Michael's Dispatches

Calling BULLSHIT on Rolling Stone

244 Comments

29 March 2011

Seldom do I waste time with rebutting articles, and especially not from publications like Rolling Stone.  Today, numerous people sent links to the latest Rolling Stone tripe.  The story is titled “THE KILL TEAM, THE FULL STORY.”  It should be titled: “BULLSHIT, from Rolling Stone.”

The story—not really an “article”—covers Soldiers from 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in Afghanistan.  A handful of Soldiers were accused of murder.  It does in fact appear that a tiny group of rogues committed premeditated murder.  I was embedded with the 5/2 SBCT and was afforded incredible access to the brigade by the Commander, Colonel Harry Tunnell, and the brigade Command Sergeant Major, Robb Prosser.  I know Robb from Iraq.  Colonel Tunnell had been shot in Iraq.

The brigade gave me open access.  I could go anywhere, anytime, so long as I could find a ride, which never was a problem beyond normal combat problems.  If they had something to hide, it was limited and I didn’t find it.  I was not with the Soldiers accused of murder and had no knowledge of this.  It is important to note that the murder allegations were not discovered by media vigilance, but by, for instance, at least one Soldier in that tiny unit who was appalled by the behavior.  A brigade is a big place with thousands of Soldiers, and in Afghanistan they were spread thinly across several provinces because we decided to wage war with too few troops.  Those Soldiers accused of being involved in (or who should have been knowledgeable of) the murders could fit into a minivan.  You would need ten 747s for the rest of the Brigade who did their duty.  I was with many other Soldiers from 5/2 SBCT.  My overall impression was very positive.  After scratching my memory for negative impressions from 5/2 Soldiers, I can’t think of any, actually, other than the tiny Kill Team who, to my knowledge, I never set eyes upon.

The online edition of the Rolling Stone story contains a section with a video called “Motorcycle Kill,” which includes our Soldiers gunning down Taliban who were speeding on a motorcycle toward our guys.  These Soldiers were also with 5/2 SBCT, far away from the “Kill Team” later accused of the murders.  Rolling Stone commits a literary “crime” by deceptively entwining this normal combat video with the Kill Team story.  The Taliban on the motorcycle were killed during an intense operation in the Arghandab near Kandahar City.  People who have been to the Arghandab realize the extreme danger there.  The Soviets got beaten horribly in the Arghandab, despite throwing everything including the Soviet kitchen sink into the battle that lasted over a month.  Others fared little better.  To my knowledge, 5/2 and supporting units were the first ever to take Arghandab, and these two dead Taliban were part of that process.

The killing of the armed Taliban on the motorcycle was legal and within the rules of engagement.  Law and ROE are related but separate matters.  In any case, the killing was well within both the law and ROE.  The Taliban on the back of the motorcycle raised his rifle to fire at our Soldiers but the rifle did not fire.  I talked at length with several of the Soldiers who were there and they gave me the video.  There was nothing to hide.  I didn’t even know about the story until they told me.  It can be good for Soldiers to shoot and share videos because it provides instant replay and lessons learned.  When they gave me the video and further explained what happened, I found the combat so normal that I didn’t even bother publishing it, though I should have because that little shooting of the two Taliban was the least of the accomplishments of these Soldiers, and it rid the Arghandab of two Taliban.

Some people commented that our Soldiers used excessive force by firing too many bullets.  Hogwash.  And besides, they were trying to kill each other.  Anyone who has seen much combat with our weak M-4 rifles realizes that one shot is generally not enough, and the Taliban were speeding at them on a motorbike, which very often are prepared as suicide bombs.  If that motorcycle had been a bomb, as they often are, and got inside the group of Soldiers and exploded, they could all have been killed.  Just yesterday, in Paktika, three suicide attackers came in, guns blazing, and detonated a huge truck bomb.  Depending on which reports you read, about twenty workers were killed and about another fifty wounded.

In the video, our guys would have been justified in firing twice that many bullets, but at some point you are wasting ammo and that is a combat sin.  The Soldiers involved in that shooting told me that the Taliban on the back may have pulled the AK trigger, but the loaded AK did not fire because the Taliban didn’t have a round in the chamber.  Attention to detail.  At least one also had an ammunition rack strapped across his chest.

This could go on for pages, but Rolling Stone is not worth it, and thrashing them might only build their readership.  I’ve found in the past that boycotts work.  I led a boycott against one magazine and it went bankrupt.  It’s doubtful that Rolling Stone will go bankrupt for its sins, but you can cost them money not by boycotting their magazine, but by boycotting their advertisers.  That hurts.  Just pick an advertiser whose products you already buy, boycott it, and tell the advertiser why you are not buying their product.

Now I’ve got to get back to work.

