Stake Through Their Hearts:

Killing al Qaeda



March 2008
Western Nineveh Province, Iraq


The sun was setting over Nineveh as four terrorists driving tons of explosives closed on their targets. On August 14, 2007, the Yezidi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera were under attack, but only the terrorists knew it as they drove their trucks straight into the hearts of the communities.

The shockwave from detonation far outpaced the speed of sound. Buildings and humans were ripped apart and hurled asunder. Superheated poisonous gases from the explosions gathered the smoke and dust and lofted heavenward, while the second detonation quickly followed. The terrorists had landed their first blows straight through the heart of the Yezidi community, turning a wedding party into hundreds of funerals.

Four mushroom clouds over Yezidi Villages: Is Europe Next?

But the attacks were not over. Yezidi men grabbed their rifles, and while two more truck bombs rumbled toward Qahtaniya and Jazeera, a hail of Yezidi bullets met them. The defenders who fired the bullets were killed with honor while standing between evil and their people. Two other truck bombs detonated on the outskirts of the villages.

When the sun rose the next morning, screaming victims remained trapped in the rubble. Survivors clawed and ripped at the wreckage, working themselves to exhaustion to rescue their wives, husbands, children and brothers.

The attacks on Qahtaniya and Jazeera killed more than five hundred people, and garnered international news. No group claimed responsibility, yet the attacks bore the mark of the al Qaeda beast, in the way that fangs to a jugular vein spells Dracula.

 

Mark of the Beast: One of the Yezidi villages attacked on August 14, 2007.

Al Qaeda is still trying to spin Iraq into civil war, but whereas in 2005-2006 al Qaeda was succeeding, today al Qaeda is being shredded.

An Iraqi officer near Sinjar told me that recently a group of perhaps twenty “jihadists,” many of them foreign, descended on a Nineveh village. The Iraqi officer said the terrorists killed some adults and two babies. One baby they murdered was 15 days old.

Until recently, such terror attacks inside Iraq could have coerced the village into sheltering Al Qaeda. Yet this time, the “jihadists” got an unexpected reception. Local men grabbed their rifles and poured fire on the demons, slaughtering them. Nineteen terrorists were destroyed. Times have changed for al Qaeda here. Too many Iraqis have decided they are not going to take it anymore. Al Qaeda in Iraq is still fighting, and they are tough and wily, but al Qaeda Central seems to realize there are easier targets elsewhere, perhaps in Europe, where many people demonstrate weakness in the face of terror.

Al Qaeda was apparently not in Iraq before this war, and at the current rate they will not be here when it’s over. The Iraqi Army and Police are doing most of the work these days, but their own operations are significantly augmented by what we bring to the fight.

The main American helicopter unit in Nineveh is 4-6 Air Cavalry Squadron. The normal strength of the “Redcatchers” is forty helicopters – thirty Kiowas and ten Blackhawks – but the Squadron has lost one Kiowa and a Blackhawk in Iraq, costing more than a dozen lives. The soldiers were lost forever, but the helicopters were replaced, and the squadron is flying hard as ever, and to great affect. The pilots and crews work 24/7, performing both direct combat and combat support missions.

I flew from Mosul in one of the Squadron’s Blackhawks from “Darkhorse” troop en route to FOB Sykes near Tal Afar. The “Hawks” are powerful, fast, and loud. Blackhawk rotors are better designed than Vietnam-era Huey “choppers,” and do not generated the percussive whop whop whop. And so despite that Blackhawks are loud, when they fly low, fast and into the wind, they can at times literally sneak up on people on the ground. First there is silence, and then VRROOOOMMMM the Hawk flies right over your head.

We flew low from Mosul to Tal Afar in broad daylight, and if we happened to cross paths with a surface-to-air missile, the day could get exciting and final. Back in 2005, I saw Deuce Four soldiers capture more than two dozen surface-to-air missiles in Mosul, and missiles are still occasionally launched at aircraft. The enemy has been putting much effort into shooting down aircraft.

There were dark storms to the north as we flew low over mostly desolate terrain, and there were electrical wires that have claimed other helicopters in Iraq. Out in the far distance were the two Yezidi villages that had been bombed last August. Blackhawk crews from 4-6 were the first to spot the four mushroom clouds. They had flown medical supplies and soldiers to the scene of the carnage. The ground crews at their FARP (Forward Arming and Refueling Point) had treated many dozens of wounded Yezidis, who had brought their wounded to the nearest Americans they could find. Yezidis (also spelled Yazidi) are fond of Americans and our soldiers get along great with them. Saddam called them Devil worshippers, but then it was Saddam’s wars that killed over a million people and filled human lungs with poison gas. The Yezidis are more concerned about sending their kids to school and then off to university.

Back in 2005, I went alone without soldiers to Yezidi villages. I would not hesitate to stay the night in a Yezidi village. A pilot told me that if he ever had to make an emergency landing, he would try to reach the nearest Yezidi village. So when the villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera were bombed, our people knew that friendly people had been attacked, and the helicopter and ground crews, along with American Special Forces and other soldiers, rushed to help. When Iraqi government officials arrived, Yezidis threw rocks at them, and the officials retreated. Yezidis tend to get along well with people who do not barbarize them. But Saddam was a criminal, and he unleashed his cannons on Yezidis, and the other Kurds, and the Shia, and the Iranians, and the Kuwaitis, as well as financing attacks against the Israelis.

There is a well-informed American officer here at Tal Afar who works closely with Yezidis in western Nineveh. One evening we talked about the bombings and looked at never-before released videos and photos. Kurdish Peshmerga rushed aid to Qahtaniya and Jazeera, and a Kurdish commander began putting defenses around those and other Yezidi villages. (The Yezidis consider themselves Yezidis first and Kurds second, while the Kurds consider Yezidis to be Kurds.)

The KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) arrived to Qahtaniya and Jazeera with tents supplied by the United Nations. The Yezidis did not know what to do with the tents; their custom is to take in, and care for, their own. But the Yezidis, not wishing to offend the people who brought the help and the tents, and wishing to show gratitude, spent some of the daylight hours in the tents and then stayed in other Yezidi homes at night.

Darkhorse

“Darkhorse,” the Blackhawks of 4-6, might be the hardest-working “hawks” in Iraq. Some days, they fly to the Iranian border—where the warning comes over the radio: “This is the Iranian Consulate. You are approaching Iranian airspace.” Or to the Turkish border: “This is the Turkish Consulate. You are approaching Turkish airspace.” The Syrian frontier with Nineveh has no alarm.

Darkhorse pilots fly over a large expanses -- up to the Turkish, Iranian or Syrian frontiers, over to Dahuk, Mosul, Irbil, Kirkuk and even all the way down to Baghdad on shuttle missions.

For combat missions, Darkhorse crews often prefer to work with American Special Forces teams, who are usually accompanied by Iraqi soldiers, eager to close in with terrorists.

 

Specialist Patrick Fougere, a Darkhorse crew chief, sometimes shoots with his 7.62mm M-240 machine gun, sometimes with his 35mm Nikon D-40 camera.  Here, American Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers uncover some ten tons of explosives they found in a Nineveh wadi.

 

Last September, two Darkhorse Blackhawks were zooming over the desert near the Syrian border when an SF soldier spotted a suspicious tarp. The tarp was suspect because it was apparently covering something in a wadi in the middle of nowhere, and it was close to the two Yezidi villages that had been attacked just a month prior.

The pilots landed and the SF and Iraqi soldiers popped out to take a look. Pulling back the dusty tarp, they found approximately ten tons of ammonium nitrate -- enough to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people either in gigantic, spectacular attacks that garner news, or the daily boom-sheet of smaller bombs, most of which are barely reported, if at all.

 

The Special Forces soldiers weren’t carrying much C-4 plastic explosives, but did not want to leave the cache, so they rigged what they had.

 

The plastic explosives detonated, causing some of the ammonium nitrate to explode.

 

The Special Forces team is on the ground in the wadi that forks to the right. The ammonium nitrate apparently was from Russia.

 

The shockwave pops up the desert dust. The pilot reached up to prepare to restart the engines in case the shockwave disrupted the airflow. The engines kept running.

 

The cache was found near the Syrian border. Patrick Fougere kept snapping away and got these colorful shots.

 

Perhaps hundreds of lives were saved, including Americans, in one of those missions that practically nobody who was not directly involved will ever hear about.

 

Jellyfish of death.

 

Origin of the jellyfish.

Nineveh Strike

FOB Sykes

In 2005, nearby Tal Afar was known as “Al Qaeda city,” as terrorists used it for training and R&R. And though Nineveh Province is now the most dangerous place in Iraq, it’s much quieter than a couple years ago. Still, there is plenty of trouble, especially when your job is to find it, and the summer of 2008 likely will bring the showdown into Mosul, where the media probably will report a small part of it, missing 99 percent of the fighting to disrupt the terrorists and drive stakes through their hearts.

The job of going nose-to-nose with terrorists is complicated by the increasing use of suicide vests (S-VESTs), which are exploding all over the place these days. Some of the vests are small, actually just belts with a few hand grenades’ worth of explosives. These are Jihadist ejection seats, which are not per se offensive weapons. When all is going wrong, and the terrorist is about to get caught, he can kak off the explosives and eject out of life.

The larger suicide vests, often loaded with ball bearings, can kill dozens. These vests are often worn by young fighters, typically male -- though more females are starting to explode. The young men come to Iraq to fight like infantry soldiers, only to find themselves terrorized into wearing suicide vests. In 2005, I wrote about a young Libyan who was happy to have been captured by American “Deuce Four” soldiers in Nineveh because Iraqis were mistreating him and trying to force him blow up some Mosul police. Like many foreign fighters, the Libyan was not hardcore. He was so grateful to be captured that he began telling his entire sad story. The best thing about foreign fighters is that, contrary to myth, often they do not want to die, and when they get caught, they blab everything.

