Calling BULLSHIT on Rolling Stone

244 Comments

29 March 2011

Seldom do I waste time with rebutting articles, and especially not from publications like Rolling Stone.  Today, numerous people sent links to the latest Rolling Stone tripe.  The story is titled “THE KILL TEAM, THE FULL STORY.”  It should be titled: “BULLSHIT, from Rolling Stone.”

The story—not really an “article”—covers Soldiers from 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in Afghanistan.  A handful of Soldiers were accused of murder.  It does in fact appear that a tiny group of rogues committed premeditated murder.  I was embedded with the 5/2 SBCT and was afforded incredible access to the brigade by the Commander, Colonel Harry Tunnell, and the brigade Command Sergeant Major, Robb Prosser.  I know Robb from Iraq.  Colonel Tunnell had been shot in Iraq.

The brigade gave me open access.  I could go anywhere, anytime, so long as I could find a ride, which never was a problem beyond normal combat problems.  If they had something to hide, it was limited and I didn’t find it.  I was not with the Soldiers accused of murder and had no knowledge of this.  It is important to note that the murder allegations were not discovered by media vigilance, but by, for instance, at least one Soldier in that tiny unit who was appalled by the behavior.  A brigade is a big place with thousands of Soldiers, and in Afghanistan they were spread thinly across several provinces because we decided to wage war with too few troops.  Those Soldiers accused of being involved in (or who should have been knowledgeable of) the murders could fit into a minivan.  You would need ten 747s for the rest of the Brigade who did their duty.  I was with many other Soldiers from 5/2 SBCT.  My overall impression was very positive.  After scratching my memory for negative impressions from 5/2 Soldiers, I can’t think of any, actually, other than the tiny Kill Team who, to my knowledge, I never set eyes upon.

The online edition of the Rolling Stone story contains a section with a video called “Motorcycle Kill,” which includes our Soldiers gunning down Taliban who were speeding on a motorcycle toward our guys.  These Soldiers were also with 5/2 SBCT, far away from the “Kill Team” later accused of the murders.  Rolling Stone commits a literary “crime” by deceptively entwining this normal combat video with the Kill Team story.  The Taliban on the motorcycle were killed during an intense operation in the Arghandab near Kandahar City.  People who have been to the Arghandab realize the extreme danger there.  The Soviets got beaten horribly in the Arghandab, despite throwing everything including the Soviet kitchen sink into the battle that lasted over a month.  Others fared little better.  To my knowledge, 5/2 and supporting units were the first ever to take Arghandab, and these two dead Taliban were part of that process.

The killing of the armed Taliban on the motorcycle was legal and within the rules of engagement.  Law and ROE are related but separate matters.  In any case, the killing was well within both the law and ROE.  The Taliban on the back of the motorcycle raised his rifle to fire at our Soldiers but the rifle did not fire.  I talked at length with several of the Soldiers who were there and they gave me the video.  There was nothing to hide.  I didn’t even know about the story until they told me.  It can be good for Soldiers to shoot and share videos because it provides instant replay and lessons learned.  When they gave me the video and further explained what happened, I found the combat so normal that I didn’t even bother publishing it, though I should have because that little shooting of the two Taliban was the least of the accomplishments of these Soldiers, and it rid the Arghandab of two Taliban.

Some people commented that our Soldiers used excessive force by firing too many bullets.  Hogwash.  And besides, they were trying to kill each other.  Anyone who has seen much combat with our weak M-4 rifles realizes that one shot is generally not enough, and the Taliban were speeding at them on a motorbike, which very often are prepared as suicide bombs.  If that motorcycle had been a bomb, as they often are, and got inside the group of Soldiers and exploded, they could all have been killed.  Just yesterday, in Paktika, three suicide attackers came in, guns blazing, and detonated a huge truck bomb.  Depending on which reports you read, about twenty workers were killed and about another fifty wounded.

In the video, our guys would have been justified in firing twice that many bullets, but at some point you are wasting ammo and that is a combat sin.  The Soldiers involved in that shooting told me that the Taliban on the back may have pulled the AK trigger, but the loaded AK did not fire because the Taliban didn’t have a round in the chamber.  Attention to detail.  At least one also had an ammunition rack strapped across his chest.

This could go on for pages, but Rolling Stone is not worth it, and thrashing them might only build their readership.  I’ve found in the past that boycotts work.  I led a boycott against one magazine and it went bankrupt.  It’s doubtful that Rolling Stone will go bankrupt for its sins, but you can cost them money not by boycotting their magazine, but by boycotting their advertisers.  That hurts.  Just pick an advertiser whose products you already buy, boycott it, and tell the advertiser why you are not buying their product.

Now I’ve got to get back to work.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 7 years ago
    It is the CONTEXT that is disturbing. If they want to make a point, don't do it deceptively. We get enough of that from the Government.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Derek · 7 years ago
    I'm currently serving in Iraq in a non combat role, and I want to thank you for your constant fair and balanced reporting on our soldiers. Your spot on when you call out the wrongdoing, and spot on in pointing out when there is no wrongdoing to be heard of.

    Thank you for your work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    scarface · 7 years ago
    Unless you've been in combat, your opinion is irrelevent. The entire combat landscape needs to be considered.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jonathan White · 7 years ago
    Mikle, Spot on.
    We had the same situation in Sangin last year. A motorcycle bomber tried to infiltrate the market place. He was spotted by a Cpl and a Pte sodier-both from Rifles who tried to stop him, gave warning shouts, fired and then shot the motorcyclist who initiated the bomb. this killed them both but in doing so they saved everyone in Sangin Market. Like to see that reported in Rolling Stone!!

    Keep safe, move fast- long ime since Telic 9 at BAS with Lancs
  • This commment is unpublished.
    frank · 7 years ago
    Thanks for the update have never read rolling stone and will certainly not start now.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charlie Foxtrot · 7 years ago
    Well done soldier. And as I have not read RS in lo these many years, this lets me know that I am not missing anything. Bullshit indeed. And as has been said about being in the willywags, you ain't getting paid to bring ammo back. God Bless You and thank you for telling us the real news. Check six. Semper Fidelis
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cliff · 7 years ago
    I am so thankful for your e-mail today. Yesterday I watched the Rolling Stone video and was appalled at how they portrayed the action taking place. Today I am sending this to as many people as I can.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dan · 7 years ago
    The point (?) of the article seems to be that our lads didn't give Terry a chance to sit down and dialogue before dispatching them to the 79 virgins and that they shot video of the aftermath. Heavens, what a violation of the rules of cricket! The whole thing lasted what, five seconds? If there had been a bomb on the bike, no video or soldiers would have survived. Good for our side!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Melissa Achtien · 7 years ago
    Thank you for this. I have been watching coverage of the story on the news and it is so disturbing. We have someone in Afghanistan now and I feel this story will just add to the danger he already faces everyday. I know he is a good solder and would never tolerate this from the men he leads. I hope the Afghanis see that the USA is prosecuting these criminals.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chuck Van Meter · 7 years ago
    I agree with Scarface, every situation in combat is unique and must be reviewed in context. Objective journalism is rare with a few notable exceptions.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Claudia Ochsner · 7 years ago
    Just Thank you for support the good fight. Keep up your brave and important work!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    namwob51 · 7 years ago
    I read the story in Rolling Stone yesterday on face book and was very pissed the way they portrayed our soldiers. It's media coverage like this that get the population in an uproar. There needs to be some way to check out the stories before they are printed. I will never read another article from Rolling Stone.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank DiMeo · 7 years ago
    Thanks for standing up for our troops against the biased media.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jason McDaniel · 7 years ago
    Mr. Yon,

    First off, thanks for your no BS writing. I recommend your blog to all my fellow Soldiers. I am currently serving in Afghanistan and appreciate your take on this situation. And I will take up your boycott suggestion and encourage others to do likewise.

    I have a question though: why was Abu Ghraib such a big deal and this is not? I have been expecting a major media crapstorm over this and am amazed at the lack of attention it is getting in proportion to Abu. Is it because of Japan? Libya?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MikeR · 7 years ago
    That Rolling Stone article reeks of Jann Wenner and his "New Left" or "Hippie" political agenda; pure bullshit, at it's worst.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Don Liveley · 7 years ago
    Shimon Perez talks about the importance of moral shame in the public forum. That is to humiliate based on a moral premise the actions of others. Wished Israel was more effective at this. This is one of those cases. Rolling Stone will always have a core constituency of readers that blindly go where no idiot has gone before. Seems to me though that the challenge is really Pakistan and Afghanistan is a sideshow or inclusive sideshow.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James · 7 years ago
    Rolling Stone's been doing it for a long time, thank you for bringing it to light with a first hand viewpoint. You do fantastic reporting and give due honor to our soldiers.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jake Havechek · 7 years ago
    Your blog sucks, and you're a Nazi. :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron Handke · 7 years ago
    Having served years ago, Cuban Conflict. I stll follow the current events overseas, thanks to you. That said, Rolling Stones is nothing more than a crowd gathering magazine, that sells there side of the story, mainly to idiots and pot heads as they always have. Your articles are continued to bring out facts, good or bad, but from the front lines. Keep up the great work as this gives us first hand info about what is happening, like it or not.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron Handke · 7 years ago
    You Butthead "takes one to know one" except this time you are the only one !!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul Garner · 7 years ago
    Mike;

