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Author Topic: Michael Yon in Afghanistan  (Read 13782 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« on: August 19, 2008, 07:55:40 AM »

Woof All:

If you are not already familiar with reader supported reporter Michael Yon, you should be.  A former Special Forces soldier, MY goes on patrol with the troops and also gets out and about and gets the real story.  I gave as heavily as I could to support Michael Yon's brave and insightful coverage of the Iraq War.  Now, once again he goes to Afghanistan.  And once again, I give as heavily as I can.  I just finished enabling monthly donations via his website.

To read what he is up to right now, go to http://www.michaelyon-online.com/

Michael Yon seeks Truth.  He is quite willing and able to criticize Foul Ups and say when he sees as doing wrong.  His courage and insight make him a special resource.  If you want Truth and insight from the front lines, if you are tired of MSM hypocrisy, dishonesty, ignorance and incoherence, it is time to count your blessings (for most of us, as Americans) and share a bit of your bounty to support this man's work.

Time to put up or shut up.

The Adventure continues,
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2009, 09:16:20 AM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/red-flag.htm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 05:50:12 PM »

Michael Yon is a truly great American who background, intelligence, courage, and integrity make him one of the great war correspondents.  IMHO America's weak link is our clarity about the nature of this war and our knowledge about how we are doing.

Dog Brothers Martial Arts makes a substantial monthly donation to Michael Yon.

Do you?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2009, 01:17:38 PM »

03 February 2009 
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/afghanistan-a-dream-that-will-not-come-true.htm

Afghanistan is a gaunt, thorny bush, growing amid rocks and dust on dry windswept plains, sweltering deserts, and man-crushing mountains. Its neighbors are treacherous. The Afghan people are mostly living relics, only more advanced than hidden tribes in the Amazon, but centuries behind the least advanced European nations.

Afghanistan is a gaunt, thorny bush, subsisting on little more than sips of humidity from the dry air. We imagined that we could make the bush into a tree, as if straw could be spun into gold or rocks transmuted to flowers. If we continue to imagine that we can turn the thorny bush into a tree, eventually we will realize the truth, but only after much toil, blood and gold are laid under the bush, as if such fertilizer would turn a bush into a tree. We did not make Afghanistan what it is. Afghanistan has existed for thousands of years. It grows the way it grows because the bush drops seeds that make more bushes, never trees.


We must alter our expectations for Afghanistan. There are bigger problems afoot. The ice is melting, banks are melting, and the prestige of great nations that do great things is melting, because they thought they could transform a thorny bush into a tree.
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JDN
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2009, 04:05:35 PM »

Crafty posted Michael Yon's comment, "We must alter our expectations for Afghanistan. There are bigger problems afoot. The ice is melting, banks are melting, and the prestige of great nations that do great things is melting, because they thought they could transform a thorny bush into a tree."

I am not a writer, but if I was I still couldn't have said it better.  We truly do need to alter (lower) our expectations.  Again, as Mr. Yon pointed out,
"there are bigger problems (priorities) afoot."

Any comments Crafty on Michael Yon's comment?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2009, 05:37:32 PM »

As evidenced by many of my posts in the Afg-Pak thread and the India-Pak thread for many months now, I have wondered WTF is our strategy.    It has been incoherent, and under Commader in Chief His Glibness I fear it is about to get much worse.
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JDN
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2009, 07:17:07 PM »

Yes, I too have wondered WTF is our strategy.  And under our new Commander in Chief I too have no idea how it is going to get better.
But my question, given Michael Yon's comments stating that we "should alter (lower) our expectations in Afghanistan in the face of pressing
perils elsewhere", what do you think our strategy should be?  Numerous posts exist on this forum suggesting we become more involved
given the plight of the Afghan people.  Yet, it seems even Mr. Yon is acknowledging that although terrible problems exist in
Afghanistan, perhaps we need to simply move on since some things never change and rather we need to concentrate on important issues.
Do you agree with his implied conclusion that we cannot change Afghanistan and therefore perhaps we should begin to minimize our involvement?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2009, 09:35:27 PM »

I have been trying to get a serious discussion going on about this in the Afg-Pak thread, and also in the India-Pak thread, but to little avail.  Maybe it will get going here?  Anyway, in particular see post 292 at  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=944.250
which is a Stratfor piece (what a surprise there-- not!).  I am intrigued by their notion of distinguishing the Taliban and AQ and identifying our core mission as preventing Afg from once again becoming a base for AQ to attack the US.  I have always understood all the rest to originate from this core objective.

That said, I think it is in the India-Pak thread, but there are two major pieces written by Indian intel people that make a powerful argument about the ISI and the young officers of the Pak army being the true players in all this.  One of the Indian intel people goes on to suggest encouraging the disintegration of the Pakistan state into more little quasi-feudal backwaters.  Of course we would need to neutralize their nukes.   

I think the mental exercise of considering outside our mental box solutions like this would be good for us.

I also think that we must resolve the cognitive dissonance of our incoherence re the opium trade.

Bottom line, I'm willing to consider a wide range of actions.  I don't know what to do, but I see disaster ahead on the current course of action-- including what HG seems to have in mind.
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JDN
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2009, 09:52:11 PM »

Crafty; thank you.  Our Commander in Chief has expressed an "interest" in Afghanistan.  It will be interesting to see what develops.

GM; where are when I need you?  smiley
Seriously, while we often (usually, always?) disagree, your insight, study and knowledge of Afghanistan matters far surpasses mine.
What do YOU think of Michael Yon's opinion that "we must alter (limit) our expectations of Afghanistan"?
I agree with him which means of course you automatically disagree; so go for it!   smiley
It's good to hear all sides.
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G M
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2009, 10:31:40 PM »

Until/unless Pakistan's malevolent interference in Afghanistan is ended, there is no hope for progress.

Fundamentally, there are massive issues facing Afghanistan, including it being a mishmash of tribes, languages and islamic theology as well as caught in the tug of war between global powers.

There are no quick and easy answers for it's problems and in the best possible case, it won't be a Jeffersonian nation in decades.

My suggested strategy that applies here and the rest of the world in fighting the global jihad consists of several principles:

1. This is a war of generations. We need to forget the short term American mindset of 24 hr. media cycles and fiscal years and 2-4 year elections. Our enemies plan in decades and centuries. We need to do the same.

Note: I have seen al qaeda documents captured in Afghanistan that shows their 100 year plan to re-establish the global caliphate and crush the western world. I doubt that the pentagon has a similar plan plotting the survival of the west.

2. The Marines have a slogan "No better friend, no worse enemy,". This needs to be hammered into the US State Department as their ethos. Post WWII, they've tended to push US foreign policy into the reverse. Transforming less than optimal allies into better countries takes time. Abandoning allies to revolutionary movements only makes things worse for the people in the country and often the world as well. As bad as the Shah might have been, Iran is not better off now by Carter allowing him to fall from power.

3. This is a global struggle. There is no Iraq war, no Afghan war, no Gaza war. They are different theatres of the same war, just as Normandy and Iwo Jima were small segments of a global war. I see no one from either political party that seems to grasp this reality, or at least willing to say such things publically. This needs to be recognized by the public. Our current president's pandering and groveling only earns contempt from our enemies and shows them to be a "strong horse".
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2009, 11:25:28 PM »

OK, so what do we do now in Afg/Afg-Pak?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2009, 07:26:30 AM »

Greetings,
 
"It's Raining" was first published yesterday on Instapundit, one of my favorite blogs.

This will be a long year in Afghanistan, and I plan to spend about six months or more, there or in the region.  Not looking forward to months of combat, but the war is only worsening and very few writers remain who will embed with combat forces for any length of time.  I don't know of any, actually, remaining who will go for months on end.  Not sure how much of my 2009 will be with U.S. forces; some of our allies are requesting coverage and extending the red carpet, and it's very important to know how our military alliance is doing.  The alliance is key to the war.  Whether it shows signs of falling apart, or sticking together, is crucial.

Embedding is very difficult, dangerous, time consuming, and expensive, and so long embeds simply do not seem to be happening.

My end-goal for 2009 is to bring back news and summary so that the reader will understand the overall trajectory of the war.  Are we winning or losing?  Is it worth it?  What exactly are our goals in Afghanistan?  I don't know what our goals are.  Does anyone know? 
 
