Their mission was secret, and time was short. So in order to cross the steep mountain trails of Afghanistan, the U.S. Special Forces turned to some top-of-the-line military technology - from the 19th century.
Shortly after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, the Special Forces were sent to Afghanistan. Moving in troops for a full-scale invasion might have taken up to six months; as the lead element in the war, the Special Forces' mission was to make it happen almost overnight by joining fighters of the Afghan Northern Alliance and using their area knowledge and expertise to defeat the Taliban. For a group of soldiers under the command of Lt. Col. Max Bowers, their charge was an attack on the strategically essential Taliban-controlled city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Together with Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, the soldiers of the Special Forces mouned horses - which they had never been trained to ride - and rode across the mountains to win a swift, decisive victory, despite being outnumbered by more than 40 to 1.
Soon, hundreds of Taliban fighters had surrendered. Among them was one whose very existence would shock America: John Walker Lindh, a teenager from Marin County, California. But with hundreds of prisoners being held at the fortress of Qala-i-Jangi, a violent second act lay ahead: a prison revolt that would lead to the first American casualty in the war in Afghanistan. In Horse Soldiers, Stanton celebrates the courage and ingenuity of the Special Forces, and uses their success as a lens to examine what the U.S. did well as it entered Afghanistan - and what, in his view, the U.S. needs to do again in order to bring that war to a successful close.
Doug Stanton is also the author of In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors, which was chosen by the U.S. Navy as required reading for its officers. He has been a contributing editor at Esquire, Sports Afield, Outside, and Men's Journal.
DVD 2009-07-09: Doug Stanton
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