Small Wars Journal

The Horse Soldiers" of Afghanistan

Beginning with a Charge: Doug Stanton and the Horse Soldiers" of Afghanistan

Thursday, 9 July 2009

6:00 PM CST (Presentation and Live Webcast)

Pritzker Military Library

Chicago, Illinois

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.

On Thursday, July 9th, Doug Stanton will appear at the Pritzker Military Library to discuss his new book Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. This event is free and open to the public. The presentation and live webcast will begin at 6:00 p.m., preceded by a reception for Library members at 5:00 p.m. It will also be recorded for later broadcast on WYCC-TV/Channel 20.

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 mounted 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.

Seating for this event is limited, so reservations are recommended. Call 312.587.0234 or email Education professionals in Illinois may earn 1.5 Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for attending this event.

This is the final event of the 2008-09 season at the Pritzker Military Library. Our schedule of weekly events will resume in the fall, including an appearance on September 10th by author Tom Ricks and his new book The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq.

The Pritzker Military Library is a non-partisan, non-profit research institution located at 610 North Fairbanks Court in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, near the Magnificent Mile. Admission is free and open to the public, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and also for scheduled evening events.

The mission of the Pritzker Military Library is to acquire and maintain an accessible collection of materials and develop appropriate programs focusing on the Citizen Soldier in the preservation of democracy. The 5,000 sq. ft. facility features a collection of books and films on subjects covering the full spectrum of American military history, along with vintage posters, photographs, medals, uniforms, and other artifacts from private donors and the collection of the Library's founder, COL (IL) James N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.).

Since opening in October 2003, the Pritzker Military Library has produced over 250 programs including events with award-winning authors, interviews with Medal of Honor recipients, and Front & Center with John Callaway, the Library's Emmy-nominated flagship program on public affairs. All programs are presented free of charge in front of a live audience, webcast live and archived on the Internet, and recorded for later broadcast on WYCC-TV/Channel 20, a PBS affiliate. Programs are also available as audio podcasts on the Library website and at iTunes.

To learn more, please visit