Say something here...
You are a guest ( Sign Up ? )
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Afghan Patriot · 10 years ago
    [Comment removed by Webmaster]
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Living The Dream 85 · 10 years ago
    I am glad that the ones who were truly involved in the murders are being prosecuted, they deserve it (and far more punishment then they are actually getting in my opinion), however I feel it is a slander to the US Military for our own periodical entities to be making accusations of such a nature they have no business sticking their noses in. The things that happen in War are spontaneous last second decisions made to save lives... a good soldier has the lives of his brothers in mind at all times, and if there is a threat they will react guaranteed. Please do not judge the outcome of these decisions made until you have been in the situation your self. I salute the brave, and will NEVER FORGET THE FALLEN.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Afghan Patriot · 10 years ago
    [Comment removed by Webmaster]
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Afghan Patriot · 10 years ago
    Note from the Webmaster: @AfghanPatriot is posting under numerous email addresses. He's trolling so I will begin removing his posts. Our apologies that it took so long but we try to give everyone a chance. Rich [Webmaster]
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MyonWebMaster · 10 years ago
    (@Afghan Patriot)[From Webmaster]: Sir/Ma'am, thank you for taking the time to leave comments here in reference to this article. However, this section is specifically for commenting on the article, this is not an open forum for other topics. Please either keep the comments directly relevant to the article or kindly move your open concerns to a more appropriate forum. Thank you again,
    Webmaster
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ryan Mack · 10 years ago
    I was in 5th SBCT in Afghanistan, and i saw another poster write the truth, if you weren't there, you haven't been a soldier, and have never been shot at before your opinion doesn't matter on this. The media is making a mess of this whole thing most of which our outright lies the other half is twisting of the truth. Sadly it takes away from another battalion within the brigade 1-17 they were heroes almost faced catastrophic losses but took the Arghandab Valley and held it. Thank you Mr. Yon for having the integrity to stand apart and stand up for people that defend the sheep.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Afghan patriot · 10 years ago
    [quote name="MyonWebMaster"](@Afghan Patriot)[From Webmaster]: Sir/Ma'am, thank you for taking the time to leave comments here in reference to this article. However, this section is specifically for commenting on the article, this is not an open forum for other topics. Please either keep the comments directly relevant to the article or kindly move your open concerns to a more appropriate forum. Thank you again,
    Webmaster[/quote]

    If you were the Webmaster you would have already taken out my comments, but thanks anyway for the advice.

    [Added by Webmaster} Sir/Ma'am i am the Webmaster, I have asked you nicely. so please keep your comments directly related to the topic of the article or they will be removed.
    Webmaster
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Afghan patriot · 10 years ago
    [Comment removed by Webmaster]
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Stanley · 10 years ago
    Educate me. Has this president ever highlighted the heroism of our troops in front of the media? Even once?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Stanley · 10 years ago
    Mr. Yon wrote: "Those Soldiers accused of being involved in (or who should have been knowledgeable of) the murders could fit into a minivan. You would need ten 747s for the rest of the Brigade who did their duty."

    Heh, I wonder what the proportion of psychopaths to normal people among Rolling Stone subscribers is? Something tells me, a survey would be in the brigade's favor.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    rasqual · 10 years ago
    "Starbucks prefers not to engage in debate on political, religious, or social issues. As a global company, Starbucks refrains from supporting or endorsing political parties. Our focus is making our stores welcoming to everyone and providing our customers with the highest quality coffee."

    In other words, boilerplate that doesn't even engage the issue.

    Screw 'em.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron · 10 years ago
    Seems any comment not in total favour of mr Yon's antics gets removed by the webmaster. Almost as fascinating as seeing how American soldiers kill innocents for fun and how mr Yon gets greatly upset about those that report about it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron · 10 years ago
    To battle bad journalism Michael Yon goes to Glenn Beck to be interviewed. The irony.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    USpatriot · 10 years ago
    Glenn Beck is a shining star of journalism. I am glad Michael Yon chose this great man to complain about these partial RS libertards. Journalism is about being impartial and man like Glenn Beck and Michael Yon are the ones who know and uphold this!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mercantile · 10 years ago
    I'm going to use my god given right of free speech to call you a propagandist and leave it at that.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ricardo · 10 years ago
    Get real. If Bush was still in office, they'd be accusing Bush of direct involvement in the "kill team" and calling for his impeachment. In fact, I think they actually did.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Danny · 10 years ago
    Jeff - What is it with some military people and their visceral contempt for President Obama? Do you honestly think he doesn't respect and support our troops? Maybe if you would watch something other than Fox News you would actually see coverage of him honoring our troops! Heck, a simple Google search will provide you with plenty of examples of President Obama honoring our troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Danny · 10 years ago
    Jeff - Here are just SOME examples of President Obama having PUBLICLY "highlighted the heroism of our troops":

