Dead Taliban in Chora

(A raw, unedited note from war.)

dead-talibanimg_9436Men lining up to pay respects to killed Taliban

27 February 2011

The places have names like Sangin, Arghandab, Panjwai, Now Zad, Musa Qala, Korengal Valley, Pech Valley, Tarin Kot, or Chora.  Names that mean almost nothing to most people, but everything to others.  British, American, Dutch, Canadian, Australian, and others from far and wide, have fought and died in these places. Some lost arms, legs, eyes, their buddies, and sometimes their sanity, on these battlefields.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been at war here almost ten years.  And so I am continuing a long tour of Afghanistan to discover what is going on here.

Today, I accompanied members of Central Asia Development Group (CADG).  We drove from the town of Tarin Kot to the violent village of Chora.  A quick web search for Chora will reveal countless articles about the heavy fighting.  We took an extremely dangerous stretch of road.  We saw nary a soldier, though I am told many have died here.  Leonard Grami, the Urozgan Provincial Manager for CADG, reckons well over a hundred troops and Afghans have died on this stretch in the last 14 months, including some last week and last night.

Somehow we made it to Chora and saw that the USAID project seems to be doing fine, but while the managers checked the work, Afghan authorities dumped the body of a Taliban killed last night in nearby in fighting.  They dumped him at a “traffic circle” underneath what they call “the steeple.”  Men and boys flocked to the body and were so tight around him that they must have been almost stepping on him.  When we arrived, they pulled back for a moment, and I made a panorama of these dangerous men.  Danger was thick in the air so we did not stay long, and then we headed back across the desert to Tarin Kot.

Please take time to examine this panorama by scrolling around and using the controls or mouse to zoom in and out.  Look at the faces of these men, and you’ll see the faces of Taliban.

 

Comments   

 
+1 # Jim Rotramel 2011-02-27 17:44
The locals do not look very friendly.
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0 # Matt 2011-02-27 17:49
Mike, fantastic photo and I have a question here. What was the mood in the crowd towards this dead Taliban? Did they know him? Were they mad and want revenge for his death? Thanks for all you do.
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0 # Michael 2011-02-27 17:54
Well, there you go. That guy is the only one wearing sneakers in that whole photo. Besides the kid with the pink gumboots, he's the odd one out.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-02-27 17:56
Matt,

Hostile. Tensions were serious. I could feel the electricity snapping in that crowd. Some clearly were there paying respects. Others I do not know.
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0 # Dave 2011-02-27 18:13
Michael, would be good idea for you to examine that panorama photo again. On right-hand side there is a guy that appears to be deliberately shielding his face from the camera.

Might be time for our face recognition people to go to work, if they have enough to examine.

Thanks for putting yourself out there again. Stay safe.
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0 # gail 2011-02-27 18:21
michael
you be carefull out there. you have walked through the gates of hell.
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0 # Susan Anganes 2011-02-27 18:30
The faces of the young boys! Many look about the ages of my youngest two sons (twelve and ten). What their eyes have witnessed,I do not want to know.

Incredible picture.
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0 # Leyla 2011-02-27 18:35
Wow if a photo could tell a thousand words this one would be a best seller!

Stay Safe!

Leyla
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0 # Barb 2011-02-27 18:42
Those are some frightening images to zoom in on, these men and boys. It's hard to know your enemy. Their faces, up close as I panned your entire photo made me feel like I'd gone over to the dark side briefly... And they're not serving cookies over there. Whew. These are the boogy men; especially the ones hiding their identity, guns under the cloaks. If looks could kill, eh? Excellent photos as always, but when you feel electricity snapping where there is none, it's go time. Please stay safe and keep your instincts sharpened. I'd feel better if you were embedded with some Marines. What's up with so many of these Afghanis (Taliban?) having the same abnormality of the eyes? CHILLS~
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0 # Dan 2011-02-27 18:54
Mike, What was the crowds attitude toward you? And you taking pictures? Did any of them approach you?
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0 # Jon 2011-02-27 18:57
Wow. Of the two armed men I saw, both had red cloths (one tied on rifle, one tied on arm)--any significance to this Michael? Good guys/police? Can't imagine the taliban having this sort of identifiable uniform.
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0 # C. Ochsner 2011-02-27 19:01
Dear Michael,
You takes extremely high risks at the time. When I read your notes, watch on your pictures I realize that that is the way to go. You make the difference. Like our troops out there. I know you good enough, that I can be sure, that you choose your words with respect, without sensation greed and your pictures are that, how a former Special Former has see it. Thank you for the risk you take, for your personal sacrifice and your outstanding brave, like I know it from Iraq. Take good care of you and watch your 6! Looking forward .....Claudia
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0 # Soldier 2011-02-27 19:02
I'm nearby at the moment, nice of you to make the trip as media attention is pretty much non existant around here. Chora itself is relatively quiet, you should have come a little further down the valley to where the real war is. 8)
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0 # G8R62 2011-02-27 19:06
Photo I received is cropped at left edge of wooden box next to some fruit. Nine people visible.
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+1 # Penny 2011-02-27 19:11
What a powerful photo. Thank you for taking it.
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0 # Michael 2011-02-27 19:27
You also notice how both of the men with weapons have the same style vest on (the one with three buckles) underneath their outer vest... And you would be surprised at what the Taliban would use to identify themselves with; one area they would use a plain white piece of cloth with red writing on it and fly it like a flag at their house or in a graveyard or places like that to signify them being Taliban-friendl y locations. Frustrating, almost taunting you like that, but they get pissed off when you steal their flag. :-)

Anyway, keep up the good work, Michael, and stay safe. That picture invokes strong feelings, especially for those of us who have been there before--yet again, another good picture!
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0 # Sandra 2011-02-27 19:29
Amazing photo. The guy with the gun in the foreground. Official, regular guy or Taliban or maybe both? It was obvious they were aware of your shooting photos as several covered their faces. You guys sure are getting the once over.
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0 # bugsthefarmdog 2011-02-27 19:34
Please notice there are no women in the photo. I am a woman libber by any stretch, but in cultures where women are hidden and kept silent, you will find a society of primitive values.

Until women play a role in Afghan society, we will not see any progress towards it being a true civilization, and that's a shame.
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0 # bugsthefarmdog 2011-02-27 19:36
Typing fail. Make that "...I am NOT a women's libber by any stretch...."
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-02-27 19:40
Note: the red banded fellas were with us. That was our security. Needless to say, we were WAY outnumbered so we didn't stay long.
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0 # Taliban Country 2011-02-27 19:42
That one picture captures the problem in Afghanistan. Who the heck can you trust? No organization, no common beliefs, a bunch of savages living in the stone age. One of the best pictures I've seen in my life.
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0 # Deborah Francis 2011-02-27 19:45
Mine appeared cropped as well.... Saw no one with weapons nor one with face covered, etc. Wonder if image has been changed for security...???
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0 # Deborah Francis 2011-02-27 19:47
Mine appears cropped as well with just a few men and boys... Has the image been changed? For security?
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-02-27 19:48
No changes have been made to the images. Zero, in fact. That's straight from the camera and into the Gigapan stitching software. That software blended the 19 photos into one image.
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0 # Deborah Francis 2011-02-27 20:00
Got the "pan" thing figured out...Ooops... :oops:
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0 # Susan Anganes 2011-02-27 20:01
Click on the link "panorama" in the text to see the whole photo.
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0 # Barry Osborne 2011-02-27 20:06
Picture properties states the size is 167 megs...big enough for a panoramic photo, but it doesn't display that way. I can see the edge of a box (coffin?) and some fruit and 8 faces. Same results with Firefox and IE. No idea what's wrong.
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0 # Dennis 2011-02-27 20:07
The only way to "win" in a place like that is to give the population cause to be more afraid of you than they are of the Taliban. Inasmuch as this goes against basic American (and western)princip als the only option remaining is to get the hell out of there.
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0 # Michael Yon writer 2011-02-27 20:08
Jeff,

