Michael's Dispatches


11:24 PM, or 2324L.

In the far distance, the artillery can be heard firing illumination before it floats down under parachute.
(1901Z/2331L 15mm f7.1 20s ISO 800)

The Battle for Kandahar has many faces.  Some faces are difficult to understand.  Tonight’s incarnation was simple.

Roving sentry.

Smoke trail from previous illumination.

We see illumination firing pretty much every night and I usually don’t know why they are shooting.  Could be terrain denial, or to support operations, or something else.

They stop shooting.  The night is quiet other than the robot noises from the .50 caliber machine gun scanning with thermal imager.  Several times through the night, Strykers turn on motors for ten or fifteen minutes to recharge batteries.

Sleeping in the desert, even on rocks, can be like sleeping in a cradle.  Desert slumber is better than most jungle sleep, and far better than in snow caves.  The distant boom from a cannon wakes me, then the pop of the shell before the orange illumination, and then another is fired after the first burns out.  Looking at my watch it’s 3AM and I chuckle thinking of the lyrics of a song, “It’s 3AM I must be lonely.”  This sure has been a long war.
(2233Z/0303L 15mm f10 30s ISO 640)

It keeps going.

And going.

On Saturday, 10 April, a message came from military that this embed has ended.  No reason was offered.  The troops here have no idea why.  On Sunday a reason was given: overcrowding by journalists.  Haven’t seen a journalist in weeks.

I had gone to great expense to be here with 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team and promised to stay with them until they leave Afghanistan.  Then suddenly a nameless feature decided to pull the plug.  The decision likely came from General officer level.  It is a bad sign indicating that they think they are losing the war and don’t want anyone there to see it.  Saw this in Iraq.

It has been said that between Iraq and Afghanistan I’ve spent more time embedded with combat units than anyone in U.S. history.  I do not know if this is true but it sounds good.  It’s been a long journey and fortune favored my every step.  Many people have been killed or maimed and I am walking out without a scratch.  I will continue to cover the war but will not give the military another chance to pull the plug.  I will cover the war from outside the wire where it’s far safer.  Many people erroneously think that embedding is the safest way to cover the wars.  This is untrue.  Journalists who are afraid or reluctant to endure long periods of stress and combat will brag that going alone somehow seizes the high ground of truth.  There is no truth in this.  In many cases the journalists are missing crucial information because they fear the combat and the difficult living.  The infantry company on this mission has lost twelve comrades KIA during this tour, with others wounded for life.

It’s just as easy to accurately sense the direction of the war winds alone as with troops.  The military media machine is playing games during a time of war.

My thoughts will always be with the combat soldiers.  My body will be elsewhere.

A new day begins at 0531L.  It’s time to check the boots for poisonous creatures, stuff the sleeping bag, and move out.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    SALMA · 11 years ago
    Michael the pictures are really awesome.....i cant describe how much im enjoying them.
    happy to have u there so u can keep sending us ur beautiful dispatches...this is just so cool.
    America is proud of you...
    to peace
  • This commment is unpublished.
    S · 11 years ago
    You have done what so many others have been unable to do...tell the truth. Unfortunately, the powers that be do not like your devotion to honesty. I, and so many others, truly appreciate the amazingly honest face of the war, on both fronts. It's the truth behind the network news that we all so desperately crave. I wish you the best in your endeavors "outside the wire."
    God bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Donnette Davis · 11 years ago
    After reading all that has happened... "On Saturday, 10 April, a message came from military that this embed has ended. No reason was offered.." and the subsequent explanations, and reading this dispatch, perhaps more intently than some of the others, you have to know Mike, that wherever you report from, you have the international support of tens of thousands of people. These photographs are magnificent - made me feel really sad - for you, for us, for the troops, their families - all of us who look to you for the hard-hitting, unbiased reporting humour you bring along with every dispatch. It's true when it was said recently that you are "nearing the status of Legend..." To many thousands of people you ARE a legend. Stay safe, Michael. And THANK YOU. Am reblogging this link. Best wishes, aways in all ways x
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Doug Wright · 11 years ago
    Michael, between your website postings and those on Facebook, you're doing a heck of a good job communicating! Well, since you're going outside the wire, stay alert and report when and what you can. Maybe the military will understand that the truth is important. Yep, so-called OpSec is very important and except for the NYT et al, many understand that need and it's obvious that you do too. So, what's the military's issue now? Who knows and that's probably not going to be resolved soon.

