first published on October 23, 2015 by Josh
On April 6th, 2008 an ODA team, and their Afghan counterparts, moved into the Shok Valley of Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. Planning a raid on a major HIG high value target, the team was one of the first non-Afghan military forces to ever enter Shok Valley. Their mission was simple, but not an easy one to complete, kill or capture Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG). Expecting an intense fight the team left in the early morning via helicopter and flew into the valley. The terrain they were entering was the primary concern as they entered the largely unknown area. As the team came into the Shok Valley, they had nowhere to land, and were forced to jump from the helicopters, hovering at about ten feet, into an icy river below them. Shortly after this, the men of ODA 3336 were engaged in the battle of their lives against an estimated 200 HIG fighters.
After jumping into the freezing waters below, the troops then began their ascent 10,000 feet above sea level to the village that was currently housing their objective. The initial plan was to move into the village unannounced, and capture or kill Hekmatyar in the resulting gun fight on even terrain with the enemy forces surrounding him in order to prevent an uphill battle against an enemy that not only knew the terrain better, but was also more acclimated and prepared to fight in as well. This plan obviously did not survive first contact, and as a result the troops ended up in an uphill running gun battle with enemy forces while danger close air support rained in overhead for the duration.
In the seven hour engagement that ODA 3336 and their Afghan counterparts were involved in, an estimated 150 HIG fighters were killed, while only 2 ANA soldiers, and 1 US Interpreter were lost. Multiple members of the ODA team received combat related wounds, and 10 soldiers were awarded the Silver Star for their heroism in battle. The Air Force Combat Controller attached to the ODA team was given the Air Force Cross for controlling 50 attack runs using a total of 4,570 cannon rounds, nine Hellfire missiles, 162 rockets, a dozen 500-pound bombs, and one 2,000-pound bomb that was dropped directly on their own positions in order to regain the initiative in a losing battle.
The following footage is the declassified B-Roll from the battle that took place in Shok Valley. It includes pictures of the valley, multiple airstrikes, a medevac, radio transmissions of importance to the battle, and clips from the fighting on the ground. At 4:15 the video will freeze, audio of the battle will continue. Video will pick back up around 5:13. If you would like to read a full narrative of the Battle of Shok Valley as it was told by members of ODA 3336, and other American forces that were present for the battle, you can view it by clicking this link that will lead you off of our web page and over to an article that was published on army.mil. We strongly suggest you give it a read.