On 14 March 2008, U.S. soldiers were running a biometric registration station at the Iraq-Syria border. An unknown person came into the building wearing a powerful S-VEST studded with ball bearings. When the person detonated, American soldiers PFC Cody Cook and SSG Bennie Lamb were wounded. Interpreter Faysal Kayif Rashoka and three other people were killed. The vest was powerful enough to collapse a substantial portion of the building onto the wounded American soldiers, causing additional injuries. One Iraqi body was so damaged that the remains fit into two computer-printer boxes.

The key to killing the terrorists is knowing where to look, so the Darkhorse helicopter crews prefer to hunt with Special Forces. The SF emphasis is on leveraging limited assets with intelligence, mobility, speed and relative superiority. If Genghis Khan had helicopters, he might have been conducting “Nineveh Strikes.” You can fly for thirty minutes at a 150 mph out here and hardly see a soul, but there are tire tracks all over the Nineveh deserts, and explosives and many foreign fighters came in on those tire tracks. The Nineveh Strike is a hunting technique often involving a dangerous type of vehicle interdiction where a helicopter swoops down on a moving vehicle and stops it.

Combat


The mission was to fly to two “Named Areas of Interest” (NAI’s) near the Syrian border and be prepared to conduct Nineveh Strikes. The date was 28 September 2007, about one week after creating the deadly jellyfish, and six weeks after the attacks on Qahtaniya and Jazeera. The two Darkhorse helicopters lifted into the night accompanied by two Kiowa Warriors from Blackdeath, another vital arm from the Redcatcher Squadron. The two Kiowas fly slower, and so the Kiowas launched about fifteen minutes ahead of the two Blackhawks.

The pilots in the first Blackhawk were CW3 James Gallagher in the left seat, and CW2 Louis “Gonzo” Gonzales in the right. SGT Ron Hinman was a crew chief on the left door gun, while crew chief SGT Josh Price had the right door gun.

The second Blackhawk had CW3 Alan Moore in the left seat, and CPT Ashlie Christian was in the right seat. Sitting behind Ashlie was SGT Kevin Heitz, the crew chief with the right door gun. The left door gunner was SPC Patrick Fougere.

The aviators’ night vision goggles (ANVIS-6) are fantastically sensitive and crisp. A firefly would appear bright as a slow moving tracer bullet. The ANVIS-6 are so sensitive that when a man puffs on cigarette, he casts a clear shadow. Car headlights wash across the desert as if giant spotlights from a World Fair were mounted on a little car. The headlights can be seen bouncing up and down in the desert, so far away that nobody in the cars could possibly hear the “Hawks.” By the time they do hear the Blackhawks and turn off their lights, it’s far too late.

But for this night, lunar illumination was 98 percent. Even with the naked eye, the night was bright enough to cast shadows. For the helicopters, nights with 30-50% illumination are better than day. Crews can see the bad guys from miles away with their ANVIS-6, but the bad guys cannot see the birds. On nights with a bright moon and no clouds, the Hawks are easy to see when they get close.

That night, each of the two Blackhawks carried five Special Forces soldiers and six Iraqis. CW3 Moore and CPT Christian were in the cockpit, while the Ground Commander (the “GC” was the Special Forces team leader, whom I’ll call “CPT Kris”) flew with them in the trail Blackhawk. That night, CPT Kris was on the left side of the Blackhawk. When the helicopters approach something of interest, they will circle left or right depending on where the GC is sitting, and with CPT Kris on left, they would circle counterclockwise.

The Blackhawks had not yet reached their NAI when they spotted a Bongo truck out the right. Although the Bongo was outside the NAI, and close to a village, the Special Forces GC, CPT Kris, wanted to at least circle the truck. SGT Josh Price, who had done many Nineveh Strikes, was irritated, thinking they were wasting fuel and time. CPT Ashlie Christian radioed to “Chalk 1” (the front Blackhawk that was flying low) to circle the truck. CW3 Alan Moore, the pilot sitting beside CPT Christian in Chalk 2, started bringing the aircraft to the left around the truck.

The Bongo had two bags in the back. One was covering a man who was considered a High Value Target, but the ANVIS-6 goggles provide no X-Ray vision, and nobody saw the hidden man, who apparently was playing the combat version of hide-and-go-seek. The ultimate big boy game where “Ready or not here I come with a Blackhawk and a machinegun,” meets “Bring it on, I’m wearing explosives.”

The truck drove slowly to a small building, stopped briefly, and then continued slowly down the road.

With the Air Mission Commander and the Ground Commander in the high bird called Chalk 2, Chalk 1 was down on the deck and pulled low beside the slowly moving truck. So low that SGT Ron Hinman was looking straight out over his machine gun at the two men in the truck’s cab. Rotor wash lifted the dust causing the beam from Hinman’s infrared PEQ-2 laser on his machine gun to look like a light-saber through his goggles. The two men in the cab were clearly visible, and when the passenger looked over in Hinman’s direction, the laser reflected off the internal parts of the man’s eyes, causing them to glow brightly like devil eyes in the night goggles. One burst from Hinman’s machine gun would have finished them, but still nobody saw the man hidden in the back.

Unlike most people faced with about 20,000 pounds of roaring helicopter, the men in the truck acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. So the pilot, Gallagher, sped up the helicopter and got ahead of the truck, then pirouetted in the moonlight and roared nose-to-nose down the middle of the road, with his 600-watt light shining through the truck’s windshield while dust and rocks ticked and pinked off the windshield and the cab filled with dust in the blinding light.

The driver kept the truck coming, with a hand waving a white rag out the window, but he was disoriented and slowly driving off the road. Gallagher came closer, flying directly over the windshield and over the truck, rocking it with the rotor blast, creating a huge amount of disorienting dust. The driver veered slightly off the road, but kept moving in the general direction of a village a few hundred meters ahead.

From Chalk 2 hundreds of feet above, the GC ordered the ground force in Chalk 1 to stop the truck. Gallagher put Chalk 1 down between the truck and the village. The five Special Forces soldiers were out of Chalk 2 in seconds, but the Iraqi SWAT team got clustered somehow and took extra seconds getting out. The Iraqis would be disoriented; they usually wear no earplugs and the Blackhawks are loud. The moonlight was bright so they did not need night vision, but the Iraqis weren’t wearing headsets in the helicopter to hear (in English) what was happening. The Iraqis would only know that the helicopter had landed and that the Special Forces got out, and that the Iraqis should follow, then take three to five steps, get down on one knee and face away from the helicopter, which would roar away. But that’s not what happened. We will never know what the SWAT members were thinking.

What we do know is that the truck continued toward the Blackhawk which was still on the ground. In the pilots’ seats, Gallagher and Gonzales could not see the truck because of the dust. Circling hundreds of feet above, pilot CW3 Moore was radioing to Gonzales to get off the deck because the truck was about to crash into his Blackhawk. Moore could not fly into a position where Fougere could shoot the Bongo with his machinegun; the Bongo was so close that Fougere would have had to fire through Chalk 1’s rotors. The Bongo came through the dust and SGT Ron Hinman, gripping his M240H saw the truck nearly on him, so close to the helicopter that Hinman had to press the butt of the machine gun down to lift the barrel up to point into the windshield. Hinman was ready to fire when an Iraqi soldier, apparently protecting the helicopter, rushed toward the truck, getting in front of Hinman’s gun. Just then, pilot Gallagher lifted off and began roaring away.

Nobody saw the third man in the back. The Bongo passenger had gotten out and was walking toward the Iraqi soldiers and the interpreter, who was screaming at the passenger to stop and get down. The man kept coming. The interpreter and two Iraqi soldiers closed in and tried to subdue the passenger. He detonated. Ball bearings ripped through flesh and zoomed off into the night as a fireball lifted into the moonlight, temporarily blinding Christian’s goggles hundreds of feet above in Chalk 2.

On the ground, Special Forces soldiers shot and killed the driver and were checking the wounded and getting them away from the truck in case there were more bombs. The man hidden under the tarp in the back did not move.

A critical radio retrans site atop a nearby mountain was not working, making communications difficult. The Blackhawks needed the Kiowas to try to call for medical evacuation helicopters, but the Kiowas also could not reach the FOB, and in fact were themselves miles away but rushing to the scene.

The closest ground forces would take two to three hours to arrive, so if there was any serious ground fighting coming, four helicopters with limited fuel and ammunition would be anchored to the ground where Chalk 1 was. Half of the ground force was still airborne in Chalk 2, but quickly landed, and the rest of the Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers disgorged into the moonlight.

Chalks 1 and 2 had a total ground force of twenty two men armed with rifles. Eight of the twenty two were dead or wounded.

The pilots expected a quick turnaround, but the Special Forces team was trying to save the interpreter and were also busy stabilizing the other wounded. They moved the wounded away from the Bongo truck just for safety, yet nobody saw the hidden man in the back.

They moved the wounded near the Chalk 2 helicopter that was on the ground.

The Kiowas arrived and were on high cover, but for thirty to forty minutes the ground forces were on the deck, and eventually began to draw “crows.” Groups of men in the village were coming out. Meanwhile, the man remained hidden in the back of the Bongo.

Pilots Moore and Christian, with their wheels on the ground, started taking fire from the village. The machineguns mounted on the sides would have been handy, but the Iraqi SWAT members were courageously putting themselves between the fire from the village and the helicopters. The SWAT members were firing back while trying to protect the helicopter and wounded, but unfortunately, they had moved between the door gunner and the target.

