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The Atlantic: Michael Yon's War

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The Atlantic: Michael Yon's War

Author: D.B. Grady
Published: 01 June 2010

This article has a lot of beef: Afghanistan, Thailand, General Stanley McChrystal, General David Petraeus, Brigadier General Daniel Menard, milkooks, Bob Ainsworth, and more.

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Court Decisions on Bagram Detainees


25 May 2010

We all are aware that war leads to difficult situations.  In regard to detainees, we've seen terrorists released only to strike again. Yet in the interest of justice we are concerned about detaining potentially innocent people.  Difficult times, difficult answers.  In summary, some detainees at Bagram are trying to use American courts to chisel their way out.

Last year, a group of people were asked to join in offering an opinion to the court.  Those were: Special Forces Association, U.S. Army Ranger Association, Senator Lindsey Graham, Col. (ret) Abraham German, Wade Ishimoto, Prof. Andrew Nichols Pratt, Dr. Dennis Walters, Rear Admiral (ret) George Worthington, Michael Yon and Senator Ryan Zinke.

The good attorneys who are trying to keep us from getting blown up by repeat offenders emailed today.  The above parties received the following message from Attorneys David Rivkin and Carlos Ramos Mrosovsky:

Read more: Court Decisions on Bagram Detainees

Court Martial Of Brigadier General Daniel Menard


Heavy fighting erupted in Thailand and I was slightly set back from Afghanistan dispatches. Am back to work on a series of major Afghanistan dispatches.

Meanwhile, 33,000 people have signed up for my Facebook feed and about 10,000 at Twitter. Please see the interesting string on Facebook re BG Menard and Afghanistan.

Thank you,
Michael Yon


Penguins of Afghanistan



Penguins of Afghanistan
A few Words on Charlie Company

Published: 13 May 2010

There are no birth certificates in these villages.  No death certificates.  No driver’s licenses or addresses or phonebooks, and if there were, few people would be able to read them.  In this mostly illiterate country, there are no paperwork hassles.  Corruption is a problem but bureaucracy and identity theft surely aren’t.  Most Afghans have never been entered into any system.  Like penguins on the ice, they are born, they live and they die, and that’s all.

Read more: Penguins of Afghanistan

An Afghan Story


District Governor Haji Obidullah Populzai before going on mission with 1-17th Infantry.

Published: 9 May 2010

If normal life were a river, most days would likely be a slow-moving, meandering passage.  But when a life squeezes into the gorge of war, there can be a deafening whitewater, falls and yet bigger falls, slams against stones, falls again and underwater no air and over the falls again and time stretches and compresses and seems to defy normal experience and over the falls again and you drown or don’t.  Some people come out the other side exhilarated and want to do it again and again, while others are terrified, and yet others will just do what needs to be done.  The persistence of the memories wrought would seem to leave clocks drooped over limbs or floating away.

Read more: An Afghan Story

Big Guns


28 April 2010

The intention was to write a detailed dispatch on the 3-17th Field Artillerly.  Unfortunately, General Stanley McChrystals’ crew broke an agreement I had with the Army to stay until 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team leaves Afghanistan, and so the research on this dispatch was not completed.  However, there are some nice nighttime photos and so this dispatch is more about Canons than cannons.

Read more: Big Guns

Battle for Kandahar


Battle for Kandahar

Baghtu Valley

25 April 2010

Shah Wali Kot district Center: Elevation 3,953 feet.

The counteroffensive has begun.  More accurately, it might be called a counter-counteroffensive.  Close to a decade ago, we beat the Taliban and al Qaeda here.  The Taliban regrew and waged an increasingly successful counteroffensive.  And so our ninth year at war is the year of our counter-counteroffensive.

The most remarkable feature of our counter-counteroffensive likely will be the Battle for Kandahar, or BfK.  Kandahar was the birthplace of the Taliban and Kandahar City is the provincial capital.  The Taliban is succesfully wresting Kandahar back into their control.  The BfK is likely our last effort to halt and reverse Taliban influence from spreading.  The winner in the BfK will be set to eventually take most or all of the chips off the table, and so BfK is crucial to the outcome of the war.

Read more: Battle for Kandahar

Under Cover of the Night


Under Cover of the Night


1-17th Infantry

Night photo looks like broad daylight.

11 April 2010

During a mission there is no “pause” button.  It’s on until it’s over.  Recently, Charlie Company 1-17th Infantry conducted a mission that included visiting villages in the Shah Wali Kot district of northern Kandahar Province.

The main threats in this area are bombs and mines.  Many vehicles have “mine rollers” on the front that are designed to detonate the bomb before it gets under the vehicle.  The bombs often are big enough to completely obliterate any tank or armored vehicle ever built.  During the mission, a mine roller on a Stryker broke, causing Charlie Company to overnight in the desert.

Read more: Under Cover of the Night

Village Boys


Easter Sunday, 2010
Anywhere, Afghanistan

Back in December, C-Co  1-17th Infantry battalion had been in about the worst place in Afghanistan.  There is stiff competition for the position of actual worst place, and I am sure there are many contenders that remain unknown, but the Arghandab was one of them.  The battalion had lost more than twenty soldiers, and C-co alone had lost 12 with more wounded.  In December 2009, C-Co was moved north into Shah Wali Kot and has been running missions here for more than three months.  I’ve only been at Shaw Wali Kot for a week.

Read more: Village Boys



in the
Desert of Death

Some troops in Afghanistan go months without a shower.  Major Ryan O’Conner, XO of the 1-17th Infantry, now in Kandahar Province, said that during a previous tour his Soldiers fought half a year without so much as a dip in a creek.  Shortages of drinking water affected combat operations.

