Another fantastic post from Michael Yon, who’s back in Iraq. Fascinating account of his journey into the country including the bureaucratic process of getting embedded with the military.

It’s a long post, so I’ve taken the liberty of pulling out some excerpts. But, you should read the whole thing. He’s a great writer.

On why he’s there:

I started with the premise that this war was extremely important, whether or not many people agreed. While I hear radio and television crews often lamenting about how it takes a whole day just to file one story, it can take me two weeks of dangerous research, photography and writing to get a single major dispatch out. I am not a war correspondent or journalist. I am only a writer who came to Iraq after it became apparent that we might be in trouble, and I did not trust the news. I had never covered a war before and, with any luck, never will again.

On the Green Zone:

… The International Zone was previously called “The Green Zone.” Green usually means safe, but the place is dangerous and people die there often. A car bomb exploded at a gate there just days ago, killing several people. People have been kidnapped and murdered there. Sometimes bombs have exploded inside the IZ, splattering bits of body parts on the ground. There is nothing Green about it…

On the media and the hostile media effect:

… It’s easy to take shots at “the media” in Iraq—literally, as well as for the quality of their coverage. Forget for a moment the lopsided expense versus returns ratio. The bullet holes in the hotel rooms and the picnic tables in the desert tell a back story about why so few journalists make the journey. All this, while knowing that insurgents have specifically targeted members of the media.

Apparently the terrorists like it better when fewer reporters are around to peel back the layers of their insurgent press machine and reveal its rotten core. The Americans may think they get bad press, but apparently the terrorists think they get worse. Everybody, it seems, is a victim of bad press, including (ironically) the professionals who print it, because they get shot by everybody, with words and bullets…

On the effects of war:

… By about 10 a.m., credentials in hand, I was heading out for a helicopter to my final destination. As I struggled with the cumbersome gear — I don’t pack light to war anymore — I saw a CNN reporter sitting on the floor downstairs from the CPIC office. Although we’d never met, I recognized her from television. I’d just spent thirty or more hours with tired reporters, and frustrated reporters, and bored reporters. But this reporter looked to be in a state of despair.

Since I was rushing to get to a helicopter, there was no chance to even say hello. I asked my Army escort about the reporter sitting on the floor. According to the officer, she’d been through a lot lately, traveling with Marines out in Al Anbar province, where they had been involved in some long days of combat. She’d been living like a Marine. I recalled how she looked tired and rattled when those reports aired. On one taped interview, when she clearly expressed doubts about staying in Iraq; the fatigue and fear seemed to have grabbed her. Keeping up with Marines in combat is not easy. Marines are Marines.

Good luck, Michael.