnel were deployed to Mombasa in neighbouring Kenya to aid the relief effort. Within 6 months, 48,000 tons of food had medical supplies had been airlifted into Somalia.
    While a noble effort, it proved to be too little. With over 500,000 Somalis now dead and 1.5 million having become displaced, investigations were called for. The UN commanders on the ground simply did not have the manpower to protect all the Aid Distribution Sites, with large amounts of relief supplies being seized by various warlords. President Bush, in conjunction with UN Resolution 794, launched Operation 'Restore Hope' in December 1992.

    American troops patrol through Mogadishu
    Restore Hope placed all UN Peacekeepers in Somalia under the command of the United States, and allowed the US to deploy combat troops to secure and liberate areas of Mogadishu in an attempt to lessen the vice-like grip of Aidid's milita, and to allow more UN Peacekeepers to be deployed.
    The USMC conducted amphibious landing operations within Mogadishu, with the aims of securing the port, airport and a Forwrad Operating Base within the city itself. Undertaking this task were elements of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines and the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Within two weeks, the Task Group had achieved its objectives, with over a 3rd of the city having been secured. Further groups from the 9th Marines and 7th Marines expanded out of the city, opening routes to Baidoa, Balidogle and Kismayo. They were joined by the US 10th Mountain Division at this time.
    With American troops patrolling the streets of Mogadishu, Aidid began his propaganda campaign, inciting the populace to believe that the Americans were here to conquer their city, and to colonise all of Somalia. This wasn't as absurd as it sounds, as only 60 years before the Italians had done the same thing, Western Colonisation was still within living memory of many of Somalia's elders. The US Marines patrolling Mogadishu soon found the populace resentful of their presence.

    A US Marine watches a checkpoint from the top of his vehicle 
    On 3rd March, 1993, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali recommended that the UN shift direction in Somalia. Now, they were to work with the warlords to create a new Somali Government and to work towards democratically electing a new president. Many of the warlords agreed. Mohamed Farah Aidid, did not. He instead began broadcast propaganda on Radio Mogadishu, telling the populace that the other warlords had abandoned Somalia to the West. Orders were cut by the UN Commanders to shut the radio down, to prevent Aidid from inciting unrest.
    Aidid learned of the plan, and gave his own orders to attack a Pakistani Peacekeeper task force. The result was 24 dead and 57 wounded Pakistani troops, 1 wounded Italian soldier and 3 wounded American soldiers. The UN Security Council passed resolution 837, calling for the arrest of Aidid and his lieutenants.
    On the 12th of July 1993, a US operation was undertaken to assault a safe house which was believed to house Aidid. During the 17 minute operation, Cobra helicopters fired 16 TOW missiles and thousands of 20mm cannon rounds into the compound in the heart of the city. The International Red Cross set the death count at 54 people. Aidid was not present. The populace of Mogadishu were enraged, and 4 journalists who arrived to cover the incident were killed by mobs in the street. Some historians believe that this event gave some "truth" to Aidid's claims of Western Imperialism in Somalia.
    It was clear to the UN and US commanders that the current strategy wasn't working. Following a bombing of a US military vehicle, President Bill Clinton announced the deployment of a Special Task Force to Somalia, with the aim of finding and arresting Aidid.
    Task Force Ranger was deployed to Somalia on the 22nd of August, 1993.
    TASK FORCE RANGER

    Members of 1st SFOD-D and 160th SOAR in front of one of the 160th Black Hawks. I could not find names for the men shown.
    As previously stated, Task Force Ranger was deployed to Mogadishu with the task of locating and arresting Aidid and his key lieutenants in an effort to disband his militia, the Habir Gidr. The TF Ranger deployed with over 400 personnel, primarily consisting of Rangers and Delta Force operators. It's important to note however, that the 10th Mountain were still deployed to Mogadishu in a peace keeping role - the 10th were present in the Battle of Mogadishu, despite what a certain popular film likes to portray. TF Ranger was billeted at Mogadishu Airport and began conducting information gathering operations and raids on Aidid's forces. The Task Force was comprised of the following units :
    B Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment - commanded by Captain Michael D. Steele C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1 SFOD-D) - commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gary L Harrell 16 Helicopters and personnel from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR), including Black Hawks (Call Signs Super) and Little Birds (Call Signs Star) An undisclosed number of Navy SEALs from Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) An undisclosed number of Air Force Pararescuemen and Combat Controllers from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Side note : If you've not heard about the Air Force Pararescue Jumpers before, read about them. They're nuts.
    The Task Force was organised under the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and commanded by Major General William F. Garrison. The carrier USS Abraham Lincoln & Carrier Air Wing 11 were operating within the region and had orders to deliver support to TF Ranger as a priority.
    TF spent several months locating and grabbing key members of Aidid's Militia in an effort to de-stabilise it and also to locate Aidid himself. Most notably, TF Ranger managed to secure Aidid's chief financier, Osman Ali Atto. It was around this time that JSOC received reports from Somali informants that a meeting was to be undertaken soon within the city which would have many of Aidid's top lieutenants present. Somali informants began keeping watch for the targets to arrive in the city, and Task Force Ranger built up a standard plan to secure them.
    It's important to note that the plan TF Ranger drew up was standard - they had already completed a few raids following the same procedures with minimal losses. However, all of these previous raids had a hard target in mind, the target building was already known to the soldiers. The raid being planned for was full of unknowns : The target building was unknown, the number of targets themselves was unknown, and since the target building had not been identified there was no concrete extraction route. There was a further complication; recently Somali morale had received a boost after a Black Hawk of the 10th Mountain was shot down by an RPG near the New Port, killing 3. It was a massive psychological boost to the Militia, who for the first time saw that these machines were able to be killed.
    ORDER OF BATTLE
    The ORBAT differs slightly from TF Ranger, as there were other UN forces who played varying roles in the engagement. I'm going to list them all here so when I refer back to them later it's not as confusing.
    Task Force Ranger : 
    C Sqdn, 1st SFOD-D (Delta Force) B Coy, 3rd Bn, 75th Ranger Rgt 1st Bn, 106th SOAR Combat Controllers & USAF Pararescue, 24th Special Tactics Sqdrn Navy SEALs, DEVGRU Task Force 10th Mountain Division : 
    1st Bn, 22nd Infantry Rgt 2nd Bn, 14th Infantry Rgt 3rd Platoon, C Company, 1st Bn, 8th Infantry Rgt 15th Bn, Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army 19th Lancers, Pakistan Army 10th Bn, Baloch Regiment, Pakistan Army 977th Military Police Company Other UN Peacekeepers : 
    19th Bn, Royal Malay Regiment, Malaysian Army 11th Regiment, Grup Gerak Khas (GGK), 21st Special Service Group, Malaysian Army 7th Bn, Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army USC/SNA/Aidid's Militia
    There are no hard numbers on the amount of Somali Militia involved in the Battle of Mogadishu. This is due to the fact that many of the combatants the US and UN troops fought cannot even be considered members of the Militia. Once the battle spiralled out of control, many residents of Mogadishu simply grabbed guns and joined the fighting for a few hours before going home, for reasons ranging from Anti-Imperialism to fear of reprisals from Adid's militia to a simple desire to join the fray. In all, most estimations range wildly from 2000 to 4000 militia and volunteer fighters having been active during the operation.

