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Media Vs. Military

May 2024
1min read

I read with great interest and substantial agreement Peter Andrews’s article concerning the historical relationship between the media and the military (July/August). It is a generally excellent article, but a few additional thoughts are required.

Through twenty-five and one-half years of military service, I have found that the members of both the print and electronic news media covering military matters are grossly ignorant of the subject which they cover.

The night before we launched our one-hundred-hour assault against the Iraqi Army in January, I observed one of our major television networks carrying a live story from one of its reporters in Saudi Arabia, who gave his general location and said that for many hours an unending stream of military vehicles and weapons had been passing him on a specified road, in a northbound direction.

It doesn’t take much knowledge of military tactics and strategy to realize that we were shifting our forces north in order to make an attack into Iraq on their army’s right flank. I suppose it is through the dumbest of luck that the Iraqi Army didn’t figure out what was going on. Any competent military commander with that information would have shifted his forces to prepare for an armored strike from Saudi Arabia directly into Iraq, north of Kuwait. We should have lost the element of surprise, and we should have been met by Republican Guard armored forces positioned to defend against our attack. When a major American network publishes vital intelligence information that could cost hundreds of American lives, I cannot fault the way our military handled the news media. The news media are incapable, because of their ignorance, of comprehending what is vital intelligence information and thus should not be published.

I see only two solutions. Either the news should be managed by the military as it was in Saudi Arabia, or the news media should hire people with substantial military experience to do their reporting.

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