Michael's Dispatches

The Kopp-Etchells Effect, Part II


27 August 2009

My embed with British forces has ended.  Will be out with U.S. forces for the foreseeable future.  After that, will strike out alone into the wilds of Afghanistan.  There are two more stories in the pipeline about the British soldiers I was with, who were in a couple of firefights.  The bullets got pretty close.  The events are worth recounting.  Unsure if I will be able to complete those dispatches due to the time wasted with the sudden ending of my embed.  Am attempting to publish at least one.  The soldiers deserve both, but time is cruel when its wasted.

A researcher who studies helicopter "brown outs" contacted me regarding the Kopp-Etchells Effect.  Apparently the effect is unrelated to St. Elmo's Fire.  In fact, it sounds as though scientists remain unsure of exactly what causes the Kopp-Etchells Effect.  The phenomenon remains a mystery.


Please Click Here to Read Part I of The Kopp-Etchells Effect.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shades · 12 years ago
    Michael, I see the MoD has posted at least one of your photos (with credit) on their website in their version of the Pharmacy Road clearance operation. Quite a nerve after booting you out!http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/BritishSoldiersClearHelmandRoadsOfIeds.htm
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 12 years ago
    Too bad about MoD. They are losing a good man in you. The Brits need the real story too. I am interested in hearing all that goes on, Brits, Estonians, French, Germans. All of it.

    On another note. Either all of us readers have gone back in time or Michael, no doubt, needs sleep. The Date line says April 27.

    Stay safe Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mary Ann · 12 years ago
    Be safe Michael, we need you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorenz Gude · 12 years ago
    I actually see two photos attributed to you on the MOD website. The biggest difference I sense between the two accounts is not at the level of facts but at the level of feeling. Your account, as always, gives the reader some sense of how it feels to be in these combat situations and indeed something essential of what the soldiers themselves feel. To read the MOD's account you would think the soldiers were involved in some commercial operation with only some ordinary workplace safety issues. As my field is media I would also observe that MOD's postage stamp reproductions of photos - yours and their own - has a low emotional impact while the large images in your posts give a sense of place and the seriousness of the situation. I will not waste time speculating on the reasons for your embed being ended but I will say that in general that this incident appears to be another good example of how the established institutions - governments and government departments , newspapers and television networks, continue to struggle for control of the narrative with those of us formerly known as the audience. Please bring us both dispatches if at all possible. For the squadies. Thank you and stay safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Austen J Lennon · 12 years ago
    Dear Michael, You don't know the loss that it is not to have you reporting from the British front lines. I have be reporting your despatches to my colleagues on our local Council and as a result it looks like we are going to run a couple of events in support of our troops. One of our Councillors also placed a proposal before the Council in support of some of the things that you have mentioned in your despatches. Your insight into the British troops and their situation has been invaluable. We do not get information in our daily newspapers that has not been sensationalised or twisted to suit the politics of the writer and the TV channels here are pathetic.

    Gordon Brown is doing a very poor job of explaining the reasons for this important war to the people of the UK and we need all the information possible to keep our troops heroic struggle to the fore.

    Good luck with all you do and heartfelt thanks for your honest reporting.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    john999 · 12 years ago
    Your remarks re end of embed clash with MOD accounts (There's a surprise!) They say your time on ember was more than up. Can you clarify - e.g. was any end date or period of embed ever set. This MOD view will taint your excellent reports - there is a suggestion that you lost the plot and threw your teddy out of the pram - so I want to know where the truth lies
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Troedson · 12 years ago
    FOR GOD'S SAKE, if you go into the Wilds of Afghanistan, make sure you have an Afghan guide with you. It is no different that wild west of the US, unless it is worse, and you will need a back-up!!
    Peter Troedson, MD
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leonard Henry · 12 years ago
    Why did the British abruptlly end your embed given your long history with these folk in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sherrianne1 · 12 years ago
    As a faithful follower and searcher of the "truth in news" coming out of Afghanistan, I want to thank you for what you do everyday. The Brits lose, our gain.....hope your new embed goes as planned. Be safe....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    KenF · 12 years ago

    The other night on HBO I watched a documentary called "Fixer: The taking of Ajamal Naqshbandi". In 2007 he along with an Italian reporter and driver was detained by the Taliban and accused of being spys. Granted, the Taliban warlord is somewhat infamous for his degree of cruelty, but there are others like him out there just looking for a reason to kill westerners. Ajamal and the driver were murdered, but he Italian was freed.

