Another Tet

I keep coming back to Michael Yon and Bill Roggio because their war reporting strikes me as consistently better than that of the MSM. As I have said before I think the main factor is that both are trained soldiers who understand military strategy and therefore bring real understanding to what the Coalition forces are trying to achieve.

Asked in an interview by Michael Yon what his main purpose was as a blogger, Roggio answered:

I began blogging in March of 2004 to explain the war to friends and family, and soon discovered a hole in reporting on military operations. The media often focuses on politics, U.S. casualties and perceived failures while failing to explain the purpose of combat operations and place them in the proper context.

Later in the interview Roggio has this to say about the media:

I don’t believe the problems with the media reporting on the war is related to the lack of positive stories as much as incomplete reporting, the lack of understanding of the nature of complex military and counterinsurgency operations, and a desire to politicize the war effort. The reporting is quite often completely out of context, which leaves the readers confused, and therefore uneducated about the state of affairs in the war.

Roggio went to Afghanistan more recently and focused on military events that have been reported as a widespread Taliban offensive by the MSM. Here is Roggio’s take as of May 19

The news reports of a major Taliban offensive in southeastern Afghanistan are inaccurate, as Coalition offensives and Taliban attacks have been lumped together to give the impression of a coordinated Taliban assault in multiple provinces. A reading of the various reports indicates that while the Taliban has launched a major strike on a police station and government center in Helmand province and a small scale attack on a police patrol in Ghazni, as well as two suicide attacks against U.S. contractors in Herat and an Afghan army base in Ghazni, the fighting in Kandahar was initiated by Afghan and Coalition security forces during planned operations. Over 100 have been reported killed during the fighting, with 87 being Taliban. Well over half of those killed were killed during the Coalition offensives in Kandahar.

On the 21th Roggio reiterates his claim that reporters continuing “to conflate Coalition and Taliban operations”, but goes on to put the Afghan situation in strategic context.

The violence in Afghanistan cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The Taliban has established safe havens in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) agencies of North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Tank, Khyber and Dera Ismail Khan – a region now being referred to as Talibanistan.

He then digs deeper and tells us how the political difficulties facing President Musharraf effect the situation:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf continues to walk a fine line in dealing with the overt insurgency in the tribal regions and the problem with ‘foreigners and miscreants’. In a television interview on Friday, Musharraf continues to make distinctions between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and views the Taliban as a political problem and al-Qaeda as a military problem.

And then points out the problem with Musharraf’s approach:

This fails to recognize the core of the Taliban leadership share al-Qaeda’s views on waging jihad and religious purity, and cannot be wooed by political incentives. The attempts to separate al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the NWFP ignore the reality of the situation on the ground, as the Taliban and al-Qaeda continue to recruit, train, arm and sorty fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He concludes:

Zawahiri and al-Qaeda are relying on the Taliban and other Islamists groups within Pakistan to answer the call to jihad. In Pakistan’s tribal belt, the call has been answered, and the people of Afghanistan are paying the price.

So Roggio is far from just a cheerleader for the military, but he exposes another easily debunked Tet offensive like report of coordinated attacks while revealing deeper problems. It looks to me like the MSM fancies itself too much as a player in the political process and has lost touch with its primary mission of reporting. It is consistenly being outperformed by folks who set out to simply help thier relatives understand the war better.

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