The four helicopters and ground force were on their own. The nearest base was Tal Afar, but with retrans down, they were unable to communicate well with the TOC (Tactical Operations Center: headquarters). If one helicopter got shot down, this could be a serious catastrophe. A burning helicopter near the Syrian border with limited fuel in the other birds would be an invitation for wounded Iraqis and Americans to be taken prisoner and spirited across the Syrian border.

Gallagher, circling his Blackhawk in the dark, told the Kiowas to get down low and cover while he climbed to make better comms. The Kiowas call signs were Blackdeath 12 and Blackdeath 13. Blackdeath 12 was piloted by CW2 Dave Caudill and CW2 Jack Varble, while Blackdeath 13 was piloted by CW2 Shane Nicholson and CW2 Clint Hall.

The Blackdeath aircraft swooped low over the village, while Gallagher kept circling his Blackhawk higher and higher into the night, but he still couldn’t get good comms. A thousand feet, two thousand, three thousand -- comms still weren’t working. At about four thousand feed AGL (Above Ground Level), Gallagher made contact with FOB Sykes with a SITREP (situation report), saying they would do their own casevac.

On the ground, the SF and Iraqi soldiers loaded the dead and wounded onto Chalk 2. Gallagher and Gonzo then came down with Chalk 1 and picked up the rest.

The pilots started pushing the motors as hard as they would go for the nearly eighty five miles to Mosul. The slower Kiowas could not keep up, so they stayed back and destroyed the truck and its contents with a Hellfire missile, some 2.75 rockets and .50-caliber machine-gun rounds, then headed back to FOB Sykes. Nobody realized that a high value target had been hidden in the back of the Bongo truck, and the Kiowa pilots shot him to pieces. His parts were found later.

Meanwhile, the two Blackhawks with dead and wounded were traveling about 180 mph. Moore would push the engines into the thermal red zone with the temperature exceeding 903°C, but would pull back down before twelve seconds passed, so the engine didn’t overheat for too long. Once the temp dropped, he would push back over 903°C, careful to keep it under the twelve-second transient limit.

SGT Kevin Heitz was manning a door gun with one hand, while holding a bandage over a Special Forces soldier’s wound with the other. Over a half hour later, they landed at the Combat Support Hospital in Mosul where they were met by medical staff with stretchers.

Three Special Forces soldiers were wounded. Three Iraqis were killed, including the interpreter whose wife had just had a baby. The Special Forces soldiers had been close to the SWAT and were upset, while Iraqis were bawling for their dead and wounded. Josh Price put his arm around one Iraqi who could not stop crying. The aircrew offered to give blood for the wounded Iraqis even though they were not permitted to do so because they were on flight status. The blood was not needed..

The Darkhorse helicopter was drenched in blood. The seats were soaked and there were pieces of flesh and brains all around, along with ball bearings. SGT Heitz later had the seats burned, but that night asked the fire department to come and hose out the blood so the bird would be clean when they flew the SF and Iraqi SWAT back to duty.

The three wounded SF soldiers immediately returned to duty.

Though this had been scheduled as their last mission, the Special Forces team did not go out like that. They planned another mission to that village, again heliborne and Iraqi soldiers on the ground, ten days after the previous mission. They swooped in, interdicted a number of vehicles without incident, and raided the village. They avoided suicide vests by making the men strip naked and walk toward them. The raid uncovered weapons, including about 1,000 rounds of 14.3-mm anti-aircraft ammunition.

Nineveh in late March 2008

There are no guarantees, but this could be the endgame for major combat operations in Iraq. Combat is likely to heat up in Mosul and western Nineveh by about May. There likely will be some reports of increased US and Iraqi casualties up here, but this does not mean that we are losing ground or that al Qaeda is resurging – though clearly they are trying. If there is an increase in casualties here as we go into the summer of 2008, it is because our people and the Iraqi forces are closing in. We have seen just how deadly al Qaeda can be. This enemy is desperate. They know they are losing. They are not likely to go out easy. The enemy is smart, agile and adaptive. Likely they will land some devastating blows on us, but at this rate, our people and Iraqi forces appear to be driving stakes through al Qaeda hearts faster than al Qaeda is regenerating.

Comments   

 
# John Sigs 2008-03-24 17:44
Michael- Thank you again for delvering the information on the progress we continue to make in Iraq. Good news that the Iraqi's (citizens and soldiers) are developing understanding that their level of democratic progress and internal security is directly related to their level of involvement and comittment. Stay safe and pass along our heartfelt thanks to all of our fine soldiers & airmen.
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# Bill H. 2008-03-24 18:33
You are the only source of news out of Iraq that describes what is happening. Our mainstream media should be ashamed of their feckless reportage. I wish there were someone like you in Afghanistan. I've ordered your book and look forward to receiving it. Meantime, stay safe, let our troops know that some understand and appreciate the importance of their work and keep the info flowing.
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# Norm Roth 2008-03-24 18:42
Mike can you please tell us what is the status of a "terp", is he considered military or civilian? What happens if one is killed or injured, are their any form of death or disabilty benefits, for him and his family? They certainly seem to more then earn their pay.
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# George O Witwer 2008-03-24 19:08
Michael, I so enjoy your dispatches and greatly admire your courage and talent. I think I have signed up for you forthcoming book, but if I have not I intend to.

George Witwer
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# Carol 2008-03-24 19:44
Edge of the seat stuff, I always have to force myself to read slowly.

The new website looks great, very professional and modern. I'm not quite used to the comments section, where is the line saying "your email address will not be published"?

I'm so glad there is such a contrast between the deaths in past conflicts and this one. 15,000 at Antietam, 2,500 at Omaha Beach, I was going to put British casualites at the Somme but half a million is too unbelievable, I must have made a mistake writing it down. God bless everyone who fights against the evil suicide bombing bastards.
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# richard willman 2008-03-24 20:15
Michael, you continue to captivate us with your magnificent reportage. We can't imagine here how difficult your task is, but nevertheless we support your efforts wholeheartedly. Where other journalists have taken a stab at the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, you are the only one who has penetrated to the heart of them and brought them back to us in vivid verbal and digital images. How do we thank you? Money is good, but it's not nearly enough. Stay safe, Sir, and thank you again.
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# Kirk Pina 2008-03-24 20:16
Thanks Michael for your sacrifice to bring the real story. Your descriptions of combat make me feel like I am there! It looks like al Qaeda is moving to China now from Iraq. Thought the U.S. media and Senator Harry Reid were saying we were losing in Iraq? Keep up the good work the Troops are in my thoughts everyday!
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# Marcia Dawson 2008-03-24 20:22
My son did 2 tours in Iraq - the second in Tal Afar with 3rd ACR who went in and cleaned the place out. Sure wish you were there reporting when he was.
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# Tim 2008-03-24 20:35
"When Iraqi government officials arrived, Yezidis threw rocks at them, and the officials retreated."

Am I missing something here? It's great that the Yezidis get along so well with visitors (the soldiers), but it's disturbing that they still can't/don't trust THEIR government. With this kind of behaviour we'll
never be able to leave.
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# Doug Santo 2008-03-24 20:57
The only reporting we get from the MSM is 4,000 deaths. No context. No evidence of success in our mission. The MSM reports the deaths like the dead were victims. Of course they were not victims. They were brave American soldiers, marines, and airmen doing their duty to our country. They were defending our freedom and way of life.

God bless and protect our brave men and women in harms way.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA
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# Franklin Stinton Jr. 2008-03-24 21:21
As usual, Michael, your reproting is captivating.
It would be a nice change to hear this kind of reporting on the "main stream" media.
The truth seems to evade those that claim to be the only place to get the "news" What makes your stories so enjoable to read is the lack of twisted opinion. It is obvious tha your are dedicated to the truth. When you do inject your opinion it is all ways drawn from all the facts surrounding the events tha are unfolding before you.
Unlike the worthless "information" we receive from those on TV.
Keep up the good work. Be careful. we need your eyes out there so keep your ass down and your eyes up.
God Speed.
Thank you again
Franklind Stinton Jr.
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# dubya 2008-03-24 21:41
"...Al Qaeda was apparently not in Iraq before this war... "

There is a recently released Pentagon study of captured Iraqi documents that indicates Saddam's links to terror groups including al Qaeda were extensive.

From "Saddam's Terror Links" article this morning on Wall Street Journal Review and Opinion page at opinionjournal.com:

"...The redacted version of "Saddam and Terrorism" is the most definitive public assessment to date from the Harmony program, the trove of "exploitable" documents, audio and video records, and computer files captured in Iraq. On the basis of about 600,000 items, the report lays out Saddam's willingness to use terrorism against American and other international targets, as well as his larger state sponsorship of terror, which included harboring, training and equipping jihadis throughout the Middle East...."

Among other things he provided extensive commando training to Muslim Brotherhood members whose leader was al Zawahiri, now bin Laden's #2.
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# MSG Bob W 2008-03-24 23:04
Thank you sir for years of excellent reporting. I've been proud to donate the little I could and pre-order your book. Your reportage keeps an old sarge in touch with a situation that both my son and son-in-law have experienced. The MSM may not leap to use your pictures or print your work, but the veterans know and the veterans appreciate you.
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# Ed 2008-03-24 23:27
Carol wrote:

> I'm so glad there is such a contrast between the deaths in past conflicts and this one. 15,000 at Antietam, 2,500 at Omaha Beach, I was going to put British casualites at the Somme but half a million is too unbelievable, I must have made a mistake writing it down.

Yep - misplaced decimal. Battle of the Somme resulted in 57K casualties. 19K of them dead.

And that was in many orders of magnitude of less days than 5 years.
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# Victor T 2008-03-24 23:28
Look at the comments Michael gets. What other journalist get this kind of praise from the people? Michael's service is beyond invaluable as is the service of the U.S. Military.