    A Somali technical. Several were present during the battle.
    THE PLAN
    I have said before that the TF Ranger plan was fairly standard, so it stands to reason I should explain it in further detail.
    The plan for the raids was three-fold. First, Delta Force operators, being transported on Little Bird helicopters, would be landed on the streets next to the target building and begin breaching it with breaching charges and concussion grenades.
    Secondly, the Rangers would be flown in via Black Hawk helicopters and fast rope onto the 4 corners of the target building, blocking roads and securing a perimeter. This wold stop any of the targets from being able to flee the building, or any reinforcements from approaching. The Black Hawks would then go into an orbit of the target area, and if needed could provide air support.
    Thirdly, the reminder of the Rangers would be waiting a few minutes away in an armed convoy of transport vehicles and Humvees. When the perimeter had been secured, they would approach the target building and load all captives, Rangers and Deltas before extracting the city back to Task Force Ranger's HQ in the Airport. The entire operational plan was rated to take no longer than 1 hour.

    Super 65 during an Operation. In this particular photo it is carrying a Chalk of Rangers. I do not know if this photo was taken during the Battle of Mogadishu.
    THE RAID, 3rd OCTOBER

    The Map of the Battle, showing all key areas.
    On Sunday 3rd of October, 1993, JSOC was informed that the meeting was to take place that day. Two key targets were identified : Omar Salad Elmi, Aidid's foreign minister and Mohamed Hassan Awale, his top political adviser. At 13:50, Task Force Ranger is 'stood to' on high alert. After confirmation of the target building is established, the code word "Irene" was given at 15:32, marking the beginning of the operation. At 15:42, MH-6 Little Birds landed on the streets outside the target building, depositing the first Delta assault team. The level of dust kicked up by the landing was so unexpected, and so bad, that one of the Little Birds nearly landed on top of another, and was forced to wave off and repeat it's approach. With the 1st Delta Team on the ground and assaulting the target, the Ranger "Chalks" - a military term to denote a group of soldiers who deploy from a single aircraft, for example a Black Hawk's 'Chalk' comprises of the 10-11 soldiers on board - and the second Delta Assault Team, led by Captain Austin "Scott" Miller, were brought in and roped into position.

    Two Little Birds of the 160th SOAR leaving Mogadishu Airport. Supposedly, this photograph was taken on October 3rd.
    This was when things had started deviating from the plan. Somali's loyal to Aidid had pre-warned his militia about the upcoming raid, it's a lot harder to keep a raid like this a secret than you think. First, there's the increased amount of activity at the Airport. Second, the sheer amount of noise a flight of helicopters takes. Third, the Extraction Convoy had to drive to their hold point. In an effort to confuse and warn, Somali's had started burning piles of tyres. This created a pall of thick black choking smoke, easily visible for miles. This led to the first mistake being made. Super 67, piloted by CW3 Jeff Niklaus, got lost on the infil due to the smoke plumes. 67 dropped Chalk 4 a block north of their intended location. Niklaus offered to pick the Rangers up again, but the IC of the group declined, instead opting to attempt to re-group on foot. After 67 left the area, this group got pinned down by intense small arms fire - they were unable to link up to friendlies. Chalk 4 also received the first casualty. During the infiltration, one of the Rangers; PFC Todd Blackburn; fell while fast-roping, suffering injuries to his head and the back of his neck. The exact reason to Blackburn's fall is unknown, however it should be noted that this was his first combat deployment. Medics attending to Blackburn decided he needed to be evacuated, and Chalk 4 suppressed incoming fire long enough for 2 stretcher bearers and a medic to carry Blackburn to the target building, where the ground convoy had arrived and was awaiting the completion of the Target Building Raid. A Medevac was immediately requested, but the amount of hostile elements and limited landing zones meant that airlifting Blackburn was not a option. Instead, 3 Humvees were detached from the main force and ordered to get Blackburn back to the base as soon as possible.
    The mini-convoy was commanded by Sergeant Jeff Strucker. They raced through the city on the most direct route possible, taking back alleys and side streets. It was in one of these streets, that Sgt Dominick Pilla was struck in the head by a shot from a militaman. Pilla was killed instantly, he was the first American fatality of Task Force Ranger. Eventually, Strucker's convoy reached the base. All members of the group reported some degree of wounding, and all 3 Humvees were "riddled with bullet holes and smoking" [Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, pg 34].
    Back at the Target Building, the prisoners began being loaded onto M939 5-ton trucks. Crowds of Somalis are beginning to converge on the Target Building, some firing while many are unarmed civilians, making the job of the Rangers guarding the area extremely difficult. At 16:02, Delta Team 1 declares that the raid is complete, and all prisoners are loaded. The convoy however, remains stationary at 16:15, due to confusion over who was supposed to signal who. The Delta teams were waiting for the convoy to signal to mount up; while the convoy was waiting for the Delta Teams to mount up themselves. with the confusion finally worked out, the signal is given to the Rangers to begin collapsing the perimeter.

