Michael's Dispatches

Stars & Stripes


13 August 2009

Reporting from Afghanistan: Not your typical job

Posted August 12th, 2009 by Leo Shane in Stripes Central

Back in 2006 I spent six weeks traveling around Afghanistan with various U.S. Army units and reporting on what troops were dealing with in the "forgotten" war. Filing stories and calling my editors was always a tricky prospect, even without any of the heavy fighting that reporters there now are seeing.

So it's humbling to me to listen to this live interview with Michael Yon from his latest travels into Afghanistan, this time with British troops.

Yon has already made a name for himself with his freelance work in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and his latest work has given an up-close view of the tension and danger in Afghanistan right now. But this interview may top all that.

At just about the 7:30 mark, you can start to hear gunfire in the background as he talks with Military.com's Ward Carroll about recent violence in the area. A few minutes later, he pauses for a minute to get to a safer location as machine gun fire intensifies and a rocket whizzes overhead.

But it's only a momentary pause, and he doesn't let the fighting rattle him.

"As if on cue, this is a very contested area," he says, laughing. "It's getting pretty intense here."

Most reporters don't face danger comparable to soldiers on the front lines, but that doesn't mean it's a safe job. The two AP journalists who were seriously injured earlier today in an attack serve as a grim reminder of that.

Our editors keep close tabs on our Stripes' reporters downrange too. Drew Brown and Dianna Cahn have been filing remarkable reports for us from Afghanistan; Our own Pentagon correspondent Jeff Schogol is in Iraq right now. All of them are under strict instructions to make sure they're keeping their own safety in mind while they're chronicling the important stories there.

I don't know Yon well -- just a few casual emails back and forth -- but I know his reporting well enough that he travels that fine line too. Hopefully he can keep delivering that insightful view of war without ending up too close to the firing line in the future.

[PHOTO: Drew Brown]

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    David M · 12 years ago
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/1 /2009 - News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

    http://www.thunderrun.us/2009/08/from-front-081 2009.html
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Albright · 12 years ago
    I am struggling to make ends meet these days, but I just made a tiny donation ($25) to Michael so that he can continue this important work. So, I challenge all of you readers to match my donation - better yet, if you can afford to, send $100-200. In my humble opinion, Michael's work in Iraq helped us to approve the Surge, and ultimately helped changed the course of the war. No other journalist, soldier, or politician has been able to do this. We cannot let him down; for our soldier's sakes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott H. · 12 years ago
    OK 'El Tee' I just dropped you're recomended 200 in the bucket. Thanks for the poke.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jenny · 12 years ago
    El Tee,

    Amen! I completely agree. Things are tight, my husband & I both just got 15% salary cuts, but I bet something is better than nothing in Michael's situation so we will start sending $25 here and there. His "Moment of Truth" book was so awesome and informative, and if he writes another I will definitely buy it. We need Michael right where (safely we hope) he is so we can hear the whole truth, not just one side or the others. Thank you Michael for what you do, and we will start sending more to help and hopefully it will make the difference.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Maddy · 12 years ago
    Okay Michael, I'm sending another $100. Hang in there my friend and keep up the great reporting and photos and.....sell those photos man! Write another book with all the photos in it, it will sell. Use a ghost writer and edit it yourself. Market yourself harder and you will have all the cash you need, in my humble opinion. Easy to say, hard to do! Our friend just returned to his family of four and we are thankful for that. He and hsi wife are career National Guard. She deployed twice to Iraq and he once to Afghanistan, so they and their family has sacrificed to the nth degree, as many others have done. Freedom is never FREE!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    saltshaker128 · 12 years ago
    Dear Michael;
    I have sent $5 in the past to you; I'm sorry that I don't currently have even that much to send you now. I'm bedridden, fighting foreclosure, without a car to even go look for another place to live; husband lost his job in March, & since he's on unemployment, the state kicked us OFF Medicaid paying our Medicare premiums of $100/month, so now we have $200/month less cash than before. I just don't have money to send at this time.

    More importantly, I can pray. I know it's the Lord God Almighty who is watching over you, protecting you and keeping you safe. It is He who will sustain you through all that you do. When we pray, His hand is moved to meet the needs. So I promise to pray for you daily, when my family has devotions and we pray together. I will pray for your safety and your prosperity. I greatly admire you for what you do.

    If you need a good ghost writer, copy writer, editor, or proofreader, I will gladly volunteer my talents, skills and abilities to assist you in this area. It would be a way that I can help you and thank you for all you're doing to keep us informed without the bias seen in the mainstream media.

    Thank you for doing what you're doing, Michael. Keep the faith, and keep up your good work! Those of us who appreciate you will surely support you to the best of our ability! God bless you and keep you safe in His arms.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Yomper · 12 years ago
    There is some sad news highlighting the dangers that Michael is facing on his embed with The Rifles and underline his comment that 'this is a very contested area' with reports today of casualties from Sangin.

    See > http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8200492.stm

    No doubt we'll learn more about this incident directly from Michael.

    Michael, be sure to let the troops know how much we care about them and the difficult task they are undertaking on our behalf. Be careful!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Olen Kline · 12 years ago
    Marines meeting the El Tee's Challenge.

    $200 to keep him where he can do the most good in the war on Terror. Semper Fi
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Simon · 12 years ago
    Hi Michael,

    I'm sure you've been informed of this article, but I would be interested in your take on it, as an American embedded with British troops. It is disturbing to say the least, and just the latest of several similar incidents. Do you think the US and UK relationship is fracturing at the senior officer level?

    My personal impression is that this officer has contradicted himself several times. How can the British have too many bases (many sited in the middle of Afghan towns right amongst the locals) and yet not be engaging the locals enough? And in these 'platoon posts' only the utmost standards of field discipline and hygiene will enable a post to function properly, so the British can't be too bad. Finally, the US Marines themselves only had six month tours in Iraq.

    Your perspective on this would be very interesting. Cheers.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Simon · 12 years ago
    Should probably include an example of said article!

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25922851-270 ,00.html
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Aunt of 3 ANG · 12 years ago
    In Iraq, our guys, who were on the same base as Marines, said the Marines did 7 month tours. Our ANG were there for almost 2 years and higher ups for longer than 2 years. However, I have the utmost respect for the Marines. I don't know about Afghanistan, but in Iraq I considered them to be the tip of the sword. --with due respect for ALL the branches. As it takes all the branches of the military to win a war. AS for people griping about the British, geez they are in the thick of things along with other coalition military. And they are taking some heavy losses also. I can't imagine any of the combat soldiers with ideal hygiene in that heat under those conditions. Heck I just want em all to survive and go back to their little corners of the world in one piece and of a sound mind and I'm sure they'll all be showering up a couple times a day just cuz they can.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert · 12 years ago
    Yeah, damn i need to ante up. Christ, iam home and this guy is THERE. I don't know much about Pay Pal, other than when i called, there was a Pinay on the line. Yup, Phillipines. My wife has a VISA, me? Cash & a handshake seals the deal. Its the least i can do...Sept is coming.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cathi L. · 12 years ago
    I'll take your challenge. I've donated in the past but I now donate another $25.00 with a commitment of $20.00 per month set up to debit automatically. Wish I could do more but its better than doing nothing at all.

    Keep safe, keep up the faith and keep the reports coming! I'll do my part to keep people reading!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    This subject is covered extensively under "No Young Soldiers"

    Michael is in a difficult position. He is a Photo JOURNALIST. Taking a position on any of these topics could compromise his jouralistic integrity. Suffice it to say, we readers can wrestle these issues to ground and leave Michael to do what he does best. In a subsequent book (hopefully) he can render opinions. Just saying.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Eddie Clark · 12 years ago
    I am currently overseas. I was watching Sky News and saw that Sangin was pretty busy yesterday 14 August and last night with more UK troops lost. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any news about Sangin on CNN, Fox, or even Sky News websites. Surprise.

    I hope all is well or at least "OK" for you. I am at loss for what I hope for the Brits. What is it 16 or 19 lost in the past 4 months. There really isn't anything that I could say to them. But they are in my thoughts and I try to tell anyone who will listen about them and their efforts, yours too Michael.

    Eddie Clark
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Eddie Clark · 12 years ago
    I donated $100 a couple of days ago. $100 more.
    "Shot out".
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Julie cleeveley · 12 years ago
    I hope you're okay Michael, that you've not been injured. My thoughts are with all of you in Sangin, with the fallen and their families.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago

    Suggest you bookmark the above.

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