Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

A Photo for You

44 Comments

Luang Prabang, Laos
07 April 2009

The sun had already set when I settled the bill at l’Elephant and walked up the darkening street away from the Mekong.  This small town with French ambiance and Asian culture is calming, very calming compared to the wars.
 
The night was cool and quiet and there were no mosquitoes.  No sounds of birds although I saw a few sparrows.  During my last trip to Laos, I ate baked swallows along with beetle soup.  People eat practically everything in Laos.  Fresh bats can be bought in a local market, and live frogs whose legs have been broken.  Without refrigeration, they keep the frogs alive so the meat will not spoil, and break their legs to prevent escape.

Read more: A Photo for You

Classic

6 Comments

07 April 2009

War correspondent Matt Sanchez emailed saying he authored this FOX story.

Mr. Sanchez also wrote:

"You're looking at this from a rational, dispassionate, journalistic point of view--that's a mistake.  I wrote that article on Mexico and I had one side calling me a traitor (Sanchez denouncing Mexico) another side claiming I was slandering gun dealers and insisting I was a New York liberal.  You just can't win in this one.  Stick to the facts."

Read more: Classic

American Guns and Mexicans

85 Comments

06 April 2009

It would appear that the Mexico situation carries enough emotional potential – in North America – to dwarf anything we saw on Iraq.  Afghanistan is more like a martial metronome, or a software program that’s running in the background; we only notice when it crashes.

Read more: American Guns and Mexicans

Taliban Beating Girl

18 Comments

05 April 2009
Luang Prabang, Laos

A concerned reader passed this along.  Gateway Pundit posted commentary and a video link of Taliban savages flogging a girl in public.  I recommend viewing this disturbing video.  While watching, one can only dream of a bunch of U.S. Marines bursting in to confront these savages man to man.  Please watch the video on Gateway Pundit -- Where Hope Finally Made a Comeback -- and spread the link far and wide.


Dear Mexico: Stop Whining

7 Comments

03 April 2009

Speaking not as a writer, but only as an American citizen, there are a few “irritants” as one learns more about the AmMex drug/criminal war.  Firstly, there seems little doubt that many guns are coming from the United States.  And so on this issue, the United States seems to be taking most of the blame.  Okay, got it, though the main points remain in dispute at this time.  Yet when we switch the subject to drugs, suddenly the United States is also to blame because we are the big user.

Read more: Dear Mexico: Stop Whining

Black Market

1 Comment

03 April 2009

I’m heading to Laos in a few hours and so comms likely will be tenuous.  Meanwhile, the war continues to unfold.  A reader sent the following story about the black market of war supplies in Pakistan.  I saw the same in Iraq.  Up in the Kurdish region, there are vibrant markets selling, for instance, AN PVS-14 night vision gear.  The same kind that most of the soldiers and I use in combat.  American uniforms are sold, and most anything else imaginable.  I recall seeing similar items, only Russian, being sold in Polish markets during the early 90s.  I bought a Russian night vision device.  It was terrible compared to ours.  There are also vibrant black markets outside of U.S. military bases in the United States.  This is not the end of the world.  Just another “thing.”

Read more: Black Market

Wife Rape

13 Comments

03 April 2009
 
The "law" is a fascinating topic.  When I was young, I read many dozens of books written by lawyers.  When the vignette linked below landed on my desk, it conjured memories of stories about American trials wherein wives accused husbands of rape.  Yet often the courts did not recognize that it was legally possible for a husband to rape his wife.  This was America.

Read more: Wife Rape

Jingle Bombs, Jingle Bombs

28 Comments

Jingle all the Way

1 April 2009

Hidden compartments don’t mean much to man’s best friend.  This working puppy found enough Emulite to kill hundreds of people.  Needless to say, the soldiers and contractors treat these dogs like royalty.  There is no exaggeration whatsoever in saying that the working dogs are treated far better than our soldiers.  (Not that anyone complains, but it is humorous for everyone to see that the dogs get treated even better than Air Force personnel, who are treated 2x better than soldiers, who are treated 5x better than Marines.  That means bomb dogs are treated at least 10x better than Marines.)

