Michael's Dispatches

Eight Years After 9/11

Memorial for Fallen at FOB Inkerman

08 September 2009
Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Just before the mission, soldiers form up near the memorial for our fallen.

 

The mission was simple.  Taliban had been watching FOB Inkerman and British patrols from various compounds and we were going to occupy those compounds and pick a fight with all comers.

The mission is set to begin just at sunrise, so soldiers use white lights because night vision will not be needed.  (We are still well within the base.)

The sounds: Muffled discussions, metallic clicks and snaps, and the sound of gear being stuffed into rucksacks.  A soldier can be heard taking a long inhale from a cigarette.  The tip grows brighter and he pauses; the tip dims and he exhales while quietly talking at half volume.

The task was very dangerous and we expected a fight.  Ross Kemp, the famous British journalist who shot a documentary here, did a fine job in catching the truth of the Green Zone.  Little has changed since Mr. Kemp came here; his work is as true now as it was then.   Every British soldier knows and respects Ross Kemp—not because he made them heroes, but because he told the truth.

As a mood-probe, I posed a silly question from the darkness: “Is this dangerous?”  Two soldiers burst into laughter, and a third said, “It’s stupid as shit, that’s what it is.”  The mood was good. It’s when you don’t get an answer that you need to watch out.

Leaving base, we pass the mortar pits where the crews are ready to support us with lethal fire.  A hundred meters away, the 105mm howitzers also are prepared, as are the Javelins and machine guns and grenade launchers on the perimeter.  Today, when the fighting begins, they will fire many shots.

It’s time to head to the gate by the 611 “highway” that separates the desert from the Green Zone.  FOB Inkerman is on the desert side, but just fifteen seconds’ walk from here begins the Green Zone.

The enemy owns the Green Zone and so platoons don’t push far from base.  The risk of being outnumbered and outmaneuvered is evident.  Some commanders might take issue with that statement, but the commanders here will not.  To any commanders who are distant and would like to challenge my claim that the enemy owns the Green Zone here, they might consider accepting my challenge: When an officer of the rank of Colonel or General is ready to walk from FOB Jackson to PB Wishtan to FOB Inkerman and walk back to FOB Jackson, please call and I’ll walk with you.

Yes, if they accept this challenge and spend the day to walk this route, their words will stick.  Yet today, even with so much immediate support from the mortars, guns and Apaches and jets, little imagination is required to envision losing most or all of a platoon within a couple miles of a base.

Despite all that, the morale of British troops is unmistakably good, which cannot be attributed to the terrible rations they eat.  After more than a month with British combat troops in the Green Zone, I hadn’t seen a piece of fresh fruit on a base, despite that we are surrounded by farms.

Riflemen Ben Taylor and Aaron Jones always seem ready to roll.  Moments before we head into the mission, I say, “Don’t worry men.  If there are any dramas, just fall behind me and obey my commands.”  Their eyes go wide, then Ben laughs loudly and Aaron goes “Kookoo, Kookoo,” while twirling a finger close to his ear.

We snap on helmets and enter the Thunder Zone.  Lance Corporal Johnston takes file behind Ben Taylor.   Two soldiers wearing at least three types of camouflage because the British Army has not properly outfitted its soldiers.  Missions here range from Brown Zone to Green Zone back to desert brown within minutes.  The soldiers need camouflage similar to what special operations folks wear.  British and American special operations folks use camouflage suitable for both environments.  It’s cheap and every combat soldier should have it.

Please click on Image for Higher Resolution.

We have so few troops that we cannot even control the veins of Green Zone.

Please Click on Image for Higher Resolution.

As we step off base from FOB Inkerman, we are immediately subject to coming under small-arms attacks.

We walked off base, briefly along the 611 “highway” that runs just by that power line.  On the hill, just this side of the mosque, are approximately 35 men and boys.  They are watching us.  The speakers mounted on the mast above the mosque are used for the call to prayers.

Please Click on Image for Higher Resolution.

Is it a security violation to print Google maps?  Those men up on the hill and the farmers in the fields see every move we make.  If this were the opening stage of the war, it would be a mistake to print such a map.  But not now.  The people here know exactly what we do and where we do it.  The people at home are in the dark, but not the Afghans.

We move through the corn and other crops under the eyes of the Afghan men on the hill.  Soldiers on point mark a possible bomb.

As the sun rises, the variation in from Brown Zone to Green Zone becomes evident.

