Quick Reaction Force at Arroyo Beach - Camp "Bujang Senang"
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Before the Americans withdrew from Somalia, B Company of 7th Rangers(Mech) was the Quick Reaction Force for all UN Forces in Mogadishu.The Americans provided air support for all the times Bravo Company moved to reinforce or troubleshoot problems in Somalia.The support provided was AH64D, AC130 and 155 guns which were self propelled.This support was provided by the 2nd Bn, 5th Special Forces Group,USA. Those are the guys in the picture. Later they were joined by a unit of ANGLICO, from the USS Pelulu. Bravo Company was commanded by Major Christopher Joseph.
Above :The US Special Forces guys and us having Heineken beers. They were not allowed to drink in their place. Drinking beers in the US Forces, is a case of pain in the butt. They had procedures for that.The team leader was Captain Dan Maroun, with his back showing, browsing through my family album. A case of Heineken in the Israeli PX cost us about USD14. The place was in, one of the classes of University Mogadishu. It was air conditioned and we had a referigerator. The Quartermaster stayed with us here. We were good at adapting and we worked very hard to scrounge for these material comforts, in a war zone. There were 6 of us in there. Ivan Lee, Juan Chow Huat, Mukhtiar Singh, Subramaniam, Hoe Soo Khin and me. It was amazing that we did not end up killing one another, we lived there for about 7 months, in that confined area !I am the guy in the yellow T-shirt.
At that time Bravo Company was the QRF for all forces in Mogadishu. Any one of the UN Forces could call us for help. We reacted accordingly with the US Special Forces riding with us. They rode in their Humvees and sometimes rode in our Fighting Vehicles with their radios. We could monitor their conversations.
When the US force withdrew, our role diminished we took over the role of escorts for NGO's and charitable organizations. The major role as QRF was taken over by Paki Forces, as they had tanks and Cobra attack helicopters. After they took over, you would not like to be in trouble, waiting for their help. There was a place in Mogadishu which was strategically located, it was known as K4. There was one Company of soldiers from 6th Rangers on attachment to 7th Rangers and they were "under command". This place was one helluva of a hotspot. It used to be repeatedly hit by RPG's and small arms. Major Len Olivero had the unenviable task of controlling and defending this strategic location from being taken over by the warring Militias.
Camp Bujang Senang, overlooking Mogadishu Airport with good fields of fire
We being located at the University compound, were a bit too far away to reinforce K4 in the event Major Len and his men were attacked. This setting up of our own small QRF was spurred by this tragic incident, there was a firefight between a Nepalese Force of 6 men commanded by a Major. The Major was calling for help, which the Pakistanis had heard. This call was heard by one of our Platoon Commander's too. This Platoon Commander wanted to ride out with his force to bail them out of trouble. He was not granted permission as he was on standby for something else. It was a job for the Pakis.
The Pakistani troops were notified. They arrived in "pretty quick time"(oozing with sarcasm), after all the Nepalese were dead. No one, had any confidence in the Paki QRF, after that and long before that. To overcome this a Platoon of soldiers from Bravo Company with their Fighting Vehicles were set up at the Arroyo Beach overlooking Mogadishu International Airport. The platoon was to rapidly deploy, to be at Major Len's location within 5 minutes, while the main force would be there in 15 minutes.
Above :The QRF of 4 Infantry Fight Vehicles and 36 men at Camp Bujang Senang. Immediately behind the arc tents was the Indian Ocean, with a drop of 30 feet. It was a steep cliff covered with razor sharp corals.
It was the site Italian Forces had previously occupied. I with 2Lt Osman set up the QRF Base from scratch. It took us the whole day, over the weeks it was improved upon by all the platoons rotating there.