Monday, April 19, 2010

One voice is a heads-up; many voices are ...

An online intervention ...

I first blogg'd about Michael Yon
five years ago, and like many of you have been following his work for quite awhile.

Along with a few other things,
this Facebook quote from him left my puzzl'r puzzl'n,
Life was good before I went to Iraq. But after three friends were killed during the GWOT, and my growing mistrust for the media and for the US
Government/Military, I quit traveling the world and went to war. The United States was in peril. I am American. Today, I do not trust McChrystal anymore than some people trust the New York Times, Obama or Bush. If McChrystal could be trusted, I would go back to my better life. McChrystal is a great killer but this war is above his head. He must be watched..
The folks at BLACKFIVE, Chuck, Kanani, LaughingWolf, YouServed, Donovan, Greta, and others are voicing their concern - one that Greyhawk seemed to get a sniff of early last month.

Every man has to find his own way in life - but sometimes it is helpful to check around and grab hold of an external reference point. Anyone who has gone through the helo-dunker emergency egress training knows what I am talking about.

When everything and everyone around you all of a sudden seems out of kilter and swirling in chaos - it might be helpful to ponder if the problem isn't what is around you - but just you.

The war will go on - the story will continue to be told - but everyone needs some time away. 6-months, 12-months --- some time to clear the mind and reset perspective.

Just a thought.
UPDATE: Yon over at Facebook doubles down.
Bottom line questions: How many milbloggers who were not on active duty (hence sent to the war as a troop) have spent more than a year in the wars? I know of zero. Does one exist? The milblogging community is largely a hurricane of hot air. There are some ...good and responsible writers working milblogs but most of them are LESS ACCURATE than the MSM they oppose. Please name the top five milblogs -- and one person from each -- who has spent a year (less than 15% of the war) as a civilian journalist/writer in Iraq/Afghanistan. Start with and Blackfive. People who are seriously tracking the war seriously don't track these guys
Michael Yon
He doesn't get it. Anyway, you can only help those who want to be helped. I guess Yon will have to figure this out by himself. I wish him luck.


Salty Gator said...

Phib, totally agree.  I don't know what is going on.  But a lot of focus is going into negligent discharges of a general officer and less into the success / failures of our forces on the ground.  While I agreed with his focus on the loss of the bridge and an American soldier just so Canooks could watch a hockey game, the latest posts have me scratching my head. 
Michael Yon is a national treasure, but everyone reaches their breaking point.  Man was just home for less than a month from Iraq when he shipped out for Afghanistan. I believe he has provided great coverage of the wars, but he needs a break to reset.  I hope that he gets this break and doesn't damage his fantastic reputation by flaming out in front of everyone.

DangerGirl said...

Below is the comment I left on Blackfive today:
Some of you know that Mike and I have been very close for many years, I spent time with him in Seattle, when he researching background for his first book after returning from Iraq in early 2006, prior to him leaving for AFG on a non embed trip;I spoke to Mike daily, not just during 2006 when he was stateside, but also when he was traveling in SE Asia prior to returning to Iraq in late 2006/early 2007 - he emailed me daily and also called me frequently from Iraq during 2007 and 2008, and I often edited many of his dispatches in spite of Yon having some one on his payroll who was paid to do that.
Several months ago Mike wrote me from AFG and said some ugly and disparaging things about Canadian troops, and we had a full blown email fight. Full disclosure: I am Canadian. I am also American. I have dual citizenship, and unlike Mike, I know many of the Canadian troops on a personal level.
And I know when Mike is not being intellectually honest.
He finally revealed what was really bugging him in that email "conversation". Mike Yon did NOT like that the US troops where under the command of the Canadians in that AO because Canada was not extending its commitment beyond 2011. Bear in mind, Canada extended its commitment 2 other times. Yon felt if Canada was going to be "cowardly", and abandon the mission & not extend beyond 2011 - they should go home now and leave the war to the real soldiers.
THOSE were HIS words. It effectively terminated by friendship with him.
So 2 months later when he started up on Facebook/Twitter with his LIES about BG Menard, and his INSULTS of the Canadian troops - I counter attacked by exposing his intellectual dishonesty and lies on twitter and his Facebook page.
Yon banned me from commenting on his FB "fan page" because people started to "hear" what I was saying and wanted to know more -- some were his sycophants demanding for me to prove Mike was lying about Menard and demanded to know why he would do so - when I identified WHO was in fact the Commander responsible for "Bridge fiasco" - and began to share parts of the email conversation, and backed it up with links to dispatches on HIS site that substantiated what I was saying--- and offered more proof - he banned me and began a campaign to delete the comments I had written. Several others noticed this and began to question his integrity and he banned them.