Rifleman Jack Otter is in the file just behind me.  It seems that the most dangerous place in the file is at the point, but after that everywhere is probably about equal. The battle spaces around Afghanistan are very different.   Here at Inkerman, for instance, the fight is remarkably different than the fight four miles away at Sangin.  At Inkerman there are bombs, but it’s still mostly a gunfight, whereas in Sangin most of our KIAs come from bombs.

The opium has been harvested and these fields have been sowed with corn and other crops.  Farmers are not happy with this year’s opium prices.

The corn provides great cover for the enemy and for us.  Operating in the corn is like being aboard a British submarine while we cruise around for Taliban subs.  We can’t see more than a few meters, and so it’s particularly important to be quiet and try not to ruffle the corn stocks which jiggles the tassles.  Even in this kelp-like maize, we are subject to being hit by bombs.  There are so many IED attacks that it’s hard to keep track.  A special operations unit was attacked in late August resulting in one KIA, some amputations, and a soldier who lost his genitals, which happens more often than one might think.

Land mine?  Nail?

The PKM is a common enemy weapon that packs a wallop.  It can penetrate our helmets.  Untrained fighters typically will fire high during night time, or in places of limited visibility such as in the corn.  Good fighters often use “grazing fire,” so that even when the enemy is lying flat the gun can get hits.  During our ambush on 20 August, four days earlier, the enemy had used good fire discipline and it was only due to pure luck that none of us were killed.  Our guys are better shots and more tactically sound, so whereas the terrain definitely belongs to the enemy, when firefights actually start, the smart money is on the Brits or Americans, not the Taliban.  They might kill a few of us, but if they stick around and fight we will wipe them out.

Lately the Green Zone has been flooded by the farmers and the fields have been muddy, yet today the irrigation had shunted and the irrigation ditches were mostly dry for this mission.  Sometimes the enemy plants bombs in trees, or stretches tripwires high so that antennas will catch, which is part of the reason why being on point is not always most dangerous.  Often, the point elements miss the bombs which then hit the main body.  IED strikes are not like the war movies where somebody gets shot, falls down dying in his buddy’s arms saying, “Tell Lara…cough cough… Tell Lara…I love her.”  And his buddy says, “No Jimmy, hang in there!  Tell her yourself!  Tell her yourself!  Don’t die Jimmy!  Don’t die you bastard!”

No, that’s not how it is at all.  After an IED strike you are using sticks to knock body parts and gear out of trees, and you are collecting arms, legs, and helmets splattered with brains.  Bodies get blown from one compound into another compound, and parts land on roofs.  Weapons are completely lost or shattered into pieces.  There is nothing romantic about the bombs.  It’s straight up combat.  Body parts we cannot find get eaten by dogs and nobody wants that, so we try to find every little piece—if time permits, and if there is enough light.  Lately, the enemy have often been killing more of us with the second bomb than the first.  After we get blown up and start collecting casualties, BOOM, other bombs start exploding.

'Bale' from Fiji.

There are loads of Fijian soldiers in the British Army.   The Fijians make good soldiers and they also are very friendly and easy to get along with.

When firefights start, maneuvering can be tricky; the “cleared” lane is only a few feet wide.

Nearing the objective.  We had split into several elements for mutual fire support.

As we approached the compound that was our objective, the point elements kept sweeping for bombs.  Often there will be a metallic ping on a corner.  I went around a corner a month or so ago, and found a sheer hole that might have been forty feet deep.  Just how many soldiers have fallen into holes in this country is unknown, but it’s got to be a lot.  Afghans are liable to dig holes just about anywhere, and you can bet that the holes will be unmarked.  The deep holes around here are wells.  Perfect tiger traps in the making.

We enter the compound and find this man.  He looked familiar.  As it happens, he had come to FOB Inkerman on 21 August along with nine other men, when an elder asked to be compensated for a generator that got shot on the 20th by a Javelin missile.  (I had photographed the Javelin shot and can confirm that the big fireball seemed to have come from a hit on fuel.)  Captain Ed Addington asked for his ID, and other details.  The man claimed not to know any Taliban, though of course he probably is part of the gang.  He seemed friendly and self-assured, and despite that he probably is the enemy, I would end up sitting with him for about an hour.  When he learned I am American, he smiled and said “Barack Obama President.”  The man said he had never heard of Michael Jackson.  Just behind the man is a hole that’s about 10m deep, and about 8m x 5m on the surface.  (About 30x25x15 feet.)  At the bottom was water.  The massive hole was dug by hand—about 4,000 cubic meters—and the whole hole was inside his compound walls.  I asked how long it took to dig that hole, and he said six men would need two months.

