Small Wars Journal

Dispatch: Red Horse

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Dispatch: Red Horse

In the Desert of Death

by Michael Yon

Download the full article: Dispatch: Red Horse

For centuries, Afghans have dug underground irrigation tunnels called karez. The lines of craters in the photo above are shafts into a karez system. The shafts, which can be hundreds of feet deep, are used to lift out soil and stone while digging a karez. Karez can take years to build and are sometimes miles long. They are described as intricate constructions, often built by teams for hire, using father-to-son knowledge passed down through the centuries.

Thousands of handmade underground irrigation systems range from China, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, down to Africa, up to Europe and around to the Americas.

In Afghanistan, during many wars, such as with Alexander the Great, the British, the Soviets, and today, karez have been used to hide villagers, fighters and weapons, or to move without detection.

Download the full article: Dispatch: Red Horse

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. Michael's dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation. His work is published at Michael Yon Online and has been featured on Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.

About the Author(s)

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, native of Winter Haven, Fl. who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.  No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars.  Michael’s dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation.  His work has been featured on “Good Morning America,” The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.