DangerGirl said...


Yon knew then and knows now tht I m one of the few people who had proof he was lying. I also knew McChrystal knew the truth about Mike's lies - since I asked a favor from a Lt Col that knew both McChrystal and me to get an email to McChrystal expressing my fury at Yon's behavior, his lies, his unfounded accusations, and his merciless attacks on Canadian troops in general and expressed my concern that if Mike's embed was cancelled and further embed's denied, that McChrystal would be Mike's next " verbal target'.

It appears that many within the US Military & understandably the Canadian Military were angered for the same reasons as I and had expressed that to McChrystal. Trust me - it did not bode well for the US Military that someone who Petraeus had endorsed was disparaging, lying, and mercilessly attacking the Canadian military. We have been a very important part of NATO in Afghanistan and have suffered many losses. I also explained in my email to McChrystal that Mike was angered about Canadian's decision not to extend beyond 2011 and that some of this anger had prompted his vitriolic unfounded attack on BG Menard.
Several Canadian bloggers who had in fact embedded with Canadian troops were FURIOUS--- and one Canadian in particular even called Mike out on his lack of knowledge about many details in the AO Mike was reporting from - especially evident in Yon's so called "apology" to BG Menard ( it was NOT an apology at all) that appeared on Big Hollywood and Big Government. This Canadian bloggers work was praised by Petraeus, and Tom Ricks, Mark Steyn and many others - as an honest detailed voice, and a rare Canadian voice that was allowed to speak his mind honestly. I will be providing links to his critiques of Mike's work and how he exposes the lack of knowledge that Mike has about the AO he was working in.
When several of Yons fans attacked me personally on FB and via email thru my website - I warned them that once Mike Yon's embed was terminated that he would then lash out at McChrystal, questioning his integrity and ability and likely claim in time that Afghanistan was 'Being Censored" - I sent them links to Yon's piece titled 'Censoring Iraq" and explained to them that Yon wrote that piece to try to get his embed status re instated.
I also highlighted the parts that I KNOW were misleading, and intellectually dishonest, and the parts that were purely speculative on Yon's part ---


DangerGirl said...


Yon wrote that piece ( Censoring Iraq)  after all attempts failed at getting his embed reinstated throughout 2006. He figured he could bully the Military into re instating it by sending them a message " Either you're with me or against me - and if you're against me I will destroy you". Honestly - that's exactly what he told me as the purpose of "Censoring Iraq".
But Mike didnt stop there - when Roggio read the piece - he called out Mike on his intellecutal dishonesty-- Roggio knew that Yon was soley to blame for his embed being denied and he told Yon that if this piece was published he would likely counter it publically, exposing Mike's intellectual dishonesty. It was at that moment that Mike went crazy and began an email campaign intent on destroying Roggio - personally & professionally. That email campaign include emails to Jimbo, Matt, Michelle Malkin, and several others Milbloggers.Its sole purpose was to destroy Roggio's credibility and it backfired.
Yon's work use to serve the greater good - it now only serves himself.Yon is no longer in this for the troops, he's in it for himself.
After Yon was caught lying about BG Menard, he wrote that he would issue an apology to BG Menard within 48 hours. He never did.
If a man cannot honor his word, than how can any of his words be honorable?
He waited three weeks, then issued an inflammatory piece on Big Governnment that still indirectly laid the blame on BG Menard and on Canadian troops. Proving once and for all to McChrytal and others, that Mike Yon's words can no longer be trusted, and his intellectual honesty is in serious question

DangerGirl said...

