Michael's Dispatches

Red Flag

54 Comments

A missive arrived to me from a well-placed British officer.  I know this officer well, and respect his abilities.  He has been to both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In part, the missive said:

“Please have a look at the attached from the UK Times.  Regarding the Rachel Sylvester piece, we have not been able to find any such document/memo although it is possible that an e-mail exists somewhere that refers to such a matter – more likely to be a warning not to dick about regarding what extra troops the UK might be able to find for AFG and raise unrealistic US expectations.”

Rachel Sylvester US doubts about UK military effectiveness 6 Jan 09.pdf

The Special Relationship Times leader 7 Jan 09.pdf

The words imply that the US-UK relationship is fraying.  This is untrue as seen from the foxholes I am constantly in.  I have embedded with numerous British units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen combat with all of those units.  Maybe five or so.  The units included 2 Rifles, 4 Rifles, Queen's Royal Lancers, Duke of Lancaster's, 2 Para, and I believe perhaps a couple more though there was much going on and it’s difficult to remember.
 
What I can say, is that the significant combat I saw with British soldiers made me respect them more with each battle.  Yes, it’s true their gear needs serious upgrading.  The British government needs to spend billions to upgrade the hardware.  But when it comes to the soldier, British soldiers are extremely well-trained, courageous and ready for a big firefight at the drop of a hat.  Our brothers and sisters are vastly outnumbered at Helmand Province in Afghanistan.  I think about them several times a day and am concerned that they might take serious losses this year.
 
When the question comes up about what Americans think about our closest ally, I ask MANY American soldiers what they think of the British.  There are mixed opinions of course, but the bottom line is that American combat veterans greatly respect British soldiers.  The British just need better gear.  Another well-placed British Army officer recently told me while I was in Afghanistan that the British have plenty of helicopters.  I did not respect those words, though I was told by an important American officer that this British officer is very good.  “Don’t bullshit me, sir,” I replied only in my head.  “I Don’t like BS.”  The British need more helicopters. The American and British soldiers know this.  A problem with the British soldiers is similar to a problem with our own Marines.  They refuse to complain, so they get leftovers.  A retired Australian officer of great significance asked me what I thought of British soldiers.  I said something to the effect of, “My opinion is suspect because I greatly respect British soldiers…”   If I did not respect British soldiers, I would not keep going into combat with them.
 
I have common access to the basement and stratosphere of our military.  Nobody wants to see the British go.  Strangely, both the British and American officers give high praise to the French.  The French actually will fight like mad dogs, they say.

It’s always easy to find a British or American soldier who will make a passing derogatory remark about someone.  If a reporter is shopping for a fight, those are easy to generate.  Yes, it’s easy to find Brits who say bad things about Americans, but definitely harder to find Americans who will say something bad about Brits.  We have some kind of strange reflex that prevents us from talking bad about Brits.  Our soldiers respect the Brits and do not talk bad about them.  But it’s easy to find British soldiers who complain about other British units, and Americans who complain about other American units.  U.S. Marines complain about U.S. Army; Army complains about Marines.  This battalion complains about that battalion.  Soldiers complain.  My ears overflow with vacuous complaints and also with real ones.  There is no real complaint against the British other than they need to field their military with better gear.  The British fight very well, but they need better gear.
 
This message was sent to me from a British officer:

"I know that, in the past, us Brits have rather banged on about our COIN experience and there is a natural (and not necessarily unhelpful) rivalry between US and UK forces that has existed for 70 odd years.  But there is deep respect for the US military in the British Army, but particularly the US Army and USMC with which we have more contact, especially the doctrinal transformation over the past few years.  This goes from the lowest level, for example the Scottish infantry soldiers working with the MEU in Garmsir in 2008, to the highest levels of our command.  
 
Let me give you just one example.  In July 2006 a Danish soldier working under UK command in Helmand was grievously wounded in a rather beleaguered (it was under repeated direct and indirect fire) outpost in Helmand – if I remember correctly it was Musa Qaleh.  The compound was too small for a Chinook to land to get the casualty out and the UK's small helicopters could not fly in the day time because of the extreme heat and altitude.  The soldier was dying and he couldn't wait. A battle-group level hasty air assault operation was planned to secure a landing zone nearby in Taleban dominated area and the intent was for the small garrison to fight its way out to get the casualty to that landing zone.  There was no doubt, not only must we expect to take further casualties, we could lose a Chinook. Then, a US Blackhawk medical helicopter swept in and then out of the compound with the casualty who I know was still alive when he later made it home to Denmark.  The whole attitude, despite the acute risk involved, was one of "no problem, anytime, just ask", as we say, "normal jogging".  Yet, no one who knew of that single event would have had anything other than the greatest admiration for those involved and the organization to which they belonged."


Our relationship with Great Britain is more than merely healthy.  It’s very strong.  The British are very close family.  We are in a serious fight in Afghanistan.  This is a team, and some members play harder than others.  The British are ready and willing to throw hard shots.  The British know the price of fighting.  And they know that the price for not fighting can be much higher.  


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Petriburg · 9 years ago
    Thanks Michael, I too read the doom-laden Times pieces and wondered where this claim emanated from...

    I think the ARRSErs will be watching this post with interest!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    dfp21 · 9 years ago
    Try to take an objective view of the Brits' performance in Iraq.
    They were made irrelevant in Basra by the militias, and they were humiliated by the Iranian Navy.
    That's quite a reputation they have now.
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    Janis · 9 years ago
    The EU Lisbon treaty (constitution of the EU) has just about sewed up the ability of the UK to do much of anything on their own. The EU does not want a special relationship across the Atlantic and would prefer EU armed forces to NATO, although I don't know who would pay for them. The new Brit carrier is penciled in to go to the EU navy (see EUReferendum.blogspot.com and the associated blog "Defense of the Realm"). Sadly, I'm not at all encouraged about future relations.
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    westerner · 9 years ago
    ARRSE, the site that has posters regularly sneering in contempt about US troops, "blue-on-blue","all the gear and no idea", "undisciplined, trigger-happy","Cletus with a gun", "cowardly" (lost in Vietnam, only entered WW1&2 at the last minute to make money), "gunslingers with no clue about COIN" , "N. Ireland", 'Malaya"," N. Ireland", "Malaya". etc. If they represent the real feelings of British Army veterans towards US troops it's very sad indeed. I can only hope current and recent British soldiers don't share these sentiments, you would never hear an American soldier speak anywhere remotely near these sentiments towards the British soldier. Indeed, the British soldier is respected and treated like family if his duty happens to bring him to the States. I've never heard anything remotely like this from Australian,New Zealand or Canadian veterans, all who have also served with or alongside US troops, rivalry ...yes, contempt and sneers.... no.
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    Thick Mick · 9 years ago
    ARRSE!! C'mon nobody pays attention to that women's web site. WTF.
    Those who can fight, fight! Those who can't become brilliant literary warriors etching their bitch, whine and mock of veryone else. 90% of those complaining about the US have an inferiority complex and/or lack their respective gender qualifications...their expression gives it away... "101".

