02 Nov 2008 @ 9:03 AM 

Nick Meo, still writing for the Sunday Telegraph, now presents himself as an expert with a new stunning prediction on Afghanistan. Except it’s not so stunning. Meo parrots the typical conclusion reached by those who are out of touch with their subject. While Meo actually begins to touch on some salient points, he misses them and winds up his article in typical Meo theatrics.

Strangely enough, Meo is a smart guy; but he’s also self-absorbed. His desire to be theatrical and, I suspect, his brooding anti-Americanism, disables his ability to analyze the pertinent ideas that he does manage to present.

Meo starts off his analysis with a disturbing image of carnage. It is designed to set the tone for his piece. Then he reveals that Taliban attacks on aid workers is part of a “new strategy of terror.” What a revelation; it’s been something that they have done for some time now. It is part of a strategy to cast fear into NGO workers and discourage them from continuing work that was bearing fruit; fruit that frustrates the Taliban. The Taliban have got to stop progress now, before any more is done.

I wonder if these aid workers are the same ones that Meo described in an earlier bit of work where he pointed out that a few years ago Kabul was a great place for an ambitious aid worker to be.

Ambitious aid worker? Ambition to do what… rise to the top of the aid ladder? The only ambition I’ve ever noted in aid workers was the ambition to make a difference. In painting the Kabul of a couple of years ago to be some sort of fun zone for foreign aid workers, Meo has again dramatized a situation that he seems to be incapable of analyzing with accuracy; at least in print.

Meo, amateur character assassin that he is, then refers to GEN Petraeus as the ‘warrior-scholar.’ Those are his apostrophes, not mine. When someone puts apostrophes around something that is not a quote, the connotation is “so-called.” Meo’s connotation is that GEN Petraeus is a so-called warrior-scholar. This indicates Meo’s approach to his analysis of GEN Petraeus.

Meo later carries the message of other, unnamed American Generals who would seek to discredit GEN Petraeus:

Indeed, some of his army rivals consider him more lucky than brilliant – he took command just as Sunnis had become sickened by the bloody excesses of al Qaeda in Iraq, and they were in a mood to strike deals with Americans. ~Nick Meo

Now Meo is not only an analyst, he is a Pentagon insider as well.

Meo then asserts;

Major military forces from Germany and France have avoided sending their troops to Taliban-dominated areas, while Holland and Canada, whose soldiers have seen ferocious fighting, will soon restrict their troops to training Afghans. It is clear from their actions that many of America’s allies increasingly believe that the war is unwinnable and not a place to put any more troops in harm’s way. ~Nick Meo

Boy, that sounds dramatic to the reader, I’m sure. To me it sounds like bovine fecal matter. The French have been serving as trainers to the Afghan National Army, in fact taking over the mentoring of entire brigades of ANA in the past year. They’ve accompanied their charges into such dangerous and unpredictable areas as the Tag Ab Valley, a place with which I am intimately familiar and concerning which I have recently posted about the French efforts.

In other words, Meo says that the French are chickens. Okay. Well, I’ve got ten dead Frenchmen who say that they aren’t. Remember August 19th? Surobi is just outside the southern end of the Tag Ab Valley. The French roll outside the wire frequently. Let me be clear; we learned that the French government may be chicken; French soldiers are not.

So, by personal knowledge we’ve established that Meo has cast another aspersion that isn’t completely accurate. Read completely inaccurate.

The Germans are restricted by national caveats on the use of force by German forces. These caveats are due to German aggression in WW_II, which the Germans themselves do not wish to repeat. There is a conversation inside Germany at this moment (I know because I’ve actually been participating in an international forum, hearing from actual Germans what their thoughts are) discussing whether to adjust those caveats or seek a role in mentoring government ministries to assist in ridding them of corruption. These efforts would keep Germans within their national caveats while still making major contributions to progress in Afghanistan. Meo, being so knowledgeable that he can inform us of the opinions of three and four-star US Generals at will, is unaware of what is going on in Europe.

