During the Battle of Magadishu (1993) multiple Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and a group of soldiers were pinned down under unexpected enemy resistance.

Air support was provided by both MH-60 and AH/MH-6 helicopters. However, these are relatively light forms of air support.

Aircraft with more firepower, such as A-10's, capable of loitering out of harms way from unguided RPG's, appear to a layman such as myself as a vastly better solution for providing air support on demand.

Other aircraft such as F-16 or F-15 also appear to be capable of providing much more powerful air support than what the MH-60 and AH/MH-6 can perform -- without taking much if any risk doing it.

Finally, why was artillery not used?

It seems strange that nothing of this sort was available within the combat range of any of the aforementioned aircraft. So I can only assume there's some other reason behind why this wasn't provided. What was the reason?

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    Were fixed-wing aircraft based in Somalia? Seems doubtful, as does artillery (besides probably mortars). Somalia started as a peacekeeping mission, not a WW2-style offensive. Besides, these are blunt-instrument type weapons, not precision-guided at the time. Besides, they would have destroyed whole blocks of buildings, killing lots of civilians and making any motorized relief attempt much more difficult. Jun 8 '21 at 17:07

The answer lies in two considerations:

  • First, the specific operation that led to the Battle of Magadishu was designed as a capture operation: the Americans should have landed, capture and go back. All of that fast, with special operators. In this context, artillery or fixed-wing air support was supposed to be dangerous in terms of collateral casualties, for minimal gain since their was no time for one of the special operator to direct the fire support/

  • Second, there was not that much available in Somalia, or in close-by bases (such as Diego Garcia: you'll find B-52 there, but not A-10 nor artillery)

So the answer to the "why" is: the Americans did not think they would need that, so they did not prepare such assets in Somalia. For the specific battle of Magadishu, they did not anticipate the need either.

Now why did they think that?

  • Because the state-of-mind of the time was "end of history, end of "true wars", only police operations"
  • Because the ability of Somalian militias to fight hard with high willingness was not known before the battle. If that willingness was not known prior, the Americans would have had less problems with destroyed helicopters: the special operators and other helicopters could have established a security perimeter in a context of "police operations". But it appeared that Somalian militiamen were far more willing to fight downed American soldiers

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