Saturday, June 18, 2005

Yon reports in

Michael Yon has filed another report, this one a little different. He's preparing us for reports yet-to-come, reports derived from talking with frontline soldiers, including alpha. An excerpt (but don't miss the rest of it!):

I did not come here with the intention of having someone tell me what the people on the "front lines" were thinking and feeling.

It's important to talk with Generals: they are all very smart or they wouldn't be Generals, but a General says what he wants people to hear, and sometimes they do lay it on pretty thick. I wanted to meet soldiers. Combat soldiers in particular. And combat soldiers before, during and after combat operations. That's the only place to figure out who is winning and losing this war. "Winning" meaning the Iraqis embrace and protect their freedom and most of our folks come home. Losing meaning something other than this, up to and including to any dreaded stasis.

My first day in Baghdad, about six months back, the sun was rising as I walked to the mess hall. It was cold and there had been explosions through the night, automatic weapons fire, and "flares" floating down on parachutes casting long, flickering shadows before their fires burned out. Helicopters zooming all around. There was a lot more war going on than I had expected; and I had done my homework.

But the birds were singing like they do at sunrise. War or peace, I can depend on the birds to sing in the mornings, and I selected that sound to hear as I walked out of the tent and headed for the mess hall. A group of soldiers, loaded for combat, were gathered in front of the mess hall. With serious expressions, their attention was trained on a map they'd spread across the hood of a Humvee. The soldiers were preparing for combat.

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