Sometimes I wonder if the "mainstream media" will ever get their coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan right, or if they even want to get it right.
After the tragic loss of nine of our brothers in Afghanistan the stories in the mainstream media concentrated on the renewed strength of the insurgents and the lack of progress in Afghanistan.
However, if you dug deeper, and looked elsewhere, you found the true story. The true story is one of bravery and heroism displayed by our Soldiers.
The Stars and Stripes (www.stripes.com) had an excellent article about the impact of the attack on the 173rd Airborne (http://www.173abnbde.setaf.army.mil/) and the family members back home in Italy and Germany. As they prepared for welcome home ceremonies they had to shift gears and prepare for memorial ceremonies instead.
Stars and Stripes also dug deeper and revealed the stories of bravery and heroism displayed by the Sky Soldiers in the battle at Wanat: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=63479&archive=true
Finally, Stars and Stripes printed an article in which the 173rd's commander, COL Preysler, refuted exaggerations published in the media: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=63491&archive=true
Despite what the name implies, the Stars and Stripes is hardly a conservative newspaper. It is an independent media outlet and frequently publishes unflattering articles about the military. But it's not just Stars and Stripes providing more in depth coverage of the good news from Afghanistan. Using almost any search engine online will reveal balanced, detailed stories of the success and challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is only the mainstream US media that highlights the negative, and moves on to other news as quickly as possible.
Even with the fight heating up in Afghanistan I talk to recently redeployed Soldiers all the time who wish they were back there now, to do their job and support their fellow Soldiers. I frequently talk to Soldiers scheduled for deployments to quiet areas of Iraq (yes, there are many!) who would rather to to Afghanistan because they want to be where they are most needed.
I apologize for getting political on this blog. I try to avoid politics and instead concentrate on my experiences and my perspective on the views of my fellow Soldiers. Sometimes the mainstream media's focus on the negative gets to me and I have to speak out.
I've been asked to comment on the differences between OIF and OEF, so I'll do that in a future post. It's tough to do for many reasons, not the least of which is that it depends on when and where you served in each operation, and what your job was when you were there. Books have been written of this topic, but sticking to my intentions in this blog I'll give a snapshot of the differences between my tour to Iraq (2003-2004) and my tour to Afghanistan (2007-2008).