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Death in the Corn: Part II of III

31 Comments

Published: 17 September 2008

The ambush was set, but “Terry” Taliban didn’t step into it. The most successful hunters are not the ones who bag something every time, but the ones who hunt all the time, and 2 Para has been hunting the most dangerous prey. The soldiers of C-co 2 Para are not sure how many they’ve killed in the past five months, but the estimates are around 200, and during the days I spent with them, their average daily kill would put them well over that number.

Moving out of our ambush position, we set off from the ANA (Afghan National Army) compound to “tab” (walk) back to Gib, watching every step. While a soldier with a metal detector swept a skinny path ahead, other soldiers scanned the flanks, simultaneously trying to step in the prints just laid. The soldiers watched not only for ambush and mines and other bombs, but for “dickers.” Dicker is a British term derived from the war in Northern Ireland, where the enemy had a simple but effective system of look-outs to track British patrols and activities.

Read more: Death in the Corn: Part II of III

Death in the Corn: Part I of III

55 Comments

Published: 15 September 2008
Helmand Province, Afghanistan

FOB Gibraltar: made from an abandoned farmer’s compound.

The soldiers are living like animals at a little rat’s nest called FOB Gibraltar. They call it “Gib.” Named after the lynchpin of British naval dominance in the Mediterranean, this cluster of mud huts in the middle of hostile territory is more like Fort Apache, Afghanistan. The British soldiers from C-Company 2 Para live in ugly conditions, fight just about every day, and morale is the best I have seen probably anywhere.

Read more: Death in the Corn: Part I of III

General David Petraeus warns of long struggle ahead for US in Iraq

1 Comment
11 September 2008
 
Always important to listen to General Petraeus: He tells the good, bad and the ugly:

Read more: General David Petraeus warns of long struggle ahead for US in Iraq

Top Military Officer Urges Major Change in Afghanistan Strategy

4 Comments

11 September 2008

During the Spring of 2006, it was painfully obvious that Afghanistan was spiraling into a black hole.  I couldn't have written it more clearly at that time.  Many readers vowed never to read this site again.  Yet today, on this 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the situation is immeasurably worse.  At the going rate, we will lose the war in Afghanistan.

Michael


Read more: Top Military Officer Urges Major Change in Afghanistan Strategy

Correction and Update: "Where Eagles Dare"

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09 September 2008

Correction and update: In the dispatch “Where Eagles Dare,” I wrote that General Dan McNeill was the overall commander in Afghanistan.  This is incorrect: General Dan McNeill was the previous Commanding General but has since rotated out.  I was originally told by a military officer that General McNeill had ordered the mission, but was told today that General David McKiernan, now the CG, gave final approval.  In any case, it was a tremendous success.

Read more: Correction and Update: "Where Eagles Dare"

Where Eagles Dare

39 Comments

9 September 2008
Helmand Province, Afghanistan

When I was briefed on the top-secret mission before it was launched, I thought : “Good grief.  I might have to report on the failure of one of the largest and most important missions of the entire war.”

After seven years, the war in Afghanistan has morphed from a breathtaking expedition of a handful of special operators—often on horseback—to a sort of lethal day-to-day business.   Morale is high among American, Aussie, British and Canadian soldiers.  Dozens of other nations are contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, including the French, Italians and Estonians, but I have not seen enough of them to be able to judge their morale.  The French recently lost ten soldiers in a Taliban ambush, and many in that country are talking about pulling out, although President Nicolas Sarkozy is standing firm.  Other countries, like Germany, have strict rules of engagement that essentially preclude them from joining in combat.  The Poles and Danes are strong allies and good soldiers, as they were in Iraq.   Yet the bulk of the fighting against the Taliban is done by the Anglosphere (U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia), and, of course, the Afghans.

Read more: Where Eagles Dare

Af-Pak war continues to escalate

11 Comments

Helmand Province, Afghanistan
05 Sep 2008

 
The Af-Pak war continues to escalate.  Morale among American, Aussie, British and Canadian forces is high.  I cannot comment on others; to date, I have not been interfacing much with other member nations.  There is no doubt that the war is escalating, but our folks are meeting it head on:  Click here to view article in the Washington Post.

At this rate, 2009 will be the hardest year so far.

Read more: Af-Pak war continues to escalate

"Many Taliban Dead"

4 Comments 03 Sept 2008
0910 est

 

Michael has no internet but called on sat phone.

British 2 Para in Helmand provence have been reapeatedlyand successfully closing with and engaging the Taliban. In ongoing operations today a number of British paratroopers lured Taliban into an attack. British forces responded with machine guns, small arms, shoulder fired rockets, mortars, and a 500 lb bomb. Locals say "Many Taliban dead."

More Later...