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40219122/ns/us_news-life/

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/obama-honors-soldiers-killed-afghanistan/story?id=894 767

    http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/11/11/5448086-obama-honors-troops

    http://blogs.chron.com/txpotomac/2009/10/houstonian_secures_highest_mil_1.html

    http://www.news4jax.com/politics/21 97866/detail.html

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gary Flossmann · 10 years ago
    One can almost tell by the responses who was there and who wasn't....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Nobbynobs · 10 years ago
    The guys that shot those civilians for fun were defenitely there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gary Flossmann · 10 years ago
    Your point, nobby?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gary Flossmann · 10 years ago
    Mercantile: You must have missed the point of Yon's post. NOBODY is excusing the murderers [one who was just sentenced]. In fact, most of us in the military detest such behavior. The story, as published in RS, was just HIGHLY flawed and rather missed the real story.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    AiSc · 10 years ago
    I am perplexed that an editor would allow a story along with gruesome photo's to be published. The sheer utter inaccuracy with it and the one sided opinion is in one word STUPID. I did write RS to advise that I was canceling my subscription and to call BS. I also advised them that they were exploiting the deceased more then the soldiers by publishing the photo's. I wonder if this happened to their family member if they would want it published all over a music magazine where most readers could give a two hoots about the political state of our country. This is NOT journalism, however someone's option to get shock value and their name in lights, the sad thing is this person will NEVER have integrity with their writing, very sad for someone who would call themselves a writer.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    AiSc · 10 years ago
    Ironic indeed, so sad that we allow for this type of so-called journalism to be published.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pencil Neck · 10 years ago
    Damn Mike. Don't let the bastards get you down. I've been there too. Don't let 'em. Move out.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Varumask · 10 years ago
    Okay it's personally between you and them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ashley · 10 years ago
    Rolling Stone lost all credibility with me back in the early 80s. I wouldnt use use one for toilet paper.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jason Onuske · 10 years ago
    Journalism is also about showing bad things instead of putting them underneath a rug and forgetting about them. What strikes me as funny is that Yon has a problem with RS showing US soldiers killing people but has no problem what so ever showing a the corpse of a killed Taleban in his latest dispatch.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 10 years ago
    Jason,

    Sir, one normally benefits from doing homework before speaking/writing. Firstly, I published those photos before Rolling Stone published them. So you get the buzzer on that one. Secondly, I've long reported the suspected murders. Long before Rolling Stone. Finally, the issue that I raised was about a video of shooting two Taliban off a motorcycle. One Taliban was trying to shoot our troops. The Rolling Stone author conflated that video with the murders which happened elsewhere and by other troops.

    Strike three, Jason. Please do homework before throwing stones.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Adam · 10 years ago
    I agree with you frank, I have never read Rolling Stone before either and now I will never pick one up unless it is to call the big advertisers in there to tell them they are dealing with horrible people.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Makaak · 10 years ago
    So, where did you publish those pictures and where did you report about those murders?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    teenage girl · 10 years ago
    so just because the us military helped stop preventing a couple of suicide bombings doesnt give any justification to the fact that over a dozen afghani civillians, you people are ridiculous i don't ever take the time to read a magazine and if the rolling stones are just looking for people to buy their magazine you're very wrong, watch the tv report of the actual author of the article, theres no reason for those innocent people to be killed, how i find it funny is that when an afghani man weather hes taliban or an innocent even looks at a us soldier the wrong way they'll kill him yet its okay for us soliders to kill afghani's one by one? im engraged and i may be just an upset teenager but this matter is ridiculous in my eyes and the fact that these soldiers will walk away with just a slap on the wrist is even more disgusting!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Linda Osburn · 10 years ago
    My son just came home from Afghanistan and we talked about the pictures that you post and we talked about the incident posted in The Rolling Stone Magazine. My son completely agrees with Michael Yon and was well versed in the situation that happened. My son explained the situation to me and even went over the other pictures that Michael posted and we discussed the comments that Michael posted and he confirmed what Michael had to say. My son took a college class while overseas and wrote about his experience with the war. He is so glad that he waited to get overseas to form his opinion of these other countries as he says they are not as journalist say. Michael Yon takes a picture and speaks to that picture - then he he takes another and speaks to that picture. My son saw and heard some pretty bad things while overseas however he also saw and heard some really good things too. Thank You Michael - please keep posting!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kasmirsen · 10 years ago
    My son was in Charlie 1-17th -- who lost 12 brothers in their tour. Here's what he said about the video:

    "That's hilarious. I don't know if you've seen the video, but it's almost legendary in 1-17. The guy screaming "did you see them rolling on me" is 1SG H of bravo company; he had probably the most ground time of any upper leadership in the battalion, if not brigade. Serious badass. I know one of the guys who was there though, and of course RS' "reporting" is bullshit. They both had weapons and were confirmed through BDA to be enemy insurgents. Kind of curious how they got the video though; never seen it anywhere but on a hard drive."