My reporting from 2006, unembedded in Afghanistan, proved that it is not necessary to embed with U.S. forces, or even to consult with commanders or the Pentagon, to predict the trajectory of the war with reasonable accuracy.  I like covering combat forces simply because I like them.  And they need coverage, especially so since practically nobody else will do it for them, but much of the decision making regarding embeds will be based on how much support derives from command.  End goal: to accurately summarize for the reader the trajectory of the war, and long embeds might actually hinder my ability to predict the war. 
 
Iraq only continues to improve.  I plan to return to Iraq this year.  That war truly is over.  We can start bringing our men and women home, but it's crucial to pay close attention to the advice of our military commanders.
 
Please read, "It's Raining." 
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G M
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2009, 08:35:04 AM »

OK, so what do we do now in Afg/Afg-Pak?

Use the Indians to break the ISI's spine.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2009, 08:29:49 PM »

I'm guessing you found that Indian piece I sent you persuasive?  cheesy

If I understand correctly this approach is willing to accept/embrace a collapse of the Pak state.    In such an event, what happens to Pak's nukes?  In such an event, what about Baluchistan and the other Whackostan's?  Do they become yet more areas for the AQ types to train and launch attacks?  Or in the current situation are there already a surplus of areas from which they can do that so it doesn't matter?

Also, I gather Iran's Shia nuts are not enthused about the Sunni nuts in Afg-Pak.  Its why they helped us in 2001-2002 and were surprised to be branded part of the axis of evil.  Is there some use we can make of this?

==========
This just in from Stratfor

February 6, 2009 | 0300 GMT
A global security conference opens in Munich on Friday. In attendance will be key military and diplomatic personnel from every country in the world that has significant geopolitical weight (and quite a few more that do not).

In terms of opportunities for leaders to meet and speak candidly to one another, there are no serious venues that compare in size and scope to the Munich Conference. NATO summits, for instance, bring together the allies, but relegate would-be members and Russia to the back rows — and there is not an Asian in sight. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum tosses all of the Pacific Rim leaders into one room, but doesn’t involve the Europeans. The Middle East really has only the Arab League, and often that doesn’t even attract all the Arab leadership.

For the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, the Munich Conference means one thing: crunch time. Since taking office on Jan. 20, the Obama team has conveyed the feeling that it is still in transition. This is not intended as a criticism, but simply a statement of fact: Thus far, the world really does not have a feel for what the administration’s foreign policy will look like. At Munich, however, the administration will have no choice but to start making hard choices and taking stances. Effective Friday, the transition is over.

Interestingly, the U.S. secretaries of defense and state will not be in attendance in Munich. Instead, Vice President Joseph Biden will represent the United States — raising the possibility that he might have the kind of influence in the Obama administration that his predecessor, Dick Cheney, had in the Bush administration.

Biden will have a full plate. The French are planning to formally re-enter NATO, the Germans are looking for more responsibility for European security policy, the American effort in Afghanistan could use more international help, and there is always the chance of running into the Iranians and having an impromptu meeting about the future of Iraq.

But the man that Biden will not be able to avoid will be Sergei Ivanov, the Russian deputy prime minister and one of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s most reliable allies.

The Obama team has inherited from the Bush and Clinton administrations a policy of broad and deep confrontation with Russia. This began with the rapid expansion of NATO, followed by deep economic and military penetration into Central Asia, and most recently has involved plans for ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems in Central Europe.

The new administration is about to enter this confrontation head-first. Obama has pledged to focus U.S. military power on the war in Afghanistan — but expanding that war without becoming completely captive to Pakistani interests means finding a way to supply Western forces in Afghanistan without transiting Pakistan’s territory. A few supplies might get shipped through Iran, but the bulk will need to come in from the north. That means transiting Central Asia — and Russia is undoubtedly the premier power in that neighborhood. Simply put, Obama’s Afghanistan policy cannot succeed unless the Russians agree to allow supplies through. And Moscow will have a price for that.

Ivanov has spent much of the past few days outlining precisely what that price will entail: limitations on BMD, a halt to NATO expansion, reduced American influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and a broad renegotiation of the series of treaties that ended the Cold War — treaties that are terrible for the Russians in 2009. It is a lengthy list of non-trivial issues, and not one that any American representative would be happy to receive, negotiate on or agree to. But that is Biden’s bind.

At base, Ivanov will present Biden and Obama with a choice: appease Russia or lose in Afghanistan.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2009, 09:00:01 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2009, 09:54:26 PM »

I'm guessing you found that Indian piece I sent you persuasive?  cheesy

 grin

If I understand correctly this approach is willing to accept/embrace a collapse of the Pak state.   

**Embrace? Hell, make it happen.**

In such an event, what happens to Pak's nukes? 

**First thing we do is seize them.We do have assets in place to do just that.**

In such an event, what about Baluchistan and the other Whackostan's?  Do they become yet more areas for the AQ types to train and launch attacks?  Or in the current situation are there already a surplus of areas from which they can do that so it doesn't matter?

**#2**

Also, I gather Iran's Shia nuts are not enthused about the Sunni nuts in Afg-Pak.  Its why they helped us in 2001-2002 and were surprised to be branded part of the axis of evil.  Is there some use we can make of this?

**Exploiting the sunni-shia split is always something to be used.**


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2009, 06:33:29 AM »

OK, then how does that work in the context of our relationship with Iran? 
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G M
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2009, 08:56:39 AM »

Rather than a direct military confronttation with Iran, President Empty-suit should open up domestic drilling and push the Sunni gulf states to ramp up production to crater oil prices. In addition, he can fund train and equip dissident resistant groups. These pressures can potentially end the mullah's rule, or at the minimum cripple the Iranian state.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2009, 05:58:59 PM »

Well, looks like we're experiencing a bit of thread drift here (how rare cheesy)  The question about Iran was/is/should be in the context of Afg, and now we are looking at Iran in general.    I like your overall view, but in the context of the question presented here (getting Iranian cooperation with out efforts in Iran, it seems to suggest that this is not possible.  Yes?
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G M
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2009, 07:19:11 PM »

I reject the Stratfor "Iran as a rational actor we can work with" paradigm. They've been at war with us since 1979, it's well past time we return the favor.
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G M
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2009, 07:37:44 PM »

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-boot7-2009feb07,0,4669288.story

Opinion
Deja vu in Kabul
Naysayers call Afghanistan a hopeless quagmire. Isn't that what they said about Iraq?
By Max Boot
February 7, 2009

For years, opponents of the Iraq war claimed it was an unwinnable waste of resources that wasn't worth fighting anyway. The real war against terrorists, they argued, should be waged in Afghanistan. But now that Iraq has made heartening progress and we are finally sending more troops to Afghanistan, the critics are applying to Afghanistan the same arguments they once used in favor of partial or total withdrawal from Iraq.

Afghanistan, we are told, is a hopeless quagmire. A Newsweek cover story screams "Obama's Vietnam." Andrew J. Bacevich of Boston University writes, "Afghanistan will be a sinkhole, consuming resources neither the U.S. military nor the U.S. government can afford to waste."


Skeptics, including many in uniform, contend that we need to downsize our goals in Afghanistan. Establishing a functioning democracy, they say, is too ambitious in an underdeveloped Muslim country with little sense of nationhood. According to the Associated Press, a Joint Chiefs of Staff report advises "squeezing Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuaries inside neighboring Pakistan while deemphasizing longer-term goals for bolstering democracy."

But don't worry, the naysayers assert, we can still achieve our core objectives in Afghanistan. George Friedman, of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, opines in the New York Times that Afghanistan requires "intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence. Fighting terrorists requires identifying and destroying small, dispersed targets. We would need far fewer forces for such a mission than the number that are now deployed."

It is striking the extent to which the arguments now being made about Afghanistan were previously made -- and discredited -- in the case of Iraq. The only thing we haven't heard yet is a proposal to dismember Afghanistan into mini-states. But with Joe Biden in the White House, we can expect that brainstorm to pop up soon.

Is it quixotic to try to build democracy in Afghanistan? The same thing was said of Iraq. It is true that holding elections wasn't a magic elixir there. But once the security situation started to improve, Iraq's political process began to function and competing factions started to solve problems with handshakes rather than bombs.

The latest provincial elections delivered a strong showing for centrist, secular candidates -- a far cry from the sort of extremists (Hamas, for example) that are thought to be favored in Middle Eastern voting. In the long run, democracy in Iraq is likely to strengthen stability. That's just as well, because installing a "Saddam Lite" strongman was never a serious option. Most Iraqis would not have put up with it.