    Now concerning the article it seems to me to be a little bit of political stirring the pot.
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    Been their done that · 9 years ago
    What better way to get the Brits motivated than to tell them they suck and whine like bitter prom queens without a date...or that they talk a good game but deliver a ...well I won't go there...but I will say they talk and talk and talk and did I mention that they run their Fing mouth to the sounds of my ex-wife.

    But in all fairness the article resonates a sound of a political stirring of the pot as a precursor to motivate.
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    casstx · 9 years ago
    I'm Irish. My husband is born and raised Highlander. So culturally, we both had no love lost with the Brits growing up. We're both Americans and he's SOF. He's expressed nothing but respect for the British forces in both Iraq and Afgh. You're right, they don't complain, they get the job done. He works with them on and off and said they're always dependable, sometimes crazy, and get the job done, just like his guys. I hope the Brits don't lose their hope and let the media lead them down the same path ours has because we're all in the fight for our lives. We need to come together, not let differences tear us apart.
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    ScottBA · 9 years ago
    "My husband is born and raised Highlander. So culturally, we both had no love lost with the Brits growing up"

    Not quite sure what you mean, I am from the Highlands of Scotland and int the British Army, the attitude you suggest is more at home in the 18th Century than modern Scotland.

    As to the article, there will always be friendyl rivalry, but between the UK and US there isn't much we cannot achieve.
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    Tim O · 9 years ago
    My experience with them was back in the 80s, my brother from the 70s; on both of our parts there was nothing but respect for the Brits. Their gear may need upgrading, ok fine, but the soldiers themselves were, and from what I've read since then, are, top notch
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    Sarmajor · 9 years ago
    I worked with British Commandos in Kabul and with a team that came down to Jalalabad to assess NCO leasdership in the ANA. These guys were relegated to a training mission but were more than willing to fight. I loved having them on our convoys as an extra couple of guns. They do need to upgrade their equipment but they work well with what they have. Great guys.

    Sarmajor
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    Plant_Life · 9 years ago
    There will always be rivalry between different nations but we are all here to achieve the same objectives. There are still a fair few bitter people out there because of the various blue on blues which have happened over the years because of the different ROE.

    As for the woman who said she is Irish and her hubby is a Highlander unless you were born in Ireland and your husband in Scotland you are not Irish or Scotish, mearly descended from there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Biped · 9 years ago
    To summarise: British troops are good guys, they fight hard, they fight well, but they haven't got enough kit, and what they HAVE got isn't up to the job . . . . . . . couldn't have said it better myself. 'twas ever thus, and in the light of continuing under-funding by an incompetent government, it will continue to be the case.

    I think that the British attitude (at ground level) is changing dramatically towards our septic cousins due to ongoing operations. Yes, the US forces did have a lousy reputation with British troops for some years due to a few serious blue-on-blue incidents, and a general perception that they were very gung-ho in their approach to warfare. That was before 8 years of warfare in which the US forces learned a good deal about asymetric warfare on a grand scale; 8 years in which that knowledge has been put to good use and 8 years in which that change of mindset and operational performance has been clearly demonstrated to their British cousins, who have watched, learned and come to appreciate and admire the US approach.

    Much of the bitching these days at ground level has stopped. There might be a bit of envy, there might be a bit whining about kit, but there is a good deal of (if at sometimes grudging) respect. British soldiers serving today will be the very FIRST to show gratitude to the US flying services as it is they who on many occasions have held our enemy at bay and stopped our outposts being over-run, when our own air power has been in too short supply.
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    Kefola · 9 years ago
    To columnist Rachel Sylvester who wrote this piece, I would say, show us this memo.
    It contains an extraordinary claim and deserves to be treated with more seriousness than just a fleeting aside in a personal opinion article.
    How can a newspaper columnist write a serious article in part based on a memo she hasn't seen and lie comfortably in her bed at night while brave British soldiers sleep uneasy in Helmand Province.
    From Michael Yon's war reporting and that of others, it is clear that the British soldier need make no excuses for his performance these past years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    If anything good comes of this article, it would be perhaps the realisation that when it comes to equipment, more investment is needed in the UK.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete Hartwick · 9 years ago
    I don't know Rachel and have no idea of her reputation for insightful opinion or her access to accurate sources of information inside the government. That being said: I tried to extract her point. I couldn't decide whether she was playing the typical "pompous opinion columnist" who simultaneously seeks to a) offer deep, penetrating analysis to the highest levels of government, of a kind and of a degree that would never be uttered by official underlings concerning the future relationship between our two governments; b) by reference to an unsourced "memo" that purports to call the whole spectrum of the UK's military capability and commitment into serious question, she seems to infer having some kind of inside track with a super source, thereby conveying an "of course this is the fact of the matter" impression.

    However, when read closely, the story doesn't say very much that's definitive or helpful. Rather, its value is mostly sensational and frankly, it seemed a little too self-aggrandizing. I kept wondering: What is the problem she presumes to understand and present? It's not clear whether it's the bad state of material, equipment and logistics (apparently valid), or is it the training and willingness of the combat soldier to engage in combat (apparently baseless)? The two issues are vastly different and mixing them together as she does actually frustrates, rather than enhances, understanding. In fact, if someone were to tell me that she's kust anti-military and anti-US and she's just trying to stir up a resentful backlash among the British citizenry, that would at least make some sense out of the article.

