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A couple new dispatches from Michael Yon on AfPak.

First, part three of three of a series entitled Death in the Corn. Good stuff, even if just for the pictures.

The first paragraph sums it up:

Living with British troops of 2 Para at FOB Gibraltar and watching them fight, I witnessed one of the great paradoxes of Afghanistan. The troops are fighting hard and killing the enemy. They are professional and extremely competent. Their morale is high. They are doing a great job. And we are losing the war.

Second, here is Yon’s take on an ongoing brou-ha-ha between NATO, the French and Canada’s Globe and Mail Newspaper, which published this article, asserting that the death of 10 French soldiers in an ambush last month was caused in part because “the French did not have enough bullets, radios and other equipment, the report said. The troops were forced to abandon a counterattack when the weapons on their vehicles ran out of ammunition only 90 minutes into a battle that stretched over two days. One French platoon had only a single radio and it was quickly disabled, leaving them unable to call for help.”

The French responded, denying the existence of the report.

The newspaper is “totally wrong,” Capt. Christophe Prazuck, spokesman for the French military, said Sunday.

“There is no formal report from NATO or ISAF of which we are aware on the events that took place at Surobi,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

Yon claims the report is real and that he has read it.

We can’t win this war if the people at home think the military here is deceiving them.

One of the reasons we succeeded In Iraq was that, for the most part, the American and British militaries had an open and truthful approach to journalists. They let us see the good, the bad, and the ugly, though few journalists spent much time down in the “trenches.” From the perspective of working journalists, most of us didn’t believe we were being systemically deceived by the military (except for a few notable exceptions). This was especially true beginning in early 2007 when General David Petraeus took command. Sure, the military constantly tried to shunt journalists to school openings, water projects and hug-fests, but that was fair play. They wanted get their message out. Most of us saw nothing wrong with that, except that few journalists care to cover school openings or new clinics. The military was trying to emphasize the positives (of which there were many) while journalists were more apt to cover the negatives (again, there were many). Car bombs were more likely to get airtime and column inches.

Here in Afghanistan, I sense a storm brewing between NATO and the media. The official denial of the secret report on the 18 August Taliban ambush on French forces is not an isolated incident. There have been other instances which give the impression of a pattern of denial and cover-up. NATO credibility is critical in this war. Support is already weak in several NATO countries. The Afghani and, even more so, Pakistani populaces are often skeptical of our efforts and question our honesty.

Related Reading:
  • Michael Yon on Afghanistan
  • Winning Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan
  • Why Afghanistan is Different Than Iraq
  • 10,000 Foreign Fighters in Pakistan
  • Is Kashmir the Key to Stability in the Middle East?
  • Newsburglar Archives