    Being there, you most likely know this story. Be careful my brother. You are far too valuable to be wasted on the likes of them.

    Thank you,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Travis B · 12 years ago
    According to Dayton-Granger maker of static precipitation wicks for airplanes and helicopters as the sand particles are struck by or impact on the spinning rotor there is an energy exchange resulting in what is described on this forum as a spark. This energy exchange or spark results in the accumulation of a static charge on the blades and this charge if not carried to the fuselage will result in corona discharge from the blade tips and this is in the form of visible light. (at night)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    AAnderson · 12 years ago
    the Royal Colonel of the Rifles would have something to say about the MoD's poor decision.....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David M · 12 years ago
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/27/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cara · 12 years ago
    I am sorry th MOD removed you, Michael. As I said in an earlier comment it informed me about the Brits and
    their contribution.
    But, folks, it's time to move on and be grateful Michael is going to be embedded again with our troops again.
    We need to be in touch with their reality too. All we get from our traditional media sources is statistics. Michael gives our warriors and their missions faces, voices, personalities, and the real danger and gravity of what they are doing.
    Thank you, Mike, for your oustsanding reports on the 2nd Rifles and we all look forward to your outstanding Dispatches with our troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim · 12 years ago
    FOR GOD'S SAKE, if you go into the Wilds of Afghanistan, make sure you have an Afghan guide with you. It is no different that wild west of the US, unless it is worse, and you will need a back-up!!
    Peter Troedson, MD"

    Hey Peter,
    I think I'll have to take offense to your comment here. I'm not sure where you get your point of reference for it, but Having been in both Locations I can honestly say that the west of the US, even during it's wildest time during the 1880's was way safer than Afghanistan, or even downtown London.

    Keep safe, I see you are with the Air Force right now but are concerned with what kind of access you will get. Unfortunately the people who are most likely the want to give you access are not the ones who can. If you decide that the AF wont work for you I'm sure there a couple of Naval SeaBee units that would love to host you. Those guys love reporters.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lani Wingate · 12 years ago
    Michael: My son is with the 108th Cav (GA NG) south of Jalalabad and his unit would love to have you drop in and stay awhile.
    Good Luck & Stay Sharp
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gary · 12 years ago
    Great work as is usual for you. The dispatches were insightful as well as informative. Not sure who you angered, but he or she must be someone with little or no regard for getting the truth out to those who support all our NATO troops in harms way. Keep bringing us there with you through your dispatches and photographs.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Andy Tucker · 12 years ago
    Micheal if you mentioned why imbed with Brits was cancelled I missed it.

    Will you join Marines down South?

    I've continued to read your output, trust it and will continue to support your effort.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Stacey · 12 years ago

    Looks like the MOD doesn't like truth getting in the way of spin! You've mentioned a shortage of helo assets in theatre, which no doubt goes against Gordon Browns assertion that there are sufficient helo assets there already..... Daring to reveal the truth has obviously got you offside with these buggers.....

    Stay safe and watch your six more than ever......
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    Finutchy · 12 years ago
    Would be great to read something about our boys from an experienced reporter!
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    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    You said in a previous dispatch that safety was your primary concern. You have already done a walkabout in the wilds with some friends and it was kind of interesting with some photos of the rugged landscape. As I recall, the most interesting thing was that the Taliban wore sneakers. O,K dispatch but it paled in comparison to your embed reporting. Seems to me that the most you are going to gain is a lot of danger. I hope you do a serious cost-benefit analysis of such an endeavor.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Betsy · 12 years ago
    You're in my thoughts and prayers. I appreciate the art, thought, and love that goes into everything you do.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jane Raoul-Duval · 12 years ago
    Dear Michael Yon,
    I admire your work, but realise that it is very High Risk, and hope that you'll keep safe. The Taliban have no MERCY for anyone, it seems. My only Son suffered the consequences of an IED (he serves in the US Army). It is a miracle that he survived, he was seriously wounded on the road to Kandahar.
    Take care, and thank you for your courage and zeal, we need to hear the Truth about what's going on in Afghanistan.
    My best wishes to you,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris Johnson · 12 years ago
    For those of you having trouble reading between the lines, know that Michael Yon has said all that he considers prudent, at this time. If you need perspective, go back to his Dispatches from 2005 and work your way forward. Some of those were also with 2 Rifles. Between the lines, it is apparent that the last few weeks have been rough and it is what it is. It is not fair to ask Yon for more details, when he relies upon the goodwill and understanding of others for his opportunity to be in place.

    For myself, Michael, it is August, the month I yearly assess my internet debts and pay my bills. I am not a monthly payer, nor a much-payer, but I decide for myself how much I can afford and I owe to the people that provide the content I seek out. My contribution, small as it is, is on it's way and I'm sure it will help, a bit.

    I live up on Rock Ridge, near your original home, so when you get back, should you care to, come up here and hang for a bit with us Hippies. I was a child, growing up in Laos, and loved your photos from that area, as well as your work from the Sandbox.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tony Harper · 12 years ago
    Again great reporting from this hero!
    How many people read these dispatches regularly? I don't know, but they are the few people who get to know the real story of what is happening, and for that we should all be grateful. The governments who send troops to these places (for their own reasons - let's not go into that here) do not want the truth to be told. The information you all see in the "news"papers and on TV are sanitised and what they want you to hear.
    Regular readers will know that Michael has not and will not jeapoardise any mission.
    The British Ministry of Defence (MOD) terminated Michael's embed because they don't want the world to know what's really happening.
    Shame on them.
    Good luck Michael. As always, stay safe. And keep telling is the truth.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    WCOG · 12 years ago
    Just curious as to which Air Force unit you're embedded with now. I assume it's rotary wing or C-1 0s since you mentioned flying along on twitter. 56th ERS?

    A look at the work of VAQ-1 7 would be really interesting, too.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Dixon · 12 years ago
    This was posted by the MOD and it seems quite clear why his embed has ended and I know from dealing with the media on ops that 5 weeks as an embed is a very long time. Thye must have been happy with what he was writing to have extended him - that seems utterly sensible to me so perhaps people should stop kicking the MOD and be less believing of how Michael Yon is portraying it - he could just be mistaken!!

    Michael Yon’s embed with British forces has not been cancelled and we are disappointed that he has chosen to characterise it as such. We have hosted Michael with British forces for five weeks, some two weeks longer than originally planned.

    We welcome Michael’s thorough reporting of the work of British forces and we have no objection to his recent piece entitled "Bad Medicine". All journalists embedding with the UK military are given access to troops without censorship. However all materials coming out of theatre is checked to ensure that key tactical details that would aid the enemy are not being made public. Michael’s dispatch was subject to these checks and was given the go-ahead.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Doug Laybourne · 12 years ago
    OK It seems reasonable to express caution about reports from the front line. However, the exact reason for Michael's departure should not get in the way of the truth. It is widely known by British serving men and women and especially ex-serving men and women, that the MOD does not like the truth to be told and will use every device to withhold information including that requested in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act! (I have written proof of this).
    What is even worse is the fact that while the brave servants of our countries (both in the USA and Europe) are frittered away on an illegal war; the sovereignty of their home countries is being stolen from them, their families and friends. That theft is the biggest deceit of all time. Our bravehearts should be at home protecting our borders there, from uncontrolled colonisation.
    Keep up the excellent work you do, Michael. It transcends any question over your length of 'contract'.
    God Bless You and everyone being offered up for sacrifice to the evils of Globilisation, power-lust and greed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    terry meyer · 12 years ago
    I would suspect due to the extreamly dry and dusty conditions the chopper stirs up dust which is being electrostaticlly charged by the rotation of the rotors.

    As the rotation continues more dust and more static electrisity is created and that results in the release of a charge, just like draging your feet on a carpet on a dry day will result in the release of a static electric charge from your finger which is quite visable as a white light discharge.

    That's my guess.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    bradstyris · 12 years ago
    Static discharge is a major thing to watch out for. when a helicopter does sling loads it builds up a lot of static charge. I've heard stories of ppl having fingertips blow off during dust or rain storms when grabbing the hook.and plonk, I'm assuming you're NOT an american? because IF you are, soldiers have given you the right to be able to say what you just said. it's called freedom. there are countries in the world, that if you said that about THEIR army, you'd already have your head chopped off.

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