    In my USAF career, I served with Brits, Canadians and Australians. I saw the very subtle "put downs" of US forces by the Brits -- never the Canadians or Aussies -- and I asked a Canadian pilot with whom I'd become good friends about it. He acknowledged that I wasn't imagining things and when I asked Why, he quietly said that we Americans ought to just let them "vent" because they needed to do so for their own healthy self-respect.

    He went on to paint a picture I'll never forget: Imagine, he said, that one day in the future, the Philippines becomes THE world super power, while the US somehow found itself as a second tier player on the world stage, no longer able to call all the shots as it saw fit.

    But, because of historical ties and national interest, it was an ally of the Philippines and there was still a fond memory of MacArthur in Manila, etc. What do you think you'd say about the Philippine army or navy or air force?

    Hard to imagine the scenario, yes. But that's just about what happened to Great Britian in the span of less than 50 years, between Victoria and WWII. To him, WWI was the real culprit: so many young men were lost in that stupid slaughter of innocents, it decimated the population's prime reproduction demographic and achieved nothing except pave the way for another slaughter twenty years later. The British people were driven into survival mode and lost any appetite for world power status. He pointed out that the US has never seen casualties anywhere near those levels in a foreign war and we can't possibly understand the effect it would have.

    Interesting perspective. It gave me a different appreciation of my British colleagues and commrads from that point onward.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete Hartwick · 9 years ago
    I don't know Rachel and have no idea of her reputation for insightful opinion or her access to accurate sources of information inside the government. That being said: I tried to extract her point. I couldn't decide whether she was playing the typical "pompous opinion columnist" who simultaneously seeks to a) offer deep, penetrating analysis to the highest levels of government, of a kind and of a degree that would never be uttered by official underlings concerning the future relationship between our two governments; b) by reference to an unsourced "memo" that purports to call the whole spectrum of the UK's military capability and commitment into serious question, she seems to infer having some kind of inside track with a super source, thereby conveying an "of course this is the fact of the matter" impression.

    However, when read closely, the story doesn't say very much that's definitive or helpful. Rather, its value is mostly sensational and frankly, it seemed a little too self-aggrandizing. I kept wondering: What is the problem she presumes to understand and present? It's not clear whether it's the bad state of material, equipment and logistics (apparently valid), or is it the training and willingness of the combat soldier to engage in combat (apparently baseless)? The two issues are vastly different and mixing them together as she does actually frustrates, rather than enhances, understanding. In fact, if someone were to tell me that she's kust anti-military and anti-US and she's just trying to stir up a resentful backlash among the British citizenry, that would at least make some sense out of the article.

    In my USAF career, I served with Brits, Canadians and Australians. I saw the very subtle "put downs" of US forces by the Brits -- never the Canadians or Aussies -- and I asked a Canadian pilot with whom I'd become good friends about it. He acknowledged that I wasn't imagining things and when I asked Why, he quietly said that we Americans ought to just let them "vent" because they needed to do so for their own healthy self-respect.

    He went on to paint a picture I'll never forget: Imagine, he said, that one day in the future, the Philippines becomes THE world super power, while the US somehow found itself as a second tier player on the world stage, no longer able to call all the shots as it saw fit.

    But, because of historical ties and national interest, it was an ally of the Philippines and there was still a fond memory of MacArthur in Manila, etc. What do you think you'd say about the Philippine army or navy or air force?

    Hard to imagine the scenario, yes. But that's just about what happened to Great Britian in the span of less than 50 years, between Victoria and WWII. To him, WWI was the real culprit: so many young men were lost in that stupid slaughter of innocents, it decimated the population's prime reproduction demographic and achieved nothing except pave the way for another slaughter twenty years later. The country never recovered, either psychically or numerically. The British people were driven into survival mode and lost any appetite for world power status. He pointed out that the US has never seen casualties anywhere near those levels in a foreign war and we can't possibly understand the effect it would have on a population. He was right, of course.

    Interesting perspective. It gave me a different appreciation of my British colleagues and comrads from that point onward.
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    ecosium · 9 years ago
    I've worked with the Brits on several occasions and found them to be really top notch. Great guys. None of my fellow Soldiers really say anything bad about them and we are sorry to see them leave us in Iraq.
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    Septic tank · 9 years ago
    Well, the contempt is "real." A bit like their contempt for the French (surrender monkeys), the Italians (turncoats), etc. It's a cultural "diss the stereotype" thing, partly ironic, partly meant. A lot of it is received wisdom of the sort that gets repeated again and again till it becomes a stereotype -- the Yanks are "cowboys," "gungho" or whatever. It's a self-respect thing too, as someone mentioned above. They like to believe that they have a superior, stiff-upper-lipped ironic attitude to all things that Americans couldn't possibly understand or appreciate.

    It's harmless mostly.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Septic tank · 9 years ago
    Well, the contempt is "real." A bit like their contempt for the French (surrender monkeys), the Italians (turncoats), etc. It's a cultural "diss the stereotype" thing, partly ironic, partly meant. A lot of it is received wisdom of the sort that gets repeated again and again till it becomes a stereotype -- the Yanks are "cowboys," "gungho" or whatever. It's a self-respect thing too, as someone mentioned above. They like to believe that they have a superior, stiff-upper-lipped ironic attitude to all things that Americans couldn't possibly understand or appreciate.

    It's harmless mostly.
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    Texpatriate · 9 years ago
    This sounds to me like the British MoD is cranking up a pitch for more money, which they probably need, by pointing to the loss of American confidence and all that it portends.

    I've no doubt the memo is genuine, but the quality of the British forces are simply not a matter of controversy in the US. It's not a leading item in our papers; Bill O'Reilly hasn't fulminated about it on Fox News; nobody's talking about it in the break room. And with all that Mr. Obama will have on his plate when he takes office, some incremental realignment of a fully-functioning military alliance would seem to be near the bottom of his to-do list.

