Horse Soldiers in the 21st Century.

“1,500 cavalrymen galloped across a mile of rising and falling hollows.” And then …. “The second wave of horsemen passed through, reins in their teeth to free their hands for combat, taking the battle line forward.”  What is this? The Charge of the Light Brigade? Napoleon’s assault on Moscow? No! This is Afghanistan October 2001.

 

US_Special_Forces_on_horseback_Afghanistan_2001
US Special Forces on Horseback . Afghanistan 2001

 

Here is the full excerpt from Susanna Forrest’s book ‘The Age of the Horse”.

“In the Darya Suf and Balkh Valleys in Afghanistan in October 2001, 1,500 cavalrymen of the Afghan Northern Alliance galloped across a mile of rising and falling hollows towards the village of Bishqab, into Taliban bullets, and towards old Soviet tanks, armored personnel carriers and anti-aircraft cannon that could fire 4,000 rounds a minute. They came in two waves, carrying walkie-talkies, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and backed by an equal infantry force. A hillock away from the Taliban lines , they dismounted , stood on their reins and opened fire with machine guns and grenades. The second wave of horsemen passed through, reins in their teeth to free their hands for combat, taking the battle line forward. As the Taliban began to run before them in fear, the Northern Alliance men beat them with gun butts, slashed with knives and  shot them in the back , while American planes dropped bombs on the tanks. In the hills behind the plain, twelve Americans from the 5th Special Forces Group directed the dropping of the bombs,travelling between locations on tough, crabby Lokai pony stallions, their equipment loaded on mule trains. 

“What about the horses?” one of the Americans asked as the men prepared for the Battle of Bishqab. “How will they react when the bombs start dropping?”

“They will not be nervous,” the Northern Alliance warlord replied.

“Why?”

” Because they will know that these are American bombs.”

When the Americans honored the commandos of this first plunge into Afghanistan, they erected a bronze statue of a split-hoofed Afghan pony, jaw fighting at its bit, caught with its weight back on its hocks, and it s mane and tail blown forward , like the emperor’s mount in Jacques-Louis-David’s famous ‘Napoleon Crossing the Alps’.  On its small wooden saddle is a lanky American Green Beret in a sun hat, M4 assault rifle hanging from his shoulder and binoculars in his right hand. It stands at the foot of the One World Trade Center skyscraper, not far from the somber, sunken fountains that mark the footprints of the old Twin Towers. The Afghan war is represented at Ground Zero not by the Hellfire missile or the M1 Abrams tank, but by the energy of a pony, and an appeal  to old, horseback warriors.”

 

 

836px-America's_Response_Monument-De_Oppresso_Liber
De Oppresso Liber, freedom from oppression, the motto of the Green Berets.

 

 

 

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. coilerxii says:

    The last US field manual depicting horse cavalry in depth was made in 1940, and it was quickly obsolete. (I blogged about it here: https://coilerscreativecorner.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/the-last-horse-cavalry-manual/ )

    Horses continued in the Soviet and German armies in WWII because they were already there in mass, there was no need to try and stuff them into ships across the Atlantic, and in the latter’s case, they had so few trucks that they had to use horses for pack animals in all but their fast tank divisions.

    Still, just as you see the occasional bayonet charge, so did this cavalry charge happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you so much for this comment. I willl follow that link later today!

      Like

  2. (HorseLover4Ever) Elizabeth says:

    I absolutely love your history “reports” you’re posting, Anne! They are very well-written and interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alli Farkas says:

    Yup, another one I had absolutely no idea about!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Emma Cownie says:

    Fascinating. Dogs too play a vital role in places like Afghanistan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      That is something I did not know that dogs were involved. Interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Emma Cownie says:

        They are trained to detect IEDs. One, a Belgian Shepherd called “Captain”, was captured by the Taliban, I am not sure they ever gave him back.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Emma Cownie says:

        No his name was “Colonel”.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That is awesome! I had no idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. saraannon says:

    I’ve been going through the old cavalry manuals from Kikkuli to Littauer so this series of yours caught my eye. I have to say that we can learn a lot about how horses and humans work together from modern cavalry as well as historical cavalry. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kathleen says:

    Such a moving tale Leueen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes and it was a story I did not know about prior to reading Susanna Forrest’s book. Thank you for commenting.

      Like

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