Monday, 21 July 2008

Exaggerations and misinformation

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).

Until later.

Phillips, out.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rich -

Thanks for suggesting that we look at Stars and Stripes, that sure had a lot more information than the standard news outlet. The explanation from the commander of what the outpost was (and was NOT) was great.

I'll spend more time reading Stars and Stripes and less reading other news outlets. Not that I only want news that reinforces my preconceived ideas but news that gives a more complete story.

Dave

Haole Wahine said...

Thanks for directing us to sources that let the "boots on the ground" speak, and for bringing the quality reporting in Stars & Stripes into the main stream.

Keep the information flowing.

Chaotic Mom said...

Thank you. I look forward to your comparison, too.

tankerbabelc said...

Rich,

I don't read anything political in this post AT ALL!

I cannot begin to thank you for continuing to write about your military experiences and, particularly, Afghanistan. As one, along with a few dear friends, who has been jumping up and down for years now about our men and women in Afghanistan I appreciate you for continuing to blog once you have returned.

Those men who died on 13 July were men many of us had been supporting for 15 long and trying months. There are so many stories of what they endured and did that day that haven't even been whispered much less told.

I gotta say ~ I was shocked that the Stars and Stripes didn't slant their stories. And I couldn't agree with you more about media outside of the USA giving better coverage to our beloved military than our own media does.

PLEASE keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Man

You got some good blog post here. I was RC-South one year before you ever set foot there. KAF, LAGMAN, Fahar - yea I miss the days there and in its on way... it was really a beautiful place... esp. during the long black nights where the stars sure where bright. I always look for info and pictures late at night of these places you have blogged... welcome home!

I don't talk about the war I saw and my war experiences much...mostly I rather forget! Besides, no one really cares or gives a crap... really no one cares about what you did.. it is over and in the past so I push onwards. I read somewhere in your blog the cost of war... there is a cost of war that is 10 times that in personal issues family members delt/deal with.

I bet you would like one of those easy night where you can watch a movie in the darkness of the night at lagman!

The Elusive BDC
Stayer of VIP#3 room

Haole Wahine said...

Thank you for commenting, and thank you for your service. I am sorry that you think no one really cares. I can't speak for those around you, but there are people who really care try to show we card. We never take forgranted the sacrifices you, your troops, your families and your friends have made for our country. We, as citizens, owe all of you a debt we can never fully repay. Please never doubt that there are many, many of us who genuinely offer you our gratitude and keep you in our continual prayers.

Please do not keep your thoughts to yourself. Find an outlet. As LTC Phillips says, find those that shared some of the same things. Maybe not the same events, but other times other places. I have seen it happen to so many of "my guys" when they get around a group of VETS. There are looks that speak volumes, words that cannot be spoken, thoughts that need not be fully realized. Yet, one glance into the eyes of another VET, and there is a comfort zone, a connection that is made. You are among comrades that those thoughts can be expressed, or not; yet, there is that understanding that brings you to know you are among people that will allow you to be safe from the prying of those that cannot ever understand. You can relax. And then there is the look that passes between VETs, that says, "they just don't get it do they". I've seen that many many times, during question and answer periods after a VET presentation. That's okay, we can't get it. But that is why we owe you so much. Because of your sacrifices, the majority of us will never be in a position where we live what you have seen.
We would really like to be able to understand, but no matter how much love there is . . . We cannot ever fully understand. We can listen, and not be shocked or unbelieving --- God forbid judgemental. But only those of you that have had the same experiences can comprehend their depths. We can only listen, acknowledge your anger, sorrow, whatever does not even have a name. We can cry and hold you or just your hand. And we can laugh with you during the good times.

I've rambled on enough, but that is the price of caring. I do a lot of rambling. LTC can vouch for that.

If you click on Haole Wahine, at the top of this post, you can email me, if you wish. I'm a TEXAN and we care.

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