Operation Octave Fusion

Recent US Counter-Terrorism Operations

Operation Octave Fusion

Primary Operating Location: Gadaado, Somalia

Assigned Units:

– U/I Elements, Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU or NSWDG; aka Seal Team Six)
– 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron

Operation Date: 23 January 2012

Summary: On 25 January 2012, President Obama announced that he had “authorized an operation to rescue Jessica Buchanan, an American citizen who was kidnapped and held against her will for three months in Somalia.” Operation Octave Fusion had been launched by special operations forces, said to have been from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) on 23 January 2012. There were no American casualties in the operation.

Jessica Buchanan and another individual, Danish national Poul Thisted, had been working for the Danish Demining Group when they were kidnapped near Galcayo, Somalia on 25 October 2012. The Danish Demining Group is a unit of the Danish Refugee Council that helps clear landmines and other explosives in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. The two individuals were traveling after having finished conducting a demining training course for local Somali citizens. Officials said that armed criminals, or pirates, appeared to have been responsible for the kidnapping, and were holding the two hostages for ransom.

The decision to conduct the operation was due to concerns over the health and well-being of Jessica Buchanan, who was reported to suffer from an undisclosed medical ailment. This led the Department of Justice to request assistance from the Department of Defense, which, in turn, directed US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to plan and conduct the rescue operation. The operation was said to have been planned and conducted with close coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Receiving actionable intelligence, US special operations forces conducted a coordinated operation in the vicinity of Gadaado, Somalia, northwest of the capital Mogadishu. During the course of the operation, the rescue force patrolled to the location and confirmed the presence of Buchanan and Thisted guarded by nine captors. The rescue force had been inserted near the target by helicopter. All nine captors were killed during the assault. After securing the location, US special operations forces found Buchanan and Thisted unharmed in the outdoor encampment.

The raid took place just hours before President Obama gave his State of the Union address in Washington. Before making his address, President Obama reportedly could be heard by television microphones congratulating Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, apparently for the success of the rescue operation.

Both individuals were reported well after being rescued and were said to have been transported to a secure location. A medical evacuation team from the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron assisted in the transportation of the rescued hostages. Jessica Buchanan was later reported to be being cared for at a military hospital in Djibouti. The 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, part of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, is based at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

For additional information, visit GlobalSecurity.org

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