Meo then provides several exclusive-to-the-Sunday Telegraph unattributed quotes and ‘understandings’ that allow the reader insights into a special world where Meo operates.

“What will eventually win this war is American military power,” a senior Nato source in Kabul told the Sunday Telegraph. “There is no question of America withdrawing from Afghanistan. They are simply not prepared to let the people responsible for September 11th move back in.

“If the Europeans decided to go they wouldn’t that much missed, frankly. Some of them are in the way.” ~Nick Meo

And this:

Instead, the Sunday Telegraph understands that American commanders will soon be presenting the new president in Washington, whoever he is, with plans to fight an intense five-year war against the guerrillas, a war that commanders think looks winnable unlike the morass troops are in now. ~Nick Meo

Wow. Insightful. My question is; are these unattributed quote and ‘understanding’ along the same lines of the Post-it note on the desk of 1LT Bonanno, so heralded as to set the headline of his recent article? Yes, that would be the Post-it note that 1LT Bonanno says never graced her desk; a lie.

Is Meo once again making things up to make himself look bigger? Possibly. Meo is not highly regarded in Afghanistan, not amongst the military and apparently not among his own fellow journalists.

Meo even clues us in to what President Karzai will be told. What prescience. Meo is clearly well-connected inside the Pentagon, NATO/ISAF HQ, and the US Embassy. I’m in awe. I wonder if all of those unattributed bits of information flew off of his fingertips in some dingy hotel room in Kabul after failing to get actual, attributable quotes from anyone of consequence.

Maybe Meo did get his information from creditable sources. Maybe. Then again, we’ve caught him lying before; red-handed. Meo now brings juicy little (nothing earth-shattering, except the somewhat inflammatory statement made by ‘a senior NATO source’) tidbits that support him in his analysis and make him look like he’s cluing the reader in to some kind of secret.

Meo then goes on to clue us in to the level of irritation that the US has with “corrupt and inefficient Afghan police and army forces” and reveals that as the driving factor in considering arming local militias. Let’s take a look at that.

First, the Afghan National Army; the ANA has made leaps and bounds in minimizing corruption. NATO mentors persistently root out corruption within the ANA and have made huge progress. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist. I am saying that corruption in the ANA has absolutely nothing to do with arming Arbakai.

While the ineffectiveness of the ANP in local areas may have something to do with the idea, Meo’s flawed analysis renders his point moot. I’ve addressed the problem of corruption in Afghan government. Meo was touching on a salient point, but deftly fouls it with his drama and poor analysis. Corruption is only one aspect of the need for reform, training, and mentorship for the ANP. Meo misses what could have been a valuable point. This also brings into question his information gathering. If he’s really clued-in, how can he miss by such a wide margin?

Meo’s analysis of American troop strength and the ability to provide more forces is also as weak as water. Where are the troops going to come from? Hmmmm… well, some units that were forecast to go to Iraq are not going to be needed to maintain a level of force that may no longer be needed. I wonder how many units are currently in that pipeline?

One thing is for sure; Nick Meo doesn’t know. That’s okay; I’m sure he can make something up.

Most of the other information provided can be easily gleaned from the internet, some of which I have contended with before as being intellectually lazy analysis.

Meo winds up with a trite reference to the Soviets and their troubles, even with a troop strength over twice the current coalition strength. I’ve got a news flash for ‘Scoop’ Meo; the Soviets lost because they pissed off nearly everyone in Afghanistan. They brought a godless political philosophy, and economic strategy anathema to the supremely capitalist Afghans, and a brutality that seemed almost calculated to alienate and anger nearly every single Afghan enough to cause them to pick up arms.

The Russians are the world’s worst counterinsurgents.

