In the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, President Barack Obama tried to score points by lampooning Governor Mitt Romney’s criticism that under the Obama administration, our US Navy had fallen to levels not seen since 1916.
In doing so, Obama sneered that we don’t have many bayonets or horses in the military either because times change.
Yet, our Marines are indeed equipped with bayonets. And the soldiers serving in Afghanistan use military horses.
In fact, Vice President Joe Biden was in New York City at Ground Zero for the dedication ceremony for a statue heralding the proud service of our horse-mounted soldiers.
A NY1 story, “Horse Soldiers Statue Rededicated At WTC Site,” reports:
A statue honoring soldiers who served in Afghanistan on horseback was rededicated Friday at the World Trade Center site. The 16-foot-tall Special Operations Horse Soldiers statue, located on Greenwich Street near the Path Station, commemorates when U.S. Special Operations team members rode horses into combat during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Riding with and advising Northern Alliance warlords fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on steep terrain in Northern Afghanistan, it was the first time U.S. troops rode horses in a military operation since 1942.
“Having the terrorist attacks here, bringing this back home, it’s priceless, words can’t describe the pride and honor we all feel,” said U.S. Army “Horse Soldier” Master Sergeant Michael Elmore.
“Only one had ever been on a horse in his life. He is a no kidding cowboy. The other men had never been on a horse. In the spirit of great Special Forces guys they adapted and began to conduct a horse-mounted operation with their Afghan counterparts,” said Special Operations Deputy Commanding General Lieutenant General John Mulholland Jr.
The statue was made possible by private donations, with $750,000 raised in six weeks.
“Mulholland and his guys would never ask for anything and that’s the beauty of it. They’re the quiet professionals so we wanted to do something to recognize them and all those who went and served to fight the battle of 9/11,” said Constellations Group CEO Bill White.
“The message is that military service to your country is an honorable thing,” said Sculptor Douwe Blumberg.
Among those on hand for the ceremony was Johnny Spann, whose son Mike was the first American to die during the invasion while working with the CIA.
“Hopefully the dedication of this Horse Soldier Monument will make people more aware and maybe they will get interested in reading about it or whatever. It’s a part of our history, and it’s important people know exactly what took place,” Spann said.
The statue was first dedicated by Vice President Joe Biden on Veteran’s Day.
During the debate, Obama also noted that he’d been at Ground Zero. Apparently he paid no attention to the statue there. Or perhaps he walked by it and just laughed at how preposterous he thought it was—just like he did in the debate.
It’s even odder to know that celebrity-obsessed Obama didn’t know about the horse soldiers because Hollywood knows. According to a special report at the Daily Caller, “Secret Mission: The Horse Soldiers of 9/11,” “producer Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a future movie about America’s ‘Horse Soldiers.'”
The Daily Caller story begins:
It was the news the world breathlessly waited for immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks: a report of the first American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
All at once the world’s attention focused on an iconic photo of those Special Operations Forces doing something no American military had done in nearly a century: They rode horses into combat.
Their secret mission: secure northern Afghanistan by advising the warring tribal factions that formed the Northern Alliance. During the 2011 Veterans Day Parade on November 11, a new monument to these men — and to all Americans in uniform — made its way down New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue on the way to its final home, a stone’s throw from Ground Zero.
What a fascinating, uplifting story. One that our President should never belittle with derision dripping from his lips to score political points. In trying to make Romney look small, he mocked our heroes.
And in doing so, he proved he is a very small man with a large ignorance of military equipment.
The rocky terrain found in remote areas of Afghanistan isn’t easy to traverse, even by jeep. Native horses become a mode of transportation. Pack animals, especially donkeys, also become familiar partners. For some of America’s elite troops, however, knowledge of horses and their four-legged relatives isn’t familiar territory. The first time they actually halter a horse, saddle it and ride it may be at Smith Lake Stables.
“That’s why the only horses we get, that the government buys, are what we call dead broke,” Rossignol says. “We can’t afford to have anyone get hurt.”
But there’s more to it than just learning about tacking up and riding a horse, Rossignol says. The troops also learn herd management and how to treat common equine health issues affecting equines.
“We teach them about anatomy and basic vet care,” he says. “That’s because many times these troops are working with the local people.”
That’s one side of the Special Forces that isn’t often seen by the Americans at home. In order to establish a good rapport with an agrarian or nomadic society, a Special Forces member might offer to help care for sick or injured animals owned by local peoples. It’s all part of spreading goodwill.
Yet despite the benefits of maintaining a select group of horses for military training, the horses associated with Fort Bragg have faced some budget cuts. Land originally used for pasture was deemed too valuable for grazing, and horses were moved from the actual military base to their current home at Smith Lake Stables, a few miles away.