Horses in modern warfare?
Now I know what you are thinking after reading the title: “absurd Writer, horses are useless in modern warfare – Cavalry died off ages ago and mounted infantry would be useless in the face of armoured vehicles and tanks!” True in conventional warfare the horse has outlived its usefulness, but what about asymmetrical warfare?
Imagine for a minute here a force of mounted riflemen trained in guerrilla warfare, part of a nation’s armed forces that is deployed deep into enemy territory with the use of horses which do not need to rely on oil transported with the column (they can drink from any riverbed assuming the water is clean and safe), they can travel through difficult terrain where even the best off-road vehicle may become stuck, and they can help the light infantry soldier carry his gear (weapons, food, ammo, sleeping gear and of course the odd anti-tank rocket or two). Sure the infantry soldiers can carry it on their own backs, but having a horse to use for transportation of things like Javelin rockets, RPGs and so forth can prove wonders for energy preservation – though hygiene might be a problem.
Mounted infantry do not fight on horseback, rather they simply use the animal to transport themselves and their gear through rough terrain. Even if they could conduct raids at night it would be a waste if the enemy had night vision capabilities (and it is always better to assume that the enemy is properly equipped; we carry this until better intel becomes available). The soldiers would use the horses to travel through dense forests, mountainous regions and so forth and dismount when it is time to engage the enemy. Using long-ranged weaponry and stealth the troops would employ hit-and-run tactics against the enemy and avoid conventional forces when they present themselves. Certainly a column of horses will leave a trail here and there, but the footprint will be less visible compared to wheeled vehicles and loud, noisy engines (though animals can be noisy too – you choose which is less noisy).
Ultimately what I am proposing with this is using horses for asymmetrical warfare; when you need a mobile force to take the fight to the enemy and cannot afford to re-supply them with drums of fuel dropped out of the back of an airplane perhaps mounted infantry might be the way forward. Often in the past animals have been used to scout and transport when it comes to warfare, and even though we will not employ the horse as part of a direct assault on enemy positions at least the horse can offer us relief for our aching backs and sore feet on long marches – give the commander a mobile asset to use behind enemy lines in order to reduce the enemy’s ability to project past their established positions via harassment. Striking supply depots, columns and so forth before disappearing into the wilderness will help a force lacking in conventional warfighting vehicles and so forth put up a credible resistance against an incoming enemy army.