Read more: RED HORSE

The Scent of Weakness


Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
25 March 2010

Dogs have been trained to carry bombs to attack enemies for decades.  The Soviets and others have used dogs as low-tech smart bombs.  Yet canine platoons likely would rebel if they caught scent they were being duped to die.

Today, more sophisticated people employ men (mostly) to deliver bombs in Afghanistan.  Gullible souls are selected, conditioned, trained and deployed.  Malleable minds are identified then loaded with psychic software that uses their minds to create a vision.  Evil persons of superior intellect identify the raw material—that raw material might be an engineer from a stable family—and trains them to fetch myths.

Read more: The Scent of Weakness



All photos in this dispatch made on March 1, 2010, at Kandahar Airfield.

Kandahar, Afghanistan
23 March 2010

The mission required crossing a bridge that had been blown up a couple hours earlier by a suicide car bomber.  The attacker hit a convoy from the 82nd Airborne, killing American soldier Ian Gelig.  Now with a hole in the bridge and recovery operations underway, our mission was cancelled.  So I called the Air Force to see if they were busy.  Yes, it turns out, the Air Force is busy every day, but Captain Kristen Duncan took me down to the ramp where the A-10 “Warthogs” are parked.

Read more: Warthog

Army to Army


American Colonel Writes to Spanish Colonel

15 March 2010
Kandahar, Afghanistan

Responding to a document first published here on 08 March, U.S. Army Colonel Robert J. Ulses writes to Spanish Army Colonel Jesus De Miguel Sebastian.

The letter from Colonel Ulses contradicts the previous memo by a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel.

Read more: Army to Army

Man Dogs


Kandahar, Afghanistan
15 March 2010

In David Galula’s 1964 book, Counterinsurgency Warfare, THEORY AND PRACTICE, he states:

“The ideal situation for the insurgent would be a large, land-locked country, shaped like a blunt-tipped star, with jungle-covered mountains along the borders and scattered swamps along the plains, in a temperate zone with a large and dispersed rural population and a primitive economy.”

Mr. Galula described Afghanistan almost perfectly.  Instead of jungle-covered mountains are some of the most extreme folds on Planet Earth: The “abode of snow,” the Himalaya.  Afghan elevations dwarf Mount Rainier, and make the great Colorado Rockies look like the Pygmy Snow Hills. Meanwhile, down in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces, Galula’s “swamps” are the “Green Zones,” where most of the current fighting occurs.

Read more: Man Dogs

The Bridge


Need Bullets?  The shortest distance between South Carolina and Kandahar is about 7,500 miles.  (As the rocket flies.)

Shah Wali Kot, Afghanistan
11 March 2009

The military axiom that “amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics” has special meaning in Afghanistan. During the Soviet war, though the Bear comprised Afghanistan’s entire northern border, the Afghan resistance was frequently able to block Soviet logistical operations, which were dependent on scant roads, tunnels and corridors. Captured Soviet logistics convoys often supplied the Mujahidin.

Logistics in landlocked Afghanistan are exceptionally tough because the country is a transportation nightmare of impassable mountains, barren deserts, and rugged landscape with only capillary roads and airports.

Read more: The Bridge

Of Concern


Monday, 08 March 2010
Kandahar, Afghanistan

Yesterday, an American involved in the war effort handed me a document. It was an email from a Lieutenant Colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. His unit is in combat seven days a week. To be clear, I did not get the email from the officer and I have never met him.

The email is about the abysmal, unsafe conditions which some of our most dedicated troops are living in, at a remote base run by the Spanish military in Afghanistan. All deletions [xxx] are by me. I have the entire email. The serious and disturbing allegations are found in the second and third paragraphs.

Read more: Of Concern

From Canada: A Thank You to U.S. Service Members


U.S. Air Force Nurse, Lucy Lehker, comforts an 'unknown' Canadian soldier after he was badly wounded in Afghanistan.

Dear Michael Yon,

Today we were sent your story of February 14, 2010. The “unknown” Canadian is our son Danny.  He is a 23-year-old soldier from Vancouver, Canada.

Your photographs were extraordinary and have impacted so many people here in Canada. There has been an outpouring of affection for the Americans who helped Danny in his moment of need.  For that, we thank you for recording these acts of kindness into history.

Danny's injuries were the result of an explosion on February 12, 2010. Four Canadian soldiers were injured and tragically one Canadian soldier was killed.  Within 20 minutes of the explosion, Danny was airlifted by helicopter to Kandahar.  Upon arrival he received emergency surgery that saved his life and prepared him for the flight to Bagram that you were on.

After landing in Bagram, Danny was again airlifted by a US transport aircraft to the US Army run Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.  There he underwent additional surgery that closed up his wounds.  Once stabilized, the Canadian government dispatched a Challenger jet to bring him home. This afternoon in Vancouver, the shrapnel that did all the damage to him was finally removed.  Danny is now recovering in hospital.

This was Danny's second tour of duty in Afghanistan and his platoon on this tour has had heavy causalities and injuries.  Physically, Danny will overcome his injuries. He also has the support of his family, his friends and his community to deal with the emotional side of this war.  Our hearts go out to those families who have had the loss of a soldier or who have had to deal with greater injuries.

Danny and his whole family are very grateful, and are actually overwhelmed, by the support he received while in US care. The Canadian military have also been wonderful.  It is our intention to personally thank everyone who worked so hard to save Danny's life. We have already made contact with Major Deborah "Lucy" Lehker to thank her.


Jim & Holly

Full Story:

Valentine's Day Weekend, Afghanistan



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