Courtesy Reuters


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

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