Michael's Dispatches

Stars & Stripes

13 August 2009

Reporting from Afghanistan: Not your typical job

Posted August 12th, 2009 by Leo Shane in Stripes Central

Back in 2006 I spent six weeks traveling around Afghanistan with various U.S. Army units and reporting on what troops were dealing with in the "forgotten" war. Filing stories and calling my editors was always a tricky prospect, even without any of the heavy fighting that reporters there now are seeing.

So it's humbling to me to listen to this live interview with Michael Yon from his latest travels into Afghanistan, this time with British troops.

Yon has already made a name for himself with his freelance work in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and his latest work has given an up-close view of the tension and danger in Afghanistan right now. But this interview may top all that.

At just about the 7:30 mark, you can start to hear gunfire in the background as he talks with Military.com's Ward Carroll about recent violence in the area. A few minutes later, he pauses for a minute to get to a safer location as machine gun fire intensifies and a rocket whizzes overhead.

But it's only a momentary pause, and he doesn't let the fighting rattle him.

"As if on cue, this is a very contested area," he says, laughing. "It's getting pretty intense here."

Most reporters don't face danger comparable to soldiers on the front lines, but that doesn't mean it's a safe job. The two AP journalists who were seriously injured earlier today in an attack serve as a grim reminder of that.

Our editors keep close tabs on our Stripes' reporters downrange too. Drew Brown and Dianna Cahn have been filing remarkable reports for us from Afghanistan; Our own Pentagon correspondent Jeff Schogol is in Iraq right now. All of them are under strict instructions to make sure they're keeping their own safety in mind while they're chronicling the important stories there.

I don't know Yon well -- just a few casual emails back and forth -- but I know his reporting well enough that he travels that fine line too. Hopefully he can keep delivering that insightful view of war without ending up too close to the firing line in the future.

[PHOTO: Drew Brown]

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