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Task Force 121


Task Force 121

Task Force 121 was a United States Department of Defense special operations task force. TF121 was a multi-service force commanded by U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Gregory L. Trebon. The spearhead of the force is a forty-man team made up of operators from the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, U.S. Army's Delta Force, U.S. Army's Intelligence Support Activity, the U.S. Navy's DEVGRU, the CIA's Special Activities Division, DIA personnel,[1] and the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Other Special Operations contributions included U.S. Air Force Combat Controllers, and U.S. Air Force Pararescue. On occasions, operators from Coalition nations (particularly Canadian, British, Australian and Polish operators) augment the TF121 and provide direct and indirect operational assistance.


TF121 is a combination of the now defunct Task Force 5 and Task Force 20, which operated in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Acting on the apparent logistic redundancy of keeping two separate task force teams for Iraq and Afghanistan, General John Abizaid decided to combine both teams into a single streamlined force, forming the TF121.[2] The force was approximately 1500 soldiers with its own support capabilities![3]

Special Operations Task Force 20's primary goal was to capture or kill "High-value targets" (HVTs), such as Iraqi Mujahideen leaders and former Ba'ath party regime members and leaders. Task Force 20 operators were directly involved in the 4 hour firefight between 101st Airborne soldiers and Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein. The two sons were killed in the shootout. The apprehending of the most wanted man in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, in Operation Red Dawn directly involved Task Force 121 operators and members of the Army 1st Armored Division, 4th Brigade, 1/1 Cavalry Regiment (Hurricane Troop) and 4th Infantry Division.[4][5]

Task Force 20 was also involved in what the US military calls a tragic accident on 27 July 2003. At least three Iraqis were killed in western Baghdad's Mansour district, when US soldiers from Task Force 20 opened fire on cars that overshot a military cordon. The drivers apparently had missed the cordon when they turned into the area from an unblocked side street.[6]


TF121's primary mission is the apprehension of High Value Targets and was organized in such a way that it has a close relationship with intelligence personnel (CIA operators are an integral part of the unit) and has timely and unhindered access to any relevant data gathered by intelligence assets in the area. Such an option is invaluable to any Special Operations team, and especially so to one whose primary mission is hunting elusive fugitives whose hideouts change frequently and randomly.[7]

Many TF121 groups are assigned Special Forces CIRA (Communications Intelligence Reconnaissance and Action) operators with expertise in relevant fields. These operators work closely with the intelligence agencies tied to TF121 and work to pinpoint and identify HVTs aggressively.


On 21 July 2003, Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were killed in a firefight with TF20 operators and soldiers from 101st Airborne. On the 13 December 2003, Operation Red Dawn netted HVT #1, Saddam Hussein. After intelligence narrowed down the target to two possible locations, TF121 coordinated the raid with 600 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team and Apache Troop 1-1 Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division.

Detainee abuse

According to an internal army investigation leaked to the Washington Post, Task Force 121 was responsible for the illegal abuse of detainees in secret interrogation facilities in Iraq.[8] In 2006, after the unit had changed its name to Task Force 6-26, a Human Rights Watch report recorded evidence of continued abuse, including beatings and waterboarding.[9]

Cultural references

  • Groove Games' Combat:Task Force 121[10]
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and 3 includes a top secret joint operations task force named "Task Force 141." The primary purpose of the video game's organization, as in its supposed real life counterpart, is to take on and either kill or capture high priority individuals. Unlike Task Force 121, it is a multinational force.
  • The Colbert Report used Task Force 121 as an example of a "secret" task force in its television episode airing on 27 September 2010.

See also

  • Articles on later incarnations of the same unit, Task Force 145 and Task Force 6-26.
  • Good informative article on JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command)



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