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Operation Rhino
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Drop on Rhino.jpg
Ranger parachute drop on objective "Rhino."
DateOctober 19th-20th, 2001
LocationKandahar, Afghanistan
Result American victory
Belligerents
United States 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Afghanistan Taliban
Strength
200 Rangers Unknown
Casualties and losses
Few casualties, 2 killed in a helicopter crash while on standby for CSAR. N/A


Operation Rhino was a raid by the United States Army Rangers on several Taliban targets in and around Kandahar, Afghanistan during the early stages of the Afghanistan War. On the night of October 19, 2001, a company-sized element of approximately 200 Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment departed from four Lockheed MC-130 aircraft towards a desert landing strip south of the city on an "objective Rhino". Before the Rangers dropped, several targets on and around the objective were targeted by U.S. air power, first by bombs dropped from B-2 stealth bombers, then by fire from orbiting AC-130 aircraft. These air strikes resulted in a number of enemy KIAs and several enemy fleeing the area. Following the air strikes, the 4 MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft flew over the drop zone at 800 feet. In zero illumination, 199 Rangers proceeded to exit the MC-130s. The Ranger's objectives were to:

  • seize the landing strip
  • destroy any Taliban forces
  • gather intelligence
  • assess the suitability of the landing strip for future operations
  • establish a forward aerial refuel/rearm point (FARP) for helicopters involved in the nearby operation at Objective Gecko
  • destroy major weapons and utilities

Once on the ground, A Company, 3/75 Rangers, cleared several objectives, code-named TIN and IRON, meeting minimal resistance. C Company moved out towards a walled compound, code-named objective COBALT. PSYOP specialists from the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, broadcast messages on loud speakers in an attempt to coax any defenders to surrender but it was soon established that the compound was empty. With the landing strip secured, a MC-130 landed with medical personnel from JSOCs JMAU proceeded to treat 2 Rangers who had been injured during the jump. USAF Combat Controllers surveyed the landing strip, assessing it for possible future use. They also communicated with the AC-130s which were circling high overhead. When a small number of enemy troops and vehicles were spotted approaching the area, the AC-130s engaged and destroyed them. MH-60 and MH-47 helicopters, flown by the 160th SOAR and taking part in the operation at Objective Gecko, soon arrived and were refueled and rearmed at the FARP which had been established using MC-130 tankers. Once rearmed and refueled, the SOAR helicopters took off and left the area. With all objectives completed, the Rangers and CCTs boarded the MC-130s which soon departed. PSYOP leaflets were left behind for any Taliban who might have ventured onto the scene over the coming days. The same airstrip was later to be seized by the United States Marines following a reconnaissance operation by US Navy SEALs. It would later become known as Camp Rhino.

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Coordinates: 30°29′12″N 64°31′32″E / 30.48667°N 64.52556°E / 30.48667; 64.52556

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