Afghanistan

June 28, 2010

McChrystal, Michael Hastings and the future of war reporting

Last week, General Stanley McChrystal was fired from his position in charge of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan after comments he made in a magazine article. As I write it looks as though he will retire from the military altogether. In the article written by journalist Michael Hastings for Rolling Stone, McChrystal and (in […]


June 16, 2010

Founder claims Wikileaks is preparing to release video of Afghan strike

According to the Daily Beast, NPR and apparently Wikileaks itself, the organisation is preparing to release a video of a U.S. airstrike on a village in Afghanistan which caused civilian casualties. In April, Wikileaks released footage of a U.S. Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad from 2007 in which two Reuters journalists and several Iraqi civilians […]


June 1, 2010

Don’t mention anything about the war

Given the euphoria over Germany’s Eurovision win, it was probably only an event of the magnitude of the German President resigning that could bump Lena off the headlines… But as tabloid Bild shows not by much… The surprise resignation of President Horst Köhler has both politicians and the media playing over and rewinding the tape […]


May 17, 2010

How difficult is it to cover a modern war effectively?

I thought I’d have a long overdue experiment with AudioBoo. I have been recorded by somebody else on Twitter and Journalism but thought it was time to give it a go myself…I reckon short and sweet is the way to go rather than rambling on and on and on. But if you think you can […]


April 23, 2010

Military bloggers turn on Michael Yon after comments about McChrystal

A while ago now I wrote about Michael Yon and the end of his embed with the British Army in Afghanistan. Well it seems the lightning has struck again – only this time much harder. Another Yon embed came to what he regarded as a premature end earlier in the month, but this time rather […]


April 8, 2010

Whir of helicopters drowns out some serious defence questions

This post you’ll note is a little off topic. That’s because I’m really writing it for Talk Issues, a new group blog set up to look at the issues that matter in the imminent General Election here in the UK. Hopefully, I’ll be dipping into this mode occasionally to write about defence policy. So here […]


March 24, 2010

WRL: New media, Afghanistan, Iraq and Al Qaeda

A few bits and pieces I’ve spotted recently: 1. Leveraging New Media (pdf): A US military report on the Israeli Defence Force’s use of new media in the conflict in Gaza re-published in the Australian Army Journal. It’s from the middle of 2009 but I’d not picked it up before. It’s authored by Lieutenant General […]


March 19, 2010

Embedded journalism in Afghanistan

Yesterday, I travelled up to Coventry for a conversation about embedded journalism in Afghanistan. It was hosted by Coventry University and the BBC’s College of Journalism. I’m not sure I ever really understood the question that was supposed to frame this debate: "Afghanistan: Are we embedding the truth?" (Answers on a postcard etc…) But as […]


March 16, 2010

Journalists and kidnap: the modern dangers of reporting from the frontline

“When you get it right you win awards. When you get it wrong people say you’re naive.” That’s how freelance journalist Sean Langan describes the dilemma facing journalists working in hostile conflict zones every day. In a sense, just to be there reporting from a war zone is a risk – but if there were […]


March 16, 2010

‘A sort of extreme camping trip with people trying to kill you’

Cameraman Stuart Webb describes his experience of being on patrol with the Coldstream Guards in Afghanistan. He was working for Channel 4 News with Alex Thomson. The pair came under fire as they moved along a ditch with the Guards…   "As-live" Twitter reportage Alex Thomson’s report from Babaji in Helmand was broadcast on Channel […]


March 11, 2010

Round up: Marjah; war reporting; Facebook and the IDF.

Fighting the Taliban in Marjah, Afghanistan. There was an interesting little sub-plot in this article in The Times about the aim of protecting and winning over the population in a counterinsurgency operation. On the one hand these US Marines were being asked to exercise some level of restraint: "The new rules of engagement, dubbed “Courageous […]


March 4, 2010

First Wednesday: The challenges of telling the full story of war in Afghanistan

Download this episode View in iTunes Watch the full event here.  By Heather Christie Media coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan is misinforming the public because it’s too heavily influenced by military strategy, practical challenges, and cultural preconceptions. That was the clear message at March’s first Wednesday event at the Frontline Club on Afghanistan and […]


March 2, 2010

Department of Defense switches default policy on social media to ‘open’

As of last Friday, all US servicemen have been able to update social networks like Twitter and Facebook from non-classified military network computers. The announcement by the Department of Defense is the first time a single policy has been used across all branches of the Armed Forces and effectively reverses a Marine Corps ban on […]


February 20, 2010

Ambush in Helmand

Here’s my second piece on Channel 4 News, which was broadcast on Thursday night.  This piece also went out on PBS Newshour. They ran it with few changes but here is the link to that version as well…I think the subtiles look nicer. I will be working on longer director’s cut this weekend and will […]


February 17, 2010

Tracking the Taliban: Vaughan Smith’s video report from Helmand Province

I have just returned from a second trip with the Grenadier Guards, who I visited in Helmand in 2007. They are now in Nadi Ali, in Helmand province, Afghanistan. I was there for a month, but my computer got waterlogged and so I haven’t posted anything to my blog from there so far. However, I am […]


February 9, 2010

Understanding the Taliban: Experts warn military force is misplaced, as ‘psychological’ war rages on

