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Spc. Michael Plummer and the soldiers of the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment’s "Apache Troop" recently taunted Afghan insurgents into a firefight by telling them to take off their burqas and fight like men.

Spc. Michael Plummer and the soldiers of the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment’s "Apache Troop" recently taunted Afghan insurgents into a firefight by telling them to take off their burqas and fight like men. (Jon R. Anderson / S&S)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE TIGER, Afghanistan — Frustrated that Taliban fighters were making themselves scarce, cavalry commander Capt. Brian Peterson ordered his psychological operations detachment to find a way to get the enemy onto the battlefield.

Their solution: shame. The soldiers drove into the mountainous region of southern Afghanistan near Tarin Kowt, a known Taliban stronghold, and blared through Humvee-mounted loudspeakers a simple message.

“Take off your burqas,” Afghan interpreters shouted, referring to the head-to-toe powder blue shrouds Taliban leaders once forced all women in the country to wear. “Come out and fight us like men.”

Peterson, commander of the 25th Infantry Division’s Hawaii-based 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment’s Apache Troop, had heard of Special Forces units using similar schoolyard tactics to dishonor local insurgents into a fight and figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

He knew Taliban fighters were out there. Local villagers were being threatened to stay away from U.N. voter registration efforts for the country’s Oct. 9 presidential elections.

It didn’t take long to get an answer to Peterson’s cantankerous call to arms. Within hours, an angry ambush was unleashed, a heavy fusillade of automatic weapons fire raining down from two sides as his patrol moved through a steep valley.

“The bullets were zinging within a few inches of my head, I could actually feel their heat,” said .50-caliber machine gunner Spc. Michael Plummer, 25, from Klamath Falls, Ore.

He was astounded. After four months in Afghanistan, this was Apache Troop’s first contact with the enemy.

“I couldn’t believe they were actually shooting at us,” said Plummer.

Pushing his patrol of Humvees through the ambush kill zone, Peterson turned his men around and charged back into the fray.

“We weren’t going to run from those punks,” said Peterson. “We chased them up the mountain.”

After a 45-minute gunfight, four Afghan guerrillas lay dead and another four were captured.

None of Peterson’s men were injured.

“We’re pretty sure we got more, but they carry their dead away,” said Peterson.

It’s hard to tell how many escaped, he said, adding “they can run, but they’ll only die tired.”


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