More imagery from the ‘Mind of Meo’ concludes this extremely flawed and quite possibly concocted ‘analysis’ from Meo;

As fresh American troops drive between their heavily-fortified bases next year, past ambush points and along roads where the ground can erupt at any moment in a minestrike, they will often see the carcasses of Soviet tanks. And they may reflect that every other army that has tried to win Afghanistan by sending in more troops has left the same way; in humiliation and defeat. ~Nick Meo

Yeah, I saw the rusting hulls of Soviet armor laying about the countryside. I also talked to the Mujaheddin in nearby villages who told me why they weren’t fighting us. “You are here to help. You build schools, you dig wells, you bring medicine. You don’t kill everyone. You do not bomb a whole village because of a few Taliban. You are not like the Russians, so I do not feel the need to fight you. If you start to act like the Russians, I will fight you; but so far you are not like them. Because of this, I will not fight you.”

Meo starts his article with “carnage” and ends it with the words, “humiliation and defeat.” So now he’s an analyst. Not. That’s not analysis, it’s drama.

Now, if you want to read something enlightening, try this article from Free Range International. This guy gets in the dirt with the Maliks and tells it like it is. He’s got great pictures of his National Geographic experiences, too. He’s not a cheerleader, but he’s not a sensationalist at all. He’s getting a great grasp on local politics. All politics are local.

These two pieces of writing point up exactly the type of thing that I’m constantly talking about on here; the failure of the MSM to paint a realistic picture for people at home of what the situation is on the ground. Having been on the ground, I can tell you that the picture that FRI is painting is excellent. I can also tell you that the MSM, for instance this piece by Meo and Sunday Telegraph, is just flat irresponsible in their reporting. Read them both and look at the contrast. They are worlds apart. FRI makes Meo look like he’s not even in Afghanistan.

The journalists out-reported by a blogger for whom writing isn’t even his full time job. Is there something wrong with this picture?

My Meo mea culpa

One might read this post and say, “Man, this guy’s got an axe to grind with Meo.” As one of my cohorts in Afghanistan used to say, “You damn skippy” (translation: “I strongly believe that your statement is accurate.”)

My axe to grind with Meo will not be blunted unless and until the day that I read “Meo’s mea culpa” in the Sunday Telegraph. Unless and until they print that mea culpa, my axe to grind with Sunday Telegraph will not end until they fire Meo or reassign him to domestic chores in the UK. Nothing that I have read from him before or since his assassination of Easyrider has in any way indicated to me that this guy is anything more than a self-centered dramatic hack; a drama queen. I’m going to dog him and Sunday Telegraph until they withdraw him from Afghanistan or until I am tired. Call me The Antimeo.

You know, if he wrote something truly wonderful, I would acknowledge it. So far, I just don’t see that happening. Meo is a pariah with American military officials, there is credible information that the British Army has no love or trust for him, and he will never again embed with a combat unit. He is tainted goods. Anyone who would talk to him is probably not very well connected anyway and desperate to be an unattributed ‘NATO source.’ That’s assuming he didn’t make that up like the Post-it note proclaiming him KIA. Meo is lamed by his previous behavior and this bit of tripe meets his usual standards.

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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 02 Nov 2008 @ 09 03 AM

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 26 Oct 2008 @ 2:21 PM 

Now there is another installment of the penny-dreadful British “journalist,” Nick Meo. The Telegraph has printed Meow’s retort in a screed entitled, “Nick Meo hits back at Afghanistan battle report slurs.” I encourage you to read it, because I am going to dissect his outraged cry of “injustice!”

I would like to personally thank all who have written to Nick and to the Telegraph to voice their outrage at Meo’s self-serving article. I will also ask that any further correspondence with either of them remain civil, yet uncompromising. Perhaps you can consider this an open letter to Nick Meo and the Telegraph.

