What forced the Soviet Union to decide to abandon its attempt to subjugate Afghanistan? Some of the factors: American Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, guerrilla persistence and endurance, nationalism, Islamic faith, Pakistani support.

But let's not forget the American mule. Hundreds of the strong pack animals, airlifted to Asia by the U.S. Air Force, carried food, medical supplies, small weapons and ammunition, and the deadly Stinger missiles over the rugged Afghan mountains."The mules have been absolutely vital," says Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Texas, a staunch supporter of the Afghan resistance.

A University of Missouri expert noted that America "never lost a war in which it used mules." The U.S. military, which phased out mules in the 1950s, might think on that.