- Oct 14, 2008
Eight years ago today I took part in Operation Northern Delay.. Time sure flies when you're busy deploying again and again..
Originally, the task force planned to infiltrate Northern Iraq via Turkey. However, Turkey did not grant permission for an invasion of Iraq from its soil or over its airspace. Coalition commanders instead undertook a complicated and roundabout infiltration via Jordanian airspace beginning the evening of March 20, 2003. This operation was known as "Ugly Baby". The "Ugly Baby" operation was the longest infiltration mission since WWII and the longest MC-130 Combat Talon infiltration in history.
After much diplomatic maneuvering, Turkey finally allowed US overflights on March 23. This allowed Task Force Viking to expand to 50 individual Special Forces Operational Detachments-Alpha (ODAs) (formerly known as A-Teams.) Reinforcing the ODAs on March 26, the 173rd made a combat jump onto Bashur airfield 40 miles (64 km) north of the "Green Line". This was the largest airborne assault since World War II. The 173d fully secured Bashur, enabling airborne insertion of 1st Infantry Division armor on April 7, followed by the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.