Please send me your email address and I will take care of it myself. NONE OF YOUR COMMENTS HAVE BEEN DELETED.
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0 # Barry Osborne 2011-02-27 20:21
Well, I followed the link on Facebook and the panoramic view works there, but not when I follow it from my email...go figure.
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0 # Shukri 2011-02-27 20:48
It's like what the soldier said about the US army retreat from Pech:

“What we figured out is that people in the Pech really aren’t anti-U.S. or anti-anything; they just want to be left alone,” “Our presence is what’s destabilizing this area.” - http://nyti.ms/f98C8p
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0 # michael wilson 2011-02-27 20:49
god Bless You- also I am still waiting for my book-- if it is in print yet-- have printed copy of paid bill-- keep safe- friend in Ft White, Fl great to follow you again stay safe mike wilson
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0 # Ken Flauding 2011-02-27 21:04
Hi Michael:
Same as Jeff here. I paid for an autographed copy ofthe prepaid book when you first announced it. I know you're good for it, so not sweating here.

As far as the photo: WOW! That pic is one of the best I've ever seen. One thing that is very striking is the absence of women and girls. Not one.
These men are at war with us, no doubt. I'm glad you were able to get out with your head.

Let me know about the bood my friend. It will be worth the wait.
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0 # Jeff Coder 2011-02-27 21:27
We do not learn from our past mistakes or our history. This is so much Vietnam deja-vu!
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0 # Adam V 2011-02-27 21:44
Amazing photo. These gigapans really give you a feel for the place that a normal photo cannot.

As for the book, which I also ordered, don't sweat it. Delays are inevitable, especially when you're on the other side of the world doing amazing work, work we get to experience for free.
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0 # David Schultz 2011-02-27 21:58
Michael, used to be the Taliban could be picked out because they were the ones wearing shoes. Does that still hold true?
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0 # Peter Olney 2011-02-27 22:00
Amazing and frightening work, Michael. Thank you! If one could only know their thoughts... or maybe it's just as well that we don't, except that in many cases we're looking at our foe.
Keep up the excellent work!
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0 # Steve 2011-02-27 22:53
...with the bicycle and the flowers...must be man love Thursday...
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0 # Robert Burrichter 2011-02-27 23:10
I found the footwear interesting... As you have mentioned in the past the enemy wears running shoes as does the dead man. If one looks at the footwear of those assembled one can see others shod with similar shoes. Does this mean his comrades are in the crowd???
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0 # youtwo1 2011-02-27 23:48
looks like a neighborhood near me in Michigan. Same looks on their faces and some of the same clothing. Sad to see these kids experiencing such an atrocity.
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0 # Caleb 2011-02-28 01:07
Michael, you stay safe! I enjoy reading your dispatches and seeing your photo's. The panoramic view is unforgettably awesome. Stay alert! :-*
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0 # take me to the river 2011-02-28 02:19
I count two smoking cigarettes, possibly three. Is that an open trait of the Taliban? Perhaps these are Taliban, but not by habit. It is difficult to tell from a photo how many are affiliated and how many are not.

I take it you did not have the opportunity to ask if the recently deceased was from the village. Still a haunting image.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-02-28 02:44
Running shoes: The excellent British tracking school in Brunei, which I attended, specifically cautions to watch for running shoes in Afghanistan. Former Marine officer Tim Lynch, a long time Afghanistan hand, cautioned me the same several years ago.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-02-28 02:47
One of the first questions I asked about the deceased was who he is and where is he from. An Afghan military translator told me he is from the next village over (which could explain why some people clearly were paying respects). The Afghan also said the man was trained in Pakistan. He said they know this because they have some Taliban from the same area in their prison.
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0 # Eric 2011-02-28 03:12
Incredible panorama from a war. It does show what our soldiers are up against...an enemy that blends in with the population.

I can't believe that you have to deal with customer service issues about your book. I think that the majority of us that ordered the book understand about delays and that you are a little busy.

Keep up the great work.
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0 # John - Capt in ANG 2011-02-28 04:36
Having spent a year there, I'd say the Western shoes (or any real footwear) is an easy tipoff. The dirt there is nasty and it'd trash any shoes worth anything. I bought Zoots (triathlon) shoes specifically because I could hose them off after outdoor runs).

