Task Force Ranger

Task Force 121

Task Force 121 is a classic example of the United States' 'Joint Task Force' concept of conducting special operations. It is organized in a manner similar to Task Force Ranger, which was used during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 - Delta Force personnel or other Special Operations Forces supported by high quality light infantry, usually men from the 75th Ranger Regiment.

TF121 is a multiservice force commanded by an Air Force Brigadier General. The spearhead of the force is a forty-man team made up of operators from Delta, DEVGRU, Army Rangers, and the CIA's Special Activities Division. Other Special Operations contributions will include Air Force Combat Controllers, Air Force Pararescue and Special Operations aircraft. On occasions, operators from Coalition nations (particularly British and Australian SAS, Norwegian Marinejeger and Polish GROM operators) augment the TF121 and provide direct and indirect operational assistance.


TF121 is a combination of the now defunct Task Force 5 and Task Force 20, which operated in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Acting on the apparent logistic redundancy of keeping two separate task force teams for Iraq and Afghanistan, General John Abizaid decided to combine both teams into a single streamlined force, forming the TF121.


TF121's primary mission is the apprehension of "High Value Targets" or HVTs: key figures in organizations involved in the War on Terror, such as Osama bin Laden, Mullah Mohammed Omar and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda, Taliban and high ranking officials of the former Iraqi Regime.

The task force has been organized in such a way that it has a close relationship with intelligence personnel (CIA operators are an integral part of the unit) and has timely and unhindered access to any relevant data gathered by intelligence assets in the area. Such an option is invaluable to any Special Operations team, and especially so to one whose primary mission is hunting elusive fugitives whose hideouts change frequently and randomly.

Many TF121 groups are assigned Special Forces CIRA (Communications Intelligence Reconnaissance and Action) operators with expertise in relevant fields. These operators work closely with the intelligence agencies tied to TF121 and work to pinpoint and identify HVTs aggressively.


Despite problems that often plague combined-services task forces, it appears that TF121 has managed to attain some of their most high-profile objectives. On July 21st, 2003, Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were killed in a firefight with TF20 operators and soldiers from 101st Airborne. On the 13th of December, 2003, Operation Red Dawn netted HVT #1, Saddam Hussein himself after a highly successful raid where rapid intelligence flow and decisiveness won the day. Within hours of intelligence narrowing down the target to two possible locations, TF121 was able to coordinate the raid with 600 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade combat team and Hurricane Troop from 1/1 Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

Notable personnel

Key people involved in TF 121 and its successors have included:

  • Craig Edward Ennis, Special Advisor for Covert Operations, was the author of Task Force 121, Task Force 20, and Task Force 120
  • John Abizaid, reported to be responsible for forming TF121
  • Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet approved its creation.
  • Stephen Cambone, assistant to Rumsfeld.
  • Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, DIA head
  • Rear Admiral Bill McRaven
  • Air Force Brigadier General Lyle Koenig
  • Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal
  • Cmdr. Justin P. Davis
  • Col. Stuart A. Herrington
  • Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast
  • Brig Gen. Richard P. Formica
  • Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez
  • Kenneth S. McGraw
  • Gen. Bryan D. Brown
  • Maj. Gen. Michael E. Ennis
  • Larson, Marc T
  • Daniel K. Sloughter (Tech. Team Leader)

Cultural references

See also


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