<span>Dear Salty</span>
<span> </span>
<span>You should not be agreeing with his post about Canadian troops. It was mostly lies.  Shame on you for insulting Canadian troops. I am both an American and Canadian citizen and you term Canooks is no different than calling a black man nigger. Yon LIED about Menard... and I  provided more than ample proof. |Yon was called to the carpet on his lie, and as I said above he praised the US General responsble for the bridge fiasco, calling him HEROIC, all the while he had DEMANDED Menard be fired.</span>
<span> </span>
<span>Yon's intellectually dishonesty goes way back.. and I should know...since sadly I remained quiet far too long in the belief that he's better side would be triumphant over all.  I was wrong. Once you walk down the path of intellectual dishonesty to get what YOU want.. you will continue to do so.</span>
<p><span><span> </span></span></p>

Kanani said...

Thanks for the link!  The most important thing a writer can do after slaving away on a manuscript is put it way and come back to after a year. It's the only way one can gain perspective on the topic matter. This holds true for fiction, nonfiction, and yes, for journalists like Yon. He's lost touch with where he is in relation to the action. I wrote my response because I saw another writer flailing. And for me, it is painful to watch.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...after reading some of Yon's recent posts, I was coming to the conclusion that he is becoming a bit of a drama queen.  He seems to want to embed himself within the story rather than observe and report.

Byron said...

Danger, I've got a good friend that I've known for over 10 years now that refers to himself as a, "Canuk from Canukistan" on a regular basis. He's no more embarrased about that I am for being a Coonass from Southeast Louisiana.

11B40 said...


Back during my all-expense-paid tour of sunny Southeast Asia, my favorite Platoon Sergeant spent some time he didn't really have teaching me how to look out for my infantry squad members.  He said to always pay attention to the biology, sleeping, drinking and eating.  He also said pay attention to when quiet guys get talkative and went talkative guys get quiet.  Good advice, then and now.

WCOG said...

I've followed Michael Yon for some years now, and I have to say that I trust him to make his own decisions. His reporting and photography has never been anything but excellent in my eyes, and I feel like if he's seeing problems with our command in Afghanistan, maybe the rest of us need to take a look too. This guy was spot-on about Iraq after all, both with regard to its descent into semi-chaos and the subsequent recovery. We can't write him off as loopy now that he's saying things we don't like to hear can we? That would be "intellectually dishonest".
 And yes, he's been overseas for a looooong time and could probably use a few months break, or at least a switch of theatres. I know he's reader supported; not sure how he funds himself when he's not in Afghanistan or Iraq.
 "Canuck" is equivalent to "nigger"? Seriously? Vancouver's gonna have to change the name of its hockey team (or is it, like, something only Canadians can call each other?)...Danger Girl you're obviously extremely angry about this and know more about the specifics of whatever slanders Yon allegedly made against Canadians broadly and in detail, but I can't personally recall the incidents you're recollecting. To my memory Michael has been pretty complimentary regarding British, Dutch, Canadian, Australian and Scandanavian involvement in Afghanistan just as he's been critical of German, Spanish and Italian involvement. Maybe you could post a link to where he makes the statements you're talking about?

MR T's Haircut said...

He replaced a great General.. He was already under a cloud of suspicion,,, is this a "get well tour"?  Plausable deniablity in case something goes wrong.... hmm....

John said...

Danger Girl-  Thanks for your perspective, and I am sure it is heartfelt and sincere.  However, I really get the sense that a lot of what you say is skewed in a "jilted ex-lover" kind of way which clouds your perspective.  I do not mean that in a perjorative way, just as an analysis of how I see your comments as not without potential flaws, same as Mike has his.