Nor would Afghans stand for a strongman "solution." In a 2007 poll conducted by the Asia Foundation, 85% agreed that "democracy may have its problems, but it is better than any other form of government." In Afghanistan, as in Iraq, there is no practical alternative to supporting the democratic process if we want to create a government with legitimacy, the sine qua non for defeating any insurgency.

What about the argument that we don't need more troops in Afghanistan? Can't a handful of special operations forces prevent a takeover by extremists? We tried that in Iraq. From 2003 to 2006, U.S. troops withdrew to large bases while the Joint Special Operations Command carried out strikes on targets such as Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab Zarqawi. That turned into a game of whack-a-mole. As top-level terrorists were going down, new ones were popping up and the war was being lost.

The war effort was turned around by an increase in U.S. and Iraqi troop numbers and by the decision to push U.S. troops into outposts in population centers. Ordinary Iraqis could rat out terrorists, secure in the knowledge that they would be protected from retaliation. Whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else, only counterinsurgents who live among the people can acquire the knowledge to identify insurgents.

The Bush administration lost sight of that basic truth because leaders from Donald Rumsfeld on down feared that increasing troop numbers would stoke resentment of foreign occupation. Similar concerns are expressed today about Afghanistan by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. He recently told Congress: "My worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of the problem, rather than ... the solution. And then we are lost."

But in Iraq, the "surge" was welcomed by a populace concerned above all by pervasive insecurity. The same thing is likely to happen in Afghanistan as U.S. troop numbers rise. In both nations, nothing feeds anti-Americanism more than concerns that U.S. troops aren't doing enough to impose law and order.

This is not meant to minimize the difficulties in Afghanistan or exaggerate the similarities with Iraq. Afghanistan is a larger and poorer country with more difficult terrain and fewer resources of its own. It also has more porous borders with a much larger problem of terrorist infiltration. And it is a much more difficult place to keep a large military force supplied. But we should not exaggerate the difficulties either. According to the Brookings Institution, civilian casualties in Afghanistan last year (1,445) were a fraction of the casualties in Iraq at the height of the fighting. Fom July 2006 to September 2007, at least 2,000 Iraqis were dying each month.

Keep in mind that until fairly recently, the conventional wisdom was that we had already won in Afghanistan and could never win in Iraq. Now we hear the reverse, but the new zeitgeist is no sounder than the old. We can win in Afghanistan, as we are now winning in Iraq.

The key is for policymakers to ignore the naysayers. They will get louder over time, because, just as in Iraq, a surge in the number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan will inevitably bring about a short-term spike in casualties. But if President Obama doesn't lose his nerve, the odds are that a classic counterinsurgency strategy, supported by adequate troop levels, can turn around another failing war effort.

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor to Opinion. He is the author, most recently, of "War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2009, 09:11:08 PM »

OK, it looks like this has become the defacto thread for discussing our strategy for Afg/afg-Pak.  cheesy

That was a very interesting piece GM. 

What do you make of the fact the Michael Yon is one of those who doubt what can be done?  No one can criticize his patriotism, his personal courage, his integrity, nor his prescience on the Surge in Iraq.  This is a man who carries great weight with me.  He is there on the ground with personal character and experience of a level possessed by very, very few other reporters informing his perspective.  Beholden only to we his backers, he speaks the Truth as best he sees it.
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G M
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« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2009, 09:31:07 PM »

I think you can respect and admire Yon while reasonably disagreeing with him. He has ground truth advantage, but sometimes one's perspective on the ground misses the larger picture. Then again, it's not like i'm working at a think tank or manning a desk in Langley.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2009, 11:43:12 AM »

The latest from Michael Yon.  Y'all may be interested to know that a couple of weeks ago his assistant here in the US has forwarded to MY some things from me.
=======================

How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?
  Next > 

10 February 2009

While we prepare to shunt perhaps 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (which still will not be enough), Russia continues to play the Asian chessboard.  The Russians are picking off pawn after pawn, and steadily eroding our foreign policy influence with them and other Central Asian countries.  The Russians know that we need a land route through their country to Afghanistan, especially as we begin the slow process of increasing our combat presence.  The Pakistan land route is one Achilles' heel to our Afghanistan effort, and Russia is working hard to make sure that Russia is the other Achilles' heel, which will strengthen the Russian position on matters such as missile defense.  Russia, at the present rate, will eventually exercise considerable control over the spigot to Afghanistan.  The Russians are successfully wrestling us into a policy arm-lock.  While Russia takes American money and gains influence over our Afghan efforts, we will continue to spend lives and tens of billions of dollars per year on Afghanistan in an attempt to civilize what amounts to Jurassic Park.

We must start asking Russia, and others, who the true losers will be if we abandon Afghanistan and leave a resurgent Taliban to lap at their doorsteps.  I am not advocating that we abandon Afghanistan, but our own population and allies might grow weary during the long journey unfolding before us.  The direct threat to us derives far more from al Qaeda than the Taliban, and we can keep punching down al Qaeda for a lot less than it's costing to prosecute the Afghan war while abdicating significant influence to Russia.  Russia has much to worry about if NATO countries begin to abandon Afghanistan.

Some recent and unfolding examples: Russia allows transit of US military supplies

Russia is not a country given to a humanitarian spirit, and they do not cooperate on matters such as the International Space Station only for the sake of space exploration and science.  Russia can only be trusted to behave in ways that enhance Russian power and wealth.

Beyond the fact that we will need to dedicate decades or even a century to Afghanistan, no country in the neighborhood will cooperate except when it directly affects their own interests.  They will attempt to squeeze every dollar and concession from us as we help secure their neighborhoods, all while the present drug-dealing Afghan government is bucking like a mule while our government is preparing to pin a significant amount of our combat power in a landlocked country.

The sum of many factors leaves me with a bad feeling about all this.  The Iraq war, even during the worst times, never seemed like such a bog.  Yet there is something about our commitment in Afghanistan that feels wrong, as if a bear trap is hidden under the sand.

If I had not witnessed firsthand what our military accomplished in Iraq, I might think our efforts in Afghanistan are destined to fail.  But we are plainly succeeding in Iraq with the long, dark days well behind us.  Our military is proving far more capable of fighting in Afghanistan than any military in history.  The Soviets got crushed by the Mujahidin, with U.S. help.  The Taliban and associates, however, get stacked up every fighting season, though our casualties also continue to increase.  If I did not believe we could achieve success in Afghanistan, I would likely not go back.

As we enter a new fighting season in Afghanistan this year, we need to know that the President has our backs.  Not just that he is behind us, but that he is covering our six and ready to politically and economically pounce on those who hamper our efforts.  We need to know that the President is fully engaged in this fight, that he is there to win and for the long haul, that he listens and takes close counsel from our senior military, and that he has faith that we can make this process work.  But eight years from now, this thing will not be over.

We must also understand that Afghanistan is what it is. The military is acutely aware that Afghanistan is not Iraq.  The success we are seeing in Iraq is unlikely to suddenly occur in Afghanistan.  If we are to deal with moderate elements of the AOGs (armed opposition groups) we must do so from a position of strength, and this means killing a lot of them this year, to encourage the surviving “reconcilables” to be more reconcilable.

Predicting the trajectory of a war is fraught with peril, like predicting next season’s hurricanes.  Anything can happen, and often what changes the course of a war has little or nothing to do with the war.  For instance, a failing global economy, or supervention of some chain of events perhaps still unimagined could cause the Af-Pak war to become less relevant.  Caveats behind us, it seems that 2009 will see the sharpest fighting so far.  That much has been clear for some time, and 2009 is now within our headlights.  We can already resolve from the fog much of what is likely coming this year.  Imagining what is beyond the headlights, my guess is that 2010 might bring the sharpest fighting of the entire war.  My guess is that 2010-11 will likely be crucial years in this process, and that many allies will be making decisions during those years whether to stick it out or to punch out.  By the fall of 2010, we should be able to resolve whether our renewed efforts under President Obama are working or failing.

The Great Game continues, but it’s no game for the people who are fighting it.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2009, 01:03:05 PM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/the-eagle-went-over-the-mountain.htm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2009, 01:30:25 AM »

The Pathetic Afghan Army
&
Will Obama Fumble Iraq?

