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The opposition forces were mostly non-Afghan al-Qaeda and Taliban members although the force also included some Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks, and Pakistanis. Scattered groups, numbering as many as 20 members, including some family members, holed up in a 3,000-yearold complex of mountain tunnels, caves, and crannies.
Predator drones and other CIA intelligence assets spotted the enemy assembling in groups south of Gardez, but rather than immediately attacking, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) let the terrorists gather to present a larger target. A small U.S. Special Forces detachment ac companied local Afghan commander Zia Lodin as his men entered the valley from the south and headed to Sirkankel to flush out suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban forces.5
The hilltop battle developed during a nighttime attempt to establish a new observation post overlooking a major al-Qaeda supply and escape route. Initial wire service reports were vague and confusing since few reporters accompanied the troops into combat. Later, Commander in Chief, CENTCOM, General Tommy Franks explained that many landing zones had been picked for helicopter assaults, and some enemy forces had evaded detection.16
According to Hagenbeck, a second Chinook, flying in tandem with the first and containing a quick reaction force of about 30 special operations troops, flew to the rescue of the downed aircraft.19 The rescuers, who landed under fire later on the night of the 3 March at the hilltop where Roberts was last seen, came under intense fire. A 21-man Special Forces team was dropped off.
At 1200, a third Chinook was hit while inserting more special operations forces near the site of the first incident. According to Joint Staff briefer U.S. Air Force Brigadier General John Rosa, the helicopter was hit by machine-gun and RPG fire and either crash-landed or experienced a hard landing.20 Six soldiers were killed and five wounded in subsequent firefights, since the valley suddenly swarmed with enemy troops. Senior Airman Jason Cunningham darted out of the helicopter several times to pull others to safety and was hit by machine-gun fire while treating the wounded.21
Shortly after dark, but before the moon rose on 4 March, more helicopters raced in under covering fire from dozens of strike fighters and attack helicopters to extract the Special Forces and their dead comrades. Next to be withdrawn was the 10th Mountain force. As the helicopters returned safely to Bagram Air Base, the sprawling hub of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, throngs of soldiers anxiously awaited their return.25
On 7 March, wind and sandstorms slowed allied air and ground operations, but near dusk a caravan of 12 to 15 Afghan tanks and armored personnel carriers rumbled down the main road south of Kabul toward Paktia Province and the high-elevation combat. The 1,000 Afghan reinforcements, under Northern Commander Gul Haider, were largely Tajik troops who had fought under their late commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, against the Taliban.38
As the armor column reached the battle zone on 9 March, driving winds and snow forced al-Qaeda holdouts to retreat into their caves. The Tajiks were tasked with helping drive hidden Taliban snipers and fighters from the valley villages of Sher Khan Khel, Babal Khel, and Marzak.39
An unidentified Special Forces officer noted that the majority of the new forces were Pushtun and that their commanders had dropped old rivalries for the larger goal of eliminating the last of the al-Qaeda and Taliban pockets.41 On 10 March, the officer estimated that between 100 to 200 al-Qaeda forces remained in the valley and that U.S. forces were not approaching the most dangerous part of the war but were in it.
Meanwhile, on 7 March and early on 8 March, U.S. troops came under fire in the southern sector. The clash seemed like a last, defiant gesture. With local terrorist forces severely hurt, U.S. forces repositioned. About 400 U.S. troops returned to Bagram Air Base on 9 March; however, within hours of the withdrawal of one-third of the 1,200 U.S. troops involved in the 8-day-old operation, B-52 bombers had to return to the area.42
The number of contacts with the enemy rose sharply and instead of local force VC the unit began to meet well trained main force troops of 274th VC Regiment. 91 VC or North Vietnamese were killed and over 80 weapons captured.
In 1993, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) was raised and tasked to supervise the transition from sectarian civil war to peace. The peace process rapidly deteriorated in the early months of 1994 after the Rwandan President was killed when his plane was shot down. Within hours, Hutu extremists seized control of the Rwandan government and began instigating genocide. A Coy 2/4 RAR deployed as part of the Australian Medical Support Force (AUSMED) under the command of LTCOL Patrick McIntosh. This force element was charged with protecting the Australian medical personnel operating out of the badly damaged, Kigali Central Hospital.