    Having said all that, the British army does need more soldiers and new hardware. Heck, if someone will set up a fund somewhere, I'd even kick in a couple of bucks.
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    Joe Norman · 9 years ago
    Folks, this is about survival of our civilization. When I say "our" I mean western civilization.... brits, Yanks, French, Aussies, N.Z., Canucks......we are ALL in this thing together, and I'm willing to bet that no people better understand the truth of that than the guys doing the fighting. Of course you will have the odd bonehead who will piss and whine about things.....it IS after all the military, and that's what we do:COMPLAIN!!.....but when it comes down to brass tacks, the Western fighter is a capable and fierce Warrior, limited only by equipment, tactical doctrine, and political dogma. I'd be willing to bet that ANY combat trooper would agree with that, and I'll take the hard won observations of the Warriors every day over those of an agenda driven hack like Sylvester.
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    Charley · 9 years ago
    Let me address the comments above implying British 'arrogance'. In the past, the Brits pretty much considered themselves to be peerless soldiers in the West. A thoroughly professional volunteer Army fought a dozen dirty little wars after the last big-un, including the only successful campaign against Communist guerrillas, against a relatively sophisticated South American foe 8,000 miles from home and badly out-numbered and came out genreally victorious. Not to mention a 30 year campaign against a committed and professional terrorist organisation (thank God Al Queda hasn't got IRA operators on their pay-roll!) I was part of that Army for 31 years until the Summer of last year and fought in 4 of those 'conflicts'. My father fought in of those 'bush-fires'.

    We were peerless throughout the 70's, 80,s and most of the 90's. The American's had only been professional (after the draft) for a limited period, lacked experience, good quality officers and maintained personal soldiering standards (navigation, CV fitness and field-craft) significantly lower than their counterparts in the UK, Canadian or Australian forces. Any honest American soldier who completed a course/exercise with soldiers from any of those nations will admit as much. Hardly a surprise given the size of the American Army (and the USMC is bigger than all Brit services together). The Germans have a saying: "Kleiner ist Feiner" - smaller is better. It's always been easy to train harder when you have a smaller force, can be selective in recruiting and have a constant input from on-going operations. And when you have a Family Regiment tradition and ethos. So yes, Brits were occasionally scathing about the performance of Americans, but it's also part of our culture to 'take the piss' and constantly attempt to rile your friends - so no-one should take it too much to heart. These days, the Aussies are scathing about their 'Pom' counterparts in very much the same way. Fair enough - I hold them to be probably the best troops in the World today.

    That all being so, the American soldier has improved dramatically since 9/11 and the Army has developed some top notch units. The USMC has always been held in high regard and never more so than now. The US can justifiably be proud of its' Army, which is matchless in the conventional field and developing an intelligent approach to COIN. As the British Army (and Royal Marines) approach exhaustion through over-stretch, and many outstanding married young officers and JNCOs leave under pressure from worried spouses, the US Army seems to go from strength to strength. And where would we be without the outstanding American Air force? So chill out....if the shit fits, wear it: You really weren't very good. Now you're so much better and the West would crumble without you.
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    Christina Finn · 9 years ago
    The British Military Personnel and Veterans are an amazing Lot! We as Patriotic Americans have a great deal of RESPECT for those whom have served along side our Sons and Daughters. I Believe and have seen the after effects of Troops that have come home to a Nation that does not support those that have been wounded in harms way. All of England's Veterans Health care Facilities have been shut down....Do you think their government gives a flip about the Man or Woman on the ground if they are supplied with inadequate equipment??? Freedom costs........

    They better look seriously into their fiscal budgets and determine if their lifestyles are worth Defending. Please, dear God; continue to Defend the Defenders. There will never be an influx of dedicated, viable future soldiers as long as an administration, will choose to underfund the Benefits and Services the Veteran has Earned and Deserves.

    I think the World of the British Military Men & Women; the Veterans that I have met are Loyal, and Fierce to secure FREEDOM. I filmed a documentary with the BBC regarding our coalition troops Veterans' Health care issues. They are a grand bunch and deserve to be RESPECTED and Revered for their Heart.

    This article is one woman's perspective sitting behind a computer in a Freeland.........Michael your perspective is one to share and spread; your having served alongside these Heroic individuals. What ever land they are representing they Fight alongside one another...To accomplish the mission. We respect your dispatches. With our son serving in Afghanistan, I rely upon your Truth!!

    As an aside: For those sites that may say that "We lost in Vietnam," that never happened. Our Military NEVER lost a Battle, the War was lost in D.C. Read history.... the leader and general of the North Vietnamese Army wrote in his memoirs, if we had just bombed another #2 weeks they would have had to Surrender. Any fight worth starting should be played out to fruition.

    God Bless you efforts, and the Brave Men & Women whose stories you share with us here waiting at Home.
    Respectfully,
    The "Pillow Lady" Christina Finn a Blue Star MOM
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    P. Jack Driscoll · 9 years ago
    There is no perfect group of men, whether US or otherwise, however I can only expressed admiration for the British forces from what I have read at Micheal Yon and other sites. God bless them for their heroic efforts.

    I am praying for them daily.

    God bless them all.

    P. Jack Driscoll
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    Rykehaven · 9 years ago
    Yon, considering that you declared a British victory in Basra after they pulled out last year when everyone in the US military knew they'd gotten the hell out of dodge, I'm surprised you have the gumption to write this drivel.

    At any rate it's as much of an admission that the British are still over-rated in some circles; in fact, the British were dismissed by the US military long before Basra.

    Does it trouble you?

    That the US Military's long disdain in response to the mutual loathing of the Royal Armed Forces and their cowardice is finally leaking into American Civi minds? Or does it trouble you that those who've been reading your dispatches are being blind-sided by this reality because you avoided this subject, knowing it might restrict your British "access" if you told your readers the truth?

    Your defense of the British reads like any other self-congratulatory BS lecture the British soldiers and sailors give the US military, then fail to back up whnever they get captured or hunker down silently behind blast walls, hoping the militias don't notice their remote base camps. You may be able to convince civilians otherwise, but it won't change things where it really counts: in the field and on the high seas, the British hype is not a deterrent; the Taliban affiliates, like the Basra militias want to negotiate with the BRITISH military, not the American. We BOTH know what that means even if most civis don't.

    Oh, and the fact that they "don't have the right equipment" is bogus and everybody from Iraq to Afghanistan knows it, so let's put the lie to your ass-covering.

    The British could have brought all the helos and airlift they wanted: even if they couldn't, they would have fed off of our own supplies parasitically just as they have done since the beginning of OEF (which they would and NOBODY who knows about Britain's dependency on American inventories, airlift and logistics could claim otherwise).

    The ONE PROBLEM the British have has NOTHING to do with "equipment shortages".