I couldn't get a pan either with Firefox or Safari. I'll try with IE at work tomorrow.

I think people have to realize there's no "Against Us or For us," as well as the fact Vietnam never send a dozen people who did billions of damage. Afghanistan is Afghanistan. It's not Vietnam, Iraq, Somalia, Balkans or a litany of other places where we've (the West) been at war.

It's possible I'll be heading back next month for another year. Hopefully our southern push sets up for a better spring than last year.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-02-28 04:45
The pano link:

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/fullscreen/71603/
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0 # Hispeed 2011-02-28 04:48
Dammit! It's blocked on NIPR.
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0 # Neil 2011-02-28 05:06
What do the different styles of headwear signify? Looks like a very dangerous place for anyone from the west. It'll take 30 years or more to move these people forward, is this really the best utilization of our limited resources?
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0 # Cass 2011-02-28 05:18
My same question was deleted. You have my email.
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0 # take me to the river 2011-02-28 06:10
After looking closer, I'm guessing the smokers are not local folks at all given their garb position and most telling for the well dressed man in the middle of the picture the rather passionate discussion (it appears) with an older fellow.

Still an awesome sequence of photos, which says a great deal about the pressures found there.
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0 # Jeff Stanley 2011-02-28 06:35
Doesn't exactly look like fertile soil for planting a Jeffersonian democracy...
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0 # T 2011-02-28 09:51
more than words can say...thank you!
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0 # DA Munroe 2011-02-28 10:48
I had the opposite reaction to a lot of people here. This photograph humanized the local Afghan men for me, turning them from some faceless enemy into just a bunch of regular guys feeling bad about someone they knew who is dead. Looking at them, it's hard to believe that many of them care about much that goes on beyond their local village.
I particularly felt sorry for the boys.
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0 # smokey 2011-02-28 12:17
This is unprecedented. And the risks to get it (people have to take Michael in) what human courage is meant for. Tactical realities - purely human comprehension, such as Mr. Munroes and just down right awareness of what is happening will surely help us all. I see at least one clear instance of pure innocence in this photo. When it's said and done, individual American soldiers are fighting for that young boys enlightened response to not be in vain. If we all, from all worlds, fought for his innocence not to be lost, there may be battles, but there would be no bloody wars. With Michael on point, we are all now responsible for our own actions, words and deeds - may they match his courage and reflect his warrior hope for all of humanity to live as if the children were the cause. Good luck to all of us. We're in it now.
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0 # galen 2011-02-28 13:19
get yourself a 45 degree mirror extension so the bad guys dont know where you are pointig the lens. you ARE going to get killed soon if you arent more careful
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0 # Mill Center 2011-02-28 13:23
I noticed that left(his left) of the gentleman holding the rifle, there is a man who's head is partially covered. But what you can see is that his head is shaved or close haircut, and out of all of them has clean shoes on. Even a little shine. Odd that.
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0 # William 2011-02-28 14:43
Quoting Michael Yon writer:
Jeff -- have had my fill with this publisher. Will pass along your message now. My apologies for the sad behavior. I will not work with this publisher again. Book should be out in about a month.


Was happy to help Soilders Angels and look forward to receiving the book, but publisher won't answer my email either.
Keep up the great work. You take some amazing photos and write great stories.
To bad our news media can't be half as productive and informative as you are.
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0 # John 2011-02-28 14:59
I'm a little confused. Paying respect to a killed Taliban? Who's side are these people on?
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0 # RayJ 2011-02-28 15:04
Somewhat off topic, but I see a shop with three solar panels.
Is this common?
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0 # Greatgrandmasue 2011-02-28 15:42
My question is, "why not wipe out the entire group of Taliban while they are gathered together?"
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0 # Greatgrandmasue 2011-02-28 15:45
Don't feel too sorry for the little boys. They have been brainwashed from birth to be killers. What you see in their faces are merely replacement murderers.