Nick, there has not been enough justice done in this case. You could have taken the high road and taken your well-deserved spanking with reddened cheeks. You could have printed a clarification, admitting to your faults and some well-made points. You could have copped to the melodramatic flair with which you portrayed this traumatic event. You could have reclaimed some semblance of dignity earned through humility. No, you chose not to do that. You have chosen to wriggle again; to justify an article so self-centered that even though a good man actually did die, the title of your article is all about you.

No, not enough justice has been done because you are still being printed in a publication which has lost yet another notch on the scale of journalistic integrity by not following up on these complaints and Telegraph’s editors have not sought conversations with those who have thrown the bullshit flag at your feet. Instead, they allow you more ink with which to dig your hole deeper. You have taken up your shovel with gusto, and I am going to do my best to fill the hole in with you in it. I was not one of those who called for your sacking by the Telegraph, but now I am joining that call.

You have, by not taking your well-deserved black eye with humility and thereby gaining some grace, made yourself an object of study. The Telegraph has fallen down on their responsibility by not performing this study on their own. Had they, I assert, they would have fired you posthaste. I encourage them to correct their mistake now.

Perhaps with a little help from my friends, it will work.

The title of your latest article uses words like “hits back” and “slurs.” Nick (et al,) a slur denotes a denigration that is undeserved. These were not slurs. You deserve every bit of ire directed at you. By not taking action to resolve this issue, the Telegraph is complicit. You all deserve this.

Your article begins with the words, “Last week the Taliban tried to kill me.” Again, such self-centeredness. Yes, Nick; you are so valuable an asset that the Taliban have put a price on your head.

More likely your next job offer will be from Al Jazeera.

While your initial article contained some uncalled-for insults, such as your unflattering attempt at petty humor in the description of an American officer’s haircut, I’ll largely let your bitchy little slaps go and focus on your “factual” depiction and other assertions. However, I would like to point out that these and other lines in your first few paragraphs did set a negative tone, positioning you for your later lies. Flowing from your self-centered lie at the head of it all, the melodrama runs thick here.

I would also point out that a writer can choose from any number of adjectives to set a tone for a piece. You are not a rookie, and you know exactly what you were doing. You probably chuckled warmly to yourself when you read it before you submitted it for publication. You knew what you were doing, and it was taken in exactly the light that it was intended. Your problem is that there are a lot of people who have done that job and who knew as soon as they read it that you were full of it. Then the question becomes, “why?”

We’ll get to that.

A wise person once told me that when you get multiple stories about the same occurrence, there is a lie (or lies) involved. It’s not enough that in this case there are multiple stories regarding the same incident. Some of the inconsistencies are in your own piece, where you refute yourself.

That means that there are definitely lies involved. Yes, I have just called you a liar. As a “journalist,” you are so dishonored that you should only be employable by propaganda machines such as Al Jazeera. There is no room for liars in the world of honest journalism. You are one of the reasons why journalists are held in only slightly higher esteem than used car salesmen. That may have changed with this. You may just have single-handedly lowered the trustworthiness of the media to below that of the purveyors of pre-owned conveyances.

Now, to your depiction of the facts; you claim in your article that as you were still inside the inverted Cougar, there was the far-off thumping of a heavy machine gun. You stated that this indicated a Taliban ambush to you. Later, you attempt to portray the Americans as banging away at nothing. You have pointed out your own lie.

You portray a young American soldier as looking as scared as you felt when he assisted you in evacuating the vehicle in which you rescued your camera but left two soldiers trapped upside down in their harnesses. You were too afraid to leave the relative safety of the IED crater. I would point out that he left the safety of cover to reach you. Some were exposed enough to be standing in the light of their headlamps, as your own video shows.

You then claim that the Americans are pouring out thousands of rounds, but your video does not demonstrate this. I did see the young soldier in the headlights; I did not see the “hammering furiously.” As a matter of fact, their fire seemed to be selective and if not carefully aimed, at least aimed at a particular site.

You further editorialize what British soldiers would have thought of the volume of fire and put the round count in the thousands. You actually used the words, “trigger-happy.” Nick, what conclusion is it that you are working your readers towards?

