Camp Rhino

Camp Rhino


Aka FOB Rhino. Former US base in the Registan desert, 190 km southwest of Kandahar, closed January 2002. Rhino was the main base for the ADF Special Forces task group in its first operations in Afghanistan from 3 December 2001. Aka FOB Rhino.

Camp Rhino - Wikipedia

FOB Rhino, December 2001
Source: Wikipedia


Government sources

Media Briefing – Brigadier Duncan Lewis, Transcript, Department of Defence, PACC 730/02, 10 December 2002

The Special Forces task group deployed by air into a remote desert airfield in southern Afghanistan codenamed ‘Rhino’.  This was our first deployment.  This isolated airstrip to the south of the southern city of Kandahar had been a node for the export of opium.  And the funds from the opium had been channelled at least in part into the drug business, into the – sorry, into the business of terrorism. So we had an opium business operating through this airbase at Rhino and the money from that opium sale was being channelled into terrorist activity.

Rhino was occupied by the Australian Task Force together with our United States Marine Corps allies on the 3rd of December last year.  This was the first firm foothold that the allies had in Afghanistan. Activity to that point had been focussed on very small groups of US Special Forces and intelligence agents working with the Northern Alliance, mainly up in the north of the country. The deployment to Rhino was followed by an intense period of patrolling out from the airfield in order to establish whether there were any al Qaeda or Taliban forces in the area which might threaten the coalition base. Our patrols provided the Marine Corps force with eyes and ears well away from the base and gave them a high degree of confidence that they would not be subject to a sudden and surprise attack. Throughout this period, the SAS patrols reported a constant flow of information on al Qaeda and Taliban movement along the key road routes and along the Helmand Valley.

On the 21st of December, the task force together with the US Marine Corps force deployed by road and air up to the city of Kandahar.  It’s the key centre in the south-east of the country. Now a month later, after this incident on the 16th February, Sergeant Andrew Russell was killed in a tragic landmine incident well to the south of Kandahar during a patrol of the Helmand Valley down towards the Iranian border. Several days after the incident where Sergeant Russell was killed, a major intelligence breakthrough showed that a large al Qaeda force, which turned out to be predominantly Uzbek fighters, was concentrated to the north of Kandahar in the lower Shah-e-kot Valley. 

On 20th February, the Special Forces Task Force deployed to the old Russian Air Base at Bagram, about 70 kilometres north of Kabul.


Camp Rhino, Wikipedia

Camp Rhino was in use from November 26, 2001 to January 1, 2002. At its peak, the camp contained about 750 US Marines and sailors, Australian Special Air Service Regiment soldiers, and dozens of embedded reporters.

Forward Operating Base Rhino,

See also


Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 17 June 2009