The time to be sorry for them passed by at birth.
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0 # Leyla 2011-02-28 16:02
I have to add that some looked like ghosts so I can see why you called it "haunted". They looked like they were hiding so much anger, resentment, rage, you name it. The young boys had unsure looks on their faces but if you looked at some of the older teenagers they had succumbed to the dictates of their society.
This by far is the most telling of photos and by far the one that has told so much. It really is a photo that speaks volumes!
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0 # Celebrim 2011-02-28 16:59
It looks like the cast of extras from a Passion Play. I'm reminded of 'Simon the Zealot' and other dangerous men, and you definately can see how little has changed in a very long time in that part of the world.

I always feel pity for our enemies though. Some of these guys look like they could be my cousins. Most have no idea what is going on, just that someone they knew is dead. It's from those little things that wars are composed, some men fighting for a cause, some because you are fighting here, and some just because.

But don't mistake me, we have to export civilization to them rather than the other way around. Once again, the US is in a war that is as much about textbooks as bullets.
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0 # Andrem 2011-02-28 18:29
Terrific photo. Makes me so glad my boys are growing up here, but fills me with sadness and frustration that children continue to live like this in the 21st century. Sent you a few $$$ to help keep you up and running. Stay safe and many thanks for all you do.
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0 # Gregg 2011-02-28 19:11
It would seem that the man in the center of the panorama wearing brown robes, smoking a cigarette and a ruby red ring on his right hand is somewhat of a leader in this group. He has a measured and calculating stare plus numerous people are looking at him as if in anticipation of some instructions as to what they should do. Everyone else is either looking at the camera, turned away from the crowd, or looking at the body. This man is surveying the entire area with a measured gaze. Additionally, his posture and composure says a lot about his position in the community. It would seem that this is the man you really need to watch out for.
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0 # Bill Brent 2011-02-28 21:26
Michael, can you explain the significance, if any, of the different types of headwear?
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0 # belmer 2011-02-28 22:08
this is not far from a seventeenth century art work.
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0 # Peter 2011-02-28 22:23
If these are the faces of Taliban, it is a good reminder that they look essentially no different from University of Texas fans watching their Longhorns play this year. Do we look at paintings of our Founding Fathers and think, "Now there's a dangerous looking one"? The Taliban are made, not born.
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0 # Joe 2011-03-01 05:05
I hate to put a damper on the love fest (I love your work), but I haven't gotten my copy of Inside the Inferno, either. The publisher hasn't responded to my emails either. I sent you an email, too, a couple of weeks ago, but haven't heard back.
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0 # Zeeko 2011-03-01 05:15
Looking at the stitcher notes, the whole image was captured in 14 seconds.

Hey, tech tip - you can shoot the panoramas in portrait mode, and gigapan will stitch them vertically, export a tiff from the stitcher, rotate it in photoshop, then use the gigapan uploader to post it. Yeoww. Makes my landscape panoramas feel pretty tame...
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0 # Webbiegrrl Writer 2011-03-01 10:47
Bravo for the remarks about the dearth of female faces. What I noticed immediately was the fact that about 40% of these people are children--and I mean under the age of 16, probably between 12 and 16. It's not immediately noticeable since several of the young boys are tall already--or the grown men are short, or both.

The cultural approval of using children as soldiers is right in step with the cultural exclusion of women as participating members of the leadership. We Americans are, by no means, socially capable of fully-empowerin g women, ourselves, but we don't exclude to such an extreme extent.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-03-01 11:35
Quoting Joe:
I hate to put a damper on the love fest (I love your work), but I haven't gotten my copy of Inside the Inferno, either. The publisher hasn't responded to my emails either. I sent you an email, too, a couple of weeks ago, but haven't heard back.


Joe -- I did not receive an email from you but just asked the publisher to contact you. My apologies for the delays with the book. It's an awesome book.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-03-01 11:36
Quoting Zeeko:
Looking at the stitcher notes, the whole image was captured in 14 seconds.

Hey, tech tip - you can shoot the panoramas in portrait mode, and gigapan will stitch them vertically, export a tiff from the stitcher, rotate it in photoshop, then use the gigapan uploader to post it. Yeoww. Makes my landscape panoramas feel pretty tame...


