|The real horse soldiers
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|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:25 pm ]|
|Post subject:||The real horse soldiers|
Before 9/11, the last time American forces fought on horseback was on January 16, 1942 when the U.S. Army’s 26th Cavalry Regiment charged a forward guard of the 14th Japanese Army as it advanced from Manila.
|Author:||RickOShea [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:38 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: Horse soldiers trailer "12 Strong"|
America's Response Monument, New York City.
America's Response Monument, subtitled "De Oppresso Liber", is a life-and-a-half scale bronze statue in front of One World Trade Center, across from the National September 11 Memorial in New York City. Unofficially known as the Horse Soldier Statue, it is the first publicly accessible monument dedicated to the United States Special Forces.
The statue was conceived by sculptor Douwe Blumberg and commissioned by an anonymous group of Wall Street bankers who lost friends in the 9/11 attacks. It was dedicated on November 11, 2011 in a ceremony led by Vice President Joe Biden and Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
The statue commemorates the servicemen of America’s Special Operations response to 9/11, including those who fought in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. This operation led to the initial defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:25 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: Horse soldiers trailer "12 Strong"|
The 13-foot-tall sculpture was inspired by a photo taken in 2001 of U.S. special operation teams on horseback in northern Afghanistan.
The statue “De Oppresso Liber,” or “Free the Oppressed” was created to commemorate the role of U.S. special operations teams in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:36 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The real horse soldiers|
Inside the horseback training for U.S. Special Forces
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/inside-the ... al-forces/
BRIDGEPORT, Calif. -- High in the Sierra Nevadas, U.S. forces are being trained in the art of mountain warfare on horseback. Yes, the original all-terrain vehicle is making a comeback.
Staff Sergeant Levi Stuart has been saddling up since he was a child. Now he's an instructor at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center.
"The advantage of using horses and mules, they can maneuver across the battle space very quickly and unnoticed," explained Stuart. "They don't have to rely on roads or technology or vehicles to go wherever they need to go."
|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:41 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The real horse soldiers|
no copyright worries since it is from the US Army
https://www.army.mil/article/181582/fir ... fghanistan
First to go: Green Berets remember earliest mission in Afghanistan
By Elizabeth M. Collins, SoldiersJanuary 30, 2017
September 11, 2001 wrought destruction in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and sent shockwaves throughout the rest of the country, and the world, especially military communities, which knew they would soon be called to respond. Indeed, tragedy and outrage and tears turned to love and comfort and connection, but also resolve and vengeance. In fact, the sun hadn't even set on the smoldering pile of ruins that once was the World Trade Center, when the U.S., the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and U.S. Army Special Operations Command began planning a response. They would rain fire on the terrorists who had claimed thousands of innocent Americans, and on the brutal regime in Afghanistan that had sheltered them.
Task Force Dagger
It was soon clear that the initial operation, named Task Force Dagger, would involve bomb drops and small teams of special operators who would link up with local warlords and resistance fighters, collectively, as the Northern Alliance. They would train the Afghans, supply them and coordinate between the U.S and the various ethnic groups (many of which were historic enemies). The Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) eagerly took on the job, despite little intelligence on Afghanistan, and despite the fact that few could speak Dari or Pashtun. They picked up a few phrases pretty quickly, and many of them spoke Arabic or Farsi or Russian and wound up doing three-way translations.
"You had all of the emotions going on from 9-11," remembered Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Fowers, then a junior weapons sergeant on Operational Detachment A 574. It would be his first combat deployment, and his team wound up escorting future President Hamid Karzai into the country. (Fowers still serves on an ODA.) "There was a lot of emotions, excitement, amazement. It was an extreme honor. Looking back on it now, it's humbling. ... It was a very privileged moment in our history to see how things unfolded and what so many are capable of doing."
"We went carrying what we believed to be the hopes of the American people with us," added Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, former USASOC commander, in a speech. In September 2001, he served as the 5th Special Forces Group (A) commander. "If there was any fear that we had, it was that we would be worthy of the American people ... the people of New York, the people of Washington, the people of Pennsylvania, the people of our great country and all those ... who lost people that day. So that was with us constantly, the fear that we would not be worthy of the American people."