Mike Yon may not be the ultimate source for The Truth, but he has proven to be an insightful reporter who tells it like he sees it, from his perspective, and we can all judge for ourselves what biases or erros may have crept into his reporting and writing.  We should look at many sources, and thankfully the many MILBLOGS provide the luxury of multiple sources, instead of being stuck with a single viewpoint from the mainstream media, or Mike Yon or anyone else.

I still value Mike's work and will continue to support it.

cdrsalamander said...

Danger Girl and WCOG,

You have used a word I have banned people for - but the context in which you used it gives you a pass.

Danger Girl - you need to perhaps recenter a bit yourself.  Your Canuck comment is just battshi'ity.  Like WCOG said, ask anyone in Vancouver.

婉菁婉菁婉菁 said...

rain before seven; fine before eleven.......................................................

DangerGirl said...

Here's Michael Yon's response to your kind supportive and respectful attempt at an intervention. It's posted on his Facebook page -- of course-- in response to the love letter.. errr "Defense of Michael Yon - An Open Letter to Milbloggers" written by Herschel,  which he also posted on his Facebook page.

The Captain's Journal » In Defense of Michael Yon: An Open Letter to Milbloggers
You can read Hershel's piece attacking the milblog community in its entirety but here's Yon's response:

Michael Yon
Herschel Smith sent a kind email.
Thank you, Herschel,

Bottom line questions: How many milbloggers who were not on active duty (hence sent to the war as a troop) have spent more than a year in the wars? I know of zero. Does one exist? The milblogging community is largely a hurricane of hot air.
There are some ...good and responsible writers working milblogs but most of them are LESS ACCURATE than the MSM they oppose.
Please name the top five milblogs -- and one person from each -- who has spent a year (less than 15% of the war) as a civilian journalist/writer inIraq/Afghanistan.
Start with and Blackfive.

People who are seriously tracking the war seriously don't track these guys
Michael Yon

CDR  -

Apologies for using a word you have banned people for in the past.. and thank you for making an exception this time.  Im sorry Yon chose to respond to your attempts to help him in a less than gracious manner.

Spade said...

I've noticed that as this kind of thing starts taking up Yon's time, his writing has taken a downturn. I haven't seen anything lately that has equaled his writing when he was with 2-4 in Iraq. Stuff like Gates of Fire and whatnot. I wish he'd go back to that.

DeltaBravo said...

Well, if you behave like an ass and publicly denigrate the information access points you rely upon, your sources will dry up somewhat and your writing will take a downturn.  Just my theory...


Yon is starting to get a bit Hackworthesque I think.  Very "him against the establishment".

Salty Gator said...

Danger Girl, I don't know your credentials, so I can't won't challenge you on your assertions of editing Yon's dispatches.  I know that I have met in the past year a colleague of Yon's over at the Pentagon who has managed his embed in the Phillipines and has the highest regard for him and his integrity.  Yon counts amongst his friends EUCOM, USFF, and many others.

I agree with Phib that the man needs a break and a reset.

As for my comment about Canadians and their NICKNAME, sorry to have offended you.  French are Frogs, Brits are Limeys, Russians are Ruskies, and Americans are either Gringos or Cowboys.  It is not the same as an ethnic slur. 

As for who is to blame and who isn't for the bridge attack:  you haven't proven anything.  One fact remains:  soldiers were pulled off the perimeter to watch a hockey game.

Casey Tompkins said...

Nah, Gator, Merkans are Yankees.

My apologies to all the Southerners out there... :-[

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I know Ernie Pyle found that he had to take the last quarter of 1944/first quarter of 1945 off, as he was burnt out.  Mr. Yon should follow Mr. Pyle's lead, just for his own health's sake.

Barry said...

