The front we don’t hear about

The front we don’t hear about, of course, is Afghanistan.  Because it was for an acceptable cause and went well, the media has pretty much abandoned it.  It’s not bleeding enough to lead, and it does not fit in with the anti-Bush agenda.  I was curious about what it’s like to serve on a front that’s become a backwater, at least as far as the media is concerned, so a friend of mine who works with troops serving in Afghanistan asked them that question.  My friend came back with the following information:

One of the things that’s good about the lack of coverage is that the military is not subject to the erroneous or distorted reporting that trickles out of Iraq on a regular basis.  Of course, useful, true information also isn’t getting out, which leaves the public, not only untainted by falsehoods, but also unaware of important truths.  Overall, though, those to whom my friend spoke find it something of a relief not to have the press’s hostile eye focused on them relentlessly.  Apparently one enemy, in the battlefield, is more than enough.

Despite the media’s lack of interest in Iraq, my friend’s sources do not think there is much chance that the military, feeling itself unconstrained by the Fourth Estate, will go hog wild and recreate Abu Ghraib.  While there will always be bad people in an organization, and they will do bad things, the organization itself is pretty solid.  The military also has oversight procedures to prevent as much wartime misconduct as possible.

Lack of public interest carries with it the risk that it will be followed by a reduction in funds.  The military guys and gals, however, are not too worried about this.  Indeed, they appear to feel that funding right now is adequate, which my friend says (rightly) is probably a first in government operations.

As far as the troops go, they’re not feeling neglected.  On the one hand, they’re protected from Code Pink-esque anti-War hostility and, on they other hand, they’re still getting the love from those who matter, thanks to the internet and a very large family based support roup.  Morale seems high, with the external threats viewed as relatively low.

Relationships with the locals are also fairly stable.  Headquarters has a special group that connects senior Army leaders with local leaders, so as to keep relationships as smooth as possible.  Indeed, the military takes this responsibility as seriously in Afghanistan as it does in Iraq.

That sounds like a pretty good report from an important front in the War against Islamist hostilities against the West.


One Response

  1. Shortly after Desert Storm ended in 1991, I spent several months in Turkey. I learned that at some point before hostilities commenced, Turkey had expelled all foreign news media.

    I was told that Turkey had been a launching platform for major operations against Iraq, which were completely unknown to the media, and hence, unreported. I came away with the impression that leadership there had been perfectly content to operate in the “dark”. None of the troops I dealt with felt neglected, and although facilities were primitive, I don’t think they were any worse than in other areas.

    During Iraqi Freedom I was near Iraq, again working under a host nation controlled media blackout. Our military frequently operates in nations who do not want to advertise their close relationship with the US.

    I believe media attention has little affect on funding and support to different fronts. Despite congressional meddling and media hsyteria the DoD does a good job allocating resources where they are needed. In my experience, when the guys downrange asked for something, we did everything we could to get it on the next plane out. I will say that following 9/11, funding was the best since the Reagan years.

    The internet is probably the best morale booster ever for deployed troops. Phone service is often undependable, and mail takes awhile to establish, often entailing safety risks.

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