- "This terrain means we won't be able to land near the compound without alerting the enemy, so we're gonna land here, north of this ridge. Move in on foot. Once both teams are in position, we'll hit the compound."
"No air support?"
"This is a clandestine mission, Lieutenant Russo. Air support would negate that."
- ―Ray Schoonover, Billy Russo and William Rawlins
As William Rawlins received information that a high ranking leader was located in Kandahar itself in an isolated compound. Squad leaders Frank Castle and Billy Russo were summoned to a briefing room to discuss the ensuing mission. To prevent alerting the enemy, the squad would not receive air support, and the helicopters carrying their team would not be landing near the compound. Castle told Rawlins and Major Ray Schoonover that the compound itself was likely to be heavily guarded, and that evacuation would be difficult due to the terrain. He also told them that hostiles may have caught onto their tactics, and could have leaked false information so that squad would arrive. Despite the high probability of an ambush, Rawlins and Schoonover ordered the squad to carry out the mission.
- "The team thinks: "That's it, Frank's dead, and we're next". Next sound they hear is the helos, the helicopters. They get to the landing zone, you know what they see? Frank Castle, standing there, grinning. Thirty-two muj surrounding him, all dead. Son of a gun cleared that entire LZ all by himself."
- ―Ray Schoonover
As Frank Castle had feared, the mission was an ambush organized by Afghan Insurgents. Ray Schoonover, who was leading the Cerberus Squad, lost an arm. A large amount of the squad was dead or injured, with the remaining unit members taking cover outside the compound. Castle, knowing that the enemy mortars would soon target their position, decided to act. With the squad giving him covering fire, he entered the compound alone to take out the insurgents pinning down the squad. Fighting in close quarters, Castle killed dozens of insurgents, eventually resorting to using his combat knife once he was out of ammunition. With the insurgents in the compound dead, Cerberus Squad could fall back to a location safe for helicopter evac.
After returning to their base, Cerberus Squad took care of their wounded. William Rawlins, unconcerned by the losses, asked if they had been able to kill the target. Frank Castle, angered by Rawlins' ignorance of the situation and his callous attitude towards his men, attacked him. He punched Rawlins in the face hard enough to puncture one of his eyes, blinding him. Billy Russo, another Cerberus Squad member, pulled Frank off of him. Frank, disillusioned by the deaths of his squad mates and the uncaring leadership of Operation Cerberus, returned home with Russo.
The operation was shut down shortly after, with Rawlins claiming that his injury was obtained in the line of duty. Rawlins, valued by his superiors for his information, ascended to the top ranks of the CIA. Major Ray Schoonover was blamed for the failure of the Kandahar mission, and was promoted to the rank of Colonel to avoid embarrassment. Frank Castle, however, was praised by Schoonover and Cerberus Squad for his actions. The events of the ambush, along with the illegal actions committed by the squad during the operation, would haunt Frank after he came home.
Years later, Schoonover was called as a character witness to Castle's trial. As he was questioned by one of Castle's own lawyers, Foggy Nelson, he told them about mission in Kandahar without revealing classified information. Schoonover described how Castle saved their unit's lives during mission, and how he viewed Castle as a hero who deserved the medal of honor.