 

Read more: "Many Taliban Dead"

Hurricane Afghanistan

23 Comments

28 August 2008
Michael Yon

The long journey back to Afghanistan is complete.  Starting in the mountains of Nepal, with several days’ walk to Pokhara, then a long drive to Kathmandu, a flight to Bangkok where I bought some combat gear (my regular gear is in Iraq and Washington), then to Dubai, and a circuitous journey from India and finally Kabul, where I landed several days ago.  I hired a taxi to the British Embassy, passing horse-drawn carts, vendors selling sunglasses, and old men who looked older than time.  The streets of Kabul are not war-ravaged like Baghdad, but the fact that there is a war on is unmistakable.  The weather was clear, bright and cool, and Afghan and foreign troops were all about, armored convoys could be seen.  After a meeting at the British Embassy, I asked for a taxi to the Serena Hotel, but one of the Afghans working the embassy gate suggested there was a kidnapping threat if I took a random taxi.  Since I do not have a private car, taxi it was, through the Kabul traffic where kids begged for bakseesh at intersections and the horse-drawn carts clopped by.

Read more: Hurricane Afghanistan

Teaming up with Soldiers' Angels

5 Comments

02 September 2008

Michael Yon

Over the last nearly four years, I've watched in awe as our men and women in uniform changed the course of history. They have taken defeat and disaster and given us—and the Iraqi people—victory and hope. Their sacrifices for our country are immeasurable.

Now, with your help, we can show our service members that a growing number of Americans do understand and appreciate their sacrifices and accomplishments.

I'm partnering with Soldiers’ Angels to give copies of my book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, to the very soldiers still stationed there.  Soldiers’ Angels is an extraordinary organization. Among many other activities in support of America’s military men and women and their families, Soldiers’ Angels sends thousands of care packages to deployed personnel every month.  Moment of Truth in Iraq will now be included in as many of those packages as possible.

Read more: Teaming up with Soldiers' Angels

No Victory Dances

4 Comments

23 August 2008

I hope to land in Afghanistan tomorrow, but as for tonight, I'm stuck in a hotel reading everything I can devour on Iraq and Afghanistan. An interesting interview with General Petraeus surfaced. General Petraeus has always been objective in his communications with me. I see in this Newsweek exclusive, that General Petraeus is again dampening expectations. I've seen him do it over and over. Now isn't that amazing? An American General who actually makes it a point to dampen press enthusiasm. But while delivering the raw truth, General Petraeus gains enormous credibility with journalists, who then reach untold millions of people. I remember stepping off his helicopter one night before he roared away into the Iraqi night. Just before I took off the headset and unbuckled my seat belt, General Petraeus said something like, "No Victory Dances." I stepped out and his darkened helicopter disappeared into the night, nearly knocking me over with the rotor wash. General Petraeus has enormous press credibility because he delivers the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now for General Petraeus:

Read more: No Victory Dances

Af-Pak Reporting

66 Comments

19 August 2008

Michael Yon

By now, no credible person denies the dramatic success that continues to manifest itself in Iraq. No doubt, there will be years of political dramas ahead for that country, and when they occur, we will blame ourselves for them, as is our habit. Americans have a tendency to blame ourselves nearly everything from wildfires to genocidal wars on the other side of the globe. And what we don't blame ourselves for, others will. Some might see our ability to take initiative and shoulder responsibility as naiveté. I think it's one of America's greatest strengths.

Many people around the world see America in decline. As someone who travels a great deal, I see the opposite. America is just getting started. Yes, we face enormous challenges and dangerous enemies. But the soul of our country, the initiative of our people, and the depth of the collective intelligence are all far stronger than our critics, and even many Americans, imagine. Al Qaeda thought that America would fall to her knees after 9/11. They were wrong. Today we hunt them like jackals.

Read more: Af-Pak Reporting

Update

22 Comments

24 July 2008

I am currently in Nepal trekking in the Himalaya for a month or two, getting in shape for Afghanistan. The monsoon rains leave the trails mostly empty, and my lower legs covered with leeches. Rubbing salt and tobacco can help, but the streams and rains simply wash that away after a short time, and so by the end of the day, my socks are often soaked with blood. When I rinse the socks, the water is crimson with blood. But the leeches don't hurt or cause illness.

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Success in Iraq

40 Comments

14 July 2008

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.

Read more: Success in Iraq

A Great American

10 Comments

13 July 2008

The news came to me in Nepal that Tony Snow had died. The words came with a jolt followed by sorrow. The best that can be said about any American is that he died in service to the people of the United States of America, and to our friends beyond our borders. Tony Snow did just that. Though Tony must have been in pain, his correspondence to me was always upbeat and positive and wise. The President chose well with Tony. He will be missed, but his service will be felt. Tony Snow was a Great American, whose spirit is stronger now than ever before.

 

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