(AP) A small group of journalists who went into southern Afghanistan with Marines on Monday were the first reporters the Pentagon has allowed to accompany U.S. troops into the country.
Reporters from The Associated Press, the London-based news service Reuters, and the Gannett newspaper chain accompanied the Marines to a base at a remote airstrip in southern Afghanistan. An Associated Press Television News journalist also went along to record video to share with other news organizations, and a Reuters still photographer shot photos in the same kind of pool arrangement.
As part of the arrangement, the reporters agreed not to specify where in Afghanistan the airstrip is or divulge plans for future operations.
Seven weeks into the war, the Defense Department still has not organized a pool of reporters to go into Afghanistan to cover the combat. Such pools have covered military actions since the 1989 conflict in Panama.
Instead, Western news organizations have sent reporters in on their own. Eight journalists have been killed during the fighting so far in Afghanistan.
American reporters have been allowed on U.S. aircraft carriers and other ships in the Arabian Sea involved in the war. The Pentagon hasn’t allowed reporters to visit bases in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and other countries where U.S. forces are working, however.