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New Michael Yon dispatch from Afghanistan

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New Michael Yon dispatch from Afghanistan

Old 2nd Sep 2009, 23:17
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New Michael Yon dispatch from Afghanistan

Posted on ARRSE thought it was relevant here as well, not only for the subject, but as it includes some good information about the USAF's special CASEVAC squadron, the 'Pedro' callsign, which i'm sure will be of interest to many on here.

Precision Voting
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 08:26
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Brilliant reporting, congratulations to Michael Yon.
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 10:16
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A fantastic read with some incredibly atmospheric photography.

Thanks for posting it YD.
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 11:02
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I'd just highlight his plea at the end. He's worth it, I just wish one of the major papers or magazines would support him. I consider him the best war correspondent of this generation.

I cannot operate in the war without your support. If support does not substantially increase, I will be forced to abandon war reporting in September. There has seldom been much interest in the Afghanistan war. True interest has been starkly reflected in the support for this mission. Each journey into Afghanistan, since 2006, has bled out resources from my operations. Reporting from Afghanistan is not sustainable at this rate.

Nevertheless, I continue to crack on: Please consider signing up for free ******* updates at Michael_Yon (not Michael Yon without the underscore), for the most timely snippets possible.


You can help support this mission through paypal, all major credit cards, or e-check.

Last edited by ORAC; 3rd Sep 2009 at 12:27.
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 11:26
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MoD's PR team shoots itself in the foot again.

The world kept turning and on the 24th “Bad Medicine” was published just after midnight Eastern Standard Time, and that morning before sunrise the soldiers were going on a dangerous mission and I went along. The result was a firefight and much mortar and cannon fire using prox fuses, delay and airbursts into the enemy position. Though we had information that the enemy was trying to get us with IEDs, we escaped getting blown to pieces. When I got back to base, there was a message from British MoD that my embed had been canceled (about one month before we had agreed it would end) without warning. The message and timing were clear enough. “Bad Medicine” was published, and I was out. The soldiers at 2 Rifles were astonished. The MoD gave the reason that it was unfair to the journalists who were clamoring for spots, but my sense was that MoD had created a convenient excuse that was kept in the chamber, and now they had pulled the trigger.

I responded to the MoD:

Thank you for the message.

The precipitous decision by the MoD to cancel my embed after today's dispatch is unfortunate.

The sudden reversal after today's dispatch -- apparently a publication that did not sit well with the MoD -- will cause me significant headaches. As you know, there are many balls in the air, and the MoD has effectively shoved me out of the way.

Please forward to Ltc Richardson that the message was received.

Michael
----

And so that was it. My last day with the British 2 Rifles had ended the same as it had ended in Iraq. In combat. I’ll miss the British soldiers. They constitute a truly professional force–if dangerously underresourced. It has been my honor to accompany them in combat. In theory I would do so again anytime, but in practice this will be the last time MoD will have a chance to cut me off in mid-flight, wasting much time and resources that should have been devoted to telling the story. Barring a guarantee from a British General Officer that something like this will never happen again, my days of covering British operations are over.

On Sunday morning, 30 August, the United States Air Force “Pedros” took me on three missions. Please stand by. This is very interesting
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 12:50
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The despatch by Michael Yon 'Precision Voting" at Yeoman Di's post is quite enthralling. I have passed it on to all my chums and suggest you lot do the same!
Precision Voting

The truth from these far off places is so difficult to get at by normal means.

As an aside, my father who served before WW2 with the South Wales Borderers in the North West Frontier, Khyber Pass and all that, stated many times that that area would never be subdued as the terrain, the people and history was all against any chance of success. I fear he may have been right.
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Old 5th Sep 2009, 22:46
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Exceptional

Mr.Yon,

That is by far the best piece of photo-journalism I have ever seen, and I have made a point of dragging friends & relatives to my PC; even for those who unfortunately didn't have time to read all your text, the photographs say such a lot...

A, If there is any justice in this world at all, you MUST receive the top award in your profession for this and your other excellent work,

B, It should be mandatory viewing & reading in schools, and a brief version should be shown in cinemas before feature films.

My hat is off to a very brave and professional man...
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Old 6th Sep 2009, 06:21
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Riveting

Excellent piece of journalism

Respect to the guys and girls operating out there.
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Old 6th Sep 2009, 06:56
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Very intersting. Reading something slow time is so much better than seeing the banal 2 minutes that the BBC sometime allocates it. Its not so much the quality (beautifully observed that it is, it reminds me of The National Geographic from its 50s - in my opinion - heyday), more the detail and pace of the work.. it just sits better and consequently, it registers better. I'm glad we are remembering the art of 'proper' war reporting and not the banal, dumbed down 'giago' TV approach.

