NPR

'12 Strong': When The Afghan War Looked Like A Quick, Stirring Victory

Many Americans may be weary of the war in Afghanistan. But a new movie is betting big on the true story of Green Berets on horseback who made the early days of the fight look deceptively easy.
U.S. troops, in tan uniforms, look over maps with Afghan rebel commander Rashid Dostum (center) in October 2001. A dozen U.S. soldiers teamed up with Dostum's force to defeat the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. Source: Courtesy of Bob Pennington

When Army Capt. Mark Nutsch and 11 fellow Green Berets jumped off their helicopter into the swirling dust of northern Afghanistan in October 2001, their Afghan partner informed them they would be battling the Taliban — on horseback.

"In that situation, they're certainly not going to give you their very best horses," Nutsch said dryly.

Fortunately for Nutsch, this wasn't his first rodeo. Literally. He's from Kansas. He grew up on horses — and yes, competing in rodeos.

Not everyone had his experience. Chief Warrant Officer Bob Pennington, weighing in at 225 pounds,

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