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
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
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.