Michael's Dispatches

Infiltration: Operation Flintlock Part II


2011-08-04-091022-Web1000Friendly elements moving out.

Moving out

Although camera technology seems to evolve every month, the camera cannot truly catch the reality of what our Soldiers see in this war.  The reality is far more dynamic and interesting than I can capture, even with this great gear.


Other elements around us have already moved into their assigned positions.  With each passing minute, our people move into better fighting formations and in mutually supporting ways.  Of course, that doesn’t stop IEDs or hidden enemy machine gunners.  Many enemy sleep out in the fields under trees; this is normal for Afghans in the summer heat, and it also means they can accidentally find themselves in good fighting positions.

2011-08-04-093928-Web1000Moving out.

In many places, the enemy has the fields strewn with IEDs, which they only arm at night, allowing farmers to work during the day.


The objective of my element was a family compound.  They had come into the compound quietly and without shots or dramas.  We were cleared to move forward and walked single file in the darkness toward the compound.  The night was so dark that it was difficult to walk even with NVGs.  Our point man ‘cleared’ the way with a metal detector, but the enemy has been using low metal content bombs for years.  Many bombs contain no metal.  In reality, he would probably miss the bomb, or maybe the metal detector itself would hit a trip wire.  The triggers often are offset or connected to multiple devices to hit the file.


So dark.  When IEDs strike, the night lights up. There is no way to perfectly mimic the steps of the Soldier in front of you to avoid bombs.  IEDs often strike people far back in the file.  Many veterans of Afghanistan likely will never look at a farmer’s field the same again.


The 155mm cannons fired IR illumination so that we could see with our NVGs.  This time, the parachute seemed to fail and it crashed to the ground still burning.

2011-08-04-090652-Web1000Trekking into the night: Van Gogh with full spectrum sensor.


We made it to the compound.  The Soldiers who arrived before us had come in so quietly that the children were still sound asleep under a net.  Families in this area often sleep outside because it’s hot in the summer inside their mud buildings.  The father of the house was talking with a Soldier and the interpreter.  All was calm though now some of the children were awake.  Our people don’t like to occupy peoples’ compounds, but the alternatives are far worse.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Len marcy · 8 years ago
    Michael,I am so pleased to once again tune in to your reports and photos. They really bring the war home as nothing else could do. May my Heavenly Father protect you and all who are in harm's way.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leyla Najma · 8 years ago
    Thank you for sending the photos! As always they are amazing as are your comments. We are with you all in spirit!
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    peter · 8 years ago
    Michael, thank you for putting yourself in harms way to give us this report. And also for all of the other reports.
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    Seth B. · 8 years ago
    Michael, first I would like to thank you for your journalism and excellent photography. I also want to thank you for using your talents to honor our troops and give them respect they deserve for their incredibly hard and dangerous work.

    I often wonder how much respect and compassion our troops and interpreters convey to the afghan civilians they encounter each day as we station ourselves(the troops) inside their compounds, farm lands and country. I understand that the Afghans are proud people, as are Americans, and don't take kindly to troops tromping their lands and stationing themselves inside their homes-also much like Americans.

    Do you feel we properly convey to them with respect our needs to be safe in the process of hunting the Taliban and that we would rather not be in their home but that is where we must be to find the Taliban nearby? And, is it lost in translation or do the Afghan people understand we are doing our best to not intrude as I think we are?
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    usmc · 8 years ago
    Mike, i really don't expect you to publish the whole content, but you have scored direct bulls with this and your last few postings....i was directly involved in the development of the very 1st NVGs...we would call them not very good.. working at *** in ft wayne, late 60's..it is absolutely astounding to see how far they have developed in 40 years...we never knew how far the project would go ..your reporting is so accurate that it is difficult to sleep many nights after..keep it up.i no longer watched MSM after return because of the huge disconnect between what was happening and what was being reported...we discovered many problems like IR lighting up ourselves & now becoming targets ourselves and a feeling we were under water in a surreal green world..also IR spotter scopes on our M-14s....kick ass. crazy as it sounds, i would love to go back for a few weeks and observe the men....a great deal of today's tactics like Heavies teams were in their infancy in the 60's.. GOOD JOB MIKE
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James L. Owens · 8 years ago
    Great Report. Thanks.
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    Lawrence Barker · 8 years ago
    Mike, WOW! It's great to have your dispatches back up and running. As has been said, nothing else comes close. I am in AWE of our guys out their doing their jobs and have immense respect for them all.

    Please keep safe and pass along our Love to all the troops.
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    Ryan Hene · 8 years ago
    Be safe out there man I lived about a mile south of pasab (wilson) at fitzpatrick last deployment..Give em hell out there boys
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    Daniel Perez · 8 years ago
    Love your reports Mike. No theatrics, no show-and-tell type reporting. And with the photos it makes us feel like we are out there with our brothers. Keep up the good work.
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    Sgt. U · 8 years ago
    I've been reading/watching your blog for just over a year now. Your perspective is not only legit, but refreshing. I appreciate your efforts to "get it right". I lost three of my close friends on Extortion 1-7, our chinook that was taken down by that RPG and killed 2 other crew members, the Navy Seal team and ANA. Your article tells the world how we do business, and it brings a smile to my face to share it with everyone I know. Thanks again, please, keep up the hard work!
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    Rob Wade · 8 years ago
    Outstanding work Mike. Did tours over there (02,03,04). You show the public they types of things we were doing on a daily basis
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    Violette · 8 years ago
    Until the "good" aliens debarque to chase the bad "aliens".
    Must be a scary dream,nightmare,for this people.
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    Wayne Philpot · 8 years ago
    Mr. Yon, your style, content, and obvious respect/loyalty/love for your subjects remind me another great reporter/writer: Joe Galloway. God bless you, sir, and God bless those awesome individuals you're living/working with and writing about. Keep your head down, and thank you for bringing truth home from that place.
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    R Dean · 8 years ago
    CMS Cook is a friend of mine; we went through basic together and good to see him taking care of you as well as you of him. Keep chasing the bad guys; LOVE these articles. No news snippet can catch what the guys really go through.
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    LTC Bill Catttley · 8 years ago

    Awesome right up of the KW. I had a story of 46 Iraqi troops surrendering to a Kiawa in the 1st Gulf. The co-pilot got out with a 9 mil to make them all sit down to wait for a truck. Ballsy move!

    Stay safe and keep the stories coming. Loved the Pictgure book I just received. Great work!
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    LTC Bill Catttley · 8 years ago
    Sorry, late night. I meant write up of the KW.

    Stay safe.
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    MAUREEN STINSON · 8 years ago
    Thank you seems too plain or simple. YOU put your life on the line so that we may understand what is truely going on. It would be rewarding to know others cared enough to report the true as you do. You are sacrificing for our Country, which we are all grateful. God be with you and keep you safe at all times. Prayers are lifted up tonight.
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    Violette · 8 years ago
    is on Mission ! !
    I like your disch-patches,Mike,and "adventures" with your buddy CMS Cook, as well all the Vet's stories,taking down THE THUGS.
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    Rob · 8 years ago
    be safe man - and thanks!
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    SFMed · 8 years ago
    Can anyone tell me what the green looking disk thing is in the main picture inside the transport? It looks like a foot in diameter. What is it?
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    OldCav · 8 years ago
    I noticed the commsat in the background with the picture of the AF JTAC. I used to carry that around on a few missions and wonder if the two black boxes got any smaller/lighter. Just a curiosity thing.

    I also remember working alongside some JTAC in korea which pretty much drove around in a decked out M151 Jeep filled with so much radio equipment they could just barely sit in it.

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