October 26, 2009: As with Iraq, the troops in Afghanistan (no matter what country they are from) know, from their own experience, that their service there matters. Many of their countrymen back home do not, and the media does little to change this opinion. The main reason given by the media is that the soldiers just don't understand what they are experiencing, and fail to see the "big picture."
For the troops, the violence and terror that the Taliban use is real. The fear of the local victims is also quite vivid. The troops know that their efforts against the Taliban and drug gangs is appreciated. The troops see cause and effect, but this rarely gets reported. The media wants bad news, not reality. Some journalists begin to see things the way the soldiers they are with do. But their editors usually intercede, and order the reporter to shape up and get with the company line, or find another job. Some independent journalists report troops experiences accurately, but are dismissed as biased and out-of-touch.
In Iraq, the troops turned out to have a more accurate, and prescient, view of what was going on than most journalists. Naturally, few reporters reflected on this after things settled down. Some historians probably will, eventually, and wonder what was going on with the media.