    God bless and cheers!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Determined · 11 years ago
    Great job as usual Michael GOD BLESS AND THANK YOU AND STAY SAFE.Awesome photos Our Military Men and Women are the best.Hugs and Prayers to ALL.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jonathan Rubinstein · 11 years ago
    While I do not share many of your political views and much of your exceptional reporting has strengthened my very different views, you are a true American patriot, an outstanding reporter and photojournalist doing what you obviously love doing. Better than many of us, you know how untrustworthy is the political leadership of our beleaguered nation and the feckless and corrupt Pentagon bureaucracy that must be taken apart if we are ever to remain a Republic. You are performing a great and patriotic service on behalf of each of us,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peggy Kane · 11 years ago
    Michael... We are losing our eyes to this war per some idiot in the powers that be arena.. THEY are missing the boat or already have sunk it by not allowing you to stay with our troops..
    NO ONE else gives the true reports like you do...
    However, knowing how you operate we will continue to get all the inside information come hell or high water. Most likely a little of each.
    We do know where your heart will be even though your body is elsewhere.Thank you!
    God Bless you and our troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James F. McClellan · 11 years ago
    Fantastic Dispatch Mike. I think you know these rules but, just in case, let me repeat them.
    1. Rejoice in that this is the will of God for you.
    2. If #1 doesn't seem to be working, remember that all things are subject to change.
    And last but not least ...
    . Don't let the idiots get you down.

    Let us statesiders know if we can do anything else to support you and our troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Casca · 11 years ago
    May God continue to bless you, and our young warriors.
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    Mark · 11 years ago

    You're the only one I can consistently count on for honest reports from the war--thank you. Be safe, and know you are in our thoughts and prayers each and every day.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barbara Whipple · 11 years ago
    It is sad that they are sending you out of the combat zone, you must me saying things that someone doesn't want to hear. hope you are able to keep o9n top of things from outside the wire
    God Bless
  • This commment is unpublished.
    xoxoxoBruce · 11 years ago
    Do you suppose that "General officer" was concerned for your safety, thinking your success in staying alive was just luck?
    Nah, more likely whoever is in charge of keeping track of journalists, gets nervous when they aren't all corralled where he can keep tabs on them.
    Although I'll sorely miss your embed reports, I'm sure you've got the experience, and connections, to still give us an honest picture of what's really going on.
    For that I thank you... and the check will be in the mail tomorrow.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David · 11 years ago
    Michael, you put a face to the men and women at war. You show them as they are and the problems they face in fighting in far away lands. You turn ordinary individuals into extraordinary people and make us proud. Thank You.

    Unfortunately, there are those who do not have the same feelings as we Americans do. They don't want hero's, they don't want the information to get out as their agenda does not tolerate such information. It is a shame that these types of individuals are not found within the civilian world. You may have stumbled upon one such individual. You will be back... and am looking forward to see where you go next.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Skip Parish · 11 years ago
    You may need the rotation to come home for just a while, and I will ask command in Tampa how they can keep one of the best reporters in the field who has done much to bring these events to our desktop and get you assigned back. Standby one.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dr. Gary · 11 years ago
    Appreciate your work and am saddened you have to "unembed". Hope to hear you on Hugh Hewitt soon.
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    PeterinMN · 11 years ago
    easy to understand why the US no longer wants you. You reported on the US soldier being killed on a bridge. The Higher Ups were embarrassed. or did not want the same thing to happen to them. Truth will out you, and last, and make you free. Sorry Michael. Keep up the honest reporting. God bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ned Chipley · 11 years ago
    Michael, I've always appreciated your coverage of Iraq & Afghanistan, plus the time you spent with the Tracking School (that was a beautiful education...). I expect you are right-- the "brass" somewhere does not want an objective observer writing about what's happening on the ground. This administration does not want any information going out they have not approved.
    Best wishes and many thanks, always,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Quentin · 11 years ago
    Can you please explain your comment about only taking one boot off at a time? Surely if you were bounced by the Taliban, you wouldn't have time to put even one back on and having an uneven footing would put you at a disadvantage?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    J. Mayfield · 11 years ago
    You were the one source I trusted to report on how things were going with the wars.

