Battle of Mogadishu

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Battle of Mogadishu
Black Hawk helicopter (Super64) over Mogadishu
Black Hawk helicopter ( Super64 ) over Mogadishu
date October 3. bis 4. October 1993
place Mogadishu , Somalia
output The goals of the US troops were achieved, but with unexpectedly high losses
consequences Withdrawal of US and UN troops from Somalia
Parties to the conflict

Somali National Alliance

United StatesUnited States United States
US Army Rangers
Delta Force
24th Special Tactics Squadron ( Air Force )
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)
10th Mountain Division United Nations
United NationsU.N. 


Mohammed Farah Aidid

William F. Garrison

Troop strength
approx. 2000 160 US soldiers

Facts unclear, an estimated 1,000 dead

19 killed in action
(18 US soldiers,
1 UN soldier from Malaysia )
93 wounded

The Battle of Mogadishu was a military conflict between US soldiers and members of a UN - mission with peacekeeping forces from Malaysia and Pakistan on the one hand and Somali militiamen on the other hand in the Somali civil war . It took place on October 3 and 4, 1993 in the city of Mogadishu and was the US military's most loss-making combat mission since the Vietnam War . The death of 18 US soldiers led to a fundamental change in the intervention policy of the US government Bill Clinton to the maxim “No Dead!”. The battle is also known in the western world as Operation Irene (the start code) or as the Battle of the Black Sea (after the Mogadishus district, where it largely took place). The operation name was Gothic Serpent .


The UN mission

On April 1, 1992, the UN mission UNOSOM I began , which was supposed to secure the food supply for the population in Somalia and to bring an end to the civil war. Later around 500 Pakistani blue helmet soldiers were stationed there. While some successes were achieved in terms of supplies despite repeated attacks and theft of aid supplies, the 50 UNOSOM observers failed to reach a peace agreement.

From August 1992 the US military took part in the UN mission: military aircraft brought relief supplies to the country and to the refugee camps in northern Kenya . A small team began preparing a military operation to protect the distribution of aid and bring an end to the civil war. Also in August the UN force in the country was increased by 3500 men.

Operation Restore Hope

US soldiers during a mission in northern Mogadishu, January 1993
Air Combat Element of the US Marine Forces Somalia at Mogadishu Airport, February 1993

At the same time, the security situation deteriorated rapidly. The food deliveries were plundered again and again, and in November gunmen shot at a ship loaded with relief supplies, which then turned off. The existing famine was growing in magnitude. Not least because of the drastic images of Somalia in the media, the UN Security Council passed a resolution in December 1992 on the establishment of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) under US leadership. It was supposed to restore public order in southern Somalia so that aid could be distributed. The military operation was named Operation Restore Hope.

The Tripoli Amphibious Task Unit , whose soldiers were on the way to a maneuver in the Persian Gulf, was appointed to spearhead the operation . In the early morning of December 9, 1992, 44 members of the US Navy Marines and Navy SEALs landed on the coast near the port and the airport of Mogadishu .

By March 1993, the soldiers and various diplomats managed to contain the fighting in Somalia and set up a functioning system for distributing food, largely without the use of force. At the same time, the troops began to set up a base in Mogadishu, agreed with the numerous aid organizations that began their work, and assigned the remaining parts of the international blue helmet contingent.

In March 1993 the US troops considered their task to be over. However, at the urging of the UN, the operation was extended.

Operation Continue Hope

Areas of responsibility of the lead nations of UNOSOM II (1993)
A UH-1N over Mogadishu during Operation Continue Hope

UNOSOM II was adopted by the UN Security Council in March 1993. The operation, known as Operation Continue Hope , was intended to continue UNOSOM I with expanded tasks. In addition to supporting humanitarian aid, political structures in Somalia were to be rebuilt and the entire country pacified, including northern Somalia ( Somaliland ), which had declared itself independent in May 1991. In addition to 3,000 soldiers for the actual UN mission, the United States provided a quick reaction force (QRF) of 800 men. The latter consisted of a light infantry - battalion and two helicopter battalions of the 10th US Mountain Division together.

