Why Is Pentagon Inviting Press to Accompany Troops?

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By: Greg Mitchell

Often missing in the coverage of the Pentagon’s “ground rules” for embedded reporters who will travel with U.S. forces in the event of a war with Iraq is the military’s official explanation for why they are doing it. Pentagon officials have described some of the reasons but in the ground rules distributed to media with embedded reporters last week (first described by E&P) there exists a long introductory passage, labeled #2A, that states those reasons in revealing terms, but this has been overlooked in reporting about the release:

“The Department of Defense (DOD) policy on media coverage of future military operations is that media will have long-term, minimally restrictive access to U.S. air, ground, and naval forces through embedding. Media coverage of any future operation will, to a large extent, shape public perception of the national security environment now and in the years ahead. This holds true for the U.S. public; the public in allied countries whose opinion can affect the durability of our coalition; and publics in countries where we conduct operations, whose perceptions of us can affect the cost and duration of our involvement.

“Our ultimate strategic success in bringing peace and security to this region will come in our long-term commitment to supporting our democratic ideals. We need to tell the factual story — good or bad — before others seed the media with disinformation and distortions, as they most certainly will continue to do. Our people in the field need to tell our story — only commanders can ensure the media get to the story alongside the troops. We must organize for and facilitate access of national and international media to our forces, including those forces engaged in ground operations, with the goal of doing so right from the start.”

For an update on this story, see http://www.editorandpublisher.com/editorandpublisher/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1822054.

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