    The only confirmed photograph taking during the Battle.
    At around 16:20, while the Rangers were heading to the convoy, Super 61, piloted by CW3 Cliff "Elvis" Wolcott and CW3 Donovan Briley were conducting low passes on the nearby areas, watching the movement of the militia and civilians. At this time, not many of the Somalis fired on the helicopters, knowing that they would simply shoot back. 61 was also transporting two Delta Force snipers, Staff Sergeant Daniel Busch and Sergeant Jim Smith. While conducting their low orbits, an RPG fired from the ground hit the tail boom of Super 61. The Black Hawk lost power, and Wolcott declared that they were about to crash. Super 61 crash-landed approximately 5 blocks northeast of the target building. Both Wolcott and Donovan were killed in the crash, with both Crew Chiefs being severely wounded. Busch and Smith survived, and despite their wounds began preparing to defend the downed helicopter from approaching Somali Militia. It was at this point that the famous quote was spread across the control net. "We got a Black Hawk Down, we got a Black Hawk Down. Wolcott's bird is down hard in the city." It's not immediately apparent who first said this, as it was repeated by most of the pilots on the command net. 
    With 3 Humvees already missing from the convoy, there was a shortage of transportation for the Deltas and Rangers at the Target Building. The decision was made for some to make their way to 61's crash site on foot, which would be quicker than the Convoy which would have to navigate it's way there via the city streets. At 16:26, both groups depart from the Target Building under heavy contact. The infantry unit fights running skirmishes on its way to the crashed Black Hawk.
    Following the crash of Super 61, Super 68 - the Combat Search and Rescue bird - immediately started requesting permission to insert the CSAR team in to assist the downed crew, at this time it was not known how many survivors of the crash there were. Due to the fact that there were already Somali's approaching 61, the request was denied. Instead, Star 41, a Little Bird piloted by CW3 Karl Maier and CW5 Keith Jones were ordered to investigate the crash. Normally, this means 'fly overhead and look', however Star 41 instead landed alongside 61, with Jones disembarking the helicopter. Maier provided covering fire from the cockpit while Jones aided the two downed Delta snipers, Busch had been shot 4 times while defending the crash site. Jones was ordered repeatedly to take off and leave Maier behind, orders he denied while Maier was carrying the Deltas back to 41 one at a time. His cover fire was so 'intense', he nearly hit Lieutenant DiTomasso of Chalk One as they and Delta operators approached the crash site. With both snipers aboard, and Maier back in the co-pilot's seat, Star 41 took off and returned to base. Unfortunately, Staff Sergeant Busch later died of his injuries.

