Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu, where elements of the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta (“Delta’”, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and various supporting units staged a relatively small raid to seize high value targets in Mogadishu. What started as a small snatch and grab turned into a day long trial by fire that cost the lives of 18 Americans with another 80 wounded.
Two soldiers from Delta, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart, would give their lives attempting to support CW3 Mike Durant. Their selfless sacrifice on behalf of a fellow soldier would see them awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Many other soldiers would be decorated for heroism. Often lost in the discussion is the fact that the Rangers and Delta accomplished their mission. They inflicted overwhelming casualties upon hostile forces. They won the battle.
But the battle was of little strategic significance. A poorly conceived shift in strategy from a humanitarian mission to interceding in a civil war meant virtually no US action would have positive long term results.
The Battle of Mogadishu was a harbinger of future operations in built up areas of the Third World. Following so soon upon the heels of the overwhelming victory of the US led coalition in Desert Storm, the loss of so many soldiers in a relatively small engagement was the first signal that in spite of our overwhelming technological edge, our enemies would also get a vote on the outcome of any engagement.