Alpine Summit

Monday, August 15, 2005

Older is Better

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

KANDAGAL, Afghanistan - Frustrated with the limitations of using its Humvee four-wheel-drive vehicles in rugged mountains with few roads, a battalion of U.S. Marines has enlisted a mode of transport used for centuries by Afghan villagers: donkeys.

About 30 of the animals have been rented from farmers to haul food and bottled water to hundreds of Afghan and U.S. troops on a two-week operation to battle militants deep in remote mountains in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province.

"With all the smart bombs and the modern stuff in war nowadays, this is the best way for us to resupply our troops there," said Lt. Col. Jim Donnellan, commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is based in Hawaii. "It's also much cheaper for the U.S. taxpayer for us to rent the donkeys than for everything to be air-dropped."

This is a pretty cool story I thought. Plus it's weird that with all our technology and advancements, the four-legged ATV- used for centuries since before Christ- is still the best way to get around in such rough terrain. I think the domestication of donkeys and horses is up there on the list of human advancements as the wheel or the lever. I also like how it's cheaper.