5th Special Forces Group (A) ODAs 595, 555, 574, 583, 585, and 586, 160th SOAR CIA SAD CTC K2 Joint Special Operation Horse Soldiers Serial #1981 Challenge Coin

  • $3,200.00

Camp Stronghold Freedom Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, known as K2 Uzbekistan.

A rare challenge coin.  This coin is approximately 1 5/8 inches in diameter.  It is in good shape and has some wear from handling.   Please see pictures with different lighing.

This is the original Task Force Dagger coin representing the initial special operations forces into Afghanistan following the September 9-11 attacks.  These special operations forces were famously called "Horse Soldiers" within the military community and later even made into a movie. 12-Strong.  

CIA Special Activities Division (SAD) and Counter Terrorism Center (CTC)

Please read Wikipedia description below:

Global War on Terrorism

War in Afghanistan

After 11 September attacks, the U.S. government acted quickly. The following day, President Bush called the attacks more than just "acts of terror" but "acts of war" and resolved to pursue and conquer an "enemy" that would no longer be safe in "its harbors".[22] By 13 September 2001, the 5th Special Forces Group was ordered to stand up a forward headquarters to conduct operations in Afghanistan.[23]

The unit received its orders in mid-October. Their mission was wide-open: to assist General Abdul Rashid Dostum in conducting unconventional warfare operational area to make the area unsafe for terrorists and Taliban activities.[23] Task Force Dagger, established on 10 October 2001, was built around the 5th SFG with helicopter support from the 160th SOAR, and assigned to infiltrate northern Afghanistan in order to advise and support the commanders of the Northern Alliance.[24]

The first group of Task Force Dagger included seven members of the CIA's Special Activities Division and Counter Terrorist Center (CTC) led by Gary Schroen, who formed the Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team.[25][26] The CIA team infiltrated Afghanistan into the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, on 26 September, only 15 days after 11 September attacks.[27] They brought three cardboard boxes filled with $3 million in $100 bills to buy support.[28] Known by the callsign Jawbreaker, the team linked up with Northern Alliance commanders and prepared for the introduction of Army Special Forces into the region.[29][30]


Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 555 and 595, both 12-man teams, plus Air Force combat controllers, were the second and third groups of Task Force Dagger to enter Afghanistan.[25]

On 19 October 2001, in the first operation of its kind, ODA 555 and 595 were flown from a former Soviet airbase, now named the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (nicknamed K2 by the Special Forces), in Uzbekistan[27] more than 300 kilometers (190 mi) across the 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) Hindu Kush mountains. They flew in two SOAR ("Nightstalkers") MH-47E Chinook helicopters, escorted by two MH-60L Black Hawks. Conditions were marginal due to the altitude and icing conditions brought on by the low temperatures. Because the Chinooks didn't carry a centralized oxygen-delivery system for passengers, the troops had to use single-use "bailout bottles" at high altitude to survive the flight. This meant the mission was "one way".[31] The pilots refueled the helicopters at very low altitude under black out conditions, flying using night-vision goggles, and without radio communications, as they had trained to do multiple times. The Black Hawk escort was forced to turn back when they could not clear a pass along the flight route. The MH-47 crew set a world record for combat rotorcraft missions, refueling three times during 11 hours of flight.[31] After refueling, they flew into a sand storm and heavy fog which created near-zero visibility conditions.

One Chinook made its second attempt at infiltrating ODA-555, "Triple Nickel" after being turned around two days before by severe weather trying to fly over the treacherous Hindu Kush mountains. The Chinook dropped ODA 555 in the Panjshir River Valley just 20 miles north of Kabul, where they linked up with warlord Fahim Khan and his Northern Alliance forces. They were in a deadlock with Taliban forces a few miles south in the vicinity of Bagram Airfield.[32] The second Chinook finally dropped the 12-man ODA 595 led by Capt. Mark D. Nutsch onto a farmer's field at 0200,[33] in the Dari-a-Souf Valley, about 80 km (50 mi) south of Mazar-i-Sharif. The teams arrived only 39 days after the Al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center for what they thought would be a year-long stay.[29] The teams were extremely isolated. They were hundreds of miles from any allied forces and any possible extraction was hours or days away. On arrival, both teams linked up with the Northern Alliance and 'Jawbreaker' CIA advisers.[27] Several of the CIA team members previously served in U.S. military special operations, but were in the country as civilian operators.

