Task Force Dagger - Operation Enduring Freedom
One of the several Joint Special Operations Task Forces established for OEF was Joint Special Operations Task Force North, also known as Task Force Dagger.
TF Dagger was based at a former soviet airbase, designated 'K2', close to Karshi Kandabad, Uzbekistan and comprised:
- 5th Special Forces Group
- 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR)
- AFSOC Special Tactics
TF Dagger's aim was to link up with Northern Alliance Commanders and support their push towards several key Taliban-held cities in the North of the country. As the war progessed, more 5th Special Forces Group soldiers alos linked up with Pashtun forces in the South.
ODA 555 - Shomali Plains, Bagram and Kabul
The 12-man Special Forces ODA team from the 5th Special Forces Group inserted into the Panshir Valley and joined the Jawbreaker team. The Green Berets carried the AN/PEQ-1 SOF Laser Marker (SOFLAM), a piece of kit that would, along with GPS devices, become instrumental in the campaign. Working closely with the CIA and Northern Alliance troops under warlord Fahim Khan, ODA 555 preceded to call in air strikes onto Taliban positions along the Shomali Plain.
As the Taliban forces were flushed from the plain, ODA 555 called in more air power in order to clear the last enemy from Bagram Air Base, allowing Khan's forces to take over the facility.
On the 13th of November, with assistance from ODA 595 and Jawbreaker, Kabul fell to Fahim Khan's forces.
|Throughout the campaign, Army Special Forces, assisted by AFSOC Combat Controllers (CCTs) called in bombing runs from B-52, B-1 bombers as well as Navy F14 and F18 attack aircraft. AFSOC AC-130 Gunships, operating exclusively at night and coordinated by CCTs, provided close air support. On several occasions, MC-130E/H aircraft dropped 15,000lb BLU-28 'Daisy Cutter' bombs on Taliban troop positions with devastating effect.
The combination of SOF-coordinated air power and indigenous anti-Taliban forces characterized the opening rounds of Operation Enduring Freedom.
ODA 595 & ODA 534 - Mazar-e-Sharif and Dari-a-Souf Valley
The 2nd TF-Dagger team to insert was ODA 595, which was flown across the Hindu Kush mountains by SOAR MH-47s on the 20th of October. The team was inserted in the Dari-a-Souf Valley, south of Mazar-e-Sharif, linking up with the CIA and General Dostum, commander of the largest and most powerful Northern Alliance Faction.
|ODA 595, CIA SAD operatives and attached AFSOC CCTs found themselves required to ride on horseback alongside General Dostum's troops. In scenes reminiscent of Lawrence Of Arabia, US SOF and Northern Alliance swept across the Afghanistan countryside towards Taliban positions in classic cavalry charges.
Few of the US SOF were accomplished riders and none were comfortable with the traditional wooden saddles common in Afghanistan. Following an urgent request, leather saddles was air dropped to the grateful men on the ground.
ODA 595 split into two units, Alpha and Bravo. Alpha accompanied Dostrum as his force pushed towards the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, calling in strikes from US warplanes against a series of Taliban positions, whilst Bravo called in strikes against Taliban positions across the Dari-a-Souf Valley.
A further Special Forces team, ODA 534, inserted by SOAR helos on the night of November 2nd were tasked with supported General Mohammad Atta, a Northern Alliance militia leader. ODA 534, along with CIA officers, eventually linked up with ODA 595 and Gen Dostrum outside Mazar-e-Sharif.
As the 2 SF ODAs and attached AFSOC personnel called down air strikes, Northern Alliance foot soldiers, cavalry and armored units took the city.
Further north, in the Takhar province, ODA 586 were operating in support of General Daod Khan's forces which took the capital, Taloqan on the 11th of November.
ODA 586, called in 11 days of heavy air strikes in support of Khan's troops who eventually took Konduz, the capital of Konduz province on November 26th. A number of key Taliban and Al Qaeda personnel are believed to have been airlifted out of Konduz before it was taken by the Northern Alliance, to the frustration of the Special Forces.
ODA 574 deployed by SOAR Black Hawks near Tarin Kowt on November 14th, along with Pashtun militia leader, Hamid Karzai. As Karazai's forces pushed south towards Kandahar, an error by an attached USAF TACP resulted in a 2,000lb GPS-guided JDAM hitting friendly forces, killing and wounding several Special Forces and militiamen. Assisted by the remaining ODA 586 soldiers, with reinforcements from ODB 750 and ODA 523, Karzai was able to negotiate the surrender of Taliban forces around Kandahar.
ODA 583, supporting Gul Agha Sherzai in the vicinity of the Shin Narai Valley, also pushed towards Kandahar, coming from the southeast. The ODA set up Observation Posts overlooking Kandahar airport and, over a period of several days, softened up the Taliban defences by calling down air strikes upon them. On December 7th, ODA 583 and Sherzai's forces took the airport and soon after the city of Kandaher itself. They were soon joined by Karzai's forces from the North, accompanied by his Special Forces advisors.
With the fall of Kandahar Province, the Taliban had lost the last of their major areas of control and Al Qaeda forces were either fleeing to Pakistan and the mountains of Tora Bora, with the US-led coalition in pursuit.