Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Green Beret Loses Race and Wins a Battle

17 Comments

First published: 10 June 2009
Mindanao Island, Philippines

After one week of close access to some key players in this conflict, I can make one certain statement: This is a complex war. As for the complexity of the human terrain, the Philippines is the “Afghanistan of the Sea.” There are great differences, of course. The Republic of the Philippines is a functioning democracy with a professional military and it’s not bordering Pakistan and Iran, yet the human terrain here is far more complex than that of Iraq or even Afghanistan. Physical terrain shapes human terrain. Afghanistan has deserts, mountains and valleys, while this place has the sea, thousands of islands, and mountains and valleys. Physical barriers create separate languages and cultures.

Read more: Green Beret Loses Race and Wins a Battle

Jolo

9 Comments

05 June 2009

This is the nicest war I’ve ever been to. Outside Magazine seems to think the same:

Read more: Jolo

Philippines

8 Comments

03 June 2009
Mindanao

The southern Philippines has been a festering bed for international terrorists for decades.  Direct links with al Qaeda and associated groups, such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), are conclusively established.  These groups are collectively responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people from dozens of countries.  JI, for instance, was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, including my friend Beata Pawlak.

Read more: Philippines

Close Combat

5 Comments

02 June 2009

U.S. and Philippine troops are closely cooperating in the fight against terrorists.  After duty, these men practice knife fighting and “Arnis.”  Arnis is a form of stick fighting popular in the Philippines.

Read more: Close Combat

U.S. Navy in the Philippines

1 Comment

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.

Read more: U.S. Navy in the Philippines

Secretary Gates in Singapore

39 Comments

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.)

Read more: Secretary Gates in Singapore

Trip with Secretary Gates

3 Comments

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

5 Comments

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.

Read more: Jungle Baby of Borneo

Atomic Bomb and Suicide

6 Comments

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.

Read more: Atomic Bomb and Suicide

Memorial Day 2009

4 Comments

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

10 Comments

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.”

Read more: Tracking Afghanistan

Blackfive

Write a comment

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


Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins