By Katie Peterson, Fort Leavenworth LampNovember 22, 2017
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Nov. 22, 2017) -- The Center for Army Lessons Learned hosted its first "Mogadishu Mile," teambuilding event Nov. 17 at Sherman Army Airfield and Kinder Range for CALL soldiers, staff and Department of the Army civilians.
The event was inspired by the events of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.
The Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, began Oct. 3, 1993, and lasted into the early hours of Oct. 4. In a mission predicted to only last an hour, Task Force Ranger soldiers were ambushed by Somali fighters while trying to capture two major associates of warlord Mohammed Aidid. On Oct. 4, a rescue mission was conducted with the 10th Mountain Division. However, there was not enough room for all of the soldiers in the rescue vehicles forcing several U.S. soldiers to run through the city toward the Pakistani-held soccer stadium, where they would be relatively safer. This last leg of the battle became known as the Mogadishu Mile. In all, 19 were killed and more than 70 were wounded -- the most U.S. casualties at that time since the Vietnam War.
"It embodies the Warrior Ethos of never accepting defeat, never quitting and never leaving a fallen comrade," said CALL Collections Officer Capt. David Beale. "TF Ranger soldiers, despite fighting overnight in the city, had to keep both moving and their motivation until they successfully evacuated the city when moving out on foot behind the ground convoy."
During the teambuilding event, teams of three soldiers ran at the airfield and performed tasks along the way. Tasks included moving water cans and ammunition, flipping tires, applying a tourniquet, performing the fireman's carry and a memory test at the end where soldiers had to remember items on a table midway through the race.
"It's more than a run. It's (using) all sorts of muscle groups while you're already tired like you would or potentially would in combat," said Lt. Col. George Chigi, chief of the Analysis Division at CALL. "We were using the (Mogadishu Mile) as our idea to start off with to get us into learning something physical, mental and shooting, which is our primary method as ground soldiers of engaging the enemy."
Chigi said the memory task is important with the mission of CALL.
"One of the things we have to do when we're done with missions now is write a report and an out-brief so our intelligence guys can figure out what the enemy is like. You've got to remember, you've got to write it down because if you don't write it down it's lost," Chigi said. "(CALL) exists to help inform the Army and then drive change. One of our primary duties is to gather those things that are important to the Army that we can learn from to make the Army better."
After the race, the soldiers transitioned into a firing event at Kinder Range, where they had to engage eight targets with an AR-15 rifle in the supported standing, unsupported kneeling and prone positions, engaging 10 targets with 20 rounds.
"The event is designed to simulate the exfiltration of American soldiers by foot from Mogadishu after the battle. (It) will help build the team and esprit de corps within CALL," Beale said. "The event reinforces CALL's vision to provide timely and relevant knowledge to the warfighter. Executing similar training to the warfighter and remembering past battles keeps us grounded and focused on our support to them."
Retired Maj. Tim Burkett, military analyst-collections, said his first introduction to the Mogadishu Mile came with the 2001 film "Black Hawk Down," but said it helped him when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006.
"I learned from the actual movie. It was real to me," Burkett said. "The Mogadishu Mile was a whole bunch of people that were basically in a situation when events climbed up on them and they reacted and they did what they needed to do."
Burkett said he thinks the event highlights the fact that soldiers do whatever they can in any given situation.
"It goes to show that when soldiers are dedicated to their jobs and each other, they will go ahead and they will put forth the extra effort to run when they go beyond what they need to do," he said. "I think this honors the fact that they went the extra mile. They didn't give up."
Chigi said he felt great after finishing the course.
"(I'm) invigorated. It's a great event," Chigi said. "Today was about being physically ready for combat and bonding in teamwork."
Capt. Brian Gulden, military analyst for CALL; Maj. William Holbrook, senior military analyst; and Eric Hillner, chief of contingency analysis branch, won the event. Gulden said his team's success stemmed from working well together and said it allowed them to pay tribute to the battle.
"We all kind of used our own strengths to benefit our overall time going through the different events throughout the course," Gulden said. "I think remembering history is always important. Obviously, what we did this morning doesn't even compare to what those guys went through, but it's always good to pay tribute to those that came before you and just do whatever you can to continue to make the Army better and serve our country as best we can."
Beale said the impact of the Battle of Mogadishu is still felt in the U.S. Army today.
"This urban combat episode foreshadowed future urban combat in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade later," Beale said. "As we run the course here at Fort Leavenworth, we honor the bravery and the sacrifice of the soldiers of TF Ranger on that day in October 1993. Their sacrifice is not forgotten."