MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, MIRAMAR, Calif. (NNS) -- President Bush awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to members of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - SOUTH/Task Force K-BAR (CJSOTF-SOUTH/TF K-BAR) Dec. 7 during a private ceremony for their heroic efforts while serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) from October 2001 to March 2002.
Capt. Robert Harward commanded the CJSOTF-SOUTH, which was established in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Task Force was comprised of U.S. Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land), Special Warfare Combatant-craft crewmen, U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Air Force Combat Controllers, and Coalition special operations forces from Canada, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.
The Citation was presented to the Task Force on the same day that President Hamid Karzai was sworn in as President of Afghanistan.
"The tremendous successes achieved by the Task Force during the first six months of OEF paved the way for this day," said Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, referring to the swearing in of President Karzai.
The CJSOTF-SOUTH initially operated from Oman, and then moved forward to locations in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan. Its primary mission was to destroy, degrade, and neutralize the Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership and military.
During its six-month existence, Task Force K-BAR was the driving force behind myriad combat operations. These extremely high-risk missions set a powerful precedent, and included search and rescue; recovery dive operations; boardings of high-interest, non-compliant vessels; special reconnaissance; sensitive site exploitation; direct action; hydrographic reconnaissance; destruction of multiple cave and tunnel complexes; apprehension of military and political detainees; identification and destruction of Al Qaeda training camps; explosion of thousands of pounds of enemy ordnance; and successful coordination of unconventional warfare operations for Afghanistan.
The warriors of CJSOTF/TF K-BAR established an unprecedented 100 percent mission success rate across a broad spectrum of special operations missions under extremely difficult and constantly dangerous conditions.
Navy Secretary Gordon England, who was the approving authority for the award, Vice Adm. Bert Calland, and U.S. and coalition forces were also present at the ceremony.
In the citation accompanying the award, England praised them for "their outstanding courage, resourcefulness, and aggressive fighting spirit in combat against a well equipped, well trained and treacherous terrorist enemy."
Additionally, England said, "They established benchmark standards of professionalism, tenacity, courage, tactical brilliance, and operational excellence."
This event marks the first time since the Vietnam era that a Naval Special Warfare unit received this award.
The Navy Presidential Unit Citation was established by Executive Order 9050, which was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt Feb. 6, 1942, and promulgated by Navy Department General Order Number 187 Feb. 3, 1943.
According to Navy regulations, "The Navy Presidential Unit Citation is awarded in the name of the President to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. The unit must have accomplished its mission under such extremely difficult and hazardous conditions to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would be required for award of a Navy Cross to an individual."
The regulation further stipulates that "Presently, the Navy Cross is awarded to a person who distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of the Medal of Honor. To warrant this distinctive decoration, the act or the execution of duty must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk."
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