    It never has.

    Their problem is one of MISSION: if they got the helicopters, WHAT WOULD THEY DO WITH THEM? From the beginning, they never had ANY intention of going into population centers and fighting the militias in Helmand (the same goes for Basra), and everybody involved in theater knows that.

    So why are the British in Afganistan?

    It sounds infuriatingly petty (and it is): they're in theater to "show up" and claim credit in case there's a victory to be had. Then claim the Americans couldn't have done it without them. The same is true of every other "ally"; the Japanese, the Koreans, the Dutch, the French, the Germans, etc: their all married to the idea that America "owes" them for their "sacrifices" in protecting America. Read their newspapers and find out.

    Hell, read MICHAEL YON'S webiste and find out.

    No, the US military doesn't buy this drivel, but plenty of other people do. Geopolitics at its best.

    If the British had helos, they'd be able to cover more ground and project themselves over the breadth of their area of responsibility, engaging in wide-scale operations. No duh, everybody in the military involved with OEF and OIF knows that and we've been offering our NATO "allies" the airlift to bring in whatever supplies necessary for YEARS.

    So your "lack of equipment" is bogus because the British had EVERY opportunity to get that equipment flown in, at least during the Bush administration.

    What we ALSO know is that, to the British and every other NATO country, having the "right" equipment is not desirable. Again, if they HAD the right equipment, what excuse would they have in AVOIDING engaging with the militias. Having that equipment would mean they would have to document its use, DOUBLY so if it's provided and run in tandem with supplies provided by the US. There'd be no more HIDING.
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    Rykehaven · 9 years ago
    westerner said: "I can only hope current and recent British soldiers don't share these sentiments, you would never hear an American soldier speak anywhere remotely near these sentiments towards the British soldier. Indeed, the British soldier is respected and treated like family if his duty happens to bring him to the States."

    Yes, we WOULD.

    American CIVILIANS wouldn't, but American soldiers, sailors and airmen (mostly the junior personnel) DO fight back whenever they come into contact with pompous British counterparts. You just don't hear about it
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    Rykehaven · 9 years ago
    Texpatriate said: "I've no doubt the memo is genuine, but the quality of the British forces are simply not a matter of controversy in the US."

    Agreed.

    This is not a controversy in the US Media and most of the Civilian population.

    There is also no controversy about the quality of British forces in the US Military.

    The REAL controversy is that opinions diverge between the US Military and the US population about the quality of British forces. It was THIS divergent opinion that has done so much damage to OEF and OIF by allowing essentially "non-combat peacekeepers" to be responsible for what are still combat situations. Part of this was, admittably, the America's confidence that the respective wars were over and that it was "safe" to let the allies walk in and have them take part in the victory.

    Hubris and pride has definitely come before the fall.

    I guess I have people like you to thank for that.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rykehaven · 9 years ago
    Previous post cut-off:

    westerner said: "I can only hope current and recent British soldiers don't share these sentiments, you would never hear an American soldier speak anywhere remotely near these sentiments towards the British soldier. Indeed, the British soldier is respected and treated like family if his duty happens to bring him to the States."

    Yes, we WOULD.

    American CIVILIANS wouldn't, but American soldiers, sailors and airmen (mostly the junior personnel) DO fight back whenever they come into contact with pompous British counterparts. You just don't hear about it because the media and even the command clam up. The junior personnel sometimes donƒ??t say anything because they donƒ??t know how to react. They donƒ??t understand why the Brits would have that kind of attitude towards them. Many others, however, DO react (especially those with experience in OIF and OEF) by bring up the fact that the British do as little as possible, run from the militias, hide behind blast walls, get captured without discharging weapons, take credit for accomplishments not their own, etc. The trouble starts when the Brits try to pick their fights because even if theyƒ??re tactically lousy, theyƒ??re politically adept.

    To be honest, itƒ??s the WRONG approach.

    Senior NCOs and Officers know how to handle the Brits appropriately: We IGNORE them. Because if thereƒ??s one thing the Brits canƒ??t stand, itƒ??s to be DISMISSED and reminded of just how irrelevant they are.

    Itƒ??s a long-standing policy in the US Military in regards to the ƒ??public-faceƒ?.

    In PRIVATE, of course, itƒ??s hard not to rip the Brits and dissect their operations. For Godƒ??s sakes, itƒ??s part of our job.

    Iƒ??m not talking about exercises in ƒ??whiningƒ? the way the Brits do about ƒ??blue-on-blueƒ? either, an attitude that is rooted in the British troopsƒ?? comparative inexperience/ignorance of CAS*.

    Iƒ??m talking about having a meeting in the wardroom with the senior crew, and the discussion turns to the latest British screw-up such as their VBSS and Royal Marines getting captured by the Iranians. After all, we need to know what happened so it can be applied to serious boarding sin the future. The Captain (as if he needed to be reminded) has to be told that the British Militaryƒ??s ƒ??assessmentƒ? blaming ƒ??lack of equipmentƒ? and claiming that the home ship was too far for support are BOGUS. That the British excuse for ƒ??lack of supportƒ? is meant to hide a FAR deeper flaw.

    Sound familiar?

    *In fact, the Army believes that the British [and Canadians et al] are responsible for the ƒ??blue-on-blueƒ?. It has something to do with coordination and wandering into other peopleƒ??s sectors when youƒ??re not supposed to. Considering the British lack of capability in CAS and the relative experience of US pilots, I lean towards the Army's version, but of course Iƒ??m JUST being biased.

    What's important, though, is that there IS another side of the story and media people have "neglected" to mention it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hohum · 9 years ago
    Rykehaven - you seem to think British soldiers are responsible for choices which are actually made by the UK government. Your drivel about cowardice regarding these soldiers is sickening.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hohum · 9 years ago
    "Rykehaven - Senior NCOs and Officers know how to handle the Brits appropriately: We IGNORE them. Because if thereƒ??s one thing the Brits canƒ??t stand, itƒ??s to be DISMISSED and reminded of just how irrelevant they are.

    Itƒ??s a long-standing policy in the US Military in regards to the ƒ??public-faceƒ?.

