81 Foreign Aff. 20 (2002)
Transforming the Military

handle is hein.journals/fora81 and id is 474 raw text is: Transforming the Military
Donald H. Rumsfeld
RIDING INTO THE FUTURE
JUST BEFORE Christmas last year, I traveled to Afghanistan and the
neighboring countries, where I had the opportunity to spend time
with American troops in the field. Among the many I met was an
extraordinary group of men: the special forces who had been involved
in the attack on Mazar-i-Sharif.
From the moment they landed in Afghanistan, these troops began
adapting to the circumstances on the ground. They sported beards
and traditional scarves and rode horses trained to run into machine
gun fire. They used pack mules to transport equipment across some
of the roughest terrain in the world, riding at night, in darkness, near
minefields and along narrow mountain trails with drops so sheer that,
as one soldier put it, it took me a week to ease the death-grip on my
horse. Many had never been on horseback before.
As they linked up and trained with anti-Taliban forces, they learned
from their new allies about the realities of war on Afghan soil and
assisted them with weapons, food, supplies, tactics, and training. And
they planned the assault on Mazar-i-Sharif.
On the appointed day, one of the special forces teams slipped in and
hid well behind enemy lines, ready to call in the air strikes. The bomb
blasts would be the signal for the others to charge. When the moment
came, they signaled their targets to coalition aircraft and looked at
their watches. Two minutes. Thirty seconds. Fifteen seconds.
Then, out of nowhere, a hail of precision-guided bombs began to land
on Taliban and al Qaeda positions. The explosions were deafening,
and the timing so precise that, as the soldiers described it, hundreds

[20]

DONALD H. RUMSFELD is the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

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