    Somali children play on the wreckage of a downed helicopter.
    With Chalk One securing buildings nearby to crashed Super 61; Super 68's CSAR team were given permission to rope down and secure the crashed bird itself. Super 68, piloted by CW3 Dan Jallota, hovered above the crash site as the CSAR team, headed by Delta Captain Bill J Coultrup and USAF Pararescueman Master Sergeant Scott C Fales, roped down. During the infiltration, 68 suffered an RPG hit to it's tail rotor, crippling the helicopter. Despite severe damage, Jallota managed to get 68 back to base. Upon entering the wreck of 61, the CSAR team determined that both pilots were dead. Under increasingly intense fire, the two wounded crew chiefs were extracted from the wreckage and moved to a nearby collection point, while Kevlar armour plates were removed from 61 and used to 'bulletproof' the collection area. During this time, the Humvee convoy, now lost in the city thanks to numerous road blocks and smoke plumes, suffer numerous casualties from snipers and general small arms fire. The convoy is ordered to turn around - no easy feat when the streets were barely wide enough for a single Humvee.
    At 16:40, Super 64 has taken Super 61's place in the flight, and is flying low orbits above the city. During a sweep, 64, piloted by Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, is hit in the tail by another RPG. With his bird losing power, Durant radios that 64 is also going to crash. He attempts to leave the city, but never makes it. Super 64 crashes approximately a mile southwest of the target building. 
    Task Force Ranger had not prepared for this. As standard procedure, they flew with a CSAR team in the event of a helicopter going down, but had never expected to lose 2 in a single operation. With the CSAR bird already on the ground, and no more airbourne insertion teams; there is no sizeable force to secure Durant's crash. Instead, at 16:42, two Delta Force snipers - Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon request to be dropped at downed 64 to provide support. These two men know that they will be on their own and they can already see the crowds of Somalis approaching Durant's crash site. Still, they request permission to be inserted. Permission is given.
    On a personal note, I can't stress enough the immense bravery these two men must have had. They could see a crowd numbering in the hundreds approaching Durant's helicopter, and they knew that they would be on their own for an undefined amount of time. Yet the decided to go in anyway.
    The two snipers were inserted by Super 62, flown by CW3 Mike Goffena. Goffena kept his helicopter orbiting 64's crash site, using their miniguns as support for Shughart and Gordon. The two snipers found Mike Durant alive, and removed him from the cockpit of the helicopter. The two snipers and the Black Hawk kept the crowd at bay, until an RPG damaged 62 forcing it to withdraw. Goffena made an emergency landing in the New Port area, but all the crew walked away safely.
    12 minutes later, at 16:54, the Humvee column finds itself back at the Target building it had left nearly 20 minutes ago. The force has over half it's number sporting wounds of one variety or another, with many dead. The decision is made - the convoy was to return to base. Chalk One, the CSAR teams, Super 61, Super 64 and Shughart and Gordon, were on their own.
    At 17:03, a Quick Reaction Force was dispatched from the Ranger HQ. Comprising of Strucker's convoy and a few more vehicles and any rangers left on base - including some cooks, clerks and one Ranger with a broken arm - the convoy's sole aim was to reach Durant's bird and extract everyone there. As soon as it approaches the city, they encounter roadblocks and obstacles. The convoy would continue to attempt a breakthrough for another half an hour, until it too suffered heavy casualties. The QRF was ordered to return to base. Frustrated, Strucker complies.
    By around 17:40, Shughart and Gordon were running out of ammunition. Relying on spare weaponry within Super 64 and their personal sidearms, they continue to fight the Somali crowd. When Gordon was eventually shot and killed, Shughart gave the CAR-15 he was using to Durant. Returning to 64s nose, Shughart held off the crowd for another 10 minutes before he too, was killed. Whipped into a frenzy, the Somali crowd found Durant and nearly beat him to death. Any crew of 64 still alive were killed at this time, except Durant, who was claimed as a prisoner for Aidid. Both Gordon and Schughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honour, highest American award. These were the first awards to be given since Vietnam.
    A member of the 10th Mountain watches the road ahead.
    At Crash Site 1 (Super 61), Chalk One, Delta operators and CSAR are kept in an ongoing firefight with Somali milita. It's around this time that reports of the ineffectiveness of the 5.56mm ammunition they were using appear. In a brief explanation; the ammunition that the Rangers were using was designed to be used against the USSR if the Cold War ever 'went Hot'. It was designed to penetrate body armour. The Somali milita had no body armour, and many were high on a stimulant known as 'Khet'. When these armour-pericing bullets hit a Somali high on Khet, they would pass straight through them. The Somali would be knocked down, but since their bodies were numbed by the drug, would often get back up again and keep fighting. Meanwhile, the equipment the Rangers were wearing meant that they were getting killed and wounded at an alarming rate : the Ranger Body Armour (RBA) they were issued had no back plate and offered no protection to rear shots. As a result of this, many more of the Rangers were getting wounded as the battle dragged on. During one of the many firefights, Corporal Jamie Smith is shot and critically wounded. Repeated requests for a Medevac are denied, since there have now been 6 damaged helicopters, 2 of which have been shot down. At 17:45, both convoys have returned to the Ranger HQ. There are 99 men still trapped in the city around the First Crash.

    A Ranger Humvee on convoy duty. The soldiers are identifiable as Rangers due to the Ranger Body Armour they wear. Note that it is a Woodland pattern, and that it has no rear plate.
    With night fast approaching, the trapped members of Task Force Ranger, headed by Chalk One, begin to run low on supplies. As dusk falls, at 19:08, Super 66 makes a daring re-supply run. It hovers over the crash site, drops water, ammunition and medical supplies to the troops below. It takes numerous shots from militia which severely damage it, and it is forced to break position and RTB. Throughout the night, Somali militia attempt to overrun the trapped Americans. Only their strong defensive positions and the 160th SOAR Little Birds, armed with Rocket Pods and Miniguns are able to hold them back. The 160th SOAR were the only direct support helicopter company equipped for night fighting at this time. At 20:27, Corporal Jamie Smith succumbs to his wounds.
    It became increasingly clear to the commanders of Task Force Ranger that their lightly armed mobile group could not rescue the men trapped in Mogadishu. At 21:00, formal requests for assistance are sent to the other UN forces in Mogadishu. The Rescue Convoy begins organising itself in the New Port area, comprising of the members of TF Ranger not in the city, 2 companies of the 10th Mountain, Pakistani tanks and Malaysian armoured vehicles General Garrison was determined that this convoy would move in force. When it was fully assembled, it consisted of 4 Pakistani M48 Patton tanks and over 90 Malaysian Condor APCs. The entire convoy would stretch to be 2 miles long. Due to a multitude of problems including differing tactics, signals and language barriers, the convoy does not leave New Port until 23:23.
    At first, the Rescue Convoy meets no real resistance. As it approaches the First Crash site however, explosions damage several vehicles and it is delayed. An ensuing battle damages several electrical substations; plunging parts of Mogadishu into a blackout.
    D+1, OCTOBER 4th