After almost two weeks of bombings, which kicked off Oct. 7, 2011, the first insertion was set for mid-October. As with any covert, nighttime flying operation, the dangerous mission was assigned to the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), "the finest aviators in the world, bar none" according to Mulholland. They're certainly the toughest, at the forefront of every combat action since Grenada.
But the mission to insert the Green Berets into Afghanistan, flying from Uzbekistan over the Hindu Kush mountains (which could reach some-20,000 feet and caused altitude sickness) when they had trained for maybe half that elevation, was something else. The weather, sandstorms and a black cloud of rain, hail, snow and ice, was atrocious, so bad it delayed the first insertion by two days until Oct. 19 -- an eternity for men who pledge to always arrive at their destination on time, plus or minus 30 seconds. The weather could change from one mile to the next, from elevation to elevation, and continuously caused problems throughout Task Force Dagger.
"Just imagine flying when you can't see three feet in front of you for a couple of hours, landing or hoping the weather would clear so you could refuel, and then flying through the mountains all the while getting shot at and hoping our (landing zone) was clear," recalled Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Baker, now of the SOAR's Special Operations Training Battalion. Fifteen years ago, he was a young, brand-new flight engineer on his first combat mission.
"I was proud and scared. ... There was a lot of stuff going on. There was bad weather. A lot of people compared those first missions to Lt. Col. (James) Doolittle in World War II because we were doing stuff no one had ever done before. ... We had a mission to make sure these Soldiers got in. ... It was my first time ever getting shot at. That's a pretty vivid memory. ... It was war. I don't think I've ever been any closer to my fellow brothers-in-arms than I was then. All we had was each other."
On the ground
Indeed, special operators have a famously tight bond. They have to. As the Green Berets stepped off the SOAR's highly modified MH-47 Chinooks, they stepped back in time, to a time of dirt roads and horses. They stepped into another world, one of arid deserts and towering peaks, of "rugged, isolated, beautiful, different colored stones and geographical formations, different shades of red in the morning as the sun came up," said Maj. Mark Nutsch, now a reservist in special operations, but then the commander of ODA 595, one of the first two 12-man teams to arrive in Afghanistan. The world was one of all-but-impassable trails, of "a canyon with very dominating, several-hundred-feet cliffs." It was a world of freezing nights, where intelligence was slim, women were invisible, and friend and foe looked the same.
They arrived in the middle of the night, of course, to the sort of pitch blackness that can only be found miles from electricity and civilization, at the mercy of the men waiting for them. "We weren't sure how friendly the link up was going to be," said Nutsch. "We were prepared for a possible hot insertion. ... We were surrounded by -- on the LZ there were armed militia factions. ... We had just set a helicopter down in that. ... It was tense, but ... the link up went smoothly."
The various SF teams that were in Afghanistan or would soon arrive split into smaller three-man and six-man cells to cover more ground. Some of them quickly found themselves on borrowed horses, in saddles meant for Afghans much lighter and shorter than American Green Berets. Most had never ridden before, and they learned by immediately riding for hours, forced to keep up with skilled Afghan horsemen, on steeds that constantly wanted to fight each other.
But that's what Green Berets do: They adapt. They overcome. "The guys did a phenomenal job learning how to ride that rugged terrain," said Nutsch, who worked on a cattle ranch and rodeoed in college. Even so, riding requires muscles most Americans don't use every day, and after a long day in the saddle, the Soldiers were in excruciating pain, especially as the stirrups were far too short. They had to start jerry rigging the stirrups with parachute cord.
"Initially you had a different horse for every move ... and you'd have a different one, different gait or just willingness to follow the commands of the rider," Nutsch remembered. "A lot of them didn't have a bit or it was a very crude bit. The guys had to work through all of that and use less than optimal gear. ... Eventually we got the same pool of horses we were using regularly."
Nutsch had always been a history buff, and he had carefully studied Civil War cavalry charges and tactics, but he had never expected to ride horses into battle. In fact, it was the first time American Soldiers rode to war on horseback since World War II, and this ancient form of warfare was now considered unconventional.
"We're blending, basically, 19th-century tactics with 20th-century weapons and 21st-century technology in the form of GPS, satellite communications, American air power," Nutsch pointed out.
