Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dispatches From Michael Yon

Michael Yon is one of our best military correspondents, and I have several of his dispatches to share with you. During my so-called hiatus, Michael sure did pick up his pen. I'll share the e-mails with you as well. From here on, it is all Michael.


The Afghanistan-Pakistan war increases in complexity with each passing year. Fighting will likely be more intense this year -- probably kicking off in earnest at around April or so -- than ever before. It's dangerous to try to predict the course of a war, though my guess is that 2010 will see even greater fighting than 2009. By Fall of 2010, we likely will know if our new President has gotten hold of this tiger.

Please click for the latest dispatch. How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?

The good news is that Iraq just keeps doing better and better. Truly an amazing turnaround.


This information can save your life. (The Eagle Went over the Mountain.) The enemy already knows the tactics they are using, but likely not all NATO/ISAF forces are aware.

Any enemy that repeatedly attacks U.S. Marines deserves at least grudging respect. The Marines respect this enemy, and that's saying a lot. Too bad the Marines have to kill so many of these guys; many would probably make good police or soldiers if they were not in cahoots with the enemy.

21 February 2009.

About 10 years ago, I read a PhD. dissertation by Army psychologist Major Jeffrey Stolrow. The selection and training of special operations soldiers is difficult and expensive. Probably at no time do we have enough special operations forces in uniform, and Dr. Stolrow's study was part of an effort to more efficiently identify recruits with a high probability to complete selection courses. Ideally, 100% of those who pass screening would become special operations soldiers, but the failure rates continue to remain high. I recall Dr. Stolrow explaining over the phone that there seemed to chemical markers in the blood that could indicate higher potential for success during selection, and that these markers were related to stress and the ability to stay calm or quickly bounce back after high-stress situations.

But ultimately it would seem that selection is as much art as science. The Special Forces soldiers I have known tend to be nothing like what is portrayed in the movies. Typically, even other Special Forces, and special operations soldiers, would have difficulty picking their own brethren out of a crowd. They almost never "look the part."

Please see "Ultimate Stress Test: Special Forces Training."

President Barack Obama has spoken tonight: "The United States of America Does Not Torture." According to the President, we have stopped torturing prisoners.

What do you think?

This is what I think.


My few words on torture created an uproar. Am in the process of writing more on the topic. Those who propose that the United States should use wholesale torture are clueless about the realities we face, and in fact their words make them out to be no better than our enemies. Many people seem to believe that by using torture we prove we are tough. Some would disagree. Our enemies use torture yet we stack their bodies high.

Meanwhile, my guess is that friendly casualties in Afghanistan during 2009 will likely double what we saw during 2008. I plan to spend about six months there this year, and to go to Iraq, in order to bring back the good, the bad and the ugly, untainted by the politics that surrounds topics such as torture.

A small dispatch awaits. This one is interesting, "Tactical Success, Strategic Defeat."

The reports I'm getting from Iraq are mostly good, except those reports from the North where the savages are clinging on. We are losing good soldiers up there, though Iraq in general has fallen relatively quiet. I'll try to get to Mosul and tell some soldiers' stories. With as much time as I spend in that place, I should buy an apartment.

It's going to be a long year in Afghanistan. Not looking forward to more hearing loss that's bound to occur. You can't always wear earplugs, and you never know when a rifle will start firing next to your head.

Gordon Brown is delivering an outstanding address to our Congress. If you didn't get to see it, you might want to read a transcript.

The words I've written on torture have spurred such an outcry that it seems important to pause and clarify.

Please read: TORTURE: Some Thoughts.

Big media has caught on with the situation in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, now 2009, they have only caught up to 2006. This year will likely be far more brutal than we have ever seen. At the going rate, my guess is that the Coalition will begin to fall apart by about 2011. The Canadians are wobbling and getting a standing count. They'll likely be TKO by 2011. The British are hanging tough.

Godspeed to General Petraeus and our people. I will be there. On Afghanistan.


The debate on torture is starting to simmer and is heading to a boil. The CIA is in the cross hairs and is reported to have destroyed nearly 100 videos of interrogations.

Many torture supporters apparently do not recognize the dark irony. The irony that even the perception that torture occured is coming back like a razor-sharp boomerang.

Please read and comment. Dark Times.

President Obama has some words on War and Rendition.

I'll return to the United States next week and prepare my gear for a long journey back into war. The truth in Afghanistan is quickly becoming as politically muddled as we saw in Iraq. I'll do my best to keep 'em straight.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Am heading to Singapore for some research on al Qaeda, then back to he U.S. for a short trip. Writing is 95% homework and fieldwork.

Please see my latest piece in Townhall Magazine. (Victory in Iraq - Next Stop, Afghanistan.)

At the current rate, we are unlikely to ever get out of Afghanistan with anything resembling success. After more than 7 years at war there, the Afghan Army is reported to have only a single battalion (far less than a thousand soldiers) who can operate independently. Incredible.

Meanwhile, Iraq is Obama's to lose. Will keeping his misinformed campaign promises result in a new Iraq war?

Please read and comment, "The Pathetic Afghan Army & Will Obama Fumble Iraq?"

Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon

Update: This is an e-mail Michael received from Colonel Bill Hix to set the record straight (as he sees it). Cln Hix believes the ANA and ANP are doing better than Michael and others do. Read it here as Afghan Army.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary's News and Ideas.

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