    Sad to see you go. Bad move by the military. God bless you and the troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sandra Baker-Hinton · 11 years ago
    The truth is not respected very much by the powers that be these days. I have a feeling it may even have to do with your "disrespecting" the person who
    let that bridge get blown up and your voicing your opinions on that out loud. You may be right on the turn of the war. Seems Karzazi is being very weird as are our leaders so who knows when it will fall apart. No witnesses-no story to get out. This administration likes to do things in the dark.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Richard Bradley Bond · 11 years ago
    Mr. Yon,

    You have built an exceptional body of work that I hope is honored one day. You are a national treasure. They have no right to take you away both from the soldiers and from us. They are doing actual harm. I hope you are getting enough financial support. I found $5 and I sent it to you. There is no better place for my contribution.

    There is another thing. Your photography and your writing have advanced to the nth degree, from early on. The way this story is pictured and the way it reads is beyond exceptional. It is like a personal conversation with you, in terms that everyone can understand. And while not steeped and stilted in the jargon, your enormous talent and authenticity bring the message home very, very clearly. We, your friends, always know exactly the situation, whether in glory, or shame, joy, or pain. We know the truth. Plus, almost all of the sorry commenting that was going on has been left behind to stew in their own venom.

    Best personal regards,

    Richard B.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    rose Burkhart · 11 years ago
    Viewing your April 11, 2010, photos, one's mind, heart, and spirit combine into a cauldron of emotion. A human can, at once, entertain thoughts and feelings of sadness, joy, glory, and heart-pain as the whispers of every soldier's mother (or father, guardian, sibling, et al) contemplates what each of you encounter every minute, every second, and the question arises, "Yesterday, you were a child in awe of the world; today, precious in-country soldier, at the tender age of 18 you've matured into a hero, and by your actions and dedication, you remain so whether you reach the age of 19, 29, 9, or 49."
    Where are the General George Pattons to lead you to victory, come hell, high water, or suppressing orders from the top of the death chain? Alas, when such men as Patton arise, they are, just as was the original, 'accidentally' killed, or, maligned by the politically powerful.
    If history records with truth and integrity, Michael, you have been part of the 2nd greatest generation in American history. Second, only because of the time frame.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Another Dave · 11 years ago
    Your respect and fondness for our men and women in uniform really shows in your writing. This piece is a classic example of that. You do a great job of showing a total civilian like me what they go through. Small statements, such as the one about restricting movement to avoid IEDs, helps me understand the stress our military feels even on a quiet night.
    We'll see what happens. But whatever happens, don't stop writing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Richard other B. · 11 years ago
    Damn sorry to hear your pulled,

    Never can figure out who's boot your pissing in til it's too late. Especially with so many boots that need a good hosing most days..... the CIC's custom Nikes come to mind....... what da hell, take a break, you probably need one. Then maybe see if you can hook up with a grunt unit or two.

    Take care Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Rheaume · 11 years ago
  • This commment is unpublished.
    F. Morin · 11 years ago
    If you read Mr. Yon's work and you are able, but do not contribute to support him, I encourage you to think it over. You might discover a few extra bucks you can spare. And it's easy to make an automatic deduction from your bank account every month. Imagine at least $10 from every reader. Senior leadership has no problem putting the troops balls on the line and that may be because senior leadership have no balls themselves to experience. Keep your head down, Michael!
    SFA RVN NCO Vet.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John K · 11 years ago
    A lot of the Higher-ups, like a lot of politicians, are real pieces of ...

    Stay safe, Mike.

    Semper Fi, and God bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Dettmer · 11 years ago
    You know what that means. As usual, a superior look into "life in Hell" for those of us at a far remove. Great pictures! I especially enjoyed the opportunity to "star-gaze," recognizing Orion and Leo in two of the images. Your low-light photography is especially unique. Keep the pressure on. Check's in the mail.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Nani Kemp · 11 years ago
    Havent been reading your dispatches cause I had the impression you support this prez. Not sure if you realize that he's systematically destroying this country. American citizens are fighting a domestic war, right here. If you decide to stay, you are making a huge sacrifice. Stay safe & watch your back.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jay Manifold · 11 years ago
    Since I don’t think anyone else has mentioned this … that’s some mighty fine astrophotography up there; I was easily able to pick out Auriga, Boötes, Canis Major, Gemini, Leo, Orion, Ursa Major, Mars, and Saturn.

    You, sir, are a national treasure; do not grow weary in well-doing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    andre · 11 years ago
    Simple IO rule -- if you don't trust that you can/are winning the domestic IO battlespace (I.e., restricting news sources), you damn sure are losing the IO battle everywhere else.

    Damn pathetic in light of those KIAd, WIAd and billions of dollars spent.

    Go easy troop.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Linda Beebe · 11 years ago
    Mike, this makes me madder than hornet. Not only will I be donating again so that you may be as safe as possible outside the wire I'll also be *itching out every Congressman, Senator and high ranking military folks I know to get whoever this "weenie" is who pulled your embed reversed. Meanwhile remember outside the wire they can't control what you say. (Evil Grin). No reviewing of your material or what your"re given. However, it's also dangerous so watch your six.

    Give 'em hell & be safe

    Linda aka Pocahontas from Bema (remember you gave me that nickname because I collect combat knives LOL during your 2005 embed with Deuce Four Stryker Brigade Unit)

    Give 'em hell & be safe

    Liinda aka Pocahontas from Bama (remember you gave me that nickname because I collect combat knives LOL duiring your 2005 embed with Deuce Four Stryker Brigade Unit)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe T · 11 years ago
    Sorry about your situation Mike. I'm increasingly getting disgusted with the blatant politically correct cover your own ass attitude displayed by our so called leaders in politics, corporate governance and the military. Thank you for giving us the real deal all these years. Take care of yourself and God bless. Small donation inbound.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Nam vet · 11 years ago

    Were you singled out or were you included in a multiple recision of embed priveledges? The consensus opinion seems to be that you were specifically targeted. If that is the case, then it is very likely you managed to step on some general's toes. The alternative scenario is that some non-brilliant reporter pulled a Geraldo Rivera and put out a report that endangered troops and/or a mission. I have seen some reports over the past nine years that made me long for the censorship of WW2. Oh, that our press corps would exhibit the common sense, wisdom, and patriotism that you demonstrate regularly.

    Perhaps your readers will feel led to write the Joint Chiefs of Staff and urge your re-instatement or re-embedment. Who knows? It may be effective
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Boo · 11 years ago
    Donated $50 via paypal...man it disgusts me to know they are ending your embed...you are probably right, the brass don't want any one there to dispute their version of what is going on in a-stan and elsewhere. On a positive note (for me, anyway) my son's tour is over in Iraq and he is coming home soon. His 5 year old daughter sure has been missing him!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MLPerry · 11 years ago
    Michael, I regret your getting caught in military politics and the plug being pulled on your embed with 5/2 Stryken Brigade, the troop deserve and need a true voice. I know some of the danger you take on when embeding with the Strykers, my Marine son just got home from a year at FOB Dwyer and then Leatherneck and putting together convoys and routes. The Strykers obivously have a ride which can be IED potential. Stay safe in your further coverage in Afg, I always look forward to your dispatches and pictures for a look at what is trully taking place and an accurate evaluation which can only come from a qualified, neutral journalist. God Bless!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Gallagher · 11 years ago
    Is that Orion just above the horizon center in the third photo?? I've always wondered about the night skys in different places, you don't see to much of the night sky from a periscope ot sea but it is nice to wander.
    Thanks for your work Mike
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dorothy Roush · 11 years ago
    Your a DISCIPLE Michael one whos greatly appreciated.I can understand your minds there but the body just goes along for the ride.I feel that same way.I got nervous not hearing from you, you give me what I need to keep grounded. I as well are there everyday thru you and have been spreading your online site like wild fire in hopes of getting funds to keep you going.AUTO drawl is a great idea even its a small amt. it can keep you there.Your a very important link and I can see why a$$$$ would want you out of there.Look at Joan of Ark she was willing to give, her duty point blank, all even if her life was in danger.Like I previously stated send us disabled over there.Theres many that I know that are chomping at the bit to get over there and were not fools were warriors!Rather than to rot here as no part of being a potential help is disgracing for me even more, even though I support wounded,send supplies,write its not enough! To take you out would kill you a million times but the gov. doesnt want you there in case of ....well enough said, we all know why.We all know that well and were stiff lipped behind you supporting you! We know how important this is to you to set you back is wrong isnt this is America home of the free, freedom of choice? Your no fool... if you need time out, you will time out, but dont let others make your calls! Well fight them with you as one.Funds run out well come up with them and Im sure everyone will stand behind you.Your far from a foolish man, you know what you need to do,your calling dont let anyone stand in your way because theres many theyll have to climb over to remove you unwillingly!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ray Ward · 11 years ago
    Except when there is no one to speak it. Thank you for being there. I had set up a small monthly contrib for a few years, until I got laid off last year. I got another job, and set up another. Just got laid off again. Hopefully, I'll get another job soon. If not, I'll hang in there as long as I can. Maybe someone else reading this will kick in a little each month, too.