    I find it difficult to believe that the primary motivation when dealing with a leading ally is based on how to annoy them best. The US services are more professional than that.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rykehaven · 9 years ago
    Yon said: "We have some kind of strange reflex that prevents us from talking bad about Brits. Our soldiers respect the Brits and do not talk bad about them."

    I call BS.

    US soldiers, sailors and airmen won't talk to YOU about what we think of the British.

    If some random journalist walked up to me and started asking leading questions (no matter what the subject), I'd ignore you/blow-you-off too. It wouldn't be because I like or respect the British. ANY US military serviceman would react the same way: We'd ignore in that situation.

    (and it's not the first time some journalist magically tried to "misrepresent" a "no-comment" into a "they-agree-with-me" spoof)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matt Delventhal · 9 years ago
    The Army and the Air Force and the Navy and the Marines all talk crap about eachother. For that matter, there are plenty of individual companies where soldiers from different platoons are barely on speaking terms. If Brits and Yanks didn't talk crap about eachother, it would mean there was something seriously wrong with the military culture. They'll work together well enough when the time comes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Glenn Brown · 9 years ago
    America doesn't need anyone else. In fact: everyone else is utter crap. Always have been. You can do this all by yourselves. So crack on big lads!
    Holy Christ, is it any wonder the World hates this attitude? Seriously, arrogance doesn't really hit it, does it? A society with a life expectancy lower than the most of rest of the Western World, an infant mortality rate lower than the rest of the Western World, an execution rate higher than the rest of the Western World (put together actually), a literacy rate lower than most of the Western World. And some 40 million of its citizens can't afford Health Insurance (why isn't there a public health system? Is the Fire service private too? Tell me the difference.....) Yet....it controls 70% of the entire Worlds' wealth? Home of the brave, land of the free? A purportedly very Christian nation that despises dread Socialism (a ideology where all the people, through Government instruments, unselfishly CARE for each other) How long before your next President is assassinated? How long before the next school grand massacre? A land where nearly 30,000 people will die of gun-shot wounds this coming year? This is democracy? This is the home of freedom? The Great American Way? You know what? Fcuk you. In 50 years time, when we're all learning Mandarin as our second language, I hope your kids remember that America was once supreme, once impregnable and above all.....right.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bunzii · 9 years ago
    I served in both Afghanistan and Iraq with British troops and contractors. I have nothing but the utmost respect for those men and women. To imply we have some kind of conflict or superior opinion of ourselves over them is total shiite or bullocks! (as the fellas would say)
    I even spent a week in London going around with several friends from the "zone" and had a great time. Was treated with a great deal of respect and enjoyed y self considerably. A great sense of humor but when professionalism was required, they were all over it!!
    Its BS to think anything else. Just war-Bush haters looking for another place to divide and conquer!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    david Mullins · 9 years ago
    British soldiers are like any soldiers. They have some of the finest in the worl and I am sure some that they may not be so proud of especially the younger ones adn maybe some in regular units.
    BUT, I worked along side many SAS professionals and I am as impressed by them as any fighting force in the world. I have worked with many top units and they, the SAS are some of the finest. I was honored tro e been able to serve and share experiences with them. many times teh media just does not know of people listed to distorted medial stories. We teh professionals know better and the best. God Bless tehm all. David
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Orbit Rain · 9 years ago
    funny..I was just thinking about gifting a pistol to a friend in the Britain's service (who previously gifted me a knife)...I don't think he could take it home tho...

    :|

    wtf and lol
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Nichevo · 9 years ago
    Meanwhile, Glenn Brown, you'll be speaking Mandarin too, and I guess it'll be all right with you, as long as you got to take the piss out of us once more.

    Jackass. I won't bother to rebut your incorrect statistics but it's funnier than Benny Hill how you can say anything you want about us and we have to swallow it (I mean turning a hair at "septic" makes us look like some kind of rubes, eh?), but any criticism of you, whether entirely fair or maybe a little over the top, absolutely sends you into fits of diarrhea.

    I don't know why this Rykehaven is so hard on you lot, but while I feel bad for any other Brit who may be exposed to it, somehow I don't mind when it's you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    The ghost of Pongo W · 9 years ago
    Mr Yon is on the ball as per, what we really need in the UK is a US invasion to rid us our Government. They have no scrupples about commiting our soldiers to military operations in order to capture good headlines - otherwise known as 'spin' - but have not the faintest care or clue as to the implications and responsibilities that go with those decisions. I like the US, you are our brothers and I have great respect for your Armed Forces but you all need to understand that by far the hardest fight Her Majesties Forces face is with our slimy and treacherous neo-communist Goverment. They will not rest until they have destroyed the traditions and fighting capabilities of HMF because we are all that stand between them and their dream of a neo-communist dictatorship.

    Why didn't we finish the job in Basra? Because Blair was so frightened of the bad publicity large casualty figures would bring he bottled it and left us swinging in the breeze. Do you think British soldiers liked that??!

    If we don't have a change of Government soon then an equally shameful situation is likely to develop in Helmand, not because ofthe men on the ground but because of the scum pulling the strings in London.

    Yet you are presenting medals to Blair, the architect of HMF's problems - looks like he's conned you lot too.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tony · 9 years ago
    Good job - I think this will also be well read at Army.ca (Canadian equivalent of ARRSE) with interest as well.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stevey · 9 years ago
    Rykehaven: For someone apparently in the US military, you seem to have an astonishing amount of time to sit and post drivel on internet forums. For a start, you can't even get your basic facts right: there is no 'Royal Armed Forces'. That is quite concerning seeing as you allude to briefing Captain-level military personnel.

    "Iƒ??m talking about having a meeting in the wardroom with the senior crew, and the discussion turns to the latest British screw-up such as their VBSS and Royal Marines getting captured by the Iranians."

    Presumably, the discussion then turned to the capture of US military personnel by the Iranian navy in 2003? Military operations throughout history have included mistakes. The US military has a proud history and my utmost respect, but you are in no position to slam UK operations given US failures in places like Somalia (of course, had that been a UK operation you would have blamed the troops rather than the guilty politicians), Beirut, The Iranian hostage crisis in 1980 and the capture of the ship the USS Pueblo (note, not a small inflatable boarding craft as in the case of the Royal Navy in 2007) by North Korea in the 1960s. These are examples of political and military mistakes which are inherant in war, despite the bravery of US or UK military personnel.