And there were military tactics involved. Even the timing of the attacks was crucial. Nutsch remembers wondering why the Northern Alliance wanted to go after the Taliban midafternoon instead of in the morning, but it accounted for their slower speed on horseback, while still leaving time to consolidate any gains before darkness fell. (They didn't have night vision goggles.)
Supported by the Green Berets, Northern Alliance fighters directly confronted the Taliban over and over again. Some factions, like Nutsch's, relied on horses for that first month. Others had pick up trucks or other vehicles, but they usually charged into battle armed with little more than AK-47s, machine guns, grenades and a few handfuls of ammunition. Meanwhile, the Taliban had tanks and armored personnel carriers and antiaircraft guns they used as cannons, all left behind by the Soviets when they evacuated Afghanistan in the late eighties.
It took a lot of heart, a lot of courage. "We heard a loud roar coming from the west," said Master Sgt. Keith Gamble, then a weapons sergeant on ODA 585, as he remembered one firefight. "We had no clue what it was until we saw about 500 to 1,000 NA soldiers charging up the ridge line. I called it a 'Brave Heart' charge. What the NA didn't realize was that the route leading up the ridgeline was heavily mined. The NA did not fare too well, as they received numerous injuries and had to retreat. We continued to pound the ridge line with bombs until the NA took it that evening."
"They weren't suicidal," Nutsch, who worked with different ethnic groups, agreed, "but they did have the courage to get up and quickly close that distance on those vehicles so they could eliminate that vehicle or that crew. We witnessed their bravery on several occasions where they charged down our flank (to attack) these armored vehicles or these air defense guns that are being used in a direct fire role, and kill the crew and capture that gun for our own use."
One of the primary and most important functions of the Special Forces teams, supported by combat controllers from Air Force Special Operations Command, was calling in air strikes. The U.S. military had been bombing the Taliban for a couple of weeks, but in a land of caves and mountains and small villages, it was difficult to distinguish targets. To help level the field and give the resistance forces a chance, the U.S. had to get rid of those tanks, armored carriers and antiaircraft guns. Once they got on the ground, Soldiers identified enemy targets and skilled Airmen called in those targets and quickly began picking off the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They also called for resupplies and humanitarian assistance drops.
"The sole focus of that combat controller was to bring that air-to-ground interface," explained former combat controller and retired Chief Master Sgt. Calvin Markham, who received a Silver Star for the operation, "so to look for areas where we could establish an airhead, where we could land aircraft, where we could bring supplies where we could do airdrops. The other side of it was to bring that close air support expertise with our air traffic control background, having multiple stacks of aircraft ... from fighters to bombers overhead.
"It annihilated the enemy," he continued, noting that the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom was the first time B52s had been used for close air support since the Vietnam War. "I think it really broke their will to fight. You kill 10, 15 enemy combatants on the battlefield at one time, I'm sure it's a devastating blow to them, but when you're talking about hundreds of enemy combatants losing their lives from one strike, it makes the other guys think about what they're doing and that maybe they should retreat." It also encouraged other fighters, who were perhaps on the fence, to join the coalition.
"We fought for about a month and a half to two months, constantly air attacks, air attacks, air attacks on all of the Taliban positions," said Gamble, "until it got to a point where we moved forward and took their lines and they just kind of went back to the populace," much to the jubilation of the Northern Alliance soldiers and Afghan civilians. Indeed, they liberated the country in weeks, when plans called for months.
"Once we started dropping bombs on the enemy, their whole attitude changed," Gamble added. "They were loving us. A lot of (sodas) came out. A lot of really good food came out. We were their heroes."
An errant strike
There were tragedies as well as successes. Fowers' team had a communications sergeant shot in the neck as they tried to advance across a heavily defended bridge. Then, the next day, Dec. 5, came one of the worst tragedies in those first months. A new GPS system resulted in some confused coordinates and a huge bomb -- a joint direct attack munition -- dropped inside his ODA's perimeter, killing three Americans and perhaps a dozen Afghan soldiers, and wounding almost everyone, including Fowers.
