Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

U.S. Navy in the Philippines

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02 June 2009

Members of “Special Boat Team 12” from Coronado preparing for work earlier today.  The Philippine armed forces are hard at work in the battle against international terrorists.  They are making progress.  Stay tuned.  I’m currently with U.S. and Philippine forces.

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Secretary Gates in Singapore

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01 June 2009
Manila, Philippines

The Shangri-La security dialogue is over.  Bigwigs from all over the region came to the conference, including Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.  All the major media outlets piled in, such as the New York Times, AP, and dozens of others from Asia, Europe, and the United States.  The dialogue is already well covered in the media, so I’ll write mostly about topics that likely will not make the press.

One matter that you will see in the press is that North Korea is the elephant in the room. Secretary Gates has made it clear that we have no intention of rewarding bad behavior, as we have done in the past with North Korea.  Many readers seem to hold a special disdain for President Obama, and I actively campaigned for McCain, but I get the feeling that Obama is tougher and proving wiser than many people seem to think.  I do not detect that we are slinking away from North Korea.  It seems as though we are going to have some sort of showdown, which hopefully will all be through diplomacy.  I heard Secretary Gates say that a nuclear armed North Korea is not in the cards.  (Not verbatim but that was the gist.)

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Trip with Secretary Gates

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31 May 2009

We are in Singapore for an extra day.  This following is an official statement from Geoff Morrell, the press secretary for Secretary Gates:

"Secretary Gates has elected to delay by a day his travel to Manila. A series of mechanical problems on one of the military's specially-outfitted 747's prevented it from being flown today as scheduled. The flight crew is hard at work trying to repair the aircraft, but a back-up plane with appropriate communications capabilities is being flown into Singapore and will be available to transport the Secretary to Manila Monday morning if needed. Despite the later arrival, the Secretary still anticipates being able to conduct all of his planned engagements in Manila, including meeting with Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro and visiting with US and Philippine forces, before heading to Alaska."

The United States can't afford to have Secretary Gates without communications, even for a few hours.  If the President needs him, or something goes wrong, Secretary Gates must be plugged in.  So we are waiting for a fix and will move out shortly.

Michael Yon


Singapore--Philippines--Pakistan--Afghanistan

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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Am in Singapore to meet up with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  Unfortunately his airplane had difficulties and he is delayed.  I understand part of the trip is being trimmed down, and I detected that some of our soldiers are not happy with that.  Secretary Gates is getting increasing respect from the soldiers, and I got word that the soldiers wanted to see him.  VIP visits often are a royal pain for our folks on the ground, and so it says a lot when they are upset about not getting to host Secretary Gates.

After my trip with Secretary Gates, will do an embed with U.S. forces in the Philippines.  They are helping in the fight against some seriously bad terrorists there, and I understand that they are making progress.

After that, over to Pakistan for a short time.  An embed was approved yesterday for Afghanistan.  Back to combat for me -- not looking forward to the endless firefights and bombs -- but at least we'll have one more voice out there with the grunts.  It's hard to get firsthand reports from Afghanistan.  I'll work on that.


Jungle Baby of Borneo

1 Comment I went into a village in Iraq some years ago, and heard stories of how Saddam’s army came in, killed a lot of people and took all the pretty girls.  The pretty girls were never seen again.  I recall that the people of the village thought the girls had been sold and were still alive.  They didn’t know where, but the people thought their daughters and sisters might have ended up in the Middle East, or Africa.  Maybe there were records in Baghdad.  The villagers were very friendly to the American soldiers, and served us all a large meal.  Sometimes I still wonder what happened to those girls.

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Atomic Bomb and Suicide

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26 May 2009
 
Went into a Korean travel agency in Thailand today to buy an airline ticket.  Am heading to Singapore, Philippines, then Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The staff at the agency is Korean and their customers are nearly all Korean.  The staff looked like zombies.  Really out of it.  Dumb stares and all.  Was very strange because they truly seemed to be in shock.

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Memorial Day 2009

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25 May 2009

Searching for an opportunity to honor America's veterans this Memorial Day, a moment presented itself.  Some friends and I visited a school for blind children in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  I saw about 110 students who seemed to range in age from about six to mid-teens.  The school was clean and most of the kids seemed happy and they were cutting up like kids do.  Some of the older boys, in particular, acted in the normal crazy ways that many teen aged boys act.  Basically they were making a nuisance of themselves, but they seemed goodhearted and they listened to the teachers.  We stayed for about an hour and helped serve lunch to the kids who were very friendly and there was a lot of laughter, other than from one little girl.  She was about seven years-old and she was weeping and a teacher said that nobody had come to visit her for three months.  Her mother had disappeared.  It was heartbreaking to see her crying for her mother.  The little girl has nobody other than the teachers at the school.