11 March 2009

The disconnect between reporting and reality on Iraq was dramatic during 2005.  Media stories about the incompetence and hopelessness of the Iraqi army and police were like the soup of the day, every day.  Yet month by month, before my eyes, Iraqi security forces were improving.  Reporting this truth earned the label of “stooge,” because the soup of the day was Failure.  Millions of Americans and Europeans apparently wanted Iraqis to suffer because those same Americans and Europeans seemed to hate George Bush.

Today Iraq is succeeding, but as Generals Petraeus or Odierno might say, the situation remains fragile and reversible.

Whereas the Bush-war ended in a new if messy democracy, this year we could see an Obama-war begin; the new President has sent a clear signal that we intend to mostly abandon Iraq during this crucial transition period.  Today, the progress is obvious.  But if Iraq descends back into chaos, the Obama-war, a newborn war, will not be a result of U.S. aggression, but of limp leadership intent on fulfilling campaign promises that were misinformed to begin with.

Back in 2003, it was understandable that many people would detest what they believed was an illegal war – despite that Hussein refused to abide by U.N. resolutions – but it was telling to see that many people apparently wished cruelty upon the Iraqis out of malice for the United States or George Bush.  Those wishes were coming from cold, cruel hearts, pretending to care.  Among these people were the cruel souls who would later stand outside military hospitals, mocking young men and women who had suffered amputations and other grievous injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today there remain people who wish to precipitously disjoin from the growing success in Iraq, and who apparently ultimately wish to see Iraq fail out of sheer malice not toward Iraq, but toward certain politicians and governments.  If President Obama fumbles the evacuation of combat forces, they may get their wish.

But while millions of people wished to see Iraq fail, courageous Iraqi volunteers lined up to join the army and police.  They were frequently blown to pieces while they waited.  Nevertheless, the Iraqi army and police grew like bamboo.  Every day the body counts rose, satisfying the pernicious souls parading as peace lovers who seemed to relish the mounting losses.  I once reported that apparently more people had been killed on an annual basis under the wars and genocides of Saddam Hussein, than were dying in the current war.  This observation was made without narration or opinion, but it unleashed a special venom that strikes only at the ankles of inconvenient truths.   Should we have expected otherwise, after our government had behaved so arrogantly and deceptively?

Today the Iraqi army and police are on their feet and the government and economy are improving, though still in need of years of assistance, and at this time of mounting success, we are leaving.  The enemies seem to be biding their time.

Going into Iraq was a decision made by many.  Pulling out so quickly is a decision made by one man.

Yet the Afghanistan situation was nearly opposite.  Most westerners seem to want to see Afghanistan succeed, and they veritably chant about poverty and women’s rights, though few people actually are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to achieve dreamy visions.  Whatever the case, the public and the media gave a free pass to dozens of nations in Afghanistan, and today about 40 nations are directly involved.  Some of the military bases look like a carnival of uniforms, and the soldiers behave under a carnival of rules.  By the time you add in all the contractors, aid workers, “friendly” spies and deadly enemies, it’s likely that people from a hundred countries are inside Afghanistan at this moment.  Despite the broad representation, until recently we called it “The Forgotten War.”

Today we have an American President and Secretary of Defense who have essentially kicked, prodded and begged our allies to get more serious about Afghanistan, but mostly to no avail.  And so 17,000 more American troops are kissing their loved ones goodbye, many of them for the last time in their lives, and heading into Afghanistan.  Per capita combat deaths probably will be higher in Afghanistan this year than for any year in Iraq.  The situation is very serious for the relatively few soldiers fighting there.  Some are in combat every day and night.

The AfPak war began more than seven years ago.  It is fair to ask why are we sending more U.S. troops today.   After all, we’ve had plenty of time to build an army and police.  If drive-by journalists listen to some of the commanders on the ground, they might come back with reports that all is okay, and that the Afghan army is coming along nicely, and that certain writers are exaggerating.  I’ve had those same briefings from commanders.  Just as in 2004 Iraq, I believe that Americans and Europeans have been deceived by their governments.

I’ve asked many key officers why we are not using our Special Forces (specifically Green Berets) in a more robust fashion to train Afghan forces.  The stock answers coming from the Green Beret world – from ranking officers anyway – is that they are taking a serious role in training Afghan forces.  But the words are inconsistent with my observations.  The reality is that the Green Berets – the only outfit in the U.S. military who are so excellently suited to put the Afghan army into hyperdrive – are mostly operating with small groups of Afghans doing what appears to be Colorado mule deer hunts in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Special Forces A-teams are particularly well suited to train large numbers of people, but are not doing so.

Command will dispute my words, and privately have been doing so.  But they cannot point to a map of Afghanistan and show where they are training significant numbers of Afghans.  This information would not be secret or even confidential.  Our troops who are partnered up with Afghans are often not the right choice for that particular job.

Nevertheless, some officers are already privately disputing my claims about the Afghan Army, and so I present these words from the British government:

HOUSE OF COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
TAKEN BEFORE THE
FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

GLOBAL SECURITY: AFGHANISTAN
WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2009
PROFESSOR THEO FARRELL and COLONEL CHRISTOPHER LANGTON
PROFESSOR SHAUN GREGORY and SEAN LANGAN

….Q<28> <Sir John Stanley:> To clarify, I am asking you to set out, as best you can, how you think we can achieve an Afghanistan where the insurgency has ceased-ideally totally or to the greatest possible extent-and where there is a stable Government in place, who hopefully are democratically elected and respect basic human rights and in particular the rights of women.

<Professor Farrell:> That is a very challenging question. I will say two things on the centre of gravity-the key thing that will unlock success in the campaign. Currently, the centre of gravity is building the capacity of the Afghan security forces. There are 85 battalions in the Afghan national army. It is very small with only 68,000 troops. We must double that force size. More battalions must be able to operate independently. Of the 85 battalions, one can operate independently at battalion level and only 26 can operate with ISAF [international security assistance force] support at battalion level. We need to increase the training and capability. We must increase the Afghan air force, which is pathetically small.

The key to getting out of Afghanistan is to build the Afghan forces. British practice on that has been very good over the last year. They have increased the co-embedding of Afghan and British battalions. An Afghan battalion is partnered with every British battle group in the Helmand area of operations. However, more could be done. For example, the operational mentor and liaison teams are 40% under strength. We must put more resources into building the Afghan air force and national army. That will give us success.

<Colonel Langton:> I agree with that, but in order to do it the international forces must have a unified strategy, which they do not. They must have a unified command structure, which they do not.

This is not necessarily about NATO. NATO happens to be leading the international security assistance force, but it has been led by other bodies. NATO is not essential to this function. We could revert to Turkish command, which is how it all started. However, there must be more unity of strategy. I have heard Afghan Ministers complain that individual countries are delivering their individual strategies through their embassies. I have struggled to find another example of where that has happened.

This testimony, that only a single battalion out of 85 can operate independently, and only 26 can operate even with support, sharply diverges from what high commanders will tell journalists in Afghanistan.  Our Special Forces (Green Berets) in particular have taken only a passing role in the training.  Some can argue otherwise, but as we roll into 2009, we have been at war in Afghanistan for more than seven years.  More than 2,500 days.  How much is it costing us per day?  $100 million?  $200 million?  We have little to show for the lost limbs and lives.  According to the British testimony, only a single battalion can fight without a real army holding its hand.  The police are in far worse condition.

We are not busy teaching Afghans to fish; we are busy fishing for them, and they are slowly but surely getting tired of us.
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« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2009, 11:43:16 AM »


http://www.michaelyon-online.com:80/afghan-national-army.htm
Afghan Army
  Next > 

12 March 2009

There is dispute whether the testimony to the British House of Commons regarding the Afghan National Army is correct.

Part of that testimony was published on my site yesterday.

Colonel Bill Hix emailed to me from Afghanistan with an on-the-ground view.  It is important to note that Colonel Hix is a veteran of Iraq, with much experience in the tough parts of Afghanistan.  I was out with his soldiers in late 2008.  Colonel Hix is highly respected among combat soldiers who don't hand out respect easily.  His views on Afghanistan are highly-informed, cautious and realistic, but definitely more optimistic than are mine.  I greatly respect his highly informed opinion and so it's important to make sure Colonel Hix's counterpoints get wide distribution.  Please link to this dispatch.  (Note to journalists seeking truth on Afghanistan: Colonel Hix is at KAF and is an important source regarding conditions in southern Afghanistan.)

