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Task Force Black

Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, 2003 an SAS Squadron was assigned to a joint US/UK group of Special Operations units operating in the country, known previously as Task Force 145 (TF-145).

Eventually renamed to TF-88, this cream of Western Special Operators consisted of several elements:

  • TF Black - - made up of an SAS sabre squadron, supported by a Company of SFSG (TF Maroon). Some SBS operators are thought to be attached to TF Black.
  • TF Blue - US Navy SEALs from DEVGRU (Seal Team 6)
  • TF Green - 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - or 'Delta Force'
  • TF Orange - signals intelligence gathers from the ISA

Elements of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), US 24th Special Tactics Squadron, aircraft from the UK's 7 and 47 RAF Squadrons, along with a RAF Puma flight, provided specialised air support for TF-88. American military intelligence operatives alongside the UK's Joint Support Group, elements of MI6 and the SRR are believed to have been attached to the Task Force to provide intelligence support. 18 UKSF Signals and their US equivalents (Task Force Orange) provided signals intelligence (SIGINT) capabilties to the task force.

The primary role of TF-88 was to hunt down senior members of Al-Qaeda operating in Iraq. To this end, the Task Force had several successes including the killing of Al-Zarqawi. In response to a spate of kidnappings involving Westerners, TF-88's remit expanded to include countering this threat.

TF-Black was based in headquarters known as 'the Station', within Baghdad's green zone.

Task Force Black Operations

  • In July 2003, an SAS team performed a close target reconnaisance of a residence in Mosul, thought to contain Uday and Qusay Hussein, Saddam's sons. British commanders pushed for the SAS to raid the house but are denied. A combined force of US Delta Force and the 101st Airborne eventually attacked the building and killed Uday and Qusay.

  • Operation Marlborogh
    In July 2005 an SAS sniper team neutralized an insurgent bomb squad before they could reach their targets in the city.

  • In March 2006, in a bloodless operation, the SAS rescued British activist, Norman Kember, and 2 Canadians who had been kidnapped in Baghdad
    more info: SAS rescue Norman Kember

  • September 5th, 2007 - A 30-man SAS team assaulted a house that intel had pinpointed as the location of a senior Al-Qaeda figure. The mission was a success but sadly it costs the life of one of the SAS assaulters.
    more info : SAS soldier killed in mass raid on Al-Qaeda chief
    (Times Online report)

  • March 26th, 2008 - 1 SAS soldier from Task Force Black is killed during an operation against insurgents in a town in Northern Iraq.
    more info : 'Ambush' that left SAS trooper dead
    (BBC News Report)

As with its other commitments such as counter-terrorism and training, the SAS rotated a squadron into Task Force Black on a 6-monthly basis.

The unit changed names at least once, becoming known at some point as Task Force Knight (TF-Knight). The British contingent of TF-88 ceased operations in 2009 due to the British military's withdrawl from Iraq. The SAS squadron committed to Task Force Black was subsequently deployed to Afghanistan, significantly boosting the UKSF presence in that theatre.

SAS Task Force Black Related Items:

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 RECOMMENDED READING
Task Force black
Mark Urban

Mark Urban details the UK Special Forces counter terrorism campaign in Iraq. A must-read, in-depth account.

more info: Task Force Black
(amazon.co.uk)
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