I made a donation to the school in honor of America's veterans and drove away very saddened.

Michael


Tracking Afghanistan

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Afghanistan Veteran, 23 year-old Royal Marine Craig Tucker
19 May 2009

American Special Operations Forces are eager to receive tracking training, but very few attain any tracking skills that extend much beyond common experience.  This reality translates into a profound and unnecessary weakness.  An experienced Green Beret who spent years as an Army Ranger recently told me, “Getting our guys to tracking school is almost an act of congress.”

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Blackfive

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19 May 2009

Blackfive is an All-American organization all the time.  For years now, the writers at Blackfive have been doing what's right by our country, our military, and normal people like you and me.

Please see the latest important initiative from Blackfive, and as the Memorial Day approaches, remember that our great Nation was not built by the government, but by the people.

Warrior Legacy Foundation

Blackfive home


Swine Flu: A Spot Report

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18 May 2009

Concerns over swine flu can cause unexpected travel delays.  Recently, more than 150 British service members were quarantined for at least one day when they arrived in Brunei for a scheduled training exercise.  The U.K. has excellent relations with Brunei, but nobody has excellent relations with swine flu.

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Bob Gates: Secretary of War

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18 May 2009

Bob Gates is a straight-talker.  He's not glossing over anything or trying to put lipstick on a screeching pig.  We saw this happening some years ago before he took office.  Back when I first went to the war, I didn't trust the U.S. government any further than I could see with my own eyes.  The lies and half-truths flowed from Washington D.C. like the mighty Mississippi.  Nothing much has changed in that regard; today more than ever, I don't trust "the government" to be truthful with us.

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PakAf: Sickest Story of the Month

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As we pour money into Pakistan, Pakistan apparently is pouring money into producing more nuclear weapons.  I've been inappropriately calling this rumbling volcano the "AfPak" war, when it should more accurately be called "PakAf."  Afghanistan per se is tantamount to being irrelevant, but is made relevant due to its proximity to the real battlefront: Pakistan.  The PakAf war stands every chance to overshadow anything we saw in Iraq.  It can be argued that our primary reason for this war no longer is al Qaeda, but Pakistan's nuclear arsenal that we are, in essence, helping to fund.  The Indians must be fuming, and rightfully so.  Of course the Chinese and Russians and Iranians and many others are watching.  Einstein was quoted as saying that he didn't know with what weapons World War III would be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  This would sit well with the Taliban and al Qaeda. At this rate, the meek truly shall inherit the earth.

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Military Amends Directive for Contractors to Wear Body Armor

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Sunday, 17 May 2009

The military has amended a recent directive that civilian contractors at Kandahar Airfield must wear body armor while outdoors, even while on base.  Among other issues that the directive failed to consider, most civilian contractors who never leave base probably have no body armor.  In fact, I know contractors who regularly leave base without armor of any sort.  Afghan police have stolen body armor from some contractors.  Often, the only security some contractors have derives from traveling low profile.  During late 2008, I was a passenger for approximately a thousand miles around Afghanistan.  We drove in a regular unarmored vehicle.  There were no dramas.

Happy Sunday,

Michael


General Lee Returns

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14 May 2009

During Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Iraq, I got to know Lieutenant Brad Krauss and his crew.  They had fought in many places around Iraq and were nearing the end of their tours.  His men showed great respect for their Stryker vehicle, which is normal for soldiers who use great gear.  Soldiers often name their weapons and vehicles, but this crew had a particular reverence for the “General Lee,” which by this time had been blown up so badly that it eventually was hauled back to the United States.  Back in 2007, I wrote about the crew and the General Lee, which landed on FoxNews.com.  The reputation of the General Lee and its crew kept going from there.  Recently, I got an email from a high ranking soldier along with some photos of the General Lee.  One of the photos included civilians who keep the Strykers rolling.  And so I contacted the now Captain Brad Krauss (promoted from lieutenant) asking if he would write a few words about his crew and the General Lee.  Brad’s a bit modest about all the fighting they really did.  They had a full-on combat tour in Iraq, helping to break al Qaeda’s back in various cities, such as this recounting in “Surrender or Die.”

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