After the beginning of UNOSOM II, the first weaknesses were criticized. The troop strength was considered too small to maintain order in the entire country in the long term. In addition, the coordination between the different nationalities involved worked poorly. Attempts to negotiate with the parties to the civil war also met with little success from the start. In May 1993, through the mediation of the most important clan leader, Mohammed Farah Aidid, UN representatives and leaders of civil war militias met to negotiate a ceasefire. When no agreement was reached, around 200 representatives of clans met on June 4 to conclude their own armistice. As part of this agreement, they terminated their cooperation with the UN, which then declared the ceasefire invalid. The next day, Pakistani blue helmets wanted to inspect a building used by Aidids SNA militia, which housed an arms store and a radio station. AIDS troops then opened fire on the soldiers, killing 24 Pakistanis. Following a UN resolution condemning the actions of the militias and demanding the arrest of the guilty party, UN troops carried out an air strike against Aidid's headquarters in mid-June.

The clashes between US troops and Somalis intensified after attack helicopters fired at an alleged gathering of Aidid fighters on July 12, 1993, believing that Aidid was among them ("Operation Michigan"). 50 people are said to have been killed. It was presumed that these were peace negotiations by clan elders. There was no confirmation of this because journalists (including Dan Eldon) were killed on the spot by Somalis.

Course of the battle

the initial situation

The “green line”, street in Mogadishu and dividing line between north and south

The main burden of the manhunt for Aidid rested initially on the rapid reaction force of the 10th US Mountain Division (10th Mountain Division) under the command of General Thomas Montgomery. The commanders on site requested armored support from the US Department of Defense, but this was refused. For this purpose, a task force (TF) consisting of members of the Delta Force and US Army Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment under the command of General William F. Garrison was relocated to Mogadishu at the end of August . The Task Force Ranger (TFR) should relieve the rapid reaction force in the hunt for Aidid.

The CIA also took part in the gathering of information about AIDS’s stay with agents from the Special Activities Division already in the country , but was unable to provide any useful results. The TFR carried out several operations to catch AIDS.

At the same time as the hunt, the UN command was negotiating with Aidid to enable a ceasefire under UN conditions. Attacks on UN troops and rapid reaction forces increased over the same period. Among other things, this represented a reaction by AIDS and his SNA militia to the TFR operations, which did not meet him personally, but led to the arrest of several of his confidants. At the same time there were disintegration phenomena within the UN contingent. Various states withdrew their soldiers or refused to support the search for Aidid.

Finally, on October 3, 1993, American troops were deployed to capture AIDS.

The plan

It was planned that members of the American special unit Delta Force should arrest important Aidids advisers or the clan chief himself in the early afternoon. The wanted were supposed to meet for talks at 3 p.m. in a building near the Hotel Olympic in the Bakara district in Mogadishu. This building would be stormed by Delta Force men, who were to be dropped off from MH-6 Little Bird helicopters directly at and on top of the building at 3:45 p.m. At 3:46 p.m., Rangers from MH-60 Black Hawks would abseil themselves and secure the four corner points of the building to prevent enemy militias from entering or those inside the building from escaping. After the arrest, a convoy consisting of Humvees and 5-ton trucks was supposed to pick up all soldiers and the prisoners and bring them to the US base. The calculated duration of the operation was a maximum of two hours.

The history

Rangers near the target building
Overview history

At 3:40 p.m., the TFR began to approach the target. At first, the operation went as planned. But it soon turned out that the SNA militia reacted much faster this time than in previous missions by the task force. Shortly after the action began, the first rangers were wounded. Nevertheless, the arrested persons and part of the TFR (parts of the 4th train, "Chalk 4") were loaded into the vehicle convoy. On the way back the resistance of the militia increased significantly. This destroyed two US vehicles using bazookas .