"I actually thought I had been hit with an RPG," he remembered. "I thought I had taken a direct round to the chest. I thought we were getting attacked. ... I was thrown probably a good five or six feet and I think I went unconscious for a little bit. When I came to, the Afghans that had been perching near us had been killed. I remember crawling over and grabbing one of their AKs and going over by our little mortar pit. I remember just waiting for the advancing threat I thought was coming up over the hill."
Fowers and his team were eventually medevaced out of Afghanistan. (Operation Enduring Freedom was in its infancy and evacuation processeses and local medical facilities had not yet been established.) He has received multiple Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart throughout his career. Nutsch's deployment lasted about three months and earned him a Bronze Star with valor, while Gamble was in country until the end of January. He was seriously wounded on a subsequent deployment to Iraq, and plans to retire next year after a long career with multiple awards, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Like Markham, who has lost count of his deployments, all of the men have deployed multiple times. Nutsch has even returned to Afghanistan on charitable humanitarian missions.
Today, a 16-foot, bronze statue of an SF Soldier on horseback, named De Oppresso Liber -- the SF motto, "to free the oppressed" -- or the Horse Soldier, stands near ground zero in New York, watching over the 9-11 memorial and honoring those first special operations teams.
"Every time I go and look at it, it's pretty powerful," said Gamble. "It shows the bond between us and the first responders, the guys here in New York who went into ground zero, who rushed into the buildings to save as many people as they could, and then us, once we got the call, we were in Afghanistan taking care of the people who frigging decided to have this act of terror against us on our ground. Every time I see it, I get goose bumps, seeing the stuff we did over there, the good things we did, the response America had to what happened to us."
|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:48 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The real horse soldiers|
|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:00 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The real horse soldiers|
http://olive-drab.com/od_army-horses-mu ... nistan.php
Military Horses & Mules in Afghanistan
On 19 October 2001, just more than a month after 9-11, a Special Operations Aviation Regiment helicopter rose from Karshi-Kanabad (K2) Airbase, Uzbekistan, to cross 14,000 foot mountains with ugly weather into Afghanistan. Its mission: to carry soldiers of the Fifth Special Forces Group to an Afghan landing zone where they would join CIA teams already on the ground. The helicopter ride over the mountains was itself a harrowing adventure, but in this case just the prelude to much starker tests to come. The SOG team joined CIA-recruited Northern Alliance warlords, the sworn enemies of the Taliban who devastated their country. Skillfully maintaining the right balance of cultural awareness, political ties, and military incentives, the SOG team found ways to help the Northern Alliance leaders defeat the Taliban without stirring up resentment of American involvement. As the Americans proved themselves on horseback, in battle, and in the shared privations of life on the Afghan hardscape, they became cherished partners who earned the affection of their Afghan hosts and fellow warriors.
The campaign was a weird combination of space-age gadgetry (cell phones, GPS, laser targeting, aircraft and satellites, advanced comm gear and weapons) meshed with medieval combat (men on horseback, cavalry charges, hand-to-hand butchery, clanish rivalries, and primitive infrastructure). The role of horses was central since there was no other transportation for the tasks as hand. Failure to adapt to horseback would have doomed the effort, so adapt they did, though painfully since few of the SOG soldiers were horsemen.
In his Commencement Address at the U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO) on 31 May 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld had this to say:
Just before Christmas in 2001, I traveled to Afghanistan and the neighboring countries. I visited with a group of special operations forces that were operating in truly remarkable ways. In preparation for performing a mission the month before, they had asked for the usual supplies, but one item stood out. They asked for horse feed.
From the moment they landed in Afghanistan, our forces began adapting to the circumstances on the ground, as they had to. And they ended up riding horses that had been conditioned to run through machine gun fire. They used pack-mules to transport equipment across some of the roughest terrain in the world, riding in darkness, and along narrow trails with sheer drops.
