Operation Rhino

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Operation Rhino
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)
Drop on Rhino.jpg
Ranger parachute drop on objective "Rhino."
Date19–20 October 2001
(1 day)
Location30°29'12.0"N 64°31'32.0"E / 30.48741,64.5319837, 3480m ASL
Result U.S. victory
United States United States Afghanistan Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Commanders and leaders
Colonel Joseph Votel
200 Army Rangers Unknown
Casualties and losses
Few casualties, 2 killed in a helicopter crash while on standby for CSAR. 30-100 killed

Operation Rhino was a raid led by the United States Army's 75th Ranger Regiment (3rd Ranger Battalion), who were led by Colonel Joseph Votel,[1] and other SOCOM units on several Taliban targets in and around Kandahar, Afghanistan during the invasion of Afghanistan at the start of the War in Afghanistan.[2]


The Ranger's objectives were to:

  • Seize the landing strip (to become Camp Rhino)
  • Destroy any Taliban forces
  • Gather intelligence
  • Assess the suitability of the landing strip for future operations
  • Establish a forward aerial refuel/rearm point (FARP) for helicopters involved in the nearby operation at Objective Gecko
  • Destroy major weapons and utilities


A guard tower at Camp Rhino on 2 December 2001.

On the night of 19 October 2001, before the Rangers dropped, several targets on and around the objective were targeted by U.S. air power, first by bombs dropped from B-2 stealth bombers,[3] then by fire from orbiting AC-130 aircraft. These air strikes resulted in a number of Taliban KIAs and several Taliban forces fleeing the area. Following the air strikes, the 4 MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft[4] flew over the drop zone (DZ) at 800 feet. In zero illumination, the Rangers proceeded to exit the MC-130s.

No U.S. casualties were suffered in the operation itself but 2 Rangers assigned[5] to[6] Combat Search and Rescue element supporting the mission were killed when their MH-60L helicopter crashed at Objective Honda in Pakistan - a temporary staging site used by a company of Rangers from 3/75. The helicopter crashed due to a brownout.[7]


As a result of the raid, a base was set up over the airstrip and named Camp Rhino. It was then handed off[8] to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who began leading forward operations throughout Kandahar along with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.


  1. ^ "CNN.com - Transcripts". transcripts.cnn.com.
  2. ^ "The United States Army in Afghanistan – Raid on Kandahar". Archived from the original on 16 February 2008.
  3. ^ Ramirez, Senior Airman Cody H. "10 year anniversary of strikes against Afghanistan". Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  4. ^ Life, Tactical. "Operation Rhino, Gecko: Tackling the Taliban in Afghanistan". Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Army Pfc. Kristofor T. Stonesifer| Military Times". thefallen.militarytimes.com.
  6. ^ https://www.forevermissed.com/spc-john-j-edmunds/#about
  7. ^ Neville, Leigh (2015). Special Forces in the War on Terror (General Military). Osprey Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 978-1472807908.
  8. ^ Spiegel, Capt Jay M. "The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Seizure of Camp Rhino" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2021.

Coordinates: 30°29′12″N 64°31′32″E / 30.48667°N 64.52556°E / 30.48667; 64.52556