    I have only read Rolling Stone once and that was when I was in a dentist's office and the choice was The Dental Review and Rolling Stone. Bad choice. Like the idea of boycotting advertisers so will scan RS at the grocery store today and make note of advertisers whose products I normally buy, then let them know why I am boycotting their products. Hopefully it will help.

    Bugger the bastards!!!

    The Old Sarge
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter · 7 years ago
    Michael,
    I like the boycott idea. Who is an advertiser, because I have never read RS?
    yours,
    Peter
  • This commment is unpublished.
    The Interface · 7 years ago
    Rolling Stoned presented a biased report? I am shocked!
    :-*


    Not!

    Thanks for the rebuttal, Mr. Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Evans · 7 years ago
    My first message was to Jim Beam whiskey which I am a consumer of. I told them I will not buy another bottle until they stop advertising in Rolling Stone magazine.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim · 7 years ago
    There is no depravity worse than stealing the honor of our troops. You can not equate the sins of an incredible minority with the wins or the vast majority. Do not lament growing old - it is a privilige far too of our warriors get to enjoy.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Imhoff · 7 years ago
    It was obvious that the soldiers thought they were to be fired upon. The soldier in the lead says something about him "drawing down on me". I couldn't see the weapon on the motorcycle but it seemed clear that the soldiers thought there was one. I therefor was completely confused by the Rolling Stone article.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thankful Citizen · 7 years ago
    I've never served, but I watched the video on RS' site yesterday. To my untrained eyes it looked totally legit. RS's big gripe was that the soldiers were taking pictures! "A clear violation...." Maybe we should equip every solider and Marine with a body camera. Our police wear them and use them in their cars. As in this case, they would definitely confirm that our boys are under constant attack from unscrupulous war criminals. I thought our kids did a great job. One thing the video does show is how fast paced, intense and terrifying combat is. I was stunned after the first :05 seconds. I am so grateful to those young men.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    RICK · 7 years ago
    I just love how these fucking tree huggers can sit in their comfy offices thousands of miles away safe with their carmel machiattos and $200 shoes and criticize these brave soldiers who do an impossible job. Well done Mr. Yon. Your bullshit detector is working fine. Keep up the good work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Republicus Maximus · 7 years ago
    Gen Curtis LeMay, Commander of SAC, said it well, "Kill enough of them and they quit fighting."
    It's too bad we don't wage real war in Afghan. If we did, we might be out of there in months. I am not concerned with a handful of dead muslim terrorists.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robin · 7 years ago
    Please leave potheads out of this. RS is a rag, but not all potheads like that stuff. I just don't like the taste of alcohol.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tyler · 7 years ago
    I'm all in favor of boycotting RS's advertisers on this poor reporting and misleading bit. It feels like a citizen's duty, and the smallest thing one could do to honor the honorable in uniform.

    One of Rolling Stone's advertisers is Garnier, a shampoo line of L'Oreal, HQ'd in France. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Or%C3%A9al

    Garnier can specifically be contacted by hitting this link: http://www.garnierusa.com/_en/_us/services/home_contact.aspx.

    Not just 'not purchasing', but also letting them know you are not purchasing is effective.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tyler · 7 years ago
    See my post below.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tyler · 7 years ago
    See my post about boycotting below.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shukri · 7 years ago
    The damage was not done by Rolling Stone but by the soldiers involved. They deliberately killed a 15 year old kid for crying out loud. Who knows how many other civilians they killed? They have singlehandedly managed to severely damage US credibility and endanger the life of other troops who will be associated by the Afghans with this atrocity. I don't blame Rolling Stone for giving this story coverage.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Irene · 5 years ago
      Shukri, thank you for being the voice of reason on here.Everyone is complaining about the so called music video and not the murder of an innocent teen. Yes, as an American tax payer, my opinion is Relevant. Soldiers or cops are not entitled to abuse their power on any brown people they deal with. Wake up! At least RS magazine had the balls to cover what Fox News won't.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Black Sabbath · 7 years ago
    OK, everyone. Who are we boycotting?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Vicki · 7 years ago
    Thanks for the Garnier link, I just sent them an email saying I won't buy their brought as long as they advertise with RS, POS rag publication.