Thank you most of all for your fairness, objectivity, and your desire to see the just effort of our fallen heroes succeed.
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# Phil Barton 2008-03-24 23:39
Love the new website. It may be a good idea to incorporate a "glossery of terms" page that viewers can reference from time to time as they read through your dispatches. Keep up the amazing reporting and stay safe
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# Tom Dalzell 2008-03-24 23:40
Michael, where would we be without you (and several other outstanding bloggers). We'd be at the mercy of the MSM which, in "group think" fashion, have their head-ups shoved firmly up their collective arses.

The 4th Estate (aka the Media) has failed in its primary duty to inform the citizens of our democracy. Thank God we now have the 5th Estate (aka the blogosphere) to provide the balance so sadly missing from the MSM.

Michael, thank you for what you do.

Long live the 5th Estate!
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# Tatterdemalian 2008-03-24 23:46
"Am I missing something here? It's great that the Yezidis get along so well with visitors (the soldiers), but it's disturbing that they still can't/don't trust THEIR government."

The Yezidi are no angels; Google "Duƒ??a Khalil Aswad." They are more friendly toward American troops because we're more respectful of their privacy and self-reliance than the more authoritarian Iraqi government, but Europeans, especially British troops, often got into rows with them too, or so I've heard.

Neither Rome nor de-Nazified Germany was built in a day, though, and the fact that they recognize that Al-Qaeda is a greater threat to their freedom than the Iraqi government is a promising sign. Heck, I can't even blame them for being wary of the Iraqi government. Even though they're far more democratic than Saddam was, they still have way too many "irreplacable" strong men commanding private armies for my liking.
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# Richard Wohlman 2008-03-24 23:47
Thank you Michael, for being there and telling us what is really going on there. 4000 troops are a tragic loss, but their deaths are those of patriots and heroes. Five years is a long time, but this is such a different conflict with so many restrictions on the troops that it is amazing that we're able to accomplish anything at all. It sounds like the 'Iraqi people', know that we're on their side. Keep up the great work, be full of care and be as safe as you can. Know that there are a lot of us vets back home who are behind you and of course, all of the troops.
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# Richard Wohlman 2008-03-24 23:56
Thank you Michael, for being there and telling us what is really going on there. 4000 troops are a tragic loss, but their deaths are those of patriots and heroes. Five years is a long time, but this is such a different conflict with so many restrictions on the troops that it is amazing that we're able to accomplish anything at all. It sounds like the 'Iraqi people', know that we're on their side. Keep up the great work, be full of care and be as safe as you can. Know that there are a lot of us vets back home who are behind you and of course, all of the troops.
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# Greg W 2008-03-25 00:53
Michael,

I wish you could clone yourself, send a couple to Afghanistan and a couple more to rove around other areas of Iraq. I ordered the book and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Good luck and stay safe.
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# Tom Abert 2008-03-25 01:09
Great reporting. Thank you and thank the troops for really making a difference. Thanks to our heroic troops and your reporting on them, the tide of US public opinion is turning back to victory. The fecklessness of too much of the MSM underscores their irrelevance. Your work shows what honest reporting looks like. Hopefully, you will be used as an example of how to be a combat reporter in the J-schools of the future. Before too long you need to write the movie script of your time in Iraq. The only way Hollywood will make a positive war movie is if someone like you is central to the project and doesn't give up creative control.
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# Proud Dad of C.J. 2008-03-25 01:44
If only the "main stream" media would report as you do, but then again I don't believe they have reporters who are capable of vividly articulating the experiences you have had. As the father of a Marine currently serving in Fallujah, It is refreshing to read your dispatches. I have referred so many family members and parents of my sons buddies to this site to read what is really going on. I hope my son crosses paths with you and has the opportunity to meet you. Thank you for your past service and especially what you are doing now.
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# Lorraine 2008-03-25 02:19
Michael, thank you once more for another riveting article~~ I look forward to each and everyone of them. I hope your new book arrives soon.

I keep you and everyone of our brave soldiers in my prayers and pray every one of you come home safely and this whole country gives you all a heroes welcome like none other.

A Proud American
Lorraine
Kingman AZ
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# Kathy 2008-03-25 02:47
"There is a recently released Pentagon study of captured Iraqi documents that indicates Saddam's links to terror groups including al Qaeda were extensive. "

Thank you for this comment! I have too many friends/relativ es who pooh-pooh any talk of Saddam's willlingness to get "into bed" with terrorists. Michael, thank you again for your fine reporting. Have you read "Because They Hate" by Brigitte Gabriel? She writes about the Muslim faith not being the peace-loving faith so many non-Muslims describe it as being and warns that we will find outselves fighting them here as the Lebanese Christians did (she is a Lebanese Christian who lived through the civil war there). I wondered what you thought about it.
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# Charles 2008-03-25 03:04
This is what journalism is supposed to be. Thanks Michael.
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# Annette 2008-03-25 04:53
From the bottom of my heart, thank you Michael for everything you have done to get the truth to us. I am not surprised by this amazing account of what the 4-6 ACR is doing in Mosul to win this war. I have never been prouder to live close to Fort Lewis than these last five years as I have followed our deployed soldiers and read the accounts of their heroics. Most of these accounts have come from you. Thank you for telling their story. I know too many who have fought to stabilize Ninevah province. I realize that winning Mosul once and for all will go a long way towards peace and stability in Iraq, but winning there is also important to me on a personal level. Please let the members of the 4-6 know that there is at least one Washingtonian (and I am sure a lot more) who is reading their story, praying for their safety, and look forward to their return.

The book order is coming within this week.

Kathy,

You wrote, "Have you read "Because They Hate" by Brigitte Gabriel? She writes about the Muslim faith not being the peace-loving faith so many non-Muslims describe it as being and warns that we will find outselves fighting them here as the Lebanese Christians did (she is a Lebanese Christian who lived through the civil war there)."

If you haven't already, you might want to pick up "Now the Call me Infidel, by Nonie Darwish" She really helped me pull together all of my previously confused thoughts about what is going on. It really helped me to understand why all this evil is occurring in Iraq. While the idea of pulling out of Iraq sounds very appealing at times, Nonie Darwish confirmed to me that we need to stay there until the job is done.
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# Brian P. 2008-03-25 05:43
I read an op ed in the Wall St. Journal this morning about the death, at age 95, of a survivor of Doolittle's raid on Tokyo. He'd been captured when his B25 crashed in Japanese-held China and tortured hideously. Most of his crew mates were executed by their captors. He later returned to Japan as a missionary.

I sent the article to my teenage son remarking that we are losing a remarkable generation but that I believe, as the generation that is fighting in Iraq have their stories told, we'll find another greatest generation is among us.

"The three wounded SF soldiers immediately returned to duty. "

Remarkable! Where do we find such people?

Thank you for telling this story and so many others, Michael. Please take care of yourself and tell these great American heroes that we are praying for them and the success of their mission. Godspeed.

I ordered the book and look forward to its April arrival!
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# Matthew Gonzalez 2008-03-25 06:15
It is really a shame, that still in 2008 the MSM struggles to get the story out of the amount of fighting that is going on over there, and you're right about 99% being a good estimate. It seems like if we're not riding Roughshod in Abrams tanks to Baghdad, they just don't care. ratings are ratings, but I bet the majority of the American public would love to hear the story that you've just written here. Thats why I tell everyone I can about your site, I love the style and I will continue to read everything that is posted here. I hated to hear how our guys got blown up, but just knowing how the whole thing happened made me feel a little better, like somehow their deaths would not go unnoticed. Seems like there's a little bit of a trend, first an anti aircraft machine gun, now ammunition. It seems to me more proof we still have a ways to go

Godspeed Michael
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# SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY RET 2008-03-25 11:18
As usual, your standard is excellence! Thank you Michael, for telling the truth that the MSM cannot bring itself to do. They're much too busy functioning as a propaganda wing of Al Jazeera.
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# Jim Pennington 2008-03-25 12:42
My son will be in east Bagdad with the First Army very shortly. These days, your reporting is the only reporting that I trust. I no longer take the newpaper or news magazines that I had read for years. Thank you for the truth. Be safe. Jim P
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# Mom of a Marine 2008-03-25 14:30
Thanks Michael, you are the only one I read or listen to.My son is on his way to serve in Iraq and I am not about to let anyone in the MSM fill my head with the garbage that they spout.
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# Mike Biego 2008-03-25 15:12
Michael:
Thank you so much for your fantastic reporting. When I see the MSM reports on Iraq, I either sit there and laugh, or want to punch the screen. There is never anything good to report by them.
May you continue you outstanding reporting, and return safely.
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# Don Shapansky 2008-03-25 18:22
Thank you Michael for your courage and commitment to get the news out that is worth reading. I am so sick of the drive - by media that does such a disservice to the American public, it is really disinformation as though they are in the enimies camp.
My hope is that the truth will come out and that we as citizens finally publicly acknowledge the courage, sacrifice and hard work being done on our behalf by the military guys and gals.
May God protect you and inspire you to great things.
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# John Berilla 2008-03-25 19:02
Finally good news along with the truth that we are not murdering the innocent but are actually killing the terrorist and defending what is good. The drive-by media has a way with word games that color our military in a bad light. Our men and women deserve great honor for giving their best and sometimes their lives so we and our children can enjoy calm, peace, and freedom at home free from the terror of those terrorist.
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# David Seipel 2008-03-25 19:20
Michael- It is great to hear what is really going on. Lets hope the reality of how our brave troops are winning AND giving their lives for freedom does not go unnoticed by us at home as well as the rest of the world. Thank you for risking your life so we can hear the truth.
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# Anonymous 2008-03-25 19:31
Thanks for your truthful reporting! I don't even watch the major media outlets anymore because they have such a negative slant on the war. I just returned from six months in Iraq working every day with these same forces that you mention in your article. Even as a member of the military, they will always have my highest respect for what they do. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Stay safe, brother!
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# N. Hall 2008-03-25 19:42
Michael - As a mother of newly deployed Army National Guardsman who just put boots in the sand of Mosul this week - THANK YOU. Yours is the web page I'll read during my son's deployment because I want to be as informed as possible, and I prefer my glasses not to be rose-colored. Keep your head down, and your eyes open. Give a big shout-out to our men and women in uniform and let them know they are not forgotten, nor are their sacrifices unappreciated. God's speed.
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# Kephas 2008-03-25 20:04
Micheal,

As a Marine Corp dad, we need more reporting from the war like you provide. I do not watch network or major news anymore. I haven't for years. They try to drive a stake through the American heart. Our U.S. media hates us and loves the terrorist.