At this point you begin to question the incoming fire, where before you had heard the far-off thumping of a heavy machine gun. You are so disjointed that you are torn between portraying yourself as being in mortal danger and your attempt to discredit the Americans who were protecting you.

You admit being directed by a soldier to cease filming, so you climb into an undamaged Cougar to, as you put it;

“…be safe from any enemy fire – and from the panicky soldier if things got nasty.”

Ah, yes; because when Americans panic, they often kill foreign journalists who are embedded with them. That’s why you needed so desperately to get on that MEDEVAC bird, isn’t it, Nick?

But, after being directed by an American soldier to cease filming, you surreptitiously filmed while you were inside that Cougar, didn’t you? You can’t be trusted in combat by those who would gladly let you shelter in their armored vehicles, who took care of you under fire.

You claimed that the Americans didn’t have any night vision “cameras,” but then suddenly there is an NCO with night vision directing fire against a bunker “although God knows what it really was.” God knows that you sure didn’t know what it was, because you couldn’t see it. But you can sure cast doubts on the man who did see it with night vision.

“My mouth was dry, so I drank a bottle of water. Then I needed to urinate, but when I got of the vehicle I was so scared of being shot I couldn’t go.”

That’s a well-documented fear reaction.

“I wasn’t wounded, except for bruises, but I didn’t want to take the same road back, so I asked to go aboard the Black Hawk if there was room.

That’s another fear reaction. The rest of those soldiers couldn’t just bail out in mid-mission on the nearest convenient helicopter. Normally, MEDEVAC birds don’t carry the unwounded, either; so they reported you as wounded. You didn’t just stroll out and hop on without any discussion. You told those soldiers that you wanted out, and they made sure you could go.

It was pointed out on Neptunus Lex that journalists don’t sign up to get shot at.

You know, journalists – whatever they may think of themselves – didn’t sign up to get shot at. There’s no particular dishonor in non-combatants bugging out when the rounds start to fly. But you’d think they’d have the common sense and humility to be just a little less condescending and sneering about those who’ve volunteered to turn to the sound of the guns, rather than flee from them.

I guess every man is the hero of his own tale.

He is a great blogger… much more successful than I, no doubt. I do disagree with him on one point; journalists who embed do, in fact, sign up to get shot at. They certainly have no reasonable expectation of not being shot at.

Other embeds have had close calls before. Other embeds have lost their rides and found a way to stay embedded. Can you imagine Yon hopping a MEDEVAC bird just to get out because he didn’t want to take that road again?

No. No one can imagine that.

Now for some serious lying;

“As I walked towards the terminal, not quite able to believe that I was back to safety, a young woman in army uniform introduced herself as Amy Bonnano, the Public Affairs Officer who had arranged my “embed”.

“It’s great to see you,” she said. “We had you listed as Category A.”

What did that mean? “It’s the worst scenario. It means deceased.”

Now here’s where it’s time to get real, Nick. 1LT Bonanno wrote you a letter about that, Nick. She was the other party in that “conversation,” and she says that it didn’t even occur. Did you read that letter that she wrote you? What made you think that she would keep your dirty little secret? What made you think that she wouldn’t let others know that you are a liar?

The note about being reported as KIA? Yeah, she threw the bullshit flag at you on that one, too. Great high drama, Nick. Total lie. Called on it by the officer on whose desk that note supposedly resided; yet you protest.

Now let’s look at the matter of your protestation, again self-centered in the extreme;

The small unit then fired thousands of rounds blindly into the night – from automatic rifles, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns — in an area where there are many villages, as well as Taliban guerrillas.

More denigration of the unit who saved your lying life so that you could write penny-dreadful self-aggrandizing lies about them. Even though your video demonstrates a measured rate of fire, you insist on portraying the American soldiers as the perpetrators of an Iraqi Death Blossom. You then go on to give a lecture on US doctrine with is also a complete lie. You have no idea what you are talking about, and real American soldiers, including myself, are adding to the massive pile of bullshit flags adorning your feet.

