Task Force 121

Task Force 121 and USAF PJs

Task Force 121 was a secret unit and was part of U.S. SOCOM formed from members of the U.S. Special Operations Forces. It also included members of other conventional forces (US Army). Task Force 121 was already malfunctioning from similar units like Task Force 5, operating in Afghanistan and Task Force 20 operating in Iraq. They also were known as TF121.

The Task Force 121 primary mission was an apprehension of high-value targets (HVT). As soon as they appeared, the intensive manhunt was launched, the most notable target of that time was then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The hunt for HVTs was organized in such a way that it has a close relationship with intelligence personnel 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.

Uday and Qusay Hussein

Although such similar units that are blended from several other SOF units usually have a bunch of problems, it turned out that Task Force 121 is able to fulfill its mission in its full capacity. On 21st June 2003, their target was Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, at that time the most wanted men in Iraq. In a shootout, with them, both of them were killed. Task Force 121 fought alongside the 101st Airborne Division in this mission. Their ultimate target remained a former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein which was captured later on 13th December 2003. It was a great success and Task Force 121 fulfilled its mission.

Saddam Hussein captured by Task Force 121
A moment when the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was dragged out from his spider hole

Task Force 121 was created in 2003.  According to some sources, the creating of Task Force 121 was linked with Task Force 5 and Task Force 20, but these data remained classified.

Task Force 121 – units involved

Operation Red Dawn

Operation Red Dawn was the name of the military operation conducted by the U.S. Military on the 13th December 2003 in the small town of ad-Dawr in Iraq, near Tikrit. It was the reign where former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was born and therefore it was obvious that he will find the greatest support at his hometown. The military operation led by Task Force 121 resulted in his arrest.

Task Force 121 Delta Force
Members of Task Force 121 filmed on an unknown day at an unknown location (Photo: Wikipedia)

The operation was first assigned to a rapid response team from the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division, but it was led by members of Task Force 121. In operation participated around 600 troops, including armor, engineers, artillery, air support, and special forces. The operation was commanded by Colonel James Hickey from the 4th Infantry Division.

Soldiers stormed over the village of ad-Dawr on the two sides, but they were unable to immediately capture or find former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The following cordon and surgical exploration found fugitive hiding in the so-called “spider hole” in a small walled shelter. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured in 20 hours and 30 minutes on local time. For himself, although he had a gun, he didn’t resist when arrested. Soldiers also found two rifles Ak-47, 750,000 dollars in cash (one hundred bills), stash cans of food, and a white and orange taxi bills.

It was the end of the mission, for which Task Force 121 was gathered. All of those units still exist, and many of them operate side by side in conflicts today, but Task Force 121 itself has been disbanded.

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