Some of those forces operating in Afghanistan were combat controllers from the U.S. Air Force. And those Airmen likely thought they would have sooner found themselves riding jet aircraft rather than horses, but they joined the American tradition of daring and ingenuity that has defined Airmen for generations.
|Author:||teotwaki [ Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:06 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The real horse soldiers|
The Book: Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/14165 ... 1416580514
Editorial Reviews -
Starred Review. In this absolutely riveting account, full of horror and raw courage, journalist Stanton (In Harm's Way) recreates the miseries and triumphs of specially trained mounted U.S. soldiers, deployed in the war-ravaged Afghanistan mountains to fight alongside the Northern Alliance-thousands of rag-tag Afghans who fought themselves to exhaustion or death-against the Taliban. The U.S. contingent, almost to a man, had never ridden horses-especially not these "shaggy and thin-legged, and short... descendents of the beasts Genghis Khan had ridden out of Uzbekistan"-but that was not the only obstacle: rattling helicopters, outdated maps, questionable air support and insufficient food also played their parts. Stanton brings each soldier and situation to vivid life: "Bennett suddenly belted out: 'It just keeps getting better and better!' Here they were, living on fried sheep and filtered ditchwater...calling in ops-guided bombs on bunkers built of mud and wood scrap, surrounded by Taliban fighters." In less than three months, this handful of troops secured a city in which a fort had been taken over by Taliban prisoners, a tangle of firefights and mayhem that became a seminal battle and, in Stanton's prose, a considerable epic: "Dead and dying men and wounded horses had littered the courtyard, a twitching choir that brayed and moaned in the rough, knee-high grass."
"Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is as gripping as the most intricately plotted thriller. It is a masterwork of stunning military action, brilliant in-depth journalism, and powerful storytelling. Finally Americans can know how just a few dozen courageous U.S. soldiers beat the Taliban under the most extreme and dangerous conditions imaginable. I could not put this book down." -- Vince Flynn
"Horse Soldiers is a great read -- a riveting story of the brave and resourceful American warriors who rode into Afghanistan after 9/11 and waged war against Al Qaeda. We're hearing many of these stories for the first time -- and from those who waged a war worthy of Rudyard Kipling, James Bond, and Davy Crockett." -- Tom Brokaw
"Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is the story of the first large American unconventional warfare operation since World War II. My Green Berets were launched deep into enemy territory to befriend, recruit, equip, advise, and lead their Afghan counterparts to attack the Taliban. The Horse Soldiers succeeded brilliantly with a highly decentralized campaign, reinforced with modern airpower's precision weapons, forcing the Taliban government's collapse in a few months. Doug Stanton captures the gritty realities of the campaign as no other can." -- Geoffrey C. Lambert, major general (retired), U.S. Army, and commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), 2001-2003
"Not just an epic war story, Horse Soldiers is a beautifully written, intimate portrait of the men and women who lived the battle on the fields of fire -- and at home, too. Their secret mission against the Taliban was intelligent, brave, and undertaken with great care for the good people of Afghanistan. Doug Stanton's superb account is an invaluable insight for policy makers and the public for years to come." -- Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea
"In the spirit of Black Hawk Down and Flags of Our Fathers, Doug Stanton plunges into the heart of a single mission and returns with a stark understanding not only of what happened but what was truly at stake. Through precise reportage and hauntingly rendered battle scenes, Stanton shows that we may ignore this 'forgotten' theater only at our own peril." -- Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder
"Spellbinding...action packed prose. [Stanton's] gritty narrative is thoroughly researched and the details of military operations jarringly precise...The book reads more like a novel than a military history...the Horse Soldier's secret mission remains the U.S. military's finest moment in what has since arguably been a muddled war." -- USA Today
"Stanton packs a huge amount of research into a thrilling action-ride of a book... deserves a hallowed place in American military history...." -- Bruce Barcott, cover of The New York Times Book Review
"Horse Soldiers reads like a cross between an old-fashioned Western and a modern spy thriller." -- Parade Magazine
"Stanton has captured the inner workings of... Special Forces operations. A thorough recounting of the events told from the soldiers' point of view." -- Veritas, Journal of Special Operations History
|Author:||teotwaki [ Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:02 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The real horse soldiers|
From the CIA
https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for- ... diers.html
Center for the Study of Intelligence
Intelligence in Public Literature:
The Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan By Doug Stanton.
