Operation Red Wings

Operation Red Wings (often incorrectly referred to as Operation Redwing and/or Operation Red Wing) was a combined / joint military operation that took place in the Pech District of Afghanistan's Kunar Province, on the slopes of a mountain named Sawtalo Sar, approximately 20 miles west of Kunar's provincial capital of Asadabad, in Late June through Mid-July 2005. The goal of Operation Red Wings was the disruption of Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) activity in the region in order to further aid the stabilization efforts of the region for the upcoming September 18, 2005 Afghan National Parliamentary Elections. Anti-Coalition Militia activity in the region was carried out at the time most notably by a small group led by a local man (from Nangarhar Province) who had aspirations of regional Islamic fundamentalist prominence named Ahmad Shah, hence he and his small group would be one of the primary targets of the operation. Operation Red Wings, conceived by the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3) of the U.S. Marine Corps (Red Wings was based on an operational model developed by 2/3's sister battalion, the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment (3/3), who preceded the 2nd Battalion in their combat deployment to Afghanistan), utilized special operations forces (SOF) units and assets, including members of the U.S. Navy SEALs and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command's 160th Special Operation's Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (SOAR(A)), for the opening phase of the operation. A team of four Navy SEALs, tasked for surveillance and reconnaissance of a group of structures known to be used by Ahmad Shah and his men, fell into an ambush by Shah and his group just hours after inserting by fastrope from an MH-47 helicopter in the area. Three of the four SEALs were killed in the ambush; a quick reaction force helicopter sent in for their aid was subsequently shot down with an RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade by one of Shah's men, killing all on board, which consisted of 8 Navy SEALs and 8 U.S. Army Special Operations aviators. The operation then became known as Red Wings II and lasted approximately three more weeks, during which time bodies of the deceased SEALs and Army Special Operations aviators were recovered and the only surviving member of the initial four-man surveillance and reconnaissance team, Marcus Luttrell, was rescued. While the goal of the operation, the disruption of Anticoalition Militia activity, was achieved in part, Ahmad Shah regrouped in Pakistan, and returned with yet more men and armament to the area due to the notoriety he gained from the Red Wings ambush and helicopter shootdown. Operationally, Red Wings achieved its stated goal, although temporarily. Shah's group was stricken to a point of inoperability and Shah was seriously wounded during Operation Whalers, which took place in the Kunar Province just weeks after Red Wings drew to a close, in August, 2005.

Read more about Operation Red WingsBackground of Development of Operation Red Wings, Naming of Operation Red Wings, Intelligence Gathering, and Planning Of, Operation Red Wings, Insert, Compromise, and Ambush of SEAL Reconnaissance and Surveillance Team, Operation Red Wings II - Quick Reaction Force, Search, Rescue, Recovery, and Presence Operations, Aftermath, and Repercussions, American Casualties, Military Decorations Awarded and Notable Events Post Operation Red Wings, Afghans Who Aided Luttrell, Erroneous and Exaggerated Information

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