My son is safe with your reporting.
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# Alfredo 2008-03-25 20:05
Excellent and true reporting...tha nk you. You should be commended for your honesty and the service you gave to our wonderful country. GOD BLESS AMERICA!
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# John F. 2008-03-25 20:22
OK, that was one heck of a corny line. But everything else had me completely riveted to my computer. I can not wait to share your information with my wife.

Thank you so much for opening my eyes wide to what's going on in Iraq.

Add me to the list of countless American's who appreciate all the fine efforts of our heroes in Iraq and elsewhere. You tell them we are with them in spirit, and applaud their sacrifices.
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# Mikeyslaw 2008-03-25 20:40
Mike
Mosul, again. Man, AQI never learns. Tell the troops that virgins are in short supply nowadays.
As always, the stuff we never hear on the MSM is right here. If you want to know the truth, read Mike Yon.
Good to know that you are safe and still doing what few others will do. Report the facts, and cover a war zone like no one else.
Keep you butt down.
And please, don't forget to tell our guys that we know, we remember, and we are proud of them, you and our country.
God bless you, the troops, and God Bless America.
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# Bob F. 2008-03-25 21:38
It makes me proud to be an American when I read the real truth of how this war is being prosecuted. The MSM is focused on Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton, sleazeball politicians and the Democratic presidential candidates acting like buffoons while important news is ignored.

Thanks to all in the military for serving, stay safe and "dispatch" a terrorist for me!
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# Dick Barker 2008-03-25 22:07
Michael- Your reporting made me feel like I was there. All Americans need to see what is going on in Iraq through eyes as clear as yours. The brutal attacks on innocent people in Qahtaniya and Jazeera coupled with the carnage you described of the blood, bearings, and brains having to be wash out of our own helicopter shows us what kind of homicidal maniacs we are up against, and what al Qaeda would do to us all. Thank you for so clearly bringing home how on a daily basis our armed forces are dealing not with freedom fighters or even religious fanatics but with the human embodiment of JRR Tolkin's orks--raging, heartless warriors straight from the pit of hell. May God bless and protect our troops and you.
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# Louis Rucci 2008-03-25 22:25
This is the first report of yours that I've read and was totally rivited. Outstanding.

Having said that and served in USN for 24 yrs, I'm obligated to chastise your respondents on their lack of security. Many of you have just revealed your loved one's deployment and given enough information about yourselve to jeopardize them.

Maybe I'm being too strict, but I'm anal about this.
Security is everyone's job.

Thank-you
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# pieter paul ickx 2008-03-25 22:37
One of few Europeans appreciating and admiring what America is doing in Iraq and in the rest of the world....
Keep up the good work, where I can and how I can, I spread information to balance the corrupt media brainwashing population here not seen since time of Pravda and Izvestia in old Soviet Union...
Eventually the truth will come out... I wonder why the silence on Tibet, if it was the Americans there and not the Chinese... the world would shake under millions of demonstrations. Same as in Darfur... if it was the Americans maintaining that corrup governement... what a shame the double standards of the mass media and the hypocrisy of most western leaders...
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# John W. 2008-03-26 00:45
I'm not sure who I have been the most impressed with in reading Michael's articles; the professionalism of Yon's reporting or the professionalism of our troops.

Yon's work harks back to the days when journalists were professionals and took the first amendment to heart, providing objective observation and reporting of fact, not trying to be complicit in creating their version of truth. Report the facts; I can speculate about the implications as well as anyone else. Thanks for your consummate professionalism as a journalist, in the truest sense of the word. The mainstream media is suffering from a credibility crisis, but seem unaware of the ramifications that crisis poses for them. Nowhere is this more evident than in the gulf that exists between the MSM portrayal of the war, and what most of us know instead to be the actual truth, based on correspondence with those on the ground there. Yon's presentation is spot on. It is a mystery to me why the MSM thinks that Americans can be taken to be fools.

Whenever we have the chance to honestly see the work our soldiers are doing, one can't help but be humbled. They are articulate, focused, professional, motivated, intelligent and without peer. They truly represent the very best of America. My father, a Marine, puts it best when he says that he and his peers concur today's soldier is a different breed, better in every way than his generation of soldier. But then isn't that why they sacrificed, so their children could be free do be better?
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# John W. 2008-03-26 00:54
I'm not sure who I have been the most impressed with in reading Michael's articles; the professionalism of Yon's reporting or the professionalism of our troops.

Yon's work harks back to the days when journalists were professionals and took the first amendment to heart, providing objective observation and reporting of fact, not trying to be complicit in creating their version of truth. Report the facts; I can speculate about the implications as well as anyone else. Thanks for your consummate professionalism as a journalist, in the truest sense of the word. The mainstream media is suffering from a credibility crisis, but seem unaware of the ramifications that crisis poses for them. Nowhere is this more evident than in the gulf that exists between the MSM portrayal of the war, and what most of us know instead to be the actual truth, based on correspondence with those on the ground there. Yon's presentation is spot on. It is a mystery to me why the MSM thinks that Americans can be taken to be fools.

Whenever we have the chance to honestly see the work our soldiers are doing, one can't help but be humbled. They are articulate, focused, professional, motivated, intelligent and without peer. They truly represent the very best of America. My father, a Marine, puts it best when he says that he and his peers concur today's soldier is a different breed, better in every way than his generation of soldier. But then isn't that why they sacrificed, so their children could be free do be better?
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# W. Athanasidy 2008-03-26 01:32
Thanks again for a realistic view of a long war. The presenters on our news programs will never have a clue as to what a disgraceful 'job' they have done vis-a-vis your correspondence. We need more dispatches from true reporters like you. Stay safe, I'd like to see you at a ripe old age still shaming the media for their disregard for the truth about this war decades hence.
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# John Rabe 2008-03-26 01:35
Michael,

Just wanted to say I was fascinated by this account and hope to read much more from you in the future. Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for your service now.
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# karen 2008-03-26 01:56
Michael, your journal is fantastic!! Objective and so respectful of all the military forces fighting there. Too bad the rest of the MSM can't be as professional and report the truth. Please give my best to our military personnel (God bless them) and the Iraqis. Freedom and assuming a national identity are foreign concepts to the citizens of Iraq, and I think now we can see that they are "getting it". We didn't become the United States overnight, Iraq needs time, too.

Keep up the good work, and stay safe.
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# David 2008-03-26 02:06
It is truly moving to read the REAL accounts of heroism in Iraq. God bless the brave Americans and the heroic Iraqi's who fight not only an enemy spawned in hell, but an American mainstream media bent on our defeat.
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# Morrow Cummings 2008-03-26 02:17
Michael, if you were given space on every front page in the United States, there wouldn't be people like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in Washington.
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# SteveK 2008-03-26 04:07
Michael, thank you for your excellent reporting from Iraq. As in this story, I am have read many other reports which show our military working hand in hand with Iraq's military. Early reports had the Iraqi military shying away from the terrorists and even running away from combat, but that has apparently changed over time. Most reports now show them engaging the terrorists and more and more show they are in the lead while working with our military. Their combat skills, and equipment appears in need of work but all seem to be improving. Hopefully soon they will be able to stand alone in protecting their country. Al Qaedaƒ??s days of influence in Iraq are numbered but the next battle in Iraq may not be very far behind against the Iranian backed Sadrists.
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# david servais 2008-03-26 04:28
Mike, I read your first book, it was great. Cann't wait til I get your second book. "MICHAEL YON FOR PRESIDENT" Why Not!
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# K. 2008-03-26 07:50
My husband is with the 4-6 and I really want to thank you for telling their story. They really are our heros! You met my husband about a week ago, so I have been searching for your articles and I was happy to find a link on Fox's front page news. I have to tell you that I can't even bear to read the readers' comments attached to any reporting done on the war, it usually just gets my blood boiling to see so many people trashing our men and women who are working so hard in Iraq. I am really touched by your readers' comments and it means a lot to me to see so much support, not only for our troops, but also for the Iraqis. They are working very hard and they deserve some recognition. Too many people, including our MSM, expect them to be trained and take over overnight or something. They fail to recognize that the Iraqis have actually made a lot of progress in a very short amount of time. I know their spouses and families are just as proud of them over there, too. I look forward to reading more of your work and even your readers' comments!
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# Bob Foonman 2008-03-26 10:21
I am personally starving for stories like this....I think the entire country is....there are so many millions of working, productive Americans desiring vengence against these Islamic mutts, and true stories of our troops in action are awe-inspiring, yet horrifying when one realizes what these young soldiers are up against. Who could have predicted entire armies of men so stupid and uneducated that they would allow themselves to put on a suicide vest and actually detonate themselves? How do you fight a Death-oriented religion? This was a uplifiting article, and I pray for our soldiers, airmen and their families.
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# Scott Newman 2008-03-26 12:20
Great story to bad the rest of the MSM can't find the time to print some positive stories.
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# Dr Jack Grenan 2008-03-26 13:22
This was a fascinating and yet sad story of bravery and dedication that will never reach those who need to hear and feel it. The loss of life in an attempt to protect fellow soldiers is moving. The Iraqi womens loss of her husband and her childs loss of his /her father is cruel . The Iraqi people depise the enemy and want peace. Can Americans continue to pay for this war in lives and money with problems at home? I do not have that answer, but WE MUST SUPPORT OUR SOLDIERS AT ALL COSTS AND GIVE THEM THE EQIPMENT THEY NEED! God bless our soldiers and their families. With hope yet sorrow, Jack Grenan American
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# _C_A_Dallas 2008-03-26 13:49
Michael, I take the liberty of posting a link to each of your dispatches to a website called Gather. The URL is www.gather.com

Thank you for your continued service to America.

God Bless.
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# Victor 2008-03-26 14:18
This is the kind of reporting the world needs to read.
Michael...Mayby Fox would agree to a column for your reportage?
There must be some other semi unbiased MSM outlets also but I can't think of any. This kind of reporting is way too truthful for most MSM but keep up the good work and be careful. Tell those brave men and women over there not to listed to the protestors. We will prevail!
God bless you, the troops and America!
If you can read this, thank a teacher
If you are reading this in English. Thank a veteran.
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# Neil B 2008-03-26 14:55
Bravo - more reporting like this please - American Senators sit up and listen - the turning point in popularity for the Vietnam war was the government of the days inability to censure the media - this time they have succeeded and if it wasn't for accurate, factual reporting like Michael's we would all be marching to Dubya's drum beat. The reality of what is happening today to troops of all nationality in Iraq and Afghanistan is too horrific for mainstream liberal newspaper editors - instead they choose to fly the patriotic drivel headline. God bless our troops and get them home safe from this injust war.
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# mac1 2008-03-26 16:26
Michael,

Thank you again for your reporting in this war. You, and to a lesser extent, Mike Totten, are the only people whose reporting on Iraq I have any confidence in any more. I refuse to even open anything from Time, Newsweek, the NYT, etc.; I simply got sick of reading defeatist propaganda written by traitors who want us to be defeated and the Iraqis to be surrendered to Islamist fanatics. You're Ernie Pyle's lineal descendant, and this is one American among many who is extremely glad you're carrying on his tradition of honest reporting about American troops. Well done, sir! I'll be buying your book as soon as I finish this message.
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# Arlene Faul 2008-03-26 20:42
Michael,
There is a British fellow that has a blog titled Keep Tony Blair for PM. He has written an article titled "What the Press haven't told you about the Iraq War." In that article he makes a statement that I believe should be an international motto for those of us who support the troops and their mission. He writes: "Our Media has a Collective Death Wish." Makes sense doesn't it?
God Bless our troops and God bless you,
Arlene
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# Richard Gilinsky 2008-03-26 21:52
Michael's reporting is gripping and authentic. He gets us to feel (a little bit, anyway; my guess is none of us who've not been their can really feel) what it's like to be there and be part of the mission he's describing. Good job, Michael.

At the same time, I'm always surprised when readers respond with political views, like "Michael, if you were given space on every front page in the United States, there wouldn't be people like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in Washington." Because Michael makes us empathize on a very human level with both our troops and the Iraqis (military and civilian) shouldn't mean that we have no rights to engage in debates on the wisdom, character, and success of the war. I don't believe either Obama's or Clinton's withdrawal tactics will in the end prevail if either of them becomes CinC. Reality will overtake even them. But it only makes me sadder to read these moving accounts of Michael's to know that this war is undeniably divisive, and that very good people think we got there for all the wrong reasons. And then the supporters invariably mount the argument that we can't let our troops down. Well, indeed, we can't and shouldn't, but there are other voices to be heard. I'm glad to hear Mr. Yon's. But Mr. Obama pretty much got it right from the start and has consistently voted to support the boots on the ground.

What this article doesn't (and shouldn't) remind us of: there was no Al Queda in Iraq until we drew it there. But I don't think we want to get too smug when Michael tells us AQ is on the downslope. It's not as if we kill them in Iraq, and then there are no more of them. Another way of looking at it is that first, there was no Al Queda in Iraq; second we invaded and drew AQ there; third, we found ourselves in the middle of a civil war with four sides: the US, Sunni, Shiite, and AQ; fourth, the Iraqis got sick of AQ's cruel tactics; fifth, the US got smart and made peace with Iraqi guys who had a lot at stake in driving AQ out; sixth, AQ is now on the run. But that doesn't mean they're gone. We're just back almost to where we were before we invaded except that what's left of AQ has a lot of hardened battle experience to bring to bear against us in Afghanistan or wherever.

Aside from the 4000 US dead, several times that in serious injuries, and many times that in Iraqi dead and wounded, there's the cost of $2 trillion -- and counting. That's $30,000-40,000 per family. I wonder how many of the war's cheerleaders would write a check for that amount to fund a war that has gotten us from no AQ in Iraq to a formidable AQ force there we're now cheering about having got on the run? The troops are wonderful. But can we say the same for the leadership that put them in the way of exploding suicide vests? I believe there is lots of space for Obama's and Hillary's views.
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# Jupiter 2008-03-26 23:54
Great Job Mike! God Speed and God Bless. Proud to know you!!
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# Mick SutherlandProud Dad of C.J. 2008-03-27 00:48
"At the same time, I'm always surprised when readers respond with political views, like "Michael, if you were given space on every front page in the United States, there wouldn't be people like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in Washington"

"I wonder how many of the war's cheerleaders would write a check for that amount to fund a war that has gotten us from no AQ in Iraq to a formidable AQ force there we're now cheering about having got on the run? The troops are wonderful. But can we say the same for the leadership that put them in the way of exploding suicide vests? I believe there is lots of space for Obama's and Hillary's views."

Sir, I believe you just contradicted yourself (typical). First, Please enlighten me as to who exactly in either party claims to have "AQ on the run", must less be "cheering". Second, If you believe that the troops are "wonderful", then I am curious as to why you don't also listen to them when they say that they believe in their mission and are making a difference? Third, I can assure you that I am no "cheerleader" but I and many, many others have written a check to this war.....my son, and their sons and daughters. Fourth and final, The reason so many of us feel the way we do about Clinton & Obama is because they remind us of Neville Chamberlain. I leave you with "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Semper Fi
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# Army Wife 2008-03-27 05:21
In regards to Mr. Gilinsky's comments... Perhaps it is your idea to support the troops by saying that what they are doing is wrong. Perhaps your idea of justice would have been to leave Iraq under the rule of evil and vile Sadaam Hussein because you were happier when the Iraqis were being murdered and you did not have to hear about it. People like you are upset because you have to read about the war in the paper and watch it on the news...but in reality it has little to no effect on your life whatsoever. Yes, your tax dollars are spent there, but you paid taxes before the war and you will pay them after the war - that has not changed your life at all. It is not your blood, sweat and tears spent over there or back here waiting for a loved one to come back home. I only thank God that there are courageous people in this world who live lives of consequence and will NEVER settle for your idea of "justice." You just sit back on your little armchair and let them do their jobs!
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# devildog6771 2008-03-27 18:12
Michael, this is a excellent reporting. As usual, you pull no punches and shouldn't. I think a good war correspondent writes about "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," while maintaining a very fine line in an effort to not destroy troop morale or security. I also think that reporter has to be "boots on the ground," as you do, to really provide an accurate accounting. We all know that there is no way any human can remove all personal bias. The trick is to be self aware and label opinion as such, do honest journalism, and provide supportive "facts!" Then, the reputation for honesty and fair reporting speaks for itself. You do "all" of these.

In my opinion, you are the greatest tribute to our fallen loved ones, mine included. I say that not to belittle the efforts of our troops now on the ground or those who have returned; but, rather, because you show their deaths and sacrifices "did" mean something!

I am very proud of our troops and all they have accomplished in such a short time. It is truly amazing. The Iraqi people are also amazing. All one needs do is look at our own fight for freedom and then remember, we at least started our fight with a preconceived ideology of what we wanted. The Iraqis were never able to do so, at least, not at the time we went in there. Those people had to learn to trust that there was a way that was better for them all and guaranteed rights for all Iraqi. It is difficult to conceive an ideology you have never been allowed to develop before, especially when you are born to a culture that denies even the most basic of human rights and does not teach or allow independent expression of any form.

As for Richard Gilinsky, nice try. You guys are learning how to spread your ideology of Socialism without appearing to fail to support the troops. I see you are adaptive. Personally C.J."s dad said it best but I have a few additional thoughts on your post regarding Hillary and Obama. Yes, our troops are fighting for our rights and those of others . Free speech is one of those rights.

But, there is a big difference between exercising "free speech" and trying to provoke "revolution!" Our troops are "not" fighting for your right to preach socialist and communist propaganda and dogma in an effort, very neatly disquised I might add, to destroy our Democracy, set up a government that in no way supports the Constitution! In my younger days, before you guys "coined" political correctness to hide what you are doing, we called your actions and activities treason, especially in a time of war.
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# dubya 2008-03-27 20:17
(er, this comment ended up on the next article for some reason -- the CAPTCHA thingy doens't allow much time for composition/edi ting it seems...)

Richard:

Your figures are high by a factor of at least 3: ($2 trillion spent on Iraq). We've spent on the high side f GDP (versus total government annual spending on the order of 32% GDP).