Just a thought, but PSTD may be playing a part.  From what I have read, the risk of PSTD is variable based on the individual, the time spent under stress and the the "recovery time" between stress deployments.  I don't know all of the circumstances, but it seems Mr Yon has been frequently embedded at or close to the sharp end and by his own statements has had several friends KIA and WIA.  All or any of which may increase his risk for PSTD.  I hope his friends and colleagues are paying attention and are there when needed.  His reporting when he is "on" is very good and would be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

Salty Gator,

By long time embed in Afghan, Matthew Fisher -


<p>The Canadian military denied Wednesday a claim by a blogger that Canada's commander, Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard, should be fired..
</p><p>Blogger Michael Yon...alleged Canadian troops were not providing security as they should have because they and Menard were watching the Olympic men's hockey gold medal game on television at the time of the attack.
</p><p>He said the U.S. should take over Menard's command before a major offensive begins this spring. "Task Force Kandahar, responsible for security of the bridge that was blown up on Monday, happens to be under Canadian command," Yon wrote.
</p><p>Canadian Forces Lt.-Col. Danny Fortin said the bridge "does not fall within Canada's area of responsibility for security."
</p><p>the game "was over hours before the incident at the bridge," Fortin said.

<span>Brigadier General Ben Hodges of RC-South claimed 'full responsibility' with two witnesses - a US naval officers and a British officer.</span>

<span>All that information Michael has been made aware of and he himself disclosed BG Hodges admission. He stands by his claims put out there, spread to others and then believed as fact, despite compelling evidence to the contrary. General McCrystal is going the same way. </span>

cdrsalamander said...

BS Excuse.

Anonymous said...


General McCrystal is going the same way as BG Menard in terms of perception by his fans and that fact is evident in the comments.  It's as though, if it's repeated enough it must be true. Michael Yon has charisma and narcissism.  Those 2 traits CAN be a dangerous combination to anyone who has popularity or influence.  Not suggesting it here, but cult leaders that are delusional, are the extreme in examples.

Warrant Diver said...

Simple question: what if Yon is right? What if McChrystal is in over his head? Put aside your feelings about his methods and concentrate for a minute on the message.

Ymar said...

Yon is at the point where anyone he thinks is in his way of another embed becomes a personal threat to his existence. Those are far beyond just "feelings" anymore. Yon is no longer qualified to judge what is real or not. He has allowed his monkey into the driver's seat.

Yon needs those embeds. For various reasons, perhaps. Revenge. To fight the war that he can't fight with arms. To deal with the guilt of letting his friends die. You know, various things. If it is not one thing, it is another.

Ymar said...

There is something similar to PTSD, although it may actually not be anything related to PTSD. When military units are in continuous combat operations for so long that it isn't so much that they stop fightng as they stop caring.

Warrant Diver said...

What friends did he "let" die? I assume that was a typo and you meant maybe friends 'that died'?

Maybe Yon is melting down, maybe he's PTSD, lot's of maybes from lots of people who are worth listening to...I'm not discounting their opinions, but I haven't heard anyone address whether Yon might be right or not. This is a guy who has been over there a long time and has seen the results of different strategies on the ground and whose opinion should carry some did carry weight until recently.

Ymar said...

I don't speak of jurisdictional facts. Something as simple as survivor's guilt can motivate one to feel guilty for allowing friends to die. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. That doesn't change a person's feelings on the matter, however.

Keith said...

<span>I know and have worked with RADM Greg Smith while we were both in Baghdad. He was in charge of strategic communications for the Multi-National Force and I was doing public affairs work for the Department of State. Greg Smith is top notch and I will never question his integrity or skills in public affairs. Prior to Baghdad he was the Chief of Naval Information - the top public affairs officer in the US Navy. He's been in this business a long long long time and was so good at his job that GEN Petraeus asked him to move to CENTCOM to be his top public affairs guy. Then Greg went to AFG to work strategic communications there. I don't know Michael Yon, but based on his writings and my own experiences as a USMC PAO (active duty 92-96), USAR PAO (Kandahar Air Field 02-03) and then an embassy PAO (Baghdad 06-08), I think I will cast my lot with Greg Smith. Michael Yon is delusional is determining his own self worth and the worth of public affairs guys like RADM Greg Smith. Once his latest incident has concluded, I think will no longer read his blog or buy his books.</span>