Information flow from locals is tantamount to zero.  There are some local sources, but on a scale of 1–10, information flow is probably about a 2.  The other 8 must go to the Taliban, though the more time I spend in the Green Zone the more I begin to think we are fighting the people in general, and not some small group of Taliban.  The British government insists that British must guard Kajaki Dam (just upriver from here) or the Taliban will destroy it because the Taliban does not want people to have electricity.  This is untrue.  The Taliban had years of control over Kajaki and never destroyed the dam.  British officials also tell me that it would do no good to build an electrical grid because the Taliban would destroy the grid.  This is patently false.  The power lines in this area – under Taliban control – are in fine condition.  The Taliban controls the electricity and shuts it off at night, along with cell phone towers in many places.  We generate the electricity and the Taliban collects money for wattage.

Water well in the compound.

The soldiers occupied the walls and watched for attacks, while I sat with the two men in the compound.

He was all smiles and then asked for his photo.  When the camera was brought to bear, he got the serious look.  The moment the photo snapped he was all smiles again and wanted to see the photos on the screen.

I counted five kids.  They never avoided us but never approached us and never smiled.  If the kids were a barometer of the house, this house did not like soldiers.

The children’s dollhouse also had walls.

The handmade dolls might have reflected a census of the household.

Even the dolls had sleeping mats.

The younger man watched the soldiers while holding a wrench that I figured was for hitting us if he got in the mood.  The soldiers found an ammunition carrier in the house but no ammo.

We had reliable information that the enemy was moving in on us.

Shots were fired by us on several occasions but the firefight had not yet started.

We kept getting information that the enemy was moving in on us.  The machine gunner in the background fired at men who were maneuvering in.  The soldiers were very confident that we would be attacked on the way out.  As we moved into the corn, a shot rang out and I fell flat and a soldier behind me said, “That was impressive,” and I said, “I told you I am always the fastest to the ground.”  Turns out it was just a warning shot . . . but nobody warned me!  A couple minutes later a proper firefight broke out and we were all on the ground but we were not actually in contact.  Another element was shooting at the enemy with machine guns, rifles and grenade launchers.  The mortars began firing and we moved to contact, and along the way encountered what appeared to be an IED laid out for us.  We went around and ended up with the element that was doing all the shooting.  The 81mm mortars and the 105mm howitzers were firing dozens and dozens of shots into a compound where the enemy had disappeared.

Lance Corporal Lee Casey stays on the gun.  After each firefight, the soldiers redistribute ammo so that the loads are more even.

Lance Corporal Gareth Prior

Lance Corporal Michael Pidgeon

Behind the dust is the compound we were hammering.  We got intelligence that some enemy might have been killed or wounded, so the British commander said, yeah, right, hold on.  Cease fire.  Let’s give them a chance to send a recovery party and when they’ve had time to get there, unleash again with the mortars and guns.  And so that’s what happened.  The next barrage was intense and on target.  Again, dozens of howitzer and mortar rounds landed inside the compound and a B-1B was said to be in the area, and there were hopes that we could drop a bomb in there, too.  No bomb was dropped.

After the fighting, we moved back to Inkerman, and along the way we kept getting reports that the enemy was trying to hit us with bombs they had hidden.  We got lucky this time.

More than two years ago, Ross Kemp, an outstanding British journalist, filmed a documentary series here.  I have recognized many of the scenes in his footage.  Little has changed other than it’s more dangerous here now.  If you want to see what it’s like here through a video camera – Ross Kemp and his crew have done an incredible job.  His facts and the tone were just right.

And that was it.  We came back to base and I received a message.   The British Ministry of Defence had canceled my embed.  Here we are, eight years after the attacks on 9/11, watching censorship creep in to “the forgotten war.”