More shining character here;

There was also reaction from family members of soldiers involved in the attack – they knew, for instance, that I had been told to stop filming and were angry that I hadn’t, although as an embedded journalist I was entitled to do so and was not hampering operations.

A man dies; his compatriots say that the fun and games are over with for now; they have a body to recover and you are now filming a death scene, which is inappropriate when they say it is. No wonder the family is pissed. But it’s really not about them, is it? It’s about you, as demonstrated in this line;

Things got nasty even during the incident because the soldiers, clearly badly shaken, didn’t want to be filmed and demanded my camera. I didn’t hand it over because such footage of what happens in the aftermath of a bomb attack is rare.

You wanted the rare footage. The soldiers just lost a man who they have served with for years, and you want to film their reactions; and you’re disturbed that they’re not okay with it. You are truly a noble bastard, aren’t you? What a journalistic champion.

Not. What a self-centered, self-serving little cat of a man. You are a soldier’s nightmare; not because you are a champion of the truth but because you are the duke of lies. Why would you lie? Why? We’ll ask that question again; but let’s table it for now.

I’m not finished with you.

Following an ambush it is standard US military procedure to switch weapons to fully automatic and pour out rounds. This is called suppressive fire and does not involve careful aiming. It kills attackers, saves soldiers’ lives and keeps the heads of ambushers down.

But such devastating gunfire also kills and wounds civilians. Hundreds of Afghans have been hit in the past two years in such incidents.

I’ve never seen a less cogent, less informed depiction of a “React to Contact” drill. You, sir, don’t know what you are talking about. You then go on to spew pablum about caring so much about “peace-loving Afghans out there in the dark.” Nick, the walls of an Afghan house are feet thick. I know; I’ve searched a lot of them with my ANP. A .50 won’t penetrate a khalat wall. The Afghans who are peace-loving go to bed pretty much when the sun goes down. It’s pablum, designed to evoke sympathy for your righteousness from civilians who don’t have any idea the nature of your lies.

the US military prefers to highlight the courage of their soldiers — men such as Scott Dimond, the father of four who died because, like all Easyrider volunteers, he wanted to stop terrorism. I certainly did not want my story to dishonour his death.

For not wanting to dishonor him, you did a great job of dishonoring him and his team. I suspect this is a lie, too. The fact is, you never gave it a second thought. 1LT Bonanno pointed out in her letter to you that you wouldn’t even do the man the simple dignity of attending his ramp ceremony… but you did ask to film it. When you were denied permission to do that, you wanted nothing more to do with it. Class. Sheer, unadulterated class you demonstrated there.

That and your real character. Oops; your slip is showing.

What happened that night on the Kandahar road was not part of a struggle between square-jawed good guys and bad guys wearing black turbans, as the bloggers perhaps imagine the war to be.

This is the “pompous ass” passage. Nick, I’m going to clue you in to a little something. I don’t have to imagine war. I don’t even have to imagine Afghanistan, or even Taliban. You see, I’ve met Taliban, I’ve been shot at, and I’ve lost good men in IED strikes. You are such a pompous ass that you haven’t even bothered to read the blog behind the post that punched you in the mouth. I left the theater in April after spending a year there. Bouhammer was there, too. We both worked with ANP. We lived that life. Imagine the war, you say.


One more quote:

The US military has not challenged my reporting and the bloggers’ criticism is vague.

This author does not believe himself to be vague in this post. If I’ve not been specific enough in my criticisms of your lies, let me know.

The military is challenging your future as a reporter, Nick. Good luck with that. Good luck with finding decent assignments there. You might be better off covering the dog shows. I don’t know exactly what definition of challenge you are using there, but when the officer who was responsible for embedding you writes a complete refutation of what you wrote, that is a challenge.