In the southern portion of Afghanistan, a company-sized element of approximately 200 Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment were flown in on four Lockheed MC-130 aircraft and briefly captured a desert landing strip south of the city of Kandahar in Operation Rhino.[34]

Fighting on horseback

Once they arrived in-country, the Northern Alliance troops provided the US forces with horses, the only suitable transportation for the difficult mountainous terrain of Northern Afghanistan. Only ODA 595 commander Capt. Mark D. Nutsch[35] had any significant experience on horseback, but all readily accepted.[36][37] Capt. Will Summers, Special Forces team leader, said "It was as if The Jetsons had met The Flintstones."[37] They were the first U.S. soldiers to ride horses into battle since 16 January 1942, when the U.S. Army's 26th Cavalry Regiment charged an advanced guard of the 14th Japanese Army as it advanced from Manila.[38][39][40] The Afghan horses were all stallions and tended to fight each other, even with the soldiers on their backs. They rode trails a foot wide alongside a 1,000 feet (300 m) cliff, sometimes at night. During the next few weeks they rode from 10 to 30 kilometres (6.2 to 18.6 mi) per day.[23] Christopher C. Miller, the last acting Secretary of Defence of the Trump Administration was reportedly one of those horse soldiers and served in 5th Special Forces Group. [41]

A stallion ridden by Summers one day was especially strong and spirited. During one especially harrowing ride off of a high mountain pass, zig-zagging down multiple switch-backs, his horse took his own lead and leaped straight down the mountainside.[32]

And my horse turned and faced straight down the hill... And he crouched down like a cat, and just sprung off the side of the mountain. And, I think about three to five horse lengths later, his front feet hit. And, this guy just took off like lightning down the side of a cliff. The only thing that went through my mind was this 1980s movie, The Man from Snowy River. And so, I was like, "Okay, the guy from Snowy River, he put his head on the back of the horse, and he put his feet up around his neck."

And so, my feet came up, my head goes back. And I have like horsetail on the back of my head. And this guy just tears down the side of this mountain where at the bottom of it is like a gully about six to 12 feet deep, and about four feet wide.... And he successfully jumped over that.....

And I guess about 20 minutes later, the General [Dostum] and some of his entourage had finally caught up. And he had stopped and looked at me kind of strange again, but a little different this time. And, he said something to me. And he started off again on his horse. And he turned around, and he said something again. And I knew that he was pretty serious about what he was saying. And, then we walked off. And, his translator said, "The General just paid you a great compliment." And I was like, "Wow, that's great. What did he say?" And, he said, "Truly, you are the finest horseman he has ever seen." ...And then he had stopped and said, "In addition to this, I was the most daring and brave man he had ever known."[32]

Summers became known as "the bravest horseman in all of Afghanistan."[32]

Captain Nutsch soon requested replacements for the traditional small, hard, wooden saddles used by the Afghanistan soldiers. He specified a supply of lightweight saddles, either McClellan or Australian-style, suitable for the smaller Afghan horses. A supply of saddles was air-dropped in mid-November.[33] The last U.S. Army unit to receive horseback training was the 28th Cavalry in 1943.[42] A picture of the soldiers on horseback was shown by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a news conference on 15 November 2001. When sculptor Douwe Blumberg saw that image, he felt impressed that he had to do something and created what became the only public sculpture to commemorate special forces, America's Response Monument.[43]

On 21 October, the Northern Alliance led by General Dostum prepared to attack the fortified village of Bishqab. Dostrum's forces were equipped with AK47s, light machine guns, and Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers (RPGs). The Northern Alliance totaled about 1,500 cavalry and 1,500 light infantry. They were assisted by the 12-member U.S. Special Forces team and American airpower. Bishqab was defended by several T-54/55 tanks, a number of BMPs (armored personnel carriers) armed with cannons and machine guns, and several ZSU-23 anti-aircraft artillery, along with mortars, machine guns, RPGs, and mines. The armor and heavy weapons were usually manned by the foreign Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters, who fought hard and did not surrender readily.[23] To reach the enemy, Dostum's forces needed to cross a 1 mile (1.6 km)-wide open plain cut by seven ridges, each between 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 m) high, and spaced about 600 feet (180 m) apart, that left the advancing forces completely exposed to enemy fire. To the U.S. Special Forces, it looked like the Charge of the Light Brigade, Battle of Fredericksburg, and Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, all at the same time.[36] Supported by American air power and precision-guided munitions, in an 18-hour period, they destroyed over 20 armored and 20 support vehicles.[44] Many of the Taliban threw away their weapons and ran,[30] or made a secret pact with Dostum's forces to join his forces as soon as the attack began.[23]

The next day, the Northern Alliance prepared to attack Cobaki. The U.S. Special Ops teams used SOFLAM Laser Target Designators to identify targets for air strikes on the enemy armor and artillery. The Northern Alliance followed this with a horse cavalry charge. When it looked like Dostum's cavalry charge would fail, several members of ODA 595 rode into action and helped win the battle.[36] Within the first two weeks, ODA 595 was joined by two more special forces soldiers, bringing their number to 14. They split the team into four three-man teams and spread out over 60 kilometres (37 mi) of mountainous terrain, in some cases 12 to 18 hours apart from each other by horseback. Each team of NCOs advised senior Northern Alliance commanders and called in airstrikes and resupply for their forces.[23]

On 2 November, a third Special Forces team, ODA 534, was inserted by SOAR to assist Northern Alliance General Atta Mohammad. ODA 534 later linked up with the CIA team Jawbreaker, ODA 595 and 555, and General Dostrum outside Mazar-e-Sharif.[45]

Capture of Mazar-e-Sharif[edit]

One of the Task Force Dagger's primary strategic objectives was to capture Mazar-e-Sharif and an airfield so the U.S. could use it to bring in supplies and more troops. On about 6 November, the Northern Alliance broke through the Taliban defense in the valley of Darah Sof District, 200 kilometres (120 mi) from Mazar-e-Sharif.[23] The three teams reunited near Mazar-e-Sharif and participated in its capture. They guided hundreds of GPS-guided 2,000-pound JDAM precision-guided munitions dropped by USAF B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers onto Taliban and Al-Qaeda positions near Mazar-e Sharif.[23]

Additional teams

By 18 November 2001, 10 ODAs from 5th Special Forces Group were operating in Afghanistan.[46]

ODA 534 from Charlie Company, 1st Btn, 5th SFG was split between the Darya and Balkh Valleys supporting General Atta Mohammad.[46][47]

ODA 553 from Bravo Company, 2nd Btn, 5th SFG[47] was inserted on 2 November. The ten-man team in Bamyan supported General Karim Khalili and his militia in the northern regions of Afghanistan. Together the men worked to flush Taliban forces from the region with a number of cities quickly falling to Kahili's tribal forces.[45][46]

ODA 554 from Bravo Company, 2nd Btn, 5th SFG[47] was in Herat supporting General Ismail Khan.[46]

ODA 555 ("Triple Nickel") from Bravo Company, 2nd Btn, 5th SFG[47] was, with ODA 595, one of two ODA units inserted on 19 October. They supported General Shariff in the Panjshir Valley.[46] It linked up with General Fahim Akhtar Khan in the Bagram/Kabul area of the Panjshir Valley, near the fortifications surrounding Bagram Air Base. Air Force Combat Controller Sgt. Calvin Markham used a SOFLAM Laser Target Designators to identify targets for airstrikes on the enemy armor and artillery. He set up a series of strikes on the fields of targets around the airbase, guiding wave after wave of precision-guided munitions onto tanks, armored personnel carriers, guns, and fortifications around Bagram.[48]