View in iTunes Watch the full event here.  As the United States and allied forces prepare to deploy 15,000 troops in southern Afghanistan to battle Islamic insurgents, experts are warning that the problem isn’t one of physical might but of completely misunderstanding what the Taliban is. In the week that the number of British soliders […]


February 9, 2010

Afghanistan: “A solution is going to look somewhat ugly”

The important international voices have been ‘on message’ about Afghanistan recently in time for a new British-led NATO offensive in the area around Marjah in Helmand province. At the London Conference last month there was talk of "turning the tide"; NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes there is new momentum in Afghanistan; and US […]


February 8, 2010

Counterinsurgency blogged: A 30-day tour of Afghanistan

This looks like an interesting new blog which apparently kicks off today. US Tech Sergeants Ken Raimondi and Nathan Gallaghan are going to travel through five regional commands in Afghanistan blogging and vlogging along the way. Unsurprisingly, they think the story of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan isn’t being covered by the media: "We want to show […]


January 26, 2010

UK’s Afghanistan ambassador stresses need to negotiate with ‘unsavoury people’

UK and international forces will need to negotiate with insurgents, warlords and people responsible for serious human rights abuses in order to achieve stability and halt the deathtoll in Afghanistan, according to the UK’s out-going ambassador to the country. Mark Sedwill, speaking at a sold-out Frontline Club event ahead of the London Afghanistan Conference this […]


January 20, 2010

A view of ‘peace building’ in Afghanistan

‘Captain Cat’ has been updating a blog in an attempt to "document some of what goes on under the label of peace building" in Afghanistan. There are plenty of interesting insights in the Captain’s dispatches and the blog is well worth latching on to, if you haven’t already. Here are a couple of recent posts […]


January 19, 2010

Rupert Hamer ‘died for the truth’

The Telegraph’s defence correspondent, Sean Rayment, pays tribute to his Sunday Mirror colleague, Rupert Hamer, who became the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan earlier this month. "Rupert and I had many conversations about whether reporting from Afghanistan was worth the risk, especially for those of us who had families. But Rupert was […]


January 11, 2010

Defence correspondent Rupert Hamer killed in Afghanistan

The Sunday Mirror’s defence correspondent, Rupert Hamer, has been killed in Afghanistan while embedded with US Marines. Photographer Phil Coburn also suffered serious leg injuries when the MRAP vehicle they were travelling in was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device on Saturday. One US Marine was killed and five others were injured in the attack […]


January 8, 2010

Was CIA bomber a jihadi blogger?

That’s the question being asked by the frighteningly excellent jihadica.com. Citing an Al Qaida statement, they say: Abu Dujana al-Khurasani (real name Hammam Khalil Abu Milal) ‘the famous propagandist and writer on the jihadi forums,’ carried out the attack in Khost which left at least eight Americans dead.  The news that the suicide bomber was […]


January 8, 2010

Reaction on the blogs to US intelligence in Afghanistan

The other day Major General Michael Flynn (et al) published a report which highlighted some fundamental failings of US intelligence operations in Afghanistan. US intelligence, he argued, is overly focussed on the enemy, unable to answer basic questions about local political, economic and cultural dynamics and is "only marginally relevant to the overall strategy". He […]


December 16, 2009

Bibles in Arghandab

Umm…I know we’re meant to be ‘protecting the people’ and living with them etc, but last time I checked it wasn’t a very good idea to leave your bibles lying around in the office of the District Chief of Arghandab…  [This photo taken by yours truly a week or two ago on a visit to […]


December 4, 2009

Mark Urban blogging for the BBC from Afghanistan

Bit snowed under (not literally – it’s cold-ish here at the moment, but snow is so rare in the UK it usually brings the country to a standstill) with PhD work so afraid blogging will be a bit more sporadic over the coming weeks, if not months. (Pop by again in October 2010!)  Just thought […]


November 26, 2009

Stephen Grey: Afghanistan is “quite depressing”

Journalist Stephen Grey has recently returned from Helmand province and described his trip to Afghanistan as "quite depressing". He noted that casualties have increased in 2009 and said it has already been a hard winter for troops on the ground. Grey was talking to the War Studies Department at King’s College London yesterday about his […]


November 18, 2009

TA soldier’s blog post hits the headlines

A blog post written by a Territorial Army soldier who was killed in Afghanistan has received widespread media coverage. In the post entilted ‘Hello from Afghan’, Rifleman Andrew Fentiman of 7 Rifles, describes how he was waiting to be transferred to his Forward Operating Base shortly after arriving in Afghanistan two weeks ago. Several news […]


October 25, 2009

An Invitation

I read in Friday’s Independent that: "Three judges of the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal ruled on Wednesday that the level of "indiscriminate violence" was not enough to permit Afghans to claim general humanitarian protection in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of asylum-seekers a year are returned to Afghanistan if they have not convinced a court they […]


October 19, 2009

WRL: Blogging, Milblogging and the London bombings

(Dusty history section) on the London bombings, 2005. I came across a couple of links on media coverage of the London bombings in July 2005 that I hadn’t previously discovered. Maybe you missed them too. Mike Thelwall did some research into bloggers and the bombings which ‘scratches the surface’ of the use of blogs to […]