    The UK has sustained substantial causualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would not had been incurred had they not been taking the fight to the enemy in both theatres. I knew a British soldier killed in Afghanistan and a tougher, steadier man you could not meet. Your disrespect for all the thousands of UK personnel injured and hundereds of Uk personnel killed in recent years is sickening.

    In Iraq, insufficient resources were committed and UK politicians successively decided to scale down UK ops. That is not the fault of the military (who are still operating in the centre of Basra).You also seem to forget that UK troops moved North to temporarily replace US forces heading for Fallujah in 2004 and sustained substantial casualties there as well. You must have read Michael's reports on Southern Iraq in 2007. Presumably you mean to suggest that his coverage of strike operations by the British were faked? Presumably, so are the other overwhelmingly positive comments on the British posted on this very website by US personnel who have served with the British?

    Your opinion seems to be quite isolated, deosn't it?

    "Or does it trouble you that those who've been reading your dispatches are being blind-sided by this reality because you avoided this subject, knowing it might restrict your British "access" if you told your readers the truth? "

    Your disdain for Michael Yon, a man willing to put his life on the line to properly cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanista is evident. Why, then, do you keep visiting this wesbite? I'm sure Mr. Yon hs no financial need to cover a multi-national ally. Most of Mr. Yon's readership are American, with a natural heightened interest in US forces.

    I,for one, am very grateful for Mr. Yon's excellent work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    listener · 9 years ago
    Michael,

    It is refreshing to receive information and commentary from you! As I read the articles and comments of others I am grateful for your sane objectivity in the midst of so much misinformation, lies and emotional blather! Thank you!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ken Lay · 9 years ago
    I seriously doubt it . What do you think of this? please let your local hedge fund manager know about this in any way you feel comfrotable with.

    http://www.deepcapture.com/hedge-funds-to-us-soldier-i-need-a-maybach-so-you-can-die-too/
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lori · 9 years ago
    Mr. Brown, you asked:

    Is it any wonder the world hates this attitude? Here in the USA, it isn't an attitude. It is confidence in fine fighting men and women that serve our country. Might I suggest that you are a bit jealous?

    Last time I checked our life expectancy is 86-90. How much longer are we supposed to live? Those are pretty darn impressive numbers if you ask me. Are you complaining that our infant mortality rate is lower than the rest of the world? We should be proud of that. Our execution rate is higher because we put up with less crap than the rest of the world does and we don't have to pay, with our tax dollars, for those who rape our children and murder our families. I question your literacy statement. I would put our high school students up against yours any day of the week.

    40 million can't afford health care? You read the New York Times, obviously. Let's not forget that last year was an election year and our media has a tendency to inflate issues. Yes, more needs to be done about our health care but we are dealing with it. A public health system, you suggest? Why would we want to allow our government to DICTATE to us about whom we seek out for our health needs. A perfect example is Canada, they have a public health system and millions come HERE for treatment. Might I also point out that in Britain that there are folks who pull their own teeth because the government either refuses to help or the price is so high that they have no other options. If that is an example of publice health, then by golly, you can keep it. If that is an example of CARING then you have been fed a bucket full of BS. How long before our next president is assassinated? No one knows, just as you don't know when the Prime Minister would be a target. Might I ask you when the next terrorist attack will happen in YOUR land? We haven't had one since 9/11. Can you say the same thing?

    Yes Mr. Brown, this is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave and we are PROUD people. Proud of this country, proud of our soldiers, past and present and most definately humbled by their sacrifices. While you are learning Mandarin, and let's not forget Muslim because we know they are taking over your country, we, the proud and CONFIDENT Americans will be sending our troops to where they are needed to fight for those who can't. We will stand proudly beside the Brits, Canadians and Aussies and defend the basic HUMAN rights of those who can't defend themselves because we ARE a Christian country and we take the words of the likes of you as nothing but a bitter, jealous idiot who listens to a media who creates sensationalism to make more money. Not just our media, but yours as well. Believe what you will Mr. Brown. We will keep on keeping on, with the worlds approval or not, because WE ARE THE WORLDS BEST MILITARY and we are the WORLDS BEST CITIZENS and we live, with respect, with those who defend the rights of others. Something, obviously, your parents forgot to teach you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Son Charno · 9 years ago
    Google " Rykehaven" and check out his comments on other blogs - spend some time on it, it's worth it. HE IS A VERY ANGRY MAN. My favourite is an exchange he gets into with a Kerry supporter who turns out to be ex-forces. I'm not sure what gives a retired Petty Officer the right to speak for the entire US Military - but there you go.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Smith · 9 years ago
    Something -- many things -- about your comments bothered me, but I couldn't quite get to the bottom of it. You do imitate a thoughtful, knowledgeable writer well. But then I came to this referring to Yon:

    "If some random journalist walked up to me and started asking leading questions (no matter what the subject), I'd ignore you/blow-you-off too. It wouldn't be because I like or respect the British. ANY US military serviceman would react the same way: We'd ignore in that situation."

    You are unmasked by your own words. "Some random journalist?!!" You, sir, are a mirage. You seem to be something, and you do that well, but upon closer approach you disappear like nothing but the hot air you are.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 9 years ago
    Any soldier that didn't believe with all his heart that he was a soldier in the finest army in the world wouldn't be much of a soldier.
    I appreciate that Americans believe that anything that is not American is a step down, but I can assure you that a British soldier can shoot, piss and spit just as straight and just as far as any American soldier and would be willing to die to prove it.
    I would remind you that we are allies, and have been for many, many years. It seems to me that America is bent on alienating their friends (Canadians and Brits) even more than their enemies.
    I don't think I've ever witnessed such an example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    toxicseagull · 9 years ago
    Im afraid your post is essentially made up of air. your life expectancy is lower than britain for a start (45th in the world, britain is 37th), your mortality rate for infants is 6.5 per 1000, britain is 5.

    "Our execution rate is higher because we put up with less crap than the rest of the world does"
    well thats not true at all, your crime rates are some of the highest in the western world.

    "and we don't have to pay, with our tax dollars, for those who rape our children and murder our families"
    it costs a lot of money to keep someone on death row. and certainly everyone who kills does not get to be executed, let alone rape.

