Guest Authors

Michael Yon invited by Brits and US to embed again

Published in The US Report at theusreport.com
Published on June 24, 2010
by Kay B. Day

Michael Yon has been invited to embed again by both Great Britain and the US.Michael Yon has been invited to embed again by both Great Britain and the US.Michael Yon isn’t a correspondent who sparks a neutral reaction in the reader. You either love him or you don’t. There’s not much of an in-between.

In April Yon’s embed in Afghanistan ended abruptly. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, was in charge and some of Yon’s fans blamed the general. The official reason given was “overcrowding by journalists.”

In a dispatch announcing the change, Yon wrote, “Haven’t seen a journalist in weeks.”

In the preceding month, Yon had pulled no punches in his dispatches,  criticizing Canadian Brig. Gen. Daniel Ménard who commanded Task Force Kandahar. Yon took some heat for that one too, until the truth came out.

A court martial found Menard guilty of accidentally firing a weapon while preparing to board a military helicopter in Kandahar—the shot allegedly came close to hitting Canada’s chief of defense as well as military vehicles. Then a female Canadian soldier confessed to having an inappropriate relationship with Ménard. The rest is history.

Yon said in an email: “Insofar as Menard, that guy allowed Tarnak River Bridge to be blown up.  Lost Ian Gelig.  Halted many operations for DAYS.  Lied about it.  ND'd with his rifle.  Lied about it.  Affair with enlisted subordinate...  Good grief.”

Yon was speaking of Spc. Ian Gelig who was killed when the bridge was blown up by a suicide bomber. Other soldiers were wounded. Civilians were killed. Arguably, these were preventable deaths.

Not for the first time was Yon, in the face of skepticism, proved correct.

I could write a book about his observations. I will never forget the night I found an article by Yon as I researched material about a young Army captain charged by the government with premeditated murder. I became interested after learning the captain was not present when the murder occurred.

Yon had no way of knowing how useful a dispatch he had filed at the time of the alleged murder, long before the captain was charged. Yon had actually written about an Iraqi colonel who was one of the captain's accusers. I emailed that article to the captain's attorney as soon as I found it. Yon couldn't possibly predict how helpful that article would be in placing the events surrounding the alleged murder in context. Yon simply wrote the truth as he knew it to be.

If you want to know what kind of writer Yon is—or for that matter, what kind of man he is—the best place to turn is his latest book, ‘Moment of Truth in Iraq,’ just published in paperback. It’s a remarkable account for those of us who are armchair analysts with a vested interest because we have people we care about placing their lives on the line in a desolate land known for sucking the life out of her own soldiers and those from foreign lands as well.

More importantly, the book focuses on what troops did right and wrong, but always with reverence and care given to the value of our military. Whatever he is or isn’t, Yon truly values the men and women who fight the good fight and if he perceives a dangerous policy, such as the current Rules of Engagement, he tells people about it.

As I read the book, I realized how miserably many in media have misunderstood this war, and how the same applies to many of us back home.

In an email Thursday morning, Yon wrote to tell me his situation has changed. A few bloggers, some under the cloak of anonymity, had accused Yon of breaching Operations Security by revealing too much information. At least one engaged in what some might call character assassination.

Yon’s email on Thursday said, "And all this nonsense about my being disembedded for OPSEC...  Have been invited today by British and U.S. military."

Many of his fans—more than 35,000 on Yon's Facebook page alone—will applaud the news. They rely on Yon to tell them the truth, whether they like what they hear or not.

For those with loved ones there, once they come to know Yon, seek his reportage as a source of information many in big media distort--or more kindly put--may overlook.

 

Comments   

 
# James F. McClellan 2010-06-24 16:37
Mike,

Keep your head down dude. Stay safe and keep up the good work.