Shortly afterwards, a MH-60 "Black Hawk" - helicopter (nickname: Super Six One), who flew over the battlefield, from the anti-tank grenade of an RPG hit. The helicopter with a crew of seven then crashed just under 300 meters from the target building. A helicopter rescue team and the ground troops that had not yet been collected were sent there immediately. The crew of a Hughes MH-6 ' Little Bird' attack helicopter (nickname: Star Four-One) that landed at the crash site recovered two lightly wounded people and flew them out. Another helicopter dropped a CSAR team from the TFR, but was shot at itself and had to return to the base damaged. The rescue team was stranded on the helicopter wreck and was attacked by a rapidly expanding crowd of SNA militiamen and armed civilians, including women and children. While the rescue team fought against the attackers, the vehicle convoy tried to break through to the crash site. However, the soldiers found it difficult to orient themselves in the streets of Mogadishu, were inaccurately directed from the air, were under constant fire and were unable to break through the roadblocks without armored vehicles and heavy weapons. When the futility of their attempts became apparent, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel McKnight, commanding officer of the motorcade, decided to return to base to regroup and regroup. The convoy had meanwhile had so many wounded and dead that the stay at the crash site would have done more harm than good, according to McKnight's assessment.

At the same time, around 5 p.m., another Black Hawk (Super Six-Four) was shot down. It hit about a kilometer from the original location of the TFR. In the meantime, Garrison assembled a provisional group of staff and light infantrymen of the rapid reaction force at headquarters, which were sent into the city in lightly armored vehicles. This attempt failed because almost all streets in and out of the city were blocked by barriers. The soldiers came under massive fire and could not find a way around the blockades. Shortly after the crash, a new attempt at air rescue was started over the second crash site. A Black Hawk dropped two members of the Delta Force, but was struck in the air by an RPG and had difficulty crash-landing near the airport. The two deposed snipers, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart , tried to defend the wreck, but were overrun and killed by an overwhelming Somalis, as was almost the entire crew of Super Six-Four. Both soldiers were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor . Their bodies were dragged through the streets. The corresponding pictures went around the world. Only one crew member survived the battle: Michael J. Durant , the pilot. He spent 11 days in Somali captivity before being released.

When it got dark, 99 TFR soldiers were still in Mogadishu. They holed up near the first helicopter crash site and defended themselves against attacks by the Somalis. It was only at this point that General Garrison turned to the Pakistani and Malaysian blue helmet troops and asked for help. Succeeded in a convoy of four Pakistani 23:30 M48 - battle tanks , 28 Malaysian armored transporters , two light US infantry companies of the 10th Mountain Division US set in motion and 50 TFR members. For around two and a half hours, the association fought its way through Mogadishu in the dark and under fire. The exact location of the cut rangers was unknown, so the rescue convoy split into two parts, each of which fought its way to one of the two helicopter crash sites. At Super Six-One the encounter with the entrenched rangers was successful. The second squad found no more survivors at Super Six-Four.

The last members of the Delta Force, who secured the recovery of the bodies at the first crash site and could no longer find space in the convoy's vehicles, were supposed to advance to the base of the Pakistani UN troops next to the convoy's armored vehicles. Due to the constant bombardment, the vehicles had to drive faster in order not to be an easy target. As approx. a mile before the Pakistani base, the deltas were no longer covered by the armored vehicles, they had to fight their way to the base and were assisted by "Little Bird" helicopters. In this battle, later known as the Mogadishu Mile, the Aidid militias suffered heavy losses again.

Although the reunification of the two parts of the tank contingent did not succeed, all vehicles and those rescued were able to retreat to the Pakistani base.