Had to move fast; clearly there was immediate danger of being killed. Got the shot and got out.
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0 # Skytrooper 2011-03-01 16:40
I think dumping the bodies of the Taliban into the street by the ANA is a serious mistake. First, "disdain not your enemy": a lack of respect for them by the ANA will definitely result in tactical blunders.. the second you stop respecting your enemy he will surprise you. Secondly, it goes off message: isn't the narrative supposed to be that the Taliban are backwards savages and that the coalition is here to bring stability and progress?
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-03-01 16:59
Quoting Skytrooper:
I think dumping the bodies of the Taliban into the street by the ANA is a serious mistake. First, "disdain not your enemy": a lack of respect for them by the ANA will definitely result in tactical blunders.. the second you stop respecting your enemy he will surprise you. Secondly, it goes off message: isn't the narrative supposed to be that the Taliban are backwards savages and that the coalition is here to bring stability and progress?


I documented what unfolded before me and without comment.
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0 # PhilMB 2011-03-01 19:45
Skytrooper - Not sure that there is a lack of respect for dropping the body there. I noticed that the dead Taliban still had his watch and a shoe as well as his other clothing. That was likely the safest place for them to get him back to his kin.

I also noted that a couple of the men held prayer beads. Is it possible that this was an impromptu prayer gathering or funeral?

Great pictures, and the GigaPan process really shows off your incredible eye for detail most of us would miss otherwise. Thank you.
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0 # Webbiegrrl Writer 2011-03-02 09:31
Hey Michael, Like Joe and everyone else, I still haven't gotten my copy of the new book and the last word from your publisher was "no later than March 1st" - I also never got the copy of the OTHER book she was going to have sent to me by your assistant, though I sent him my address right away, well over a month ago. So now there are TWO things not leaving the black hole in your absence.

I know you're on the other side of the world, but (excuse me, I cannot resist the opportunity for the line) what we have here is a failure to communicate :-( Isn't there any way for you to address this and post some kind of update for us all, those of us who already paid our ticket and want our dance? :-)

Thanks!

-sry
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0 # Michael Yon.coml 2011-03-02 09:36
Quoting PhilMB:
Skytrooper - Not sure that there is a lack of respect for dropping the body there. I noticed that the dead Taliban still had his watch and a shoe as well as his other clothing. That was likely the safest place for them to get him back to his kin.

I also noted that a couple of the men held prayer beads. Is it possible that this was an impromptu prayer gathering or funeral?

Great pictures, and the GigaPan process really shows off your incredible eye for detail most of us would miss otherwise. Thank you.


Thank you. In other photos that I did not publish, clearly some were paying respects to the man who is said to have attacked the police the night before.
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0 # Michael Yon.coml 2011-03-02 09:47
[quote name="Webbiegrr l Writer"]Hey Michael, Like Joe and everyone else, I still haven't gotten my copy of the new book and the last word from your publisher was "no later than March 1st" - I also never got the copy of the OTHER book she was going to have sent to me by your assistant, though I sent him my address right away, well over a month ago. So now there are TWO things not leaving the black hole in your absence.

I know you're on the other side of the world, but (excuse me, I cannot resist the opportunity for the line) what we have here is a failure to communicate :-( Isn't there any way for you to address this and post some kind of update for us all, those of us who already paid our ticket and want our dance? :-)

Thanks!

-sry[/quote

Sarah,

Am very unhappy with the situation and have passed your message along to the publisher. My apologies.

Michael
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-1 # Webbiegrrl Writer 2011-03-02 23:52
Thank you, Michael, and I've gotten a reply via email from your assistant here, but honestly, I think EVERYONE would like a note -- posted by YOU -- on your blog here. You know, an announcement or some such for anyone and everyone who might happen to stop by or who ordered the book and isn't as much of a big mouth as I am *smirk*

I think most people are just grateful you're still alive and posting, to be honest, and not complaining, like me -->> because I'm spoiled!! I have never lost a soldier in 30 years of supporting them so I am sure you are fine and just not sending us your book (kidding; I know it's not in your power). Then again, I have not been supporting you with baked goods so you are going to have to dodge that next bullet on your own! :-)
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0 # Peter 2011-03-03 01:44
Michael,
keep up the good work. Stay out of Harms way. Go,and Go Fast, when your inner voice tells you!
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+1 # Ramon 2011-03-18 06:34
As a Dutch soldier who served in Afghanistan and fought in Chora I can attest that the general population there was anything but friendly towards the Talibs. They suffered enough at their hands.
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-1 # RE: Dead Taliban in ChoraMichael Yon 2011-03-18 06:47
Quoting Ramon:
As a Dutch soldier who served in Afghanistan and fought in Chora I can attest that the general population there was anything but friendly towards the Talibs. They suffered enough at their hands.