ODA 555 worked closely with Northern Alliance forces under warlord Fahim Khan. They called in airstrikes that dropped up to 15,000 lb BLU-28 'Daisy Cutter' bombs on Taliban troop positions with devastating effect along the Shomali Plain.[45] ODA 555 accompanied Khan's militia and fought alongside them in numerous engagements. They sometimes called in airstrikes danger close to stop Taliban attacks. They were with the Northern Alliance militia when they captured Mazar-e Sharif on 9 and 10 November, and with the assistance of ODA 595 and Jawbreaker, accompanied the militia when they captured Kabul on 13 and 14 November.[45]

ODA 574 ("Texas One-Two") from Alpha Company, 3rd Btn, 5th SFG[47] deployed from K2 just outside of Tarin Kowt on 14 November, along with Pashtun militia leader, Hamid Karzai. As Karzai's forces pushed south towards Kandahar, an error by an attached USAF TACP resulted in a 2,000lb GPS-guided JDAM hitting the ODA's position, killing and wounding several Special Forces and Afghan militiamen. Assisted by the remaining ODA 586 soldiers, with reinforcements from ODA 750 and ODA 523, Karzai was able to negotiate the surrender of Taliban forces around Kandahar and go on to become the first Afghan president.[45][46]

ODA 583 from Bravo Company, 3rd Btn, 5th SFG[47] deployed late on 21 November to the Shin Narai Valley supporting Gul Agha Sherzai near the Shin Narai Valley.[46] During their infiltration, one of the helicopters experienced a mechanical failure and made an emergency landing. Another helicopter was dispatched but dropped the team in the wrong location. The 583 finally joined the CIA team and Sherzai and pushed towards Kandahar. The 583 set up observation posts overlooking Kandahar International Airport and over the next few days, called in ongoing air strikes on the Taliban positions. On 7 December, ODA 583 helped Sherzai's forces capture the airport and very soon the city of Kandahar.[45]

ODA 585 from Bravo Company, 3rd Btn, 5th SFG[47] inserted by helo on 23 October into Kunduz to support General Burilla Kahn.[46] Despite initial missed air strikes that left Burillah unimpressed, 585's senior enlisted member Master Sergeant Bolduc called in another wave of F-18 strikes that in four passes obliterated several Taliban command bunkers and collapsed several sections of the enemy's trench lines. The display of coordinated airpower by 585 earned General Burillah's respect and proved their value to the Afghans. ODA 586 Eventually joined 585 and General Burillah's men for the final assault on the provincial city of Konduz, seizing it on 11 November.[45]

ODA 586 from Bravo Company, 3rd Btn, 5th SFG[47] was in Farkhar supporting General Daoud Khan in the Takhar province, who took the capital city of Taloqan on 11 November. Khan's troops, supported by airstrikes called in by 586, eventually took the city and provincial capital of Konduz on 26 November.[45][46]

ODA 595 from Charlie Company, 3rd Btn, 5th SFG[47] was with ODA 555 of two ODA units inserted on 19 October. They helped General Dostrum outside Mazar-e-Sharif.[46] ODA 595 were instrumental in helping the Northern Alliance to capture several thousand foreign and Afghan Taliban and bringing hundreds more local Afghans over to the Northern Alliance side. Over two months they destroyed several hundred enemy vehicles, liberated about 50 towns and six northern provinces comprising hundred square kilometers.[23]

Mission success

The well-placed ordnance dropped on the Taliban by the airpower controlled by Task Force Dagger forced the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces to continually pull back. The rapidity with which the enemy resistance crumbled eliminated the U.S. military's plans to deploy significant conventional ground forces.[45]

The Taliban and Al Qaeda forces were defeated within two months. It could have happened more quickly, but the Bush administration was fearful that without a provisional government to take over Kabul, the Northern Alliance would commit atrocities as they had when they had previously occupied the capital.[28]

The ground forces who eventually entered Afghanistan were left to pursue high-value targets, including Osama bin Laden, among the Al-Qaeda near the Pakistani border. The high-level command of Task Force Dagger remained in the country until the unit was finally redeployed to the United States in April 2002.[45]

Major Mark E. Mitchell of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in November 2001 at Qala-i-Jangi Fortress, Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan.[49

(REF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5th_Special_Forces_Group_(United_States))