This from Colonel Bill Hix regarding the testimony:

The assertions on ANA unit independence are incorrect.  As well, the ANA is larger than stated in the article, but was only recently authorized by the Bonn Accord constituted Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board to grow beyond 80,000 to 122,000 in structure and 134,000 in end strength.  Even with that increase, neither the ANA nor the ANP are adequate in size, fully equipped, or have enough advisor teams.  However, while far from perfect, they fight, are capable and can operate effectively. 

Some examples from those ANA and ANP forces in the south of Afghanistan:

-75% of the brigade headquarters and 50% of the infantry battalions in the south of Afghanistan are capable of independent action within their organic capabilities.  The combat support and service support battalions are lagging for a variety of reasons, including an absence of branch schools [much of their training comes from the advisor teams embedded with them, on the job training, and mobile training and regional training teams] and the propensity of commanders to use them as infantry due in part to over tasking and inadequate numbers mentioned above.

-In November 2008, the brigade in Zabul province mounted an independent, multi-battalion operation into an enemy sanctuary with almost no Coalition support.  What little support they did receive was limited to one day of ISR support, occasional attack helicopter support, and an EOD team to reduce IEDs found by Afghan engineers [ANA EOD capabilities are still in development] who successfully cleared a two day route of march of without injury or loss of equipment. 

-In October 2008, the Afghans planned and executed the relief of Lashkar Gah [capital of Helmand province -- under the UK Task Force], deploying over 2300 Army and Police into the city and surrounding area from as far as Kabul in less than 2 days, launching operations within 2 days of those forces closing, and sustaining those operations for nearly two weeks.  The operation was planned by the ANA brigade commander and jointly executed by the ANA and ANP under the direction of the ANA brigade commander and in partnership with the ANP provincial Chief of Police.  Except for advisor teams, coalition support and participation was generally limited to ISR and fire support.  This operation was undertaken in response to a threat Afghans government, Army and Police leaders had been highlighting to the Coalition, to little avail, over the preceding two months.  Afghan concerns at one point were dismissed as ‘chasing ghosts.’ To their credit, 3 Commando Brigade, having only recently assumed the TF Helmand mission, focused on enabling this operation which contributed to its success.

-With the exception of one very tough district, every district where the Police have undergone the Focused District Development reform program has seen dramatic drops in civilian casualties and significant drops in police casualties.  Moreover, despite our constant recriminations and obvious shortcomings, including continued corruption, the police poll very highly with the Afghan people and they do fight to protect their people, suffering 3 times the casualties seen by either the ANA or ISAF.

-ANA and ANP units routinely conduct joint cordon and search operations around Kandahar City independent of support from the Coalition.

-Similarly, ANA companies in remote district outposts with their advisers do conduct operations daily.  For example, a series of night ambush operations killed a number of Taliban leaders who threatened locals with death if they came to the local market, and broke the intimidation of the population and restored security and local commerce in the area.

None of this to suggest they are perfect, but they are far better and capable than most of our Coalition partners will admit or allow.

Not sure what you meant by AOG, but if you mean Afghan Opposition Groups, the AOGs suffer significant casualties when fighting the Coalition and, absent IED attacks, most often when fighting the ANSF, especially the ANA.

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« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2009, 12:49:30 PM »

27 March 2009

President Obama has just spoken on AfPak.  I closed my eyes and listened closely to his words, coming via the BBC from the other side of the world.

The President's words were disappointing.  He talked about our goal to reach a force level of 134,000 Afghan soldiers and 82,000 police by 2011.  This is not even in the neighborhood of being enough.  Further, the increase of 21,000 U.S. troops is likely just a bucket of water on the growing bonfire.  One can only expect that sometime in 2010, the President will again be forced to announce another increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

If there were not people like Gates and Petraeus up there, my gut would say to pull out.  It is only my faith in the military, and what I saw them accomplish against heavy odds in Iraq, that gives me hope.

Others would disagree with me.  A well placed and very experienced British officer just emailed me his impressions, to whit:

“An impressive statement of intent – I particularly liked the bits about bearing down on Afghan corruption and corruption in how USAID money is spent.  The speech inspires confidence and, as he is not Bush, it could encourage others to come to the party in a more meaningful way.

I don’t mean any offence about Bush as I for one see history judging him more favorably than contemporary commentators it’s just that the Europeans might follow Obama in a way that they never would Bush.”

And so my views clearly are not held by everyone.  Most British and American officers – especially American – have been far more positive about Afghanistan than I have been.  My confidence in them is great, and before publishing this I called London to talk about this.  Clearly there is more confidence coming from the British Army than meets the public eye.

Michael
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« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2009, 10:50:39 PM »

Next > 

25 April 2009
Brunei, Borneo Island

This quick email from Borneo is an update about the combat tracking course conducted by the British military.

Tracking is a lost art in the British and U.S. militaries.  Even among the most highly trained forces, you’ll seldom come across anyone who can honestly track a man or interpret signs.  Many times in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve seen combat forces come up on signs of the enemy – and our folks do set to work analyzing ever smidgen they can find – but only in a single case did I see soldiers who started tracking on a very subtle trail that was less than obvious.  Not surprisingly, those soldiers were “good old boys” from the 278th Tennessee National Guard.  Where those soldiers learned tracking I do not know.  Presumably they got it from growing up in the boondocks, and they probably got it from their granddaddies.  We didn’t get any enemies that day, but the 278th soldiers definitely were able get on what I thought was the right trail, and they tracked quite a distance (after a bomb exploded).  They weren’t playing around.  More recently, I was with American some soldiers in Afghanistan and there was a very minor shootout wherein nobody got hurt.  At least two Taliban were seen going over a hill after the bullets were swapped.  Our boys closed the gap as fast as they could and tried to get them, but we never picked up their trail and the enemy escaped.  I believe that the British and Gurkha trackers I am seeing in this school in Borneo might well have picked up that trail, and nailed the Taliban that day.

The tracking school only started on Monday, and we just finished Saturday’s training which began with classroom work and ended with about five hours of tracking in the jungle.  We started with 21 students but are down to 17 after something between the Netherlands and Brunei governments caused four Dutch students to drop out today.  The Dutch soldiers are upset.  The Brits also are upset because the Dutch were good tracking students, and also the Dutch have Afghan combat experience under their belts, as do most of the British.  And so it’s good to hear about their experiences, and how tracking might apply back in Afghanistan, because most of these Soldiers and Marines are heading back over.  All seven instructors are combat veterans from some place or another.  Some of the students have three combat tours behind them, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan.  None of these Marines and Soldiers had any experience in tracking, yet after having started only on Monday, by late this afternoon in that steaming jungle, they were successfully tracking Gurkhas.  (The Gurkhas had gone before us to leave track.)  I can say with absolute certainty that very few British or American soldiers would have been able to follow those tracks.  Maybe some of those soldiers from the 278th Tennessee National Guard could have pulled it off, but I doubt that 99% of the others could have even found the first subtle signs.

Toward the end of the day, my section of five soldiers lost the Gurkha tracks, and so the soldiers “probed” and “casted” to regain the trail, but we just lost it fair and square.  We didn’t get them this time.

The jungle was losing light, so we started to head out of the jungle to catch some trucks back to base.  There were a few interesting “jungle things” to photograph, and so while the five British students and an instructor headed out, I stayed back with an instructor named Taff Jones, a British Marine, to get the last photos.

There was no trail in or out, and we honestly didn’t know which way the others had gone because we had hardly paid attention.  (Though we knew the exact azimuth to get out, so we knew where their signs should be).  Instead of going on compass, the Taff picked up their trail, which was difficult to see, and we walked at a brisk pace.  Taff seldom even stopped, but would just point out sign as we bounded through.  Taff would say things like, “See that transfer?”  “Flattening here.”  “Look at that beautiful print.”  A few signs were obvious, but mostly they were subtle.  Again, I think 99% of the American or British soldiers would have almost zero chance of following that trail.  At one point I thought Taff lost the trail, because he just stopped and started looking around.  Then he said something like, “They stopped here and turned around.”  In fact they had zigzagged a lot, and later told us they did turn around there.  We found the others waiting for us.  If they had been the Taliban, we could have nailed them.  Or we could have radioed and had them cutoff or ambushed.

