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A PR surge on the Afghan front

The public relations machine of the NATO Afghan Command fired off six press releases within just over six hours Friday morning, touting successful coalition activities in different parts of that country in what appeared to be a stepped up attempt to capture the hearts and minds of American journalists.

At a time when the U.S. public and members of Congress appear to be growing impatient with progress of the troop surge in Afghanistan, releases from IJC Media Operations Org. to this reporter have also surged.

Between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Kabul time today, separate releases dealt with the capture of a "senior Taliban commander" near Kandahar; capture of a "Taliban facilitator" for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Nangarhar; detention of "two suspected insurgents" near Ghanzi; and Afghan forces discovering of "a large quantity of IED making material" near Spin Boldak.

Other IJC releases during this six-and-one-half-hour time period dealt with a successful four-day exercise by students in an Afghan National Army Special Forces Qualification Course to prepare them for "real world missions" and a second on a trade school run by an Australian 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment in Tarin Kowt that is training "skilled, qualified Afghan workers" to work for local contractors.

Finally, IJC sent out a media advisory about a meeting tomorrow between American and Afghan officials to discuss "the transition of detention operations from the United States to Afghanistan." The press release noted reporters would be free to cover "opening comments by Afghan and U.S. leadership during the scene-setter discussion for the day's events." Those comments would be "on the record," according to the advisory. But the advisory cautioned, "There is no scheduled opportunity for questions by media of the meeting attendees."

Of course IJC Media Operations Org. is not the only regular source of military press releases from Afghanistan. For example, regional commands also have their own PR operations. One today from Regional Command East from the Bagram Media Center gave a multi-media presentation of a task force inspecting a road in Charikar that leads to the province's Ministry of Justice and is part of the U.S. Army's support of the rule of law program.

By Walter Pincus  | July 23, 2010; 1:45 PM ET
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The tone of your article, language used and its premise is quite clear.

I could re-write this article and turn your premise around.

Your headline could be re-written:
Military PR Fights Mainstream Negativity

The fact that military public affairs "fired off" six press releases in just over six hours means what to you?

Your premise is that "firing off" six press releases is analogous to "winning hearts and minds" of American journalists?

It appears that you just admitted that,at least The Washington Post, doesn't care about good news because it runs against your "quagmire" template.

Yes, there are challenges; yes there are setbacks; yes, we want to wind this fight against the insurgency down, but you and your colleagues obviously don't want to be bothered with six press releases.

You, Walter and your fellow media cohorts, fire off endless stories and editorials based on YOUR knowledge and access.

You SHOULD hold the military accountable and all aspects of this Afghanistan Campaign Walter; the American people expect that.

Having said that, take a hard look at your subscription rates and how the U.S. public seems to be "growing so impatient" with papers like yours that your parent companies are laying off people left and right.

Walter, the reason those press releases are sent to you is so, maybe -- just maybe -- one day, you and your colleagues will have a paradigm shift.

But for now, it's apparent that even FACTUAL news about success in Afghanistan is viewed by you as an "attempt to capture the hearts and minds of American journalists."

Walter, you and your colleagues read military press releases through your narcissistic rose-coloured classes.
Because of the self-importance you place on your role in the Fourth Estate, your mindset is to vilify military public affairs when it does its job.

Do you see the bias in that statement Walter? I doubt that you do.
You and your colleagues live for the “If It Bleeds It Leads” headline.

You view factual news about success in Afghanistan as a “PR surge.” You took factual success stories and complained about having to read six press releases, failed to acknowledge even a smidgen of success, and took a position that because YOU, Walter Pincus, are getting more press releases, the military public affairs teams must be getting desperate.

Walter, you lied to your readers.

If you only got six press releases in one day, then you must not be a real heavy hitter in the business because military public affairs across Afghanistan sends out a LOT more than six press releases.

Nice try Walter, your ruse is exposed.

For Washington Post readers who want to read these press releases and ALL other press releases and video:
is the portal that DoD uses for distribution to media members like Walter.

Posted by: bellicuspium | July 24, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

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