 

Comments   

 
# Blackwater 2009-09-07 20:21
I can understand why people would be concerned about the posting of detailed tactical information. I've actually known muslims who were radicalized by islamist propaganda on the internet and in mosqies and went off to Afghanistan and Pakistan to play jihad. They read Western reports and articles to learn our tactics. While the long term fighters might know most of our tactics I still would be constantly conscience of the fact that enemy eyes could be reading my reports.
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# KP 2009-09-07 21:05
I am sure the enemy don't need your maps Micheal. They have a hundred years of experience in guerrilla warfare to call upon, and I am sure they know every ditch, hole, compound and family in the area. They will be well versed in assessing a standing army used as an occupying force and how to quickly learn its modis operandi. Keep your head down man, your reports are the only trustworthy news we can get!
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# John G 2009-09-07 21:06
Mike's been there, done that; he isn't printing or posting anything that people don't already know (except for criticisms of the british camo, maybe :D) If they haven't figured out British or American tactics by now, they haven't been paying attention for the last 8 years. And the way things are going, it would appear they've been paying a LOT of attention.

Keep up the good work, Michael!
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# Jabba 2009-09-07 22:05
Michael: Given the dates concerned, are you saying they re-instated your embed that they cancelled after "Bad Medicine" and then after this, they revoked it again?

They plainly do not know what they are doing... an addition to wantonly misleading the British electorate. It may interest you and any British military contingent in the field you come across to know that the three most senior members of the UK Royal Family are reported to have voiced very serious concerns about the current UK Goverment's prosecution of this war, in terms of troop levels and equipment. The UK troops nominally serve the sovereign above all others, so for the Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince Of Wales to weigh in on their side behind the scenes is an important development. The guys out there are NOT alone.

Thank you for all that you do. God Bless and stay safe and keep telling us the truth.

Oh, incidentally, Ross Kemp is an actor rather than a journalist, would you believe...
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# Peter in MN 2009-09-08 01:54
Michael,
glad your safe in the middle of Afgah, all by yourself. I can see your line or reasoning better now. Its amazng how hospitality is a world wide value when we are dependent and in need. No, not always practiced, but at least not overt hostility when one is associated with power and strength. God speed and watch over your.
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# AmericanJarhead Cris 2009-09-08 02:44
Michael,

I am sorry that your time has ended with the British. What great friends they are to us Yanks. While we all have our little spats, we're going to support each other when things get tough. Your reporting has shed light into the quality of the men and women serving Britain and for that we all owe you a big thank you. Stay safe and pass alone a big ol' Semper Fi to the Marines you're going to be with. Prayers all around!

Cris Yarborough (aka: AmericanJarhead)
www.americanjarhead.com
americanjarhead AT gmail DOT com
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# AmericanJarhead Cris 2009-09-08 02:49
I note from you pictures and all the other pictures I've seen of Afghanistan that it is a beautiful country. If only peace prevailed there and there were no land mines... They would be a top destination for hikers, skiers, nature lovers... If there's really so many millions of mines and ordinance laying around even if peace came, it'll be hundreds of years before the Afghans could take advantage of their beautiful land. :-(
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# Rosser Bobbitt 2009-09-08 02:52
Michael says above: "onsider accepting my challenge." It's not the first time it's been offered.
“I am not, fellow citizens, one who believes that no advice may be given to leaders; nay rather I judge him to be not a sage, but haughty, who conducts evCommanders should be counselled chiefly by persons of known talent, by those who have made the art of war their particular study, and whose knowledge is derived from experience, by those who are present at the scene of action, who see the enemy, who see the advantages that occasions offer, and who, like people embarked in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.
If, therefore, anyone thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am about to conduct, let him not refuse his assistance to the state, but let him come with me into Macedonia.
[to the Roman Senate, 169 BC, General Lucius Aemilius Paulus, surnamed Macedonicus, Roman general and patrician, c. 229-160 B.C.]
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# unknown 2009-09-08 03:03
... There is NO enemy. This is not a war.
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# Revolutionist 2009-09-08 03:06
Nano-thermite was found in the world trade center dust:

[url removed by webmaster]

Study your mathematics, physics, chemistry, and most importantly learn your history.


Post your ad hominem below....
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# John Davsi 2009-09-08 03:18
Absolutely amazing imafges!

