(Article originally published on MOTUS)
One of the oldest forms of transportation is the horse. Since the invention of the motor vehicle most of us don’t ever really find any use for the horse except for recreational pursuits or taking a loved one on one of those sunset beach trots on some tropical island. In 2001 a small SOF outfit found themselves inserted into Afghanistan with the only mode of transportation being a horse. Some of the unit had never rode horses, let alone horses carrying them and all their gear using wooden saddles. They quickly adapted and found that the horses allowed for them to blend into the environment and that they were the right tool for the job, or should I say animal for the job.
An opportunity arose where I would be thrusted into learning how to travel by horse while carrying a rifle and my gear. While doing this, we would also learn the basics of tracking. I never rode a horse, and I should say, I’m not to fond of horses. However, I am interested in tracking and to learn it from legendary tracker Jim Grasky (Retired Border Patrol Agent, Vietnam SOF Veteran and founder of BORTAC) I quickly jumped at the chance.
Grasky is pushing 80 years of age but you can’t tell by the way he handles a horse. He’s also a great teacher who continues to teach Border patrol agents as well as DoD SOF units in the art of tracking and traveling by horse. Grasky started out the class by teaching us that what we learned and know about tracking started with the Apache Scouts. This brief history lesson centered around Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise. The class took place in the Dragoon Mountains in Arizona, right next to the Stronghold of Cochise. Similarities were drawn between the Apache warrior and todays fighting soldier giving us insight into the history. Grasky’s approach brought us back to those simpler times and added more value to what we would be learning later. At times he would talk about the men of Task Force Dagger and ask us to imagine ourselves in that position and the challenges a modern fighting unit would face.
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