On 15 September 1999, the United Nations Security Council responded to the rapidly deteriorating situation in East Timor by authorising the deployment of a peace enforcement force, acting under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. On 20 September 1999, the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) deployed under the command of Australian Major General Peter Cosgrove. 2 RAR was the first Infantry battalion to land at Comoro Airport and quickly acted to secure the APOD and SPOD in order facilitate the arrival of 3 RAR on 21 September. The two battalions commenced the process of restoring law and order in Dili through patrolling, VCPs, and the disarming and apprehension of militia members. The precariousness of the situation became blatantly apparent as members of 2 RAR routinely discovered evidence of murdered and mutilated civilians in the streets of Dili.
After being replaced in the northern border region by 5/7 RAR on 2 January 2000, 2 RAR finished its tour and returned to Townsville. However, the Battalion would return to East Timor for six months, from October 2001 to April 2002. The Second Battalion Group served in the Bobonaro District of East Timor as part of the United Nations Transitional Administration in the newly independent nation. A vast majority of the group was part of the initial Australian force that landed on the first day of the INTERFET campaign just two years earlier.
By early 2003, a cocktail of ethnic tensions, a breakdown in law and order, and the near collapse of the economy had rendered the Solomon Islands a failing state. On 22 April 2003, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands requested Australian assistance to restore peace and stability. A reinforced company group from 2 RAR was deployed in July 2003 as part of The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to support the civilian police in re-establishing law and order. The Battalion subsequently deployed on Operation Anode on two further occasions, the first in November 2003 and the second in May 2004.
The citation for the award of the DCM reads, in part: 'He accompanied the 32nd Vietnamese Ranger Battalion in Operation Lam Son 115 near Lavang from 18 to 28 April 1964. During the helicopter assault landing, WO Chinn landed in the first wave under Viet Cong ground fire which caused several casualties. Realising the effect this fire would have on the second wave of troop loaded helicopters, he assisted in the deployment of sub units and the clearing of the Viet Cong out of range of the landing zone with complete disregard for his own safety and in the face of Viet Cong fire. The second wave landed without casualties. Immediately after the Ranger Force had cleared the Viet Cong training camp, they were again attacked by the Viet Cong. WO Chinn personally drew Viet Cong fire, allowing the organization of a successful reaction force. On 25 April 1964, during a Viet Cong ambush on the column, a Vietnamese soldier was wounded by the Viet Cong. WO Chinn at great personal risk dragged the soldier to safety. At all times during Operation Lam Son 115 WO Chinn's calmness and judgement were an example to all. His devotion to duty, courage and complete disregard for his own personal safety were of the highest order and reflected great credit on himself and the Australian Army.' History of the Battalion
Vung Tau, Vietnam. 1966-08-26. Private Jimmy Richmond, 11 Platoon, the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), wounded in the chest, spent the night at his section post after the Battle of Long Tan. Responding well after his ordeal he receives treatment in hospital from US Army Nurse Moore. 6. A mortar and recoilless rifle attack on the Task Force area opened operation SMITHFIELD on the night of 16/17 August 1966. B Company was initially dispatched to clear the area to the east of the Task Force base. D Company took over from B Company on 18 August 1966. D Company made contact with the enemy force of regimental size and were soon under attack from three sides. The battle was fought into the night under a blanket of mist and heavy monsoonal rain, but D Company held its ground with heroism and grim determination. The remainder of the Battalion deployed to aid the beleaguered Company. With the help of armoured personnel carriers of 3 Troop, 1st APC Squadron they hit the flank of a battalion size force which was forming up to assault the rear of D Company, inflicted many casualties and forced the enemy from the battlefield. A Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to D Company by then President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson. 18 August is now commemorated each year as Long Tan Day, in memory of the eighteen soldiers who gave their lives in battle. The Long Tan Cross LONG TAN VIET NAM 041b061a72