GDP for 2007 was around $14T: that would make total military spending $560B/year for EVERYTHING the military spends on.
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# Glenn Pavlovic 2008-03-28 23:17
Michael,
Thank you for doing a superior job on letting those of us back here in the States know what is really going on, not just when the latest bomb went off.
I know you are up in northern Iraq. Are there any bloggers you can recommend that are reporting from southern Iraq so we can get the straight story on what's going on there as well?
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# Kristopher 2008-03-29 19:49
Richard:

Bill Clinton was responsible for over 5000 US troops getting killed during the eight years he was in office.
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# Bob 2008-03-30 02:39
Michael - Terrific things to think about, when the word "dark horse" to most people in March involves office NCAA pools.

Thanks for keeping the important things both within our reach and in perspective. You are our dark horse journalist in this whole thing. On an enormous planet that's never been smaller, with hundreds of millions of eyes kept in the dark by the big media guys, you report and write narratives and stories, single pieces of the picture that're shot through the proper prism, and you wind up showing tens of thousands of us all the real colors. And you're one hell of a writer and photographer, too.

From one photographer / writer to another - (Me, I write too many damn metaphors :-) ) - thanks.

Be safe.
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# MegabaseThree 2008-03-30 03:02
Richard Gulinsky makes a commonly heard argument: "...there was no Al Queda in Iraq until we drew it there....It's not as if we kill them in Iraq, and then there are no more of them...except that what's left of AQ has a lot of hardened battle experience to bring to bear against us in Afghanistan or wherever."

The problem with this is AQ attacked the US BEFORE we ever decided to invade Iraq. It's not like Bin Laden and Zawahiri needed our invasion of Iraq as a rationale to launch attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. They launched attacks for many years before the 2003 Iraq invasion. They didn't need Iraq as motivation to recruit. They had already trained tens of thousands of terrorists in Afghanistan during the Clinton Administration and the first eight months of President Bush's Administration. Had we not invaded Iraq, AQ would have continued to recruit, launch attacks, etc.

The difference is, AQ recruiting and training operations in places like Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia can't be touched by the US. We can't just send cruise missiles, Special Ops teams, or JDAMs into those places without triggering massive diplomatic consequences. We are stuck relying on these host governments to do our dirty work. And many times, those governments let these terrorist cells do their thing as long as they're externally directed and leaving the host government alone. But by invading Iraq, we flush out all these crazies who otherwise would be allowed to thrive untouched, and we flush them out into Iraq into a shooting gallery where we CAN kill and capture them. We get access to bad guys that we otherwise could never kill or capture. It's like Iraq is the kitchen where we turn on the light at 3 am and suddenly there are cockroaches scuttling all over the place. If we turn the light off, the roaches go back to their hiding places and we can't ever find them.

Ayman Zawahiri, in his intercepted letter to the slain Zarqawi, specifically referred to establishing an Islamic caliphate in the "heart of the Islamic world" (he then defines Iraq as being a part of the heart of the Arab world) as absolutely vital in AQ's war against the West. He also said that Afghanistan was a side show. Despite this, people like Gulinski, Clinton, Obama, and other knuckleheads keep parroting the Democrat line that Iraq is a strategic mistake because it caused us to "take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan" which is supposedly the "real war." Well, none other than AQ's #2 man himself blatantly contradicts that notion. Zawahiri himself says Iraq, the Levant, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are the real "heart of the Islamic world" and that Afghanistan is "just the groundwork and the vanguard for the major battles which have begun in the heart of the Islamic world."

{Note From Webmaster:} URL Removed from Comment.
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# Megabase Three 2008-03-30 12:10
Sorry folks, first time posting here, and when I didn't see the posts show up on the website yesterday, I thought I did something wrong. If Michael or somebody else is able to delete two of them and keep just one copy, I'd be grateful.
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# Megabase Three 2008-03-30 12:19
I also challenge anti-Iraq war folks to give us a very serious analysis of what they think would have happened if the US had not invaded Iraq. For starters, the 'contain thru sanctions' policy was unraveling by the time Bush took office. Most of today's fiercest war critics, who today laud the successes of sanctions and containment, were in fact at the time bitterly opposed to sanctions and containment. I distinctly recall the Scott Ritters of the world demanding an end to economic sanctions on Saddam Hussein, and insisting on faster exports of dual-use technology to Iraq. These folks in fact were doing everything in their power to UNDERMINE the very policies they now have the cajones to insist were 'working just fine' before Bush 'screwed them up.'

second, Saddam Hussein was not going to live forever. At some point he'd have died or been overthrown. At that moment, an Iraqi civil war would have begun over power succession. Kurds and Shiites would not have just passively accepted yet another minority authoritarian Sunni Baathist government that would massacre them by the hundreds of thousands. Iraq war opponents are deluding themselves if they think US troops would have just sat back and done nothing if Saddam lost power, a civil war began, and outside powers like Iran intervened in it.
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# Tim W. 2008-03-30 12:31
Micael, thanks for another great piece. I can't wait for your book to arrive in the mail.

I want to mention that I was watching CNN and they interviewed a British imbed (I do not remember his name) and they asked him about Obama's recent comments about withdrawing under consultation with the generals in Iraq.

What he said suprised me, mostly because of the outlet.

He said there were no generals on the ground who would tell him that we could begin to withdraw troops without creating a terrorist orgy and a post-American Vietnam like slaughter (I'm paraphrasing). He said that tremendous progress was being made and that regardless of who won the White House, the generals would not support American withdrawal in the early months of the next administration. Rather, they see a country that has turned a corner and has tremendous hope, though success is not guaranteed and will still take time. (I'm terribly sorry for not remembering the gentleman's name.)

These comments certainly aligned with the reporting that I have read on this site, but they pose a problem for anyone saying we will leave Iraq right away in 2009. I was proud of CNN for carrying a dissenting voice. And I'm proud of the work that you are doing.

Tim W.
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# willow 2008-03-30 16:13
"The sun was setting over Nineveh as four terrorists "

Terrorists? These are freedom fighters. If strange men came to your country with big guns wouldn't you fight them? I would, I'd be there with my brothers and sisters throwing out those crusaders. Yes it is a crusade. Bush stated "we call for a crusade against the terrorists". One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. Just ponder on that and open your mind. Nice pictures mind you, I like the ones of he orange smoke/explosion .
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# Army Wife 2008-03-30 20:53
Willow, freedom fighters do not blow up their own countrymen every single day! (Countrymen are people who are actually from their same country, i.e. Iraqi citizens.) If you actually had any idea what was going on in Iraq, you would know that the terrorists don't even try to fight the coalition forces. They are afraid of them! They are aiming for the innocent Iraqi civilians. They set up suicide bombers to go into markets where innocent people are just trying to get their dinner. They target any Iraqi who is trying to work for a better life in their country. Do you even know how many of the Iraqi police officers and soldiers have been targeted while just signing up to serve their country? The coalition forces' job right now is protecting the innocent people of Iraq from the terrorists, which they work very hard at doing every single day. I don't know how anyone could know so little about the war to seriously think that the terrorists are fighting for the freedom for Iraq?! It is actually quite the opposite. Most of them are not even from Iraq. The reason they are there is because they do NOT want a free Iraq. How can you be so completely ignorant? This is a serious question...it must be work to completely ignore the facts like that. Even the mainstream media reports on the terrorists targeting innocent Iraqi civilians. This is not "propoganda," these are things that actually happen every day! Did you just hear that from an 8-year-old who has never even read a newspaper and believe it or what??? If you are this ignorant as to what is going on in the world, I really hope you are either not old enough to vote or too clueless to know what voting is!
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# Even Flow 2008-04-01 03:41
Michael,
The new website is fantastic. It goes without saying that the dispatches are equally so. It was rare early on that the socialist comment of "we support the troops, we really do, but..." ever even made it to your site. I guess since the word has FINALLY gotten out about the amazing work you do, these slugs are finally posting their anti-American views. I've turned so many friends onto your site. In fact, every week one of them will send me a link to a new dispatch to which I can only reply, "Yeah, I read that already; it was as brilliant as always." Keep safe boaday, and safe travels.
Best Regards
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# Ron Leonard 2008-04-02 04:54
With you out there Mike I know we get the real deal news not this regurgitated crap on the news. to help you along a little I posted link to your book and your stories in the newest newsletter I put out for the guys. It is well traveled from the US to Afghanistan, to Iraq, Australia and Europe. both modern day and Vietnam era vets get it and then pass it around to all their lists, enjoy the leg up, you deserve it. Just wish I was there to help you out some.:-)

[Note from Webmaster]: Hyperlink removed from the comment.
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# Alan Moore 2008-04-03 01:44
Michael, I loved the articles. I am a former Army journalist and I really appreciate the lengths you go through to "get it right." Much respect, man.

