Pale Horse is the remarkable never-before-told true story of an army aviation task force during combat in the Afghan War, told by the commanding officer who was there. Set in the very valleys where the attacks of 9/11 were conceived, and where ten Medals of Honor have been earned since that fateful day the war began, the narrative races from ferocious firefights and bravery in battle to the quiet moments where the courageous men and women of Task Force Pale Horse catch their breath before they take to the skies again.
Jimmy F. Blackmon writes with a power and hard-hitting honesty that leaps off the page. He has the respect of the men and women of his brigade, and a command of the narrative to tell their story. From pilots of lethal Apache attack helicopters who strike fear in their enemies to the medevac soldiers who risk their lives daily, these are warriors from a variety of backgrounds who learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew through the crucible of war. Pale Horse both honors and commemorates the service of this elite task force from the unique vantage point of the commander who led them in battle.
Blackmon, a commander of Task Force Pale Horse during his U.S. Army aviation unit's deployment to Afghanistan in 2009, introduces readers to the aviation units' soldiers, battles, successes, and challenges, but provides little analysis or insight. He provides a good description of all their tactical missions reconnaissance, attack, and logistics support in the difficult terrain and weather conditions of the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The book makes very clear, and is a tribute to, the tactical expertise and bravery of all of the aviation personnel, particularly the pilots who served in the task force. The period Blackmon covers is noteworthy for including some of the more well-known events of the recent war in Afghanistan, including the battle of Wanat, the search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and the battle of Ganjgal. Though these major events are associated with a great deal of public controversy, Blackmon fails to address that. Similarly, there is little analysis of policy, operations, or strategy. Blackmon shares an enjoyable story about his unit and the aviation support systems, but it's an uncritical work that neglects to place the battles in any larger context or note whether they had any appreciable effect on the war.