TAKUR GHAR - Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda (2023)


When dawn cast faint shadows across the courtyard of Gardez's safe house on March 3, the AFO headquarters staff went to sleep for the first time in over two days. They woke up two hours later to be greeted by a sea of ​​new faces. While the AFO men slept, a large number of Task Force Blue agents arrived by road and helicopter. The newcomers included two SEAL teams codenamed Mako 30 and Mako 21, a Gray Fox operator named Thor, and a TF Blue officer named Lieutenant Commander Vic Hyder, who was in command of all of them.

Hyder's selection to command and control SEAL elements at Gardez was an odd decision by Captain Joe Kernan, commander of Task Force Blue. Hyder has already been involved in two incidents where many people believed he had shown extremely poor judgment. On New Year's Eve, he was the oldest man in a group of SEALs who, according to a TF 11 officer, "disobeyed orders" by taking an armored van owned by TF Bowie and driving along the Bagram-Jalalabad highway. Hyder described. as a "land familiarization" reconnaissance excursion. The TF 11 official said that it could also be called a "joyride". Against the advice of others in the vehicle, Hyder, who had not been in the country for a long time, steered the driver through some checkpoints controlled by Afghan militiamen allied with US forces. When they tried the trick a third time, the militiamen fired at them. The SEALs must have thought they were safe in their armored pod, but a bullet pierced the rubber seal between the bulletproof glass and armor in the rear of the SUV, penetrating the backseat and driver's seat before landing. He wasn't seriously hurt, but he had to stop. SEALs traveled with their rifles stowed in the back of the vehicle instead of in their bodies. Instead of defending themselves against their attackers, they meekly surrendered to the tribesmen, who took what they wanted from the vehicle. (The joke about the rest of TF 11 was that the episode resembled the scene from the moviestripesin which Bill Murray's hapless American troops surrender their weapons to the Czech police). The only long-distance communication system the SEALs had was an Iridium satellite phone. But they failed to bring TF Blue OCD number in Bagram. Hyder had no choice but to call SEAL Team 6's headquarters in Dam Neck, Virginia and ask them to seek Bagram's help. Getting the SEALs out of this situation would normally be a task for the Rangers' quick reaction force. But Hyder chose the same afternoon when one squadron of Rangers left Bagram and another arrived, and equipment for both elements was being palletized when the call for help was made. In the end, a British force stationed at Bagram sent one of their helicopters to remove the SEAL chestnuts from the fire. The SUV episode reflected Hyder's "poor judgment" and alerted JSOC commander Dell Dailey to a possible problem with the SEALs' commanding officer, according to a senior Army official. But other than being "advised" by his chain of command, no further action was taken against Hyder.

The second of what became known at Joint Special Operations Command as "Vic Hyder's three strikes" took place on a dark night in Afghanistan as he led TF Blue troops on a mission that turned out to be a "dry hole". As they waited, hidden in the dark, Hyder and his men saw through their glasses an unarmed old man walking towards them. The man could not see them in their hiding places. Hyder ordered him, in English, to stop. When he didn't immediately do so, Hyder shot him in the eye, killing him. An investigation appears to have cleared Hyder of wrongdoing in the matter, but the incident left a bitter taste in the mouths of many of his TF 11 colleagues. The senior Army officer, who was familiar with the implications of Hyder's actions, defended the decision to Kernan's decision to continue assigning missions to Hyder carried an enormous responsibility, adding that SEAL Team 6 handled its internal discipline issues "at least as well as Delta." "Hyder has as fair a hand as anyone who probably didn't show correct judgment," said the general. "You can't pick a bad Judgment guy right away."

So, Hyder was still there to take over the SEAL force on Gardez. His third "hit" was yet to come.

AFO operators in Gardez were stunned to see the newcomers. It was the first time that TF 11 officials had appeared in Gardez unannounced. "What are you doing here?" they asked Hyder. The SEAL officer told them that he was there "to command and control the Blue Guys" and had orders to infiltrate the two SEAL teams into the Shahikot as soon as possible to help with the fight. Blaber and Glenn P. assumed that Trebon had responded to Blaber's suggestion to place a TF Blue officer under him in Gardez to help integrate more SEAL elements into the battle. But the SEALs' first priority seemed to be establishing their own communications with TF Blue at Bagram and TF 11 at Masirah. It was clear that Blaber would have no say in which teams would be deployed to the valley, and that his strong recommendation that blue teams take time to familiarize themselves with the region was ignored. Someone, AFO, had finally found the enemy and now everyone wanted a piece of the action, especially TF Blue, who hadn't seen almost any until now. "Once Blue realized there was a fight they would bring their men into the fight, hell or high water," said another TF 11 operator.

A satellite call to Trebon was received at Bagram. Blaber was on the other end of the line. "What's up, sir?" "Same thing I told you," Trebon replied. “I want these guys in the fight. Vic is in charge of the blue boys, you're just in charge of the AFO boys, and when do you think you can hand them over to TF Blue? Trebon told Blaber that he wasn't even in charge of the non-blues. More AFO teams, India and Juliet, and maybe not even the rest of the AFO team in Gardez. Blaber said he doesn't know when he'll be able to hand everything over to TF Blue. He planned to tag along with Chris Haas and the rest of TF Hammer as they tried to get Zia Lodin back to the Shahikot that night. For Blaber, Zia's mission was the most important thing in the next twenty-four hours. He, Chris Haas and Spider planned to accompany Zia for two reasons: to reduce the risk of friendly fire incidents and because they thought the whale might have a valuable target trapped due to the ferocity of Al Qaeda resistance. "I can't give you an hour," Blaber told Trebon. But the general was persistent. "I want you to come back to me when that's the exact moment you feel sad," he said.

Blaber and the rest of the AFO personnel assumed that he would remain in command until he officially "handed over" command of TF 11 troops in Shahikot to Hyder. But as the day wore on, the Delta team at the safe house didn't realize that Hyder was communicating directly with the blue TOC in Bagram from the tent the SEALs had set up in the yard. The command and control of the most successful part of Operation Anaconda was beginning to unravel.

At TOC, a small group of SEALs, AFO operators, and TF Dagger Troops began reviewing maps and looking for the best locations for observation posts that night. Among the men reviewing the maps and aerial photographs was the leader of the Mako 30, a scrawny noncommissioned officer with strawberry-blond hair and a beard nicknamed "Laje." Blaber had worked closely with Slab on assignments in Bosnia and considered him one of the most capable agents he had ever met. The Delta officer pulled Slab aside. "I feel very uncomfortable if you come in immediately," he said to the corporal. "I want to make sure you have all the advantages the others have had." "I totally agree," Slab replied. "But I'll do what they tell me and tell us to come in tonight." Blaber didn't understand the urgency. The prospect of a few nights without so many AFO/TF Blue reconnaissance teams in the valley did not worry him too much, as TF K-Bar planned to deploy more than twenty recon teams around the Shahikot. Trebon's phone in Bagram rang again. Blaber called. Were the SEALs supposed to go in that night? I ask. They were, replied Trebon. The Air Force general, who had never commanded a ground combat mission before, now made tactical reconnaissance decisions. “Looks like you need guys in the mountains back here. These other guys need to be replaced…. You have to take them out. This time, Trebon spoke as if he didn't want to leave Blaber in doubt. He was to send both SEAL teams directly into battle that night. That was an order.


WHILE the SEALs began planning their infiltrations, the rest of the safe house's residents were busy bringing Zia's Afghan force back into the fight. The withdrawal of Task Force Hammer alternately angered and disheartened the CIA and Special Forces men involved, both in Bagram and Gardez. Blaber was determined to fix that. He had gathered them around him the night before when they returned to the safe house and told them that they had accomplished their mission by sealing off the western escape route from the Shahikot and forcing enemy fighters to fire on the Expose Hammer Pillar. This, in turn, allowed AFO teams to identify enemy positions and call in airstrikes against them. He told them to get some rest and then get ready to leave again. It was planned to send TF Hammer back along the same route to reseal the western approaches to the valley.

This plan was developed during March 3rd. In its final form, it included Task Force Hammer, which now included a third A-Team, ODA 394, which brought a smaller Afghan force under Zia's command back to Shahikot. But this time, instead of moving south past Carwazi, Gwad Kala and the whale and then east through Fishhook, they would move north and grab the Guppy. In essence, the plan was a variation on Harriman's mission: establish a blocking position and observation post near the guppy. The plan was called "Operation Payback".

Mulholland flew to the safe house to talk to the SF guys and immediately gained their respect. "He was the only guy that talked to our guys," McHale said. Saddened and somber by Harriman's death, Dagger's commander was the first to tell McHale that Casenheser and Wadsworth would be fine. He heard his troops' assessment of the situation and was briefed on Operation Payback. He also told them that the people of Bagram would not "speak ill of them". "That was important and good to hear," McHale said. Meanwhile, Brigadier General Mike Jones, the CIA military liaison who also served as Hagenbeck's deputy, and Rich, the CIA station chief in Kabul, visited Spider and his men. The lack of air support for Hammer on D-Day infuriated Spider as much as the other convoy leaders. "I was angry that the agency thought they too had been left out to dry," Haas said.

McHale, the leader of ODA 372, decided he needed to return to the United States to represent the team at Harriman's funeral. He flew back to Bagram with Mulholland. During a moment of silence in Bagram, the Captain spoke with the Colonel and received approval from the Dagger Commander to use Harriman as a Silver Star. McHale was also promised by the Colonel to keep the rest of his team in the fight. McHale knew that anything less than returning to battle would hurt his morale. "My analogy is you can't make guys feel like they lost the last game of the season," McHale said. His men's attitude was: "We have to end this now, let's go back there", said one of them. "We're not running from anyone."

But the Americans had to persuade the Afghans to go back into the oven with them. As it turned out, AMF fighters were more willing to follow the Americans into battle than many of their own leaders. A senior CIA interpreter at the safe house spoke with Haas. “I want you to know that all [Afghan] troops are talking about the bravery and bravery of the Americans during the battle,” he told the officer. “They don't trust their leadership because everyone freaked out, but the Americans were nice and calm and came to pick them up when their vehicles left. Everyone's talking around the fire about following the Americans wherever they want." wounded or killed), the Afghan Commendation Medal, the Afghan Legion of Merit and the Afghan Medal of Merit. at night."

WITH Trebon and Kernan insisting that Mako 21 and Mako 30 go to the shahikot that night, the only questions left were how the teams would infiltrate and where they would set up their observation posts. Hyder asked the AFO guys for recommendations. The AFO planning cell at Gardez received no guidance from Blue TOC at Bagram, so Glenn P. gathered folders on potential recon targets. At 3 pm. At 3:00 pm, Blaber and the rest of the TF 11 team in Gardez decided that the six Mako 21 operators would fly to LZ 15 at the north end of the valley, the same LZ that Butler's troops attacked at midnight, and from there they would go east. bond with him and take care of Julia. After receiving a situation report from Juliet, they were to move further east to establish an observation post overlooking the upper Shahikot Valley. The plan for Mako 30 was more ambitious. Unlike Mako 21 and 22, which were specialized direct-action assault teams, Mako 30 was a reconnaissance force for SEAL Team 6. Its leader, Slab, was the most experienced SEAL deployed by Bagram, and his team numbered six. SEALs and an Air Force Combat. The controller was the larger of the two. Blaber wanted to take the Slab team to the most dominant terrain in the valley: the summit of Takur Ghar. Anyone standing at the top of the 10,469-foot mountain enjoys breathtaking views of the entire valley, as well as the upper Shahikot Valley to the east. It was there that AFO commander Juliet set up her observation post until blizzards forced her to remain in her northerly position. Along with the other American commanders at Anaconda, including Hagenbeck, Blaber was keen to have an observation post on the mountain. But he didn't feel the need to do that that night. He didn't want to break his "No Helicopter" rule, and there was no way the team could infiltrate overland in time to reach the top of the mountain before dawn. But the decision was not in his hands. Trebon, Kernan and Hyder decided that the Mako 30 would fly tonight, and if that was the case then they would have to fly. (Despite repeated requests, Trebon, Kernan, and Hyder were not available for interviews for this book by US Special Operations Command.)

An examination of maps and aerial imagery at Gardez revealed what appeared to be a suitable LZ on a spur about 1,300 meters east of the summit of Takur Ghar. Operators on Gardez called it "LZ 1" (ignoring the fact that the Rakkasans had already called another Shahikot patch "LZ 1"). No hostile activity has been reported on the site. The Mako 30 was scheduled to be ready at 10:30 pm. m. on the bumpy runway of the safe house, with deployment scheduled for 11:30 pm. m. The SEALs knew it was important to leave enough time to climb the mountain and set up their lookout before dawn. They thought the climb would take about four hours.

Glenn P. gave the SEALs a detailed briefing on what to expect from the Shahikot. By Mako 30, he was able to point out extensive and detailed aerial photographs of Takur Ghar, which he ordered when it looked like Juliet was about to land on top of the mountain. Briefing him should have been a red flag for Navy men. The intelligence corporal informed Mako 30 and Vic Hyder that the enemy had probably already occupied the top of Takur Ghar. He based this conclusion on several factors: human intelligence reports indicated that the enemy was there; a photo above appeared to show an artificial trench or battle position atop a hill with what appeared to be a DShK; and the enemy had already shown their determination to occupy the other high ground around the valley, such as the DShK position Goody's team saw on the Finger and the numerous mortar and DShK positions on the Whale. There was no reason to suppose that the enemy's approach to Takur Ghar, the valley's most desirable terrain, would be any different.

By itself, this information should not necessarily have stopped the Mako 30 from launching on its mission. By landing at night at the foot of Takur Ghar and climbing the mountain, Slab's team was able to ensure that any contact with the enemy took the form of an "encounter", an unexpected encounter between two opposing forces, rather than an ambush. If found, the SEALs' night vision goggles, superior marksmanship, and air power at their disposal would likely allow them to break contact and escape.

But the SEALs were already thinking about avoiding the grueling climb up the mountain that landing in the LZ-1 would entail. During the afternoon, Slab Blaber suggested some alternatives, one of which was to land in the middle of the mountain. Blaber tried to get Slab back to the original logic of landing in the LZ displacement, believing he had prevented the SEAL from doing anything more than that. So at 10 pm. m., Hyder approached Blaber in the busy AFO TOC and asked the army officer what he thought of letting Mako 30 land at Takur Ghar instead of LZ 1. Any ranger or Special Forces soldier could have told Hyder that he was proposing a big tactical mistake. It is an axiom of reconnaissance that a recon team should never fly directly to its observation post with a helicopter, as this essentially indicates the team's location to the enemy. But that obviously hadn't occurred to Hyder. Blaber told him he didn't believe in 160aPilots flying the mission would choose to do so. But Hyder said he lived next door to the pilots in Bagram and thought he could convince them. Soon after, the two SEAL teams moved to the airstrip.

At Bagram, Hagenbeck welcomed TF 11's decision to man Takur Ghar with a reconnaissance team. As TF 11 worked directly for Central Command, Hagenbeck had no authority to order anything from any of his operators, including the AFO, and he was not involved in the discussions that led to Trebon ordering Blaber to assume command and control of the reconnaissance transfer. . missions. to TF Blue in the valley. But the mountain commander had made it clear to Jimmy and Blaber, the two TF-11 operators with whom he worked most closely, that he wanted more information about the southeast corner of the valley. The Battle of Half Pipe showed that the area south of Takur Ghar contained perhaps the largest concentration of Al Qaeda forces in Shahikot, while the deep gorge, now dubbed "Ginger Pass", along the southern edge of Takur Ghar likely contained an important one was the supply route. That night, Jimmy conveyed to Hagenbeck the plan to deploy Mako 30 at Takur Ghar. "Hey sir, we think we can get the guys in there," the bearded special operator told the general. "Jimmy, if you can do it, you're the man," Hagenbeck replied. of two 160a- or Task Force Brown as the 160 was known in TF 11 - MH-47E helicopters, callsigns Razor 03 and Razor 04, took off at 22:20. on the way to Gardez, where a dozen men waited on a dirt landing strip, shivering in the night air that had a hint of Afghan winter.


The two Chinooks landed at Gardez at 11:23 pm. m., they took the SEALs and flew again. But six minutes later, as they approached the Shahikot, word spread that each team's infiltration would be delayed fifteen minutes to allow an AC-130U attack helicopter to move into position. the 160aThe pilots wanted the fighter's crew to use its high-tech optical systems to scan the landing zones and, in the case of the Razor 03 and Mako 30, the top of Takur Ghar for signs of hostile activity. This was not unusual. Special operators became, to an alarming degree, psychologically dependent on the presence of aircraft like the AC-130 "clearing" their landing zones and targets. “The special ops community has gotten to the point where now we can't get in unless a UAV or AC-130 is looking at it,” said an operator in Afghanistan. Task Force Brown pilots considered the AC-130U, callsign Nail 21, mission essential. At 23:41. m., when the Chinooks finally reached their respective landing zones, Nail 21 reported that they could not "take their eyes off" the Mako 30 landing zone due to an ongoing B-52 attack. The Chinook's senior pilot, a Chief Petty Officer 4 named Al, Slab and the leader of Mako 21 decided to return to Gardez. Air attack would not have stopped the Chinooks from flying to their landing zones. Only the AC-130 was affected by its large turning radius. However, the pilots were so convinced that AC-130 coverage was a sine qua non that they aborted the mission, despite Mako 21 and Mako 30 being only six and nine minutes, respectively, from LZ, where they were not. . had been detected.

His plan was to sit on the ground at Gardez for a few minutes and then fly back across the valley once the B-52 attack was over. By this time, Nail 21 would have already left the area and they would have to work with a new AC-130U, Nail 22. However, once they landed in Gardez, Razor 03, which would take Slab's team to Takur Ghar base. , developed an engine problem. Al, the flight director (the pilot responsible for getting the two helicopters to their destinations), called Bagram to request a backup helicopter. the 160ºhe always flew in pairs in Afghanistan, so TF Brown's TOC solution was to send a pair of MH-47Es from Bagram to replace the two on the ground at Gardez. The two helicopters arrived in time. Razor 04 was low on fuel at this point, so the Air Mission Commander (a Captain 160) and the pilots of Razor 03 and Razor 04 boarded the new aircraft (Razor callsigns were transmitted with the pilots), with the incoming pilots taking their places in the helicopters that were parked in Gardez. (The new pilots included a maintenance pilot for Al's original plane. After overhauling it, he flew it back to Bagram along with the original Razor 04.) The crew chiefs in the background stayed in the helicopters that used to fly to Gardez . . But repeated delays ended the precious hours of darkness. As Razor 03 and Razor 04 were about to take off, the pilots were told they would have to wait a little longer during a 101S tThe helicopter's mission was to the valley. This latest delay hit Mako 30 time. The pilots told Slab that the earliest they could land at LZ 1 was 2:30 am. m., too late to allow the team to climb to the top of the mountain in the dark.

Mako 30 and its chain of command faced a choice. You had two good options: abort the mission and postpone it until the following night; or they could fly to LZ 1, hide until dusk the next night, then climb to the top of the mountain. Slab's recommendation was to "push" the mission for twenty-four hours. But the lack of clear instructions on who was responsible for reconnaissance missions launched from Gardez was beginning to have disastrous results. In theory, Blaber was still in charge, as no firm date had been set for the mission to be handed over to Hyder and Task Force Blue. But from the moment they arrived at Gardez that morning, Hyder and the two SEAL teams acted as if the transfer of power had already taken place. This critical moment in Operation Anaconda should be no exception. Just 1,000 meters away in the dugout, Pete Blaber was helping to coordinate preparations for Operation Payback (which wasn't scheduled to launch until 2:20 am), a man whose entire career had prepared him to make the kind of decisions before Hyder now take a stand. . a decision on which not only the fate of Hyder's men would depend, but that of others as well. Blaber spent weeks investigating the tactical situation facing reconnaissance teams at Shahikot. He was still, officially, the officer in charge of reconnaissance efforts in the valley. But Hyder chose to ignore it, seeking advice from Blue TOC, 100 miles away and with Navy personnel who had never been near the Shahikot. He used Razor 03 to broadcast his message on the frequency of the TF Blue satellite, which he knew Blaber would not be monitoring. "The earliest possible infiltration time is now 2215Z to 2230Z [2:45 am local time to 3 am local time]," said the blue TOC. “Mako 30 is asking twenty-four hours. What would you like to say to the team?" The reply message to Razor 03, Hyder, and Slab on Blue TOC was clear and unambiguous: "We really need you to get in there tonight." call used was that of the TF Blue operations officer, as recorded by the TF Joint Operations Center 11).