It can be helpful to read closely before commenting... I did not comment about the general population.

I would offer several items for consideration: 1) You said you fought in Chora. Somebody must have been fighting you. Who were they? 2) This dead fighter's body was put in the middle of town and some people clearly were paying
respects. 3) The first two items point strongly toward the idea that at least some people are more than friendly with Taliban.

I'll believe my own eyes as much as I'll believe yours.

Michael Yon
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0 # Ramon 2011-03-18 21:10
I fought in the battle for Chora in 2007. In the fighting the talibs executed a lot of the local townspeople who refused to aid them. This did not make them popular there. Unless something has drastically changed there in the last few months (and yes, the situation can be fluid there) the locals are anything but talib or even talib symphatisers. The local Achakzai and Barakzai tribes were good allies and friends of us during our time there.
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0 # Ray 2011-03-20 03:24
Looks to me like there are some of the fighting age men in this photo have eastern european appearance. I have read that Afghanistan has a very diverse background of cultures because of various invasions over the centuries but wonder if that explains it or if some of these men are foreigners.
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0 # Michael Yon 2011-03-20 03:39
Ray -- you'll see all sorts in Afghanistan. Having been a part of the Silk and Spice roads, and also a battlefield through countless invasions, there are many theories and ideas about where the green eyes and red hair (and all sorts of other looks) came from. Afghanistan is an interesting place.
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0 # Chieftain 2011-03-30 23:51
I don't get it. *This* is the face of the Taliban? I'm stunned. Grubby peasants, disorganized rabble. Interesting to see some of them tie their turbans in a manner similar to the Sikhs -- except, of course, Sikhs are always immaculately groomed, whereas this lot are dodgy and unwashed.

There's quite a few of them turning their backs to your camera, or otherwise hiding their faces. Are they the Taliban?

I don't get it...
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0 # Monika 2011-03-31 02:48
Wow. Thanks so much, Mr. Yon.

Those are dead eyes, very scary.
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0 # RE: Dead Taliban in ChoraDavid Weirich 2012-10-12 23:35
In you Panorama, I believe Mr. "Unhappy" has been in other photos of yours!
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-1 # OopsDavid Weirich 2012-10-12 23:41
Your, not "you"
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0 # What is On His HoseDavid Weirich 2012-10-12 23:51
To the right of the building, first row of men, guy on the end standing next to the boy, trying to keep his face covered with the green (blanket?), what is on his shoe? Blood, red paint, what?
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0 # Oops againDavid Weirich 2012-10-12 23:52
What is on his shoe?
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0 # Libyan AmbassadorChristin Moffitt 2012-10-13 05:51
Despite efforts of Biden last nigh to deflect responsibility for Steven's death to lack of communicatiion, etc (which every who can read knows better), what is your take on this incident? Via Spec Ops friends the word was all over Lybian news that included photos - unable to discern whether or not Stevens already dead, but also that he had been tortured - actually sodomized. Do you know of this? Do NOT want pictures, nor more details of his horrific death. Is it just one more administration squelch of terrible truths on their journey to prove Al Qaeda is "on its way out?" How incredibly sad for his family, how abandoned he must have felt, how shameful his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Thanks for your input if you have time or info.. Chris
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0 # Soles of the ShoesT. Browning 2012-10-13 21:39
As you look at the soles of the dead man’s shoes, you start noticing the same type of soles throughout the crowd. Then as you look at the individuals wearing those shoes, they are looking away from the camera or covering their faces. That is one country I've never been to and I wouldn't know what would be normal as far as foot wear goes but, am I seeing something in this picture that is irrelevant?
Thanks for all that you do. T.
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