All the combat veterans in the course are of the same opinion.  We can put a lot more whipping on al Qaeda and other enemies in Afghanistan if more of our people learn how to track.  Nobody has to be Tonto to do this.  You just need good instructors, good eyes, and the willingness to practice.  This training is cheap.  No ammo, no airplanes, no high tech, and just about anyone can get a lot better very quickly.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll try to email each day about the progress.

Your Writer,

Michael

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« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2009, 01:37:17 PM »

From Borneo

13 May 2009

The command shakeup in Afghanistan has many people talking.  I've been with the British Army.  British officers have many questions about the change.  I have no special knowledge of the situation other than a couple of hunches based on recent experiences. I can say that of my concerns about AfPak, U.S. military leadership is at the very bottom of the list.  Our leadership is strong and experienced.  In broad strokes, I'm simply not concerned.  I am greatly concerned about AfPak, though.  The situation continues to rot.

Please see read: Gates, Petraeus, McKiernan, McChrystal and Rodriguez
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« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2009, 08:14:49 AM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
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« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2009, 01:45:21 AM »

MY is back in Afghanistan, reporting as only he can:

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
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« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2009, 03:01:06 AM »



http://www.michaelyon-online.com/girl-with-no-future.htm
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« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2009, 08:09:02 AM »

Greetings,

After 18 days with Lithuanians in Ghor Province, have made it back to Kabul.  We are very short on aircraft in Afghanistan; I was delayed by about a week just waiting for airplanes that never came.  Some U.S. soldiers in Ghor told me that a child who was badly wounded in one of our air strikes had to wait three days for a medevac aircraft.  Apparently the child's leg was badly mangled.

The Afghan war has become more deadly -- on a per capita basis -- than Iraq ever was.  This was predictable a long time ago and is presented in my dispatches starting in 2006.  We are losing the war.  At this rate we will lose the war.

A friend at Soldiers' Angels started a Twitter page and I have started with real time uploads.  Don't be surprised if I start Twittering during a boring Shura or an unfortunate firefight where I am pinned down and have nothing to do.  The Twitter page is Michael_Yon (not Michael Yon).  Please follow that for immediate news.

The latest photo dispatch is up.  Lots of pretty pictures.

--
Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon
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« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2009, 08:34:07 AM »

Greetings,

Am back in the thick of it.  The area of Sangin, in Helmand Province, is very dangerous.  British officers say there are more IEDs here than anywhere else in Afghanistan.  Many casualties from this immediate vicinity.  One soldier that I talked with today got knocked down two days ago by an IED.  I have to shout while talking with him.  He can hardly hear a thing.  He's been blasted four times: twice in Iraq, and that was his second time here.  Will be walking back into combat with him.

Am with an excellent British unit that I was with in Basra, Iraq.  Anticipate immediate combat.  Resupply helicopter was shot down here in last week or so, just near the perimeter.  Soldiers here saw the helicopter crash and burn, killing all aboard.  My helicopter flight made it in with no problems, but this remains a potentially hot LZ.

Meanwhile, please see the final photo-dispatch from Ghor Province.

Your support is crucial.

--
Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon
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« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2009, 09:28:52 AM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

Michael's Dispatches
SatComms for Soldiers
  25 July 2009
Sangin, Afghanistan

Have been out with British forces in the area of Sangin in northern Helmand Province.  This area appears to be turning into the main effort of the current fight in Afghanistan, but this is unclear to me at the moment.  I do know that air assets are heavy.  During our mission yesterday, a B-1 could be seen overhead, though it was miles high.  On the ground, this place is loaded with IEDs and there were many firefights during yesterday’s mission.   My section of eight soldiers did not fire a single round; we did not come into direct contact, though bullets sometimes zipped overhead.  Nearly all missions are conducted on foot and the soldiers like it that way.  I am with the British battalion called 2 Rifles.  The last mission I did with 2 Rifles was in Iraq, and they killed maybe 26-27 JAM members during that fight.  Yesterday they only killed two Taliban (Predator actually made the shot), but the mission was well run, and morale here is very high.  Everybody is ready to roll again and missions are near continuous.  I’ll ask British commanders to let me stay, though that might not be necessary because there are so few helicopters.  More likely I am stuck here.  FOB Jackson is probably going to be my Hotel California, but that’s all good because these are great soldiers, in the thick of it, and I want to stay.

More broadly speaking, our forces are spread to the high winds across desolate stretches of Afghanistan, sometimes in tiny “bases” with as few as a half-dozen soldiers.  Last December, I spent some time with a group of such soldiers in Zabul Province, but hardly wrote a word about them, yet. They were deep in wild country and it took two days for us to drive out to a paved road.  Those soldiers had no access to Internet, and said that on one occasion they didn’t even get mail for three months.

Until December, I used a satellite antenna called a “Regional BGAN” (R-BGAN) HNS-9101 to transmit dispatches from remote areas.  These small, portable systems are expensive; during a fifteen-day period last year, I spent almost exactly $5,000.  (Prices based on bandwidth usage.)

During late 2008, when I saw the group of a half-dozen American soldiers, out there in the boondocks, two days from a road and once going three months without mail, I told Mrs. Frankie Mayo, who runs Operation AC.  Frankie and Operation AC had sent loads of gear to Iraq, including air conditioners and generators.  When I told Frankie about the isolated soldiers, she got to work with Hughes to send R-BGANs to Afghanistan.

Lucky for me, with the old R-BGAN no longer usable, Hughes, through Frankie, shipped a newer model, the Hughes 9201 BGAN Inmarsat Terminal.  Many of this year’s dispatches will come through the 9201.

Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan.  The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent.  Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still.  Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.

Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent.  Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly.  To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.

http://www.operationac.com/index.html

 
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« Reply #35 on: August 05, 2009, 12:41:26 PM »



Another great report from MY

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/common-scenes-common-thoughts.htm
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« Reply #36 on: August 21, 2009, 04:52:14 PM »

Moving account of the effort that went into treating a wounded British soldier. Think the fact that the US had resources the UK lacked speaks to other topics under discussion. The story is extensively formatted and can be found here:

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/do-americans-care-about-british-soldiers.htm
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« Reply #37 on: September 06, 2009, 09:26:03 AM »

I've missed posting here several reports from MY.  Here is today's report:

Helmand, Afghanistan - The West is losing this war. This has been obvious for more than three years. Less obvious is that in 2009, we are down to the wire. Gen. Stanley McChrystal and others will soon recommend to President Obama the latest treatment for a dying patient.

Meanwhile, allies and Americans are asking themselves why we are here. Some are saying that Al Qaeda is still here or is waiting in the wings to return to its home. Yet Afghanistan was never Al Qaeda's permanent home to begin with. Al Qaeda was just renting a little space here, just as it was renting space in places like Germany and Florida.

We must face reality: Our reasons for continuing are not the reasons we came for. We are fighting a different war now than the one that began in 2001. Today's war is about social re-engineering. Given the horrible history of Afghanistan, and the fact that we already are here, the cause is worthy and worthwhile.

The decisions facing us are perilous and immense. On the one hand, we desperately need more troops, while on the other increasing troop levels introduces a host of costs and potential traps.

Yet it seems certain the war will be lost if we do not significantly increase troops. While our enemies grow stronger, years will pass before Afghan forces can replace us. Enemies are gaining ground while we lose the goodwill of the people through disillusionment. In the mostly peaceful Ghor Province, for instance, development is scant and there are no Afghan soldiers.

I just spent more than a month with British combat forces in Helmand. Instead of concentrating on training and operating with Afghan forces, the British are involved in a daily struggle for tiny pieces of real estate.

Last December, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told me in a private discussion while flying back to the U.S. from Afghanistan, Bahrain and Iraq, that his greatest concern is that we will lose the goodwill of the Afghan people. Gates is correct and my confidence in his judgment is high. Gates knows that our stock is still okay here, but clearly it is losing value.

The strongest indicator of progress will come in the form of cooperation from the people. In Iraq, especially in about mid-2007, I witnessed a tidal shift in cooperation from the civilians and largely from that was able to report that the surge was working, long before the statistics would support what might have appeared to be a wild claim.