JFM
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# Mad Dog 2010-06-24 21:43
Yep, stay real safe. Folks on both sides hate truth givers. We all need you over there, but most of all the Afghanis stand to gain the most from your presence!
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# Roy Lewis 2010-06-25 04:56
Michael, a lot of people read and believe that your writing is the ONLY truth to come out of these op' theatre's. Get back out there, stay safe and fire back the truth whether it hurts some or not.
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# Doc Watson 2010-06-25 05:48
with you embeded instead of galavantin' around out there amidst the general population. You just keep telling it like it is and let the chips fall where they may. May God bless you and keep you safe.
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# spratico 2010-06-25 06:41
Be safe out there. And don't forget your camera!
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# Cathy Furlong 2010-06-25 09:29
Stay safe. I for one am so glad you will be back with the troops reporting the truth. Thanks.
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# Alexander Jenner 2010-06-25 19:58
Great news Michael. Have a safe and swift trip back to the Stan and I look forward to your next dispatch from the sharp end.
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# Tom Poole 2010-06-26 07:24
Glad you are going back Michael, but for heavens sake keep safe. You were and are the only objective source of news from AFG.
Good luck, stay well
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# djr 2010-06-26 07:30
Booted out of Stan, Thailand goes nuts - report on that, Thailand settles down, Mc booted out of Stan, go back to that.
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# MEC2 2010-06-26 07:46
Can't commend your work enough, we need honest brokers for information telling us what they see up front where the metal meets the meat. Godspeed sir.
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# Tim Wohlford 2010-06-26 08:58
Thank you for your work in Iraq. Thank you for your work in Afghanistan. Thank you for giving a voice to soldiers on the ground in both places. Thank you for being correct in your reporting. Thank you, Mr. Yon.
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# Graham Smith 2010-06-26 10:38
Your reporting is an inspiration for me and hopefully an example for news people.
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# Doc Merlin 2010-06-26 15:37
Grats Michael, when I saw the new rules of engagement I knew that he had to go. I am glad you have been vindicated!
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# Papa Ray 2010-06-26 18:03
Don't be so sure they will change that much. They are part of the manual that was just re-written that will be used by the NATO forces. They were not Mc's rules, he didn't write the manual.

The real problem is resources. Logistics and manpower. There is just not enough, soon enough are in the right places. Too many people are safe in the large AOs, while too few infantry try to do jobs that should have at least twice the men and twice the assets. This disparity between the actual shooters and the POGs in the rear has always been true in the U.S. Military. It needs to change.

But don't look for a lot of changes made by the man that did write the manual.

Papa Ray
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# J.Hansford 2010-06-26 22:21
I don't post much on your blog Mr Yon. But I read you a lot. Good to see you back on board the big fight.
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# ern 2010-06-26 23:38
You could stack the entire MSM's coverage of the war against Yon, all that work of hundreds of journalists, and it would be found wanting. Where the hell is Yon's Pulitzer? I mean, seriously, his reporting has been so spot on that I simply can't imagine how ignorant of the real situation we'd be without Yon. He's been attacked before, and always been vindicated. He puts the grit in integrity.
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# TPR 2010-06-27 01:29
Look forward to hearing the TRUTH from your embed. Mr. Yon's Iraq coverage was outstanding and "Moment Of Truth" was spot on.

I'm hitting the donate button - join me if you can.
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# Lorenz Gude 2010-06-27 03:12
Great to hear you will be going back. Between the MSM and the military itself there is so much 'narrative control' in place that I have no real sense of what is going on in Afghanistan. It will be good to have your dispatches again. Stay safe.
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# davod 2010-06-27 06:08
"They are part of the manual that was just re-written that will be used by the NATO forces." The ROEs are more a case of the US learning fron NAtO. NATO countries were using these ROEs and worse well before the US decided to use them.
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# USMCDADRichard 2010-06-27 08:45
Glad to hear your back in.

Please stay safe, looking forward to the dispatches.

Respectfully,
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# Tommy Barrios 2010-06-28 04:08
Great article and about time! Gen Mac is a great warrior but Michael's critique of his performance in the Af-Pak theater is spot on. Gen Mac should have never let a pinhead from the Rolling Turd ever get close to him, much less let him hear and see his private thoughts and that of his staff. That was stupid, beyond belief!

I would not let anyone from the Rolling Turd carry my luggage much less let them anywhere near my private life. They cannot be trusted, obviously!

Michael keep up the great work. Your fans are greater in number than any of the folks in power and that is probably what PO's them most;-)
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# Tim Simpson 2010-06-28 07:59
Excellent- it's good to hear that a man of your experience is being allowed back to where he belongs. I've enjoyed your postings immensely and must admit that I look forward to your further writings concerning Britain's forces in theatre. I was just wondering, however, if you have ever considered embedding with the French Foreign Legion? Surely that could throw a new angle on proceedings and I would certainly like to see your comments on how those guys do things.

Anyway good luck and stay safe.
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# Deidre 2010-07-01 13:36
How great to have you back on the line again, Michael. Your writing and photos have been sent to many on my list. Superb stuff. God keep you! I have a series of questions, and pardon my ignorance, but why can't a USMC general be in charge in Afghanistan? Is the requirement that it always has to be Army leadership? And why is the NATO leader an American? Why does the President get to chose a NATO leader? And though I know that the ultimate American military leader must be a civilian, i.e., the President, and the founders were fearful of a military totally in charge, wouldn't it be better not to have the Commander in Chief position? Congress is in charge of declaring war anyway. I'm fuzzy on these matters, in all sincerity. Perhaps someone here can give some good and civil (excuse the pun) explanations. Thanks.
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# JFindley 2010-07-04 07:30
i am not the most knowledgeable on the issues you have raised, but until someone more in the know comes forward I will try to give my take on those issues. I am not aware of any restriction on a USMC general being in charge. But the USMC is much smaller than the Army and therefore the pool of talent is much smaller, so numbers make it likely the Army will provide the top leadership. America is providing the vast majority of boots on the ground, and so it is natural that an American would be in charge. If another country wishes to provide more boots than USA, I'm confident that role could be handed off or shared. Someone has to choose a NATO leader, and in the case of an endeavor in which America is shouldering the bulk of the work, why wouldn't it be the leader of America who has the final decision on leadership of that effort? I'm not a fan of our current POTUS, but the position was duly filled with a democratic election, and I support him in exercising the rights and responsibilitie s that come with that position. No matter who makes these decisions, there will always me many detractors. While sharing of differing views is necessary and good for the common good, the buck has to stop somewhere, especially in matters like these.
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# Russki Top 2010-07-04 13:10
JF is essentially right on the numbers being on the side of the Army, but the details are actually pretty cut and dried: USFOR-A is a so-called "4-star" theater command, primarily so it can be "dual-hatted" as an alliance command (ISAF). ISAF was chartered (think created) by NATO for the specific purpose of providing a framework for combatting common enemies (Taliban, AQ, and fellow travelers) in AF. NATO chose to consider 9/11 as an act of war that justified its activation of the military alliance pledged as membership in the treaty organization, ie that an attack on one member (and subsequently the Spanish AQ bombings) is an attack on all, which obligates the other member countries to contribute to military operations in the alliance's defense. The staffing of that leadership position has been delegated by internal NATO decision to the US (logical, as US military contribution is by far the largest, but ratified according to NATO by-laws nevertheless), so it is ultimately up to the CinC to name that commander. Now, as to why it's Army rather than Marine: some of it has to do with Title 10 of the US Code, which is what creates the general officer positions for COmbatant COMmands (COCOM's), of which CENTral COMmand (CENTCOM) is responsible for Afghanistan. That COCOM commander can be named from any of the armed forces, and has rotated in past through the various forces. The common sense approach for ISAF is that the guy in command has to be ground-combat smart, but also able and schooled in big-force movement and support. USMC by choice wants their senior leaders more focused on the fight than on the rest that goes with the ISAF/USFOR-A jobs, which demand more political and diplomatic activity than war-fighting. Not to say that a Marine Gen can't do that (as a matter of fact, this retired Army guy would actually turn first to them rather than to most Army 4-stars), but because of how our laws govern the structure of our forces, which provides limited numbers of each rank in each force. There are simply far fewer 4-stars from which to choose in the Corps. And if Prez decides to name one of them as his new guy in AF, then the Corps can't just move another guy up into that post that the 4-star vacates. Equally as important, the other forces then move one of theirs into the 4-star position left available, which obviously might be neither in the best interests of the Corps, but nor wise for the success of the unit that 4-star may not be qualified to run.
At the end of the day, the Prez gets to make the call on who runs his war in AF, but he's now "dual-hatting" a combatant command and a theater of war (itself already dual-hatted) unless he replaces Petraeus as CENTCOM commander, which would amount to a demotion, as the new guy would then be Petraeus' boss. Doesn't lend itself to unity of effort so much as it lends itself to partial concentration in too many simultaneous directions. Oh, wait, that's our current President's MO anyway. So I guess it's OK then........I digress.
Civilian control of the military in our country is absolutely embedded in our Constitution, and rightfully as far as I'm concerned. The Congress as our representatives authorizes spending our money to pay for the war, but the Commander in Chief gives the orders to execute what Congress authorizes paying for. Accountability for outcome is his/hers regardless of success or failure. To leave that responsibility and accountability anywhere else in our system of governance is not only unlawful/uncons titutional, but leaves our leadership able to duck responsibility for sending us into harm's way, and makes the US military as much an independent mercenary organization as many of its detractors already like to think we are. That lack of accountability and responsiveness to the electors who ultimately pay and die for those decisions is the primary reason most of our founders chose to leave their countries and homes to come here in the first place.
Don't know if that helps or further muddles, but there it is.
And yes, it's VERY good to have Michael back in the mix telling us what he can see, find, and notice.
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# Deidre 2010-07-09 21:35
Thanks, guys. Looks like Mattis is now Petraeus's boss. Interesting.
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# Deidre 2010-07-09 21:58
One final comment. Since the Commander in Chief may not have much of a clue as to military matters, he has to rely on both civilian and military advisers. The clueless one just puts his name to a piece of paper and makes a few speeches while others do the work. So he really isn't an independent force making decisions and it's sort of a sham position, though I understand Russki Top's explanation re civilian/Consti tutional final authority. Even if our present POTUS is a fast study, however, I'd wager he doesn't know or care about knowing a fig.
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# David 2010-08-26 10:24
Michael when is the next update out?
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