DoD offers new media ground rules

WASHINGTON: The Department of Defense (DoD) took major steps

forward last week in its continuing struggle to provide what it calls

"maximum coverage, minimum hassle" to members of the American press in

Afghanistan.



New measures were put in place following reporters' complaints that they

were denied access to soldiers wounded by "friendly fire" on December 5.

Three US servicemen were killed when a B-52 bomber missed its target

north of Kandahar, but Pentagon public affairs officers wouldn't let

reporters see the dead or injured.



Among the new measures put in place were the stationing of a public

affairs officer in Bahrain to concentrate solely on logistical support

for the media. Mean-while, other senior public affairs officers will be

placed in Bagram Airfield, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Camp Rhino to facilitate

access, story filing, and communication with higher headquarters.



The DoD also reissued copies of its public affairs guidelines to all

subordinate commands.



The new measures were laid out in a letter of apology to US bureau

chiefs from assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Torie

Clarke. "The last several days have revealed severe shortcomings in our

preparedness to support news organizations in their efforts to cover US

military operations in Afghanistan," wrote Clarke, making special

mention of the events of December 5.



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