With explicit instructions from Kernan HQ (where Trebon had taken up temporary residence) to proceed with the mission, Hyder again had the idea of ​​flying to the top of the mountain. Once again, he chose not to consult Blaber. Instead, he talked with Razor 03's pilot-in-command, Warrant Officer 4 Al and the air mission commander about whether it was technically possible to land the team directly at their observation post. Al calculated the effect of flying a few thousand feet above the original LZ. "I can take you there, but I don't know if your operating room has a proper LZ," the pilot told the naval officer. "That shouldn't be a problem," Hyder replied. "I saw pictures." The pilots, Hyder and Slab, then decided amongst themselves to change the LZ where Mako 30 would be dropped from LZ 1 to the top of Takur Ghar. They directed their move from LZ back to Bagram, but not beyond AFO TOC, where it would certainly have been revoked. "The problem was that no one was talking to the AFO," said a special operator. “They made all these calls to Blue TOC and Trebon. They haven't said anything to the guys they're fighting for."

Of course, the SEALs' decision would not only force them to break a fundamental rule of reconnaissance by striking directly at their observation post, it would also force them to fly directly to the top of a mountain from which Glenn P. had led them. not seen a few hours earlier. it was probably occupied by the enemy. Slab would imply to the official US Special Operations Command investigator that Glenn P. never included this in his report to Mako 30. "There was no significant evidence that the mountain was occupied," he told Colonel Andrew Milani. "...[It's] incredible that if our intelligence analysis had revealed the presence of enemy personnel, one would believe that we would have climbed the mountain." Other sources strongly disagreed with Slab's version of events. (However, in at least one respect, Slab was accurate. After being briefed on the SEALs' decision to fly directly to the top of the mountain, Nail 22, the AC-130 working for the Blue Teams, flew Mako 21 and Mako 30 landing zones. His fire control officer and navigator scanned both landing zones with their sensors and declared each LZ safe. This obviously satisfied Slab that the risk to his crew was minimal).

But the realization that the enemy, with weeks of preparation, had probably occupied Shahikot's most dominant terrain was not limited to Gardez. Earlier in the day, Jimmy and one or two members of TF 11 visited the military intelligence team at TF Mountain and asked where good landing zones could be found for night missions. In response, an intelligence officer pointed to the top of Takur Ghar. "Anywhere but here," said the officer. Then, less than an hour before the two Chinooks took off from Gardez for the second time on their way to Shahikot, a report reached OCD from the mountain from intelligence personnel that enemy fighters were on top of Takur Ghar. "They've been seen," said a Mountain TOC source who saw the report. "They got some sort of IMINT [imaging intelligence], probably from the Predator, that there are bad guys coming up this hill." When a combat captain relayed the report to Jimmy, whose job it was to run the AFO TOC on this type of information, Jimmy's response went something like thiswe have it under controlaccording to a source in the brief. Of course, what Jimmy didn't know, because Hyder and Slab had stopped communicating over the AFO satellite network that Jimmy was monitoring from his desk at Bagram, was that the SEALs had decided to fly straight to the top of the mountain. Neither TF Blue's TOC in Bagram nor TF 11's Operations Center in Masirah could be bothered to call Blaber and Jimmy through the AFO satellite network to update them on the decisions. Once again at Anaconda, senior leadership's failure to establish a tight, unified chain of command added unnecessary friction to what is inevitable in any combat operation.

At 2:20 am on 4 March, Task Force Hammer's convoy left Gardez and headed down Zermatter Strasse towards Guppy. The convoy included about a dozen CIA-acquired vehicles better suited to the mission than the Jinga trucks: old Soviet armored jeeps and Toyota pickups and newer (but not brand-new) Mitsubishi trucks. Blaber was in the AFO command and control van, equipped with an X-wing satellite dish that allowed him to talk to any US military headquarters anywhere. Hyder was now the only officer left at Gardez. When India and Mako 31 returned aboard the three trucks driven by John B., Al Y. and Hans, one of the operators was surprised to find Hyder in command. "I felt like Hyder is running the show locally right now," he said. "Of course it was out of your league."

As the trucks left the compound, Razor 03 and Razor 04 took off from Gardez airfield, also bound for Shahikot. Razor 04's mission remained to fly Mako 21 at LZ 15 in the north of the valley. Razor 03 would fly Mako 30 to the summit of Takur Ghar. The Razor 03's crew consisted of two pilots, an air mission commander who sat in the "jump seat" just behind the pilots, two gunners in the side door of the helicopter, and two gunners in the rear. Mako 30 appeared to consist of eight people: six SEALs led by Slab; Thor, the operator of the Gray Fox; and Technical Sergeant John Chapman, combat chief of the 24thaSpecial Tactics Squad. As the helicopters approached the Shahikot, Nail 22 was no longer on station to cover their infiltration, having been called up minutes earlier to cover American troops engaged elsewhere. Ironically, the SEALs' confidence in the AC-130's ability to use its sensors to confirm or deny the presence of enemy fighters atop the mountain meant that when they actually landed there, they did not deem the fighter's presence necessary.

At 2:38, Razor 04 landed at LZ 15. Within three minutes, it had left Mako 21 and was airborne again, flying back to a holding point over Gardez, where it was supposed to wait for Razor 03 if the last helicopter failed to pick up. toward. he's already caught up after dropping the Mako 30. The Razor 03 kept flying, the black helicopter gaining altitude as it approached Takur Ghar. The proposed LZ was a saddle on the southwest side of the snowy mountain peak. As the helicopter, with Al's copilot at the controls, made its final approach, the crew noticed footprints in the snow. This wasn't unusual even at that altitude, and since the AC-130 had already declared the location clear of enemies, Al wasn't too worried. He told Slab about the tracks. As the Mako 30 leader did not object, the pilots carefully lowered the plane. The team prepared to jump as soon as the ramp descended. Closest to the ramp was Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts, a thirty-two-year-old SEAL with a wife and eighteen-month-old son at their home in Virginia. But when the Chinook landed in three feet of snow, its rotors furiously spinning in the mountain air, Al's voice crackled over the intercom. "Team Leader, you have a DShK, unmanned, at 1 o'clock" (Right here, Glenn P. predicted it would be a DShK). "Yes, Roger," Slab replied. Then, as the ramp began to drop, another crew member reported a donkey tied to a tree at 3 o'clock and left door gunner Jeremy saw a crouching figure behind a hill at 9 o'clock from the Chinook. Skinned carcasses of goats or lambs hung from nearby trees. The Nail 22's high-tech sensors picked up nothing. Dan, the right rear team leader, raised his arm and motioned the SEALs to stay put while Al discussed the situation with Slab over the intercom. "You have a guy at 9 o'clock who lifted his head and disappeared," Al told Slab. "Is he armed?" Slab asked. "I don't know," replied Al. With his SEALs on the ramp's hinge, Slab paused for a moment and said, "Got it, let's go to LZ." As Dan lowered his arm and stepped to the side, Jeremy saw a bright orange flash to the left of the ramp. Chinook.


In Bagram, less than an hour ago, Hagenbeck had retired to his office bunk to sleep for the first time in three days and nights, leaving Harrell and Jones in charge. As Razor 03 flew south towards Takur Ghar, Jimmy knelt beside the generals' table and discussed with them the next phase of the operation. AFO radios crackled in the background, but unaware that SEAL teams only communicated on the blue frequency, Jimmy still had no idea that Mako 30 had decided to land on top of the mountain. However, his RTO was only a few feet away, monitoring a radio conversation between the crew of Razor 03 and Brown's TOC at Bagram. "Hey sir, they're out for a minute," called the RTO. "Understood," Jimmy replied. As the AFO officer continued to speak with Harrell and Jones, his RTO typed the grid the Razor 03 crew had just sent to his landing zone into a laptop, which he immediately plotted on a digital map of the Shahikot. The RTO did a double take. He didn't like what he saw. "Hello boss,To cook,Isn't that the OP?" he said pointing to the screen. "Hey, I'll be right with you," Jimmy replied over his shoulder. The Delta Major ended his call, stood up and turned around. His RTO was again pointing to the top of the mountain on the digital map."Your LZ is drawn here," the RTO said.Nearly 100 miles to the south, the black Chinook slowed and loomed over the top of Takur Ghar."Era?!"Jimmy said. "Your LZ is marked there," the RTO repeated. "No way, do it again," said Jimmy. As the RTO hurriedly re-entered the numbers into the computer, the Razor 03's wheels sank into the snow at the top of the mountain. Once again, the computer told Jimmy something he didn't expect. The grid that Razor 03 had specified was not for LZ 1, where he had been told they would go. It was for the top of Takur Ghar, where no one in their right mind would ask a helicopter to land. Alarmed, he grabbed the radio's handheld microphone to call the helicopter. Too late. At that moment, at the highest point in the Shahikot Valley, an Al Qaeda fighter lifted his RPG rocket launcher over his shoulder and aimed it at the big, juicy target that had practically landed in his lap. Couldn't miss it.

The RPG collided with the helicopter's left side electronics compartment, the only place on the plane where all redundant electrical systems came together, before passing through the left ammo canister and exploding, blowing a hole in the Chinooks.On the rightside, it hit the right electrical compartment, wounding Jeremy in the right leg and snapping his M4 rifle in half. The helicopter immediately lost all AC power, destroyed the M134 miniguns that were its primary means of self-defense, and locked the ramp in the down position. The pilots' multifunctional screens, navigation and automatic flight control systems, and all radio equipment except part of the intercom were also inoperative. A moment later, another RPG fired from the same area hit the ground in front of the aircraft, spraying the multimode radar pod with shrapnel as the bullets ripped through the aircraft and severed hoses to spray hydraulic fluid onto the ground. Acrid smoke filled the cabin. The door gunners had lost their intercom connection, but those at the rear were still able to talk to the pilots. The SEALs were still on the plane. "Get us out of here!" Slab yelled over the intercom. "Shack fire! Ready to go back!" Dan shouted to Al, also over the intercom. "Get it! Get it! Go! Go! Go!"We will!As he finished yelling to Al that it was all right to take off, Dan, the senior crew chief, fired a volley from his M60 machine gun mounted on the rear right window of the cockpit.

Al's copilot had flown the helicopter, but it wasn't moving fast enough. Al could see men with guns to his left and he wasn't about to wait another second. He took control and prepared to take off. From behind, Dan felt a jolt and thought another shell had hit the plane, but in fact he felt a bullet hit his hull. The Chinook hadn't been on the ground for more than forty-five seconds when Al lifted it off the ground. With almost all instruments turned off, the experienced pilot flew gropingly. But not everyone deep down had understood the news that they were leaving the top of the mountain. As the helicopter rocked back and forth, Roberts, who was closest to the ramp and, like the rest of his team, except for Slab, not on the intercom, pretended to jump out the back. (Al speculated that Roberts, beside Dan, was hearing the senior crew chief's shout of "Go! Go! Go!"We will!' as instructions for exiting Chinook). Noticing Roberts' movement, Dan tried to stop him, but was restrained by his seat belt. It's unclear if Roberts realized he wasn't supposed to get out but slipped on the oil and hydraulic fluid coating the floor as he tried to stop, or if he never got the message. Anyway, he was heading for the back of the ramp, which was stuck at about a fifteen degree incline due to the power outage. Realizing what was about to happen, the left tail gunner Alexander attacked Roberts in a desperate attempt to stop him from falling out of the plane. He caught the SEAL around the ankle, but had no hope of arresting Roberts, who was a stocky, six-foot-tall man carrying a 150-pound duffel bag and a SAW. The helicopter lurched again and slipped out of Dan's grasp. Alexander slipped at the end of the ramp and fell about four feet before his seat belt tightened, leaving him dangling under the ramp. Roberts flew ten feet and landed in the snow.

The momentum of the launch carried the helicopter over the crest of the peak. Below the plane, the mountain dropped in a 3,000-foot drop, over which Alexander was now dangling by his rope as trackers from Al-Qaeda positions pursued the helicopter. In the cabin, he didn't know that Roberts had been abandoned on the mountain slope and that one of the members of his crew was swaying helplessly under the Chinook, but he knew that he was in a fight of life or death to keep his plane in the air. The helicopter was already shaking violently when someone from behind shouted over the intercom: “We've lost an engine! We lost an engine!” That was very bad news. Knowing that he couldn't fly the helicopter on a single engine at that altitude, Al immediately dropped thrust to start autorotation down the valley. Behind, the severed hydraulic hose had filled the air with a red haze. They were all lying on the wet floor. Dan reported over the intercom that both engines were running, then walked up the ramp and hauled Alexander back aboard. Al leveled the helicopter, which he said was "shaking and flapping like an unbalanced washing machine". Then an even worse message came from behind: one of them was still on the LZ. Al felt bad because he thought someone on the team must have gotten out of the helicopter on purpose and stayed behind in their rush to get down the mountain. "No, it fell, it fell!" his crew corrected him. "Where is it?" Al asked. "He's back on the hill," said one of the team leaders. "Okay, let's go back, any objections?" replied Al. There were no votes against.Never leave a fallen teammate behind.

As Al turned right, he felt the flight controls vibrate so violently that they became difficult to move. He lost cyclic control and lost the ability to turn the aircraft. Dan, returning fire with his M60, also felt the helicopter shudder and saw hydraulic fluid continue to spray into the cockpit. He realized that the hydraulics had failed. If it dried completely, the helicopter would drop out of the sky like a stone with two rotors. He glanced at the three hydraulic gauges beside his crew station. All three were zero. Dan kept four cans of spare hydraulic fluid in the back. Using a can opener dangling from a rope, he proceeded to open them and pour the contents into the hydraulic filler module, a device that crew chiefs could use to fill the hydraulic system during flight. After each can was emptied, he grabbed a hand pump and started manually pumping the liquid into the system. Al felt the return of the cyclic controls. "Okay, let's go back anyway," he announced. But as soon as Dan stopped pumping to open a new can, the controls froze again. It was an easy race. To give Al a chance to keep them all alive, Dan had to dump and pump hydraulic fluid into the system faster than it was coming out of the mangled hose. However, even with Dan pumping vigorously, Al was unable to gain enough cyclic control to turn the helicopter towards Takur Ghar. Aboard Razor 03, there would be no turning back for Roberts. Al knew he would have to leave the helicopter very soon. "I aborted the rescue to save the plane," he said. He leveled the helicopter and descended, aiming for the LZ-15. Meanwhile, his co-pilot was monitoring the backup attitude indicator, which was the only operational flight instrument, and announcing the helicopter's speed, altitude and heading towards Al. "You're making 90 knots, 700 feet per minute," he said. Al may not have noticed, but he was flying over Kevin Butler's command post at the north end of the valley. He couldn't get down fast enough to drop the helicopter at LZ 15, so he chose a spot about 1,000 meters to the north. Al coaxed and coaxed the Chinook into an acceptable landing attitude and brought it onto flat, gently sloping ground. As he shot down the helicopter, crew members shouted how high off the ground they were. Ten feet away, Al felt the controls click into place. They ran out of hydraulic fluid. The helicopter landed on the ground with a crash. It positioned itself at an unsafe angle but did not turn, much to the crew's surprise and relief. It was 2:58 am. They were just over seven kilometers from Takur Ghar.

The landing was difficult, but no one was hurt. Al cut the engines. Slab had his men drop their packs, exit the plane, and take up positions in the nearby hills. He counted heads to confirm what he already knew: Roberts was gone. The pilots gathered their maps and other classified materials and jumped out while the team leaders extracted 7.62 mm machine gun ammunition for their two M60s, which they pulled from the helicopter to join the SEALs. The Air Mission Commander, new officer in the 160.aHe turned on an infrared flashlight to mark his position. Despite his excellent performance in preventing a catastrophic accident, crew members were dismayed at having to ground the emergency helicopter until Chapman responded. "Oh, don't worry," he said. “I have been feeling stronger with the PLFs [parachute drops].” Chapman then set up his radio next to the Chinook and got to work.


About eighty miles to the east, in Pakistani airspace, the Grim 32, an AC-130H, was returning to Afghanistan shortly after refueling when he heard a frantic shout: "Any Grim, Any Nail, this is Mako 30. We just got a landing and needs some safety precautions." The crew of Grim 32 was the same one involved in the Harriman incident less than forty-eight hours earlier. Now fate had assigned them a pivotal role in another critical moment in Operation Anaconda. Delays in the entry of SEAL teams caused the AC-130s, having been briefed on the mission by Mako 30, Nail 21, and Nail 22, to leave the area.32 had just arrived at the station. Crew members, through no fault of their own, knew nothing about the Mako 30's mission and the coordinates for Takur Ghar were missing. Chapman's call was the first indication that DJ Turner and his crew had a tip that something had gone wrong at the Shahikot that night. The crew of Grim 32 noticed Mako 30's location and flew directly there, a flight that lasted about fifteen minutes. The crew saw no sign of the enemy within 2000 to 3000 meters of the downed Chinook. “Looks like we lost someone on the LZ,” Chapman told Grim 32. “What LZ?” someone on the plane replied. Chapman gave them the coordinates of the grid at the top of Takur Ghar, a description of the LZ, told them that Roberts would have an infrared strobe and an MBITR radio, and gave them his callsign and the frequency he was likely using. "They asked us if we could take a look and see if we could find it," Turner recalled. "At the time, we were all in CSAR [Combat Search and Rescue] mode... Everyone still thought there was a good chance he was alive."

Thinking that the Chinook had only flown to Takur Ghar base before crash landing, Slab planned to climb the mountain to rescue Roberts. Chapman contacted Jimmy at Bagram at 3:06 am. m. and sent a message about it. (Unlike Army Special Forces, SEALs routinely use their Air Force attaches as their primary communicators.) Although Slab quickly realized his error and abandoned the plan, this 3:06 am transmission woke up being monitored by Grim 32 and several HQs received a false signal. impression that Roberts could reach friendly troops on foot.

At that moment, another AC-130H, Grim 33, arrived at the Shahikot, who were even less aware than Grim 32 of what had happened. The crew of Grim 32 coordinated with Grim 33 to take up position over the downed helicopter while Grim 32 searched for Roberts. As they turned south, the crew of Grim 32 could easily make out the top of Takur Ghar. Not only was it the highest point in the area, but it was also marked by an infrared light that peered down at them through the darkness. One person can be seen holding the flash and several people around them. The crew monitored the flash as they flew south and reported what they saw to K-mart (the CAOC), Bossman (the AWACS) and Mako 30.

Once Slab understood how far they had flown, he knew that his team's only hope of getting back to the top of Takur Ghar in time to rescue Roberts was to jump into another helicopter. The quickest way to do this was to call Razor 04 to pick them up. Hearing Grim 32's report about a lantern at Takur Ghar increased Slab's impatience to return to the top of the mountain. He asked the Razor 03 crew if they could keep the helicopter down while the SEALs returned to Takur Ghar with Razor 04 to look for Roberts. Al tells him he's comfortable with that as long as Slab leaves a SEAL to help with his defense. But when that plan was relayed to Jimmy, the Delta officer recommended that everyone fly the Razor 04 back to Gardez and come up with a plan before heading back to an LZ where a helicopter had already been shot down. (Much of that conversation was between Jimmy and Al. Slab seemed reluctant to talk on the radio.)

Slab named Blaber, his former Bosnian sparring partner. The AFO commander was on his way to Zermatt and about to turn towards Guppy when the first call from Slab was received. Blaber stopped, talked to Slab for a moment, processed the information that one of Slab's men had fallen out of the helicopter "in the landing zone" and drove on. A short time later, when the convoy passed a small ruined fort near the Guppy, Blaber lured the convoy back. With Zia, Haas and Spider all around him, Blaber got a more detailed update from Slab. It wasn't until Slab Blaber said he wanted to "go back upstairs" to look for Roberts that the AFO commander realized the grim reality of what had happened.Damn, they tried to land on the mountain.he thought.

As they approached Takur Ghar, the crew of Grim 32 kept their high-tech "eyes" focused on the infrared strobe light beamed down from the top of the mountain. Whoever the staff were around the person holding the flash, the fact that it was on in the first place gave everyone hope. But after thirty seconds it was gone for good.


Friction from the BATTLEFIELD has now flooded from Gardez's headquarters to Bagram and Masirah. As each OCD tried to figure out what had happened, the officers huddled in satellite networks, misinterpreting the messages they received. The official Special Operations Command investigator summed up the situation as follows:

As each of the individual comics tried to clarify exactly what was going on, there was considerable confusion as to 1) where Roberts had fallen from the helicopter, 2) where Razor 03 actually landed in relation to Takur Ghar, 3) which landing zone the Razor 03 attempted to deploy Mako 30 to, 4) what the hostile and friendly situations were around the Razor 03, 5) what the friendly and hostile situations were around the Roberts area, and 6) whether the IR strobe com personnel was nearby was at the location of Razor 03, at the junction point of Mako 21 [with Juliet], or at the top of the mountain.

Aside from the Slab men and the Razor 03 crew, the people who had the clearest idea of ​​what was going on were Pete Blaber and Jimmy. Blaber had excellent line of sight with the men in the downed helicopter and Grim 32 above, while his satellite radio allowed Jimmy to transmit any information from the Predator's transmissions to him. Both Jimmy and Blaber understood that Roberts had crashed at Takur Ghar, that there were no friendly forces nearby, and that Razor 03 had landed at the northern end of the valley, just a few thousand meters north of Chip Preysler's command post. Blaber also knew, from his close reading of the behavior of the various enemy forces, particularly the Uzbeks and Chechens, that unless immediate action was taken to save him, Roberts would soon be dead. On the other hand, confusion reigned at the blue TOC just down the road from Mountain HQ and TF 11 Joint Operations Center on the coast of Oman. At that headquarters, the officers still believed that the people Grim 32 saw on top of the mountain around the person holding the flash were friendly troops who had rescued Roberts. Operations Centers TF 11 and TF Blue also appear to have mistaken Chip Preysler's men for an enemy force advancing on the small group of Airmen and SEALs.

BLABER and Slab quickly come up with a plan. Blaber knew that the folks Grim 32 had reported as having gone to Takur Ghar strobe could not be friendly. He told Grim 32 that once they were over the mountain, they should fire as close as possible to the group around the flash without hitting them. So when the AC-130 crew saw someone get separated from the group, they assumed it was the missing American and used fire to protect him. Meanwhile, Mako 30 would mount Razor 04 and immediately fly back to the top of the mountain. That's what Slab had recommended, and Blaber believed in trusting the local boy. Razor 04, which had arrived at its holding station over Gardez, was closing in.

Colonel Joe Smith, Mountain's chief of staff, walked into Hagenbeck's office and gently woke the general with words no commander would want to hear: "Sir, we shot down a helicopter." Mountain TOC, which was slowly filling up as word spread that another crisis was brewing in Shahikot. Officers and followers looked at the Predator displays while other officers and non-commissioned officers focused their attention on the radio traffic. Few of these people were able to change anything about the events that unfolded before them. Since this was a TF 11 mission gone wrong, only people in TF 11's chain of command were allowed to fix it. This was the inevitable result of the split in the chain of command imposed on US forces in Afghanistan by the Pentagon and CENTCOM. The only guy inside Mountain TOC whose job entitled him to lead the men in the Shahikot was Jimmy. Standing on his bench with a radio microphone in front of his face, he towered over the crowd to make himself heard and observe the Predator's displays while coordinating events on the battlefield.

Suddenly, another voice came over the radio, that of Brigadier General Gregory Trebon, commander of TF 11, sitting in the TF Blue TOC a few hundred meters away. "There's no need to worry about the radio," the Air Force officer told Jimmy condescendingly. "Off the grid, we made it." "Damn you!" Jimmy said, stunned and angry as he took off his headphones in bitter frustration and threw them, cord still attached, at the generals a few feet away. He hit the bench between Jones and Hagenbeck, narrowly missing the latter. "Jimmy!?" Harrell exclaimed, turning around in his seat. "Sir, you just knocked me out of the fight," Jimmy explained. "What!?" the One-Star responded in astonishment. "Sir, he says they'll fight from there," Jimmy said. Harrell, who didn't get along with Trebon, was furious. Deciding to take command and control of events in Shahikot from the AFO leaders (Blaber and Jimmy) and run it himself, Trebon made a decision he would eventually come to regret. He removed the two men whose professional experiences and knowledge of the current situation qualified them to organize the rescue operation at Shahikot and replaced them with staff officers at TOC TF Blue and TF 11, approximately 100 miles and 1,100 miles from the battlefield. , respectively. remote control. Trebon acted on the belief that the easy access to the satellite radio networks, and the Predator transmissions in particular, gave Masirah officials such an understanding of what was happening in the Shahikot valley as they needed to manage things from there. His belief in the power of technology trumped his trust in the man in the field.

Perhaps admitting that his own background hardly suited the situation he had found himself in, Trebon told his staff in Masirah: "I am in charge, you are in control." the meaning of those words. Command and control often go together in military operations, but a Trebon supporter said the Air Force general's decision to separate them made a lot of sense. “Command is decision-making, control is the mechanism that supports decision-making,” this officer said. Few others agreed. Within seconds, Trebon assured that the fiercest close-quarters firefight by US troops since Mogadishu, a no-prisoner hand-to-hand battle on top of a frozen Afghan mountain, would be "controlled" by officers watching video screens on a deserted island and "commanded" by a man who made his name flying transport planes.

It took Razor 04 approximately half an hour to fly to Razor 03's position at the northern end of Shahikot. The Chinook landed within 200 feet of its stricken sister aircraft at approximately 3:45 am. Shortly thereafter, a signals intelligence element aboard Grim 32 intercepted an Al Qaeda transmission suggesting that enemy forces knew a helicopter had crashed and were preparing to attack it. Grim 32 relayed the information to Grim 33, which continued to circle over the two helicopters. Grim 33, meanwhile, relayed the message to the men on the ground and scanned the area around the Chinooks for any sign of the enemy. When the crew saw a pair of mortars and about forty people at an estimated distance of 1,200 meters from the helicopters, they became convinced that it was the enemy force preparing to attack the small group of Americans with the helicopters and shouted to the crew and SEALs to warn them. Of course, what the crew of the 33rd Grim was looking at was Kevin Butler's A Company, 2-187th Infantry, including the mortar section that had done so well the day before. Good luck for this 101S tInfantry, the confusion at Bagram and Masirah meant that Grim 33 was not allowed to open fire. But the combination of radio interception and incorrect reports by enemy troops on the ground spelled the ruin of Slab and Blaber's plan to ground the crew of Razor 03 while Mako 30 flew back to Takur Ghar to meet Roberts. With enemy fighters seemingly closing in, the priority was getting everyone from Razor 04 away from the crash site. Instead of taking them to the southern Rakkasan position, the pilot of Razor 04 wanted to get out of the area completely. The seven additional men in Razor 03's crew would make the helicopter too heavy to fly to the top of the mountain. There was no choice but to fly back to Gardez before boarding the Mako 30 for Takur Ghar. The crew of Razor 03 began removing all sensitive items, such as machine guns, from their helicopter and loading them aboard Razor 04. News from Grim 33 of approaching enemy troops caused a moment of panic when Razor 04 powered up. . Failed attempt to alert two crew members that they were looking for Razor 03 one last time. Finally, Razor 04 took off and flew to land next to the downed Chinook to get its attention. The two men climbed aboard, and at 4:10 am. m., the helicopter took off and flew north, away from Takur Ghar. Had the TF 11 personnel in Masirah and the blue TOC been more closely associated with TF Mountain, they could have easily come up with a plan where Rakkasan troops with Preysler and Butler would protect Razor 03 and its crew so Razor 04 could upgrade to Mako 30 and Fly. return to Takur Ghar immediately, as Blaber had urged. Instead, the confused crew and the pilot of Razor 04 unknowingly tried to make their last chance to rescue Neil Roberts.

Razor 04 landed at Gardez at approximately 4:34 am. The helicopter lost radio contact with Bagram and Masirah and transmitted messages via Grim 32. (Satellite radios on all MH-47Es were notoriously unreliable. This issue would affect TF 11 for the remainder of Takur. ghar's fight). Hyder departed to meet Razor 04. The Air Mission Commander and the remaining six members of Mako 30 remained aboard. At 4:45 am, Razor 04 took off and finally headed towards Takur Ghar.

Grim 32 took just a few minutes to reach the station via Takur Ghar. The flash was gone, but five to ten people could be seen on top of the mountain. From the north of the valley, Mako flooded 30 Grim 32 with questions:What can you see? Can you tell if he's alive? can you tell if they haveGrim 32 told the SEALs that they couldn't answer most of their questions. Mako 30 told the crew that they would return to the top of Takur Ghar. At 4:10 am, Blaber asked Jimmy if he could identify Roberts on top of the mountain from the Predator's transmission. Jimmy said he couldn't. Ten minutes later, Blaber, now in sight of Takur Ghar himself, asked Grim 32 what they would see at the summit. They told him that they could not see a flashing light or glowing ribbon that could identify Roberts, but they could see about eight members of the team who were almost certainly enemy combatants. Blaber decided that a variant of the plan he had hastily devised with Slab was still the only chance to save Roberts. He instructed Grim 32 to fire into the center of the eight enemy group when Razor 04 was within one to three minutes of Mako 30 landing (i.e. before enemy fighters heard the approaching helicopter and ducked). If one person becomes separated from the group, the AC-130 crew must use their judgment and, if they determine it was Roberts, continue shooting at the others. The AFO commander stressed the importance of killing as many enemy fighters as possible while they were open and vulnerable. Razor 04 made a similar request to Grim 32, asking the AC-130 to fire on the LZ when the helicopter was a few minutes away.

But, unknown to Blaber, Trebon's insistence on taking command and control away from him and Jimmy meant that the satellite radio frequency on which much of the operation was managed had also changed. Blaber spoke and listened to the AFO satellite network, until then the frequency on which all TF 11-related actions had been discussed in the Shahikot. But now TF 11's operations center in Masirah and TF Blue TOC in Bagram were trying to operate things on their frequency (known as SAT-A or Tier-net) that Blaber wasn't monitoring because TF 11 wasn't bothering him. talk about change As a result, he was unable to issue corrective orders when Masirah's interference, based on TF 11 personnel's misinterpretation of the situation, thwarted his plan. Rather than follow Blaber's suggestion, the crew of Grim 32 received a barrage of conflicting instructions from Masirah, where Marine Corps Major Chris Naler, TF 11's fire support officer, was blamed for the events at Shahikot. Naler's instructions alternated between telling Grim 32 to "destroy" everyone on top of the mountain, and seconds later ordering them not to fire and telling the crew, "Don't worry, our nice guy was killed by a friend." The crew responded, "and informed Turner, the pilot of Grim 32, that he, Turner, was now the commander on site (message disputed minutes later). This was maddening for the AC-130 crew. view, they could see the group growing ever closer to the top. Somewhere among them, an American could be fighting for his life. Of all the American elements in the area, only they were able to help him, but no one would help them .He gave clear instructions on how to do it.

(Turner expressed sympathy for the TF 11 staff officers he spoke with. "They were very enthusiastic, many general officers and colonels were asking for information and offering advice, and they had the modicum of SA [situational awareness] there in their" lair," he said. At this point, TF 11 personnel in Masirah still thought Roberts had crashed somewhere close to where Razor 03 crashed. It would be hours before they realized that he hadn't.

When Razor 04 was about five miles away, Masirah refused permission from Grim 32 to fire on top of the mountain. Razor 04 went into orbit and waited for the preparatory fires to begin, only to be called by Grim 32 with the message that Masirah had refused the request for preparatory fire because the gunboat's crew was unable to identify Roberts. The men of Razor 04 decided to risk landing on top of the mountain anyway. Masirah asked Grim 32 to "shine" the top of the mountain instead of killing any personnel the gunboat's crew could see gathered there. But the "flash" from a snowy landing zone only blinds pilots flying with night vision goggles, and the Razor 04 pilots told the AC-130 crew to halt them as they approached the summit.


ROBERTS landed in the snow with a thud. He must have known right away that his life was in danger. Alone and outnumbered, he landed in the middle of an enemy command post whose occupants almost certainly saw him fall from the helicopter. The SEALs' decision to continue their infiltrations without AC-130 cover deprived it of the protective fires from the sky that it would otherwise have enjoyed in the first few minutes after the crash. He would have to fight the enemy alone, armed only with a SAW and a pistol. He also had an MBITR radio, but it wasn't powerful enough to communicate with his teammates 7,000 meters away. Grim 32 coming towards him was not on his frequency. The TF Green (Delta Force) and AFO reconnaissance teams always carried the line-of-sight frequency to Bossman, the AWACS, for such emergencies should they need command and control aircraft to organize immediate air support. This was the kind of move the SEALs might have made if given the time at Gardez to fully integrate into the AFO operation. But in the rush to rush the teams towards the shahikot, this seems to have been forgotten. So Roberts' radio was useless. He activated his infrared flash, but the enemy had seen him. Within minutes they were shooting at him. He fought fiercely, returning fire with his SAW and desperately trying to buy some time. But as his would-be rescuers were slowed down by the confusion that paralyzed TF 11's command system, an enemy bullet hit him in the right thigh. Bleeding into the snow, he kept firing, his blood dripping onto the bullets as they were fed into the gun until they jammed. Approximately thirty-five minutes after falling from the helicopter, his wound had weakened him to the point where he was probably too weak to fire the heavy SAW anyway. Al-Qaeda fighters walked towards him, dragged him and carried him down the hill to a complex of trees and bunkers. No one knows exactly what happened between the American warrior and his captors, but at 4:27 am enemy combatants decided unequivocally that Roberts was no longer of use to them. One of them pointed a gun at Robert's head and fired a single shot, killing him instantly. An al-Qaeda fighter straddled his body for a few minutes, presumably stripping him of any useful equipment, then headed for a nearby bunker. About an hour and a half after Razor 03 crashed, Neil Roberts was dead.

RAZOR 04 was a minute away from Takur Ghar. The men on board braced themselves for what was sure to be a hot LZ. At Masirah, TF 11 personnel were frantically trying to catch up with the helicopter, with orders not to land on top of the mountain, but on a wobbly spot and await the Ranger's rapid reaction force, which was preparing to take off from Bagram. This instruction was based on the recommendation of Grim 32, who looked directly at the peak and could see that it was "full of men". But again, the decision to take over Masirah's operation took its toll. The message was never transmitted on the satellite's frequency (or according to Turner, the pilot of Grim 32, the message was transmitted, but the SEALs ignored it because landing on the alternate LZ would have given them too much lift). Anyway, from the SEALs' point of view, they had no choice but to land on top. If Roberts were alive now, he probably wouldn't survive the two hours it would take his teammates to climb the mountain. Landing back at Takur Ghar "wasn't the smartest idea, but it was all we had," Slab said. But Masirah's team thought their message got through, causing Grim 32 to start "shining" in the LZ offset. The AC-130 crew complied with the request and were confused when neither the Razor 04 nor the Mako 30 registered the approach to the mountain, which was standard procedure in the situation. Those aboard Grim 32 were further confused when no helicopters appeared over the LZ approximately half a mile south of the summit. Then one of Turner's sensor operators saw a Chinook approaching the top of the mountain. "Shit," said the crewman. "You're going back to the original LZ." Razor 04 landed on the southwest part of the snowy peak. It was 4:55 in the morning.

Before the helicopter's wheels touched down, the pilots saw a DShK spitting flames about 100 meters in front of their noses and a guide heading towards it.oh this is going to hurtthought the chief pilot. "Forward and down! Forward and down!" said the Air Mission Commander to the pilot. They pushed the plane a little further to find a flatter spot in the snow. About fifty meters to the left, behind. machine gun. Both pilots applied downthrust together to bring the helicopter down and maintain ground between the machine gun and the aircraft. "We're taking fire from eleven o'clock," the left door gunner shouted when the plane was forty feet above the ground. "Is it an effective shot?" asked one of the pilots. "Anyway!" replied the door gunner as the bullets hit the left side of the plane. from a nearby summit.

The rotation of the two huge sets of rotor blades created a small snowstorm around the Chinook as it settled into the snow, but the crew could still see the flares flashing above the aircraft. The six members of the Mako 30 descended the ramp, spread out and stopped long enough for the helicopter to take off. Slab stumbled and landed on his face, but he got up immediately. As Razor 04 towered above the team, the left door gunner got off a few rounds with his machine gun before it jammed. The right rear gunner fired a long volley from his M60 at a DShK he saw in the helicopter's one o'clock position. Then, fearing that the SEALs had bitten off more than they could chew and needed to be removed immediately, the Razor 04 pilots began flying in orbit around the top of the mountain. Although Razor 04 lost radio contact with the SEALs as they descended the ramp, it remained in orbit until its fuel level dropped below 1,000 pounds. The helicopter then returned to Gardez. Upon landing, the fuel gauge read zero. When the crew got out, they saw the reason: the bullets had pierced the left fuel tank in several places. A bullet also severed the electrical harnesses that controlled the left engine. The damage rendered the helicopter inoperable and the aircraft was airworthy until refueling.

As the helicopter took off, the six men of the Mako 30 split into three pairs and began attacking the high ground to the north, where a large rock formation and a tree were closest to their position. Unfortunately, and for the same reason, the enemy was already there. The next few moments were a blur of bloody, violent action. Slab and Chapman were closer to the tree. Chapman saw movement below the branches and instinctively fired his M4. Within seconds, Slab was at his side, shooting two men the Mako 30 leader spotted under the tree. When he emptied his clip, the two guerrillas lay dead. But now Slab and Chapman were under attack from both north and south. From another bunker under a tree, twenty meters beyond the position they had just silenced, a hail of belt-fed PKM machine gun rounds erupted. Slab could see the sparks and hear the ricochets of the 7.62 bullets bouncing off the rocks around him. Then, according to Slab, one of the bullets hit the target. Chapman landed five feet to the right of Slab to the ground. As Slab and the two SEALs on his left continued to fire at the position in front of him, the team leader glanced at Chapman. The Air Force man went down with his M4, Slab said. Slab realized that his finger was tight on the trigger because he could see the aiming laser firing from the rifle when the trigger was pulled. The laser didn't move an inch, which Slab said indicated Chapman wasn't breathing. "It was at that moment that I realized he was dead," Slab said. "He would move if he were still alive." It was a decision made on the spur of the moment. Slab didn't even stoop to take a pulse or physically confirm Chapman's death. There was no time to think about it. He had four more men to lead, and the bullets and shells streaking across the top of the mountain did not stop his thoughts to focus. He turned his back on Chapman and fired two 40 mm grenades from the M203 grenade launcher into the bottom of his M4. One exploded harmlessly in the trees, but the other detonated in the bunker.

For Grim 32, now circling, the battle below was nothing but chaos: "the literal firefight in a phone booth, with laser pointers and trackers in every direction," Turner said. Even in such a mess, Grim 32 could have helped. But he had no way of knowing who was who down there. Masirah should have called the AC-130 crew on the frequency Mako 30 would use, but Grim 32 never received the call. As a new orbit over the mountain began, the AC-130 crew tried three different frequencies they assumed the Mako 30 might be using, but to no avail. The team's primary radio was the one Chapman carried in his backpack, which now lay unused in the snow beside him. But SEALs also used MBITR. Perhaps because they spent so much time in the water, SEALs weren't as obsessed with radio communications as Army special operators. This was a time when inattention to this particular detail would cost them dearly. On land, they suffered casualties. The best close air support aircraft in the world circled overhead, but they didn't use it. There was more excruciating frustration with Grim 32. "The hardest thing for us is doing a front row photo of this event, seeing the good guys taking bullets and feeling like we can't do anything about it," Turner said.

Another SEAL climbed a rock next to the bunker and fired his M60 machine gun at close range. The bunker fire stopped. Slab turned and fired his last 40mm round into the south bunker. At least two SEALs were now exposed on the rock. Then fire broke out again from the north bunker. A SEAL threw two grenades. Each one exploded and the fire stopped. The SEAL with the M60 continued to fire on the position. But as the SEALs prepared to flank the bunker, a grenade flew in, hitting one of them in the left leg. The machine gun in the bunker kept firing, the bullets slamming into the rock where the SEALs were standing. Then a bullet hit the already wounded SEAL, this time in the right leg. He rolled across the rock, trying to dodge the wave of deadly fire coming from the bunker. Meanwhile, a hostile position has also opened up in the West towards the SEALs. Having already lost one man and seriously injured another, Slab decided to cut off contact. They were outnumbered and outgunned, and there appeared to be no sign of Roberts. Slab wanted to put enough distance between him and his enemy to be able to take advantage of Grim 32's firepower. the process. They almost certainly didn't notice in the darkness and chaos, but when they jumped off the rock to escape, the SEALs ran over Neil Roberts' body. Fifty yards away, the other two SEALs exchanged fire with a machine gun positioned to the south, killing two Al Qaeda men who threw their heads off a hill a second too long. They found that the slab was coming loose.

Slab and another SEAL ran to where Chapman had been hit. He was still lying there, in what Slab described as an "unnatural" position. Meanwhile, another SEAL was wounded. In Slab's opinion, with one SEAL badly wounded in both legs and another with less serious injuries, he didn't have the manpower or time to carry Chapman's body off the mountain. Fire broke out again from a bunker. It was time to descend from the top of Takur Ghar. "One by one, we jumped, ran and slid across the top of the mountain," Slab said. The two SEALs, separated by the trio of Slab survivors, laid covering fire and then dove down the northeast face of the mountain, the first three taking cover behind and in turn covering rocks and trees. Then machine gun fire from the north bunker wounded another SEAL in the left leg. When al-Qaeda men watching from the mountainside lost sight of them, Slab lowered his men a little until they were about fifty meters from the top. Only then did he draw his MBITR and ask Grim 32 to cover his withdrawal. “Grim, Grim, are you awake?” Slab said, breathing hard. "Yeah, we're trying to get in touch with you," replied Grim 32's navigator. "Where are your guys?" Slab flashed an infrared strobe light to pinpoint its position for the AC-130, then had the plane fire its 105mm howitzer at al-Qaeda positions above it. The SEALs still received machine gun fire, but it was ineffective. However, the only radio they could use to talk to Bagram and Masirah was the satellite radio in Chapman's backpack, which was still on top of the mountain. But Slab used his MBITR to contact Juliet at her observation post 4,000 meters to the north. At 5:23 am. At the time, Juliet relayed a message from Slab to Bagram: Mako 30 requested the quick reaction force.


At 3:45 am At 2:00 pm, when Razor 04 landed alongside the downed Razor 03, Gregory Trebon alerted Task Force 11's quick reaction force. He did not fully understand what had happened on the Shahikot, but he wanted his quick reaction force to was operational. . Responsibility for providing this force revolved between the three platoons of a company, 1S tRanger Battalion, which formed the core of the Red Task Force. On the night of March 3rd to 4th the QRF was 1S tSquadron led by Captain Nathan Self.

Born and raised in Waco, Texas, Nate Self was an all-American boy who realized his mother's worst fears when he arrived at West Point in 1994 as a cadet looking for a challenge and a way to serve his country. In 1998, two weeks after graduating from the military academy, he married his high school sweetheart, whom he had known since elementary school. In October, she gave birth to her first child, a son, but Self only had two months to meet him before A Company was deployed to Afghanistan. As with other levels of command in the Ranger Regiment, platoon command was a second command to the officers who received it; therefore, the lieutenants who became platoon leaders were a little older and more experienced than their counterparts in the rest of the Army because they already had it. then elsewhere he was a train conductor. I myself was no exception. He was 25 years old and in December he had been promoted to captain, the post most commonly associated with company command. When Anaconda started, Self was 1 in the lead.S tPeloton for nearly seventeen months. He knew men, their strengths and weaknesses.

By the time Trebon gave the order to alert the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), Self had anticipated the move and was well ahead. The captain was sitting in the blue TOC, where the Rangers had a corner all to themselves, when he heard on the radio that a TF Brown helicopter had gone down. It was unclear whether the helicopter went down due to enemy fire or mechanical failure, but either way, Self knew that probably meant his men would get the call. Protecting a crashed helicopter was on the QRF's list of operations. He ran to the two GP mediums who sheltered his platoon and told his troops to stand up. At first, few took it very seriously. He had already woken her up once that night, when another possible mission had come up: reinforcement of the Khowst safe house after a missile strike. That was over, but here again the captain got his troops out of bed in the middle of the night. It was as if the young wolf was crying. "Yes, sir, we did it last time," said First Sgt. Arin Canon, half joking. "No, get up," said Self, his voice serious. “One of our planes crashed.” That was all he had to say. Before long, the men were out of their sleeping bags, dressed in uniforms and riot gear, picking up weapons and checking them. Ranger default was to be ready to fly the airfield thirty minutes after the alert. They had rehearsed this several times, working through every possible eventuality:What if there is only one helicopter available? Do we need vehicles?Each man was assigned a role which he controlled.

Since their arrival at Bagram in the last week of December, the platoon members had embarked on several missions, but none of the men had seen combat. However, they stayed ahead by training at Al Qaeda's huge facilities at Tarnak Farms, near Kandahar. Using live ammunition, they rehearsed combat scenarios, including platoon-level attacks in what Self described as "the best training I've ever seen in the military". He and his men particularly reveled in the opportunity to push the boundaries in terms of security restrictions beyond what could be allowed in the United States. "Bad for Al Qaeda, lucky for us," said Canon, the train's weapons squad leader. One of Self's squads plus a machine gun team, a medic and his platoon sergeant were still there, leaving him at Bagram with just over half his platoon: two squadrons of the line, two two-man machine gun teams and himself. . really started this time, he ran toward 2Dakota do NorteThe squadrons pitched tents and harnessed their medic, Sergeant Matt LaFrenz, to accompany them on the mission.

Self returned to the summary. Word came that someone had fallen out of a Chinook. On the Predator's screen, he could see Razor 04 on the ground next to Razor 03, although he wasn't sure what he was looking at or where he was. The captain assumed that his mission would be to protect the downed helicopter. I was baffled by the references I heard about a guy falling out of a helicopter. "Sir, what are we doing? Where are we going?" he said to his battalion operations officer, Major Jim Mingus. With Tony Thomas in Kandahar, Mingus was TF Red's senior officer in Bagram. Mingus told Self to go to the helicopters and then ask OCD for advice.

Self went to the airfield only to find more problems. The QRF mission has always included a three- or four-man Air Force special tactics team, consisting of pararescuers, or PJs, trained in emergency medical skills and rapid casualty rescue and evacuation, and combat controllers whose job it was to direct the conduct of air traffic. to control. and coordination of air support. When his platoon was first assigned to the QRF mission, Self was assigned to a Special Tactics Team (STS), to which he explained the practical aspects of how the platoon carried out its missions, simple but essential things like who to what position would the back of the helicopter be from and what were everyone's radio callsigns. But tonight this team was on a different mission. When Self arrived at the airfield, an unknown four-man special tactics team was waiting for him. This restless self is the canon. None of them felt comfortable going into a combat situation with a team they had never seen before, but Self went over the platoon's standard operating procedures as clearly as possible with the airmen.

Then another problem arose: there were two TF Brown Chinooks on the track, but only one was equipped for his men. The other was to take a fuel blevet to the Gardez airstrip. Self couldn't understand why fuel was a higher priority than getting his men to the downed helicopter. He had about twenty-five men at the airfield and he wanted to take as many rangers as possible. He called Mingus and told him about the four-man special tactics team. The platoon leader told the major that he couldn't handle the four, especially since the 160aThe pilots told him that there was only one plane available to transport his troops. If that were the case, Self would be limited to facing only thirteen men. "There's no way I can take four of those [special tacticians] and only nine of me," Self told Mingus. Self would definitely take his enlisted tactical air traffic controller, Master Sgt Kevin Vance, with him. If the four special tactics experts came, there would only be room for a seven-man squad. If Self took a two-man machine gun team, that team would be reduced to five men. Mingus told him that he could take out one of the Special Tacticians. "Why don't we accept them?" replied Self. "We know the plane is stable, we're not going to cut anyone, there are no casualties there. What do you want? I'd rather take thirteen of my people so we can fight." Mingus told Self that he had to bring the special tacticians with him in case his helicopter went down. They discussed the matter back and forth, but Self went no further. He was left with a load of ten Rangers and a three-man STS team. Self quickly considered who to bring. He chose Sergeant Ray DePouli's squad ("because it was the best squad in the platoon", he said), reducing it to six men plus himself, Vance and a two-man machine gun team. The six-man squad consisted of DePouli as squad leader, a three-man fire team consisting of a team leader, SAW gunner and 203rd gunner, and a two-man fire team with a team leader and SAW gunner. When he called Mingus again, Self explained how limited his options were with such a small force on the ground. "You only hold a downed bird," Mingus replied. What about the guy who fell out of the helicopter? I wondered. "We're still working on it," said Mingus, an indication of how little situational awareness Bagram's red and blue team had.

A TF Red team captain approached Self on the tarmac. "You have permission to start, go ahead," he told the driver. “What is our mission?” Self asked for the umpteenth time. "We need to lift him in the air and bring him closer, get him to Gardez and put him down," said the fighter's captain. “When you come to Gardez, come to Tacsat and we'll give you further instructions. We just have to pre-position you and move because it's about an hour's flight time." As he spoke, two more Chinooks, the original Razor 03 and the Razor 04 he had just brought back from Gardez, landed on the runway about from 200 meters away. The crew chief of one of the helicopters that Self thought he was going to fly pointed to the Chinooks he had just flown and told him that those were the helicopters he was going to fly now. Before walking towards With them, Self turned to the other ranger captain. "Bring me another plane," he pleaded. "You've got to get people out there." At that moment, the special tactics team that normally worked with Self's platoon left. of his mission. Self briefed them on what was happening and told the team he had just met that he was picking up the flyers he already knew. Then, with what was left of the chalk, he ran towards the helicopters that had just landed. got to the helicopter on what duty was going to fly, a special tactical team was already on board. "Who's the team leader?" asked Self. "I am," replied Sgt. Keary Miller, 31, of Technigal. "You're gone," Self told Miller. "I have my own boys." He then drove on, turned on the intercom and spoke to the crew as the Chinook taxied down the runway to refuel. Turning around, he saw that Miller and his companions were still there. The two special tactics teams met on the ramp and agreed that the equipment that was already on the plane should remain, as their equipment, special equipment for removing people from the helicopter wreckage, was already loaded onto the helicopter. Self wasn't happy sitting with a team he hadn't seen before that night. I would have preferred to go in with the first team of the afternoon. He had given them at least fifteen minutes to explain how the movement worked. But now there was nothing to do but make the most of it.

(Video) Operation Anaconda with Sean Naylor

"This is what will happen," Self told them. "It will be my RTO," he said, pointing at Vance. "Who's the umpire?" Special tacticians pointed to Sergeant Gabe Brown. "You will control the fires," Self told Brown. Self wanted Vance as his RTO because he knew Vance knew all the callsigns and frequencies to talk to the blue OCD. Brown, who is less experienced than Vance, would be responsible for calling in close air support if needed.

In the meantime, Canon went to TOC in hopes of getting another plane. When he got there, Mingus told him that another helicopter was waiting for him and that he should get on. He returned to the airfield, gathered his men, and boarded the Chinook, callsign Razor 02. On Self's plane, Razor 01, the platoon leader was on the intercom with the crew as they prepared for takeoff. He had no idea that the other half of his squadron would be coming with him until he heard the crew of Razor 02 say that there were Rangers on board over the radio. It was a huge relief for Self. Now he had the people he needed: nineteen Rangers, an ETAC and a three-man special tactics team.

The helicopters took off shortly after 5am. There were twenty-one men in Razor 01: two pilots, the Air Mission Commander, four crew chiefs, a doctor from the 160tha, three special tacticians, one enlisted tactical air controller, and nine rangers. The Razor 02 carried sixteen men: two pilots, four crew chiefs and ten rangers. Nobody on either plane had more than a vague idea of ​​what awaited them on the other side of the flight. Both Self and Canon believed they would land at Gardez, receive a more detailed briefing, and fly into the valley to protect the downed helicopter. Sitting in the front of his helicopter, Self had the plane's intercom connected to one ear, allowing him to listen to radio transmissions sent and received by the pilots, and he connected his MBITR to his other ear so he could talk to DePouli. other end of the plane. The crew was tuned into the frequency of the TF 11 satellite, known as Tiersat. Self recognized some of the callsigns, but the only voice he was familiar with was Pete Blaber. The captain tried to make sense of what was going on from the disjointed radio calls. Hearing a callsign from Mako, Self deduced that somehow the SEALs had managed to protect whoever had fallen from the helicopter. Two and a half hours after Roberts fell in the snow at Takur Ghar, Self still suffered from the misconception that the man who fell was probably a hapless soldier from the 101st.S t. However, one thing was clear from listening to the radio chat: everyone wanted to know when the QRF would arrive. He expected everyone to show some patience.First we have to stop at Gardez and find out what's going on,he thought.

In Razor 01, all three are 160aNoncommissioned Officers in Charge of the Flight: Air Mission Commander, a Petty Officer 5 named Don, Pilot-in-Command, a Petty Officer 4 named Chuck, and pilot, a Petty Officer 3 named Greg, thirty-seven in Louisville, Kentucky, was on his third tour that night and had a lot of fun trying to figure out what was going to happen. They shared radio functions with each other, each monitoring different networks. Don sat in the booster seat and tried with great difficulty to talk to Bagram. Not much came directly from the blue and brown OCDs. Most of what the Air Mission Commander heard came from a Navy EP-3 aircraft relaying messages to the arriving Masirah and Bagram Chinooks.

As they flew over the mountains north of Gardez, the helicopters lost radio contact with each other. Aboard Razor 01, Don spoke with EP-3, who was trying to pass the grid coordinates to Chinook's landing zone. Don had EP-3 repeat the numbers three times before making sure that he and the others listening to Razor 01 heard them correctly. "We almost misspelled the grid," Self recalled. Given what followed, he admitted that such a mistake "was a good thing". Self did his best to follow and keep his men informed. He took a light board (a piece of plexiglass glued on the side to give a white background and illuminated with a chemical light) from his pocket and penciled in the basics of what he discerned from the distorted radio transmissions that might have passed. around. He wrote that "SEAL snipers" were near the man who fell from the plane, that "they may have had contact" and requested the QRF. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Chinooks would not stop at Gardez. One of the few orders that came from Masirah and Bagram was to go directly into the valley to help the SEALs.

It had been nearly three hours since Razor 03 had been shot down, but the commander of the quick reaction force en route to Shahikot still had no idea of ​​the SEALs' position relative to the downed helicopter and continued to believe that the helicopter had crashed. starry. landed by enemy fire or a maintenance issue (he still didn't know which) and a soldier falling from a helicopter were unrelated incidents. For the Razor 02, Canon has not been informed of the change in plans. He knew Gardez from a previous mission, and as the helicopter flew overhead, he looked out the window, recognized the city below, and realized they weren't going to land.obviously something has changedhe thought.

The helicopters entered the northern end of Shahikot. Night had disappeared and crews were flying using aggressive and realistic techniques to hug the ground and prevent Al Qaeda gunners from being a target. Looking out, they were shocked to find that they were flying over the dark form of Razor 03. Up until this point, everyone had assumed they were heading to the crash site. Don asked EP-3 if they were sure of the LZ coordinates because they had just flown over the downed helicopter. "No, it's a different place," said the man in PS-3. "It's on a 10,000-foot mountain." "Are there allies or enemies there?" EP-3 informed Don that there would be friendly troops on the mountain. “Up and moving, huh?” Don asked. "They're moving," replied EP-3. By this time both Chinooks had flown out of the valley and were in a holding pattern while Don, Self and the pilots tried to sort out the details.

Meanwhile, at 6:08 am, staff officers in Bagram and Masirah tried to reach Razor 01 and Razor 02 without success. Satellite communications failed just when the special operators, sitting in the operations centers near the radios and behind the controls in the Chinooks, needed them most. The message the TF 11 team tried to convey was a simple, important, life-saving message: don't land on top of the mountain where Razor 03 and Razor 04 once burned; landing on a staggered LZ further down the slopes of Takur Ghar. These instructions were never received by the helicopters, which still responded to commands received via the EP-3. Once again, the decision to remove Blaber from the chain of command turned out to be a terrible mistake. As the Special Operations Command investigator wrote:“This is where the [AFO] commander on the ground would clearly make the difference. At the very least, he would have insisted that Razor 01 use a staggered landing zone. He could also give this instruction in person, using the most reliable visual radios, which would greatly reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.”

While Razor 01 resisted and dodged, the men at the rear held. There were no seats in the basement, so they sat on the floor, trying not to get knocked over. Nate Self braced himself, checked the map with his flashlight, trying to make sense of everything. He was still confused, but he somehow managed to figure out three things and tell his men through the light panel: they were going to land "near the enemy"; the SEALs were in contact with the same enemy; and the SEALs were also not far from the man who fell from the helicopter. Self wrote to his troops that they were "performing hot extraction on a possible hot LZ" (pilots unknown). Talking to each other on their MBITR radios, Self and DePouli came up with a plan that basically involved running around the back of the helicopter, securing the immediate area, linking up with the SEALs, and maybe the guy who fell out of the helicopter was, put it on. a on your Chinook and fly as fast as you can. "Watch out for fires, there are friends in the area," Self wrote on the light board. At the very least, he wanted his men to understand that combat was likely to start on the LZ and that SEALs who caught it would break contact with the enemy if they ran for the helicopter. He turned his attention to the radio. The callsigns were all Bagram. Then he heard Blaber's now urgent voice. Everyone seemed to be talking about the AC-130.


On Takur Ghar's side, Mako 30 was in trouble. Slab and his four teammates, having come from the top of the mountain, managed to run and limp to a hiding place under an overhang that protected them from the fire that drove them from the top. But the only thing that stopped the guerrillas from looking for them was the presence of Grim 32 above them. Whenever the SEALs or fighter crew saw the enemy trying to outflank the Mako 30's position, the AC-130 would open fire with some of its trademark 105mm shells. ("We felt the '40s weren't roaring enough to keep our heads down," Turner said.)

But there was a limit to how long the Mako 30 could be supported by the Grim 32. Air Force regulations required the AC-130 to leave the combat zone at dawn, less than an hour away. In the cockpit of the helicopter, Turner checked his watch and called Bossman to make sure there were some speed controllers available to help the SEALs when he needed to leave the station. At the same time, Grim 32 recalled to its superior headquarters, the Dagger air component on K2. “We are in a firefight with these guys [ie h Mako 30] for his life,” Turner told K2. “We are asking permission to stay longer.” Dagger's response was, "No, you're going back to base." This was appropriate, as neither the gunboat's crew nor many other officers were monitoring the call. Radio and telephone calls flew between Bagram, Masirah, K2, Bossman (of the AWACS) and Shahikot as these officers became involved in a high-profile dispute with some Air Force officers over who "owned" the AC-130. . An unclear chain of command again disrupted effective control of the operation.

Blaber, Harrell, Mulholland and Trebon sided with those who advocated keeping Grim 32 on the station. However, stubborn resistance came from Frank Kisner, who served in dual roles as Mulholland's second-in-command in Task Force Dagger and commander of the Joint Special Operations Air Component (North). Kisner was apparently affected by the daytime fear of killing that has haunted the AC-130 community since Spirit 03 sank off Khafji. The dispute led to heated telephone discussions with Mulholland.

The people who were most concerned when they heard the radio messages about Grim 32 pulling away from the station were the SEALs from Mako 30. "Hey guys, don't leave me," Slab told the fighter crew. "If you are, we're dead." Grim 32 told Slab not to worry. "Until you have someone else to take care of you, let's stay," said one of the crew. "We're just trying to figure out this ROE [Rules of Engagement] shit." They continued shooting. For the SEALs and crew of Grim 32, the argument for keeping the fighter in position after dawn was simple: SEALs needed their firepower to keep the enemy off their rear. But to others who advocated keeping the AC-130 on station, its importance to the incoming quick reaction force was at least as important. One of the strongest defenders of holding Grim 32 over Takur Ghar was Pete Blaber. As soon as he heard Turner talk about Breaking Station, Blaber appeared on the web. "Negative," he said. "I order you to stay at the station and support these guys. They will be fire support when the QRF arrives."

This argument made a lot of sense to Turner and his crewmates, except that they were left without fuel, left without light and nobody seemed to be able to decide when Razor 01 and Razor 02 would appear. within an hour". The pilot knew that he would not have fuel for an hour if he wanted to return to K2. Then, on a ridge about five miles south of him, a shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile shot toward his plane. Through Turner's night vision goggles, the shuttle appeared to be heading toward him. The missile fell well short of the Grim 32, but it was a wake-up call that heightened his fears about his own vulnerability as the sun rose. "In daylight, an AC-130 looks like a blimp during a football game," Turner said. At least the base on K2 stopped pestering them with requests to return to K2. In fact, K2 was surprisingly quiet. Turner called his electronic warfare officer, who checked the radio channels the plane was listening to. "Hey, I haven't heard from Dagger in a long time," Turner said. "What's wrong with them?" "Boss, you're very busy up there, you're making the right decisions, I got them out," the officer replied. He was close to Turner and knew that the pilot would stay at the station until he ran out of fuel or someone came to replace him, whichever came first. Under these conditions, it was no use listening to K2's increasingly desperate cries to return to base. "He turned them off so we couldn't hear them telling us to go home," Turner said.

It dawned on the Shahikot. From Masirah, Chris Naler told Grim 32 to remain at the station until the QRF arrived. But Turner still couldn't get Naler to tell him when that would happen. The reason was simple: Masirah had lost sight of Razor 01 and Razor 02. In another sign of the low situational awareness maintained by TF 11 personnel, Naler, callsign Champ 20, Grim 32, told her to "shine" the LZ. amplify the effect of the QRF night vision goggles when the Chinooks arrive. "Hey champ, it's daytime in here," replied Turner, who was wearing sunglasses at the time.

Soon after, a nearby EP-3 with the callsign Toolbox Grim 32 asked if they had seen the anti-aircraft missile fired at them. Do not. The missile had been launched from a similar location to the previous one and it hadn't made it either, but Turner was much more concerned this time precisely because he hadn't seen it. "If you look at all the planes that have been shot down since anti-aircraft missiles were invented, the vast majority of them have been shot down by the missile, which they never saw," he explained. At that moment, two F-15E Strike Eagles passed through Turner's field of view, reporting that they were ready to assume responsibility for close air support. The fighter pilot now knew that the SEALs would not be helpless if he left, although no other aircraft in the US arsenal came close to reproducing the consistent, accurate tone an AC-130 could provide.

The sun was up and the Grim 32's fuel gauge was getting lower and lower. The Strike Eagles were at the station and there was no sign or word from the quick reaction force. Turner radioed the F-15Es and told them what he knew, pointing them to Mako 30 and giving them frequencies for the SEAL team and the TF-11 Operations Center in Masirah. Then, at 6:01 am, Toolbox reported that a third anti-aircraft missile had been fired at Grim 32. Unlike the previous two launches, which had gained so much altitude that they were undoubtedly missiles, Turner acknowledged that the EP-3 could have mistaken an RPG for a shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile for the third time. Still, the incident helped him make up his mind. The Strike Eagles, being much faster than the AC-130, required more space to operate. it was broad daylight; his chain of command had already sent him home; he had been shot twice and maybe a third now; and no one seemed to know when the QRF arrived.It might be time to get out of the wayhe thought. Grim 32 asked again when Razor 01 was ready. "We'll fix it," was the reply. No one passed the Chinooks' frequency to the AC-130. Grim 32 transmitted Strike Eagle's callsigns to Mako 30, spoke with Bossman, who told the fighter to leave for at least thirteen minutes and then returned home. "There really wasn't anything else we thought we could do," Turner said. One of his last calls from Shahikot was to Masirah on the QRF issue. "Whatever you do, don't send them back to the same LZ," he told Naler. "It is very hot." It was a message sent by Masirah but never received.

Ten minutes later, Razor 01 flew into the same hot landing zone that Grim 32 had warned Masirah about. By this time, almost everyone in TF 11's chain of command had belatedly realized that the top of Takur Ghar was not a good place to try to land a Chinook, with the exception of the crews of Razor 01 and Razor 02. Do Grim 32 know that the two Chinooks were only 10 minutes apart when they made the decision to leave if they had stayed? "Had we known they were coming, I have no doubt we would have stayed there," Turner said. “That's what we train for and that's the bond we have with these guys. That's why we train with the Rangers every day... We disobey our orders for an hour. Another fifteen minutes wouldn't get me in trouble. The AC-130 had less than 30 minutes of fuel left in the tank, more than needed to reach K2. However, had they decided to divert to Kandahar or air resupply over Pakistan, they could have orbited Takur Ghar for another hour, more than enough time to annihilate any enemy forces the Rangers might encounter. Once again, the Shahikot realized the problems associated with trying to conduct a combat operation thousands of miles away, relying only on a few crowded satellite frequencies and the Predator's "soda straw" vision.

As the AC-130 pulled away from the valley, Blaber made one last attempt to persuade them to stay. "If you leave the station before the QRF arrives," he said, "we'll shoot down a helicopter."

At 06:07, Razors 01 and 02 were about to drop their holding patterns outside the Shahikot and head towards Takur Ghar. Slab and four of his Mako 30 companions took cover under an overhang in the mountainside. But something strange happened on the summit. At a time when no Americans were supposed to live there, a fierce firefight was taking place.

The fight captured by a Predator was fierce and brief. At 5:52 am, an al-Qaeda fighter wearing a pair of Gore-Tex desert camouflage pants that he had stolen from the body or backpack of Neil Roberts, emerged from a hidden position and spent the next fifteen minutes, slowly and methodically flanking the bunkers. that Mako 30 had attacked at close range. As he moved, another fighter fired an RPG into one of the bunkers. Both guerrillas were clearly attacking someone in one of the bunkers. At 6:07 am, the al-Qaeda fighter, who had spent fifteen minutes maneuvering to the side of the bunker, opened fire on him, only to be killed by gunfire from inside the bunker. The fighter who fired the RPG attacked the bunker, killing everyone inside.

The burning question remains: who was in that bunker and put up such fierce resistance? There are only two options. The first is that an Al Qaeda fighter reoccupied the bunker and then mistakenly fired on his southern comrades, mistaking them for elements of the Mako 30 who remained on top of the mountain. In this scenario, targeted al-Qaeda fighters responded and attacked the bunker, thinking the man inside was an American, when in fact he was one of them. Colonel Andrew Milani, in charge of US Special Operations Command, in conducting a thorough investigation of the entire Takur-Ghar battle, found two weaknesses in this explanation of the events seen on the Predator tape. The first is that at that time there was already enough daylight for enemy fighters to quickly realize their mistake. Second, the AK-style assault rifles that enemy fighters were armed with sound markedly different from American M4 rifles, so much so that any experienced fighter would immediately tell whether the attacker was using an AK-47 or one of the many variants. .

The second possibility, far more troubling to US Special Operations Command, is that the man in the bunker, single-handedly fighting impassable obstacles atop a frozen Afghan mountain, was Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman, designated by Mako dem . Deaths were 30 fewer. more than an hour ago. Slab was convinced Chapman was dead, but he never physically confirmed it by taking his pulse or examining his body. There was no time for that in the heat of battle. However, Chapman's body was not found where Slab said he had left it, but four meters away in the bunker that the two Al Qaeda men attacked at 6:07 am. Slab said that before he and his men descended from the top of the mountain, he briefly checked where he believed Chapman had fallen and saw Chapman's body "in an unnatural position". But the location quoted by Slab is actually the exact spot where Roberts' body was later found. It is possible that Slab looked away from Chapman when Chapman was shot, or looked back in that direction shortly afterwards, noticed the body lying there and assumed it belonged to Chapman when in fact it was Robert's. Meanwhile, in this scenario, Chapman had climbed into the bunker to continue the fight.

Nate Self, who is very familiar with the top of the mountain and the Predator footage, said the video showed the person in the bunker firing at the enemy while the SEALs were still on top of the mountain. The SEALs then detonate at least one smoke canister to cover their retreat as the man in the bunker continues to fight. The film has no intermission and the man can be seen inside the bunker until the 6:07 am fight. m., when several Al Qaeda fighters attack the bunker from two different directions and kill him. Self also noted that the bunker shot that killed the enemy was a very hard shot that he doubted an Al Qaeda fighter could have fired. (Many US troops noted their enemies' poor aim during Anaconda.)

Chapman suffered upper and lower body injuries. The lower body wounds would not have killed him and could have allowed him to continue fighting after he came to his senses and crawled into the bunker. Wounds to the upper body would have been fatal almost immediately. It goes without saying that someone standing and fighting in a bunker is more likely to suffer upper body injuries than lower body injuries. However, this theory is contradicted by the fact that none of Chapman's radios (his main satellite radio and his MBITR) recorded calls during this period. A hardworking man who was an experienced radio operator would be expected to use his communication skills to call for help in this situation.

Milani couldn't decide which of the two scenarios represents reality. But other sources who saw the tape and were familiar with events at Takur Ghar were certain that the man fighting from the bunker was Chapman. An officer watching live Predator blur feeding in the Index Mountains was convinced that Chapman continued to fight after the SEALs fled the summit. "I clearly remember seeing this bubble still firing after the other two bubbles broke contact," he said.

If the man who got Al Qaeda out of the bunker was Chapman, he lasted almost long enough to have a chance of survival. Just forty-five seconds after their resistance finally ended, the attention of all Al Qaeda fighters at Takur Ghar was drawn to the rhythmic thunder of two huge sets of rotor blades as the dark figure of Razor 01 loomed over the summit of the Mountain. .


The Razor 01 pilots circled the mountain three times in search of a place to land. They saw footprints in the snow, but no SEALs. Chuck, Greg and Don were talking. None of them felt comfortable in this situation. Chuck called Razor 02 and told them to go back to Gardez and wait.Better to just shoot down one plane, not two,Chuck thought. In the background, Self stopped examining the map to take a look at his men. His faces reflected a natural fear any man would feel in this situation, "the fear of the unknown" as Canon described it in Razor 02, but that fear was laced with confidence. Training on Tarnak's farms has almost honed his skills. His weapons have been zeroed. The more religious among them had attended a service the day before, a Sunday. They were ready to fight. They were at the top of their game.

Dave, the sergeant who was the left door gunner, turned and gave a thumbs up to Sergeant Phil Svitak, the right door gunner, and shouted to everyone in the background, "Get ready!" Self leaned forward and shoved the specialist's shoulder. Marc Anderson, a 240 Rifleman, and gave him a reassuring thumbs-up. Anderson turned to his deputy gunner, Private First Class David Gilliam, slapped him on the back and shouted in his ear, "I feel like a ranger today."

After a brief discussion with me and the other pilot about where to land, Greg, the pilot in the right seat at the controls, picked a spot on a gentle slope about 25 feet from the top of the mountain and brought the plane helicopters on normal approach.Well that's it, take care.he thought. Below him, at the 2 o'clock position, he saw three men about 200 feet away with guns pointed at his helicopter. Before he could react, his right windshield shattered, his right multifunction display went blank, and two bullets hit him square in the chest, hitting his bulletproof vest. Another bullet pushed his helmet to the left. "Fire at 2 o'clock!" he shouted.

Svitak also saw the men fire on the helicopter. He turned to Cory, the Sergeant First Class who was the crew's medic. "Doctor, you better back off," Svitak told him. Then he fired a one-second burst from his submachine gun...wiiirrrrrr!!!!!– and collapsed with two bullets in the stomach. He was dead in seconds. The rear right gunner, a sergeant named Shawn, fired four rounds from his M60 machine gun...stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid!At that moment, as the Chinook slowed down and hovered about 25 meters above the ground, one of the enemy fighters, which had just killed the mysterious figure in the bunker under the tree, climbed onto a rock and fired a grenade at the helicopter. It hit the right engine and exploded. Immediately there was a loud whine from the left engine as it picked up the load to compensate for the right engine failure. Dave, the left gunner, was shot in the thigh when al Qaeda fighters opened fire on the helicopter. The bullet hit his knife, destroying it and going through part of his left leg. It was as if a sledgehammer had hit his thigh, from which blood was now oozing. Annoyed, he swung his machine gun left and right, fighting fire with fire. Beside him, Cory was hit by several bullets, none of which went through his bulletproof vest or helmet.

In the cockpit, a bullet hit Chuck's left leg just above the knee. Another hit the helmet and threw the head back. But Greg, unaware that his colleague was injured, was still in control of the helicopter. Greg's first instinct was to repeat the Razor 03 exploits of a few hours earlier and try to fly the helicopter over the edge of the mountain and fly away, except it had to be done on a single engine. But he soon realized that if he tried to pick up speed, he would lose altitude and not reach the summit. He turned the nose to the landing position and slowed the helicopter down to the deck. His left-seat pilot and flight director, Chuck, reminded him that he was landing on a cliff. He quickly shot down the helicopter. The rear wheels hit first. Then the front landing gear dropped with a lurch. "It was probably the best landing I've ever made in my fourteen years as an aviator," he said. Given the circumstances, that was almost certainly the case, but for Nate Self and his Rangers in the background, the Chinook seemed to fall out of the sky.

As they hit the ground, another grenade launcher flew through the right cockpit door. It didn't explode, but it did hit an oxygen tank above the left window, sending sparks around the basement and starting a small fire. The bullets ripped through the insulation and soundproofing material on the ceiling, which fell like confetti. The blow when they hit the ground knocked everyone back. Now they were still lying down or struggling on their knees to get out of the back of the helicopter. I was prepared for a hot LZ, but not that hot. I didn't realize they had just tried to land on an LZ that had already been shot down by two helicopters. He lay on the ground as machine gun fire blasted holes in both sides of the helicopter, trying to make sense of the situation.Someone fucked us up big timehe thought. It was 6:10 am. m.

Shawn hurt his knee on the landing, but he got up and let go of the ramp. The first ranger to release it was DePouli. As he reached the bottom, a bullet hit him in the back a fraction of an inch above the bottom of his vest's bulletproof rear panel, spinning him around. Spotting an enemy fighter at the helicopter's 8 o'clock position, he fired a full round from his M4 at the guerrillas. Behind him, two bullets hit Sergeant Joshua Walker's helmet. He didn't even notice the effect. Spotting a bunker to his right, he fired a full round at it as well, then turned left. Specialist Aaron Totten-Lancaster followed him out, wading through knee-deep snow, then dove face-first into the lower right corner of the fuselage. Gilliam took Anderson's 240 and crawled on his knees and elbows to the right of the ramp. Vance, the ETAC, dropped his pack, weighed down by the large radio inside, and jumped. But as Self crawled across the floor and up the ramp, he realized that not all of his men were as lucky as DePouli and Walker. Stuntman Matt Commons was lying face down on the ramp, eyes open but seeing nothing, a nice bullet hole in his head. His blood dripped down the ramp, staining the snow red. Sergeant Brad Crose lay dead face down in the snow at the end of the ramp. Like their Ranger ancestors who landed on Omaha Beach, Crose and Commons walked down the ramp only to be mowed down by machine gun fire. Anderson, who had told Gilliam moments earlier that he felt "like a park ranger", didn't even make it to the ramp. He was hit in the middle of the cabin and fell to the ground. Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, the PJ's doctor, crawled out and did the best he could, but was unable to save him.

Don sat on the step and saw bullet holes in the windshield. He had been in the military for 26 years, but this was the first time he had been shot. He unbuckled his seat belt, grabbed his rifle and backed up a few steps only to be met with a scene of devastation. It looked like everyone had been shot. The troops were on the ground or already out, so he ran out the back.

As soon as the helicopter landed, the same men Greg had seen firing as he approached approached the plane. Still gripping the joystick with his left hand, he grabbed his M4 with his right and fired a few rounds at them from his sliding side window, knocking them back behind rocks. Greg's company commander had his crews practice this scenario "over and over again," the pilot said. "At the time I thoughtOh my god, do we have to do this launch thing again?said. "It was like I could see into the future and I knew exactly what was going to happen. So everything I did was sort of muscle memory. I attribute it to training. I don't attribute it to heroism or anything like that." It's exactly what they taught me."

(Video) The Warfighters: The Battle of Roberts Ridge Quickly Turned Deadly | Full Episode (S1, E9) | History

The bullets flew into the cockpit, leaving holes and shattering what was left of the windshield and, in some cases, slipping off Greg's helmet. The front right breaker panel was smoking. Chuck leaned over and patted Greg on the shoulder. "I'm out of here!" he yelled as he grabbed his M4. Then he reached out with his left hand, grabbed the yellow and black emergency exit handle at the top of the door, turned it down, kicked the door open, and dove into the snow. It sounded like a good idea, so Greg did the same, reaching over his head with his left arm to pull the cable while gripping the butt of his M4 with his right. But the moment he kicked the door into the snow, his left arm flew back. Confused, he tried to move his left hand to grab the stock of his M4 and completely missed the weapon. He looked down to see that his left hand was hanging loosely from his forearm at an almost 90 degree angle, arterial blood spurting all over the cabin. He lifted his hand and examined it. The meat seemed to glow and smoke. Greg immediately understood why. In his hand was a tracer cartridge that burned out. He took it off and tucked it into his sleeve pocket. A good 60% of the circumference of his wrist was gone. A few sinews and bones were all that held her hand to his arm. He fired another volley from his M4 to protect himself, but jumping through the right door no longer seemed like an enticing proposition. He turned in his seat, propping his gun on the center console, and climbed the ladder to the rear of the helicopter, taking care to keep a pressure point under his wrist to slow the flow of blood a little. Part of his flying gear got caught in the booster seat when he tried to dodge. Lying on his stomach, arms outstretched in front of him, he kicked free. Up ahead, he saw Cory working on a ranger victim. He yelled at Cory that he was trapped. Another explosion rocked the plane as an RPG hit the nose, and Greg felt a "pulse" in his legs as shrapnel hit them. The plane's armored seats protected its torso from blows. Meanwhile, his head was stuck in the back of the helicopter and he got his first good look at the carnage there. He looked to his left and saw Phil Svitak huddled on the floor. Greg continued to scream at the top of his lungs, forgetting that he still had his helmet and ear plugs on. Turning her head to the right, she saw Dave, pale and sitting up, wrapping the lanyard of his 9mm Beretta pistol around his leg like a tourniquet. Dave looked up to see what all the yelling was about. "Take off the damn helmet!" he yelled. Greg reached out with his good hand and yanked it away.

Finally, Cory stepped forward, grabbed Greg's life jacket, and after several tries, pulled him toward the back of the helicopter. There was still a "fire" of grenades that opened holes in the side walls of the plane and passed over the heads of the men lying down. The bullets made abrand, brandSound when they drilled into the side of the plane. “It looked like hail was hitting your car,” said Greg, “but you saw sunlight coming in through the holes.” By then Greg, who had spent his first six years in the Army as a medic, had stopped bleeding Control. "Go check on Phil, he's not moving," he told Cory as the paramedic helped him past. "I don't think Phil did it," Dave said. "How is it going?" Cory yelled at Dave. "Okay," Dave replied. Cory and Jason Cunningham then started working on Greg. Cory applied a tourniquet and placed bandages and curls on the wound. When the paramedic raised his arm, Greg had his first chance to examine the damage the bullets had done. He looked in disbelief at what was left of his wrist, amazed at how much "stuff" Cory could fit on his arm. Cunningham then attached an oximeter, a device that measures oxygen in a patient's blood, to Greg's finger. It didn't seem to work. Frustrated, Cunningham took the device and discovered the reason: a bullet had severed one of the wires, probably while it was still in his pocket. “Has anyone seen Chuck?” Greg asked. He still didn't know that Chuck had been hurt before he fell in the snow. Nobody in the back of the helicopter knew where Chuck was. "He went out the left door," Greg said.

Greg was lying on his back in the back of the plane with his feet facing the cockpit. His M4 clips, which he carried in the back pockets of his survival vest, were tucked into his back. Cory knelt between her legs, Cunningham lying to her right. While everyone else was fighting, he told the survivors in the background to stack the PRC-112 survival radios next to him and that he would use them to try and make contact with the outside world. Greg grabbed the first one and spoke for him. "Here is Razor 01, shot down, taking heavy fire, engaged, heavy casualties," he said, giving the longitude and latitude of the helicopter's position. "The enemy is attacking us from the 2 and 9 o'clock positions." He repeated this transmission on each radio, leaving each radio on and turning two of them on to send a beacon signal.

Then the pain started. Violent and unbearable pain.


SELF exited the ramp to the left and quickly oriented itself. The helicopter had landed in a saddle, with the ground raised left and right. An RPG gunner lay dead on the rise fifty feet to the right of the helicopter, killed by either Svitak's minigun volley or Walker. Another RPG gunner controlled the elevation thirty meters to the left, along with at least one other AK-wielding enemy fighter. Sixty meters ahead of the helicopter, around 2 o'clock, guerrillas armed with machine guns and several RPGs took over the same complex of trees and bunkers from which the Mako 30 had received so much fire. Enemy fighters there and up the left and right now were firing at the Rangers as they came off the ramp and stumbled and slipped in the snow. SAW Specialist Anthony Miceli was hit in four or five places as he exited the helicopter. The weapon was destroyed, but Miceli was unharmed and went to the left side of the helicopter.

DePouli fired on the rising enemy fighters on the left, shooting down at least one of them. Auto challenged Totten-Lancaster to move further down the right side of the Chinook towards the nose. The captain's attention now turned to the position under the tree. I had no idea it was a bunker, all I knew was that a machine gun under that tree was firing a steady stream of bullets at the helicopter.We'll be here all day.he thought.No one's going to send a helicopter over here before dark.An RPG then flew out of the same position and over Self's head before bouncing off the ramp. Another RPG exploded about ten meters to the helicopter's right, spraying shrapnel into the platoon commander's leg, Totten-Lancaster's left calf, and Vance's arm. Totten-Lancaster was practically immobilized, unable to walk properly. Self was silent about his own injury. The shrapnel hit his thigh at a sharp angle and passed through it again and again. The wound was bleeding, but not enough to soak his briefs and combat pants. He was still able to move and feared that at this critical point in the battle, with several dead and several wounded, his men would be disheartened if they learned that their platoon leader had been hit.

But the RPG shooter was careless and allowed his head to remain visible on top of the rock while reloading. DePouli knocked him out with a straight kick. The headless gunslinger fell, leaving his RPG launcher on the rock. This put an end to the RPG threat for several hours.

Firing as they walked, Walker, Self, Vance and Totten-Lancaster took up position behind a rock on the right side of the helicopter, from where they exchanged fire with the guerrillas under the tree. Walker ran back to the helicopter. Brian, the left rear crew chief, took Commons' M203, the only one the Rangers had taken aboard Razor 01, and brought it to Walker under fire. Returning to the rock, Walker handed his M4 over to Totten-Lancaster and fired several 40mm rounds into the enemy position. The first shots were fired at the top of the hill because I was shooting uphill. It took a while to aim. He himself fired three or four rounds from his M4 before his extractor broke. He tried to pry out the jammed cartridge with his cleaning rod, but his weapon's rod broke, rendering it temporarily useless. He also ran back to the plane to get Crose's M4. Looking through the optical sight to aim the weapon and trying to place the red dot on its target, he was momentarily confused. There was more than one red dot in sight. The battle only lasted a few minutes, and Walker and Self were already firing weapons covered in their comrades' blood.

Self and his men were automatic now. The long hours of training paid off. They fired and moved without thinking. They knew how to do it. "We really turned the fight around in about a minute," said Self.

Meanwhile, Gilliam and DePouli moved the 240 machine gun to another rock to the right and slightly behind Self's position, while the others lay down to cover their fire. When they got there, they found an enemy fighter dead there. The fighter was wearing Neil Roberts' jacket and had Roberts' night vision goggles around his neck. The crystals were pierced by gunfire. Gilliam, not recognizing any of the items, told himself that the enemy fighter had binoculars (because they weren't the monocular night vision goggles Gilliam was used to). He threw them at the captain. Self recognized them as night vision goggles, but made no connection to his mission.How can the enemy have such NOD [Night Optics]?he thought, wondering what other captured American equipment the enemy might be using.We must have landed in the wrong place.he thought.No sign of the SEALs.

He himself wanted to outflank the enemy position under the tree. He sent Miceli and DePouli down the slope with orders to fall back on the right flank and try to attack the enemy position from the side or rear. They quickly realized that the plan wasn't feasible because the mountain had crashed into a cliff on the other side of the rock formation Self and the others were standing on. But they found two enemy shelters dug into the mountain some 130 meters behind the helicopter. DePouli called Self on the radio between teams. "Sir, I found a sleeping position, I'm giving up." "No, don't delete it," Self said. He then heard gunfire coming from that direction.Oh no, what's up?thought the driver. But only the two rangers fired at the positions to make sure no one was there. When they searched the hideout, they found Robert's backpack. It had been looted and its contents were scattered about, including a bottle of Nalgene water and an MBITR radio. The radio was returned to Self.What happens?he wondered.Why does the enemy have an MBITR? This is meaningless.Still unaware that he was at the very top of the mountain where the missing American soldier had fallen from a helicopter, he began to suspect that he was the victim of some sophisticated enemy trick.They knew we were coming. Someone here speaks English and called us here on this radio,he thought.We'll do it.

Gabe Brown then contacted Mako 30 on his MBITR radio. "They're down there on the right side," he told Self. "Their batteries are low. They'll call us back in time for radio checks. At least that settled the question of where the SEALs were. But because the batteries in their radios were so low, they had to conserve any remaining battery power. battery for exile or emergencies, the SEALs were unable to update the Rangers on what had happened prior to the landing of Razor 01 at Takur Ghar.

When Don, the Air Mission Commander, got out of the helicopter, it landed in the snow and rolled to the left, just as he had seen the Rangers do. Technically, he was the second tallest American in the helicopter, but once on the ground and in a fight, the veteran pilot knew it would be best for everyone if he let the Rangers take over. "What do you want me to do?" he asked. "Cover the left side of the helicopter," they replied. He rolled a few meters until he was about five feet behind the lower left corner of the Chinook, perpendicular to the fuselage, and examined the left flank. He knew they were taking fire from that side, but he couldn't see any enemy fighters. He thought that Dave wounded the guerrillas who shot at them while swinging his machine gun back and forth as he landed.

The sun was rising, shining on the snow Don was looking at. He was worried about going blind as snow. As the flight had started at night, he was not wearing sunglasses. It didn't take long for the cold to bite. He was wearing a beige two-piece flight suit, black fleece jacket, bulletproof vest with front and back panels, and a Gore-Tex jacket. He had removed his flight helmet when he got out of his seat and wore only a black cap on his head. Now the snow was running down his pants. Cory came back and asked how she was. Don told him he was fine. Only now did Don notice that the tip of his gloved finger had been torn off by one of the bullets that had hit the cabin. The same bullet poked several holes in his jacket sleeve. Cory grabbed some soundproofing from the helicopter and pulled Don to lie down.

On the left side of the helicopter, Chuck lay where he had fallen in the snow. He could see blood dripping onto the snow through the drainage holes in the bottom of the Chinook. He yelled at one of the rangers that he needed a tourniquet on his leg. "Now can you cover the left side for us?" asked the ranger. "Yes," Chuck replied. He improvised and used the knee brace (the table used by pilots to make calculations and examine maps during the flight) as a tourniquet. He wasn't sure if his leg would make it. He imagined spending the rest of his life without her. A park ranger told Don that Chuck was still lying in the snow next to the cabin. Don and Keary Miller walked to the left side of the helicopter and asked if she was okay. He said her leg was hurt. Don and Miller grabbed him by the shoulders of his life jacket and dragged him behind the ramp. Much to Chuck's chagrin, they strapped him to a gurney and carried his M4 to safety. So Miller got to work on his leg wound.

Don and Brian were capable of multi-tasking: covering the left side of the plane, occasionally shooting when enemy fighters appeared, assisting medics, and collecting ammunition from the wounded and dead. The two airmen stored most of the ammunition on the ramp, but on several occasions they ran through the snow in the open, carrying belts of 7.62 mm ammunition from the miniguns to the Rangers needed by the 240. "We tried to free them by telling the Rangers to do other things," said Don. He also tried calling for help using the PRC-112 survival radios, but to no avail. After trying several, he dropped one on the floor. "What's the use of using these things if they don't work?" he asked angrily.

On the helicopter, Cory set up a casualty staging area, where he tended to the injured with Miller and Cunningham, the two PFYs. Shawn, the right rear crew chief, who injured his knee in the hard landing, also stayed inside to help paramedics. It wasn't a perfect place to make life-or-death medical decisions. The enemy in the bunker under the tree could see the helicopter through the right door and would fire whenever they saw movement inside. But when the men inside remained less than half a meter above the ground, the armored protection provided by the bulletproof fuel tanks on either side of the Chinook meant they were safe.

Cory, a veteran of the 1989 invasion of Panama and the 1991 Gulf War, was in his element working with the victims. But the small burning fire had now set fire to some of the flocks. Cory had to choose between getting up and risking getting shot trying to put out the fire, or just letting it burn. Shawn tossed him a fire extinguisher and Cory quickly got up and put the fire out without incident, much to his relief. He told Cunningham to put Greg on an IV, but Greg had lost so much blood that Cunningham was having trouble finding a vein. After several failed attempts, Cory took over and succeeded.

Greg and Cory discussed the tactical situation and, in particular, whether to exit the plane. Greg's first suggestion was to get out of the helicopter. Every time someone moved or raised their head, a blast of fire entered. But nobody was hurt. Self-sealing fuel tanks protected them. Greg began to feel dizzy and narrow-eyed as he struggled to stay awake. Cory decided to stay in the helicopter for the time being.

The flight doctor told Dave he would put a splint on his leg. "This is going to hurt," he told the team boss. It hurt so much that Dave asked for morphine. "No, not that loud," Cory told him. “It would lower your heart rate.” After pinning his leg, Cory and Cunningham put Dave in a skedco. Meanwhile, Greg kept passing out. Cory grabbed one of the helicopter's portable oxygen systems and placed the mask over Greg's mouth to keep him awake. Greg went into shock several times. Cory's response was cool, calm, and professional throughout. "He's the reason Greg is alive," Don said.

After fending off the immediate threat of the RPG shooter, Self began to fear that his small force might be outflanked. Gilliam focused on the tree bunker. DePouli watched the right flank. Miceli was parked about a hundred yards behind him with Totten-Lancaster's SAW covering the entire rear area. Self, Walker, Vance and Totten-Lancaster covered the helicopter's forward arch. Don and Chuck (until they brought him in) watched the left flank. Self also received word from Cory and the PFYs that they needed medical attention for the victims as soon as possible.

TAKUR GHAR - Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda (1)

After the enemy fighters on the left and right mounds were killed within the first few minutes of the battle, the only shot the Americans received came from the bunker under the tree (which soon became known as "the bonsai tree"). Al-Qaeda fighters would appear behind the tree, fire an AK or throw a grenade, then reappear. The Rangers behind the rock with Self were protected from direct fire unless they raised their heads to fire. The enemy threw grenades at them, but they all fell to the snow with a pitiful cry.tel.Some rangers carried their own grenades, but every time they tried to throw a grenade up the hill towards the bunker, they failed. Walker's 203 seemed a more logical weapon in this situation, and he fired shell after shell into the bunker, trying, often successfully, to detonate the shell from the tree, raining shrapnel over the enemy position. Normally, DePouli's squadron carried Panzerfaust-type AT-4s, but this time they were forgotten. Self cursed himself for not keeping an eye on them on the Bagram airstrip, but he knew the upward angle of fire would make it nearly impossible to deploy from his current position.

I figured if I could just suppress the enemy bonsai position, maybe with air support, he and the other sane Rangers could attack it, take the top of the hill and then Razor 02 could come and take them out. Although he feared from the beginning of the fight that they would not be able to leave before dark, the medical staff pressured him to take the wounded to a doctor.

Normally, Vance would try to organize air support and talk to higher headquarters. But Vance had left the radio in his backpack in the snow by the ramp. Even if he had it with him, it would take some time to hook up the satellite dish and figure out the correct azimuth to point at. "It wasn't going to happen anytime soon," Self said. However, with so few trained men, Self felt he needed Vance's help to fend off the enemy. Just as he had planned at Bagram, the captain used Air Force Combat Controller Gabe Brown as his RTO and to call in air support. Brown took cover behind a rock in a small shallow hole twenty meters behind Self's position. One or two of the other rangers and I yelled at him to turn on the radio and see what planes were available. Interestingly, the Rangers were under the impression that Brown's first name was Jeremy, and that's what they called him until about an hour and a half after the scuffle between radio calls, when he told them, "This mission will be here in about five minutes and, by the way, my "name is present".

A pair of F-15Es were deployed for this first mission of the day. Brown asked Self if he wanted them to bombard the enemy position with their guns or drop bombs on it. Vance and Self were talking. Vance yelled at Brown to tell the planes to use only their weapons. It was just before 7 am. when the first test F-15E arrived and the flares went off. Vance, the most experienced close air support coordinator, did not like the approach angle and urged the pilots to adjust it. They closed in on another race in the dry. "That's good," Vance said. "Bring them, edged weapons." All Americans bowed their heads. The jets descended and fired their 20mm guns at the tree position. To Don, it felt like someone stepped on bubble wrap. Tree branches parted. The planes turned around and taxied back. Somewhere, an enemy anti-aircraft gun opened and black clouds dispersed behind the jets. The gun barrel was accurate. The top of the tree was crushed. But after a few passes, the Strike Eagles ran out of ammunition. They tried to convince the Americans on the mountain to allow them to launch JDAM, but Self resisted. His impression was that the fast engines were always trying to "push" the JDAM to their close air support customers, but he wasn't quite ready to take that risk yet. He was sitting about sixty meters from where the bombs would fall, and his position defined "near danger" very well.

The Americans on top of the mountain fought for their lives and died, in large part because their satellite communications failed when they needed them most. Communication problems continued to plague her throughout the day. Brown had no luck with the frequencies TF 11 was supposed to be monitoring. He tried his own call sign, Slick 01, as well as Vance's and Self's. No one in TF 11 responded to him except for Juliet, the only AFO team left in the valley of the original three who entered. Juliet had an excellent view of Takur Ghar from her operating room. They told Self that they could see several enemy fighters on the back of the mountain (i.e. just below and behind the bunker).

When Razor 02 landed in Gardez at 6:25 am. m., Canon entered the cockpit to speak with the pilots. They told him that they were waiting for orders from higher headquarters. As calmly as he could manage, the corporal explained that his chalk made up half of the QRF and he needed the other half to get back to the valley as quickly as possible. Canon went back to tell the others what was going on, at which point Vic Hyder appeared. "Hi, I'm Vic Hyder," he told Canon. "Those are my boys." Together, the SEAL and Ranger NCO moved forward to speak with the pilots. The airmen had a new set of grid coordinates for an LZ offset on the slopes of Takur Ghar and were cleared to return to Shahikot. They also informed Canon that Razor 01 was shot down in its LZ and there were casualties. At 7 am, Razor 02 took off. The men oiled their weapons and grimaced wildly. Halfway up the mountain, Mako called 30 UHF and informed the crew that the landing zone was hot, that a bombing raid was starting (the F-15E's first test), and that Razor 02 would have to wait. They flew into an adjacent valley and waited for the Strike Eagles to finish their fires. Then Mako called 30 and took them to an LZ near the SEAL team. As they approached the LZ, the Rangers recited the Ranger Creed in unison in the background.

The landing took place without resistance. The Rangers came out the back and took a secure perimeter as the helicopter took off. Canon was happy to find the snow solid and firm underfoot.it won't be so badhe thought and took out his compass, GPS and map to know exactly where he was. The corporal heard Self and DePouli talking over the train's radio network. He took his MBITR and told the captain that he was down. But he still didn't understand the magnitude of the mountain or the magnitude of the task before him. Hyder pointed to where Mako 30 was taking shelter, several hundred meters away. "Let's go find my boys and then we'll go upstairs." Canon, who could hear automatic weapons fire coming from the valley, spoke to Self. "I have Vic Hyder with me," he said. “He wants us to exfiltrate his children.” Self was not surprised to learn that Hyder had Chalk 2, but he was furious that the SEAL officer was trying to pull Ranger reinforcements out of the battle. "No, I need you up here," Self told Canon. “He can go with the boys, they have no contact. We are in contact and we have victims. Come here." Canon told Hyder that he would lead the Rangers up the mountain. The SEAL officer later said that his impression was that at the top of the mountain the Rangers "had their situation under control" and that there was an "imminent need" to help the two SEALs seriously wounded. He headed alone for Mako 30. The sight of the senior officer on the mountain, and a member of a special missions unit, not walking towards the sound of guns didn't disappoint Self as much as one might have. power. "I didn't want that to come up," Self said, explaining that he thought a SEAL officer showing up at a ranger firefight might have mixed the situation. "You're Marina. You do things differently. We knew that from previous collaborations with them."

With Hyder out of the picture, Self and Canon spoke again. He even thought Chalk 2 landed southwest of the top of the mountain. He told Canon to simply climb to the top of the mountain and through the bunker location while Razor 01's men suppressed the enemy. "You can wipe them off and that's it," he told Canon. He fired a star cluster to determine Canon's position. Canon failed to see. Only then did they realize that Canon had landed much further east, away from the top of the mountain. Canon was instructed to move south to an exit and then climb the exit, meaning Chalk 2 must climb the mountain immediately past the Ranger's position. The captain asked Canon how long it would take Chalk 2 to climb the mountain. About forty-five minutes, Canon said.

WHILE waiting for Chalk 2, Self decided to let his men pull the safety and not take any more shots from the fast players. It wasn't worth the risk now that reinforcements were on the way, the captain said. But his men were still under sporadic fire from at least one enemy hunter below the bonsai. Mortar fire then began to rain down on them from the higher elevations of the mountains on the east side of the upper Shahikot valley, about 3000 to 4000 meters to the east. "Here we are on the side of a snowy mountain with a huge black helicopter on top - that's an easy target," Self later said. The first mortar barrage landed about fifty meters in front of the nose of the helicopter, which was incredibly accurate for a first shot. (Obviously, the Al Qaeda gunners weren't too concerned about the risk of fratricide.) The next group landed behind the Rangers, further down the mountain. The enemy has put them in parentheses. Worried as they were, those opening volleys would be followed by gunfire falling in the middle of where the first two had fallen; in other words, straight to your men.we are in troublehe thought. He was starting to get very impatient to get his men off the mountainside.The enemy could fire these mortars in preparation for an attack,he thought. He had been on the ground for less than two and a half hours.

Worried that the enemy might get lucky and hit the plane in a vulnerable spot and blow it up, Don recommended moving the helicopter casualties into a small depression in the rocky hillside around 5 o'clock from the Chinook's position, close to Self's command. publish. Cory responded that the helicopter had already withstood mortar and machine gun fire, and taking victims outside could leave them hypothermic. But Cory changed her mind when another mortar round came too close for comfort. Don, Cory, Cunningham and Brian loaded the patients one by one, Chuck and Greg on gurneys and Dave on a Skedco. The distance was just over twenty meters, but movement was extremely difficult, even with four men carrying each victim. Meanwhile, the altitude has depleted its energy reserves. They were exhausted. As they prepared to move Dave, Cunningham tripped and lost his balance. The skedco, designed for fast movement over snowy terrain, slipped. "Dave was on a sleigh ride," Don recalled. Fortunately for everyone involved, Daves Skedco found Chuck's gurney so Brian and Don could get to it before it slid half a mile down the mountain. “Sorry, are you okay?” Dave told Chuck. "Yes, as soon as you take my leg off," Chuck replied dryly.

Greg decided to do as little as possible to make himself more comfortable and used his good arm to cut the chest straps and loosen the leg straps on his gurney. Lying on his back, he looked up and saw a Predator high in the sky, circling around the top of the mountain.If only it was an AC-130,he thought.


As soon as they stepped out of the LZ, the texture of the snow underfoot for the Canon men turned from pressed powder to dry powder, no longer "underfoot" but knee-deep to mid-thigh. . The quiet walk expected by the squadron leader is over. His men's route required them to move 800 meters laterally and climb 2,000 feet on a 70-degree incline. The loose rock under the snow only added to their problems. They slipped and fell and stumbled, and soon they were spitting up blood from the strain on their lungs. The Rangers dressed to prepare for a stationary mission (holding a downed helicopter) instead of mountaineering. Many wore light or medium long underwear and T-shirts under their work clothes. The men were overheated by the sun as their bulletproof vests weighed heavily on them. In fifteen minutes Canon halted the ascent and ordered the men to remove some of their clothing. But he still wasn't optimistic about his rate of progress.There must be something else we can download,He thought to himself. He called Self and asked permission to get rid of the back plates on the troops' bulletproof vests. The captain, impatient for his reinforcements, immediately agreed. Canon ordered the men to throw away the plates. They threw them on the rocks below to break them. "Have fun," joked the team leader. "This is the most expensive frisbee you'll ever throw."

WEI just can't sit here and shoot mortar shellsIt was the thought going round and round in Self's head.We must attack.He called DePouli to his post. He then told DePouli, Vance and Walker that the four of them were going to attack the enemy position on top of the mountain, which Self thought was little more than a few guys hiding behind the bonsai tree. None of the Americans realized that they were dealing with a well-entrenched bunker. With Brian, the left rear crew chief, serving as his assistant gunner, Gilliam hit the enemy position with 240 rounds. But from this angle, the machine gun could do little damage. The bunker opening looked out onto the slope where Self and the others had attacked. They didn't notice because they couldn't see how the enemy had established a position under the bonsai, but the 240 was pointed directly at the bunker's thick wooden wall. Al-Qaeda fighters built the bunker by digging into the base of the tree, then surrounding and reinforcing the pit with logs, with more branches covering the roof of the bunker. It was undetectable from the air and nearly impenetrable from the ground. The four men of Self's small strike team fought valiantly up the slope, guns raised and firing as they went. Even if they weren't exhausted by the altitude and difficulties by now, the knee-deep snow would have made running impossible. DePouli was ready with a hand grenade in one fist while firing his M4 with his other hand. One of the enemy fighters appeared from behind the tree and fired its AK at the Americans, then ducked again. Only a hundred feet away and getting closer, Self saw the guerrilla standing in a fighting stance at waist height. The captain realized the extent of the fortifications he was attacking. I knew there was a machine gun somewhere. In training, it always took a full platoon of over thirty men to bring down a machine gun nest. Here he tested four guys at 10,000 feet, stumbling uphill in the snow. "Bunkers! Bunkers!" the captain shouted. "It's a bunker! Go back!" The four turned and stumbled down the slope to their original positions on the rocks.

SELF asked Brown if there were any attack aircraft on the station. There were some F-16s available, but they only had "dummy" 500-pound bombs, not JDAM, Brown said. Self told him to let the jets drop the first bombs across the top of the mountain and then take them up the hill to the bunker. This worked up to a point. The first bomb landed close enough to leave the bunker in rubble. The next hit closer to the bunker. The bunker fire stopped briefly, then increased again. But Self was uncomfortable with the unguided bombs falling closer. Then more mortar shells fell. Canon reported that Chalk 2 soldiers who climbed the mountain also received ineffective mortar fire. Miceli, who was covering the east side of Chalk 1's position, saw two men coming down the valley to the east, signaling the Americans at the top of Takur Ghar. I came to the conclusion that they were enemy observers announcing mortar fire. They were beyond the effective range of any weapon at the Rangers' disposal. Miceli chased them with his SAW fire and tried to drive them away, but they slowly closed in on him.

(Video) Dan Schilling | Alone at Dawn - on Patriot to the Core podcast

Once again, Self felt the need to do something to hasten his men's departure. He knew that Brown had spent most of the morning talking to Wildfire, the CIA's Predator callsign. He asked Brown to find out if the Predator was armed. Brown didn't know what he was talking about. "Armed?" he said. I had no idea there was an armed Predator. "Yes, some of the Predators have Hellfire," said Self. Brown questioned the Predator operator. "Yes, he has two," he told Self. "Prepare to use it," said the driver. But Vance was nervous. "No sir, we're too close," he told Self. "Don't use the Hellfires." Self yielded to the advice of his ETAC and decided to retreat. But thirty minutes later, more mortars landed. Self pulled a small map out of his pocket that gave him the "minimum safe distance" ranges for each indirect-fire weapons system. Nothing he read suggested that the Hellfire would pose an undue risk. "We're fine," he said, knowing his men enjoyed the protection of a canyon position, the rocks shielding them from any explosion. He told Brown to initiate the Predator attack. "Put him in the bunker," said the captain. But Brown ordered the Predator to do what he had done with the bombs: fire the first one from a safe distance. That's exactly what Predator did. Self was surprised to see the missile detonate "far" from the northern target. Canon, on the other hand, jumped right into radio. "Hey, whatever it is, don't do it again, you almost hit us," he said. "We're a lot closer than you are," Self told him. Then he turned to Brown. "Look, there's only one [Hellfire] left," he said. "Put it on right now." The men bowed their heads. Hellfire's second shot was perfect. Stones, earth and branches flew over the heads of the rangers. they celebrated. By the time the smoke cleared from the top of Takur Ghar, the bunker had collapsed and part of the tree was missing. From then on, they took no more fire.

After forty-five minutes had passed since he spoke with Canon, Self called the squadron leader again. "What's your expected arrival time?", he asked Kanon. Forty-five minutes was the answer. As time passed with no sign of chalk 2, Self's patience wore thin.I have plenty of time before the enemy decides to fight back,he thought.Gotta get these guys off the mountainside.He called Canon back. "Look, you have to move faster," he said. "We're moving as fast as we can," Canon replied.

They marched in single file, with First Sergeant Harper Wilmoth and First Sergeant Eric Stebner leading the way. They received ineffective mortar fire, almost certainly from the same enemy 82mm guns that had been grappling with the Rangers on top of the mountain. Canon could hear the air strikes ahead.What the hell is on top of that hill that forces us to use so much firepower?he wondered.

At about 10:00 am, Chalk 1 Rangers fired another star cluster into the air. Canon and his men still haven't seen him.How could they not see you when they're as close as they think they are?I wondered. Half an hour later, just after 10:30. m., Canon finally spotted Miceli and DePouli, the two men closest to him. "I think I see them all," Canon said over the radio. Miceli and DePouli weren't sure. Canon ordered them to collect snow and throw it away. They did it. "Yes, you were," said Canon. “We are moving to your location now.” It took another twenty minutes to make the connection, but when he did, Self's minuscule power atop the mountain had doubled.

(DePouli and Miceli made a grim discovery as they approached Chalk 2: a helmet with a bullet hole in it. The state of the interior indicated that the last person wearing it had been shot in the head. That person was Neil Roberts.)

It took Hyder nearly an hour to connect with Mako 30. The first team member he encountered was gray in the face, shaking and trailing blood. Hyder gave him his coat and traded his wool gloves for the wet gloves of the decrepit SEAL. The wounded informed Hyder that Chapman was dead, that Roberts had not been seen, and that a third member of the team had been shot in the legs and seriously injured. This was the first time that Hyder realized how dire the Mako 30's situation was. The terse radio calls barely hinted at it. There was no way to execute his original plan, which was to have the team retrace the route they had just taken from the landing zone. The ascent was beyond the capabilities of the SEALs, who had to carry one man and help another. Instead, Hyder decided to follow the tie for a known LZ in hopes that another potential LZ could come along along the way. They started walking. Hyder and another SEAL carried the worst wounded among them. The sick operator was able to put weight on his right foot, but his left leg was shot just above the ankle. The six men moved slowly, stopping every fifty-five meters. At one point, Hyder climbed the slope to keep watch. He spotted a dark-haired, bearded man heading down the north face of the mountain, toward a ravine parallel to where the SEALs were headed. Hyder kept an eye on the man for about five minutes and noticed that he was wearing pants and a long jacket. The SEAL officer was waiting for the opportunity to shoot him. That opportunity came when the target fell forward about 175 yards and then dropped to his knees. Hyder took aim at the man's torso and pulled the trigger. His first shot hit the man in the chest. The bearded figure fell to the left side. Hyder fired again in the chest and the man fell onto his back. Hyder fired again, but probably missed. He watched the man lying there for a few minutes.

MORTAL combat does not interrupt the body's natural functions. When reinforcements arrived, Walker realized he had to take a shit. He got to where he was, simply dropped his pants and rolled over to the side. A moment later it ended. Eric Stebner and Sergeant Patrick George went to him. George lay down where Walker had just pooped. Walker warned him just in time, but Stebner would not listen and pounced on him, prompting George to try to clean up his friend's mess with a handful of snow.

When the men from Chalk 2 made peace, Self walked down to the large ledge and gave them a brief description of what had happened, then told them that they would take the lead in attacking the top of the mountain. DePouli's squadron would protect the flanks. He had Chalk 2's machine-gun team, specialists Randy Pazder and Omar Vela, place their 240 next to Gilliam and Brian (who had also extracted 2,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition from the Chinook). The platoon commander assembled his strike team: Walker, Stebner, George, Wilmoth, and specialists Jonas Polson and Oscar Escano. He divided them into two firefighting teams of three.

Now that he had additional manpower, Self decided that neither he nor Vance were needed as marksmen. He told Vance to pick up his radio and start calling the network. The rest of the squadron, ready to attack, gave Self a questioning word.what is the signto see. "Just start shooting," he told them. Both machine guns opened as the attack began. The two teams moved Bounding Overwatch style, one team got up and fired while the other moved and fired. It took them only a few minutes to climb the slope and then turn right towards the rock and tree. A man was shot at the back of the bunker. Then Stebner noticed an American body lying face down next to the rock. "Hey, we got a blue victim here," Canon told Self. Again, the Captain was confused, thinking that Canon was using the word "blue" as the US military uses it to designate friendly forces, not realizing that he was referring to Task Force Blue, the SEALs.It is not good,Own thought.We just shot one of our own guys."As you know?" he told himself. "Obviously," Canon replied. "You have to come see this."

Self told him to finish the attack first. They discovered several bunkers at the back and wanted to clear them out. The Rangers passed, throwing grenades and firing shots. Canon threw a grenade, unaware that the position contained a pile of RPG rounds, which evaporated and knocked him out. They then went to the other side of the saddle that had been pierced by Grim 32 that morning. The Rangers shot another guerrilla there.

Self walked over to look at Roberts (he still didn't know his name). The dead SEAL wore a US desert combat uniform but had a large beard. Auto continued to suspect fraud. He wondered if this operator was on a joint observation post with the Afghans who attacked him. The RPG sniper who had been shot in the head by DePouli was strangely still half standing, leaning back, but with his knees resting on the snow. His hat was a meter behind where DePouli's bullet hit him. Meanwhile, Wilmoth's team entered the bunker and found two other enemy combatants dead and another American dead: John Chapman. Mako 30 finally got back on the radio and set things right. "No, these are our guys," one SEAL told Self. "One of them is the guy who fell out of the helicopter." I still did not get it.All right, he fell out of that helicopter in the valley. They captured him alive and forced him to call us. They provoked us and then killed him anyway.It took another radio call to Mako 30 before the Rangers finally understood what had happened at Takur Ghar. It was 11:15. m.


At 8:30 am, two more TF Brown Chinooks took off from Bagram for Gardez with 35 TF 11 commandos, mostly from TF Blue. After takeoff, the helicopters received a message to rendezvous with Razor 02 at FARP Texaco. The helicopter force that assembled at Texaco to deploy the new rapid response force to evacuate Razors 01 and 02 and Mako 30 personnel from the mountain included three MH-47s and two "Killer Spade" Apaches. The Air Mission Commander, Flight Director, and SEAL officers met to plan the extraction. TF Rakkasan Chinooks landed and brought fuel to the FARP. Meanwhile, Commodore Bob Harward's TF K-Bar learned of the events at Takur Ghar and began planning to send reinforcements. In Kandahar, B Company of 160aes 3thirdThe battalion was alerted at 10:30 am. The company had arrived in Afghanistan just a week before and had no mission to complete. As the K-Bar officers had planned, the 160thaOfficers in Kandahar woke their men and prepared to take special forces to Bagram in four MH-47D Chinooks.

SELF led Vance and Brown to the summit and set up their command post behind a rock. Brown eventually reached TF 11's operations center and told them that Takur Ghar was safe and the LZ was cold. Self's next priority was to get the victims up the slope, partly because that was the most obvious landing zone and partly to keep the victims out of sight of whoever fired the mortar at them. But as soon as Shawn, Stebner, and two other rangers began dragging Dave halfway up Skedco's slope, Al Qaeda attacked. Bullets flew over the hillside. "Shelter!" someone shouted. The four attendants left Dave in the snow. She had to reach out and grab a small bush to keep from slipping a second time that morning.This is bad,he thought. "Don't worry, Sergeant, we're coming for you!" Stebner called after him. "You don't have to," Dave replied. "You fight." Despite Dave's bravery, Stebner twice attempted to run outside and take Dave for cover, but each time he was driven back by heavy enemy fire. "Leave me alone!" Dave screamed. "Shut up, I won't leave you there!" Stebner called again. On his third attempt, Stebner managed to get to Dave and drag him back to the deck as bullets dug into the snow with a .Not! Not!Klang.

The enemy launched a furious barrage of RPGs, machine guns and AKs at the Americans from positions high on a ridge 300 meters to the southeast. On maps, the enemy's location appeared as part of the Takur-Ghar peak, but in reality it was separated from the top of the mountain by a saddle. Looking up, the Rangers could see what appeared to be a pair of cinder block bunkers at the top.

Self watched as an RPG fired from the opposite ridge bounced to the bottom of the slope where the helicopter was located and then climbed to the top of the mountain, close to where he was standing. It exploded harmlessly, but the enemy actually spilled it. The captain could only see five or ten enemy fighters, but they fought so many times that number. "That was one of the most intense takes we had all day," he said. Self took cover behind a rock as bullets ripped through the snow and dirt. "It was like going to the movies," he recalls. "Everything around me exploded to the ground." Among them was the enemy, who did not help in this situation, as the guerrilla fire "scraped", swept the slope, putting everyone in danger. Self and Canon regrouped their men to adapt to the powerful new threat. DePouli told Gilliam to turn his machine gun so he could shoot the enemy behind him. Gilliam complied and began firing long-range shots at the enemy fighters. The biggest problem would be the victims. Greg and Chuck were still tied to the rock on their stretchers. With them were Cory, Don and Cunningham. They were all directly in the line of fire. Self knew he had to get his wounded quickly to the top of the hill.

It didn't take long for Don and the others to realize how exposed they cared for their victims. The bullets pierced his ears and slammed into the rocks. Don returned fire, the barrel of his Bark-Resistant M4 just 15 inches from Chuck's head. For some reason, Don's gun seemed to be making more noise than the others, and Chuck warned him. With her arms tied to her sides, unable to cover her ears, all she could say was, "Ow! Ow!" as Don leaned against the rock wall and fired shot after shot at the enemy fighters moving between the cliffs and bunkers.What do I have to doDon thought.stop shooting?

Natural human instinct for Don and the others would have been to take cover behind nearby rocks. But that wouldn't have helped Chuck and Greg. They all stayed. Cunningham had just started another IV for Greg.We will not let these guys.it was the attitude.We stayed here and filmed.Cory was decidedly unfazed by enemy RPGs.You are nothing compared to 500 poundshe thought. The three non-victims tried to move Greg, but they didn't have the strength. After several minutes of futile effort, Don decided to climb to the top of the hill so the guards could carry the wounded. When he got up to run, the enemy opened up again. In two seconds, Cory and Jason were hit. "Hey it!" they all grunted as the bullets fell. They lay there moaning for the next few seconds. None of them knew how seriously injured they were. Cory knew he'd been hit twice in the stomach, just below the edge of his bulletproof vest. "I felt like someone was hitting me as hard as they could with a sledgehammer," he said. There are no good places to shoot, but the stomach is one of the worst. Cory had been married for ten years and had a seven-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. Coming to his senses, he thought how unfair it was for them that he should die on that mountain. He was afraid to reach down and feel where he had been shot.this is really gonna suckhe thought. But when he lowered his hand, he felt wetness, but not much bleeding. The bullet had ruptured his bladder, but he didn't know it at the time. I just hoped I wasn't bleeding too much internally. Cunningham was in worse shape. He had been shot in the pelvis and suffered profuse internal bleeding. I was in a lot of pain. Cory glanced at the clock. It was 11:30 am. m.

