Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Helicopter versus RPG

13 Comments

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The enemy weapons causing the most deaths in Afghanistan are simple.  There are the machine guns, and the AK-47s, and many thousands of improvised bombs planted in the earth, and suicide bombs, and the RPG: Rocket Propelled Grenade.

There are a few other kinds of weapons, but in a nutshell, that is about it.   Meanwhile, it is probably not risking much overstatement to say that ISAF employs a thousand sort of weapons.

In the image above, the shooter has already pulled the trigger.  There was a very quick delay, with a quiet pop.  Some smoke puffed out from the front and from the rear of the RPG launcher.

Read more: Helicopter versus RPG

MEDEVAC Madness

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10 May 2012

Many people have contacted lawmakers around the country about MEDEVAC failures in Afghanistan.  Most of the lawmakers blew it off, or seemed intimidated by the Pentagon.  But one serious man over in Missouri has not backed down.  Congressman Todd Akin is demanding answers.  This week, Congressman Akin brought it to Congress:

Read more: MEDEVAC Madness

New Helmet System

7 Comments

06 May 2012

This helmet system could have many uses, such as for gunners in the hatch.  But as one of the most experienced and smartest vets I know told me this morning, most troops will not want to wear it until they see a buddy lose part of his face.

(Note: I am not endorsing this system, but acknowledging.  I've not seen it in person.)

Read more: New Helmet System

Today’s Messages from Taliban about Today’s Attack and Obama’s visit

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02 May 2012

A message came to me about nine hours ago from the Taliban that Obama visited and so the Taliban had an attack underway.  They did in fact have an attack underway.  I published the message from Zabihullah Mujahid on Facebook.

First message:

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A few minutes ago (about 0820 EST 02 May 2012), Zabihullah Mujahid sent two more messages.  Both are below.  There is some truth in the accounts, but I read them mostly for entertainment value.  Though they exaggerate wildly, it’s become clear that the Taliban will eventually control large swaths of Afghanistan:

Read more: Today’s Messages from Taliban about Today’s Attack and Obama’s visit

Shot in the Dark: Blackhawk Down

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MVI 9873-1000Afghan firing RPG in Urozgan

02 May 2012

On 19 April there was a suicide attack.  Numerous Afghans were killed and others were dying.

The night was especially dark.  The weather was bad, and there were no city lights bouncing off of the clouds.  No stars.  No nothing.  Even if the skies had been clear, the moon phase would have revealed only a thin sliver at its brightest.  The night was as black as the deep sea.

People living in or around a big city in America or Asia or Europe will never see a dark night like this one unless there is a blackout.  In Western Europe, few people ever witness a truly black night unless there is heavy weather.  The cultural lights are too bright.  For darkness in Europe, there are a few special places, such as an edge near the sea in Scotland.

Read more: Shot in the Dark: Blackhawk Down

Little Girl Revisited

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bieger-and-farah

02 May 2012

This image was made seven years ago today.   There had been a great deal of combat.  It’s been said that the “Deuce Four” was the most decorated unit in the Iraq war.  I do not know if this is true, but if not, it is probably close.

There had been a suicide car bomb that attacked in a civilian neighborhood.   The Soldiers did their best to help the people.  Little Farah, seen here, cradled by Major Mark Bieger, would soon die of her wounds.

Read more: Little Girl Revisited

Drunken Monkeys, Milkooks, Military, and the Media

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image001US Army Master Sergeant and milblogger, CJ Grisham: known for spamming Wikipedia and other outlets with false information

(This dispatch is intended for investigative journalists who may be interested in military propaganda targeting US citizens.  Much of the account is first person, the way that it unfolded.)

25 April 2012

USA TODAY journalists are experiencing something that I first began describing roughly two years ago.  When a writer pens uncomfortable words about the military, the writer invites systematic defamation.  This dispatch reveals fact-patterns and information that can reveal the tell-tale fingerprints of the propaganda machine.

USA TODAY reported last week:

"Misinformation campaign targets USA TODAY reporter, editor"

WASHINGTON – A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.

Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names.

The timeline of the activity tracks USA TODAY's reporting on the military's "information operations" program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan — campaigns that have been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored.

This also happened to me.  After I wrote that two Generals should be sacked, certain milblogs began a military-sponsored attack against me. They alleged that I had PTSD and that I had been dis-embedded from US, UK and Canadian forces for security violations.  They also claimed that my own service record was tattered.  None of it was true.  My time in the military was honorable, and in the wars as a writer, I had not embedded with Canadian forces, nor was I ever dis-embedded from other militaries for OPSEC violations.

Read more: Drunken Monkeys, Milkooks, Military, and the Media

Dark Night

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56832-1000DVIDS

23 April 2012

Last week there was a suicide attack on a police checkpoint in Afghanistan.  There were numerous fatalities and wounded.  All Afghans.

MEDEVAC flights can be extremely dangerous for many reasons.  Firstly, the fact that MEDEVAC is needed is often due to hostile action, and so the helicopters are being sent to contested territory.  Often, they fly from contested territory, completely over enemy territory, to other contested territory, and then back over enemy territory to a hospital.  The entire flight can be over dangerous ground.

Most of the CAT-A (very serious casualty) missions have no warning, and so the MEDEVAC crew has no chance to plan a route.  Routes are difficult to plan in active war zones.  Besides the inertia-laden obstacles such as mountains and antennas, and aerostat balloons tethered to the ground, there is typically a lot going on out there, such as artillery or airstrikes, or sudden missions that occur with little warning, which may involve low-flying aircraft.  It's a mess for the pilots to sort through.

Read more: Dark Night

Did Green Berets and MEDEVAC Violate Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan?

12 Comments

NO.

491490-1000Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk in Afghanistan (photo credit DVIDS)

22 April 2012

A video is circulating of "Green Berets" in combat.  The Soldiers are hammering away with a minigun and other weapons.  An A-10 can be seen rolling in and shooting.  Casualties are taken, and after the seven minute mark in the video, an apparent Special Forces Soldier can be seen directing that ammunition be brought in on a MEDEVAC bird.

Read more: Did Green Berets and MEDEVAC Violate Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan?

Taliban Denounce Poisoning of Girls

17 Comments

18 April 2012

Yesterday, about 171 girls and women were poisoned at a school in Afghanistan.  Whereas the blame immediately went to the Taliban, Afghanistan is far too complex for reflexive answers.  Further, there are many groups of "Taliban," and other associated enemies, making it impossible to affix responsibility to a monolithic enemy that does not exist.  The attack might also be the work of a lone wolf.

The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik recently slaughtered 77 people in Norway. That was terror by a Norwegian against Norwegians.  Back in Afghanistan, at least one American Soldier is accused of recently killing 17 Afghans.  Many victims were women and children.  Back in America, years before the war, a former American soldier killed 168, including many very young children, in Oklahoma City.  Nearly 700 were wounded in that Oklahoma terrorist attack.

That's about 260 people killed in three attacks, apparently by only three white guys, none of whom were Taliban or Muslims.  Some people are just bad, and many act alone or nearly alone.

Read more: Taliban Denounce Poisoning of Girls

RED CROSS: Symbol of Blood

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image001-1000Photo Michael Yon

17 April 2012

Army Generals will have the public believe that the Red Cross is a morale booster for our troops.  That load of bull is too heavy even for a Blackhawk helicopter sling load.  During my about three years with combat troops downrange, I've never heard the slightest inkling of "morale boost" from troops who see a Red Cross.

The Red Cross boosts enemy morale. It alerts the Taliban that they have caused casualties.

Read more: RED CROSS: Symbol of Blood

America’s Angry Troops: Message from a Marine

26 Comments

125095-1000Image: DVIDS

13 April 2012

Marine, Army and Air Force sources continue to provide information about MEDEVAC failures in Afghanistan.  Top Army Generals say there are no complaints from the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC community in Afghanistan, but if this were so how is it that I end up with stacks of internal documents from dozens of sources?  In fact, top Army Generals have spent their credibility with the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC community.