    I got a sense of foreboding from your change in course, going outside the wire and out of embed. I pray to God to protect you.

    Be careful.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Debbie · 11 years ago
    Thank you for all the information you have provided. As the mother of a medic with Charlie Company I really appreciate today's story and all the others you have written about the 1-17. I hope you'll be able to keep writing without letting them get to you.

    Peace out
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Skookumchuk · 11 years ago
    Always appreciate what you do. Hopefully you are inspiring a new generation of correspondents that will give us a clear-eyed view of the world's dangerous places.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JKL · 11 years ago

    Sorry to hear about the end of your embed; your dispatches & photos have been excellent.

    During my most recent travels through RC-South I was hoping our paths would cross so I could thank you for doing what you do.

    I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Warner · 11 years ago
    Man, that lime-green sleeping bag sure sticks out like a sore thumb in those photos.

    Stay safe, keep up with your prayers, keep writing. I'm sorry about the Adam Henrys.

    Best regards, Peter Warner.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Benson · 11 years ago
    My stomach dropped when I originally learned that you were being disembedded. So many of us count on your dispatches to gain valuable insight into operations on the ground. For you to be suddenly thrown to the curb because some higher-ups got pissy or don't want your dispatches reaching Americans anymore? Despicable. Please keep telling the truth, even if you have to do so from outside the wire. We'll keep reading and donating.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon in Kanda · 11 years ago
    Things are wrapping up faster than I thought. Probably finish embed by Friday, maximum. (Depends how fast can extract to KAF.)

    Agree that sleeping bag sticks out. My main military bag was stolen. During those photos, I was actually laying on a camoflaged bag that I would have used if enemy threat was high. (The Strykers with motors running stuck out more than the sleeping bag.) Got that lime bag in Nepal for a trip that I wanted to do to Everest this month. Skipped the Everest trip to be with 5/2. Could be trekking in Sagarmatha area now instead of dealing with censorship from McChrystal's people. Everest is more fun but this war is more important.

    Clear that this was a General officer level decision to dis-embed me. Why? Because no General officer intervened. The McChrystal era of censorship is on. It will be/is counterproductive. And it will not work. Too many holes to slip through. McChrystal is good at killing people, but this war is far more complicated than simply killing people. His folks had more than half a decade to win this war -- with very agreeable ROE -- now look where we are. Clear that he cannot handle even the writers who are natural allies. McChrystal has little chance against hostile press. Bad omens all around.

    It starts with censorship and ends with a President under pressure.

    Michael Yon
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorenz Gude · 11 years ago
    What is so valuable to me about your reporting is that you bring us an on the ground view and that you are neither inclined nor compelled like MSM journalists to put what you report into a ideological mold that suits one US domestic agenda or another. That is what their employers pay them for, and why you are right to not even accept advertising. As you clearly know so many in the news business and in politics fail to respect that history is in large part made on the battlefield quite independent of what policy makers intend or even less by what media gatekeepers try to convince us has happened. Your instinct to go right to where history is being born and report it as straight as you can is just what is needed in this endlessly spun theater of perception management.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Manuela · 11 years ago
    You were and still are the only true source; you were our eyes and ears down there. Stay safe Mike and may the gods bless you
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon in Kanda · 11 years ago
    Below is a link to the photo "Ghost Sentry" (named by a reader). Please feel free to download and use one copy for personal use. News agencies can use the image once in next 0 days for a link back.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matt · 11 years ago
    Great story and great pictures.
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    Andrew Blair · 11 years ago

    I cannot fault you for being fed up with the powers of bureaucracy that constantly hamper your efforts. I also cannot imagine how refreshing a change in course must feel after your many, many years in the field. More years than probably most active duty personnel can boast. However, I pray that you can still find a way to cover our brothers in arms. No one else covers the truth of these modern conflicts as well as you do, and no one seems willing to step into your shoes. Thank you for all that you do for our servicemen and women.

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