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DEVGRU - Linda Norgrove Rescue Attempt

On 26 September 2010, a Scottish aid worker, Linda Norgrove (36) was kidnapped, along with 3 Afghan colleagues, while traveling in a vehicles in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Her captors - insurgents affiliated with the Taliban - took their hostages to a number of locations, ending up in a compound at Dineshgal, a mountain village in Korangal Valley.

Dineshgal, Afghanistan (rough area) (google earth kmz file)

On October 3rd, The Taliban released the 3 afghan hostages, while continuing to negotiate Norgrove's release, asking for the release of imprisoned Taliban commanders in return.

Intelligence came in that suggested that Norgrove might soon either be killed or moved to Pakistan. Consequently, British authorities, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague authorised a military rescue operation.

Predator surveillance drones had determined the location where Norgrove was being held. The compound was at 8000ft above sea level, on the side of a steep mountain. In typical Afghan fashion, it consisted of a collection of single story buildings inside a tall mud perimeter wall. Surveillance established that she was being guarded by 6 armed militia. A number of women and children were also at the location.

In the early hours of October 8th, a special operations task force arrived above the compound. Aboard 4 MH-60 Chinooks were 2 dozen DEVGRU (SEAL Team 6) operators and around 20 Rangers.

As the first DEVGRU team fast-roped to the ground, snipers aboard the helicopters used suppressed rifles to take out 2 sentries. Soon after, the rest of the DEVGRU force fast-roped down and began going building-to-building, looking for Norgrove and her captors. Meanwhile, the Rangers had inserted and set up positions on the hillside surrounding the compound, ready to provide fire support.

Overhead, a Predator drone relayed surveillance images back to a control center in Kabul. Also orbiting over the scene, an AC-130 gunship was on station to provide close air support if needed. 2 Taliban attempted to flee the scene when the rescue force appeared overhead. They were cut down by the AC-130.

As the SEALs cleared the compound, they came under automatic rifle fire from the kidnappers.

It was during this gunfight that a DEVGRU operator threw a fragmentation grenade at what he believed was a group of Taliban fighters taking cover in a depression in the ground. Once a full sweep of the compound was made it was discovered that one of the people killed by the grenade included Linda Norgrove, the hostage DEVGRU had come to save.

No other civilians or American personnel were injured during the operation. The DEVGRU operator who threw the grenade was subsequently discharged from the unit.

AC-130 gunship
The ill-fated operation was supported by an AC-130 gunship. The aircraft is much loved by troops on the ground. Circling high overhead, the gunship's sophisticated sensors sweep across the terrain, finding enemy locations and, when needed, engaging them with cannon fire. It can also relay its surveillance imagery to the control center overseeing the operation.
US DoD Photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock


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