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Task Force Ranger was created in August 1993, and deployed to Somalia in September. It consisted of various elite special operations units from Army, Air Force and Navy special services: U.S. Army Rangers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment; C Squadron, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), better known as "Delta Force"; helicopters flown by 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; Air Force Combat Controllers; Air Force Pararescuemen; and Navy SEALs. As a multi-disciplinary joint special forces operation, Task Force Ranger reported to Joint Special Operations Command, led by Major General William F. Garrison.

On 3 October 1993, Task Force Ranger began an operation that involved traveling from their compound on the city's outskirts to the center with the aim of capturing the leaders of the Habr Gidr clan, led by Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The assault force consisted of nineteen aircraft, twelve vehicles (including nine Humvees), and 160 men. The operation was intended to last no longer than one hour.

Shortly after the assault began, Somali militia and armed civilian fighters shot down two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The subsequent operation to secure and recover the crews of both helicopters extended the initial operation into an overnight standoff and daylight rescue operation on 4 October. The battle resulted in 19 deaths, 73 wounded and one helicopter pilot captured among the U.S. raid party and rescue forces. At least one Pakistani soldier and one Malaysian soldier were killed as part of the rescue forces on day two of the battle. American sources estimate between 1,500 and 3,000 Somali casualties, including civilians; the Somali National Alliance (SNA) claims 315 dead, with 812 wounded.