This made me pause for thought. Its just basic Op Banner stuff that we used to do all the time.. so why aren't we equipping the troops now with the basics when and where they need them? We're not talking helicopters, sophisticated anti- IED equipment, armoured wagons or 21st century encrypted radios that work.. but the basics.. just bloody ladders for Christ's sake.

Joseph Etchells had been killed nearby almost exactly a month ago, on 19 July. Several times, the events of Joseph’s loss were recounted to me, in clear hopes that important details would be told. I said not to worry, it will be told. The missing details were that soldiers had complained about not having enough ladders to scale walls to avoid dangerous compound entrances. During a mission the soldiers needed to get over a wall but were without a ladder, and so Joseph Etchells volunteered to go through the entrance, where he stepped on a pressure plate.
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Old 6th Sep 2009, 19:42
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Simply Stumped for words....
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Old 6th Sep 2009, 23:08
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I bet there are plenty of ladders in stores at Kandahar to put up the flat-screen TVs in the NAAFI...

Spending huge amounts of cash on vehicles, ECM and UAVs is great but give the guys the basic tools for the job - explosive-finding sniffer dogs are cheaper than these 3 as well!

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Old 7th Sep 2009, 18:46
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Al R

Al, unlike LJR I am not stumped for words (although I am stumped for sensible words and understanding of this lack of equipment).

I think my response to your post would be an open letter to Gordon Brown along the lines of:

Dear Prime Minister.

I am having trouble understanding something, and as a UK tax payer I wonder if you could enlighten me.
I have heard your government say that British troops serving in Afghanistan will have all the equipment they need to perform the tasks YOU are asking them to do.
So please can you explain why police officers in the centre of London, who need to perform a forced entry to a flat possibly containing one drug dealer, who may be asleep, and may 'come along' quietly, have more specialised equipment, more reliable transport, more backup, quicker medical aid (if needed) along with full intelligence briefing, than British soldiers who need to enter a hostile enemy compound possibly full of despotic evil murderers hell bent on over throwing not only our country but our whole way of life?

This not only seems tactically stupid, but also raises the chance of casualties/fatalies to British troops.
Does this mean you have broken your promise, don't care about my countries troops, or possibly are not the correct man to be leading my country in these times, during the war on terror?


Barnstormer1968


Al. I am not saying that is the best solution, but it made me feel better to say it
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Old 8th Sep 2009, 04:43
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I watched Dispatches on 5 last night.. the documentary about troops with PTSD. I steer clear of hyperbole, but it shook me to the core – 5 is capable of turning out stuff that makes you want to weep, which is why we need writing and reporting of this nature – shame on the MoD if it revoked his permissions without a reason that is in the public interest.

I accept that we will always send troops to battle in less than ideal circumstances, that’s the nature of the beast. But we have been there for.. how many years now? I am not going to second guess the tactical commander or the situation, but why has a man allegedly died because basic entry procedures into a clay and brick compound couldn’t be achieved properly? How long is it going to be before the troops get bloody tactical ladders?? This is more serious than helicopters, this is just basic stuff.. this isn't as if the bog roll hasn't got through.. this is a serious, basic defficiency - a man has died because there was apparantly, not a ladder available.. how much would a ******* ladder have cost??? Never in the field of human conflict were so many undermined by so few.. it boils my piss to think about it. Beaverbrook, where are you when we need you?

It seems to me to be maladministration – and maladministration of a particularly malodorous, self-regarding and suspect kind – for a publically funded body such as the MoD to acknowledge its oft repeated assessments of shortcomings with casual indifference these days.. it’s as if it knows that the public has become immune to it. But to make admissions and to continue to do nothing about a remedy and to withhold the reality from the public makes its position even more fragile. Did that refurb of Main Building going ahead?? How many ******* sets of ladders would that have bought?

I bet that if an infantry commander was allowed to have proper control away from the hideously useless centralised procurement system, we wouldn't get half as many problems. I am reminded of a Regt Flt Commander who once (allegadly!), in sheer frustration, actually went out and did that. Admittadly, he did own a useful chunk of Kensington & Chelsea which probably helped. A while back, I had cause to submit a request for a tactical ammo resupply and was told by the RQMS that he was not authorised to replace small arms ammo unless said request was accompanied by said empty cases. I told him that the empty cases were scattered about a minefield and that he was welcome to go back and do his own FOD plod. He was unyielding and I had to tap out a statement on his laptop (I carry a copy still, it amuses me) and I am as ever, reminded of Wellington’s missive which is framed and sits above me;

"We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles. and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's government holds me accountable.. Unfortunately, the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment. This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions. Am I 1) to train an army of uniformed British clerks for the benefit of the accountant and copy boys in London, or, perchance, 2) to see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain?"

The only reason I would not attend a March in London to protest about g’ment incompetence is because it plays into the hands of the enemy and would undermine even further, the staggering job that HM Forces continues to do. I am one of millions seething in anger - some reading this from their lofty perches can rest easy in the knowledge we no longer lynch useless public servants. I hope they are able to enjoy long and happy flaccid retirements at the expense of Fusilier Etchells.
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Old 8th Sep 2009, 08:17
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And another one, 8 Years After 9/11

Eight Years After 9/11

God knows what is going on with his embed. Back with British Troops at Inkerman, after his embed with 2 Rifles got binned, then at the end of this one, he appears to be shown the door by MoD again, unless this was a delayed submission...

Eitherway, in this piece and "Precision Voting" and "The Fight Has Morphed" he raises some disturbing points.

An absolute must read.
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Old 8th Sep 2009, 11:06
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I think it was said on the Chris Tyrell series about the Royal Marines that the Marines ran out of explosives to force entry into compounds so they would get their biggest lad to force entry with his body...."A human battering ram"

Found it...Commando on the Front Line (about 5:45 onwards)

RIP Marine Tom Curry KIA 13 Jan 2007

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Old 8th Sep 2009, 14:26
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My god, what a lad.
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Old 9th Sep 2009, 10:29
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Jabba, Michael's Inkerman post was surely the second of the dispatches he talked about posting after the end of his inbed.

When I left Bastion, he was planning on hanging with us (Pedros) for about a week, but that's about the end of what I know.
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Old 9th Sep 2009, 10:43
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.

Ah, OK. That makes sense.

Real eye opening writing.
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Old 9th Sep 2009, 17:01
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But we still can't afford to lose

In a report posted on 6 Sep 09 , Michael wrote about the Brits:
During 2006 in Afghanistan, I witnessed areas where the population was alienated from Kabul and Western forces. Again, long before the statistics would support what appeared to be wild claims, I published 12 reports saying we were losing here. Analysts cannot feel the pulse through statistics; in this sort of war, statistics lag behind the realities. An observer must be on the ground to sense the pulse. Pundits who are saying we should pull out of Afghanistan today, to my knowledge, are not here.

Having just spent another month with British forces in Helmand, today I am on my own in the same province. During the last month, our great allies the British lost dozens of soldiers who were killed or wounded. Cooperation from locals is almost nonexistent in many places. Interaction between civilians and British soldiers was nearly zero. The British treat the civilians very well, but being polite and respectful is not enough.

Without significant reinforcements, the British likely will be defeated in Helmand within a couple of years. My respect for British soldiers is immense. I have been in combat with them many times in Iraq and Afghanistan, including during the last couple of weeks and would go into battle with them today. Yet it must be said that the average British soldier has practically no understanding of counterinsurgency.

The enemies here cannot defeat the United States, but they can dissolve the coalition. Some allies are ready to tap out, while others are learning that counterinsurgency is difficult. The Germans, for instance, are losing in their battle space. To avoid watching the coalition melt away, we must show progress before the end of 2010.

Today, the war is still worth fighting, yet the goal to re-engineer one of the most backward, violent places on Earth, will require a century before a reasonable person can call Afghanistan "a developing nation." The war will not take that long - but the effort will.

There are no short-term solutions to fix this place. We are planting acorns. Oak trees grow slowly.
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Old 11th Sep 2009, 11:36
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I don't think we need be wary of anything that might be seen as adverse comment, simply because it is adverse in itself. As long as the comment is based on fact, is incisive and the opinion valid, then I can't see the issue? This guy appears to be churning out great copy, and thats what the public needs right now - something with credibility and the truth. We complain here, and when the military Chain of Command obscurates that same truth and deceives people, so why should we complain when someone who seems at least as credible as the BBC (snort) actually tells it as he sees it. Sure, he needs an angle to sell the story, but he wouldn't be the first and he won't be the last.

This is worth a read.

Soldiers and hacks need each other in Afghanistan | Patrick Hennessey - Times Online
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