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MISSION # 5131 | SF ODA 5131 | United States Army Special Forces
In February 2018, Special Forces Operations Detachment - Alpha 5131 (SFOD-A 5131 or Team 1) deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) to defeat ISIS in Syria to establish contingencies supporting follow-on operations and increase stability in the region. SFOD-A-5131 partnered with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Arab Coalition, focused on the Defeat-ISIS (D-ISIS) mission.
On 7 February 2018, SFOD-A 5131 made its initial transition into Syria to begin their deployment rotation. A force of approximately 500 Pro-Regime forces coupled with a Russian Private Military Company (PMC) conducted a combined arm attack to seize the Conoco gas and oil facility in the US-supported SDF liberated zone. The Pro-Regime force was repulsed by a significantly smaller US SOF element, supported by significant U.S. Airpower. Reuters and other media outlets reported that Pro-Regime and PMC forces suffered 200 – 300 casualties. Upon arriving in Syria, the first half of the detachment established its respective Mission Support Site (MSS). The AOB tasked the remaining detachment members to deter PRF/Russian aggression and to defend the Conoco gas oil facility.
Concurrently, to prepare for offensive operations, the detachment needed to occupy a more suitable MSS—a scalable location that could serve as a logistics hub and support SFOD-A’s across the desert's final 75km to the Iraq border. The MSS at Omar Oil Fields was small and easily defendable, but the limited space provided no room for growth.
The SDF had already begun to occupy Green Village, a community of abandoned apartment buildings adjacent to a field suitable for an HLZ. Green Village met all requirements to serve as a logistics hub and facilitate the D-ISIS mission's final phase. Green Village was scalable in size, which could accommodate well over 250 personnel, adjacent to an HLZ and DZ, easily defendable, and central in location to support AOB operations northwest and southeast along the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV). Over the course of one week, two EOD techs and one dog handler accompanied SDF to clear the HLZ and approximately 20 three-story apartment buildings. Once clear, the detachment coordinated with the AOB to conduct a phased movement of assets from Omar Oil Field to Green Village. Though only a short five-minute drive away, the detachment was responsible for moving a Field Surgical Team (FST), a AN/TPQ-53 Radar, and an M142 HIMARS, assets that supported three additional detachments in the MERV.
During the same time, 30 km away, the other half of the SFOD-A 5131, led by the Operations Sergeant, five other detachment members, and four marines, supported the PRF/PMC deterrence mission in the vicinity of Conoco Oil & Gas fields through establishing a defense in depth. The task at hand was not a typical mission set for SOF. Detachments usually do not defend against T-55 and T-72 tank columns due to the size of their element. The lack of armored and mechanized expertise made it very complicated for the ground elements on the ground to plan. However, with the years of experience between the SOF leadership, a detailed defense in depth plan was implemented and rehearsed. During the defense build-up, the PMC moved within 1400 meters of Conoco Oil & Gas Fields. Finally, between the SOF elements and the SDF, a letter was written providing the PMC/PRF an ultimatum to fall back to the other side of the SDF