From Tarnak Bridge to BruhahaAt this point, he took almost 11 hours to get a few answers and throw in a few assumptions to find out about a bridge minutes away. Did he rush down to HQ and start demanding answers? Did he rush to the site of the attack? Did he sit in his hooch and send out emails? Did he sit down at the PX and collect comments of passersby? It's hard to say. In just 11 hours, he decided that a General should be fired for decisions made by an Afghan Security member. Sure the bridge was damaged, beyond the ability of military vehicles to cross it, but there was an alternate that Yon would later admit was about a 1/4 mile out of the way.
So we've seen that the attack on the Bridge over the River Tarnak was semi-successful, not significantly surprising, and mildly irritating. So, who broke the story and how did it become an all out international brawl, with allied citizens taking sides, and American Veterans divided? How did it become the battle cry of a Journalist for the heads of Generals?
From the beginning, the story was distorted and blown out of proportion and claims later would not match the claims of the first days. The initial report was made by the ABC news, Australia. It was inaccurate, with Taliban quotes typical of their wild propaganda claims. It would be days before the closest "war correspondent" would report his findings, but minutes before he looked for a scapegoat. To the right is the first account I find of Michael Yon's reporting on the bridge attack. But it's not much of a report from him, so much as a bit of sniping at the ABC report.
Again, he links to the MSM, Associated Press this time to report on the events "a bicycle ride away." He still, with all of his "high level sources," and contacts up to, and including, the Secretary of Defense hasn't been able to muster the resources to get down to the bridge and report for himself, what has occurred in his own backyard.
Notice that while the AP reports 6 KIA on that day, Yon only focuses on one. He'll later tell us as much as he can about that Soldier, while he will also ignore all other Troop Deaths. This Soldier will be his rally cry. This bridge will be blown out of proportion, but by this point, Yon already knows who his target will be, and he'll introduce him bit by bit, beginning only with calling for the head of "A General Officer" and about 12 hours later, "the Task Force Kandahar General." At the 24 hour mark of this story, he should know what unit is responsible for the Bridge (Afghan Security Forces) and who the Task Force-Kandahar Commander is. The parts of the story that aren't "a bike ride away" are literally under his nose. The Generals, and much of the forces they command, sleep on the same base as Yon. It certainly isn't difficult for him to walk over and find the answers. Or perhaps, the Troops he was asking were a bit more leary of the journalist and a bit more conscious of OPSEC, than Yon would prove to be.
He complains instead about Troops who have access to morale building/maintaining activities, while they are not on duty, implying that Troops were having fun in place of their duties. Yon has been around the military long enough, including in combat zones, to know those Troops at the concert, those that had earlier watched a hockey game, and those that had been entertained by the few that dared travel to Kandahar to do so, were not tasked with guarding that bridge. He knows their jobs are to do other things, like paperwork, like refueling, like QRF, and that they weren't scheduled for duty that morning. ...
This is Part 2 of WOTN fact-based series on Tarnak Bridge. There is much more HERE. Part 1 is here.