    Thanks Mike for the clarification.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Vicki · 7 years ago
    Won't buy their product!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Helen · 7 years ago
    Jason, thank you so much for your service. My answer to your question re: the lack of attention most likely has more to do with who's president than anything else. Take care and remain safe!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Danny P · 7 years ago
    Totally stand behingd you on that Mike. Rolling Stone is full of it.. I saw that video immediately after it happened. "Did you see that MothaF%$#@! try to draw down on me" hahaha.. They were dirty and got waxed, way to go 1-17 Buffalo's
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Josh Griffing, CPT · 7 years ago
    Pity I don't know any of RS's sponsors. Do I boycott Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show? :lol:
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Anne · 7 years ago
    But But But where is all the lefty outrage and blame of the president over war atrocities...oh wait a minute...it's a democrap in the White House so it's ALL good!.... stupid hypocrites
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ghoht · 7 years ago
    Any suggestions on products to boycott?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 7 years ago
    Just got an email from FOX News. They asked to run this as an editorial and I agreed.

    Would be nice to see a boycott of Rolling Stone advertisers take traction.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cullen · 7 years ago
    Shoot the messenger much?

    How much of the factual writing of the article is subject to doubt or consideration?

    Agreed if they took the video out of context it is lamentable, but how many *facts* in the supporting text were wrong?

    And if this is a small, rogue unit in a much larger brigade-size force, why the cover up? Why have no officers been charged? Are you saying a squad leader is really that autonomous in Afghanistan?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Uncle Grumpy · 7 years ago
    "Shukri"] "the soldiers involved...deliberately killed a 15 year old kid..." Boo-hoo. Obviously, a 15 year old "kid" with AK-47 poses no threat to anyone, right? You delusional Leftists seem to think that everyone in a combat zone wears a uniform. "how many other civilians they killed?" Who knows? When the "civilians" and "soldiers" all try to look alike, it's impossible to separate one from the other. But guess want? THEY WANT IT THAT WAY! "...this atrocity.?" No, honey. It's a combat action. And as one who spent time in combat, I can assure you, it's NEVER pretty and sanitized look you've been led to believe by Hollyweird. "I don't blame Rolling Stone for giving this story coverage." Me neither. I just blame them for their lies and their "hate American" slant.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 7 years ago
    [quote name="Cullen"]Shoot the messenger much?

    How much of the factual writing of the article is subject to doubt or consideration?

    Agreed if they took the video out of context it is lamentable, but how many *facts* in the supporting text were wrong?

    And if this is a small, rogue unit in a much larger brigade-size force, why the cover up? Why have no officers been charged? Are you saying a squad leader is really that autonomous in Afghanistan?[/quote]

    Mr Cullen,

    Am not going to analyze the parts of the story that I don't have direct knowledge about, but the part that I do have direct knowledge about is garbage. And so I cannot put stock in the rest. Not from Rolling Stone, anyway. Source IS very important. Rolling Stone -- very poor source rating...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dori · 7 years ago
    Thx Michael for your observations. I don't really see Rolling Stone (and never have) as a reliable source of any kind of news. They have seemed to me, to be biased and generally anti-U.S.A. Actually, imho, that is generally true of the American media.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Huntingmoose · 7 years ago
    There is also a smear-Palin campaign here:

    "Morlock was the kind of bad-news kid who the Army might have passed on. He grew up not far from Sarah Palin in Wasilla, Alaska; his sister hung out with Bristol, and Morlock played hockey against Track."

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/photos/the-kill-team-photos-20110327/0854086

    what could be the benefit of mentioning her here in this context? And to mention the connection with her because her son, o gosh, once played hockey AGAINST him?

    by the way: we are not supposed to look at our commander in chief who happened to walk through the living room of 2 terrorists (Ayres and his wife) when he started his run for office. The difference here is once is by accidental proximity, the other by intention.

    May be the rolling stones reporter should smoke less pot or use less heroine, two drugs that make you resp. stupid and a liar because you cannot distinguish any longer truth from facts.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JJ · 7 years ago
    http://www.jimbeam.com/global_pages/contact_us
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    Ice Nine · 7 years ago
    >>"Some people commented that our Soldiers used excessive force by firing too many bullets.'

    The degree of gall of *internet commenters* deciding what number of rounds these seasoned grunts should fire at a couple Taliban with an AK bearing down on them is absolutely staggering.

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