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 reengineer 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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« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2009, 06:55:17 AM »



http://www.michaelyon-online.com/bullshit-bob.htm
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« Reply #39 on: September 30, 2009, 08:23:12 AM »

Pedro Inspired the Vikings
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 22:23 Camilla Fuhr Nilsson  Next > 

Note: I asked Danish journalist Camilla Fuhr Nilsson to write a couple of stories about the Air Force Pedros.  After publication of her first installment, she emailed from Afghanistan, surprised to have gotten “thank you” notes from readers.  As a journalist, Camilla had never gotten “thank yous” before.  In the about five years I have covered the wars, it is safe to say that British and American service members, their families and others, have thanked me 100% of the time, for each of hundreds of dispatches.  That would be tens of thousands of thank yous…maybe more.  If not for those thank yous, I would have quit after just a few months in combat.  The power of a sincere “thank you” can never be measured.  And now Camilla’s second story:

By Camilla Fuhr Nilsson
Published: 30 September 2009

“These things we do that others may live” is the current motto of the US Air Force combat search and rescue team, or Pedro as they are called when deployed to Afghanistan. They fly into the battlefield with their smooth Pave Hawk helicopters and evacuate the wounded infantry soldiers and Marines. On a recent evacuation of two Danish soldiers in the middle of a battle with the Taliban, the Viking ancestors made a memorable difference to the 129th American Air Force Pedros crew.

It was a hot day in June even though it was still early in the morning. The traditionally dry heat of the southern Afghan desert, combined with the humidity of the green vegetation known as the Green Zone around the Helmand River, made the Danish infantry soldiers from the Danish Royal Husars drip with sweat as they patrolled in the green fields with heavy equipment and body amour. The squad, also known as Charlie Coy, soon got engaged in a heavy battle with Taliban fighters. Two Danish soldiers were shot by the Taliban and the medic called for evacuation—the so-called medevac. The American Pedro team 129th responded to the call.

Callsign Norsemen

Major Mat Wenthe, the detachment commander of the team, recalls the 25th of June rescue:

“The weather was fine that morning, so we only had to worry about the battle when we landed. The Danes were on the ground when we arrived. The B1 bomber was on station in the air already and the Norseman call sign on the ground and in the forward operating base nearby. There were two different call signs. One was talking about the TIC—troops in contact—and another was talking to us. On one side there was a TIC and the soldiers were receiving fire. So we knew what we had to deal with.”

The ongoing battle between the Danes and the Taliban meant that the Major and his team had to land in what they call the hot LZ. That means the landing zone is still a battle zone and there is a huge risk they’ll be caught up in the middle of bullets and mortar bombs flying through the air. Approximately twenty percent of the rescues are in a hot landing zone and the rest of the missions are fairly routine.

“There was enemy contact still going on. When we arrive to a pick up zone, we usually ask where the enemy is and what and where the casualties are. That way we’ll have an up-to-date assessment of the situation. And we knew we would be landing in a TIC,” Major Wenthe explains.

Alpha Bravo Charlie rescues

The three different categories of casualty assessment are Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. The call from the Danish medics was an alpha which means the wounded are in a critical condition and require urgent rescue. So even though the Danish soldiers were in the Charlie Coy squad, their casualties were Alpha.

Because of the situation on the ground, the Pedro 36 crew on one of the helicopters asked for smoke from the soldiers on the ground.

“The Norsemen secured the LZ. We were able to move in and pick them up. There were two casualties—one soldier was hit in the shoulder and one in the leg. The guy with the gunshot in the leg walked to the helicopter by himself which we thought was pretty amazing actually. We were all pretty impressed,” Mat Wenthe laughs, recalling the situation.

The other crew members from that flight nods--recognizing the event. They remember the Danish Viking, who made his way to the helicopter by himself.

“Dude that was wild”, says Tommy, a PJ—a pararescue jumper.

“Seriously I don’t know why the Danes are better at it than the other countries, but they are better in the way they call in the rescue, the way they speak out there, calm and everything.” He shakes his head, almost in disbelief.

The crew wanted to limit time on the ground and was off in 30 seconds.

“We try to get out fast to be safe. The PJs jump out and grab the patients, and we are on our way,” Mat says.  “As we were leaving the area, the Danish Platoon Commander—I think he was—on the ground said to us: ‘Thank you Pedro, take good care of my men.’ They didn’t think we were gonna get them because it was a hot landing zone.”

Worst case scenario training

The Pedro crew is originally trained to pick up US Air Force pilots who are being shot down. They train for worst case scenario and how to evacuate a landing zone in the middle of firefights.

“It’s definitely a morale boost to the people on the ground, that we’ll land in any kind of situation and any weather. We are the only air force that guarantees we’ll try. So on the ground, that makes the pilots know that we’ll be there, and we apply that to the medevacs we do here. The troops on the ground know we’ll help them engage from the chopper if needed,” Mat Wenthe says.

On the 25th of June the team took the two soldiers to the hospital in Camp Bastion—the large base in the middle of the desert. The day after the rescue, the Pedros received a letter from the Danish platoon.

“The letter came thanking us for what we did. Normally it’s about the injured when we receive a thank you, but this letter proved that we can make a difference on the ground too. It made an impact on us, that he wrote that we had made a difference after we left the battlefield, because that’s not our primary goal.”

The letter stated that the Pedro crew had bravely inspired the men, because they landed under difficult circumstances in the middle of a firefight between the Danes and the Taliban. A bravery that made the Danish soldiers motivated and strong enough to win the fight.

“It was awesome to see that what we do inspired other people on the ground. And the fact that it was the Danes, you know the Vikings, huge, tall, and blonde, that’s pretty bad ass. We’ve been hearing what they do out there, and to receive that letter from the Vikings was good,” says Mat Wenthe, and looks like he met the original Vikings on the 25th.

Viking reputation still stands

The American crew still recalls all the events surrounding the rescue because the soldiers were Danish, and because they had heard the reputation the Danish men had on the battlefield, both historically and in Helmand.

“They are pretty laid-back when they are out there. So we always picture them as huge and blonde and badass wearing helmets with horns,” Major Wenthe says with a smile.

Some of the contents of the thank-you letter the American crew received has now been translated into Latin. They plan to make a badge with the inscription “Fortis incito”—“to inspire bravery”—when they return to the States. But from this tour they’ll always remember the Norsemen they rescued on June 25th.

The present Pedro team—129th—arrived to Camp Bastion on June 5th and has since had 400 rescue missions and helped save 215 allied soldiers’ lives. Their task is to evacuate soldiers to the field hospitals in the south of Afghanistan in under an hour in all kinds of weather.

The two wounded Danish soldiers are both doing well. The soldier that was shot in the leg was quickly back on the job. The other soldier—the one with a severe gunshot in the left upper arm—has lost a piece of the triceps muscle, hence his strength is not as strong as before the injury.

Both the Danish Norsemen team seven and the American 129th Pedro crew have now redeployed to their respective countries. The callsigns has been changed to avoid endangering the lives of the Danish soldiers.
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Freki
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« Reply #40 on: October 04, 2009, 10:49:43 AM »

Hi,

I thought this PJTV Video: "Michael Yon's Afghanistan Report Card: "We're on the brink..."" was interesting and hope you do too.  Recaps a lot of what Crafty has posted from him but interesting none the less.

http://www.pjtv.com/v/2512
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #41 on: October 04, 2009, 07:47:19 PM »

Although it was probably there for me to see before, for some reason this time around I got a clearer sense of him directly criticizing Bush for letting things get so far behind.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #42 on: December 20, 2009, 08:45:36 AM »

Michael now does much of his reporting via Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/MichaelYonFanPage
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #43 on: December 22, 2009, 10:43:40 AM »

Have you checked out today's reports yet?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #44 on: December 31, 2009, 12:48:28 PM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/into-thine-hand-i-commit-my-spirit.htm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #45 on: January 05, 2010, 10:45:55 PM »

 Michael Yon Arrested at Seattle Airport

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http://netrightnation.com/index.php?...-blog&Itemid=7

This seems to have happened about an hour ago. Apparently, Michael Yon was arrested at the Seattle Airport after refusing to tell airport security how much money he earns! This seems like a resonable reason to detain someone...