    A UN Convoy
    The gunfire continued unabated throughout the night and into the morning of the 4th. Trapped members of TF Ranger were constantly given new updates as to when the convoy would reach them, each time later than previously promised. Finally, at 01:55 - 3 & half hours after leaving - the leading elements of the Rescue Convoy reach 61s crash site. Forming a defensive perimeter, the men of the 10th Mountain give aid to the Rangers and assist the wounded in being mounted into the Condor APCs. A second convoy is split from the first and sent to Durant's crash site. They find it largely deserted, with no signs of any American bodies. Super 64 is destroyed.
    With the arrival of the Rescue Convoy, the militia's eagerness to fight is somewhat blunted, but this does not mean that the battle is over. Firefights continue to rage, with Somalis attacking the armoured convoy as it sat stationary around Super 61. The Convoy is kept waiting as the body of Cliff Wolcott is trapped in the wreckage. It takes a full 2 hours to retrieve him. 
    In the confusion and ensuing gunfire, many more men are wounded. Eventually, at 03:00, the convoy is ready to depart. However, a small group of Rangers and Delta Operators, led by Staff Sergeant John R. Dycus discover there is no room left inside the APCs for them. Unwilling to sit on top, the men instead elect to leave the crash site on foot. A rendezvous point on National Street is decided upon, and the group begin their exfiltration. At 05:30, the convoy leaves, with the men on foot having to run to keep up. The route they take is known as the Mogadishu Mile. Eventually, the convoy and ground troops arrive at the Pakistani base at Mogadishu Stadium at 06:30. The Battle of Mogadishu, or "Day of the Rangers", is over.
    AFTERMATH
    The battle was an unmitigated disaster for Task Force Ranger, showing that lightning raids can easily be subverted by simple tactics from an untrained enemy. It lead to a severe question of policy in the American government. General Garrison took responsibility for the battle's outcome in a Letter to President Clinton, he did state in this letter however, that the Task Force achieved it's objectives that day. On the 6th of October, President Clinton ordered that no military action would be undertaken against Aidid, with the exception of self-defence. Robert B Oakley was appointed as US ambassador to Somalia in an attempt to broker a peace agreement. He then announced all US troops would be withdrawn from Somalia by 31st March, 1994. Task Force Ranger was disbanded and returned to their parent units in the United States. On February 4th, 1994, the UN Security Council passes Resolution 897. This withdrew all UN troops from Somalia by March 6th, 1995.

    US Marines leaving Somalia
    In terms of casualties, the list is numerous. It is unknown how many Somalis were wounded or killed in the fighting, but estimations put the numbers around the 800 killed and 1000 wounded mark. Aidid claimed that 315 were killed and 812 wounded. These numbers are considered spurious at best.
    Pakistan lost 1 soldier, with another 2 wounded. Malaysia lost 1 soldier, Lance Corporal Mat Aznan Awang.
    The United states lost 19 men, with another 73 injured. For respect, I list the dead here.
    Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon, 1st SFOD-D, Awarded Medal of Honour Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart, 1st SFOD-D, Medal of Honour Staff Sergeant Daniel D Busch, 1st SFOD-D, Silver Star Sergeant First Class Earl Robert Fillmore Jr, 1st SFOD-D, Silver Star Master Sergeant Timothy "Griz" Lynn Martin, 1st SFOD-D, Silver Star Sergeant First Class Matthew Loren Rierson, 1st SFOD-D, Silver Star, Bronze Star (Killed on October 6th by stray mortar shell, but officially listed as KIA during the Battle of Mogadishu) Corporal James "Jamie" E Smith, 75th Rangers, Bronze Star with Valour and Oak Leaf Cluster Specialist James M Cavaco, 75th Rangers, Bronze Star with Valour Sergeant James Casey Joyce, 75th Rangers, Bronze Star with Valour Corporal Richard "Alphabet" W Kowalewski Jr, 75th Rangers, Bronze Star with Valour Sergeant Dominick M Pilla, 75th Rangers, Bronze Star with Valour Sergeant Lorenzo M Ruiz, 75th Rangers, Bronze Star with Valour Staff Sergeant William "Wild Bill" David Cleveland Jr, 160th SOAR (Super 64), Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valour Staff Sergeant Thomas "Tommie" J Field, 160th SOAR (Super 64), Silver Star, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valour Chief Warrant Officer Raymond "Ironman" Alex Frank, 160th SOAR (Super 64), Silver Star, Air Medal with Valour Chief Warrant Officer Clifton "Elvis" P Wolcott, 160th SOAR (Super 61), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valour Chief Warrant Officer Donovan "Bull" Lee Briley, 160th SOAR (Super 61), Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valour Sergeant Cornell Lemont Houston Sr, 10th Mountain, Bronze Star with Valour, de Fleury Medal Private First Class James Henry Martin Jr, 10th Mountain The bodies of Super 64s Crew and Gordon and Schughart were recovered after the battle. They had been treated horrifically poorly, with one of the bodies having been decapitated. 11 days after the events, Micheal Durant was returned to the American forces, alive.
    And what happened to Somalia after the UN? Between 1993 and 1995, some Somali ports were re-opened, with an official government being recognised, headed by Ali Mahdi Muhammad. Aidid declared himself president, and was largely ignored. I don't have enough scope in this article to adequately explain Somalia post 1995, but suffice it to say that Aidid's milita, and countless others continued fighting. Adid himself was wounded in a battle against Ali Mahdi Muhammad's forces and those of his previous ally Osman Ali Atto. Aidid died on the 2nd August, 1996. Somalia remains in a state of civil war to this day.
    PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
    Playing a scenario inspired by the 3rd-4th October 1993 offers some fantastic ArmA experiences. Luckily in our modpack, we have just the tools to give a good account. Map wise, use G.O.S. Al Rayak, and the Western City of Al Tabqah. This is a moderately sized city with many close roads and buildings which could be chosen for the Target Building. To the West is a nicely placed Airbase, perfect as a start point for the players.


    I reccomend keeping assets light, too many helicopters means that it's constant gunfire pretty much, and the miniguns do have a tendancy to drop frames if used too much. I'd have the players be US troops with 2 Blackhawks (each with 1 Crew Chief) and an Unarmed Little Bird, which the pilot can swap into an Armed one if you want them to. 
    In terms of enemies, the OPFOR African Militia are purpose built for this sort of scenario.

