Operation Northern Delay: The Evolution of Joint Forcible Entry
Technical Report,14 Aug 2017,15 Jun 2018
US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States
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This paper uses Operation Northern Delay, the 173rd Airborne Brigades airborne assault into northern Iraq in 2003, as a historical case study highlighting the evolution of Joint Forcible Entry JFE. Army, Air Force, and special operations forces acted jointly on the northern front of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 173rd Airborne Brigade jumped a thousand paratroopers into Bashur Airfield on the night of 26 March 2003 under the tactical control of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-North Task Force Viking. The 173rd airlanded the rest of its combat power and received the first airland of an M-1 Abrams tank task force 1st Battalion, 63rd Armored Regiment in military history. The joint force conducted unconventional and conventional warfare alongside Kurdish peshmerga to fix Iraqi defensive forces along the Green Line. Northern Delay was the first strategic brigade airdrop using C-17 aircraft in formation, integrating a conventional Army airborne brigade within the 10th Special Forces Group, and integrating an armored battalion into an airborne operation. Joint Publication JP 3-18, Joint Forcible Entry, should incorporate lessons learned from the hybrid airdropairland, SOF-conventional integration, and airborne-armored integration to improve readiness of the joint entry force.