SSgt Brian C. Claughsey
Operation Freedom's Sentinel
September 28, 2015
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Brian C. Claughsey, United States Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptional gallantry in the face of the enemy of the United States as the Combat Controller, responsible for employing precision fires and integrating air assets in the ground scheme of maneuver while attached to a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha Team, 21st Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron - Afghanistan, Combined-Joint Special Operations Air Component -Afghanistan, during Operation FREEDOM'S SENTINEL in support of RESOLUTE MISSION.
On 28 September 2015, Staff Sergeant Claughsey deployed forward to retake the Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz which fell to an estimated 500 Taliban insurgents, threatening the stability of the Afghan National Unity Government and its international support. Staff Sergeant Claughsey volunteered to ride in the lead convoy vehicle to assume close air support duties. Staff Sergeant Claughsey's convoy was immediately ambushed upon entering the city.
Staff Sergeant Claughsey took control of the overhead AC-130U and directed precise fires on the strongpoint preserving the survivability of the convoy. During a second ambush on the convoy, Staff Sergeant Claughsey coordinated friendly force locations and directed "danger close" strikes from the overhead AC-130U. A third ambush occurred when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated forcing the convoy to halt movement in the center of a four-way intersection where six insurgents opened fire on his position with PKM machine guns. Staff Sergeant Claughsey suppressed the machine gun position with his rifle. Still in contact with the AC-130U, Staff Sergeant Claughsey directed precise fires eliminating the enemy and shielding the convoy from follow-on attacks.
At the Kunduz Provincial Chief of Police Compound, the SFODA and partner force came under attack by the Taliban with mortar fire. Staff Sergeant Claughsey maneuvered to the closest position to the mortar point-of-origin, correlated the enemy position with overhead F-16 aircraft, and controlled strafing runs on the mortar position that ended the enemy contact and neutralized the mortar site. Staff Sergeant Claughsey immediately relocated from an enemy command and control node. He suppressed the enemy for a short time while another combat controller was controlling a "danger close" F-16 strike on the west side of the compound.
With no regard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Claughsey exposed himself to direct enemy fire in order to hold a laser marker on the enemy building for an air-to-ground strike while directing the friendly force out of the danger area. Courageously, Staff Sergeant Claughsey held the laser marker in place to guide in two "danger close" strikes neutralizing the C2 node, killing enemy insurgents, and ending the coordinated attack on the Provincial Chief Of Police Compound.
Over the course of the intense firefight to liberate Kunduz from the Taliban control, Staff Sergeant Claughsey expertly coordinated 17 separate close air support engagements, resulting in many enemy killed in action and no civilian or friendly casualties-- ensuring the safety of 36 U.S. Army Special Forces personnel and the 110 Afghan Partner Force Personnel.
Staff Sergeant Claughsey's actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component- Afghanistan, the NATO Special Operations Component Command- Afghanistan/ Special Operations Joint Task Force, the United States Forces- Afghanistan, and the United States Air Force.