Now; why are you such a liar? Why did you write outright lies, some of which are evidenced by your own video? Is it to cover your cowardice? The other possibility is that your behavior during the fight was so poor that you were warned not to stay and you left in an act of self-preservation.

In any case, you definitely made a concerted effort to cast a poor light on my colleagues. You attempted to cast men who have successfully operated in Afghanistan’s most violent province for over six months as boobs and yourself as an expert critic. You have attempted to cast myself and my fellow milbloggers as those who “imagine” a war that we served in at the dirt level and know intimately. Finally, you mouth words about honoring the dead when you wouldn’t even attend the ramp ceremony for the actual dead while you write about your own near-death experience.

I’ve got news for you, Nick; you are the boob. You are the panic-stricken liar who bailed on his assignment, and who tried to film men reacting the death of a comrade as some journalistic feat when all you were doing was being disrespectful in the extreme to their loss. Then you wrote an article about an event that was the end of a good man’s life, and even its title was all about you. What a callous ass.

I would never take you into combat with me; you’re a liability. I’ve seen men like you, and they’re not welcome in groups of tried and tested men. You are a liar, a slanderer, and a coward. I detest you, all that you stand for, and all who stand with you. I am only one man, but I am a man who knows what it is truly like. I recognize you because of that; and if you are wrapped in a flag, it is the bullshit flag.

Note to Telegraph; correct your mistake and salvage some honor. Is this the type of man who you employ? Is this the type of man with whom you choose to associate? We are painted by the company we keep. You are currently painted an ugly shade of Meo.

Dear readers; I ask once again that you take a moment and send a note to Nick Meo and the Telegraph. You don’t have to join me in my call for Meo’s job, but please let them know of your disapproval of this type of yellow journalism.



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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 26 Oct 2008 @ 02 21 PM

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 22 Oct 2008 @ 11:29 AM 

When you are called by a brother in arms, you answer the call. Whether it is O calling from an ambush on Route Vermont, the Marine ETT’s asking for escort to respond to a call to blow up a suspected IED, our ANP reporting that they were under fire, or when characters are being assassinated, it’s the same; you respond.

Shoot at one, draw fire from all.

Especially, for me, when it’s ANP mentors putting out the call. Grab your helmet and body armor, check your weapons and fuel, grab your terp and mount up; we’re riding out.

Recently, a British journalist named Nick Meo from the Telegraph embedded with a PMT (Police Mentor Team) in Helmand Province, one of the hottest parts of Afghanistan. ARSIC South (Afghan Regional Security Integration Command – South) was responsible for coordinating the embed. One night in the past week, the team left Kandahar Airfield to head back to their AO (Area of Operations,) heading out into the darkness of the Afghan night in Helmand Province. I’ve done plenty of night moves in Afghanistan. While they can be spooky, sometimes it actually felt safer than traveling in daylight. If you stay out of each others headlights, it’s harder to tell what you are, making ambushes more difficult to time properly.

Nick Meo rode in that convoy. He rode with Major Becker, the team leader, and two other soldiers; Mitch Chapman and Scott Dimond, in a Cougar MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protective) vehicle. The combat patrol was struck by an IED and apparent ambush about an hour later.

This is where the story takes a left turn at Albuquerque.

Nick Meo was uninjured in the IED strike. MAJ Becker and Chapman were injured, strapped upside down in their seats. Meo released his seatbelts and made his way from the vehicle, leaving the two injured soldiers hanging upside down in their belts in the mine-damaged vehicle. Scott Dimond, a 39 year old father of four from New Hampshire, was crushed under the vehicle when it flipped over from the force of the blast; a common danger for turret gunners on combat vehicles.

Nick Meo began doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing, shooting video of himself, soon after leaving the stricken vehicle. Shortly thereafter he was safely ensconced in another, undamaged armored vehicle while the American soldiers he was accompanying dealt with the deadly situation outside. He had been asked not to shoot video by this point, a directive that he flouted. It’s clear to me that the video he shot inside the vehicle was shot surreptitiously.

