Information Warfare: September 6, 2003

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The Iraq campaign was noted for speed, but there was speed in many areas that were not really noticed. For example, the U.S. Marines were aware, from past experience, that certain types of situations create a feeding frenzy among the media. This often leads to inaccurate, and critical of the marines, reporting. Friendly fire incidents, and atrocities of any kind (by either side) are situations where you want to get to the truth of the matter as quickly as possible. To take care of this, the marines set up RIAT (Reportable Incident Assessment Team). This crew of Information War commandos consisted of the SJA (Staff Judge Advocate, a lawyer) as team leader; the Division Public Affairs Officer; a combat cameraman; and, if needed, the Division Surgeon, criminal investigators from Naval Criminal Investigative Service, (NCIS); an NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) specialist; a civil affairs officer or an interpreter. RIAT also had security and communications troops assigned. RIAT was called out eight times during the war, and none of the incidents got out of control. A principal mission of the RIAT was to make sure that the scene of the incident was not contaminated and that critical evidence was not moved or lost. A typical RIAT mission was when Marines found Iraqi irregulars using a school as a base, and for storing explosives and weapons. The RIAT immediately closed off the area, made sure nothing was disturbed, and then got the media in there to see how the Iraqis were violating the laws of war. Had RIAT not gotten involved, the weapons and explosives would probably have been moved, and the incident missed entirely by the media. In the future. RIAT will be equipped to move even faster. This would be done by having a fully equipped (with radios, cameras and other gear) and ready to go, as well as helicopters on call if RIAT has to move a longer distance more quickly.

 


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