Information Warfare: December 9, 2002

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The Pentagon is taking advantage of its new training course for journalists to allow those journalists to travel with small combat units (infantry and tank companies, for example). This goes back to the practice during the Vietnam war, where journalists could attach themselves to any unit that was willing to put up with them (and, in many cases, let them on an outgoing helicopter.) This approach, first used during World War II, can provide dramatic reporting, as well as a lot of dead reporters. Thus the importance of the training course, which emphasized basic safety in a combat zone (when to duck, what not to touch or walk on.) The Pentagon is also taking advantage of the fact that, unlike World War II, Korea and Vietnam, today's troops are all volunteers and more professional. A decade of drill and training on how to deal with the press has also made the troops a lot more savvy when dealing with the media. The Pentagon apparently feels that putting reporters up front with the fighting troops will generate better press. All indications are that when American troops first encounter Iraqi civilians, the GIs will be greeted as liberators, and no one in the Pentagon, or White House, wants to see those events miss the evening news.

 


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