RT
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# simon 2009-09-08 04:20
i still have dreams of travelling to afghanistan one day. i hope your work inspires others to find a way to peace there.
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# David Green 2009-09-08 04:20
Mike, keep up the good work. I'm blogging a link to this article as I think it needs to be spread around. The quality of the images you've got is just superb. I'm an aspiring documentary maker, and in no way a still photographer, but I'm inspired by this. Stay safe, and safe travels to all the lads and lasses serving in Afghan.
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# Jason Hanrahan 2009-09-08 04:24
Very well written and amazing pictures... I will repost this article on my twitter/faceboo k for you. Keep up the amazing work!
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# Tommy Barrios 2009-09-08 04:36
I amazed at the loons that come here and make asinine comments such as Revolutionist and UNK. It is indicative of the common level of ignorance and stupidity that has resulted in much of the present lunacy coming from the White House and Congress. This variety of ignorance is why the US is slowly dwindling into a third world economy while our soldiers try to keep a well funded and well armed jihad rabble at bay in a desolate land far from home and hearth. Yet we have morons like the previously mentioned commentators running around with lies on their lips and hatred of America in their hearts. Very sad commentary on the state of our great nation and the world!
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# David M 2009-09-08 05:11
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/05/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

http://www.thunderrun.us/2009/09/from-front-09052009.html
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# 9/11 Conspiracy Debunker 2009-09-08 05:33
No, Mr. Jones did not find thermite. He found sulfur:

http://www.debunking911.com/thermite.htm

Please keep your tinfoil hat 9/11 conspiracy theories out of here.
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# wohakozasapa 2009-09-08 07:15
The images of conflict seldom convey the true sentiment the words employed to describe the carnage never embody the essence of combat. Those who have never seen felt or engaged will never know and can afford to proclaim self rightous indignation further find fault in those who embrace their convictions and go forth to assist those who cannot themselves. Mine was an unpopular war as they all are and I lost many things but never my beliefs and respect for those with me. I salute the lions and wish them godspeed
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# casstx2 2009-09-08 07:29
unkown, you're a coward for not stating your name. Same with Revolutionist. Go to an appropriate place to spout your tripe. Hie ye!

Mike, great job as usual. Hopefully the Marines will give you some leeway since you've got Gate's ear, he's a fine man. Good luck with them, they think they're better than SOF LOL. But they're good guys, and saved my hubby's life. Do them proud and best of luck.
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# DaveX 2009-09-08 07:42
Where is the Photo of the Reason of this War: Bin Laden.
The Great Organizer of 9/11.
The man who triggered all this disasters. The only responsible.
The Great Excuse.

WHERE IS THE PHOTO?

DaveX
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# Christin Helander 2009-09-08 07:48
Very happy to hear of possible embed with USMC, stay safe out there, you are our link to what is really going on. Loved your comment that the Generals don't have a problem with inability to get a flight but that the Colonels become quite intolerant. My husband is a Colonel in the Army Reserves and went to Iraq a year ago. When it was time to leave they could not get a flight out of their small combat support hospital. Tempers were flaring, planes came regularly but said they had no room to fly them to Kuwait, even though their replacements were fully up to speed and running the medical facility completely. Finally (they had been packed and ready with all gear lined up ready to load for a week), a transport plane arrived and my husband told his soldiers to get on board and not get off, he then told the pilots they were not deplaning...the y got out that day.

I guess it is still going on with the Marines, waiting for food, mail, supplies or a ride on a helicopter to get to an assignment. You can sit for days.

Keep faith in the goodness of mankind but don't take your eye off of the Helmand folks.

Mom to Graham
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# Arthur Throckmorton 2009-09-08 08:17
Had the Memorial for Fallen at FOB Inkerman been constructed in the United States, the ACLU would have sued the US government to have it removed, just as they've done with the Mojave Desert Cross. Keep up the good work Michael.
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# David 2009-09-08 09:40
Michael,
Another great report. Thanks for taking the time to let the rest of us know what a great job the Brits are doing over there. Good job complaining for them as well. Maybe the jokers that revoked your embed will read this post and fix some of the things that need fixing for these guys. Great job as always. The folks back home in England should be very proud of these soliders. God Speed!
David
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# jmurphy 2009-09-08 09:52
Thanks Michael for the as-usual excellent report. Can't wait to read your report on the USAF Pedros. For everyone else -- hit the tip jar -- as we say in Chicago, early and often!
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# mike 2009-09-08 10:42
"Nano-thermite was found in the world trade center dust:"

The only thing that is nano is your pea sized brain, make sure you put some cotton in those ears so your brain doesn't roll out.... sheesh!!
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# JohnC 2009-09-08 10:45
I think it's pretty cool that Van Jones hasn't let his resignation get him down, and is apparently a fan of Michael Yon to boot! Just curious, which poster he actually is, "unknown" or "Revolutionist" ? Or both?
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# 6x6x4 2009-09-08 10:56
Blackwater wrote: "... muslims who were radicalized ... and went off to Afghanistan and Pakistan to play jihad."

