Operation Piga Jangili – To Capture a Town from Al-Shabaab, and a Silver Star Recipient

The only way to access the small town of Bardhere (also spelled Baardheere) in Somalia is through the Jungal Valley. It was said to be a stronghold of the Al-Qaeda affiliate group Al-Shabaab. Documents recently released to Stars and Stripes from Operation Piga Jangili in Somalia revealed an hours long firefight with the terrorist group. A Green Beret, then Captain William J Doyle, was instrumental in the ultimate victory, for which he was awarded the Silver Star.

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On July 21, 2015, the US Army narrative stated that the al-Shabaab fighters put up a 6 hour firefight with 175-200 “well armed fighters.” The Jungal Valley lends itself to easy ambushes, of which the enemy has availed itself for years.

Operation Piga Jangili

Jungal, a corruption of the English word jungle, is bushy and without human settlements.

When the sun sets in the West and darkness creeps in, the valley becomes dead silent. Only the noise of falling tree branches can be heard.

The darkness is intense. Shadows of the surrounding hills are confused for statues of giants that allegedly dwell in the valley.  It is a ‘valley of death’ as many battles have been fought there and hundreds of lives lost…

“The valley offers natural blocking positions and has been used in past battles to thwart movement to and from Bardhere. The hills provide good observation points and fields of fire. The meandering narrow road complicates military operations while the twisting dirt road impedes movement, thus favouring a defender,” Rashid narrates.

The Star Kenya

Into this snarl of different forces and a formidable enemy came then Green Beret Captain William Doyle, who was serving with an unidentified “Operational Detachment-Alpha, or A-Team” that was tasked with advising Kenyan Troops on the Operation to capture Bardhere.

William J. Doyle, now a Major, was awarded a Silver Star for Operation Piga Jangili

“Upon entering the kill zones, the enemy engaged the convoy with several roadside bomb initiated ambushes that triggered delays in convoy movement and killed and wounded multiple KDF soldiers,” it says.

After the initial contact, Doyle and his team’s medical sergeant sprinted over 50 yards to the Kenyan commander’s position while taking enemy fire from within about 80 feet, it says. Doyle coordinated a medical evacuation and aid for the wounded, then worked out a maneuver plan to ensure they didn’t lose the initiative.

“When the KDF Commander proved unwilling to direct his forces, Doyle ran forward into heavy machine gun and RPG fire, moving between KDF rifle platoons directing their fires and movement, destroying an estimated 12 enemy fighters,” the narrative says.

Under heavy fire, Doyle called in mortar and artillery fire to enable counterattacks, destroying two enemy technical vehicles.

“He repeatedly displayed tremendous gallantry in action by exposing himself to effective fire so he could … keep the KDF convoy moving through the valley,” the narrative states. The award paperwork credits his actions with contributing to 173 enemy killed and 60 more wounded, while saving “countless” partner forces.

Stars and Stripes

Bardhere was captured the next day. Operation Piga Jangili was costly, but successful. Then Captain Doyle, now a Major, was awarded a Silver Star for his valorous actions three years later in 2018. He is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute. He deployed to Afghanistan before joining Special Forces. He joined Special Forces and was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group in 2013. Though Doyle’s name was redacted from the narrative of the operation, Stars and Stripes filed an FOIA request to obtain it. It is now being reported across numerous military media.

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Featured photo showing Col Rashid speaking to Kenya Defense Forces

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