Our SOF pic of the day highlights 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). They visited New York City and, as many visitors do, were photographed with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in the background. After all, what screams New York City more than the World Trade Center?

Little did they know that in a matter of months, their lives would be changed forever, and they would be hunting down the group responsible for destroying those towers and taking thousands of innocent American lives.

Captain Nutsch in Afghanistan
Then Captain Nutsch in Afghanistan, leading 5th SFG(A) ODA 595. They became famous as “The Horse Soldiers”

The Horse Soldiers

Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595 from 5th Special Forces Group were some of the first boots on the ground just weeks after 9/11. Not yet having traditional military transportation available to them, he and his men had to get where they were going on horseback. Fortunately, Nutsch grew up on a ranch in Kansas, so he was a seasoned rider. Not so much for the rest of his team. One other guy rode a bit in high school, and the others had no riding experience at all.

Nutsch stated to Military Times,

“We didn’t know horses were going to be involved until about 48 hours prior to our insertion when we were given the phrase ‘be prepared to use indigenous animals for transportation.”

Upon arriving in country, Nutch gave his men a crash course in horseback riding. At first, it was not easy. The saddles and riding gear were meant to accommodate the local Afghans, who tended to be smaller and lighter than their American counterparts.

To quote Captain Nutsch:

“The horses allowed us to get in around them and behind them, and cut them off basically from reinforcement and retreat.”