    "I question your literacy statement. I would put our high school students up against yours any day of the week."
    thats great, but most objective studies dont show the US even in the top 10. the dutch, canada, finland are regularly near the top btw.

    "Might I also point out that in Britain that there are folks who pull their own teeth because the government either refuses to help or the price is so high that they have no other options"
    there was one old guy who couldnt be bothered to go to the dentist. it wasnt a epidemic, it was him being lazy.

    "A perfect example is Canada, they have a public health system"
    canada's system is not properly public, it is mainly provided by private companies. by the way, trips for americans to get cheaper care to canada has generated over a billion for canada.
    if your worried about your tax dollars, the US spends the most per capita in the world attempting to maintain the private sector healthcare, which ranks a substandard 37th in the world.

    "Might I ask you when the next terrorist attack will happen in YOUR land? We haven't had one since 9/11. Can you say the same thing?"
    what point are you trying to make here? is there some race? but we wouldnt want to use the suffering of thousands of people for a worthless debate like this surely? so i ask again your point with this statement.

    "While you are learning Mandarin,"
    you owe the chinese a lot of money, they have subsidised your government, in the US 4.4% are chinese, in britain 0.4%. oh and does learning a language mean that your somehow subservient to that country? you are speaking english after all so im curious to whether your intended insult stretches to other languages?

    "and let's not forget Muslim because we know they are taking over your country"
    what all 2.7% of them?

    "and defend the basic HUMAN rights of those who can't defend themselves"
    neither war was ever about human rights. please dont sprout this. unless your planning to deploy to Zimbabwe tomorrow?

    "and we take the words of the likes of you as nothing but a bitter, jealous idiot who listens to a media who creates sensationalism to make more money."
    this is a nice nonsensical rant. what does money making have to do with not agreeing with you?. not to mention hypocritical considering the accusations you've attempted to make previously, which have obviously been plucked from biased media sources.

    "and we are the WORLDS BEST CITIZENS"
    how are you quantifying that?

    your post is entirely misinformed, whilst i dont back up his comments i would appreciate it if you made sense and used correct knowledge. it is exactly that attitude that you have shown that makes people have a negative view of americans.

    as someone who has family in both the british and american forces, who have been deployed, on both teams, in both operations, much kudos to Mr Yon for being the eyes on the ground for us, this reporting is exactly what mainline media and the armchair blogger blabble has been missing.

    Carry on the good work. there are idiots on both sides of every fence but there are also innumerable heroes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dana L. Williams · 9 years ago
    although I have never served in a combat environment with UK soldiers, my observation of those elements I served with in Germany is that they were highly professional and competent, and I see no reason to believe their conduct in a combat environment would be any less.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A. Johnson · 9 years ago
    I am retired military and have served in two branches of the US armed forces. Members of the Royal Navy and RAF I encountered along the way were uniformly impressive for their esprit and professionalism. And, Michael, your recent observations of operations with units of the British Army only confirm what I had expected to hear about them. To use a UK colloquialism they "punch well above their weight."

    And apparently by a large margin, the consensus of other posters here bears me out. Of course, given the large number of commentators, unanimity isn't to be expected nor should it be; everyone has a right to his/her own opinion. However the way some people express their opinion says more about themselves than those about whom they are opining.

    Exhibit "A" would have to be Rykehaven. His comments are so full of hyperbole (def., exaggerated statements not to be taken literally) that it is impossible to give them credence and be taken at face value; i.e., Michael's writing "drivel,'" Royal Armed Forces' [sic, there is no such thing] "cowardice", Michaels' favorable commentary can only be ascribed to nothing other than concern for 'British "access"',' Michael's factual accounting of events viewed as a "defense of the British," "let's put the lie to your ass-covering," etc., ad nauseam, and I do mean ad nauseam.

    Rykehaven's postings, beginnings to ends, reeks of so much gratuitous maliciousness and goes so far afield from rational dissent or disagreement that one can only wonder about his motivation, not to speak of his state of mind; more than just a little redolent of neurosis and paranoia at the least.

    It's not only the Brits who are the focus of Rykehaven's ire. As someone else suggested, Googling his name reveals some really remarkable diatribes on other websites about the relationships of the US with countries in which we have military facilities. Of course, there is malfeasance if not out right treachery abounding everywhere according to Rykehaven which he ascribes to the "State Department and Washington and the rest is the craven treachery of the locals." References to our allies without exception are always enclosed in quotations, i.e., "allies," inferring scornfully that they are not worthy of really being considered as such; of course, really just the opposite.

    And lest anyone doubt the assurance and authority with which Rykehaven delivers his pontifications, they are liberally larded throughout with bureaucratic jargon and acronyms, i.e., SOS for Secretary of State, SOFA for Status of Forces Agreement, etc.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lori · 9 years ago
    While I appreciate your Google results you have missed my point entirely. You start your first post with an insult. You sought to insinuate that ALL Americans are as your post suggests. You confuse the difference of the citizens with the government. As Mr. Yon pointed out, the differences and therefore the opinions, the American and Brit soldiers have are unique to the individual. While I appreciate your hatred of America, I wonder if you came here to get a rise out of someone who would take the bait with YOUR biased and unsubstantiated "facts" just so you could prove your "point". Your follow up response proves what I thought all along.

    I am sure that you and I could go on for hours flexing our muscles about what country is better or worse. I am just as sure that at the end of the day we would both see that our countries each have strengths and weaknesses, which is why it is so important for our countries to be allies. Just because a few soldiers, here or there, have expressed a dislike for each other does not mean that our alliance is any less strong, which was the point of Mr. Yon's post in regards to the biased New York Times article. What saddens me the most is the outright attack that you felt you needed to express here. Mr. Yon places his life on the line to report to us the truths of what is happening on the battlefield and I, for one, trust his reports more than any other outlet that exists. He supports OUR, (yes...yours and mine) troops. While it would be interesting to have an actual conversation with someone from Britain about the reason some feel the need to attack our troops and our country and what brought them to the point that they feel like they need too, you, Mr. Brown, would not be my choice. Have a blessed day Mr. Brown.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    casstx · 9 years ago
    I think it's kind of humorous that I write something in support of the Brits and get negative comments from 2 people about it. ScottBA, there are 2 SAS on my Husband's team, and their rivalry is quite friendly, not 18th cent, and to Plant-Life, duh.

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