I’ve seen uninjured people hop on MEDEVAC birds before. The man who did it in Tag Ab did it not once but twice, and everyone considered him a coward for it. Meo, uninjured, did not want to be on the ground any longer. I guess embedded journalism isn’t as much fun when you are actually under fire. In any case, Meo lost his taste for the assignment and begged a ride back to Kandahar on the bird.

This is where the fun begins, and I suspect Meo’s justification for his panicked flight from his assignment.

Meo wrote an article, filled with contradictions and published in the Telegraph, that was exceedingly unkind to the men who he was with and who kept him uninjured on that fateful October night in southern Afghanistan. Meo crossed the line in so many ways in his incredibly self-serving article, criticizing everything from the Major’s standard “high and tight” Army haircut to the fire discipline and overall professionalism of the team of men who had functioned successfully in Helmand for over six months. These same men who successfully got him MEDEVAC’d without injury were pretty thoroughly panned in his article.

I would ask that you read the article and view the embedded video. Then ask yourself if those sound like “thousands of rounds” being expended in the background or if the soldier speaking to higher on the radio sounds fearful or like a man who is agitated by having one of his own crushed to death under a vehicle, two more who require MEDEVAC, and a jerkweed reporter in the back seat who won’t follow directions and is trying to be sneaky about filming things that he shouldn’t be filming. Watch the soldier’s movements as he sends up an FBCB2 (Blue Force Tracker) Spot Report on a system that shouldn’t have been filmed by a foreign national reporter and judge if his actions are panicked or the actions of a man in combat doing what he is trained to do.

Then go and view this, and this. Blackfive and Bouhammer, men who I have nothing but respect for, have things to say about this, too; and they are worth reading.

Now consider this; Scott Dimond, a 39 year old who had already lived a career as a police officer in his home state, a soldier who was described as “stellar,” died that night. First, Meo brags about having the good fortune to not have spoken with the man prior to his death. Then, back at Kandahar, he refused to have the respect to attend the ramp ceremony for this hometown American hero unless he could film it (which is a big no-no for ramp ceremonies out of respect for the dead.) That’s what we in the business call, “class.”

Please read the above linked posts, including Meo’s despicable article. Then please take a minute to do two things; write Nick Meo and his boss a quick note and let them know that you don’t appreciate his slander and his self-aggrandizing. Nick Meo took the worst day of several men’s lives, and the last of one’s, and made it his personal “legend-story.” Even the title is all about him.

Here are the emails for Nick Meo and the Telegraph:



On a dark night in the “Indian Country” of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, a small group of Americans experienced the ultimate nightmare; they lost one of their own. One man rode with them; an outsider, a “journalist” whose safety they took responsibility for and whom they delivered back to Kandahar unscathed by the event that took one of their lives and left two others injured. The work that these men do and have done for over six months has been unheralded, dirty, frustrating and dangerous. No one knows of their daily struggles, grinds, disappointments, or successes. Now this one self-important blow-hard takes it upon himself to trash their names and their actions after riding away on a helicopter meant for the wounded and dead, refusing to honor the man who gave his life that night, and congratulating himself for having been spared the emotional pain of having had even one conversation with the honored dead while he stood on earth.

All, apparently, to cover for his own cowardice in hopping uninjured onto a MEDEVAC helicopter when he lost his nerve to stay on the ground and continue doing his job.

Please don’t let him get away with it. Many say, “support our troops.” Here’s an opportunity to do so. It won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time. These aren’t just anonymous “troops;” they’re real men. Show them that you care. Show Scott Dimond that you care about his sacrifice by taking the time to shoot off a couple of emails, or even one with both addresses, and condemn the behavior of this coward who justifies his abandonment of his assignment by slandering good men.

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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 22 Oct 2008 @ 11 29 AM

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