    If you really want to give the players a good experience (and I would) restrict their gear. Make 1 squad SFOD-D with a uniform of Combat Uniform DCU, vests of MBAV Black, Pro-Tec SF helmets and limit them to Colt Carbines and 1 M14 with a scope, no MGs! For the Rangers, Combat Uniform DCU, PBB M-98 Woodland Vests and Combat Helmet DBDU look pretty good. Limit them to M16A4s and M249s/M60s with no optics! It should give a nice gritty feel if you can keep your balance and pacing right. Give half the platoon some Humvees to extract the whole force, and don't forget to barricade the roads up to make a real maze! 

    If you really want to make things difficult, turn on CSAR and add either add a CSAR bird or have doctors on the ground. Good luck!
     
    FURTHER READING
    If you want to research more into the Battle of Mogadishu, there's plenty out there. Firstly, I can't recommend Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down enough, it is simply phenomenal. Wikipedia has a timeline of the Battle, which is a little lacking in detail but helps get a good feel of what happened when. There's even some footage from the C2 Control Black Hawk that was above the city on the first day. To be honest, there's too much to list. There are so many studies and other things written about Mogadishu that I can't list them all. But one I can recommend is The Battle of Mogadishu by Sgt. Matt Eversmann. It's a collection of accounts from some of the guys on the ground that day, including Eversmann - the leader of Chalk 4.
    Featured

    Gamescom Giveaway Winners

    The winners of the FK GC giveaway have been picked! Congratulations to
    DLC Bundle 2: @BenFromTTG First Place Maps: @ThePointForward Second Place Maps: @Zeusz77 The winners will be contacted by me within 24 hours. The recipients of the lanyards will be contacted later this week once I have figured out the final details for shipping.
    Want to watch the winners get picked? Check back the VOD: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/317139998?t=14m44s
    Don't know what we were giving away? Read the original post: 

    ESM FK Team

    The final Team has been selected, these are the members who shall be representing our community in the upcoming ESM tournament. 
    Thank you for everyone who applied, and we wish the best of luck to our competitors! 
    FK TEAM ROSTER
    Team Manager : @Sarissa
    Team Captain : @Trinoc
    @NeilZar
    @Vericht
    @Netheral
    @Alex
    @andyt90
    @Chefla (Reserve)
    @ThePointForward (Reserve)
    @Tomo(Reserve)
     

    ESM Arma 3 Tournament

    Electronic Sports Masters is an organisation that plans and creates Tournaments for Arma 3 and other games in the Bohemia library. In October, they are hosting an Open Tournament for 8 Teams. We've been invited to take part in this Open Tournament. This was organised between myself and @Trinoc, so you can really thank him for this opportunity! The four matches are taking place on the 13th and 14th of October and we need your help to finish our team. Each team consists of 6 players, and we want 3 reserve players.
    So far, the team consists of :
    Sarissa (Team Manager - Not Playing) Trinoc (Team Leader) Neilzar Vericht OPEN OPEN OPEN RESERVES : 
    OPEN OPEN OPEN If you want to take part, we need to know by the end of this week. The first match takes place at 19:30 CET. 
    Other teams in the Tournament are : 
    Spartan 1-1 Laughable Antagonists United Nations Army Tactical Training Team Bohemia DEV Squad 88th Co. "Walking Death" Team Brrrrt This is how the match-ups look :

    And yes, this does mean our first match will be against the Bohemia Dev Squad!
    I'd like to close this by reminding everyone that this is a friendly Tournament, and our goal here is to introduce ourselves and basically have a good time. So, if you want to take part then please, comment here! We'll look through all the applicants and announce the team on Sunday.

    Gamescom Giveaway

    It has been a few weeks since Gamescom, but we have finally managed to work out the details for the Giveaway of all the extra merch we got. This year we only managed to get stuff from the Bohemia booth, but next year we will try to get more stuff from all booths. Enough about that, what will we actually be giving away?
    THE GIVEAWAY
    There a few different categories you can sign up for in this giveaway, one of which is not really a giveaway. More details about that later but here are the categories:
    DLC Bundle 2
    First off we got a code for DLC Bundle 2, a reward for getting first place in on of the Arma 3 challenges. The Bundle includes the Jets, Laws of War, Tac-Ops Mission Pack and Tanks DLC. The bundle costs 22,99eu on steam, while the individual DLCs cost a total of 34,96eu on steam. This is a great chance to get these DLC and enjoy all the new tanks and Jets you couldn't use in our missions before.
    Arma 3 Maps
    The next category is Arma 3 Maps. It is not in-game maps; it is the actual real-life foldable versions of Tanoa, Malden and Altis. There are two prices in this category:
    First place: 1x Atlis, 1x Tanoa, 1x Malden, 1x Arma 3 Lanyard, 1x Vigor Sticker, 1x FK Patch
    Second place: 1x Tanoa, 1x Malden, 1x Arma 3 Lanyard, 1x Vigor Sticker
    Shipping for this category will be paid for by us. All you'll have to do when you win is provide us with the shipping information.
    Arma 3 Lanyards
    This category is a bit different, as we have a total of 48 Lanyards! Since the shipping for this would be insanely high if it were paid for by us (more than a month worth of donations), we have decided that shipping would be paid for by the recipient. This is a unique opportunity though, as these lanyards are not available online and can only be obtained at events.