As we discussed when you interviewed me for Stake Through Their Hearts, here is the link to some music videos I made about Darkhorse in the Ninevah desert. Just searc for "mooresark" on you will see them. Thanks a million.
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# Alan Moore 2008-04-03 01:53
The link for videos of Darkhorse is /user/mooresark

thanks again
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# SSgt JT Kristant 2008-04-07 13:04
It amazes me that there are so few individuals who truly report what is going on, between the rear and the FOBs. I spent 5 months in Kirkuk, and a lot of the times we were targeted by IDF, DF, VBIEDs, IEDs, or any other small arms, none of it was reported. There are so many brave individuals, in all branches over there, and don't receive much of the needed praise for what they do over there. I'm happy to see that you do more than just praise, but vindicate their lives and the mission over there. Thanks for telling it like it is...
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# Marc Adams 2008-04-12 20:01
I was there at the Hospital that night. Dirty, Nasty Business that one was. The young SF guys were very much upset, and rightfully so. This particular incident was one of the first ones I have heard of the IA/IP stepping up. Got your book in the mail today and cannot wait to get into it. I have been an avid reader of your posts since shortly steeping foot in this country. I have also personally known several of the guys you write about, you truly do them justice. Keep up the wonderful work reporting exactly how you do. The people back home need to know what truly goes on. Thank you from me, and all of us, here in the Big Sandbox.
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# Brian H 2008-04-15 10:21
I'm Canuck, and consider the US' efforts in Iraq to be crucial for world survival -- but not sufficient in themselves, of course. Long War in progress.
And here's a (lengthy) statement from an Aussie about the tools America has deployed:

"Gentlemen,

I am an Australian and my son is an Australian - as far as we are concerned there is not place on God's earth better than Australia , and there are no people better than Australians.
That was until the past week or so.
My son is in the Australian Army and he is currently on deployment in Iraq. I can not go into his duties in great depth, but shall we say that he and his fellow army buddies are on a glorified guard duty looking after the Australian Embassy. They don't go out looking for "action", though it is a different story in Afghanistan, there the Aussie troops chase the baddies over the hills and into the valleys..
My son and I just ended a long 'phone conversation and here are some of his comments, believe me this is what he said. We have all seen the bullshit emails written by some clown in his lounge room pretending to be at the coal face, but this is what was said.:

"Before I came over here I thought we (the Australian Army) were pretty shit hot..... was I ever wrong!....The Yanks (I hope you don't mind me using that word) are so professional from the top to the bottom that it is almost embarrassing to be in their company, and to call yourself a soldier....don' t get me wrong, we are good at what we do but the Yanks are so much better.....they are complete at what they do, how they do it and their attitude is awesome....they don't complain they just get on with the job and they do it right.....I carry a Minimi (SAW) so I am not real worried about a confrontation but I tell you I feel safer just knowing that the US Army is close by....If we got into trouble I know that our boys would come running and we could deal with it but they would probably be passed by a load of Hummers. No questions asked, no glory sought, the Americans would just fight with us and for us because that is their nature, to protect those in need of protection..... We use the American Mess so you could say that we are fed by the Americans.....t hey have every right to be pissed at that but they don't bitch about that they just make us feel as welcome as possible....wha t gets to me is that the Yanks don't walk around with a "we are better than you attitude" and they could because they are, they treat us as equals and as brothers in arms. If nothing else, coming here has taught me that the Americans are a truly great Nation and a truly great bunch of people.....Let' s face it they don't HAVE to be here, they could stay in America and beat the shit out of anyone who threatened them, BUT THEY ARE HERE because they believe they should be here, and the Iraqis would be screwed if they weren't here.....When I come home, you and I we are going to the US, we will buy some bikes and we are going riding...."
[cont]
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# Brian H 2008-04-15 10:22
The reason why I am sharing this with you is because I realize that you (as a nation) must get pretty pissed with all the criticism you receive by the so-called "know it alls" who are sitting at home - safe. The reality is that they are safe, just as I am, because of America . If the world went arse up tomorrow there is f**k all we (Australia) could do about it, but I know that the Americans would be there putting themselves on the line for others. That to me is the sign of greatness.
The most precious thing in my life is my son, I look at him and I thank God that I am fortunate enough to be able to spend time in his company. We laugh, we discuss, we argue, we dummy spit, we have the same blood. I am not happy that he is where he is but that is his duty. He joined the Army to protect and to defend, not to play games. I mightn't like it but I accept it. My reasons for not liking it are selfish and self centered. I felt assured that he would be safe because he is in a well trained army with an excellent record, BUT NOW, I feel a whole lot better knowing that he is with your sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
Whilst he was growing up. I was always there to look after him, I would not let harm befall him and I would always put myself before him to protect him. I can't do that now. When it comes to looking after him now he and his mates will do the job, but also THANK GOD FOR AMERICA.
Gentlemen, I have rambled on for too long. but as I finish I say to you, as a foreigner and outsider, a nation is only a collection of its people and its attitude is the attitude of its people, collectively and as individuals. I am really glad you are here on this Earth and I respect you as a nation and as people.
Stand up and feel proud because you deserve it, there is no one else who will do what America does without question. The next time someone howls you down, take some comfort in the fact that America is defending their right to act like an idiot.
Finally, thank you for looking after my son.
Peter Turner"
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# Brian H 2008-04-15 10:24
The reason why I am sharing this with you is because I realize that you (as a nation) must get pretty pissed with all the criticism you receive by the so-called "know it alls" who are sitting at home - safe. The reality is that they are safe, just as I am, because of America . If the world went arse up tomorrow there is f**k all we (Australia) could do about it, but I know that the Americans would be there putting themselves on the line for others. That to me is the sign of greatness.
The most precious thing in my life is my son, I look at him and I thank God that I am fortunate enough to be able to spend time in his company. We laugh, we discuss, we argue, we dummy spit, we have the same blood. I am not happy that he is where he is but that is his duty. He joined the Army to protect and to defend, not to play games. I mightn't like it but I accept it. My reasons for not liking it are selfish and self centered. I felt assured that he would be safe because he is in a well trained army with an excellent record, BUT NOW, I feel a whole lot better knowing that he is with your sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
Whilst he was growing up. I was always there to look after him, I would not let harm befall him and I would always put myself before him to protect him. I can't do that now. When it comes to looking after him now he and his mates will do the job, but also THANK GOD FOR AMERICA.
Gentlemen, I have rambled on for too long. but as I finish I say to you, as a foreigner and outsider, a nation is only a collection of its people and its attitude is the attitude of its people, collectively and as individuals. I am really glad you are here on this Earth and I respect you as a nation and as people.
Stand up and feel proud because you deserve it, there is no one else who will do what America does without question. The next time someone howls you down, take some comfort in the fact that America is defending their right to act like an idiot.
Finally, thank you for looking after my son.
Peter Turner"
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# CPT W.K.Weitz 2008-04-17 02:06
Brian H from down under-
You Aussies are wonderful. Not a stitch of disagreement with the "war on terror".
America and Australia are 'blood brothers' in this fight. Keep up the fire.
CPT Weitz
82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION
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# mike 2008-04-21 02:33
Just finished your book! Had to have and Autographed copy!:-) The more I ready your dispatches the angrier I get at The Traitorus Left and their Media!

I have the opposite reactions about our troops! I contnue to be in awe and many times feel this country is not worhy of our Heroic men and women in the military!
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# BorderLegion 2008-04-28 15:29
Michael,

Ecstatic you made it through yet another tour of duty as it were. Welcome back, it is so refreshing to see the truth come out, not like you would on any drive by Media. Their lies about our troops and their moral drives me insane. Keep up the great work and again welcome home. You were in our prayers Michael, may God bless you and bless our troops that are doing such an outstanding job. "DE OPPRESSO LIBER"
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# Attila the Hen 2008-05-08 00:41
I quoted you on my blog yesterday and was abosolutely STUNNED to find that I had to defend you - or defend your firsthand observations tonight. I am so grateful for you and the few others who have the courage and honesty to stand up and tell the truth about the War in Iraq. We are inundated here with nothing but political agenda and body counts on television, radio, and in the papers... The American people need to know what's really happening in Iraq and the wonderful job that our men and women in the military are doing. Yes, we need to know what the negatives are and stay informed, but to deny the positive aspects of what's happening is wrong, in my opinion. It's also of the utmost importance that the world knows IRAQIS too are fighting for their freedom, and we're not just an occupying force that's cramming democracy down their throats, that progress is making big and small inroads. Democracy of any kind is an undeniably long row to hoe in the Middle East, but I believe that need to be faithful and finish the job. GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS and Michael, let them know that no matter what - we owe them so much - they are our heart.
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# Whiskey One Three 2010-02-21 12:39
Ok, for the record, I love the General Purpose Force. Specifically, the USMC PFC at the roadblock who wants to share his last coke with me on a freezing thanksgiving morning before a raid, or, that 67T who submitted the photos, who when I asked him to open up with his 240 and he did so without questioning my orders. The 4-6 helped us a great deal, but they were at the edge of this Operational Environment and not living in it. The timeline above does not articulate clearly the order in which events occurred. Although the ODA had been asking the GPF for air support months earlier to find these caches, it took a catastrophic incident to provide it. Too bad we did not find those explosives months before, but the GPF commander could not give up those ass and trash ring flights to help counter the rising threat in the west, despite our constant warnings. So, my team and I spent months in the blistering heat driving around in wheeled vehicles dodging IEDs and ambushes to do the job that failed the Yezidis. In short, the GPF needs to get off the FOBs to flex their "COIN" doctrine. The GPF commanders need to recognize all assets available to them then support those assets as much as possible. I won't even mention anything about who was supporting who, main effort, initiative, etc. I am glad we had those helos and crews on all those days and nights described. I salute their service, and I hope they might understand that doing it and talking about it are two very different things when the rotor wash dies. War stories... ya gotta love 'em.
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# Jack 2010-09-11 09:04
I'd like to thank Josh for holding that cravat for me... it would have been a long 45 min flight without him lol. For the record, all casualties were kept alive till the CASH. The one jundi with the head wound was about DRT and was posturing before we took off. the terp and the other soldier were alive and died in surgery from blood loss. And there were only 3 SF soldiers on the ground. the 18Z "Tony", 18D "Jack", 18F "Drew" and 18C "Paul".
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# Jack 2010-09-11 09:08
Nevermind guess there was 4.... TBI...
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+1 # Paul 2010-09-14 08:54
yea thanks again, nice to see this. i was also on the ground that night. so glad jack sent me this site......almos t at our 3 year anniversary of the event.
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# jack 2011-10-04 10:04
Hey little buddy!
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