Task Force Black Remembered

  • Published
  • By Special Agent Taylor Pearce
  • TFB Alumnus

As the U.S. and NATO allies and partners realign mission focus in southern Afghanistan, OSI ends an era. Task Force Black (TFB), also known as Expeditionary Detachment (EDet) 2413, has reached its End of Mission and rolled up its trademark Jolly Roger flag and unit logos. As these symbols are mothballed, we remember them as more than mere signaling cloth. They represented the spirit and tradition of more than a decade of committed war fighting effort, a hard won reputation of intelligence ingenuity and immeasurable battlefield impact.

Though retired, TFB is never to be forgotten.

TFB began as an Operating Location (OL) to EDet 2405 Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in 2005. The need for the OL to become its own detachment was quickly recognized, and EDet 2413 was stood up in 2008. EDet 2413 had a humble beginning in the basement of a dusty and often flooded cement bunker with plywood rooms and doors, all conveniently located in close proximity to the waste treatment area.

The team was close knit and hardnosed to say the least. Together they established the beginnings of Camp Black and coined “Lucky 13.” As a “sibling” of EDet 2405, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, EDet 2413 was challenged with a unique operating environment run by British and other coalition forces. Nestled in an area where the Taliban encountered little resistance, so close to the porous Pakistan border, EDet 2413 cut its teeth in the war in Afghanistan.

Early members of EDet 2413 worked tirelessly to mold a lethal collection team capable of interoperability with U.S. and allied forces to maximum effect. This dogged effort drew attention from the battle space owner, after the capture of a high value target (HVT) utilizing partner-country special operations forces, resulting in long term custody. This tradition of flexibility and outside the box thinking continued to manifest itself when EDet 2413 helped secure two of the largest drug seizures in history, conducted jointly with the Drug Enforcement Agency and attached U.S. Special Forces.

EDet 2413 moved out of their humble bunker, and consolidated to the hallowed T walls (tall cement barriers surrounding compounds to protect the base from indirect fire) of Camp Black that many now remember, while continuing close operations with Allied and U.S. Special Operations Forces, Air Force unmanned aerial assets and Army battle space owners.

EDet 2413 solidified a respected and self-executing mission capability unrivaled at the time. It took large steps toward normalizing OSI operations throughout southern Afghanistan with both inside- and outside-the-wire operations. These steps led to EDet 2413 officially becoming Task Force Black in 2009, which institutionalized the revered Tactical Security Element (TSE) Defenders, forever changing the way TFB did business.   

In 2013, TFB realized it was outgrowing its support capabilities and worked with the 24th Expeditionary Field Investigations Squadron (24 EFIS) at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to secure dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. A robust ISR team quickly followed these developments, cementing TFB as an unstoppable OSI Task Force.

The fierce capabilities of TFB came from the shield rattling warriors that operated within. TFB made the protection of the airfield, and everyone on it, their sole purpose in life, carried out in the most professional way. Throughout its history, TFB assisted Afghan partners to respond to countless rocket and mortar attacks, complex ground assaults, improvised explosive device ambushes, while pursuing those who wanted to defraud the airfield and limit wartime capabilities. TFB made finding and neutralizing bad people and bad things their business, and business was always booming.  

TFB is responsible for the destruction of thousands of tons of explosives, ammunition and weapons used by the enemy. TFB is also responsible for countless HVT neutralizations. TFB often supported partners to ensure overall success of not just the war effort, but also the reconstruction effort of Afghanistan. Throughout its storied history, TFB tallied thousands of outside-the-wire missions, resulting in countless intelligence reports given to the Intelligence Community and battlespace owners.

While most of the accomplishments of TFB can be quantified or approximated, the impact TFB had on its alumni is something that cannot be measured. TFB took a piece of a person in the best of ways, and when spoken to, TFB veterans will likely tell you they left a piece of their heart at Camp Black, or for the earlier members, that damp bunker. The successes of “Lucky 13” are the successes of every person who contributed to its legacy.

The gates are closed, the trucks are repurposed, the weapons are shipped home. The relics of TFB’s exploits are packed up and ready for display.

TFB alumni walk among the ranks of OSI, Security Forces, and Intel, a piece of them still in Afghanistan. Going about their day, they can be caught occasionally drifting back to their time at the moon dusted Camp Black. The camp is closed, but their membership never expired. They may have left the camp, but they will always be a member of Task Force Black.