    (Ginger not included)
    The first 48 people to register for the Lanyard will receive one, and on top of that, the first ten will also receive a Vigor sticker with it. Shipping for the package will cost 2.80 for international shipping and 1.66 for Dutch national shipping (subject to change). It will be shipped via regular post, and thus will be deposited in your letterbox.
    HOW TO ENTER
    Giveaway closed!
    TERMS AND CONDITIONS
    The person entering the giveaway or signing up for a Lanyard will be referred to in these terms and conditions as "you". The organiser and the rest of the CM and Admin team will be referred to as "we" or "us".
    You were born before 01/10/2002 and have been a member of the community since before August first (01/08/2018). You accept that we publicly announce your name when you win either the Arma 3 Maps or the DLC Bundle 2. If you win the DLC Bundle 2 prize, you are not entered in the Arma 3 Maps giveaway. When signing up for the Lanyard, you accept to pay for shipping the items. Prices for shipping are subject to change dependent on the weight of the package. You accept to share your personal details with us when winning one of the two giveaways or signing up for a Lanyard. Signing up multiple times or entering false information will disqualify you from the giveaway. We are not allowed to enter into the giveaway. Entries will close on Sunday, September 30th at 23:59 UK Local Time (30/09/2018 22:59 UTC). Winners will be announced before Sunday, October 7th at 23:59 UK Local Time (07/10/2018 22:59 UTC).

    Military History - Battle of 73 Easting, Gulf War, 26-27th Feburary, 1991

    BACKGROUND

    In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein - the President of Iraq - launched an operation against the small neighbouring nation of Kuwait. Hussein's Iraqi Republican Guard overran the Kuwaiti positions within 2 days. Some of the Kuwait Armed Forces found sanctuary in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. International response was against Iraq, with condemnations being raised and economic sanctions were raised against the nation. The United States, with the backing of the United Nations Security Council, sent US Forces to Saudi Arabia to protect the country from any Iraqi provocation. A coalition of nations was soon formed, featuring forces from several countries. The nations organised their forces into 4 Command Centres.
    Army Central Command - Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States Marine Central Command - United States Joint Forces Command East - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Poland, Czechoslovakia Joint Forces Command North - United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy, Australia, Japan, Turkey As coalition forces arrived, they began Operation Desert Shield. This operation would continue for nearly 7 months while Iraq occupied Kuwait.

    On the 17th Janurary, 1991, the coalition launched Operation Desert Storm - a prolonged aerial and naval bombardment of Iraqi held Kuwait and southern Iraqi territories, followed by a ground assault. The bombardment lasted for 5 weeks, with over 100,000 sorties dropping 88,500 tons of munitions on military targets.
    Iraq's response was to launch SCUD missiles at Coalition forces, and also at Israel.
    Coalition forces responded on the 15th February by crossing the Saudi Arabian border with Task Force 1-41 Infantry, a US Heavy Battalion from the 2nd Armoured Division (Forward) - the spearhead of VII Corps.
    To mark the progress of the Coalition advance, several Phase Lines were drawn along north-south UTM lines. 73 Easting was one of these Phase Lines. It was a large, featureless desert.
    ORDER OF BATTLE
    The main US unit leading the battle of 73 Easting was the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment (2ACR).
    2ACR was comprised as follows

    1st, 2nd and 3rd Squadrons consisted of 3 Cavalry Troops, a Tank Company, an Artillery Battery and a Headquarters Troop.
    Each Troop consisted of 120 soldiers, 12 M3 Bradley IFVs (13 in the HQ Troop) and 9 M1A1 Abrams.
    This means that each Squadron consisted of 360 soldiers, 36 M3 Bradleys and 27 M1 Abrams.
    4th Squadron was an attack helicopter squadron. 
    In total, the 2ACR deployed to Desert Storm with 1080 Soldiers, 108 Bradleys and 81 Abrams in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Squadrons alone.
    Troops were organised in Alphabetical call-signs along the entire Regiment.
    Due to the nature of post Hussein rule in Iraq, a lot of military documents went missing or were doctored. As such, there is no clear indication of how many Iraqi troops were present during the battle, but elements of the following units were confirmed to be involved in the primary battle.
    18th Mechanised Brigade (c. 2500-3000 troops) 37th Armoured Brigade, Tawakalna Division (c. 2500-3000 troops) THE PLAN

    2ACRs plan was to cross the Saudi Arabian border as VII Corps leading unit. They were to cut off the Iraqi route of retreat and to locate and destroy 5 Republican Guard divisions which were a threat to the Arab/USMC units assaulting from the South.
    FIRST CONTACT

    On the morning of the 26th, 2ACRs forward scouts located the Tawakalna Division, lined North to South facing the ACRs route of advance. All Iraqi units were observed to have well constructed defensive positions, complete with alternative positions already dug. The 2ACR called in aerial and artillery bombardments on the Iraqi positions, but despite extensive shelling, the Iraqi defences remained effective. After this bombardment, 2ACR pushed forward and engaged the Iraqi units. by 9AM, all 3 Squadrons were in contact. Their air cover was forced to retire however, due to a violent sandstorm. The ground fighting continued, and despite poor visibility the 2ACR continued their advance. After 3 hours of fighting, 2ACR reported the destruction of 12 T-55 tanks, 25 APCs, 6 Artillery pieces and an unknown number of trucks. The Iraqi troops withdrew to the East.
    73 EASTING

    73 Easting generally refers to an armoured combat action while 2ACR was covering the North of VII Corps area of operations. The 2ACR was faced by the Tawakalna Division's 18th and 9th Brigades, who had squared up against Troops E (Eagle), G (Ghost) and I (Iron); with troop K (Killer) support I.
    As the 2ACR continued their screening advance North as they encountered fresh Iraqi positions along the IPSA Pipeline Road - the Iraqi MSR. The Troops skirmished with Iraqi units until 3:45 pm, when E Troop (callsign EAGLE) manouvered around the 70th Easting. Iraqi Tanks opened fire on E Troop who returned fire at range. Long range engagements continued on in this fashion. I Troop raced in from the South to reinforce E troop, while G Troop attempted a flanking manoeuvre on the Iraqi defences. They got caught in another defensive position to the East at 4:45, and were stuck in an ongoing engagement with Iraqi troop for the rest of the day.
    At 4:10pm, Eagle Troop was engaged by Iraqi infantry who were holding a cluster of buildings. The Iraqi troops were acting as a delaying force so another armoured unit could engage E Troop. Within 23 minutes, E Troop's 9 M1A1s destroyed 28 Iraqi Tanks and 16 APCs with no losses on the American side. Following this, E Troop crested a hill and emerged in the middle of an Iraqi Tank Company that was setting up defensive positions on the reverse side of the hill. The sudden appearance of the American vehicles surprised the Iraqi tank crews, and swift action destroyed several vehicles and forced the remainder to flee.