In March, an Army Dustoff source revealed that a Marine died from electrocution in Helmand subsequent a slow MEDEVAC dispatch.  (There may have been two separate electrocutions on separate dates.)  Another Dustoff source brought up another Marine who died in Helmand within the last couple of weeks after a double amputation.  Sources say that slow dispatch occurred in both cases.

Read more: America’s Angry Troops: Message from a Marine

Bowe Bergdahl: Two messages from the Taliban

6 Comments

10 April 2012

Over the months I have communicated with the Taliban about US prisoner Bowe Bergdahl.  Numerous times I have asked the Taliban to allow me to visit Bowe.  In each case, the Taliban has declined citing security issues.

It has been said that I am negotiating with the Taliban for Bowe's release.  This is untrue.  I have asked only to visit.  Nothing more.

This morning, I received two emails from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, a high-level Taliban spokesman in regard to Bowe Bergdahl:

Read more: Bowe Bergdahl: Two messages from the Taliban

Attempted Fraud Using Ebay and PayPal names

28 Comments

img001-1000Scam Packing slip

05 April 2012

Monday I listed some camera gear for sale on Ebay.  Starting bid was $7,000, but for $7,700 a buyer could take everything immediately.  Soon after came a closing sale from the United Kingdom.

The "sale" "went through" immediately for $7,700, and the buyer took it upon himself or herself to tack on another $170 for immediate shipment to Lagos, Nigeria.

Read more: Attempted Fraud Using Ebay and PayPal names

MEDEVACmatters.org

7 Comments

02 April 2012

The Army continues to insist that certain helicopters in Afghanistan must wear Red Crosses to abide by Geneva Conventions.  This is untrue.  There is no requirement to wear Red Crosses in combat.  At cost of troops’ lives, the Army uses these Red Crosses as a tool in bureaucratic infighting about which generals control which helicopters.  And so a power struggle between generals unfolds at cost of the blood of American sons and daughters.  The above facts have been demonstrated beyond dispute.

Read more: MEDEVACmatters.org

Camera Auction

9 Comments

3150-fertilizer5a-1000Kopp-Etchells Effect during combat operations with British Forces. (Sangin, Afghanistan, 2009)

01 April 2012

The time has come for expensive upgrades.  Canon has added the Mark III 5d and soon the Dx to the line.

I have two Canon 5d Mark II bodies for sale with accessories.  The 5d Mark II bodies were incredibly popular with amateurs, full-pros, and with me in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Thailand many other places.

Since mid-2005, I’ve used nothing but the very best camera gear for the job.  These 5d bodies are by far my favorites.  Great in low light, not heavy, and high quality full-frame sensor.

Read more: Camera Auction

Taliban Sends Message about US Prisoner Bowe Bergdahl

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29 March 2012

Several years ago, the Taliban captured a US Soldier named Bowe Bergdahl. Yesterday was Bergdahl’s third birthday in captivity.

I’ve asked the Taliban several times to see Bergdahl.  They have declined in the past citing security reasons.  I recently asked the Taliban again about Bergdahl’s condition.

A message came from key Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.  More accurately, the email came from his account.

There is strong reason to believe that messages from this account are coming from from Zabihullah Mujahid, or someone deep within the “Big T” Taliban.  (Upper leadership.)

In the past, this account has provided me with breaking information that could not have been derived from the news.  For instance, Zabihullah, or whoever uses the account, messaged me last year just as the big hotel attack in Kabul unfolded.  The account provided detailed information so early in the attack that the author must have had foreknowledge.

The actual messages might not be accurate, and they often exaggerate, but the account is real.  This message came on 29 March 2012 in response to my inquiry about Bowe Bergdahl:

“He is healthy and with Taliban , 
we were in tuch with amerian to talk about exchange the prisoner but they not ecept this . and just wast the time .
I personly issure u that he will be released , How , When , this is secret .”

I have requested again to visit Bowe Bergdahl.

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