BW - if you think the Afghan and Pakistan locals who have been fighting us for years are going to listen to the ideas of inexperienced believers from a foreign land ... then you don't know how fighters think. I think Yon is the best judge of what info is safe to post because he's out there with the troops. He is not going to endanger them or himself. What he will endanger is the continuing coverup by military and civilian politicians who don't want us to know what's really going on.
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# Pat 2009-09-08 15:35
Thank you Michael for doing the work the so-called professional journalists won't do and, indeed, are probably not capable of doing. Most of what passes for US media are too busy talking about each other and preparing for the next worship session for Obama to be bothered with the Long War and the troops fighting it. Tragic that the UK soldiers are under a government with no sense of honor, that gives you the bum's rush while sending a mass murderer first class to Libya.
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+1 # RE: Eight Years After 9/11Garrett S. 2009-09-08 17:32
Hey, I find this all very interesting, and it gives me a much better perspective on the war. My dad (Jay Stevens) talks about you alot, and all the missions you've been on. I love reading all of these, along with the pictures, cause its almost as if you can close your eyes and kind of imagine what its like over there. (Excluding of course all the bombs and gun fire and crazy taliban trying to shoot you, also not to forget crazy dogs : P ) So yea, my dad just posted me the link to the site so I could read more and i just wanted to say Thank you. This coming from a 14 year old, trying to understand the true sacrifice that you and your fellow marines have to make everyday. Thank you Michael, for keeping us updated
Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less
-Robert E. Lee
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# GG Lundberg 2009-09-08 18:23
Michael, in your honest assessment, should we stop this build up and get out of Afghanistan. I know its probably not that simple but can you share with me what your opinion is. Do we stay and increase the fighting dramatically while waging a paralell war for hearts and minds, are we at just the righ tlevel, or do we haul ass and bring the troops home to fight another day. I don't hear these questions posed and answered anywhere but here. what do you think? I have family in the mix and I want to know what the right answer is. I greatly appreciate you for your work and valor. And I support the dispatches on a frequent basis. Those soldiers are tits!
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-1 # RE: Eight Years After 9/11Johnny Lager 2009-09-08 23:49
I'm sick and tired of 9/11. It was a sad ordeal but not really worthy of remembering let alone dropping everything we do each year just to pay homage. Only 1000-3000 people died, the wild fires kill more, the katrina flooding killed way more. It's such a small incident that means way too much to people.

It speaks volumes about the people who hold on to this - because they should be so happy that they were fortunate enough that this is the greatest or worst hazard they'll see. One thing that annoys me is that people still don't realize or want to admit how racist they were following the incident. The level of racism and support for out-right attacks across Asia and Africa were disgusting. Blogs, Forums, and even public discourse on anytown USA street were ripe with comments about 'killing all the pakis', 'nuking Asia', or destroy the entire middle east. Understandably fueled by anger and ignorance over world geography we can tolerate some of it, but in the grander scheme - two nations have been destroyed just to satiate these ignorant folks anger.

An entire country (Afghanistan) lays in ruins, while another (Iraq) is in tatters and the hopes for rebuilding are shady at best. What's worse is that people are willing to admit Iraq was a mistake but they still stand strong that Afghanistan had to be done for revenge. When people finally come to their senses and realize that an entire nation and it's innocent populous were decimated just for the whims and fancies of a few Americans who felt slighted and (incorrectly) threatened .


On 9/11 I mourn for the victims of the retaliation, not for the victims themselves (who should be mourned by their families and friends). May god have mercy on all those who called for blood be it Christian, Muslim, Jew or Buddhist.
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# Truckie117 2009-09-09 00:12
Thanks Michael
Another great report !! At the 9/11 memorial in NYC for Fire Marshal / WO1 SF Ron Bucca I will ask for a prayer for those fighting for our safety. Thanks Britts for doing a bang up job over there. Ron may have been the first military casualty in this war and he new it was coming.
God Bless too all and a safe home
Mike
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# Andrew Prior 2009-09-09 01:49
Michael,

I continue to value your reporting and pop in just about every day to seek updates on our brave fighting men and women.

The comment about not supplying correct uniforms for the environment is a little harsh to be honest. In my experience the infantry soldier will wear what HE feels approprate to the environment as long as his commander allows it - sensible ones do - and this is why there is a mis-match in patterns that is seen.

No one pattern does if perfectly and its better to break up your outline as much as possible in any way you can.

Even the US doesn't equip its troops with the uniforms you refer to as standard! Since when does the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) actually match any environment (its grey digital blocks!). Nore does the USMC's own Desert MarPAT fit the Greenzone! Trouble is the USMC commanders are less likely to allow their troops to mix Desert and Temperate versions.

The version you refer to I assume is Multicam...but unfortunately it is neither CHEAP or available in the quantities needed (Crye, who make it, would throw a fit if they had to produce the quantity needed!).

So a little harsh Michael. Sure the troopers would love Multicam but with the US Army recently acknowledging the fact that ACU is wholly ineffective (finally) its likely they'll be the ones looking back to good old fashioned Tri-Color.

Anyway, I am VERY glad you're be with the USMC and hopefully far safer for it than going alone. Particularly as we hear today that a British reporter has had to be freed by force...with the loss of both his interpreter AND a British soldier in the operation.

Remember that if you had gone it alone, you may have been risking not only your life but those of the troops who might come to get you.

Keep safe, keep reporting

AP
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# AmericanJarhead Cris 2009-09-09 01:50
I think the webmaster here should be authorized to remove comments which are troll-ish and negative unless accompanied by real names and contact information. If somebody has a beef with Michael's story or the war, fine, post it and we'll read and respect it, but the hogwash (my dad's favorite word) that is posted anonymously is worthless for their cause and worthless as informed debate. Just my two cents.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-09-09 05:25
To keep current as to Michaels plans-in-flux, bookmark this..
http://twitter.com/Michael_Yon

An article there on the rescued reporter and information that the Marines don't have room for him.

Have fun in the Netherlands.... hard not to.
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# Noliving 2009-09-09 11:07
Jabba: No he wasn't brought back and then kicked out again by the MOD. These are the final posts he was writing before he was kicked out.
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# Lorene 2009-09-09 14:22
Great reporting, it really is too bad your embed was ended...I think the British public is more starved for news than we are. I'm sure they appreciated everything you wrote.

Stay safe, Godspeed.

Oh yeah...to poster Johnny Lager, you're an idiot.
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# Jack E. Hammond 2009-09-09 15:30
Folks,

I like this comment sent by a Confederate regiment from North Carolina during the American Civil War when those in the rear areas were sending letters to newspapers stating that the South was loosing because a few soldiers with the wrong spirit who were not taking the war to the enemy as they should and that a few should be put on trial and shot to encourage the others. It is basically what Yon was saying in this report to those majors and colonels in the British Army not in the area.

Jack E. Hammond

Quote> "Resolved, That the blood and thundered men should practice what they
preached, by getting into the ranks and fighting, or forever hold their
cowardly tongues, whether saint or sinner." (24th North Carolina Regiment
August 26, 1863)
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# Patricia Grayson 2009-09-09 16:54
Michael, your dispatches leave me speechless. They are difficult to read, it is very
emotional for me. Thank you, and thank you, men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces
of all our allies.
I am the wife of a Viet Nam veteran.
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# Davo 2009-09-09 22:47
Michael's insight and attention to detail is what makes these reports so great and informative, but Blackwater's comment (comment #1) has got me thinking. What if Taliban in another area learn something new by reading about coalition tactics that they weren't aware of? What if a new foreign Taliban fighter has learned something from these reports that he otherwise wouldn't know until he'd spent more time in the field? (In this case, what if he remembers to use "grazing fire" instead of firing high like a rookie?) What if it keeps him alive to fight another day? That's one more enemy our troops have to face the next day. As much as I appreciate the extra details that make for such great reading, if there is even a slight risk that the enemy could use that information against our troops I think we could all put up with slightly less information. I trust Michael's judgement and intentions but what may be common knowledge to our troops or the Taliban observing them might be new to a rookie Taliban or AQ volunteer arriving from overseas. After all, the greener they are the better.
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# Solomon2 2009-09-10 06:58
Maybe Michael can spend October with the Aussie helicopter detachment in Helmand?
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# lono_68 2009-09-10 11:18
What "unknown" and "revolutionist" fail to remember is that the reason we are in Afganistan is to bring the fight to the terrorist that hit OUR, (mine and yours) home on 09-11-01. They can go about spouting their "truther" facts. They are entitled to their opinions, but not here. NOT THIS FORUM!! Take it elsewhere. You dishonor those that were lost on that most sacred day!!!!