    3km to the East, 2ACR spotted T-72s in prepared defensive positions. They continued their advance onto these T-72s. They manoeuvred up onto high ground to engage the tanks - 18 T-72s were destroyed. 
    With visibility diminishing, and still no contact with G Troop, 2 Bradleys were sent out as a scouting force to locate the missing friendlies.
    The scouts encountered another force of 13 T-72s, and despite being without armoured support, the engaged the Tanks. Despite 1 misfire and reloading the launchers under fire, the 2 Bradleys killed 5 tanks before help arrived in the form of I Troop ("Iron"), K Troop ("Killer") and G Troop ("Ghost").
    The assault continued, with I troop taking the lead. Leading with their Abrams, 16 enemy tanks were destroyed. Occupying the now abandoned Iraqi defensive positions, I troop spotted another formation of enemy tanks moving towards them. The Bradleys were brought forward and engaged the hostile tanks with TOW missiles.
    During the firefight, a misfire from K Troop made a TOW missile hit one of I Troop's Bradleys. The 3 Crewmen within were wounded - fortunately the infantry had already dismounted.
    THE DEADLOCK
    By 4:40, 2ACR was setting itself up in fresh defensive positions along ridgelines watching from the North to the South. G Troop was positioned as the Northernmost Unit, they kept eyes on a wadi - a broken water feature with bulrushes and other line of sight breaking terrain. A few Iraqi tanks engaged G Troop from defensive positions but where swiftly dealt with. Suddenly, additional Iraqi tanks from the Tawakalna and 12th Divisions began pushing against G Troop's position in a concentrated counter-attack. Supporting fire was given by retreating Iraqi units who were using the wadi as a means of retreat.

    By 6:30, several waves of T-72s and T-55s were attacking the Troop, providing overwatching fire as infantry charged their positions. The situation forced 2ACR's commander to call in massed mortar, artillery and helicopter attacks to prevent G Troop from being overrun. The fighting was so intense that the Military Intelligence Platoon from the HQ Troop was forced to suspend their signal interception and man defensive positions.
    The engagement lasted for 6 hours, with G troop constantly firing it's own mortars and the Troop Support Team calling in 720 howitzer and MLRS rounds. By 9pm, G Troop was running short on ammunition - severe shortages of 25mm and 120mm ammo, and half of their TOW missiles having been expended. H Troop dispatched it's Abrams Tank Company to intervene. By this point G Troop had destroyed "at least two companies of Iraqi armour and hundreds of infantrymen".
    One of G Troop's M3 Bradleys was lost. The TOW launcher was inoperative, and the 25mm chaingun jammed as a BMP-1 - thought to be disabled - fired it's main gun directly into the Bradley's turret. Sergent Nels A. Moller, the gunner, was killed.
    Artillery fire was directed to the 78th Easting, planned to prevent Iraqi retreats and further forces from assaulting G Troop. An after action report from the Regimental Fire Support Officer reported that 1,382 rounds of 155mm howitzer ammunition and 147 MLRS rockets were fired at positions on the 78th Easting. Estimated kills were placed at 17 Tanks, 7 APCs, 6 Artillery pieces, 70 soft-skinned vehicles and an unknown number of infantry.

    After 10pm, major engagements ceased. Co-ordinated artillery fire and the skilled training of G Troop ensured their survival.  Iraqi Units continued to sporadically engage G Troop positions until the arrival of the 1st Infantry Division to bolster 2ACR's position. With the arrival of 1ID, the 2ACR became a Corps Reserve. 1ID continued onwards and secured 73 Easting. The commendations for the victory over the Battle for 73 Easting was given almost entirely to 2ACR.
    AFTERMATH

    The 2nd and 3rd Squadrons of the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment had destroyed 2 brigades of the Iraqi Republican Guard. 2 Squadron alone confirmed 55 destroyed tanks, 45 AFVs and 865 prisoners; while the rest of the Regiment captured 2000 prisoners, destroyed 159 tanks and 260 other vehicles.
    The battle of 73 Easting opened the way for the remainder of VII Corps to advance to the Battle of Norfolk - a massed armoured engagement which marked the end of combat operations in the North of Kuwait. It was a vital engagement, and the only large engagement of the war in which American Troops found themselves outnumbered and outgunned.

    PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE : 
    When zeusing the battle of 73 Easting, there's a few tips I can give for playing the American side. Firstly, use Diyala as your map, with your players starting in the South-Eastern corner. The bridges, Airfield and towns between them make for good objectives with a mix of open country and closed areas for your infantry to fight in.

    Asset wise, really let your players go wild. 3 M1A1SA Abrams Tanks and put your squads in M2A3 Bradleys. With 3 members of the Squad serving as the crew, you still have enough space to transport the remaining infantry.

    When setting up the enemy, use Takistani Armed Forces. T-55s and T-72s are good to face the players with, following up with Mechanised Infantry in BMP-1s. I'd set some T-55s up in defensive positions near the bridges to give them a little longevity and added protection against the powerful Abrams guns.

    For further reading, The Strategy Bridge did a report on Eagle Troop's actions during the battle, it's worth a read. Hope you enjoyed this month's article!
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