Reviewed by J.R. Seeger - retired operations officer and frequent reviewer of books for Studies
As US forces enter their ninth year of involvement in Afghanistan, it is easy to forget how combat operations began in this landlocked country in Central Asia. The Horse Soldiers is by all means a very personal account of the opening days of this nine-year campaign; Doug Stanton is very clear in his author’s note that this is not an effort to create a strategic history. His objective is to help readers understand what it felt like to be a Special Forces operator assigned to Task Force Dagger, conducting combat operations on the ground in northern Afghanistan many hundreds of miles behind Taliban lines. Within the bounds of this perspective, this reviewer believes Stanton has done excellent work.
Stanton first captures the reader’s attention with a short and vivid description of the opening hours of the extended fight at the Qala-e-Jangi (literally “fortress of war”) in Mazar-e-Sharif. This prologue focuses on the most well-known portion of TF Dagger operations in the fall of 2001; it was the only portion covered directly by journalists on the ground during this action. With this brief reminder of the headline events of late November 2001, he quickly shifts back to the days immediately following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. His story begins with a cadre of young operators from 5th Special Forces Group (5SFG) from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. In this phase, Stanton nicely describes the growing tension between the fighters in the midst of tactical preparations and the families they would soon leave behind. He follows the group through an isolation facility in an Uzbek airbase and on into Afghanistan on a night helicopter insertion provided by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment—the Nightstalkers.
Once the members of TF Dagger are on the ground, the pace quickens, focusing on the combat operations that took place from mid-October 2001 through December 2001. During this period, two Special Forces A teams and a battalion command element from the 5SFG conducted operations against the Taliban, guiding the combat activities of Afghan resistance fighters, and supporting this “traditional fighting” capability by calling in airstrikes from US Air Force aircraft, including strategic bombers, fighters, and AC-130 gunships. Movement on the ground was complicated by the difficult terrain and the lack of motor transportation. Early on the SF operators learned that they were going to have to move on horseback if they wanted to keep up with their local allies. This made for the most ironic aspect of the story: modern fighters with satellite communication, night vision devices, and complex weaponry traveling on small Afghan ponies. The pace was controlled by their Afghan allies whose strategy was to defeat a committed enemy while maintaining a low casualty rate and influencing others to support the resistance.
The at times laconic pace of movement provided the SF operators with ample time to reflect on the historic nature of their effort. As reported to Stanton, they were well aware that their operation tied them to other figures in the history of irregular warfare from World War I (the most famous being T. E. Lawrence) and World War II (including figures from the OSS). As reflected in some of the more prosaic descriptions that sometimes slip into the book, Stanton was clearly impressed with the sense of awe the young operators felt as they realized the enormity of the strategic board on which they were playing.
By the end of the story, Stanton has provided an understanding of the intellectual complexity of living in a foreign culture while applying tactical combat power on an irregular warfare battlefield. The “horse soldiers” were often cut off from any significant ties to their command headquarters. At the same time, they had to make decisions they knew were likely to have grave strategic significance, yet they made them with care, often in the middle of battle, and most frequently after having spent most of the day traveling on horseback.
Readers looking for an assessment of the strategic purpose of the initial operations or a discussion of how we got from a small set of Special Forces to a large-scale commitment of men and material will be disappointed in The Horse Soldiers. This story also does not explore the collaboration between the CIA and TF Dagger and their Afghan allies. The SF operators interviewed by Stanton kept silent on this partnership (no doubt because of its classified nature) and described only the now well-known role of the CIA pathfinders who provided the SF teams with access to alliance leaders and the role of two CIA officers in the battle of Qala-e-Jangi. Readers interested in this collaboration should look to First In by Gary Schroen or Jawbreaker by Gary Bernsten, both of which describe the story from the perspective of the CIA officers operating with the Northern Alliance headquarters. Until the effort in the fall of 2001 is further declassified, this will simply have to do.
In sum, Stanton’s book provides great insight and understanding of what it was like for the members of TF Dagger in the fall of 2001. His thorough research included hours of one-on-one interviews with the surviving members of TF Dagger. He gives the reader a “feeling” as well as an understanding of how these “horse soldiers” succeeded in their operations in Afghanistan in 2001. He also provides family, friends, and anyone interested in Special Forces a glimpse of the world of the SF operator living and fighting behind enemy lines.
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