The ratio of healthy medical personnel to wounded soldiers was getting worse. With Cunningham and Cory out of action, only Miller and Matt LaFrenz, the Rangers medic who had arrived with Chalk 2, were left to tend to the wounded. LaFrenz dragged himself to the casualty collection point and began treating Cory and Cunningham. Meanwhile, the Rangers, and especially the machine gunners, maintained a murderous rate of fire to suppress the enemy. The al-Qaeda men on the opposite ridge emerged from behind cover, fired and then dived. But one of them exposed a second too much. Pazder shot him. The Rangers saw more guerrillas approaching. Canon told Vela to return to Chinook for more 7.62mm ammo. Vela ran as fast as he could through the snow towards the helicopter 150 meters away, but was attacked on the way back and had to take cover with Stebner behind a rock. He crawled over to DePouli and stuffed the ammunition into a spare barrel bag, which he dragged over to Canon. The squadron leader ran out, grabbed the bag, and helped Pazder fire the 240 into the advancing Al Qaeda troops. The Ranger 203 gunners maintained a volley of 40mm shells. This should be your fight for the rest of the day to keep the enemy from closing in or attacking them from the summit line. Al-Qaeda forces split into smaller and smaller teams to establish contact with the Americans. Navy F-14s arrived with 500-pound bombs. Vance led them inside, but a bomb missed its mark and exploded seventy-five meters from the Rangers, ripping off DePouli's helmet and hitting Wilmoth's helmet with shrapnel. Walker looked around with aWhat was this?It printed for a moment and then resumed recording. Until now, little could have surprised the Rangers. Another JDAM hit the forward slope of the enemy-held ridge, and Self saw a piece of shrapnel four feet long and eight inches wide fly through the air about a hundred feet above him. The ridge line they were aiming for had trees on top. Brown requested more bombs: £1,000 and £2,000 JDAMs. Soon the trees disappeared. Lots of enemies too. American troops cheered when a bomb sent the mangled bodies of three guerrillas flying like rag dolls. This pretty much ended the fight. From then on, the enemy could only offer sporadic and ineffective AK fire and mortars.

Efforts to move victims continued. The loss of Cunningham and Cory as active participants forced Self to rotate two more men from the perimeter to help. It was a sign of how physically exhausted the men were, as it took four men in excellent physical condition to carry one man eighty yards, albeit under fire, for twenty minutes. Each time the teams reached the top of the slope, they had to rest for a few minutes.

As the victims, six dead and six wounded, gathered at the top of the hill, Miller and LaFrenz redoubled their efforts to save those still alive. LaFrenz's assessment was that both Cory and Cunningham were victims of "urgent surgery", a term only used to describe the most extreme and life-threatening cases. He was particularly concerned about Cunningham, whose condition was rapidly deteriorating. The Ranger medic had stopped the external bleeding but was unable to determine the extent of internal bleeding from the injured PFY. At 1 am, Vance called Masirah and informed her that an ambulance was urgently needed. At the TF 1l and TF Blue TOC operations center at Bagram, where personnel suffered from the worst situational awareness of nearly everyone involved in the operation, there was extreme reluctance to send more helicopters to the top of Takur Ghar. As if to heighten her fears, just as Vance's question about whether it was hot or cold in the landing zone dropped a mortar shell with the word "cold" on it. It was 1:30 pm and at Texaco, the massive and elaborate rescue operation was ready to begin.

AFTER being injured, Cory was no longer able to work with the victims, but despite the pain he was in, he led others, specifically telling Don how he could help. First, he asked Don to run back through the line of fire to find his aid bag, which was still lying on the rocks where he had been shot. Dom hesitated. "Look, Cory, it's really hot down there right now," he told the flight doctor. But a little while later, when the enemy fire subsided, Don grabbed another soldier and together they went downstairs to find the bag. (Troops felt safer moving in pairs across open ground.) After he returned, Cory's instructions continued: "Get in my first-aid bag, jump in the second bag, go down a third, pull them out to out and give it to them, they'll need it." LaFrenz renewed to obtain a medical evacuation for Cunningham and Cory. "These guys need surgery," he told Self. "It's urgent, some could die." urgent surgical victims. . ) The platoon leader, who relayed most of his messages to Masirah and Bagram via Vance, got in touch via radio. He told headquarters that he had three victims who would lose limbs or die if they weren't brought down the mountain immediately. The rest of his squadron can wait until dark, Self added.

TF 11 informed him that an enemy force of seventy men was moving towards him, but that TF 11 was sending seventy reinforcements to his position. "We don't need the [extra seventy bodies]", Self told them. "We don't have room for them. We just need planes to get out." The platoon commander informed Masirah that there was a landing zone on an opposite slope which offered good protection from enemy fire. "We're working on it," he told her. the staff officer in Masirah Self felt that the operation had changed and that freeing its victims was no longer TF 11's top priority.

IN Masirah and Bagram, Trebon, Kernan and their associates considered their options. From their point of view, they were in a no-win situation. Listening to Self, LaFrenz, and Vance discuss the condition of the wounded, knowing that at least one, and maybe more, of their men would die if they decided to delay the medical evacuation until nightfall must have been terrible for Trebon and for them. other leaders. But the equally harrowing experience of watching four men die in seconds live on the Predator's feed as the Razor 01 Rangers raced around the back of the Chinook was also fresh on their minds. Trebon decided not to risk another helicopter ride to the top of Takur Ghar in broad daylight. Thinking that his decision would cost Cunningham and Cory their lives, he called JSOC headquarters in North Carolina to enlist the moral support of Dailey, who was closely monitoring the operation. "Sir, I just need some moral reassurance here," Trebon told his boss. "Greg, I was supervising all of this, you absolutely made the right decision," Dailey responded. "It's going to be tough. You've already figured out who the guys are who might die on that mountainside. But you made the decision, it's the right decision, so go for it." Meanwhile, Hagenbeck called Franks. he was given command and control of TF 11 during Anaconda. This belatedly granted unity of command over the operation.

At 2:30 pm all Texaco Medevac/QRF helicopters, with engines running and ready to take off on the Takur Ghar mission, were ordered to withdraw. Plans were made for an elaborate operation to drive out Mako 30 and the Rangers starting at 7:45 pm. (later rescheduled to 8:15 pm due to late arrival of planes). The plan included A-10 ground attack aircraft, AC-130H and U attack helicopters, three MH-47E Chinooks, one MH-47D Chinook and two Apaches.

I personally learned of the decision at 3:30 pm. m. when he claimed his case for a medical evacuation. “I need a plane for three urgent surgical victims,” he told Masirah. "We understand the nature of your sacrifices," replied a voice on the desert island. "The exile will take place after dark." The time they gave him was 20:15.

The train conductor understood where his bosses came from. They had flown three helicopters to the top of that mountain in the last eleven hours. Two were shot down and a third heavily bombed. From Masirah's or Bagram's point of view, blasting another Chinook all the way to the top of Takur Ghar in broad daylight probably seemed like a huge risk. But Nate Self had a better view of the situation than anyone in the TF 11 or TF Blue operations centers. The three helicopters that flew there earlier were attacked by enemy fighter jets atop Takur Ghar. Now the corpses of those combatants lay on top of the mountain, which was firmly under the control of Self and his men. Now they were only taking ineffective, misdirected shots from one direction, and he had an LZ protected against that. Furthermore, the two helicopters that were shot down flew to the top of the mountain without the slightest idea of ​​the danger. A rescue operation would now be carried out by men with a full understanding of the risks. A few high-velocity bombardments probably could have kept the enemy's head down long enough to trigger a successful rescue operation. This was not just the opinion of those at Takur Ghar. Team Juliet, who watched and listened to the entire battle, also reported through TF 11's chain of command that the LZ was safe and casualties could receive medical attention. But it shouldn't be. At least not until it was too late for another brave pilot.

Below the Rangers, Mako 30 and Hyder continued their twisting march. All they could do now was pull the SEAL, who had been shot in the legs, by the arms. "[He] demonstrated incredible physical strength, determination and absolute courage every time we asked for his hand," Hyder told the Special Operations Command investigation officer. "He asked the distance, sighed and held our hands, which consumed all his concentration and energy. He was exhausted, almost hypothermic and in shock." After six hours of movement, the SEALs had covered approximately 5,000 feet. where two ties crossed. Hyder saw footprints from the day before along a path he wanted to follow leading to the LZ. He decided to stay put and wait for a 160aChinook was able to push down to catch them. His wounded fared ill. The four, less seriously wounded, took cover from casualties and then moved into position to observe all approaches. The draw was wooded. Hyder broke and ripped branches from the surrounding evergreens to give one or two of the SEALs a place to sit, insulated from the snow and frozen ground. In less than an hour, the cheeks of the two men he was worried about had regained some color.

At Takur Ghar, the shadows lengthened, the wind rose and the temperature dropped. Soldiers stripped the clothes of their comrades who died in battle to warm the wounded. To supplement the clothing, they returned to the helicopter in two-man teams and ripped more soundproofing and insulation from the sides to cover the wounded. There they rummaged through the backpacks left inside in search of food and water. They also "disinfected" the plane and removed all sensitive items such as handguns and night vision goggles. At the top of the mountain they prepared the bodies of Chapman and Roberts for exile. This involved the arduous task of tying a rope around each man's feet and dragging them out to ensure the corpse was not a trap.

At the casualty collection point, LaFrenz and Miller took fifteen-minute walks among the six wounded and changed their dressings. "Hey guys, they're coming for us," LaFrenz repeated over and over to the victims. "Let's get out of here soon." He tucked IV bags under his shirt to keep the fluid warm. As darkness fell over the valley, Jason Cunningham began to disappear. Don kept a pressure bandage on him for forty-five minutes, during which time Cunningham pulled Don closer and whispered a last message to his wife. For thirty minutes, LaFrenz and Miller did nothing but frantically work on the dying PFY, inserting a breathing tube and performing CPR. Did not work. LaFrenz shed bitter tears and went to see Self at 6 pm. "You can sayIs it over thereour KIA total is seven,” he said angrily.

A few minutes after 8 pm, troops from Kevin Butler's command post on the wadi south of LZ 15 looked up at the sky as helicopter after helicopter flew overhead. Applause rose from the top of the mountain as the sound of the rotors reached the ears of the men who had waited all day to hear it. It was reported over the radio that the LZ was safe, but that its exhausted men would need assistance in transporting the casualties to the helicopters. The Razor 02 was the first helicopter to land. The pilot mistakenly pointed his nose at the victims. The QRF, most of the SEALs, disembarked and knelt in a fringe formation. To the Rangers' annoyance, no one who had just arrived made any attempt to help them as they carried the 11 seriously injured men the forty meters to the helicopter. Loading the victims on board took nineteen minutes. As the first Chinook took off, another landed, this time in the right direction. Once again, the SEALs offered no help, as Air Force Rangers, airmen, and special operators carried their dead down the ramp and climbed aboard. A third Chinook landed and SEAL QRF boarded and flew away.

ANOTHER Chinook flew across the canyon where Mako 30 was hiding and went looking for the men. The helicopter had no radio contact with the team and was slowly climbing up the valley from the east. The SEALs attracted their attention with a strobe light and a laser pointer. Aware that the SEALs were unable to move due to their injuries, the helicopter hovered beside them, rotor blades turning just a few feet from the granite walls on three sides of the plane. Only the rear wheels landed as the SEALs climbed aboard and the helicopter soared into the night sky.

All casualties were taken to Gardez, where a specially equipped MC-130 Combat Talon was waiting for flight operations. But the MC-130 got stuck in the airfield dirt, so the casualties were loaded into a pair of Chinooks, including a similarly equipped British helicopter, and flown to Bagram, where they were delivered directly to the 274th.aAdvanced surgical equipment. There, surgeons worked all night on the most seriously injured. All who made it off the mountain alive survived. A Mako 30 member had his leg amputated below the knee. But Cory lived to see his children and return to duty, and Greg not only kept his hand (although it was fused to his forearm) but was ready to fly the Chinooks again in the summer of 2004.

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Why was Operation Anaconda a failure? ›

The early frustrations of Anaconda were partly caused by events beyond the control of U.S. forces. Nevertheless, the U.S. joint command structure in Afghanistan was not well established, and the gears of U.S. joint force operations did not mesh well in the initial stages of the battle.

What was the conclusion of Operation Anaconda? ›

Operation Anaconda, which lasted from March 2– 18, was successful because up to several hundred enemy fighters were killed and the rest fled the Shahikot Valley, leaving it in the control of US and allied forces. US casualties totaled eight military personnel killed and over 50 wounded.

What was the mission statement from Operation Anaconda? ›

But Anaconda could not be called anything like a complete success. The aim of the operation spelled out in General Hagenback's mission statement was “to destroy the al Qaeda forces in the Shah-i-Kot Valley,” destroy them.

What is the synopsis of not a good day to die the untold story of Operation Anaconda? ›

Not a Good Day to Die is an account of a US forces mission in Afghanistan that went tragically awry. As Sean Naylor relates, numerous planning blunders, intefering beaucrats, and massive egos conspired to ensure that the mission would always have trouble meeting its objectives even before it had commenced.

What are the 7 principles of Operation Anaconda? ›

Operation Anaconda: Ties to the Seven Principles of Mission Command
  • Introduction. On March 2, 2002, Major General Franklin L. ...
  • Competence. ...
  • Mutual Trust. ...
  • Shared Understanding. ...
  • Commander's Intent. ...
  • Mission Orders. ...
  • Disciplined Initiative. ...
  • Risk Acceptance.

Was Operation Anaconda a success or failure? ›

Operation Anaconda, which lasted from March 2-18, was successful because up to several hundred enemy fighters were killed and the rest fled the Shahikot Valley, leaving it in the control of U.S. and allied forces. U.S. casualties totaled eight military personnel killed and over 50 wounded.

What are the 6 principles of mission command Operation Anaconda? ›

The philosophy of mission command is guided by six interdependent principles: build cohesive teams through mutual trust, create shared understanding, provide a clear commander's intent, exercise disciplined initiative, use mission orders, and accept prudent risk.

What are the seven principles of mission command? ›

The 7 Principles of Mission Command
  • Competence. Commanders must clearly understand what they are doing and be able to execute their tasks confidently. ...
  • Mutual Trust. ...
  • Shared Understanding. ...
  • Commander's Intent. ...
  • Mission Command Orders. ...
  • Disciplined Initiative. ...
  • Accepting Risk.
Sep 20, 2022

Who was involved in Operation Anaconda? ›

The mission involved about 2,000 coali tion troops, including more than 900 Americans, 200 U.S. Special Forces and other troops, and 200 special operations troops from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, New Zealand, and Afghan allies.

How many US soldiers died during Operation Anaconda? ›

A total of 8 U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen were killed and 82 wounded, along with several Afghan militiamen; U.S. estimates of other casualties vary, indicating rebel casualties between 500 and 800 and at least 14 civilian casualties.

When did Operation Anaconda end? ›

What was operation Extortion 17? ›

August 6, 2022 marks 11 years since Extortion 17. On this day 11 years ago, 30 American military servicemen and a U.S. military dog were killed when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter–call sign Extortion 17–was shot down in Afghanistan.

What are the 9 principles of war? ›

The author specifies that there are nine principles of war—an objective, mass, offensive, unity of command, simplicity, the economy of force, maneuver, security, and surprise.

What are the 4 principles of war? ›

The principles of war: Objective, Offensive, Mass, Economy of Force, Maneuver, Unity of Command, Security, Surprise, Simplicity. Military officers first learn of these principles as lieutenants and seek to refine their understanding throughout their careers.

Who died in Operation Anaconda? ›

During the operation, the coalition lost 15 killed and 82 wounded. the majority of the casualties were American, including 8 killed and 72 wounded. The Taliban and Al Qaeda lost between 300 and 400 killed; however, the majority of the enemy forces were able to escape.

Was the Anaconda Plan a failure? ›

Ridiculed in the press as the "Anaconda Plan," after the South American snake that crushes its prey to death, this strategy ultimately proved successful. Although about 90 percent of Confederate ships were able to break through the blockade in 1861, this figure was cut to less than 15 percent a year later.

Did the U.S. win Operation Anaconda? ›

Operation Anaconda, conducted in the Shahikot Valley of Afghanistan during early March 2002, was a complex battle fought in rugged mountainous terrain under difficult conditions. The battle ended as an American victory at the cost of eight U.S. military personnel killed and more than 50 wounded.

Would the Anaconda Plan have defeated the Confederacy by itself? ›

The naval blockade alone would not have defeated the rebellion, even if the Union also controlled the entire Mississippi river. Confederate leaders were also not going to stand by and do nothing as the Union tried to starve them into submission.

What are the four elements of command? ›

The elements of command are authority, responsibility, decision making, and leadership.

What are the 6 principles? ›

There are 6 Principles of the US Constitution. These principals are Popular Sovereignty, Limited Government, Federalism, Checks and Balances, Separation of Powers, and Republicanism.

What are three of the six Army stability operations tasks? ›

Army forces conduct the following five primary stability tasks: civil security, civil control, restore essential services, support to governance, and support to economic and infrastructure development.

What are the Army's 6 values? ›

Army Values Training Packages

Many people know what the words Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage mean.

Who are the 7 principles? ›

The 7 Principles of the Constitution (popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, judicial review, federalism, and republicanism) explained.

What are the Army's 7 leadership values? ›

Army CORE Values
  • Loyalty. Devote yourself to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other fellow Soldiers.
  • Duty. Fulfill your responsibilities and accomplish tasks as part of a team, without taking shortcuts.
  • Respect. ...
  • Selfless Service. ...
  • Honor. ...
  • Integrity. ...
  • Personal Courage.
Jun 1, 2022

Are Army Rangers considered special forces? ›

The Army's Special Operations units include the Rangers, the Green Berets and the Night Stalkers. Here's what Army soldiers can expect from a career as a member of one of these special forces units.

What was the commander's intent during Operation Anaconda? ›

The main purpose of the commander's intent is considered to be the successful execution of key tasks with minimum risk exposure. In the Anaconda operation's case, the commander's intent was failed firstly due to the underappreciation of the enemy's emotional readiness to demonstrate opposition.

How many wars has the U.S. been in? ›

The United States has officially declared war 11 times during five separate military conflicts.

What was the deadliest military operation in history? ›

The Most Deadly Battle In History: Stalingrad

Running from August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943, Stalingrad led to 633,000 battle deaths.

How many US generals died in Iraq? ›

Only one American general died in combat during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What was the largest US military operation in history? ›

The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944, brought together the land, air, and sea forces of the allied armies in what became known as the largest invasion force in human history.

What were the problems with the Anaconda Plan? ›

A drawback of Scott's plan was that the naval blockade, which was declared essentially at the outset of the war, in April 1861, was very difficult to enforce. There were countless inlets through which blockade runners and Confederate privateers could evade detection and capture by the U.S. Navy.

Why was the Anaconda Plan unpopular in the North? ›

Because the blockade would be rather passive, it was widely derided by a vociferous faction of Union generals who wanted a more vigorous prosecution of the war and likened it to the coils of an anaconda suffocating its victim.

Was the Anaconda Plan a good idea? ›

Ridiculed in the press as the "Anaconda Plan," after the South American snake that crushes its prey to death, this strategy ultimately proved successful. Although about 90 percent of Confederate ships were able to break through the blockade in 1861, this figure was cut to less than 15 percent a year later.

How many people died during the Anaconda Plan? ›

Winfield Scott's hopes that his plan would bring the war to an end with minimal bloodshed were not to be. With a death toll of at least 600,000 (and probably much more), it's still the bloodiest conflict in American history.

What were the three steps to the Anaconda Plan? ›

The three main steps of the Anaconda Plan were 1) surround the Confederacy by sea and by land blockades, 2) take control of the Mississippi River to cut Confederate forces in two, and 3) ambush and surround the Confederacy and their capital.

What were the three parts of Anaconda Plan? ›

His plan to defeat the Confederacy had three main parts: 1) Blockade all Eastern and Southern ports in the Confederate States. 2) Divide the South by taking control of the Mississippi River. 3) Control the Tennessee Valley and march through Georgia to the coast.

Why did many people doubt the Anaconda Plan? ›

Many people doubted the Anaconda Plan, because it would take too much time and there was too much anti-Union sentiment in the South. General Winfield Scott proposed the Anaconda Plan in early 1861.


1. Al Qaeda Ambush Battle of Takur Ghar full documentary HD National Gepgraphic 2015
(Kyla Hammer)
2. How Roberts Ridge Impacted SEAL Team 6
(The Team House)
(Felt Recoil)
4. Aircraft Crash on Robert's Ridge | 160th Night Stalker | MH-47 Chinook Combat Aviator | Alan Mack
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5. The Heroic One Man Last Stand that was Caught on Camera
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6. The First Medal of Honor Ever Recorded
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