Taunting the Taliban with our female warriors:
Black began to chart the course. When her voice crackled over the soldiers’ field radios, Dostum was delightedly incredulous. A woman? Sent to kill the Taliban? “He couldn’t believe it,” Black said. “He thought it was the funniest thing.”
The Spectre neared and its cannons erupted. Unaccustomed to the Gatling gun’s mechanized snarl, the fighters confused the airstrike with a ground assault. Militants scattered into the fields, seeking cover in ditches and vehicles, although Black could see their heat-signature silhouettes from her console by the cockpit.
Dostum, hidden with the Army detachment several miles away, said the Taliban also believed a high-powered laser pointer used by Spectre operators to identify ground targets — a “sparkle,” in Air Force spec ops speak — was a death ray that turned everything it touched to flames.
As the hailstorm of munitions continued, Dostum grabbed his walkie-talkie, switched to the Taliban’s unsecured frequency and relayed to them the sound of Black’s chatter coming through Army radio.
He used the female pilot’s voice to taunt them as they bled.
“He said, ‘America is so determined, they bring their women to kill the Taliban. You’re so pathetic,’” Black said. “‘It’s the angel of death raining fire upon you.’” After circling the safe house environs many times — striking militants after they’d regroup in threes and fours — the Spectre had just enough fuel to return to Uzbekistan. The crew had expended all of its ammunition: 400 rounds of 40mm cannon shot and 100 rounds of 105mm Howitzer rounds. Black contacted an incoming gunship sent to finish off the remaining militants with a fresh load of ammo.
In those few hours, Black had become the first female AC-130H navigator to shoot in combat. Six years later, she’s a combat-medal-wearing mother to two sons, ages 6 months and 2 years, and she expects to return to Afghanistan in early 2008. She estimates the total number of human targets eliminated on that first tour at more than 250 enemies.