Troop composition of the US and UN troops

Bravo Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion
  • Task Force Ranger, including:
    • C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta - also known as "Delta Force"
    • Bravo Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
    • 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment with MH-6J and AH-6 "Little Birds" and MH-60 A / L Black Hawks
    • 24th Special Tactics Squadron
    • Navy SEALs
    • CVN-72 USS Abraham Lincoln & Carrier Air Wing Sept.
  • Task Force 10. Mountain Department, including:
    • 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
    • 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment,
    • 3rd Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment
    • 15th Battalion, Frontier Force Regiment, Pakistan Army
    • 19th Lancers of the Pakistan Army
    • 10th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistani Army.
    • Included with the TF was the 977 MP Co.
  • UN troops
    • 19th Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment of the Malaysian Army
    • 11th regiment, Grup Gerak Khas
    • 7th Battalion, Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistani Army

Troop increase

Troop increase and change of strategy

At a meeting of the National Security Council in the White House on October 6, 1993 , it was decided that all operations against Aidids militia should be suspended and that the US troops should only protect themselves. As a result of the terrifying television images and the increasing rejection of the mission in the USA, heavy equipment was relocated to Mogadishu to protect the US troops there. During December 1993, 1,300 soldiers of the 24th Infantry Division were transferred to Somalia. In addition, 16 M-1 were Abraham and 44 Bradley - armored vehicles , as well as 2 McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 laid combat aircraft in Mogadischu.


A total of 18 US soldiers, a Malaysian and an unclear number of Somalis, which is estimated at up to 1,000, died in the twelve-hour firefight. 84 Americans (around two thirds of the ground forces deployed), seven Malaysians and two Pakistanis were wounded. Another US soldier was killed in an attack two days later, which is why many sources put the number of US casualties at 19.

In particular, the television images of US soldiers killed and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu led to a change in public opinion in the USA about the engagement in Somalia . It was only after this battle that the US government decided to send armored personnel carriers, tanks and AC-130H gunship planes to Somalia. On the other hand, on October 6, US President Bill Clinton prohibited all further military operations against Aidid in Somalia and announced that all US soldiers should be withdrawn from the country by the end of March 1994. At the same time, the former Ambassador Robert B. Oakley was sent as a special envoy to Somalia to politically bring about an end to the civil war. On December 15, 1993, Defense Minister Les Aspin announced his resignation for "personal reasons". However, the events in Mogadishu are believed to be the actual reason. The resignation took effect on February 4, 1994.

On March 25, 1994, almost all US soldiers were withdrawn from Somalia. A small contingent of marines was left on ships off the coast to evacuate 1,000 US civilians in the country if necessary. UNOSOM II ended without success on March 31, 1995, after the remaining UN forces completely lost control of Mogadishu. The last remaining US troops were withdrawn on this date.

The loss-making battles of Mogadishu had a lasting influence on US politics, which led to the USA being reluctant to participate in blue helmet operations in the following years. Among other things, they are considered a reason for not intervening during the genocide in Rwanda in April 1994 and in NATO's strategy, which was based almost exclusively on air strikes, during the Yugoslav wars .

In addition, the withdrawal from Somalia as a consequence of the battle dampened belief in an inevitable “ end of history ” ( Francis Fukuyama , “The End of History and the Last Man”, 1992). Western societies, especially the United States , was the strategic complexity and the risk of democratization and the so-called nation building shows after this belief previously by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the success of the multilateral run second Gulf War had been fed.

When Garrison learned of Aidid's death from a gunshot wound on August 2, 1996, he publicly announced his resignation.

Director Ridley Scott's war film Black Hawk Down is based on the events of October 3, 1993.

In Somalia, that day is known as Maalintii Rangers (" Rangers Day ").

Links to Al Qaeda

The terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden , is said to have been involved in the training and financing of AIDS fighters. During an interview on his book Holy War, Inc., the CCN reporter Peter Bergen interviewed bin Laden, who confirmed these allegations. According to Bergen, bin Laden alleged that AIDS fighters worked closely with his terrorist organization. These fighters are said to have been involved in the killing and then humiliation of the fallen US soldiers during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 . An al-Qaida military chief and another terrorist are said to have been involved in the shooting down of a Blackhawk . In addition, the Al-Qaeda terrorists are said to have trained Aidids fighters in how to use bazookas. Bin Laden also denounced the withdrawal of US troops from Somalia .

2013: Task Force soldiers return

In August 2013, two former Task Force Ranger soldiers returned to Mogadishu with a camera team. Under the protection of Somali security guards, the camera team shot a short film called: Return to Mogadishu: Remembering Black Hawk Down . This short film was released in October 2013 on the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu.

Known losses of the two warring parties

The exact losses on the Somali side are unknown. It is estimated that 700–1000 killed and 3000–4000 injured Somali militiamen and combatants. The Red Cross also estimates that around 200 Somali civilians died and around 700 Somali civilians were injured in the battle. In the book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War the Somali casualties are put at 700 killed and about 1000 injured.

The Pentagon assumed five dead American soldiers on the first day after the battle, but had to correct the casualty figures to 18 dead and 73 injured the following day.

Two days after the battle there was a mortar attack by Aidids militia on the accommodations of the Task Force Ranger. Sergeant First Class Matt Rieseron died in this attack.

List of American fallen
rank Surname Age place Awards
Delta Force soldiers
Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon 33 Died defending the Black Hawk "Super Six One" Medal of Honor, Purple Heart
Sergeant first class Randy Shughart 35 Died defending the Black Hawk "Super Six One" Medal of Honor, Purple Heart
Staff sergeant Daniel Darrell Busch 25th Sniper who died defending the Super Six One crew Silver Star, Purple Heart
Sergeant first class Carl Robert Fillmore, Jr. 28 Died defending the first crash site Silver Star, Purple Heart
Master Sergeant Timothy Lynn Martin 38 Seriously wounded in the first convoy, died in a field hospital in Germany Silver Star, Purple Heart
Sergeant first class Matthew Loren Rierson 33 Died in a mortar attack two days after the battle Silver Star, Purple Heart
Soldiers of the Ranger Regiment
Corporal James "Jamie" E. Smith 21st Died defending the first crash site Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart
Specialist James M. Cavaco 26th Died while the first convoy withdrew to base Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart
sergeant James Casey Joyce 24 Died in an ambush while retreating to base Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart
Corporal Richard "Alphabet" W. Kowalewski, Jr. 20th Died in fire from an RPG-7 Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart
sergeant Dominick M. Pilla 21st Died in the second convoy Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart
Soldiers and crew members of the Night Stalker
Staff sergeant SSG William "Wild Bill" David Cleveland, Jr. 34 Team leader of the Black Hawk Super Six Four, died in the crash Silver Star,

Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Hear

Staff sergeant SSG Thomas "Tommie" J. Field 25th Vice Team Leader of the Black Hawk Super Six Four Silver Star,

Bronze star

Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart

Chief Warrant Officer Raymond "Ironman" Alex Frank 45 Co-pilot of the Black Hawk "Super Six Four", died in the crash Silver Star,

Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart

Chief Warrant Officer Clifton "Elvis" P. Wolcott 36 Black Hawk "Super Six One" pilot died in the crash Distinguished Flying Cross,

Bronze star,

Air Medal with Valor Device, Purple Heart

Return of the wreck of the Black Hawk "Super Six One"

In August 2013, the remaining parts of the Black Hawk "Super Six One" were returned to the USA. The rotor and other parts of the helicopter are on display at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum at Fort Bragg


In researching the causes of the disastrous course of the operation, US military circles have identified a number of reasons. According to this, no guidelines existed in 1993 for the action of US troops in an operation that pursues both peacekeeping and military goals. In addition, the objective was not clearly defined and changed several times in the course of the mission.

At the tactical level, it is criticized that Garrison allowed himself to be carried away in a personal hunt for Aidid, although there was no reliable intelligence service information about his whereabouts. In addition to the poor information situation, the predictability of the American approach is the main reason for the failure. The US forces had carried out several missions according to the same pattern, in which the only variation was between entering or leaving the combat zone by convoy or helicopter and a combination of both. This enabled the SNA militia to adapt to their opponents and to defeat the actually superior US troops. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the failed mission took place in the heart of the SNA controlled area. In addition, the command structures hindered its use. The coordination between the individual command levels, the TFR, the QRF and the high command in the USA worked too slowly. The observation helicopter could z. For reasons of confidentiality, for example, you did not request data directly from the reconnaissance aircraft, but always had to obtain approval from the staff.

Furthermore, several operational errors are criticized. The heavily armed AC-130H Specter aircraft had only recently been withdrawn at the instigation of General Montgomery. This disarmament was intended to induce Aidid to negotiate. On October 3, the machines that could have given the ground troops effective fire protection from the air were missing. The same applies to armored vehicles requested by Montgomery but rejected by Defense Secretary Les Aspin . In Washington, disproportionate civilian casualties were feared if tanks were used.

Garrison himself is responsible for the fact that the ground troops were inadequately equipped. They had hardly any heavy weapons such as grenade launchers or tear gas that could have been used sensibly against the attacking Somalis. In addition, the Rangers were allowed to wear only part of their ceramic armor , which increased their mobility, but may have cost several lives. Since the planning of the operation was based on a maximum duration of two hours, many soldiers carried correspondingly little ammunition and drinking water and no night vision devices with them.

After all, not only was the operation itself ineffective, but most of the rescue attempts were ineffective, especially the attempt to break into the streets of Mogadishu in a light convoy of vehicles or the dropping of just two members of the Delta Force to secure a downed helicopter. Contact was made too late with the rest of the UN troops, which had heavier weapons and armored vehicles. Because it was not assumed to be dependent on their help, but also for reasons of confidentiality, they were not informed. Therefore, they were not prepared for relief efforts. In addition, language barriers made the multinational rescue operation difficult.


  • Mark Bowden : Black Hawk Down. No man is left behind . Heyne, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-453-86831-1 , p. 575 .
  • Clifford E. Day: Critical Analysis on the Defeat of Task Force Ranger . 1997, ISBN 978-1-249-84225-5 , pp. 50 (English, PDF document [accessed March 6, 2009] Thesis by a student at Air Command and Staff College).
  • Mathias Weber: The UN mission in Somalia: The problem of a "humanitarian intervention" . MW Verlag, Denzlingen 1997, ISBN 978-3-9805387-0-1 , p. 156 .

Web links

Commons : Battle of Mogadishu  - album containing pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The Army Mission , NGC TV documentary from the Countdown to Catastrophe series (Season 6), Nov. 2012.
  2. Andrea Böhm: Meat for Mogadishu. In: The time . December 1, 2011, accessed October 3, 2013 .
  3. a b Details of US Raid in Somalia: Success So Near, a Loss So Deep. The New York Times, October 25, 1993, accessed December 8, 2019 .
  4. ^ Mogadishu Mile: Remembering The Battle of Mogadishu. In: GallantFew. July 11, 2017, accessed March 22, 2020 (American English).
  5. ^ Battle of Mogadishu; Summary; Background; Order of Battle; Engagement; Aftermath. Retrieved January 29, 2020 .
  6. 20 years after Black Hawk Down, a 'Return to Mogadishu'. Retrieved June 20, 2020 .
  7. Synopsis | Ambush in Mogadishu | FRONTLINE | PBS. Retrieved June 20, 2020 .
  8. ^ Battle of Mogadishu (1993) - Black Hawk Down. Retrieved June 20, 2020 (American English).
  9. Ambush In Mogadishu | PBS - FRONTLINE | PBS. Retrieved June 20, 2020 .
  10. Keith B. Richburg: Somalia battele. In: Washington Post. Washington Post, August 5, 1993, accessed June 20, 2020 .
  11. ^ Todd South: The Battle of Mogadishu 25 years later: How the fateful fight changed combat operations. October 3, 2018, Retrieved September 9, 2019 (American English).

Coordinates: 2 ° 3 ′ 9.1 ″  N , 45 ° 19 ′ 28.6 ″  E