The Press and the Persian Gulf War
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (PUBLIC AFFAIRS) WASHINGTON DC
Pagination or Media Count:
The subject of press pools and escorts has been frequently written about, and the commentaries have been infrequently kind. Indeed, two negative myths have grown popular in the aftermath of the Gulf War, and they need to be debunked. The first is that the press didnt do a good job covering Operation Desert Storm. And the second is that reporters didnt have much of a chance to report the war. As the number of troops in the desert grew, so did the number of reporters to cover them. The U.S. and international press corps went from zero on 2 August, to 17 on the first pool, to 800 by December, and to nearly 1400 just before the ground war started. Most of those reporters, the good ones anyway, wanted to be out where the action is. But with hundreds of fiercely independent reporters seeking to join up with combat units, we concluded that when the combat started, wed have no choice but to rely on pools. We agonized over this decision, because the part of my job we dislike the most is setting up pools and keeping them going. Pools rub reporters the wrong way, but there was simply no way for us to open up a rapidly moving front to reporters roaming the battlefield. We believe the pool system did three things it got reporters out to see the action, it guaranteed that Americans at home got reports from the scene of the action, and it allowed the military to accommodate a reasonable number of journalists without overwhelming the units that were fighting the enemy. Whatever else the press arrangements in the Persian Gulf may have been, they were a good faith effort on the part of the military to be as fair as possible to the large number of reporters on the scene. They were a good faith effort to get as many reporters as possible out with troops during a highly mobile, modern ground war. And they were a good faith effort to allow as much freedom in reporting as possible while still preventing the enemy from knowing what we were up to.
- Information Science
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics