Guest Authors

Michael Yon invited by Brits and US to embed again

Published in The US Report at
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.


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