    Thanks for the article, Mike.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mother of two · 10 years ago
    If there is one thing I know, it is this. There is two sides to every story. For those who read this article and decide not to read, buy or boycott the RS magazine, then you are biased. Read both articles and then decide which side you are on. I know and care about many people in the military, but I do now think it is right for any one to get away with a heinous crime. I don't think the whole military should be punished for what a few soldiers did, but some one needs to pay for the killing of a 15 year old boy. My heart goes out to his family. The "kill team" confessed to their crimes and should be punished for them. Being bored does not give any one the right to kill someone in cold blood. I support the military, but I do not support those in the military who take matters into their own hands.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dennis · 10 years ago
    She's not saying Obama told the media not to cover it, she's saying the media chose on their own not to cover it because Obama is in office.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dennis · 10 years ago
    I should have known Rolling Stone was trouble...it's one of the magazines in my college's library...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barb · 10 years ago
    I'm catching up on this article late, but I'm glad I didn't miss it. It's a brand new day in the War On Terror. Things just got more dangerous. Kill Squads and Jihad work both ways. Hence, Osama Bin Laden probably having a WTF look on his face before it got blown off. I'd rather see that than a proof of death photo. Only a Special Operator will know what that was like. Hope they ran him through the screws behind the Carl Vincent. Rolling Stone can also be done away with in a stealth maneuver; advertising is their life blood. They are a small fish in a big pond, however. It takes all kinds to make a world. My world gets bigger every time I read what somebody has to say, whether I agree or not. People respond to Michael's writings. He does all the work though. Cool for us, Mike. Keep up the good work & stay safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    wrong · 10 years ago
    Your assumptions on how things work over there are so far off I don't even know where to start. SO i'll it at do some real research. We aren't over there just shooting random civilians. To think so is ignorant and clearly your view is skewed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Netta · 10 years ago
    I read the Rolling Stone Article, as it is delivered to me through a subscription that I have absolutely no idea how I got. In reading the article I kept in mind that there are two sides to every story. What we have to realize is we train our soldiers to kill, to protect yes, but to kill nevertheless. Unfortunately when you subject people to killing as a normal or routine event we will have psychological breaks such as the killteam. Now if our soldiers ever see killing as routine, I don't know I would have to talk to more of our deployed military. In life there is evil in every good. But I believe in my heart that there is so much more “good” in the people of our armed forces then bad. I have faith that they do the best they can, and they are sacrifice their normalcy for us to have ours. Rolling Stone will sensationalize anything they write, what they seem to not understand is if they want to be taken seriously as reporters they had better start reporting the fact without an agenda.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Blake Selesnew · 9 years ago
    Thank you sir for presenting an unbiased look at 5-2 ID, I was with 5-2 from Jul 2007 through Jan 2011 and participated in the deployment to Afghanistan. All the stories that have been about our BDE shows us as a bunch of murdering psychos without any mention to all of the positive impacts and successful missions we accomplished in RC-S. I just wanted to say thank you as a Soldier of this fine BDE.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    I was there. · 6 years ago
    I was in this unit, from the very beginning of the unit to just after the army changed its name to hide the image. Thank you for saying what everyone in the unit is thinking as far as what the kill team did it was not nearly as horrible as it has been portrayed, I know the area and the people. Rolling stone did something worse than lie about the soldiers of the unit and the circumstances but they ignored all the facts about this unit, what we had been through, the toxic environment of the unit before col. Tunnell especially during the time 2-1 was under the command of a certain rad individual. There was a lot more to this story most of you will never know.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Arron · 4 years ago
    Hello, I desire to subscribe for this website to get newest updates, therefore where can i do it please help out.


    Feel free to surf to my weblog :: Mindy: http://www.kundlireading.com/love-marriage-specialist-astrologer/
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lovie · 4 years ago
    And this is regardless of some pretty irritating flaws.



    my web-site; final fantasy xv cheats: https://www.npmjs.com/package/finalfantasyxvhacknosurvey

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Many methods are available to keep the work rolling. Click the image for a more info.

supp

supp

Quick Link to Paypal

Recurring Donation

QR Code

QR Code

Venmo1

To support using Venmo, send to:
@Yon-Michael

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

Use the QR code for BitCoin apps:

bc2020

Or click the link below to help support the next dispatch with bitcoins: