U.S. military to pass oversight of embedded reporters to Afghan security forces
U.S. troops in Afghanistan are working hard to put Afghan security forces in the lead during combat missions -- and now they want them to oversee journalists who want to embed in the war zone, too.
The International Security Assistance Force’s Joint Command, which handles media embeds, told POLITICO that within a matter of months, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense will begin managing requests from reporters wishing to cover the war.
“Clearly we are going to be turning that responsibility over to them,” Lt. Col. Richard Spiegel, IJC Chief of Public Affairs, said.
Spiegel said he didn’t have an exact date for when MoD would begin handling media embeds but he said he expected it to happen in a few months – well before the 2014 deadline to drawdown U.S. and NATO forces.
“There will still be U.S. forces in theater and you will still be able to embed with U.S. forces,” he said. “But the embed opportunities are going to go down as our forces shrink. There’s simply not going to be as much space for embeds.”
The Afghan Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We’re working with them, formalizing the procedure,” Spiegel said, adding that the process is not unlike the work that infantry, logistics and supply units are doing to help put the Afghan army and police in the lead.
“I kind of see of the Public Affairs piece like every other operations piece,” he said.
The IJC will still advise and assist them when it comes to media embeds. “The Afghans will be able to come back to us and say we need a little help here,” Spiegel said. “They’re doing it, we’re advising. It’s being done now, it’s just not as institutionalized.”
Spiegel said he hopes that reporters from all over the world will embed with the Afghan security forces to see the progress that’s being made – and show the other side of the 12-year war.
“If journalists want to see how the campaign is going,” he said. “That’s where the story is.”
Journalist Luke Mogelson recently embedded with Afghan troops for a story in The New York Times Magazine.
“Right now, embedding with the Afghan Army is the obvious thing for a journalist here to want to do,” he told the Times. “Every day the balance of responsibility tips further away from the international forces, toward the A.N.A. [Afghan National Army].There is still a lot of fighting happening in Afghanistan — but most of it is being done by the Afghans.”