US Army recruits donkeys From correspondents in Afghanistan August 15, 2005 From: Agence France-Presse THE US military has gone low-tech. Frustrated with the limitations of using its fleet of modern Humvee four-wheel-drives in rugged mountains with few roads, a battalion of marines has enlisted the help of transport vehicles that Afghan villagers have been using for centuries - donkeys. About 30 of the animals have been rented from local farmers to haul food and bottled water to hundreds of Afghan and US troops on a major two-week operation to battle militants deep in remote mountains in eastern Afghanistan. "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 Lieutenant Colonel Jim Donnellan, commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. Using aircraft to resupply the forces is also dangerous. In late June, militants in the area shot down a special forces Chinook helicopter, killing all 16 troops on board, as it tried to land. The operation is aimed at flushing those fighters out of the valley and US commanders are nervous about risking other choppers. Advertisement: Australia's most famous military donkey was used by war hero John Simpson at Gallipoli. Simpson used his donkey - called either Duffy, Murphy or Abdul - to carry dozens of wounded. In Afghanistan, at one end of Korengal Valley, where the militants are suspected of hiding, squads of US Marines with heavy packs on their backs led out lines of donkeys, each laden with two boxes of water, a box of food rations and a sack of grain. While each marine carried enough food and water for themselves for two days, the donkeys gave each squad supplies for an extra 48 hours. Once finished, the animals would be led back to reload and then return to the mountains. Before coming to Afghanistan, some of the troops received training in handling donkeys at the Marines' Mountain Warfare Training Centre in Bridgeport, Nevada. Some would, of course, say, that they have been doing this for years.