Michael Yon does EXCELLENT work. No, correction, he does superb work reporting what the "STUPID LAME-STREAM MEDIA" refuses to cover and report.
Thanks Mike! for your honest no BS reporting. Thanks for your dedication to the men and women of our armed foreces and those of our allies, By telling there stories and getting those stories out. Keep safe and keep up the work! And if you need any company on that challenge walk, let me know and I'll walk it with you and any officers that would like to take you up on that.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-09-10 12:33
Since our objectives were to remove Al Qaeda and prevent reconstitution of them in Afghanistan, contend they have been met and it is time for Afghanistan to chart its own course for the future, sans our blood and money.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/10/al-qaida-recruitment-crisis
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# Keith Moon 2009-09-11 03:53
Bless you Mike for your coverage.
You are the Ernie Pyle of our time.
I tell everyone who will listen about your website and your work.
Please more of your photos available for purchase.
The chopper ones with the galaxy swirls are amazing.
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# Scott Turchin 2009-09-11 04:18
Michael was embedded with a friend of mine in the early days of the Iraq war - was honored to send him a very expensive tactical streamlight flashlight - hope it served you Michael!
When my friend said "No, this reporter is OK, tr ust me" - I realized there are good reporters out there!
Keep up the good work, glad to see you still taking photos and reporting some TRUTH...:-)

Scott, from WestCoastTactic al.com
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# Grace P. 2009-09-11 04:35
Michael, my thoughts and prayers are with you today. Thank you for the photos and stories over the years. Stay safe!
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# Vodski 2009-09-11 06:09
We should declare this day, Global stomp a Muslim day!
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# Paul Jackson 2009-09-11 14:43
I Emailed the British Ministry of Defense seeking clarification on Michaels Embed, This is the reponse posted on the MoD's blog site
Michael Yon embed with British Forces (added 1715GMT)
There has been some recent discussion online about reporter Michael Yon's embed with British Forces in Afghanistan and speculation over why it ended.

Michael Yon’s embed with British forces has not been cancelled and we are disappointed that he has chosen to characterise it as such. We have hosted Michael with British forces for five weeks, some two weeks longer than originally planned.

We welcome Michael’s thorough reporting of the work of British forces and we have no objection to his recent piece entitled "Bad Medicine". All journalists embedding with the UK military are given access to troops without censorship. However all materials coming out of theatre is checked to ensure that key tactical details that would aid the enemy are not being made public. Michael’s dispatch was subject to these checks and was given the go-ahead. Michael Yon embed with British Forces
Obviously somebody is misrepresenting what happen and given that the Brits apologized on 10 Sept 2009 for how they treated Alan Turing, who probably did as much to win WW II as any single person; I'll bet it wasn't Michael
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# dennis 2009-09-13 11:49
just a heads up. the Helmand blog.has two new vidos, by the BBC. all's well over there. WHAT!
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# Some Iraq Veteran 2009-09-13 11:57
Just wanted to say how much I enjoy the reports. Thanks again.
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# sleepy 2009-10-08 21:48
Armies brought into afghanistan by foreigners from alexander the great to the present arent very different at all, those people have fought off every invasion but islam so unless all our soldiers convert, and start flipping out asking which way mecca is, nothing yon prints will be a shocker, even if they did convert, that's been done too.

Stay safe, PLEASE COME HOME, AND BRING ALL OUR TROOPS WITH YOU!
God Bless
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# sleepy 2009-10-08 21:51
i meant it wont be a shocker in the way that "ooh he is telling the terrists where people are"

that first post didnt come out right, typing while sleepy is not so good
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# r4 2009-10-29 19:19
I believe that American troops did a gr8 job there...
but it would be better if they do the same in Pakistan......
Stay safe,
(r4):
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# Deborah 2009-12-08 09:11
Thank you for a perspective we never see on the news. Beautiful photos.
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# Deborah 2009-12-08 09:15
One added note, what type of psychological or medical care is provided for the troops upon returning home?
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# Thanks MichaelLarry 2012-10-19 21:42
One of your best dispatches yet Michael, excellent work! Continue to hit the ground fast! Thanks....
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