On Michael Yon's Facebook Fan Page, the following updates were posted:

Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not "arrested", but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eve...ntually came -- they were professionals -- and rescued me from the border bullies. (About an hour ago)

And then this update shortly after:

When they handcuffed me, I said that no country has ever treated me so badly. Not China. Not Vietnam. Not Afghanistan. Definitely not Singapore or India or Nepal or Germany, not Brunei, not Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Kuwait or Qatar or United Arab Emirates. No county has treated me with the disrespect can that can be expected from our border bullies. (About an hour ago)

So apparently when one refuses to answer questions about their salary, they have placed the nation's security in jeopardy. This seems to be a gross overreaction from security. Yon is clearly not a security threat.
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G M
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« Reply #46 on: January 06, 2010, 07:33:32 AM »

If I recall correctly, CPB officers can detain a border crosser up to 72 hrs. without probable cause/warrant.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2010, 07:29:17 PM »

No knowledge of the credibility of this site, so caveat lector:
http://federaleagent86.blogspot.com/


Michael Yon Is A 4th Estate Prima Donna
Michael Yon, veteran of the Iraq War and one of the media based bloggers who got his start reporting on the Iraq War from the frontlines has attacked Customs and Border Protection. http://www.michaelyon-online.com/ Very good origional reporting, but his recent Facebook attack on CBP is filled with lies.

Many otherwise good blogs have been commenting on this, but most have gotten it wrong: Michelle Malkin:

http://michellemalkin.com/2010/01/05/airline-security-idiocy-of-the-day-milblogger-michael-yon-handcuffed-joan-rivers-blocked/


Weasel Zippers: http://www.weaselzippers.net/blog/2010/01/war-correspondent-michael-yon-joan-make-me-look-like-a-cat-rivers-tsa-threatsjihadis-with-underwear-.html


Gateway Pundit: http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/01/milblogger-michael-yon-arrested-at-seattle-airport/


Hot Air: http://hotair.com/archives/2010/01/05/breaking-michael-yon-arrested-at-seattle-airport/


They all accused the Transporation Security Administration (TSA) of questioning, then arresting Yon.

Well, when you are a conservative, it is important to get your facts straight. They just jumped to conclusions, airport + arrest + Michael Yon = TSA

Well, you guys got it wrong. Yon was detained, he was handcuffed, he was questioned, but it was not TSA, it was Customs and Border Protection. A note to conservative bloggers, TSA Transporation Security Officers, the screeners at the airport, do not have authority or authorization to handcuff you or ask questions about your income. They are not even issued handcuffs and can't carry their own.

You see Yon was arriving in the U.S. at SEATAC (Seattle/Tacoma) Airport. He was arriving from a foreign country, some information says it was Hong Kong. He obviously went through customs and immigration inspection. In the customs part, he decided he would not answer the perfectly legal questions that a Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBPO) asked him. One of the questions that CBPOs sometimes ask is how much money do you make. This is part of the profile of drug smugglers. It is a telling question, since most poor people do not or should not travel internationally. Alot do, but they are using your tax dollars from welfare payments, thank you very much, to travel, but still the same, it is a telling question. Alot of poor people who travel are drug smugglers, and although not the usual suspect, Yon fits a profile for drug smugglers, at least in part. He travels frequently to drug source countries, like Afghanistan and Thailand.

Here is his story from his Facebook profile:

"Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not "arrested", but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eve...ntually came -- they were professionals -- and rescued me from the border bullies." (http://www.facebook.com/)

Well, Michael Yon, even though he is now a member of the Fourth Estate, must learn that CBP does not just ask questions related to national security. And when you refuse to answer questions from a CBPO you will get delayed. It is a common tactic by illegal aliens and drug smugglers to challenge the CBPO and act aggressively, basically play the civil rights activist in order to intimidate and deflect the questioning by the CBPO.

But in such cases, that usually just resorts in a detailed inspection of your person and luggage, not usually getting handcuffed. You have to do quite alot to get handcuffed by CBP. Bascially Yon was being a prima donna, being a member of the Fourth Estate has probably gone to his head, and thought he was above inspection by officers of the United States at a Port-of-Entry.

Interstingly enough, there is also an immigration angle to this. Yon has been stopped before. He travels to the U.S. frequently with his Thai girlfriend or friend, who is not a legal permanent resident, but a visitor visa holder. Now it is quite unusual for an unmarried young Thai woman to get a visitors visa, much less when they have an American "boyfriend" who lives in the U.S. http://www.theaviationnation.com/2009/01/05/michael-yon-on-misguided-airport-security/


Why you ask, because most Thai young women who previously got visitors visas came to the U.S. and never left.

The money quote: "Our Homeland Security was focusing on a 40-year-old Thai bank officer while there are real bad guys out there. Thailand and the United States have had good relations for 175 years, and Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that is proud to say they are friends of the United States."

Well, Michael, CBP has duties other than asking national security questions. While DHS and its components, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) like to brag about how much their mission is about national security and terrorism, that is not quite true.

First the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the agency charged by law, with protecting our national security, legislatively charged with fighting terrorism and espionage. That is not true of DHS and its components. Their primary responsibility is the day-to-day enforcement of our customs and immigration laws. Not to denigrate that, but that is their primary responsibility. Now proper and vigorous enforcement of those laws will impact on national security, but their primary responsibility is enforcing certain laws and those are the immigration laws and customs laws of the U.S. Check them out, they are in Title 8 of the United States Code, Title 19 of the United States Code, and sometimes Title 21 of the United States Code, and in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration in the case of Title 21, obviously. (Wink, wink, to those who are in the know.)

It seems that we have a meme here with Yon. Apparently he will answer no questions that are not related to national security. Well, Michael, get with the program. As someone who has been in the Army, you should know about rules, laws and regulations. You followed them in the Army, why not know? Why are you giving cover to Islamists who will follow your policy of intimidation of CBP Officers in an attempt to bully their way past inspection of themselves and their possessions?

Also, Yon claims that he was rescued by the SEATAC Police Officers. Well, CBP is a federal agency and does not answer to a local police department. This just exposes you as the arrogant bully that you want to be. Perhaps SEATAC PD informed CBP that they had caught a journalist, then they let him go. You were detained, not arrested, just see the Supreme Court decision Terry v. Ohio to learn the difference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_v._Ohio
You were also searched with the wide authority that the Supreme Court has acknowledge exists for border searches. See also United States v. Montoya de Hernandez. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception#cite_note-0

Basically Michael Yon thinks that customs and immigration laws don't apply to him or his friends. Alot of people think that, but they are in jail, or President of the United States (just where is that birth certificate?).
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G M
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« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2010, 07:41:28 PM »

He knows his fedspeak.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #49 on: January 08, 2010, 01:06:46 AM »

"He knows his fedspeak."

But he doesn't know the facts of this case ('basically this' and 'probably that'), nor do we. 

As a reporter/journalist Yon should not have missed the part where he was handed over from TSA to Customs and Immigration - if in fact he was.

Quoting: "Basically Michael Yon thinks that customs and immigration laws don't apply to him or his friends"

That was a reckless statement.  Nothing brought up indicates Yon or his companion broke a law, only reasons why they each might have raised suspicion.
 
Just because that question has worked for them to guage the reaction of a shady people does not mean that federal law compels him to answer it to a federal agent (Customs, Immgration or Census) or to even know the answer except for at IRS filing time. 

One reason you can not be logically compelled to answer is that self employed people often have no idea how much money they make.  It depends on when you ask and what time frame you are referring to.  Income is a calculation revenues minus expenses.  I'm guessing he doesn't know any one of those three numbers with any accuracy so how can he be compelled to answer in a situation where a wrong answer might be a crime.  Balancing that, they may have every right to delay his entry or even deny his entry for cause. 

Real businesses keep at least two or three sets of books.  One for tax purposes and state and federal could be different.  If he knew all of the revenue, expense and income numbers, he would still have to know all details of which of his expenses are deductible in which situations in order to answer the question from a tax records point of view, which is the measure that DHS presumably would verify if they are serious.  One set of business books for public accounting reports if they are subject to those regulations or for reporting back to his partners or backers, and a different set for operational management which may be more cash flow based in the short term along with longer term goals for solvency,  profitability or growth, whatever the objectives are. I would assume Michael Yon had little idea of how to answer the question if he wanted to.

My take though from his writing is that he simply didn't like his privacy invaded when he knows he has done nothing wrong.
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I turned in a trespasser on a property recently.  The sheriff deputy  had him frisked and handcuffed very quickly on very little information, ultimately releasing him without pressing charges.  I suppose the handcuffs help secure the situation and also served to intimidate a bit as the officers sorted out the facts.

Under Habeas Corpus I think they have 3 days to charge or release you. I assume this was more like minutes, though apparently uncalled for.  Yon was 'arrested' only in the sense of losing his liberties for that period, but not charged with anything or denied entry.

The fedspeak guy probably had it partly right - Yon's travel location history just looked fishy to them and that's all they knew.
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