In Nuristan’s Shok Valley

Details of the engagement in which ten Special Forces soldiers earned the Silver Star.

Outnumbered around 10 to 1, they killed 150 to 200.


  1. P.M. I suspect that you might be right on at one least count, though “mathematically impossible” isn’t right, either.

    If they were counting only the US troops, 10:1 would mean an estimated 1200 insurgents. SF killing 150-200 of 1200 with help from Afghan forces and a healthy dose of airpower isn’t unbelievable at all.

    Not saying that it was 1200 vs. 12 or that counting that way tells the story, but it’s also not “mathematically impossible.”

  2. Oh, the linked story itself makes sense mathematically and in other ways. It’s just that this post here doesn’t (because it leaves out some of the forces involved). This post here specifies ten soldiers, outnumbered around 10:1; that means at most 120 or 130 enemy – and the soldiers couldn’t have killed 150 or more out of those.

  3. D’oh. I was thinking 100 to 1 in my earlier comment, not 10 to 1.

    As far as the post here not telling the whole story, that’s one of the many many reasons for linking to the story. In fact, careful readers will notice that there are also at least one or two other details that weren’t included in this post.

  4. I almost always look over numbers to see if they make sense, both for consistency and as reasonable data. I could tell straight away that this post was either fundamentally wrong or not telling the whole story. It was the latter; it didn’t mention the other troops involved, basically saying it was just those ten.

    Here’s a story by way of illustration. An instructor is sending a candidate out for some testing in the field. He tells him that he must pass 3 out of 4 units or 4 out of 5 to pass that activity, then asks if there are any questions.

    “Sir! No, sir!”

    So the instructor marks the candidate lower on the logic skills part of the course. Why? And how long did it take you to figure it out?

  5. BTW, from a WWI cartoon in Punch:-

    Officer to Conscripted Scottish Trades Unionist: Good Heavens, man! What are you doing just sitting there? Don’t you know we’re outnumbered four to one?

    CSTU to O: Aye, I’ve killed ma fower.

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