Read more: Jingle Bombs, Jingle Bombs

Obama plan for Afghanistan, Pakistan short on bold

13 Comments

2 April 2009

President Obama's new plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak) was eagerly anticipated. I first reported from Afghanistan in early 2006 that the war was being lost, so any new plan to address the problems is at least three years late. This is not Mr. Obama's fault, but it is his problem.

During his March 27 announcement, Mr. Obama said that critical assets were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. That's true, but it's not the only reason why Afghanistan is in trouble. For a variety of reasons - history, geography, people - Iraq is remarkably different than AfPak.

Please Click to view entire article in the Washington Times.


Obama's Afghanistan plan moves much too cautiously

2 Comments

1 April 2009 

President Obama announced a goal to stand up 216,000 Afghan security forces by 2011. This falls far short of assessments by our own military that a security force of 400,000 is needed to secure Afghanistan.

Today there are 80,000 Afghan police and 82,000 soldiers in various stages of readiness. Obama's aim to train 54,000 new soldiers and police in 33 months, which equals about 1,600 new recruits a month, is less than bold. At this rate, approximately a dozen years and hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed to reach 400,000. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

Read more: Obama's Afghanistan plan moves much too cautiously

Please Remember that the British Government is not the British Soldier

9 Comments

31 March 2009

I am very proud of the British units I was in combat with in Iraq: 2 Rifles, 4 Rifles, Queen's Royal Lancers, Duke of Lancasters, 2 Para (Afghanistan).

This writer would return to combat with any of these units at the drop of a hat.  Big politics is one thing, but these soldiers are something that the United Kingdom should be proud of.  As an American, I am proud to know them.  I'll prove my point by contacting the British Army right now to request they take me back with them in combat.

Read more: Please Remember that the British Government is not the British Soldier

Brothers at War -- Screenings

8 Comments

31 March 2009

Gary Sinise has gotten personally involved with helping to promote this movie.  I am in Asia (Thailand/Singapore/Laos/Malaysia) and have not yet seen it, but the reviews are outstanding.  I spoke at length yesterday with the Director/Producer Jake Rademacher, and I asked Mr. Rademacher to send a schedule of film screenings. 

Read more: Brothers at War -- Screenings

Tons of Arms Flowing into Mexico, But From Where?

98 Comments

30 March 2009

Nobody seems to dispute that tons of weapons apparently are flowing into Mexico.  A big question is, where are they coming from?  The only casualties assured to occur are those people who are shot by the real guns from the questionable sources, and the truth.  There are almost certainly people within the U.S. government who would fit the facts to fit their agendas, and there are vast numbers of citizens who would do the same.  Iraq and Afghanistan provide stark international reminders of this on the global scale.  It seemed that every cranny of government and civilian political organizations, overtly lied or spackled over inconvenient facts that did not lead to pre-determined outcomes for Iraq, in particular.

Read more: Tons of Arms Flowing into Mexico, But From Where?

Obama on Afghanistan: Disappointing

37 Comments

27 March 2009

President Obama has just spoken on AfPak.  I closed my eyes and listened closely to his words, coming via the BBC from the other side of the world.

The President's words were disappointing.  He talked about our goal to reach a force level of 134,000 Afghan soldiers and 82,000 police by 2011.  This is not even in the neighborhood of being enough.  Further, the increase of 21,000 U.S. troops is likely just a bucket of water on the growing bonfire.  One can only expect that sometime in 2010, the President will again be forced to announce another increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Read more: Obama on Afghanistan: Disappointing

Waiting...

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27 March 2009

Many of us are waiting -- not so patiently -- for President Obama's announcement of the new strategy on AfPak.  No matter which road we chose, it will be long and filled with liquid, political mirages.

Carlotta Gall has emerged as a premier voice on AfPak.  I've noticed over time that she seems to be ahead of the curve on reporting, and so when her name appears, my eyes focus on her words.  It remains popular to bash the New York Times, but when it comes to war reporting they are tough to match.  Alternative media sources seem to be mostly avoiding serious firsthand Afghanistan reporting.  Have any non-active duty dedicated-bloggers spent a year there yet?  I'm currently reading through the latest of about $600 worth of books on the fight -- waiting quietly in the back of the room, for today --before the rough journey ahead.  Unfortunately it looks like Mexico might fill the off-seasons from AfPak.

Read more: Waiting...

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