Pentagon lends unofficial support to new army flick

WASHINGTON: The Department of Defense (DoD) public affairs office

has thrown its support behind the making and release of Black Hawk Down,

a film about the 1993 raid in Somalia that left 18 US soldiers dead.



Though the incident is widely regarded as a military debacle among the

US public and elected officials, the movie - produced by Jerry

Bruckheimer and based on the 1999 Mark Bowden book of the same name -

portrays the mission as a qualified success.



After reviewing the script, the LA public affairs outpost of the DoD,

which deals largely with entertainment projects, chose to support the

movie by providing boot-camp training to the actors, technical advisors,

eight choppers, and more than 100 soldiers - a package that cost $2.2 million.



The film debuted nationwide last Friday, and although the Pentagon

denies that it is proactively promoting the film, public affairs

officers have admitted that they are devoting their time to discussing

the movie with the media, and arranging for screenings on military

bases.



Two public affairs officers in particular, Kathleen Ross and Major

Andres Ortegon, both of the army's LA office, have been involved in the

effort.



Both were on location during filming in Morocco as consultants and army

liaisons.



"For the army, it's an opportunity to show the public what these guys

who served on that day were all about," said Ortegon. "That includes

values, sacrifice, teamwork, and training. It illustrates for the public

this type of operation - urban combat."



Army public affairs specialist Paul Boyce explained the fine line the

DoD must walk in these situations: "As a government agency, we don't

endorse products or services," he said. "But when there is something in

the public interest, we support that."



Originally slated for release in the spring of 2002, the film premiered

earlier on the belief that the US' mood following the September 11

attacks was more conducive to the film.



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