gates of fire


I have taken to reading Michael Yon’s blog.Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, native of Winter Haven, Fl. who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.

Here is a recent example of his work:

Gates of Fire.

Mosul, Iraq

Combat comes unexpectedly, even in war.

On Monday, while conducting operations in west Mosul, a voice came over the radio saying troops from our brother unit, the 3-21, were fighting with the enemy in east Mosul on the opposite side of the Tigris River. Moments later, SSG Will Shockley relayed word to us that an American soldier was dead. We began searching for the shooters near one of the bridges on our side of the Tigris, but they got away. Jose L. Ruiz was killed in action.

Although the situation in Mosul is better, our troops still fight here every day. This may not be the war some folks had in mind a few years ago. But once the shooting starts, a plan is just a guess in a party dress.

The only mission I’ve seen unfold close to what was planned was a B Company raid a few months back. It actually went so close to perfect that we could hardly believe it. The sole glitch occurred when a Stryker hit an IED, but since nobody was hurt, we just continued the mission. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine why I didn’t write about it. But times are busy, and, apart from it going nearly perfectly according to plan, it just seemed like any other old raid.

Go read the rest.

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10 thoughts on “gates of fire”

  1. Be careful with Yon. He was a Green Beret for all of about 27 minutes before getting bounced for killing a guy in a bar fight. Frequently, his disquisitions that the chain of command is clueless/venal/inept actually translate as “I don’t like them/they didn’t treat me well, so they must be incompetent.”
    He puts out some good stuff, and “gates of fire” is one of the best pieces of war reportage ever published. Still, when he goes from reporting facts to analysis, read it with a healthy dose of show-me skepticism.

  2. Thanks Mongo. It’s always good to get more of the “whole picture” from folks with a wider perspective.

    Yon has been getting quite a bit of press with his opinions of how things are going in Afghanistan. I have been wondering what dog he has in the fight there.

  3. I do think he is an interesting read.

    I also read Free Range International, which I like. The temptation for to rant must be high for all those involved, because there is not enough scrutiny on these wars. They must all feel they have to shout in order for us to hear them over the rattling ice in the Civilian’s Lounge.

    Thanks for the different perspectives here.
    Ann T.

  4. Boss Mongo is incorrect. People have been trying to smear Yon recently due to his provocative stances on Afghanistan and leadership. His track record is incredible though often angers people. Mongo above is completely incorrect about Yon’s military history. After the murder charge was dropped, Yon served 3 more years on 2 different Special Forces A-teams and finally was honorably discharged. He became a successful businessman and finally a writer and acclaimed photographer.

  5. Tgace that is true but the people at Blackfive were caught red handed saying things that were untrue. They said Mike Yon broke OPSEC and then later apologized on the Blackfive site for being wrong. Blackfive is not a respected site.

    1. Hmmm..thats’s interesting too. It kind of sounds like one of those “three sides of a story” situations.

      I enjoy Mike’s writing. As to the rest I guess I will just keep an open mind.

  6. It doesn’t matter how much you admire, agree, or disagree, all reading must be critical.

    Reputation is easy to lose, but also easy to trash.

    Consider the source, check the facts you can, and how they frame their argument. Most people reveal themselves in their writing, whether they want to or not.

    For me, if they re-frame it and come up with a new way of looking, I’m happy. Or if they describe a detail that’s usually missed, or describe an incident well.

    At least that’s my method, and what I like to find.

    Just sayin’ . . .

  7. If I mischaracterized Yon’s service, then I apologize and retract.
    However, I stand by my remarks about his “analysis” of various combat zones. Yon has posted that his journalism has provided him “more combat experience than 90% of the officers out there.”
    No, his journalistic forays have provided him 90% more time in a combat zone than many others. However, he’s done this as an individual, without having to either make decisions that put men in harm’s way or bear the responsibility for those decisions. In many ways (when he lays it on the table against today’s officer corps, or the senior leadership in theatre) he’s the antithesis of Teddy’s Man in the Arena.
    Again, I’ve got nothing against the guy and wish him all the best. I just won’t take his assessments of either the chain of command or the operational situation at face value. AND, I’m the first guy you’ll find criticizing the chain of command and its many asinine decisions.
    Sorry it took me a while to chime back in. Been indisposed etc.

  8. The reality is that every day there are numerous incidents of violence in Mosul and Ninewah. Things are not getting better there. Neither the U.S. Arrmy nor the Iraqi Army have successfully controlled that area for several years now.

    Mr. Yon may wish things were getting better there, however, saying something is so simply does not make it so.

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